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Chris Walker

Chris Walker

Policy and Public Affairs Manager

Chris leads our public affairs work and is responsible for policy on charity law and campaigning

Policy and Public Affairs Manager

Queen's speech: What it means for the voluntary sector

Chris Walker

Chris Walker

Policy and Public Affairs Manager

Chris leads our public affairs work and is responsible for policy on charity law and campaigning

Policy and Public Affairs Manager

Today the Prince of Wales delivered the Queen’s Speech, outlining the government’s legislative programme for the year ahead. It’s the first time since 1963 that the Queen has been unable to attend the state opening of parliament.

While the government’s legislative programme is not as full as last year’s, it includes many bills that will affect charities. Here’s our round-up of the key bills of interest:

Human rights legislation

Many charities will be watching new human rights legislation closely after the introduction of a British bill of rights. In practice this will mean British judges no longer have to take rulings by the European Court of Human Rights into account.

In the shorter term this is likely to create uncertainty – and in the longer term it may mean some existing human rights are no longer protected. In particular, the government’s shared concerns over decisions that have created and extended a right to privacy, along with decisions that have prevented deportations because of a right to family and private life.

Liberty has written more about what this legislation could mean for human rights in the UK.

Procurement bill

Procurement is the process of scoping, sourcing and purchasing goods, works or services. Following the publication of a green paper in early 2021, last year’s Queen’s speech featured a commitment to legislate on procurement when parliamentary time allows.

Following today’s speech, we expect the procurement bill will be brought forward in this parliamentary session.

The bill will set out reforms to public procurement post-Brexit. These reforms are intended to:

  • simplify the procurement process
  • provide better value for money
  • deliver social value
  • drive innovation in public service delivery.

We believe the initial green paper missed some important areas. In particular, it failed to acknowledge that delivering services for people is not like sourcing goods – it requires a different approach. It requires a culture that not only allows more flexibility around the rules of procurement, but actively encourages those commissioning services to operate differently.

Alongside others in the sector, we’ll be looking to influence the bill to ensure it makes the most of this opportunity to reform public procurement.

Levelling up and regeneration bill

This legislation will give local leaders more powers to regenerate their area, in line with some of the principles outlined in the government’s levelling up white paper.

Will Tanner, director of centre-right think tank Onward, has explained how the bill will introduce an infrastructure levy that could give neighbourhoods more of a say in how money is spent.

Conversion therapy legislation

The government faced a major backlash last month, after it announced a ban on conversion therapy for gay or bisexual people in England and Wales – but not for transgender people.

The LGBTQ+ sector has insisted a ban should include conversion therapy for trans people, and boycotted the UK’s first LGBTQ+ international conference in response.

As expected, the bill has now been announced and does not include a ban on trans conversion therapy. With support for extending the ban across parties, there are likely to be serious attempts to amend the legislation despite the government’s significant majority.

Other bills

Online safety

The online safety bill introduced in the last parliamentary session was the subject of a carry-over motion, which means it can continue to progress in this session without re-starting. Children’s charities have long argued a need for internet safety legislation, and organisations including the NSPCC and Barnardo’s have argued the bill needs to go further.

Public order

The government is introducing further legislation to crack down on protests that cause disruption, after a number of measures failed to get through House of Lords’ scrutiny during the passage of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. NCVO was part of a broad civil society coalition against these powers.

Data protection

The government’s set to reform data protection legislation now the UK has left the EU. Changes to the data protection regime could be welcomed by charities, but are likely to be counter-productive if they mean the UK loses its data adequacy status with the EU.

Animal welfare

The government also announced an animal welfare bill to ban the import of hunting trophies and advertising holidays that involve cruelty to animals. A further bill covering the welfare of imported animals has also been carried over from the previous session, but previous pledges to ban the import of foie gras and fur have reportedly been dropped.

Renters’ rights

In response to pressure from housing charities and campaigners, the government has pledged to protect renters by scrapping ‘no-fault’ evictions. This is clearly welcome news for the sector, but could present challenges for housing associations depending on the legislation that replaces it.

Mental health

Today’s speech highlighted a draft mental health bill, which is set to implement most recommendations from Professor Sir Simon Wessely’s review of the Mental Health Act 1983.

To receive updates on these bills, keep an eye on our blog or sign up to our newsletters. You can also email NCVO’s policy team with questions.

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