This morning Her Majesty unveiled the Government’s programme/election offer (delete as applicable). On top of several white papers and other announcements were 22 concrete pieces of legislation. These are:
- The EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: This will give legal effect to the Prime Minister’s deal, should he manage to win a Meaningful Vote on it.
- Agriculture Bill: This will create a seven-year period for British farmers to transition away from the current EU subsidies regime, the Common Agricultural Policy.
- Fisheries Bill: A new system of licences for foreign vessels in UK territorial waters, and a new regime of controls on British fishermen to replace the EU system.
- Trade Bill: Allows for existing trade deals to be ‘carried over’ if the Government can secure agreement to that effect with the country concerned.
- Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill: End to freedom of movement between the EU and the UK; paves way for new points-based system for assessing immigration applications; sets December 2020 deadline for EU nationals applying to stay.
Prison and Sentencing
- Sentencing Bill: Moves the typical release point from halfway through a prisoners’ sentence to two-thirds of the way; expands reasons judges can issue ‘whole-life’ sentences; and introduces tougher sentences for violent and sexual offenders.
- Foreign National Offenders Bill: Will substantially increase sentences for foreign offenders who have breached a deportation order to return to the UK.
- Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill: Also known as ‘Sarah’s Law’, this will make it easier to deny parole to murderers and child abusers who refuse to identify their victims.
Police and Prevention
- Police Protections Bill: A new test for police drivers to help protect them in the event of injuries during chases; new protections for Special Constables; Home Office to report annually on the Police Covenant.
- Serious Violence Bill: This will create new obligations for councils, social services, schools, healthcare services, and more to share information in order to ‘prevent serious violence’.
- Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill: Intended to give police powers to arrest foreign criminals without waiting for a UK warrant if target is subject to an Interpol ‘red notice’ and from an approved country.
- Domestic Abuse Bill: Will prevent cross-examination of accusers by alleged perpetrators; create a statutory definition of domestic abuse; and accusers will be assumed to qualify for special measures in court.
- Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill: Gives police more powers to ground drones and investigate crimes where a drone has been employed.
- Financial Services Bill: Simplifies process for overseas funds being sold in the UK and allows for long-term access to British markets for Gibraltar-based firms.
- Pension Schemes Bill: Plans for new ‘collective’ workplace pension schemes; companies will be compelled to join new ‘pensions dashboard’ programme; and new controls about transferring pension.
- Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill: Restaurants will be forced to hand over tips to staff and share pooled tips fairly, and a new Code of Practice will be introduced.
Animals and Environment:
- Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill: Maximum sentence for animal cruelty to rise from six months to five years. Plans for a legal statement on the sentience of animals to be published separately.
- Environment Bill: Charges on single-use plastics; new Office for Environmental Protection, which can take Government to court; new powers for councils to tackle air pollution; and more.
- Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill: Will make divorce easier by removing the ability of one party to contest separation, introduces 20-week timeline for divorce proceedings.
- Health Service Safety Investigations Bill: Will create a new body to investigate NHS incidents, leaks from which will be banned; local bodies will receive new guidance on medical investigations; and more.
- Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill: According to the Government, this aims to roll out “gigabit capable broadband across the UK to achieve nationwide coverage as soon as possible”.
- Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill: Tackles problems relating to disputes over children which cross national borders, enables inter-governmental cooperation on family cases.