Her Majesty’s most gracious Speech was then delivered to both Houses of Parliament by the Lord Privy Seal, in pursuance of Her Majesty’s Command, as follows.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, my Government’s legislative programme has been founded on a long-term plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society. Legislation passed in this Session will support economic growth and help secure a better future for Britain. New Acts will make the United Kingdom the most attractive place to start, finance and grow a business and reduce the burden of excessive regulation on businesses, individuals and the taxpayer. Legislation was passed to establish a simple set of consumer rights to promote competitive markets and economic growth. In addition, a new Act will simplify the collection of national insurance contributions from the self-employed.
The creation of a modern infrastructure is vital in order to support economic growth. A new Act will guarantee long-term investment in the road network, ensure that new homes will be built to a zero-carbon standard, reform planning law and enhance the United Kingdom’s energy security. My Government continue to promote legislation to enable the building of the High Speed 2 railway line.
My Ministers have made it a priority to reform the criminal justice system. New legislation on serious crime includes provision to tackle child neglect, disrupt organised crime and strengthen powers to seize the proceeds of crime. An Act was passed to make wide-ranging reforms to the justice system, to protect the public and reduce reoffending. Groundbreaking legislation was passed to strengthen the powers to prevent modern slavery and help stamp out human trafficking. Legislation passed in this Session will provide that where a person acts heroically, responsibly or for the benefit of others, this will be taken into account by the courts.
My Ministers attach the highest importance to safeguarding national security whilst maintaining civil liberties. To this end, legislation was passed to ensure that the law enforcement agencies retain the capabilities to protect the public. In recognition of the security situation, legislation was also passed to disrupt terrorism and tackle the extremism that risks drawing people into terrorism.
An Act was passed to improve the complaints system in the Armed Forces through the creation of an ombudsman.
It has been a priority for my Government to help build a fairer society. Legislation was enacted which will help working families with their childcare costs and also reduce the cost of stamp duty land tax for 98% of people who pay the tax. To complement reforms begun earlier in the Parliament, legislation passed in this Session will allow for innovation in the private pensions market to give greater control to employees.
My Ministers have taken forward a series of reforms to the constitution. With regard to Parliament, Acts were passed to reform the House of Commons Commission, on the recall of Members of Parliament and to ensure that female bishops sit in your Lordships’ House at the earliest opportunity.
My Ministers have pursued a programme of legislation to benefit people across the entire United Kingdom and have worked closely with the devolved Administrations. An Act was passed to enhance the devolution settlement in Wales and, following the Stormont House agreement, legislation was enacted to devolve the power to set the rate of corporation tax in Northern Ireland. Last year, people in Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom, and draft legislation was published setting out further devolution to the Scottish Parliament.
The Duke of Edinburgh and I were pleased to welcome His Excellency the President of Singapore and his wife, and His Excellency the President of Mexico and his wife on their visits to the United Kingdom. We enjoyed a warm welcome on our visit to France, which coincided with an invitation to attend the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings.
My Government have continued to pursue an active foreign policy, promoting British interests and values, and protecting British citizens abroad. My Ministers contributed to a resolute NATO and European Union response to Russian actions in Ukraine. Through the NATO summit in Wales, they achieved agreement on enhancing the Alliance’s rapid deployment capability to protect the United Kingdom’s allies.
The United Kingdom has been at the heart of the international coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy terrorism in the Middle East. It has been a priority of my Ministers to reach an international agreement on practical steps to tackle the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. My Government have led the international response to Ebola in Sierra Leone, helping to bring the disease under control.
My Ministers have continued to promote and foster British trade and investment around the world to support the prosperity of the United Kingdom. They have also supported British nationals through modern and efficient consular services. In Europe, my Ministers continue to work for reform to secure a European Union that is flexible, more accountable, and better able to compete in the global economy.
Members of the House of Commons, I thank you for the provisions which you have made for the work and dignity of the Crown and for the public services.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, by virtue of Her Majesty’s Commission which has now been read, we do, in Her Majesty’s name, and in obedience to Her Majesty’s Commands, prorogue this Parliament to the 30th day of March, to be then here holden, and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Monday, the 30th day of March.
Parliament was prorogued at 5.30 pm.