Published: Wednesday 27th May 2015 by The News Editor
New laws to keep the lowest paid workers out of tax will be included in the Queen’s Speech but plans to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) are expected to be slowed down amid intense opposition.
David Cameron vowed not to “waste a single moment” in delivering his manifesto promises as the first Conservative-only Queen’s Speech in nearly two decades was about to be formally unveiled.
But while controversial proposals to axe the HRA and replace it with a Bill of Rights are expected to feature in the speech, full legislation will not be introduced until next year, according to the Daily Telegraph.
A flagship Bill outlining plans for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union by the end of 2017 will be at the heart of the legislative package.
Reform of strike laws and more benefit curbs are also expected when the Queen sets out the programme for government that will “bring our country together”.
New laws will back those who “work hard and do the right thing”, including the introduction of a lock that means no one working 30 hours a week on the national minimum wage – set to rise to £6.70 in October – will be taxed on their earnings.
Workers currently have to earn more than £10,600 before they pay income tax but the measure is being introduced to stop the lowest paid losing out from any future wage rate increases – something Chancellor George Osborne has indicated he would like to see. Overall, increases in the personal allowance by 2020 are expected to benefit around 30 million working people, according to Downing Street.
Mr Cameron said: “Behind this Queen’s Speech is a clear vision for what our country can be. A country of security and opportunity for everyone, at every stage of life.
“That is our ambition. To build a country where whoever you are and wherever you live you can have the chance of a good education, a decent job, a home of your own and the peace of mind that comes from being able to raise a family and enjoy a secure retirement.
“A country that backs those who work hard and do the right thing.
“This is the Queen’s Speech for working people from a One Nation Government that will bring our country together.
“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.
“As part of our long-term plan to back working people and make work pay, the Government is determined to reward work by letting people keep even more of the money they earn. The Government has already committed to raising the income tax personal allowance to £12,500 by 2020.
“Today the Government is going further in its actions to offer more security to working people by confirming that legislation will be brought forward to ensure that future increases to the income tax personal allowance reflect changes to the national minimum wage.
“This will mean that people working 30 hours a week on the minimum wage will not pay any income tax.”
The Government is committed to introducing a Bill of Rights by 2020. Critics claim the HRA has been exploited by criminals and terrorists and gives judges in Europe the power to overrule their British counterparts, but supporters insist it protects the vulnerable.
Senior Conservatives have raised concerns over plans to scrap it, including former attorney general Dominic Grieve and former shadow home secretary David Davis.
With the Tories holding a slender majority in the Commons while being outnumbered in the Lords, pushing such contentious proposals through Parliament poses a significant challenge.
Former justice minister Crispin Blunt told BBC2’s Newsnight that delaying legislation was “very sensible” and “fits in with the feedback … those of us who have been expressing a degree of concern over this”.
“There’s certainly not going to be an early measure,” he added.
Illegal workers will be stripped of their earnings, and ”deport first, appeal later” measures will be extended to all non-asylum cases in an Immigration Bill.
Plans to expand the Right to Buy scheme to 1.3 million housing association tenants are also set to be included in the package, along with a guarantee of no rises in income tax, VAT or national insurance before 2020.
Proposals giving English MPs more say over measures that only affect England along with legislation to implement further devolution to Scotland are also anticipated.
Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg will criticise the party he once governed with for “turning its back” on the liberal stance adopted during the coalition years.
“The human rights we hold dear, our right to privacy in an online age, our future as an open-minded, outward-looking country, are all hanging in the balance again because of the measures being announced by the Conservative Government,” he will say.
Harriet Harman, acting leader of the Labour Party, said: “We fear the reality of this Queen’s Speech will be very different from the rhetoric.
“The Queen’s Speech will talk of a ‘One Nation approach’ – yet Cameron sets the nations of the country against each other.
“The Queen’s Speech will talk of helping ‘working people’ – yet Cameron threatens basic rights at work.
“The real question for this Queen’s Speech will be whether it improves our country, our communities and people.”
Published: Wednesday 27th May 2015 by The News Editor