Posted: Wed 21st Jun 2017
Amid the uncertainty around Theresa May's minority government which has forced a watered down version of the Conservatives' General Election manifesto, the Queen has outlined the government's plans for new legislation for the next two years.
Here are the Bills and announcements of most interest to small business owners.
Indicating its importance, the Queen's opening line focused on the need "to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union". Indeed eights of the 27 new Bills focus on Brexit.
It includes the Repeal Bill which will overturn the 1972 Act that took Britain into the European Economic Community.
There are seven other Brexit-related measures including the Customs Bill which will ensure:
the UK has a standalone UK customs regime after exiting the EU
the flexibility for future trade agreements with the EU and other countries
that changes can be made to the UK's VAT and excise systems whatever the outcome of negotiations
that the government can collect customs duties, administer the customs regime and tackle duty evasion
control over the import and export of goods
In addition, the Trade Bill will establish a framework to allow Britain to negotiate free trade deals with countries around the world and ensure British companies are protected from unfair trading practices.
The Immigration Bill means the government will be able to stop the free movement of EU nationals in the UK but also ensure that the the country can attract "the brightest and the best". EU nationals will be "subject to relevant UK law".
The Agriculture Bill will:
provide stability to farmers as Britain leaves the EU
protect our precious natural environment for future generations
deliver on the manifesto commitment to “provide stability for farmers as we exit the EU".
Other Bills and announcements of interest to small business owners:
National Insurance Contributions Bill
This Bill will legislate for the National Insurance contribution (NICs) changes announced in the 2016 Budget and 2016 Autumn Statement and also seek to make the NICs system fairer and simpler.
The documents accompanying the speech confirm that the legislation does not include the controversial changes to national insurance for the self-employed which the government was forced to cancel after strong protests from business groups including Enterprise Nation.
National living wage and workers' rights
The Queen's Speech confirmed that the national living wage will be increased to 60% of median earnings by 2020.
Ministers will also "seek to enhance rights and protections in the modern workplace".
Part of this will come in the response to the government's response to the forthcoming Matthew Taylor Review of Employment Practices which is focusing on the status of the self-employed and how workers' are defined and what rights they have in the so-called 'gig economy'.
The government will look to create a 'digital charter' that will seek to "make the UK the best place to start and run a digital business and the safest place in the world to be online".
The full Queen's Speech document says: "we will help digital companies at every stage of their growth, including by supporting access to the finance, talent and infrastructure needed for success and by making it easier for companies and consumers to do business online."
As part of the government's digital strategy, the Data Protection Bill will give people new rights to "require major social media platforms to delete information held about them at the age of 18".
It also modernises the system for data processing by law enforcement agencies and updates the powers of the information commissioner.
The Queen's Speech said the government will continue "to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation".
Space Industry Bill
This Bill will look to "boost the economy, British business, engineering and science by making the UK the most attractive place in Europe for commercial spaceflight".
Measures included "generating new business opportunities in developing local spaceport and spaceflight technology along with training, tourism and supply chain opportunities in more remote areas of the UK".
The UK space industry is worth £13.7bn to the UK economy and supports over 38,000 jobs.