As widely trailed, immigration and crime form key planks of the government’s legislative programme outlined in the Queen’s speech today.
The programme of 17 bills and two draft bills also features a new deregulation bill as well as long-awaited legislation to compensate victims of asbestos-related disease.
New legislation to reform the rehabilitation of offenders, introduce new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, cut crime and reform the police were on the justice agenda, as well as plans to tackle cyber crime.
An offender rehabilitation bill will extend statutory supervision after release to offenders serving short custodial sentences, meaning that all offenders released from prison will receive at least 12 months statutory supervision.
Additional conditions during supervision periods will require offenders with drug problems to attend treatment appointments.
The bill will create a new activity requirement that can be imposed as part of a sentence served in the community, and those serving community sentences will have to seek permission before moving out of their local area.
An anti-social behavior, crime and policing bill will contain a variety of measures including powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, forced marriage, dangerous dogs and illegal firearms used by gangs and in organised crime.
Police will be given powers to prosecute uncontested minor offences of shoplifting. A test of ‘clear innocence’ will be introduced to determine eligibility for compensation for miscarriages of justice.
There was no mention of the shake up of legal aid and criminal contracting.
On immigration, the government said a new bill would regulate migrants’ access to the NHS, increase fines against businesses using illegal labour, require private landlords to check tenants’ status, and prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining driving licences. The right of appeal against deportation would be restricted to court cases raising 'the most important immigration issues', and enforcement powers enhanced so that serious criminals could be removed from the UK. The bill would reinforce existing policy on immigration, requiring courts to 'properly reflect' public interest
A deregulation bill ‘will reduce the burden of unnecessary legislation on firms looking to grow’, the government said.
Its main elements will be to ‘reduce or remove burdens on businesses and civil society and facilitate growth’ as well as ‘tidying up the statute book by repealing legislation that is no longer of any practical use’.
An intellectual property bill will implement reforms on the intellectual property framework for design recommended by the 2011 Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth. It will also implement the Unified Patent Court, which will introduce a single patent system in almost all EU countries.
A mesothelioma bill will establish a payment scheme for people with diffuse mesothelioma where their employer or employers’ liability insurance company cannot be traced. It will be funded by a levy on live employers’ liability insurers and ‘follows consultation and agreement with the insurance industry, claimant lawyers and claimant representatives’.
The government also revealed that it is looking at ways to improve the investigation of crimes committed in cyberspace by enabling the police to identify individuals through their internet protocol address.
‘This is not about indiscriminately accessing internet data of innocent members of the public,’ the government said.
A draft consumer rights bill would consolidate eight pieces of legislation on consumer rights into one place to give consumers clearer rights, ensure that rights keep pace with technological advances and provide new protections. The bill would also update the law to take account of purchases of digital content.
Probate lawyers may be disappointed that the government has not found time to work on amendments to amend and simplify the rules governing intestacy.