The 21st of June marked the State Opening of Parliament along with the ceremonious Queen’s Speech.
The Queen’s speech is a ceremony that can be traced as far back as the 16th century and marks the presentation of a list of laws which the government hopes to pass during the year. The State
Opening serves as a symbolic reminder of the unity of Parliament’s three parts; the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
The State Opening is usually a lavish affair, however this year the Queen arrived for a toned down ceremony. The official reason being this was a snap election, however many interpreted it as a visual protest. She arrived by car, instead of carriage and omitted the royal procession to the House of lords. Her crown arrived in its own car and the Queen opted for a simple ‘day dress’ of a blue suit and hat; the pattern of which was likened to the EU flag, caused many to question whether she was trying to make a point.
After last year’s referendum, legislation delivering Brexit dominated the speech. The most important being the Repeal Bill, in which the UK Parliament will regain sovereignty over its laws and repeal the 1972 European Communities Act.
Other proposals concerning Brexit included the Customs Bill, giving the UK standalone control over customs, the Immigration Bill, which puts to end the free movement of EU nationals into the UK and the International Sanctions Bill which returns decision making on non-UN sanctions to the UK parliament.
Further Bills of note were the Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill. Domestic Violence hit the headlines at lot in 2016, with at least 1 in 10 of all crimes recorded by the police being domestic abuse related. This Bill will establish a domestic violence and abuse commissioner which will aim to protect victims of abuse.
The proposed Courts Bill also affects domestic violence, as it will end the cross-examination of domestic abuse victims by their alleged perpetrator. This Bill will also enable those charged with less serious offences to opt to plead guild and a pay a statutory fixed penalty online in order to free up court time.
For millennials who have grown up with the possibility to plaster their lives over the internet, the Data Protection Bill will significantly affect them. If passed the bill will give you the right to demand social media platforms delete information held about you before the age of 18. This will allow young people to prevent employers from finding unsavoury information about their teenage antics.
Interestingly, major Conservative manifesto promises were not in the Queen’s Speech. None of May’s controversial policies such as the ‘Dementia Tax’, grammar schools or fox-hunting were discussed, suggesting after the shock election result she is less confident than she previously boasted.