Ministers will unveil a legislative program targeting their new electoral strongholds in the North of England and the Midlands, with a speech by the Queen focusing on adult education and home ownership.
It also makes proposals to bring in mandatory voter identification, which has been condemned by US civil rights groups as akin to Republican-style voter suppression. Another plan will pave the way to ban conversion practices.
The list of laws planned for the new parliament, announced by Downing Street as seeking to put Boris Johnson’s idea of leveling up into politics, will be revealed by the monarch in an unprecedented and simplified version of the event.
Usually the queen delivers the speech in a crowded House of Lords. This time around, the chamber will be restricted to just 74 people. The only people invited from the House of Commons will be the Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, the party leaders and the Whips. All attendees must have a Covid test in advance and wear a mask.
Before the speech, Downing Street followed a bill that pushes previously announced plans to boost adult education and training, including a transformation of the student loan system into one usable by any university or college, and at any time in the someone’s career.
Other elements of the post-16 education and skills bill, due to be introduced later this month, include giving the secretary of education more powers over the higher education sector, including the ability to intervene directly with universities that “don’t meet local needs. “
While Boris Johnson touted the plans as “the rocket fuel we need to level this country and ensure equal opportunity for all,” the higher education sector gave a note of caution.
David Hughes, executive director of the Association of Universities, said that while he welcomed “an important step on the road to ending the snobbery around technical and vocational education,” there was no mention of finances for people to could support themselves.
“It will only work if people can afford to live while studying through a combination of loans, grants and welfare,” he said. “Without this, many simply will not be able to afford it.”
A previously reported element of the legislative agenda will be a new measure to simplify housing planning, seen by No. 10 as a way to shore up Conservative support in areas where it attracted new voters in last week’s local elections by helping to more people to buy a house. .
One element likely to be largely missing is a plan to reorganize adult social care, despite Johnson vowing in his first speech as prime minister that this would happen.
Health Minister Nadine Dorries said Monday that the Queen’s speech would have “mentions” of social care reform, but officials cautioned that this was not substantial.
One of the most controversial bills is likely to be one that introduces mandatory identification for all voters in future elections, a plan that has been condemned given that people from more disadvantaged communities are less likely to possess the necessary document.
Downing Street said it is necessary to combat voter spoofing, even though election experts say this is a negligible problem in England.
The government will also use the Queen’s speech to go ahead with its plan to ban conversion practices, a government source said. The source said it would involve “tough but balanced action that eliminates harmful and coercive practices, but upholds freedom of expression and legitimate forms of spiritual guidance for consenting adults.”
The ban has been promised for several years, so while conservative activists and MPs will likely welcome any progress, it is understood that some are frustrated that a change in the law will not be as imminent as they would like.
Jayne Ozanne, who resigned from the government’s LGBT advisory panel over the delay in banning conversion practices, said she was concerned that more consultations would be launched. “They have consulted enough, now is the time to act and introduce legislation that protects everyone from this degrading abuse,” he added.
There is also hope that the speech will deliver on the conservative promise that up to three million Britons living abroad for more than 15 years could win the right to vote in British elections.
Inclusion would be a dream come true for Harry Schindler, 99, a World War II veteran who has been campaigning for the right to vote for at least a decade.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism