back to top

Most Of The Proposals In The Queen's Speech Have Been Announced Before

A case of political déjà vu.

Posted on

The Queen has read out the government's agenda for another year – but you might well recognise a fair bit of it.

Wpa Pool / Getty Images

More than 20 bills were announced by the monarch on Wednesday – including ones dealing with prison reforms, a crackdown on terrorist extremism, and a boost to space tourism. But MPs have already complained about the number of reheated pledges.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "There are enough reruns on the BBC without having to get the Queen to do her own." Critics believe the government has been distracted by the 23 June referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU – and deterred from announcing too much change following a string of embarrassing U-turns in recent months.

It's fairly common for a government to include some old announcements in a Queen's Speech but this year's speech is almost entirely reheated.

BuzzFeed News looks at what's actually been proposed – and when it was really announced.

Digital economy bill – giving every UK household a new right to high-speed broadband

This bill aims to ensure Britain "remains at the forefront of the global 21st century economy".

Except the new legal right to broadband was first announced by David Cameron back in November. He said then: "Access to the internet shouldn't be a luxury; it should be a right."

Modern transport bill – paving the way for driverless cars, spaceports, and drones

This is all about putting Britain at the "forefront of the modern transport revolution", apparently. It includes plans for the UK's first commercial spaceports and new rules for commercial and personal drone flight.

But chancellor George Osborne first unveiled plans to allow driverless cars on England's roads in his Budget back in March.

Neighbourhood planning and infrastructure bill – reforming the planning system to give power to the people

This bill aims to boost housebuilding by giving speeding up the planning process for local communities. The government put out a press release about it in February.

Local growth and jobs bill – giving councils control of the money they raise through business rates

This involves a transfer of up to £13 billion to councils by allowing them to keep 100% of the business rates they collect.

It was first announced by Osborne in a speech to the Conservative party conference last October.

Toby Melville / AFP / Getty Images

Better markets bill – making it easier for consumers to switch energy suppliers

The aim is to "improve Britain's competitiveness" by giving utility customers more choice through faster switching.

The government has long pledged to make it easier for people to switch providers. Back in 2013, when the Tories were in coalition with the Lib Dems, they promised that changing energy supplier would become as quick as changing mobile phone company or bank.

Bus services bill – giving elected mayors powers over buses

Elected mayors and local transport authorities will get "London-style powers" to improve bus services.

It's something that Osborne pledged in May last year, when he gave a speech in Manchester.

NHS (overseas visitors charging) bill – making sure overseas visitors pay for health treatment

This was a key Tory manifesto commitment. The government wants to ensure that only UK residents who live here lawfully and pay their taxes get free NHS care.

But it too is something Conservatives have been talking about for a long time. Government guidance on charging overseas visitors was released way back in 2012.

Pensions bill – giving people better access to their pension savings

This was a Conservative manifesto pledge, to allow people the freedom to invest and spend the pension how they want.

A press release about the new law was sent out in February.

Wpa Pool / Getty Images

Children and social work bill – speeding up adoptions and ensuring more support for children leaving care

This is part of Cameron's "one nation" vow to improve children's life chances. He wants to make sure children in care have better support when they move into adult life and increase the number of children in permanent adoption.

The adoption measures were announced by Number 10 in November last year.

Education-for-all bill – paving the way for an expansion of the academy programme

This is a watered-down version of what the government wanted to announce. Back in March, Osborne stated that every school would be forced to become an academy by law. That caused quite an outcry among teachers, parents, and Tory backbenchers – leading education secretary Nicky Morgan to quietly drop the plans two weeks ago. This bill now simply aims to set "the foundation for a system in which all schools are academies".

Higher education and research bill – supporting the creation of new universities

This aims to make it easier for new "high quality" universities to be set up, award degrees and compete alongside existing institutions.

The plan was briefed to the Financial Times back in March.

Prison and courts reform bill – new freedoms for governors to run their own jails

Six prisons – HMP Wandsworth, HMP Holme House, HMP Kirklevington Grange, HMP Coldingley, HMP High Down, and HMP Ranby – will be turned into "reform prisons" by the end of 2016, with more to follow in the years ahead. It means governors will get new powers over how prison budgets are spent and whether to opt out of national contracts, and new freedoms over family visits, education, and rehabilitation services.

This is a relatively fresh announcement, although justice secretary Michael Gove first mentioned it in October 2015.

National Citizen Service bill – expanding the volunteering scheme for young people

This supports the Tory manifesto commitment to encourage thousands more young people to take up National Citizen Service, and puts the scheme on a permanent footing.

Osborne announced the expansion in his autumn statement in November last year.

Lifetime savings bill – helping the lowest-income families save money

The bill will create a new "Help to Save" scheme, to help the poorest people save money, and a new "Lifetime ISA" to give savers a bonus on savings that can be use for a first home or retirement. The first scheme was announced by Cameron in March this year.

Soft-drinks industry levy – introducing a new tax on sugary drinks from April 2018

The aim is to encourage companies to change their recipes and reduce the amount of added sugar in drinks, to tackle the growing problem of child obesity.

The so-called "sugar tax" was announced in Osborne's March Budget.

Small charitable donations bill – making it easier for charities and amateur sports clubs to raise money

This involves a shakeup of the "gift aid small donations scheme", which was first announced in last year's Budget back in March 2015.

Since then there's been a call for evidence and a consultation.

Chris Jackson / AFP / Getty Images

British bill of rights – consulting on proposals to replace the Human Rights Act

This aims to "better protect against abuse of the system and misuse of human rights laws". The government believes that giving UK courts more power over human rights cases would "restore common sense" to the system.

The Tories have long sought to abolish the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British bill of rights, with Cameron raising it back in 2006. But this bill doesn't go as far as some ministers want – it will stop short of original plans for Britain to quit the European Court of Human Rights altogether.

Counter-extremism and safeguarding bill – tackling extremism and preventing radicalisation

This bill aims to "protect the public against the most dangerous extremists" – by preventing "extremist adults" from working with children and enabling ministers to intervene where councils fail to tackle extremism. A new "civil order regime" will also be introduced to restrict extremist activity, following a consultation.

Some details of this bill were briefed to newspapers in the days before the Queen's Speech but mainly stayed under wraps. Yet Cameron has long vowed to get tough on Islamist extremists, not least in a New Year video message.

Criminal finances bill – tackling corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion

One of the main elements of this bill is a new criminal offence for companies who fail to stop their staff evading tax. That was sent out in a government press release in April.

Cultural property (armed conflicts bill) – allowing the UK to sign up to an international convention protecting cultural property in war zones

This means the UK will finally accede to the Hague Convention, which is meant to stop armies targeting national treasures during conflicts.

It was announced last June that Britain would sign up to this.

And these bills have been carried over from the last session of parliament:

High-speed rail (London–West Midlands) bill – allowing for phase one of High Speed 2 to go ahead

Investigatory powers bill – giving the police and intelligence agencies new powers to monitor data in a bid to disrupt terrorist plots

Policing and crime bill – improving the "efficiency and effectiveness" of police forces

This means that by some measures there's only a handful of truly new proposals for the new year of government.

It's almost as if there's a referendum on.

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.