October 14, 2019 / 12:43 PM / a month ago

Factbox: UK government sets out priorities in Queen's speech

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s government set out its agenda in a Queen’s Speech on Monday, reaffirming its commitment to leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 and boosting spending on police, education and health before a widely expected election.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Charles, the Prince of Wales are seen during the State Opening of Parliament in London, Britain October 14, 2019. Paul Edwards/Pool via REUTERS

The speech, read by Queen Elizabeth, is the highlight of a day of elaborate pageantry in Westminster and is used to detail all the bills the government wants to enact in the coming year. It is written for the 93-year old monarch by the government.

With a snap poll on the horizon, many of the policy proposals are unlikely to be passed by parliament, but they do offer a glimpse of what issues will shape the governing Conservative Party election strategy.

Following are some of the main policy statements by Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

BREXIT:

The government again set out that it intends to lead Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31, adding it remains “committed to securing a deal with the EU and negotiating an ambitious future relationship, based on free trade and friendly cooperation”.

The government reiterated its commitment to removing the so-called Irish backstop and implementing a new protocol to ensure no return to a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

It offered little detail on its plans, which are now subject of intensive negotiations in Brussels. EU diplomats say a full agreement is unlikely this week, indicating that the bloc wants more concessions from Johnson.

IMMIGRATION

The government set out its proposals for immigration, including bringing “an end to free movement in UK law, to ensure that the government can deliver a new points-based immigration system from 2021”.

It also says EU citizens arriving after January 2021 will be subject to the same UK immigration controls as non-EU citizens, “to enable the government to deliver a single global immigration system based on people’s skills”.

The new points-based immigration system will be based on people’s skills and contributions to the UK.

ENVIRONMENT

For the first time, environmental principles will be enshrined in British law.

Legislation will also create new legally-binding environmental improvement targets.

A new independent regulator will be established in statute to scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action.

The government plans to introduce charges for specified single-use plastic items.

LAW AND ORDER

The government said it was committed to addressing violent crime and to strengthening public confidence in the criminal justice system.

The proposals are aimed at ensuring the most serious violent and sexual offenders spend more time in prison to match the severity of their crimes.

They also want to tackle repeat and prolific offenders through robust community orders.

NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE (NHS)

The government committed to a NHS multi-year funding settlement that will see a 33.9 billion pounds ($42.6 billion)per annum increase in the NHS budget by 2023-24.

The government said was committed to supporting the NHS long-term plan. It promised to bring forward detailed proposals shortly.

INFRASTRUCTURE

The government will bring forward a National Infrastructure Strategy later in the autumn to set out a long-term vision to improve the nation’s digital, transport and energy infrastructure.

The strategy will be aimed at helping to close the productivity gap between London and other parts of the country.

It will also be aimed at addressing the critical challenges posed by climate change and build on the UK’s world-leading commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

    The government plans legislation to bolster Britain’s role as an international financial centre after Brexit by “enhancing” the sector’s competitiveness, but without eroding “world-leading regulatory standards”.

    Specific aims would include making it simpler for foreign investment funds to be sold in Britain, a commitment to applying bank capital rules agreed globally to date, and ensuring that financial firms in Gibraltar have long-term access to Britain’s market.

FOREIGN TAKEOVERS

The government plans to toughen its powers to block or intervene in the foreign purchase of any company in any sector that could affect national security.

Until now the British state has been able to intervene in the foreign takeover of any company above a certain size that played a role in national security, the provision of media plurality or the stability of the financial system.

($1 = 0.7955 pounds)

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and William James

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