Migrant curbs in Queen's Speech

Measures to tackle immigration are among the measures unveiled in the Queen's Speech, as the Government unveils its legislative plans this coming year.

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New flat rate state pension scheme promised

A new flat rate state pension designed to encourage saving and make the system fairer was proposed in the Queen's Speech.

The Pensions Bill promises to create a simpler state pension by scrapping the two-tier system of basic pension and earnings-related additional pension from 2016.

My Government will bring forward legislation to create a simpler state pension system that encourages saving and provides more help to those who have spent years caring for children.

Bill to make it easier to remove people from the UK

An Immigration Bill will aim to "ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deter those who will not". Credit: PA Wire

The Queen told MPs and peers that an Immigration Bill will aim to "ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deters those who will not".

Measures will regulate migrant access to the NHS and ensure that temporary visitors make a contribution, prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining driving licences, introduce tougher fines for businesses using illegal labour and require private landlords to check the immigration status of tenants.

The Bill will make it easier to remove people from the UK, limiting rights to appeal against deportation and specifying that all foreign nationals convicted of serious crimes will be removed except in "extraordinary circumstances".

Legal force will be given to changes to rules announced by Mrs May to prevent the abuse of the right to family life by those seeking to avoid deportation.

Although the Speech was finalised before the UK Independence Party's surge at the expense of Conservatives in last week's council elections, the focus on immigration will be seen as a response to growing public concerns which the Eurosceptic party has highlighted.


Cap pledge for elderly care costs

A cap on elderly care costs was pledged in the Queen's Speech. Credit: PA Wire

A £72,000 cap on elderly care costs was promised in the Queen's Speech.

Care cost reforms were left out of a draft Bill published by the coalition last year, sparking fears the plans would be kicked into the long grass, but earlier this year the Government announced it would introduce a £75,000 limit on bills in England.

A month later in the Budget, plans were announced to accelerate the introduction of the cap, bringing it in at a level of £72,000 in 2016 - a year earlier than originally intended.

The limit is more than double the £35,000 recommended by the independent Dilnot Commission in 2011 but the Government said today it would "give everyone peace of mind by protecting them from catastrophic costs".

Under the Care Bill, the threshold for financial assistance will be extended. It is expected to go up from £23,250 to £123,000.

New bills keep HS2 project on track

An artist's impression of HS2.

The Government showed its determination to keep the £33 billion HS2 rail project firmly on track by announcing proposed legislation in the Queen's Speech.

The first phase of the controversial scheme, from London to Birmingham, runs through Tory heartlands and is bitterly opposed by some residents' groups and some councils.

But the project has all-party support today an HS2 Hybrid Bill was announced as well as a High Speed Rail Preparation Bill.

The Hybrid Bill will not only give the Government parliamentary permission to build the line, but any specific powers needed to operate it.

The Preparation Bill will provide the financial powers to proceed with HS2 more quickly than otherwise possible.

This Bill will allow expenditure on the construction design of HS2 as well ecological surveys and other preparatory work. It will also provide Parliamentary authority for expenditure on property compensation.

Priority is to 'strengthen economic competitiveness'

During the State Opening of Parliament the Queen said: "My Government's first priority is to strengthen Britain's economic competitiveness To this end it will support the growth of the private sector and the creation of more jobs and opportunities.

The Queen delivers her speech at the State Opening of Parliament. Credit: ITV Pool

"My ministers will continue to prioritise measures that reduce the deficit ensuring interest rates are kept low for homeowners and businesses.

"My Government is committed to building an economy where people who work hard are properly rewarded."


What to expect from the Queen's Speech

Measures expected to be announced when the Queen sets out the Government's legislative programme include:

  • An Immigration Bill giving strengthened powers to deport foreign criminals by preventing the abuse of human rights laws. The Bill will also enable more substantial fines to be imposed on businesses exploiting illegal labour.
  • A National Insurance Contributions Bill implementing the Budget commitment to cut the cost of recruiting new employees.
  • A Consumer Rights Bill covering goods, services, digital content and unfair contract terms.
  • A Deregulation Bill to cut red tape for firms looking to grow.
  • A Social Care Bill to cap care costs, so pensioners will not have to sell their homes.
  • A Pensions Bill to create a flat-rate pension, which ministers claim will encourage saving and help women who have had long career breaks.
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