Prioritizing law and order in the King’s Speech, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is outlining his goals for the upcoming general election.
Among the policies the administration has planned for the year are harsher punishments for the worst offenders and steps to compel them to appear in court.
Labour said the administration had just recycled ideas that had already been made public.
Furthermore, the Conservatives’ previous promises were noticeably missing.
Following the Queen’s death last year, it was the first King’s Speech in over 70 years. Although King Charles presided over his mother in May 2022, this was King Charles’s first speech as monarch.
In addition, it was Mr. Sunak’s first time serving as prime minister; it may be his last until the upcoming general election, which is scheduled for next year and needs to take place by the end of January 2025.
In an attempt to win over supporters, Mr. Sunak intends to highlight important policies and highlight points of disagreement with the opposition, given that the Conservatives are trailing Labour in the polls.
The speech is drafted by the administration, but the monarch delivers it in an impartial manner to avoid giving the impression that she is endorsing any particular party.
Among the other proposals mentioned were a bill to guarantee that licenses for oil and gas developments in the North Sea are granted annually, a reform of the leasehold system, and a phased ban on smoking.
However, proponents of a prohibition on “conversion therapy”—which has been promised since 2018—to alter a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation, will be dismayed if it is left out.
A bill to outlaw the importation of hunting trophies into the United Kingdom is also unmentioned, despite being a pledge made by the Conservatives in their election campaign.
Preserving public safety and enhancing victim justice were two of the speech’s main points of emphasis.
One of the plans is to enact a statute that would apply to both England and Wales, fulfilling previous commitments to guarantee life in jail for murderers who carry out their killings with sadistic or sexual intent.
Sentences for grooming gang members and those who kill their lover at the conclusion of a relationship would also be harsher.
However, most sentences of less than a year are slated to be suspended due to jail overcrowding.
This would imply that for less serious offenses, defendants can avoid jail time as long as they follow the court’s directives.
The Criminal Justice Bill will provide that “reasonable force” can be used to compel criminals to appear in court, and that those who refuse will serve an additional two years in prison.
Following high-profile incidents of offenders refusing to appear for their sentence, such the baby killer Lucy Letby and Jordan McSweeney, who was found guilty of killing Zara Aleena, ministers announced proposals for such a rule earlier this year.
Additionally, if police have reasonable suspicion that a stolen object is within the building—for instance, a stolen cell phone that is broadcasting its location—they will be authorized to enter the premises without a warrant and take the item.
“Taking long-term decisions to build a brighter future for our country” was the topic of the address, according to the prime minister.
Despite 13 years under a Conservative government, Mr. Sunak is trying to establish himself as a distinct departure from his predecessors by emphasizing policies such as his intention to gradually phase out the sale of cigarettes in England.
But the leader of Labour, Sir Keir Starmer, claimed the speech was “a plan for more of the same” and offered nothing more than “sticking plasters”.
It promised “no change” on public services or the crisis caused by rising costs of living, he continued.
Additionally, attempts were made to set up political traps for Labour.
A new measure, for instance, would compel ministers to conduct an annual licensing round for oil and gas, something that now occurs.
The address featured a pledge to address the “exploitation of millions of homeowners through punitive service charges” as well as to make it less expensive and simpler for leaseholders to acquire their freehold.
However, the bill would only outlaw leaseholds for newly constructed residences in England and Wales—flats, which account for over 70% of leasehold properties—not for existing homes.
Michael Gove, the housing secretary, had already pledged to do away with the leasehold arrangement, which requires some homeowners to pay high ground rent and maintenance costs.
In the meantime, Parliament will continue to consider the Renters Reform Bill, which contains a long-promised prohibition on “no-fault evictions” in England.
The government has stated that the prohibition won’t go into effect until the legal system has been changed.