Jonathan Werran 27 May 2015

Queen's Speech: Councils await devolution and housing vows

Plans to give cities greater economic powers and a controversial extension of the Right to Buy scheme to 1.3 million social housing tenants will be among Bills set out today in the first Conservative Queen’s Speech since 1996.

The Queen’s Speech, which forms the centrepiece of the state opening of Parliament, is due to take place at 11.30 am today.

Prime minister David Cameron said the speech would ‘set out a clear vision for what our country can be’.

‘This is the Queen’s Speech for working people from a ‘one nation’ government that will bring our country together,’ Mr Cameron said.

He added: ‘We have a mandate from the British people, a clear manifesto and the instruction to deliver. And we will not waste a single moment in getting on with the task.’

Key Bills to be set out by the Queen are likely to include: -

  • A referendum Bill on the UK’s membership of the European Union by the end of 2017;
  • A Housing Bill - led by DCLG minister of state for planning, Brandon Lewis - that would force councils to sell their most expensive housing stock when they become empty - to fund the estimated £4.5bn annual cost of replacing social properties lost by extending the Right to Buy scheme to 1.3 million social housing tenants on the same terms as council tenants
  • A cities devolution Bill, to be led by DCLG minister of state Mark Francois, to deliver the Conservative manifesto pledge on transferring economic and fiscal powers to England as part of wider plans to rebalance the national economy;
  • A triple lock against hiking VAT, national insurance of income tax rate before 2020;
  • An Enterprise Bill that would prevent public sector unions launching strike action without 40% support of their members and cap public sector payouts to a maximum £95,000.
  • A Scotland Bill to implement the recommendations of the cross-party Smith Commission set up in the aftermath of last year’s Scottish Independence referendum;
  • A doubling of the free childcare allowance to 30 hours for three and four-year olds – to take effect from 2017.
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