King Charles delivered his first King’s Speach

His Majesty King Charles delivered the first King’s Speech in over 70 years on Tuesday.  It set out the Government’s programme of legislation and priorities for the next session of Parliament.  Key relevant points to come out of the speech included:

  • The Government will invest in Network North to deliver faster and more reliable journeys between, and within, the cities and towns of the North and Midlands, prioritising improving the journeys that people make most often. [Draft Rail Reform Bill]
  • The Government will introduce legislation to create a smokefree generation by restricting the sale of tobacco so that children currently aged fourteen or younger can never be sold cigarettes, and restricting the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to children [Tobacco and Vapes Bill].
  • The Government will deliver a long-term plan to regenerate towns and put local people in control of their future.
  • The Government will act to keep communities safe from crime, anti-social behaviour, terrorism and illegal migration. A bill will be brought forward to ensure tougher sentences for the most serious offenders and increase the confidence of victims [Sentencing Bill].
  • The Government will introduce legislation to empower police forces and the criminal justice system to prevent new or complex crimes, such as digital-enabled crime and child sexual abuse, including grooming. [Criminal Justice Bill]
  • The Government will introduce legislation to protect public premises from terrorism in light of the Manchester Arena attack. [Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill]

The Bills above were published on Tuesday and some of the detail includes:

  • Draft Rail Reform Bill:
    • Bringing together the management of the network and the commissioning of passenger services into a new public rail body that puts customers first and delivers efficiency. The Secretary of State’s franchising authority functions will be transferred to Great British Railways, ensuring that operational and infrastructure decisions are made in a co-ordinated way. The new body will serve as the single point of accountability for the performance of the railway.
    • Simplifying fares and ticketing, providing more convenient ways to pay with the rollout of Pay As You Go and new ways of buying tickets
    • Introducing specific duties in relation to accessibility and freight, set out in the Great British Railways’ licence, will ensure that accessibility on the railway is improved and the experience for disabled passengers is enhanced.
  • Tobacco and Vapes Bill – The Bill will:
    • Create the first smokefree generation so children born on or after 1 January 2009 (turning 14 this year or younger) will never be able to be legally sold cigarettes. This will mean effectively raising the age of sale by one year each year for this generation, to prevent them and future generations from ever taking up smoking in the first place
    • Further crack down on youth vaping. The Government is looking at new regulations to reduce the appeal and availability of vapes to children – while ensuring that vapes remain available for adult smokers to quit.
    • Not criminalise smoking – nor will anyone who can legally be sold cigarettes today be prevented from being so in the future. It is already illegal to sell vapes to under 18s and the age of sale is not changing.
  • Sentencing Bill – The Bill will:
    • Mandate courts to impose a Whole Life Order in cases for which a Whole Life Order is currently the starting point, and murder with sexual or sadistic conduct, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
    • Ensure rapists, and those convicted of the most serious sexual offences, receiving a determinate sentence, serve every day of their custodial term behind bars.
    • Introduce a presumption in favour of a suspended sentence for custodial sentences of twelve months or fewer. This will mean there is a presumption that offenders sentenced to less than a year in prison (and therefore who would serve a maximum of 6 months in custody) will serve their sentence in the community on requirements imposed by the court. If they breach those requirements, or commit another offence, they will be returned to court and may be sent to prison.
    • Extend home detention curfew to suitable offenders serving sentences of four years or more, so they can also be considered for the scheme, up to a maximum of 6 months prior to the date on which the law requires their release in any event.
  • Criminal Justice Bill – The Bill will:
    • Ensure criminals face the consequences of their actions and spend longer behind bars by:
      • compelling defendants to attend their sentencing hearing;
      • introducing a statutory aggravating factor at sentencing for those involved in grooming gangs.

o   protect the most vulnerable by:

  • (subject to consultation), introducing a mandatory duty on those who work with children to report concerns relating to Child Sexual Abuse, doing more to expose this hidden crime.

o    give probation officers more powers to:

      • use polygraph tests on serious terrorist or sexual offenders to better manage their risk;
      • increase the multi-agency management requirements on offenders convicted of coercive or controlling behaviour
    • tackle violence against women and girls by:
      • introducing a statutory aggravating factor at sentencing for offenders who murder their partner at the end of their relationship;
      • criminalising the sharing of intimate images;
      • expanding the offence of encouraging or assisting serious self-harm.

o    crack down on the crimes and anti-social behaviour that blight communities by:

    • taking tougher action on drugs through an expansion of drug testing on arrest;
    • increasing the maximum penalty for sale of dangerous weapons to under 18s;
    • creating a criminal offence of possession of a bladed article with the intent to cause harm;
    • tackling persistent, nuisance, and organised begging.

o    counter evolving threats and sophisticated technologies by:

    • giving the police the powers they need to dismantle organised crime groups operating under the radar by creating a new power to enter a premises without a warrant to seize stolen goods, such as phones, based off GPS location tracking technology;
    • giving the police greater access to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency database to identify criminals.
    • banning articles that are used to commit serious and organised crime like templates for 3D printed firearm components, SIM farms, pill presses, and signal jammers used in vehicle theft.

o    build a better justice system by:

      • establishing powers to transfer prisoners in and out of England and Wales to serve their sentence abroad;
      • giving chief officers of police forces the right to appeal the result of misconduct boards to the Police Appeals Tribunal.
  • Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill – The Bill will:
    • Require certain venues to fulfil necessary but proportionate steps according to their capacity to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack and reduce harm. The duties that premises will have will depend on the size of the venue. Premises and events with a capacity of 800 or above will be in the enhanced tier, while premises with a capacity of 100 to 799 will be in the standard tier.
      • Enhanced tier: premises and events in the enhanced tier will be required to take steps to ensure preparedness for, and protection from, terrorist attacks.  Those responsible for an enhanced duty premises or qualifying public events must:
        • notify the regulator of their premise or event;
        • take ‘reasonably practicable’ measures that will reduce the risk of a terrorist attack occurring or physical harm being caused. The reasonably practicable test is utilised in other regulatory regimes e.g. Health and Safety, and will enable organisations to tailor their approach to the nature of the premises, and their activities and resources;
        • keep and maintain a security document, aided by an assessment of the terrorism risk, which must also be provided to the regulator; and
        • if the responsible person is a body corporate, they must appoint an individual as the designated senior individual for the premise or event.
        • If enhanced duty premises and qualifying public events do not comply with these requirements, the regulator will be able to issue a maximum fixed penalty of the higher of £18 million or 5 per cent of worldwide revenue.
  • Standard tier: this will apply to premises with a capacity between 100 and 799 people. The Government wants to ensure businesses and venues can deliver the standard tier duty rather than imposing conditions upon them that they will struggle to meet. This will mean the law stands the test of time, and be accessible, proportionate and deliverable for smaller venues.  That is why ahead of introducing the Bill in Parliament, the government will launch a consultation on the standard tier to ensure the Bill’s measures strike the right balance between public protection and avoiding undue burdens on smaller premises such as village halls, churches and other community venues. This follows concerns raised about the implications of the standard tier through the pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill earlier this year.


The full speech and Bills can be found here: The_King_s_Speech_background_briefing_notes.pdf (