News In Focus
Devolution and civil liberties feature in Queen's speech
A Scotland Bill and the promised Freedom (Great Repeal) Bill are among the measures for the first session of the new UK Parliament outlined in the Queen's speech today.
Although there have been suggestions that the taxation recommendations of the Calman Commission might be watered down, the speech does promise greater powers for Holyrood over taxation and borrowing under the Calman proposals. It is understood that talks will be held with the Scottish Government, which has expressed some concern over the tax proposals.
The Freedom Bill would extend the current Scottish limits on retention of DNA samples to the national database covering England & Wales. It will also tighten the regulation of the use of CCTV cameras, and remove restrictions on the right to peaceful protest. A separate Identity Documents Bill will scrap identity cards and the National Identity Register introduced by Labour and cancel the next generation of biometric passports.
There will also be bills to implement the coalition agreement's proposals on parliamentary reform, and to prevent the transfer of further powers to the European Union without a referendum.
Among other measures, a Financial Reform Bill will transfer responsibility for the macro-regulation of the bankng system from the Financial Services Authority to the Bank of England.
A Pensions and Savings Bill will legislate for the phasing out of the default retirement age and set a timetable for raising the state pension age, depending on the outcome of a review.
And a Welfare Reform Bill will create a single welfare-to-work programme and make benefit payments more conditional on willingness to accept work.