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Insight

Queen's Speech Roundup

02/06/2015
Last week's Queen's Speech formally introduced a range of new public and regulatory legislation which had been hinted at during the election, and also made it clear that some much anticipated Last week's Queen's Speech formally introduced a range of new public and regulatory legislation which had been hinted at during the election, and also made it clear that some much anticipated legislation will not be taken forward. We sum up some of the most relevant developments.

  • Five Year Forward: The Queen confirmed that NHS England's Five Year Forward View will be implemented, including the integration of health and social care and improving access to GPs and mental healthcare.

  • Regulation of Health Care Professionals: No legislation has been laid before Parliament, and it appears that the long anticipated reform of health care professionals' regulation will not be legislated for soon. As we previously discussed, the previous Government released its response to the Law Commissions' report, but did not set a timetable for legislation. Its absence in the Queen's Speech suggests that we will be waiting for some time longer, and the GMC and NMC have already objected to this.

  • Ombudsmen: In line with the consultation released on 25 March, a Public Service Ombudsman Bill will amalgamate the roles of the Parliamentary, Health, Local Government and Housing Ombudsmen. While there is not yet any draft legislation, the consultation and accompanying Gordon Report provide further details, and given its appearance in the Queen's Speech we expect that a Bill will be produced by the end of the year.

  • Devolution - England: We should expect a number of devolution measures to be introduced, including so called "metro mayors" – elected mayors for larger cities and regions. The regional devolution plans are due to start in Manchester with "Devo Manc" and the creation of a "northern powerhouse". Regional authorities are expected to have their own economic and governance powers, and elected mayors would take on the role of Police and Crime Commissioners. There is already a great deal of legislation in this area, and it is not yet clear whether this will be amended or a new Act will set out the powers for regional authorities.

  • Devolution – UK: There will also be further devolution to the nations, including implementation of the Smith Commission Agreement on Scottish devolution, and a Scotland Bill has already been introduced. The Welsh Assembly will also adopt a "reserved powers model", already used in Scotland, to clarify whether a power is used by Parliament or the Assembly. The new Government also intends to implement the Stormont House Agreement in Northern Ireland. To balance this, changes to the Commons' standing orders will be brought in to resolve the West Lothian Question; where a Parliamentary vote only affects England or England and Wales, a majority of MPs from those nations will be required. It is interesting that this has not received more media attention, given that it is a significant constitutional change.

  • Human Rights: With regard to civil liberties, interestingly Her Majesty only suggested a consultation, rather than draft legislation, on the repeals of the Human Rights Act and introduction of a replacement British Bill of Rights, suggesting that reform in this area may not be as straightforward as the government's manifesto suggested. There was also reference to an Investigatory Powers Bill, further legislating on communications data. According to the Home Office this will "provide the police and intelligence agencies with the tools to keep [the public] safe" but draft legislation has not yet been provided.


We will be following developments on each of these Bills carefully.

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