This morning, the Queen delivered her 64th speech in the first ‘dressed down’ State Opening of Parliament since March 1974.
It began with the issue that will unsurprisingly dominate parliamentary business over the next two years: the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Of the combined 27 bills and draft bills that were introduced, eight separate pieces of legislation relate to our forthcoming departure from the EU including:
- A repeal bill which will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and transpose current EU laws into UK law, to ensure legal continuity when the UK leaves the EU. This is indeed the same bill which Ministers formerly referred to as the “great repeal bill”, but has now become the “repeal bill”.
- A customs bill which will replace EU customs rules and allow the UK to impose its own tariffs.
- A trade bill which will allow the UK to operate its own trade policy after Brexit. This is the bill likely to face opposition from MPs seeking to keep the UK in the EU customs union.
- An immigration bill which will allow the UK to set its own immigration policy once free movement with the EU comes to an end. There is little indication as to what our future immigration system will resemble beyond the government stating that it will be “fair and sustainable” and allow the UK to continue attracting “the brightest and the best.” This is likely to become one the most divisive bills of the session.
- An international sanctions bill which will allow the UK to continue applying international sanctions.
Of importance to the games and wider technology industry, the speech maintained a number of commitments made in the Conservative Party manifesto regarding the digital economy including:
- Proposals for a new Digital Charter to be brought forward to ensure that the UK is the safest place to be online. As set out in the Conservative manifesto, this Charter will seek to create a new framework to balance users’ and business’ freedom and security online and “ensure that technology companies do more to protect their users and improve safety online.”
- A new data bill to ensure the UK retains its world-class personal data protection regime, and empowers individuals to have more control over their personal data. This includes introducing a “right to be forgotten”, as set out in the Conservative manifesto, allowing people to require social media companies to delete information held about them at the age of 18. There is also a welcome commitment to implement the General Data Protection Regulation and ensuring that the UK is in the best position to maintain its ability to share data with EU member states following our departure from the EU.
Other positive announcements include measures to radically reform technical education and “give people the tools they need for the high skilled, high wage jobs of the future”, as well as plans to keep the UK at the forefront of innovation by providing support to electric vehicle and space industries.
MPs will now get a chance to vote on the Queen’s Speech in the House of Commons next Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th June. Whilst controversial Conservative manifesto pledges - including expanding grammar schools and a free vote on restoring foxhunting - were dropped, the votes next week will crucially reveal whether Theresa May is able to command the confidence of the House of Commons.
We've set out how the next parliament can support the UK games industry in our manifesto "Powering Up: manifesto for unlocking growth in the games industry" last month as well as our priorities for the forthcoming EU negotiations in our State of Play report earlier this year, and will be keeping you updated on developments over the coming weeks.