UK Politics

Bill-by-bill progress report on coalition's plans

The Queen at the state opening of Parliament Image copyright AP

Last May, the government set out its legislative plans for the year ahead. Here's what has happened to its proposed bills.

Immigration Bill

Aims: Making it easier to deport people who do not have the right to stay in the UK and preventing immigrants accessing services to which they are not entitled. Businesses that use illegal labour will face increased fines, and private landlords will be required to check the immigration status of their tenants. The right of appeal against immigration decisions will be restricted, and immigration officers will be given more powers. Foreign nationals who commit serious crimes will be deported except in extraordinary circumstances, and the law will be changed so this principle is reflected in the courts. The bill will apply to all of the UK.

Status: The bill completed its committee stage in the House of Commons in October. However, it has yet to return for report stage and third reading, prompting claims it has been delayed for political reasons amid mounting pressure over immigration controls. Ministers say it will be debated again on 30 January.

Flashpoint: More than 90 Conservatives MPs backed an amendment tabled by Nigel Mills, calling for work controls on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals to be further extended to 2018 but the amendment was not debated before restrictions expired on 1 January. Ministers insist they cannot be continued under current EU laws but MPs say there is scope to do so under exceptional circumstances.

Read more: The Queen's Speech targets immigration, Ministers deny Immigration Bill delaying tactics

Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

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Aims: A wide-ranging bill includes measures to tackle anti-social behaviour, forced marriage, dangerous dogs and illegal firearms. The offence of being in charge of an out-of-control dog will be extended to cover private property, including people's homes. Forced marriage will become a criminal offence, as will a breach of a forced-marriage protection order. The police will be able to prosecute uncontested minor offences of shoplifting, and the witness-protection scheme will be extended to other vulnerable individuals. The police will also be reformed, with a new Police Remuneration Review Body replacing the Police Negotiating Board. This bill applies mainly to England and Wales, with some provisions extending to the rest of the UK.

Status: The bill was approved by MPs in October and has been slowly making its way through the Lords ever since. Peers have inflicted one substantial defeat, voting down plans to allow courts to impose injunctions on anyone engaging in or threatening "conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person".

Flashpoint: Critics say so-called injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance (ipnas) are too open-ended and could be used to target bell ringers, carol singers, charity collectors and street preachers among others. Peers amended the bill to insist only those causing "harassment, alarm or distress" could be liable for sanctions and it remains to be seen whether MPs will try to reinsert the original provisions.

Read more: Anti-social behaviour changes proposed: Peers block law on "being annoying in public".

Pensions Bill

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Aims: Creating a single-tier state-pension system, replacing the current basic state pension and earnings-related top-up, to be implemented from April 2016. The bill will also bring forward the increase in the retirement age to 67 by eight years, so it will now come in to force between 2026 and 2028. It also makes provision to continually review the retirement age in light of the increase in people's life expectancy. The bill will apply to England, Scotland and Wales.

Status: The bill was approved by MPs in October and is currently in committee stage in the House of Lords.

Flashpoint: The bill has enjoyed a relatively smooth passage through Parliament, although Labour describes it as "only half a reform". Changes were made to the compensation that employees below retirement age are entitled to when their firm goes bust but plans to cap charges on workplace schemes under auto-enrolment from April at 1% have been delayed following criticism from the industry.

Read more: Plan to simplify pensions and rights

Care Bill

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Aims: This bill will introduce a cap on the cost of social care, reducing the need for the elderly to sell their homes to cover costs. It will also give carers the legal right to support from their local council. It will provide protection to people whose care provider goes out of business and give everyone a legal entitlement to a personal care budget, which they can receive as a direct payment to spend as they wish. The bill will introduce an Ofsted-style rating system for hospitals and care homes and give new powers of intervention to the chief inspector of hospitals. The bill will apply to England only, although the Health Research Authority will co-operate with organisations across the UK.

Status: The bill began life in the Lords in May where peers tabled a large number of amendments. They passed it in October and it is now in committee stage in the Commons.

Flashpoint: The government was defeated in October over the applicability of human rights law to private care providers. There was controversy after Lord Lipsey accused ministers of a "disgraceful u-turn" limiting the number of people able to defer care payments until after their death. Ministers, who are consulting on the issue, said they would consider a range of asset thresholds for eligibility.

Read more: Extra investment 'needed to make care cap work', Elderly care all sorted? Think again...

Offender Rehabilitation Bill

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Aims: Offenders who serve custodial sentences of less than a year will be put under supervision for 12 months after their release. At the moment, they receive no supervision, and it is hoped this measure will reduce re-offending. The six month supervision period that currently applies to people who serve between one and two years in prison will be extended to a year. This bill will apply to England and Wales.

Status: The bill has completed all its stages in both Houses and peers are currently considering amendments introduced by MPs. Likely to become law soon.

Flashpoint: The government was defeated in the Lords in June when peers insisted on a further vote before changes were made to the Probation Service, including the transfer of "low risk" contracts to the private sector. But this was overturned in the Commons in January. when the government won a key vote with a majority of 66.

Read more: Probation extended to all offenders: Government defeat on probation plans

National Insurance Contributions Bill

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Aims: Reducing the cost to small businesses of employing extra staff. If it passes, from April 2014 every business and charity will be entitled to a £2,000 employment allowance. It also aims to stop the use of offshore companies that are sometimes used to avoid paying National Insurance contributions. It will apply to the whole of the UK

Status: The bill was approved by MPs in December and the bill is about to go into committee stage in the Lords.

Flashpoint: One of Chancellor George Osborne's main Budget announcements, the proposals have strong coalition backing and are unlikely to be significantly changed.

Defence Reform Bill

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Aims: Increasing the size of the reserve forces so they can play a greater role in the country's defence. The measure was first outlined in the Strategic Defence Review 2010, and the government believes it will save a significant amount of money. The bill will also change the way defence equipment is purchased by the government. It will apply to the whole of the UK.

Status: It was approved by MPs in November and will move onto committee stage in the Lords next month.

Flashpoint: The government dropped plans to privatise its defence procurement body after only one bidder was left in contention for the contract. It also agreed to make an annual report to Parliament on the state of recruitment of Army Reserves after Tory MPs expressed concerns that targets would be missed.

High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill

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Aims: This bill will give parliamentary authorisation for the government to spend the money necessary to build the new rail link between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. It will allow the government to pay for the preparatory work needed before construction begins, for example ecological surveys and ground investigations. The government needs to pass this before it can pass the High Speed Two Hybrid Bill. This bill will apply to England, Scotland and Wales.

Status: The bill received Royal Assent in November, meaning it is now law.

Flashpoint: There was a Conservative rebellion in the Commons on third reading of the bill but it was still approved by 350 votes to 34.

Read more: High speed two legislation outlined

High Speed Two Hybrid Bill

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Aims: This bill will give the government the legal power to compulsorily buy the land needed to construct the proposed high speed rail line linking Britain's biggest cities. Those affected by the bill will have the opportunity to petition Parliament and have their case heard by the bill select committee. It will apply to England, Scotland and Wales.

Status: The bill has yet to leave the station, so to speak, after second reading in the Commons was delayed until the Spring due to problems with an environmental consultation on phase one of the project.

Flashpoint: The bill is likely to face stiff opposition from many of the MPs whose constituencies lie on the route - and not just in rural areas. North London MPs are speaking out against expected demolition of buildings in Camden.

Read more: Biggest ever bill goes before Parliament, First Commons debate on HS2 bill set to be delayed

Intellectual Property Bill

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Image caption The current intellectual property regime was part of the reason why programmes like Game of Thrones are filmed in the UK, MPs agreed as they debated the bill

Aims: This bill is designed to simplify patent and design protection laws. It will implement the Unified Patent Court, which will mean that a single patent application will be valid in almost all EU countries. The bill will introduce criminal penalties for breaching UK protected designs, and bring in measures to speed up the patent-application process. It will apply to the whole of the UK.

Status: The bill has already passed the Lords, and had its second reading in the Commons on 20 January.

Flashpoint: Its contents enjoy the support of the opposition, although Labour says the bill lacks ambition.

Local Audit and Accountability Bill

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Aims: It will close down the Audit Commission and replace it with a new local audit framework, saving an estimated £1.2bn over ten years. It will allow local council taxpayers to veto rises in council tax caused by bodies such as waste disposal authorities and integrated transport authorities. It will apply to England and Wales.

Status: The bill has cleared all its stages in the Commons and Lords and is now in "ping-pong" where the two Houses decide which amendments to keep and which to drop before it becomes law.

Flashpoint: Labour said plans to require free newspapers published by councils to comply with a new code of practice - to stop them competing directly with local papers - was worthy of a "crackpot dictatorship". But MPs rejected calls to limit the powers of ministers to intervene by 61 votes.

Read more: Council spending watchdog abolished

Water Bill

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Aims: This bill will change the way the water industry works. It will allow all business, charity and public-sector customers to switch their water supplier, in order to increase competition, and make it easier for new companies to enter the water market. It will also become easier for water companies to trade water with each other, which should help manage drought situations better. The bill will apply to England and Wales, and a small number of provisions will extend to Scotland.

Status: It was approved by MPs earlier this month and debate on the bill in the Lords is due to start shortly.

Flashpoint: The bill has Labour backing and was "nodded" through without a vote at second and third readings. Among amendments rejected were calls for a national affordability scheme for water companies.

Mesothelioma Bill

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Aims: This bill is designed to help people who suffer from Mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos. It establishes a payment scheme for those people who cannot trace their employer or their employer's insurance company, where the employer was responsible for the asbestos exposure. Anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma from 25 July 2012 will be able to make a claim. The bill will be funded by a levy on insurance companies, and it will apply to the whole of the UK.

Status: The bill has been approved by MPs and peers and is awaiting Royal Assent which will turn it into law.

Flashpoint: Many MPs who agreed with the principle of the bill wanted the maximum level of compensation payable to be increased. But their amendment was defeated by 303 to 232 votes.

Read more: Mesothelioma asbestos victims to get £350m compensation

Northern Ireland Bill

Aims: This introduces technical changes to the way the politics and institutions in Northern Ireland operate. It will increase the transparency of political donations, and will prevent members of the Northern Ireland Assembly also being members of parliament in the House of Commons or the Dail, the lower house of the Irish Parliament. It will change the way Northern Irish elections are administered, following recommendations by the Electoral Commission and the chief electoral officer for Northern Ireland. Although the bill is specific to Northern Ireland, as a technical matter it applies to the whole of the UK.

Status: The bill was approved by MPs in December and is now moving onto its committee stage in the Lords.

Gambling (licensing and advertising) Bill

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Aims: This was not mentioned in the 2013 Queen's speech, but does appear in the background briefing notes under "other measures will be laid before you". This bill will mean that gambling operators based overseas will be required to hold a licence from the UK Gambling Commission. At the moment they are regulated in the jurisdiction in which they are based. This will also apply to operators who advertise in the UK. Because this will mean that overseas operators will be required to inform British authorities of suspicious betting patterns, it should help prevent corruption in sport. This will apply to Great Britain, with some provisions extending to Northern Ireland.

Status: The bill was approved by MPs in November and is now at committee stage in the House of Lords.

Flashpoint: It has cross-party support although that had not stopped controversy over related issues outwith the scope of the legislation. Labour is calling for tighter curbs on high stakes casino gaming machines in betting shops while more than 50 backbenchers want taxes on bingo reduced.

Read more: Fixed-odds betting machines 'concerning', say ministers

European Union Approvals Bill

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Aims: This also appears in the briefing notes on "other measures will be laid before you". It is a technical bill which allows the UK to take part in EU measures against counterfeiting the Euro, allowing access to historical archives and makes the country a part of an EU-wide civic education program called Europe for Citizens. The bill extends to all of the UK.

Status: The bill was approved by peers in October and is due to be scrutinised by MPs in committee stage shortly.

Flashpoint: 22 Conservative MPs voted against the bill at second reading, reflecting their wider concerns about the sovereignty of the UK Parliament in relation to Brussels and the incorporation of EU measures into UK law.

Read more: EU (Approvals) Bill clears first Commons hurdle

Draft Consumer Rights Bill

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Aims: It would update consumer-protection laws so they cover digital purchases such as downloaded music and e-books. Trading Standards will be granted new powers, such as being able to get a court to order a trader to pay compensation when consumer law is breached. The bill would apply to all of the UK.

Status: The bill was published in June and the business select committee has published an analysis of it.

Read more: New laws are planned for faulty apps

Draft Wales Bill

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Aims: To give the Welsh government new powers to tax and borrow. It also contains proposals to alter the way elections in Wales work, with candidates able to stand on both a regional list and in a constituency. But Assembly Members would no longer be able to sit as an MP in the House of Commons at the same time. It would also move the Welsh assembly from four-year to five-year terms, making assembly elections less frequent but reducing the likelihood of them clashing with Westminster parliamentary elections. Although the bill would be specific to Wales, as a technical matter much of it would apply to the whole of the UK.

Status: The draft bill was published in December, and is set to go through detailed pre-legislative scrutiny.

Flashpoint: The Welsh government will get the right to vary income tax rates - if approved in a referendum - but restrictions attached to the new powers have faced criticism.

Read more: Assembly election reform plans outlined in Queen's Speech, Law giving Wales new financial powers is published

Draft Deregulation Bill

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Aims: This draft bill lays out how the government intends to reduce the amount of regulation with which businesses, individuals and public bodies have to comply. Measures include exempting from health-and-safety legislation people who are self-employed and whose work poses no risk of harm to other people, and removing the ability of of employment tribunals to make wider recommendations in successful discrimination cases, which they were granted in the Equality Act 2010. The whole bill would apply to England and Wales, and some parts of it would apply to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Status: The draft bill was published in July and a joint committee of MPs and peers set up to examine it have published their findings.

Energy Bill (carried over from previous session)

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Aims: The government is going to continue with the legislation it started in the last Parliament to reform the energy sector. It is designed to ensure there is always enough capacity to generate the electricity the UK needs, and that this is done in a low-carbon way. It also contains measures to ensure people are always on the best energy tariff for their needs. It will apply to all of Great Britain, with some measures extending to Northern Ireland.

Status: The bill finally received Royal Assent and became law in December.

Flashpoint: The government lost a Lords vote on calls to toughen up pollution controls on Britain's dirtiest coal-fired power stations after Lib Dem rebels joined forces with Labour and crossbenchers. But it was later overturned by MPs. A bid to include a 2030 decarbonisation target was narrowly defeated by MPs by 23 votes.

Read more: MPs overturn energy defeat

Things which were not mentioned in the speech...

The government has been defeated three times in the Lords on a bill designed to regulate the lobbying industry and make it more transparent. The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill was not included in the Queen's Speech and was announced several weeks later.

Ministers also published a draft bill on modern slavery in December but other measures expected to have been included in the programme, on alcohol pricing, cigarette packaging and data communications remain on hold.