What policies will be in king’s speech and what will be left out? | King’s speech

A programme of proposed legislation designed to shore up Rishi Sunak’s re-election prospects will be laid out on Tuesday in the king’s speech.

About 20 bills are expected to be included in what is the final legislative programme before the next general election. The Conservatives are expected to try to open up key dividing lines with Labour on issues including net zero.

Here is what to expect – and what is likely to be left out.

What is expected

A new annual system for awarding oil and gas licences will be announced, with the government saying it will protect jobs and bolster energy security.

But experts, including climate scientists and poverty campaigners, have warned against plans to keep drilling. New oil and gas fields in the North Sea would only produce enough gas to satisfy Britain’s needs for a few weeks a year and have minimal impact on energy security, analysis found this year.

The energy secretary, Claire Coutinho, has admitted that household energy bills may not come down as a result of the plans. Labour would block new domestic exploration licences if it wins power.

Other announcements are expected to prioritise motorists over the pursuit of reducing carbon emissions, including moves to make it more difficult for councils in England to introduce 20mph zones or clean-air schemes such as Greater London’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez).

Sunak has already watered down climate targets, pushing back the deadline for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and the phaseout of gas boilers, prompting furious condemnation from the automobile and energy industries.

There are plans to make it more difficult for councils in England to introduce 20mph zones or clean-air schemes. Photograph: Transport Picture Library/Paul Ridsdale/Alamy

Another potentially controversial measure is a plan to restrict the use of tents by homeless people on the streets of Britain. Home Office plans that emerged over the weekend show charities could be fined for handing out tents.

Charities condemned the move and said that blaming people forced to sleep rough would push them further away from help and into poverty.

Other previously announced measures include giving judges the power to order an offender to attend a sentencing hearing in England and Wales, including by force.

There would also be an expansion of the circumstances in which judges have to hand down a whole-life order for murder, and mandatory jail terms for certain other offences including shoplifting.

Police would have greater powers to confiscate a legally owned knife if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting it may be used for a crime, while there will be a new offence for possessing a banned blade with intent to harm.

A measure known as “Martyn’s law” – named after Martyn Hett, 29, one of 22 killed in the 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack – will be aimed at forcing all venues to draw up plans to prevent terrorist attacks and ensure public safety.

Proposals, first reported in the Guardian and which Rishi Sunak formally announced in his leader’s speech at the Conservative party’s annual conference, would introduce a gradual ‘generational’ ban on smoking.

Under the plan, anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 – in effect anyone who is 14 or younger now – would not legally be able to buy cigarettes in England ever during their lives as the smoking age is raised by one year every year, subject to MPs’ approval.

Plans have already been revealed for a new football governance bill including a regulator and a licensing system under which clubs would operate.

The regulator’s powers would include control of licensing, with clubs having to prove their solvency and “sound financial business models” before being allowed to compete.

The government is expected to go ahead with plans to abolish a key piece of press regulation law, which will result in the rolling back of a law that left newspapers liable for the legal costs of both sides in libel cases, regardless of the result.

Other media policies known to be under consideration have included increased regulation of streaming services, giving the regulator Ofcom the authority to consider complaints about shows on Netflix and Disney+.

Trophy hunting imports and live farm animal exports are expected to be banned after Sunak faced intense criticism from influential Conservatives.

The government ditched the kept animals bill earlier this year, breaking a promise made in the 2019 manifesto.

To be watered down

Despite a promise to end what Michael Gove described as England’s “feudal” leasehold system, a long-awaited reform bill will not end leasehold on most properties.

Sources say the bill will include a ban on developers selling new houses under leasehold. It will also cap ground rents for new and existing properties and set the default length of leases at 990 years, rather than 99.

Government sources have also told the Guardian it will not extend that ban to flats, which make up about 70% of all leasehold properties.

What will be left out

Plans to ban gay and transgender conversion practices are expected to be left out. Senior Tories have been worried about splitting the party, with some concerned a ban on trans conversion practices could unintentionally criminalise parents or teachers giving advice to children struggling with their gender identities.

Plans to privatise Channel 4, which would have been a key component of a media reform bill, have also been dropped.

Plans to scrap pollution rules for housebuilders in England have been abandoned, amid suggestions the sewage scandal hurt the government in byelection losses.

Previously the government had planned to put the bill, aimed at boosting housebuilding by taking away costs from developers, into the speech.

Additional reporting by Helena Horton

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