York Press column: King’s Speech marks beginning of a new era
November 8, 2023
Yesterday saw the first King’s Speech for seventy-two years as King Charles III set out the Government’s legislative agenda for the new parliamentary session. This was also the first King’s Speech of Rishi Sunak’s premiership providing a clean slate for him to take the difficult but necessary long term decisions.
His Majesty outlined sixteen Bills which show the scale of the Prime Minister’s ambition and determination to deliver the change this country needs. Included in the King’s Speech were commitments to bolster energy security, crack down on antisocial behaviour, tackle the single biggest preventable cause of ill-health, and equip our security services to tackle new, modern-day threats.
All these Bills will also support the Prime Minister as he continues to tackle inflation, prioritise higher growth over extra borrowing, reduce debt, relieve pressure on the NHS by cutting waiting lists and, crucially, implement our world-leading small boats laws so we can crush the people smuggling gangs and stop the boats.
The Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill will help to secure our energy security and independence, by backing North Sea oil and gas extraction. This will safeguard 100,000s of jobs and enable us to reach our Net Zero targets in a proportionate and pragmatic way.
A series of bills – Automated Vehicles Bill; Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill; Data Protection and Digital Information Bill – will introduce rules to regulate the actions of the world’s biggest tech firms – covering everything from social media giants, to supporting new emerging technologies like driverless vehicles and machine learning. This will allow the biggest tech firms to grow and compete in the United Kingdom providing even more jobs in an ever expanding sector.
The Government will ensure criminals get the prison sentences they deserve with a new Sentencing (Whole Life Orders and Short Sentences) Bill. A new Criminal Justice Bill will give police the tools they need to prevent new and complex crimes, such as digital-enabled crime, child sexual abuse, and child grooming. Victims will also be supported and will have the have confidence that our criminal justice system will work for them. The Victims and Prisoners Bill will give ministers the power to block the parole of the worst offender, while also ensuring that victims are at the heart of justice considerations.
At a time when threats to national security are changing rapidly due to new technology, the security and intelligence services will be given the powers they need to keep us safe with a new Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill. The public will be further protected from terrorism with the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, learning lessons from the Manchester Arena tragedy.
Especially poignant given the recent rise of antisemitism, the Holocaust Memorial Bill begin the process of building a national Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in central London, while the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill, will ban public bodies from implementing their own politically motivated boycotts of foreign countries. We must do everything we can to make sure the Holocaust is never forgotten, and that antisemitism is driven out of our society
Now we have left the European Union, we need to diverge where beneficially and set our own legislative course. One area where we can set a world standard is animal rights and the Animal Welfare Live Exports Bill which will protect livestock from distress and injury.
Another area is trade. The Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill will make sure that the UK can promote trade and investment with the fastest growing economies around the world. More trade means more jobs and we should seek to boost trade to all four corners of the world.
This King’s Speech will strengthen society, protect the youngest, support our communities, keep people safe and grow the economy. It will deliver for the United Kingdom and York which is why I will be backing the Prime Minister to ensure these Bills pass all parliamentary hurdles.