King's Speech

Sunak to deliver oil licences and ‘Brexit benefits’

Prince Charles at state opening of parliament 2022
King Charles, then Prince of Wales, opening parliament in 2022

Rishi Sunak is putting economic growth, safeguarding energy independence, and ensuring the UK is “fully securing the benefits of Brexit” at the heart his government’s legislative programme in the final year before a General Election.

The Prime Minister wants to “build the most competitive and supportive environment for businesses to capitalise on new technologies.”

It will form the centrepiece of the first King’s Speech for 70 years when King Charles opens parliament on Tuesday for the first time as monarch. As Prince of Wales he stood in for the late Queen in May 2022.

There will be a pledge to introduce annual licensing rounds for oil and gas projects in the North Sea. Projects would have to meet net zero targets and minsters claim the policy would guarantee energy security by reducing the need for imports from less secure overseas suppliers.

A pensions reform bill may be included that will fulfil a plan by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to encourage investment from the UK’s £2.5 trillion pension sector into long-term infrastructure projects and fast-growing start-ups in an effort to increase funds for capital investment in the UK and boost returns to pensioners.

The government claims the reforms could translate into a 12% leap in pension returns for the average earner who starts saving at 18 years old — and reduce the reliance on overseas investment in fast-growing UK companies.

The government promises action to tackle anti-social behaviour, train more doctors, nurses, dentists and GPs, and gives a commitment to build on last week’s AI Safety Summit.

Seven bills will be carried over from the last session to complete their passage in the next session. They include the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill and the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill which will modernise regulation so firms can grow and boost competition in the UK.

Draft legislation to reform auditing, by creating a statutory regulator, is in doubt, according to the Financial Times, though it was included in a statement issued by the government at the weekend.

A bill to reform the regulation of public service broadcasting, radio and online streaming, will also be carried into the new term.

One bill that is certain to be dropped concerns the High Speed Rail link from Crewe to Manchester as the government has decided to cancel the project.

Mr Sunak said: “This will be the first King’s Speech in seventy years and the legislation we will bring forward is part of our plan to build a better future for the next seventy.

“Just as I have done with energy security, net zero, illegal migration and HS2, the King’s Speech will take the long-term decisions to address the challenges this country faces, not the easy way out with short-term gimmicks.  

“As we take the necessary steps to halve inflation and reduce debt, we will legislate to grow the economy, by supporting innovative businesses and protecting consumers.

“To make the real change this country needs, we will bring forward bills that strengthen our society, help people feel safer in their own communities and give a sense of pride in the place they call home.”|

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