Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Queen's Speech 8th May 2013 and the State Opening of Parliament

In a 92 page pdf document  the government has published details of the Queen's Speech 2013.  The document sets out not only the speech itself but contains background details to the various Bills and policies referred to in the speech.  The document merits a full reading by those seeking greater detail about what is planned.

A much shorter overview is at The Guardian 8th May - The Queen's Speech: the key points explained.

An Offender Rehabilitation Bill will extend statutory supervision after release at all those sentenced to short custodial sentences.  This Bill will also give 'Probation Providers' greater flexibility to develop new interventions with a view to reducing re-offending.  The Anti-Social Behaviour Bill will amend the existing law relating to anti-social behaviour with some 19 powers being condensed to 6; make forced marriage a criminal offence; amend the Dangerous Dogs legislation and take further action on illegal firearms. The law on extradition will be amended as recommendations of Sir Scott Baker's review are implemented.   A DRAFT Consumer Rights Bill is to be introduced and this will allow parliamentary examination of how the law might be altered to modernise and improve consumer rights.  This is an area where there is a great deal of existing legislation and clarification is welcome.  In response to the Hargreaves Review, an Intellectual Property Bill will reform the intellectual property framework for designs.  The Unified Patents Court will be implemented.

An excellent analysis of the Bills is at - Queen's Speech 2013: All the Bills in full.

The State Opening used to be held in October but,
when the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 was implemented, the date was changed to the spring.  This was criticised at the time.  The State Opening brings together the Queen, the House of Lords and the House of Commons - the "Queen in Parliament".  Also the three arms of government (legislature, executive, judiciary) are in attendance as Her Majesty reads the speech.  In practice, the speech is prepared by the government of the day.

The picture shows the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor handing over the speech.  Having read it, Her Majesty handed the speech back to the Lord Chancellor. It is interesting that the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor has this role in the Lords given that he is not a member of the House of Lords.  See Chris Grayling's wikipedia entry - he is MP for Epsom and Ewell.

Until implementation of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the Lord Chancellor was invariably a peer and presided over the House of Lords.  He was a member of the executive and also Head of the Judiciary.  The last Lord Chancellor to preside over the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords was Lord Irvine of Lairg (Lord Chancellor from 1997 to 2003).  Lord Falconer of Thoroton (2003 to 2007) declined to do so.  The 2005 Act created the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom which started hearing cases in 2009 when its premises in Parliament Square were ready.

Today, the House of Lords has its own Lord Speaker and the Head of the Judiciary is the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.

Parliament - State Opening


  1. This is what she would have preferred to say:

    My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

    My husband and I will continue to support My Ministers while they continue to punch above their weight by pretending to be major players on the world stage, a practice which can perhaps be justified by the harmless amusement which it provides to citizens of countries whose governments know their rightful and proper place. We will therefore meet and greet those foreign dignitaries who surprise Us by thinking it worth their while to come here and to whom Mr Milliband (We think that that is his name) says we must offer the hospitality of Our homes (We, at least, know Our duty) but by reason of advancing years We have ceased to go to them. Our days of having to sit next to a Foreign Minister while enjoying a meal probably made from his predecessor are over and we leave that pleasure, such as it is, to Our family. Our daughter-in-law, We are pleased to say, will eat anything; except horsemeat, which she excludes from the menu for reasons into which We do not think it necessary or proper to enter.

    Members of the House of Commons,

    Estimates for the public services will be laid before you. They will be prepared on the assumption that My Ministers will do what they must, and only what they must, and will spend what they need, and only what they need, on doing it.

    My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

    Various Bills will be laid before you. My Ministers are unable to tell me that they will be comprehensible to anyone except (perhaps) those who drafted them; there are certain untruths which will stick in the throats even of those who adorn, or at any rate fill, the offices they hold. In any event I have told them that I will in due course consider – in the Parliamentary and Norman-French sense of that word – any Bill to amend the law relating to criminal justice; to confer on any of them or on any body appointed by them any power which is not at present so conferred; or to extend the authority of those institutions in Brussels to which I prefer not to make further allusion in this of all places. I will extend the same consideration, and in the same sense, to any Bill presented by a Private Member of either of your Houses. If in consequence My Ministers find that they have fewer Bills than usual to place before Me My people may share My view that that is all to the good and may indeed reminisce with pleasure about the days when My Royal predecessors summoned your Houses to meet in February and prorogued them in July.

    My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

    I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may attend upon your counsels and that the determination I have taken to make those counsels brief and to the point will be attended with success.