The Queen's speech: bill-by-bill

The 19 coalition bills announced today in the Queen's speech.

There were 19 bills announced in the Queen's seven-minute speech to parliament, here they are for Staggers readers.

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

Legislation to repeal unnecessary laws and to limit state inspection of businesses.

Banking Reform Bill

Measures to strengthen regulation of the financial services sector.

Implementation of the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking (otherwise known as the Vickers report).

Groceries Adjudicator Bill

The establishment of an independent adjudicator to ensure supermarkets deal fairly and lawfully with suppliers.

Small Donations Bill

A bill to allow charities to claim additional payments on small donations.

Energy Bill

Reform of the electricity market to deliver "secure, clean and affordable electricity" and ensure prices are fair.

Draft Water Bill

Reform of the water industry in England and Wales.

Public Service Pensions Bill

Public service pensions will be reformed in line with the recommendations of the independent commission on public service pensions (otherwise known as the Hutton report).

Draft Local Audit Bill

Abolishes the Audit Commission and establishes new arrangements for the audit of local public bodies.

Children and Families Bill

Includes measures to improve provision for disabled children and children with special educational needs, reform of family courts and more flexible parental leave for parents.

Draft Care and Support Bill

A bill to modernise adult care and support in England.

Electoral registration and Administration Bill

Introduces individual registration of voters.

House of Lords reform bill

A bill to reform "the composition" of the House of Lords. This was more tightly-worded than expected.

Crime and Courts Bill

Establishes a National Crime Agency to tackle the most serious and organised crime and strengthen border security.

Defamation Bill

New measures to protect freedom of speech and reform defamation law.

Justice and Security Bill

Will allow secret courts to hear a greater range of evidence in national security cases.

Draft Communications Bill

Legislation to allow the police and intelligence agencies to collect data on communications, such as texts and emails.

European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill

Approves the creation of the financial stability mechanism within the euro area.

Croatia Accession Bill

The government will seek parliamentary approval on the anticipated accession of Croatia to the EU.

International Aid

There was no international development bill in the speech (as Richard Darlington predicted on The Staggers last month) but the government reaffirmed its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on international aid from 2013.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, proceed through the Royal Gallery in the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Garry Knight via Creative Commons
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Why Barack Obama was right to release Chelsea Manning

A Presidential act of mercy is good for Manning, but also for the US.

In early 2010, a young US military intelligence analyst on an army base near Baghdad slipped a Lady Gaga CD into a computer and sang along to the music. In fact, the soldier's apparently upbeat mood hid two facts. 

First, the soldier later known as Chelsea Manning was completely alienated from army culture, and the callous way she believed it treated civilians in Iraq. And second, she was quietly erasing the music on her CDs and replacing it with files holding explosive military data, which she would release to the world via Wikileaks. 

To some, Manning is a free speech hero. To others, she is a traitor. President Barack Obama’s decision to commute her 35-year sentence before leaving office has been blasted as “outrageous” by leading Republican Paul Ryan. Other Republican critics argue Obama is rewarding an act that endangered the lives of soldiers and intelligence operatives while giving ammunition to Russia. 

They have a point. Liberals banging the drum against Russia’s leak offensive during the US election cannot simultaneously argue leaks are inherently good. 

But even if you think Manning was deeply misguided in her use of Lady Gaga CDs, there are strong reasons why we should celebrate her release. 

1. She was not judged on the public interest

Manning was motivated by what she believed to be human rights abuses in Iraq, but her public interest defence has never been tested. 

The leaks were undoubtedly of public interest. As Manning said in the podcast she recorded with Amnesty International: “When we made mistakes, planning operations, innocent people died.” 

Thanks to Manning’s leak, we also know about the Vatican hiding sex abuse scandals in Ireland, plus the UK promising to protect US interests during the Chilcot Inquiry. 

In countries such as Germany, Canada and Denmark, whistle blowers in sensitive areas can use a public interest defence. In the US, however, such a defence does not exist – meaning it is impossible for Manning to legally argue her actions were in the public good. 

2. She was deemed worse than rapists and murderers

Her sentence was out of proportion to her crime. Compare her 35-year sentence to that received by William Millay, a young police officer, also in 2013. Caught in the act of trying to sell classified documents to someone he believed was a Russian intelligence officer, he was given 16 years

According to Amnesty International: “Manning’s sentence was much longer than other members of the military convicted of charges such as murder, rape and war crimes, as well as any others who were convicted of leaking classified materials to the public.”

3. Her time in jail was particularly miserable 

Manning’s conditions in jail do nothing to dispel the idea she has been treated extraordinarily harshly. When initially placed in solitary confinement, she needed permission to do anything in her cell, even walking around to exercise. 

When she requested treatment for her gender dysphoria, the military prison’s initial response was a blanket refusal – despite the fact many civilian prisons accept the idea that trans inmates are entitled to hormones. Manning has attempted suicide several times. She finally received permission to receive gender transition surgery in 2016 after a hunger strike

4. Julian Assange can stop acting like a martyr

Internationally, Manning’s continued incarceration was likely to do more harm than good. She has said she is sorry “for hurting the US”. Her worldwide following has turned her into an icon of US hypocrisy on free speech.

Then there's the fact Wikileaks said its founder Julian Assange would agree to be extradited to the US if Manning was released. Now that Manning is months away from freedom, his excuses for staying in the Equadorian London Embassy to avoid Swedish rape allegations are somewhat feebler.  

As for the President - under whose watch Manning was prosecuted - he may be leaving his office with his legacy in peril, but with one stroke of his pen, he has changed a life. Manning, now 29, could have expected to leave prison in her late 50s. Instead, she'll be free before her 30th birthday. And perhaps the Equadorian ambassador will finally get his room back. 

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.