The first Queen’s speech of the new Conservative Government was delivered at the State Opening of Parliament today, announcing a wide range of new legislation in 21 new Bills.
Here we have a look at what NatCen research tells us about some of the new policies – how the public might react and what the stats say about the government’s legislative programme.
We will update this as we have a chance to examine the legislation in more detail.
Curbs on immigration
Legislating to curb immigration is always likely to be popular; British Social Attitudes shows that more than three quarters of the population want a reduction of immigration to the UK.
This Immigration Bill will make working illegally in the UK a criminal offence. So how do the public feel about migrant workers?
As the chart below show, eight in ten people want more action by Government to exclude illegal immigrants.
In addition, a majority of people believe that immigrants (not just illegal ones) take jobs from people born in Britain.
Detention of vulnerable people
The Government has said it will review the use of police cells as places of safety for minors. Our study heard the views of vulnerable people in custody revealing that adults and children experiencing mental health problems welcomed alternatives to custody.
Reduced benefits cap
The reduction of the benefits cap announced in the Jobs Bill to £23,000 is likely to be popular. In 2014, 73% agreed that no household should receive more in benefits than the national average income – although we don’t know if the public support this new level.
Regulation on business
Government efforts to cut red-tape for businesses are invariably welcomed by the public and this year’s Queen’s speech announces new efforts to reduce regulations on small businesses. We haven’t asked about it for a few years, but the British public was pretty supportive of cutting regulation throughout the 80s, 90s and noughties.
New restrictions on people engaging in extremist activities are also likely to be well received. When asked the public about the rights of people who hold extreme religious views in the past, the public favoured restrictions on them holding meetings and publishing books.
Elected Metro Mayors
The Government has announced it will legislate to allow cities to bid for devolved power under an elected Mayor. In 2011 we asked a number of questions about elected mayors and had a mixed response.
Further Scottish devolution
The Scotland Bill gives the Scottish Parliament new powers based on the recommendations of the Smith Commission. We asked the British public what they thought the extent of devolution should be:
An in or out EU referendum
The Government has published a Bill to provide for an in-out EU referendum on the UK’s EU membership. When we have asked the public a straight question about staying in the EU or withdrawing a majority usually say they want to stay in.
A new law, announced by David Cameron during the election campaign, will set in law that there will be no rises in income tax rates, VAT or national insurance before 2020.
In 2014, the majority of the public wanted taxes and spending levels to remain the same.
Right to Buy
This legislation will give housing association tenants the right to buy their property at the same discount as council houses.
In 2010, the public described the right to buy as the main advantage of renting from a local authority or housing association.
Extending free childcare
The Government has said it will extend free childcare provision for working parents with children aged three and four to 30 hours a week. However, when we asked the public in 2012 who should primarily cover the costs of childcare for children under school age most people said that families should cover their own costs.