On Monday, full ceremonial pageantry in the finest tradition was on display in Parliament as Her Majesty The Queen came to the House of Lords, to deliver the Queen’s Speech, after the longest sitting of Parliament since 1653.
I attended in the House of Lords, and popped outside to watch the procession departing, which included the State Coach, and a guard of honour from the Household Cavalry and Welsh Guards. As the streets around Parliament had been cleared following last week’s protests, I had the best view in years!
Perhaps because it has been unusually long since the last Queen’s Speech, some of the Opposition appear to have forgotten its purpose – to announce to the House of Commons the government’s plans and forthcoming legislation. It is always therefore political in nature.
The Queen’s Speech set out how the government intends to bring forward 26 Bills, focussing on core priorities of getting Brexit done, investing in the NHS, tackling violent crime, and dealing with the cost of living.
The clear priority is to deliver Brexit, and work continues to secure a deal that can pass through the House of Commons, perhaps this Saturday (the first such sitting since the Falklands War).
Once we have left the European Union, the government will introduce an Agriculture Bill and Fisheries Bill, to focus future subsidy on public goods and to reclaim control of our fishing waters. There was clear emphasis in the Speech about protecting the environment, and these two Bills will form a key part in that effort, alongside a landmark Environment Bill.
I am also pleased, as a former Health Minister, that the government will bring forward legislation to establish a statutory underpinning of the Health Service Safety Investigations Body – the world’s first such body – and substantive proposals to fix the crisis in adult social care.
Following news of 93 new officers for West Mercia Police as the first year element of the Prime Minister’s commitment to increase police on our streets, I am pleased a series of bills will be brought forward to strengthen the criminal justice system and ensure victims receive the support they need and the justice they deserve.
There is not sufficient space here to outline all 26 Bills, but I am encouraged at this ambitious domestic agenda from the government, showing real commitment to tackling the issues facing our country, once Brexit has been delivered.