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 pursued a one-nation approach; helping working people by supporting aspiration and opportunity.
My Ministers have continued in their long-term plan to deliver economic stability and security at every stage of life. To this end, work has continued to bring the public finances under control and to reduce the deficit. To support working people, legislation was passed to guarantee that key taxes would not rise during this Parliament, to ensure that those working 30 hours a week on the national minimum wage will not pay income tax and to increase the provision of free childcare to working families.
To support aspiration and opportunity, legislation was passed to grant housing association tenants the right to own their home. My Ministers have pursued policies to reform the welfare system to modernise and deliver equity to taxpayers, including measures to cap welfare payments. In the first year of this Parliament my Ministers have driven forward important constitutional reforms. Landmark legislation was enacted to enable a referendum on membership of the European Union to be held later this year.
My Government have sought to develop a productive working relationship with the devolved Administrations. In relation to Scotland, legislation was passed to implement the recommendations of the Smith commission, devolving substantial new powers to the Scottish Parliament. A draft Bill was published setting out a new framework for devolution in Wales in accordance with the St David’s Day agreement. Legislation was enacted to implement the fresh start agreement and reform the welfare system in Northern Ireland.
With regard to England, ground-breaking legislation was passed which will allow significant powers to be devolved to directly elected mayors, helping to create a northern powerhouse. In the House of Commons, changes have been implemented to create fairer procedures to ensure that decisions affecting England, or England and Wales, can only be taken with the consent of the majority of Members of Parliament representing constituencies in those parts of our United Kingdom.
Modernising the public services continues to be a priority for my Ministers. Newly enacted legislation will deliver transparency to the way in which trade unions operate and will protect essential public services from strike action.
Legislation was passed to improve schools, with new powers to turn around failing and coasting schools and create more academies. This legislation also made provision to establish regional adoption agencies in England to ensure every child can be provided with a stable home.
It has been a key priority for my Government to achieve a strong, sustainable and balanced economy where the benefits are more evenly shared across the country and between industries.
New legislation passed in this Session will ensure that the Bank of England is well equipped to fulfil its vital role of overseeing monetary policy and financial stability. A Small Business Commissioner was established in statute to help small businesses compete and grow. Legislation was also passed to ease the regulatory burden on businesses. To help build a modern competitive workforce, the Institute for Apprenticeships was established as part of the drive to create 3 million high-quality apprenticeships.
In recognition of the vital role charities play, legislation was passed to give the Charity Commission new powers to protect the integrity of such bodies by preventing abuses of charitable status.
The defence of the realm is an utmost priority for my Government. In this Session legislation has been passed to support our gallant Armed Forces. My Ministers will continue with legislation to provide a new framework to govern the use and oversight of investigatory powers by law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies.
My Ministers have pursued policies to reform the criminal justice system, including new legislation to improve the integrity and effectiveness of the police, and a comprehensive new framework to ban the new generation of psychoactive substances. The new Immigration Act will provide powers to tackle illegal working and the exploitation of workers, and make it easier to deport those with no legal right to remain.
The Duke of Edinburgh and I were pleased to welcome His Excellency the President of The People’s Republic of China and Madame Peng in October, during whose visit my Government launched a new partnership with China. We enjoyed our fifth State Visit to Germany in June, and our visit to Malta in November, for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
My Government have continued to play a leading role in world affairs, promoting British interests and values, and protecting British citizens abroad, including in response to terrorist attacks in Tunisia, France, Belgium and elsewhere. My Ministers have been at the forefront of the European Union and international response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, successfully ensuring the maintenance of tough sanctions.
My Government have played a leading role in the global coalition against Daesh and co-hosted the London Syria conference, which secured commitments to help refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. With European Union and other international partners, my Ministers have worked to address irregular migration across the Mediterranean and its causes. The United Kingdom played a key role in delivering the Paris climate change agreement.
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 18th day of May, to be then here holden, and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Wednesday, the 18th day of May.
Parliament was prorogued at 1.41 pm.