Posted: 08 May 2013

Did the Queen deliver the most important speech of the year?

Did you watch the Queen’s speech today? Our Public Affairs Manager, James Bury, did and he has answered a handful of questions about what the speech means for children and families.

What is the Queen’s speech and why is it important?

It's when the Queen delivers a speech before parliament outlining the government’s legislative programme for the coming year. Her speech is written by the government and sets out the bills that the government plans to introduce over the coming year. 

The speech matters because the bills she introduces will affect millions of people up and down the country. 

Debates about these new bills will set the political agenda for the rest of the year, too, as these are the issues that parliament will be discussing this year. It’s also a big occasion in parliament as this only happens once a year.

What did the Queen announce that will matter to children and families?

A number of bills were announced that will affect children and families. 

Two of the biggest are the new anti-social behaviour crime and policing bill and the new immigration bill. The anti-social behaviour crime and policing bill sets out new laws for the police to tackle anti-social behaviour and the immigration bill seeks to make it easier to remove people from the UK that are deemed to be in the country illegally. We have some concerns about these proposals.

On the other hand, we think the care bill is a great opportunity to strengthen rights for young carers.

Can you explain a bit more about the bills? 

The anti-social behaviour bill will affect how police can engage with children and young people and we are concerned that the bill could lead to the criminalisation of children. Without a stronger emphasis on restorative justice or addressing the problems that young people face, rather than just punitive measures we are worried that the bill could fail to tackle the underlying causes of anti-social behaviour and lead to more children in the criminal justice system.

The immigration bill announces proposals to stop immigrants accessing services that they are not entitled to. We are very concerned about the impact this would have on refugee and migrant children and families. We already work with many immigrant children experiencing homelessness and destitution because of restrictions they face when accessing essential support and services. If this new bill further restricts access to vital services, the risk of destitution, homelessness, exploitation and abuse can only increase for these young people.

On the care bill we think this is a great opportunity for young carers to get the support that they need.

What happens next?

Now that the bills have been announced, over the coming year the government will have to publish the full text of the bills and debate the measures in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. For each bill this can mean many hours or days of discussion. 

During this time organisations like ours will work with MPs, peers and officials to get them to scrutinise the legislation and perhaps even change it. For example, the care bill is a great opportunity to work to make these changes for young carers to get the support that they need.

How are we going to affect and influence these bills?

To try to get some of our concerns listened to we are going to produce briefings, hold meetings with politicians, mobilise public support and use the media to apply pressure on government and politicians. We will also work with partner organisations that share our concerns and priorities to ensure that we get our points across about ensuring that in this new legislation that children are not forgotten.


More about the Queen's speech

Our policy team created a video of an alternative Queen's speech, focusing on bills that would benefit young people and their families

In advance of the Queen's speech we shared a collection of links looking at the circumstances around this year's official state opening of parliament 

By James Bury - Policy team

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