Rishi Sunak says King’s Speech will strengthen British society

Rishi Sunak says King’s Speech will strengthen British society

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “short-term gimmicks” will not feature in the King’s Speech as he focuses on efforts to “strengthen our society”.

The British leader, emphasising the Conservative Party conference slogan of taking the “long-term decisions”, said the next session of Parliament will take action to stimulate the economy and “help people feel safer in their own communities”.

On Tuesday, Charles will give the first King’s Speech in seven decades to mark the start of the next session of Parliament.

Although Charles delivered the speech at the last state opening of Parliament in May 2022, he was doing so in place of his mother, the late Queen.

The King’s Speech will set out the legislative programme for the next session of Parliament, but it will also give an indication of Mr Sunak’s priorities ahead of the general election.

The Tory leader is expected to go to the country in 2024, although an election does not have to be held until January 2025.

Mr Sunak said: “This will be the first King’s Speech in 70 years and the legislation we will bring forward is part of our plan to build a better future for the next 70.

“Just as I have done with energy security, net zero, illegal migration and HS2, the King’s Speech will take the long-term decisions to address the challenges this country faces, not the easy way out with short-term gimmicks.

“As we take the necessary steps to halve inflation and reduce debt, we will legislate to grow the economy, by supporting innovative businesses and protecting consumers.

“To make the real change this country needs, we will bring forward Bills that strengthen our society, help people feel safer in their own communities and give a sense of pride in the place they call home.”

Downing Street said the King’s Speech would look to build on the Prime Minister’s priorities of growing the economy – one of his five pledges made to the electorate in January – and safeguarding the UK’s energy independence.

It will also ensure the country is “fully securing the benefits of Brexit” and build a competitive and supportive environment for businesses to capitalise on new technologies, officials said.

Reports have suggested that new powers could be given to police and councils in the King’s Speech allowing authorities to clear tents put up by homeless people if they are deemed to be a “nuisance”.

According to the Financial Times, as part of the measures, a civil offence could be established to fine charities found to have given tents to rough sleepers.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman, the Cabinet minister behind the proposals, told Sky News: “There is no need to live in a tent in Britain in the 21st century.

“There is a huge amount of resources dedicated to wraparound care for vulnerable people, drug treatment and other forms of treatment to support people to get back on their feet and live fulfilling lives.

“We need to be clear that the police have requested some of these new powers to enable them to take a robust approach to what can be a very serious criminal behaviour in these instances, involving drug use, anti-social behaviour, vandalism and threatening behaviour in communities.

“It is not what our country represents and that is why I’m proposing these measures.”

The Levelling Up Secretary reportedly wants a measure in the King’s Speech that would provide for elected scrutiny when it comes to approving senior council workers earning more than £100,000 per year.

According to The Sun, Michael Gove has told senior ministers: “Excessive salaries in local government should be limited by ensuring oversight of senior pay.”

The plans are expected to give councillors the final sign-off on all local authority pay packages exceeding six figures, the newspaper reported.

Mr Gove’s aides have been approached for comment.

Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the King’s Speech would not feature ‘short-term gimmicks’ (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Seven Bills will be carried over from the last session to complete their passage in the next, No 10 has confirmed, including the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill and the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.

The Renters (Reform) Bill will also return.

The Holocaust Memorial Bill will be brought back as well. It was introduced after plans to build a memorial centre in Victoria Tower Gardens, situated next to the Houses of Parliament, ran into difficulties over a 1900 law requiring the land to be used as a public park.

The Bill intends to update the legislation, removing the legal obstacle that has prevented the project going ahead.

It would also give the Government powers to use public funding to build and operate the centre.

The Economic Activities of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill is another making a return in the next session.

The Bill implements a ban on public bodies imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, disinvestment or sanctions campaigns against other countries.

Before Parliament was prorogued, ministers rejected calls for Israel to be treated the same as other countries in the legislation.