IN ITS first year in office, the first Conservative-only
government for 23 years will bring forward new laws to cut taxes,
increase NHS spending, introduce city mayors, and prepare for an EU
The Queen's Speech on Wednesday included mention of a Bill to
ban any tax rises, a new right to buy for housing-association
tenants, and trade-union reforms.
But it did not promise immediate repeal of the Human Rights Act,
a key pledge in the Tory manifesto. Instead, the Government would
"bring forward proposals" to replace the Act with a new British
Bill of Rights. Senior Tory backbenchers are known to oppose the
There were also mentions of new devolution for Scotland and
Wales, and new elected "metro mayors" in cities in England - part
of a "Northern powerhouse" initiative.
"Legal highs" will fall under a new blanket ban on psychoactive
substances, and the Government will begin a new effort to allow the
security services to gather more communications data. An attempt at
this in the last parliament was thwarted by Liberal Democrats.
A new Schools and Adoption Bill will force councils to join up
their adoption services with neighbouring authorities, giving
children waiting to be adopted a larger pool of potential new
There was no mention of a Bill to counter tax avoidance, to the
dismay of Christian Aid. Christine Allen, its director of policy
and public affairs, said that such a Bill could raise up to £3.6
billion, and even more, for developing countries.
"We're disappointed that the Bill has not been included in the
Government's priority legislation this year, and we ask the
Government to act on our policy recommendations in July's
The Children's Society criticised some proposals. The chief
executive, Matthew Reed, said that freezes to working-age benefits
and child benefit would make things worse for millions of children
already in poverty.
"Extending the benefit cap to thousands more families with
children - many of whom are working or trying their best to find
work, or are full-time single parents of young children - will
barely make a dent in the deficit but will lead to more children
slipping deeper into poverty."
The society used the Human Rights Act every year to challenge
mistreatment of vulnerable children, Mr Reed said.