The King’s Speech

The Government has plans for 21 bills, including five on law and order

There was much fanfare, literal and otherwise, as His Majesty delivered the first King’s Speech in 72 years on 7 November,

The King’s Speech, written by the Government, sets out the legislation, regulation, white and green papers, and the general themes for the parliamentary year ahead.

This year’s monarch’s speech contained more words than any since 2005, but has promised just 21 pieces of legislation. 

These include five bills on law and order, a commitment to annual oil and gas licensing rounds, the promised smoking ban, and some important but rather complicated pledges around technology, autonomous vehicles, and artificial intelligence.

A number of bills of interest to local government have been carried over from the previous session of Parliament, having run out of time. 

These include the Renters (Reform) Bill that hopes to achieve better standards in the private rented sector and the removal of ‘no fault’ evictions. 

We will continue to work with government to ensure that councils have the right powers, skills, capacity and resources to undertake effective enforcement activity.

Also carried over is the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill. 

The bill seeks to remove the possibility for public bodies, including councils, to campaign against, boycott, seek divestment from, or sanction a particular territory internationally, unless endorsed by the Government’s own foreign policy. 

We are concerned that this bill could stifle appropriate and proper discussion at pension committee meetings about concerns relating to investments’ risk factors. Geopolitical and territorial factors are relevant to the risk of making, or retaining, certain investments.  

Having been promised during party conference season, the Tobacco and Vapes Bill will bring about the Government’s commitment to create the first smokefree generation. 

We believe this is a progressive piece of legislation that would undoubtedly impact on population-level smoking prevalence, and ultimately reduce rates of smoking-related disease. Smoking remains one of the leading causes of preventable ill health, disability, and death in England.

The King’s Speech also introduced the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill. Sometimes known as Martyn’s Law, the bill will introduce a new duty to protect public premises from terrorism.

Councils take threats from terrorism extremely seriously and work hard alongside wider partners to keep their communities safe. We expressed concern when this bill was being drafted, about the potential impact of the legislation on local communities, community groups and small businesses. 

We therefore welcome the announcement of a further consultation to ensure requirements for standard tier premises (public premises with a capacity of 100–799 people) within scope are proportionate and not unduly burdensome.

We also welcome the introduction of the Pedicabs (London) Bill. The bill will enable Transport for London (TfL) to regulate London’s pedicabs and protect passengers by conferring powers on TfL to bring forward a licensing regime for pedicabs, in a similar way to local authorities throughout the rest of England and Wales.

Alongside this, the Automated Vehicles Bill intends to be one of the world’s most comprehensive legal frameworks for self-driving vehicles. 

Autonomous vehicles have the potential to dramatically improve people’s quality of life, especially in areas where bus services struggle to support them. 

However, the provisions in the bill make it even more pressing that there is urgent reform to the outdated legislation that governs taxi and PHV licensing – something the LGA has consistently called for.


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