A bill to protect children and establish a children’s
commissioner will be published in the next parliamentary session,
the Queen confirmed in her annual speech to mark the opening of
parliament, writes Clare Jerrom.
Plans for the introduction of a bill to provide all children
born after September 2002 with a Child Trust Fund, with an initial
endowment of £250 from government and more for children from
disadvantaged backgrounds, were also confirmed.
As anticipated, the Queen said the government would introduce a
bill on further changes to the asylum process, including the
establishment a single tier of appeal against asylum decisions and
other measures to “tackle abuse of the system and fraudulent
Disability campaigners will welcome the news that a draft bill
responding to a review of the law relating to disabilities is also
to be published as part of the government’s programme to extend the
rights and opportunities of disabled people.
Mental health campaigners will be less content though, with
plans for a mental health bill and mental incapacity bill
However, the Department of Health insisted it was fully
committed to reforming mental health legislation and that a revised
mental health bill would be brought forward for pre-legislative
scrutiny “as soon as possible”.
The Queen confirmed that “delivering a world class education
system” remained the government’s number one priority.
The government will also continue to reform the National Health
Service by giving more choice to patients, more freedom to staff,
and more control over hospitals to local communities.
Other measures in the Queen’s speech include:
- modernisation of the laws on domestic violence and the creation
of a commissioner post to speak up for victims and witnesses
- a bill to enable more young people to benefit from higher
education, including the abolition of upfront tuition fees
- strengthening of local authorities’ and schools’ powers to
enable them to tackle antisocial behaviour
- a draft bill on charities to modernise charity law
- legislation on housing to protect the most vulnerable