The Queen has set out the Government’s proposed legislative agenda in her speech to parliament today. It covers the business of the next parliamentary session which will be two years long, double the normal length.
The Government document, Queen’s Speech 2017: Background Briefing Notes published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/queens-speech-2017 provides the most detail on the proposals.
It is proposed that there will be eight Bills to deliver Brexit: a Repeal Bill and separate Bills on immigration, trade, customs, agriculture, fisheries, nuclear safeguards and international sanctions.
The Government states that the Repeal Bill will:
• repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and convert EU law into UK law as the UK leaves the EU;
• create temporary powers for Parliament to make secondary legislation, enabling corrections to be made to the laws that do not operate appropriately once the UK has left the EU. It will also allow changes to be made to domestic law to reflect the content of any withdrawal agreement under Article 50;
• replicate the common UK frameworks created by EU law in UK law, and maintain the scope of devolved decision-making powers immediately after exit. This will be a transitional arrangement to provide certainty after exit and allow intensive discussion and consultation with the devolved administrations on where lasting common frameworks are needed.
It proposes that an Immigration Bill will be brought forward:
• To allow the Government to repeal EU law on immigration, primarily free movement, that will be saved and converted into UK law by the Repeal Bill.
• To allow the Government to make the migration of EU nationals and their family members subject to relevant UK law once the UK has left the EU.
Non-legislative measures (including on migration)
The Government has also set out policy approaches and measures that do not involve primary legislation. On migration, it states:
• The UK is committed to improving the international response to mass movements of refugees and migrants. We want to embed the principle of ‘first safe country’ to encourage migrants to seek protection in the first safe country they can reach and reduce dangerous secondary movements, which threaten migrants’ lives and open them to exploitation.
• We must strengthen international adherence to legal frameworks that distinguish between refugees and economic migrants, so we can provide proper protection for refugees and reap the economic benefits controlled migration can bring while discouraging abuse of the immigration system. All states should maintain the right to control their borders and accept returns of their nationals when they have no right to remain elsewhere.
The Government’s plans will be debated by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords over the coming days, looking at different subject areas. MPs can table amendments to the speech and the debate concludes with votes on these amendments next week. The Queen’s Speech is voted on by the Commons but rarely in the Lords. As the Government does not have a majority in the House of Commons, it remains to be seen whether the legislative programme will be agreed by parliament as proposed.