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Queen's Speech: Devolution, jobs and EU referendum to be included

Conservatives claim the Queen’s speech will drive forward jobs, investment and growth throughout the West Midlands

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh before the State Opening of Parliament

The Queen’s Speech setting out the Government’s plans for the next year will include measures to create jobs across the West Midlands.

Sutton Coldfield Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell said the package would allow Birmingham and its neighbours to receive the same advantages, such as funding and the power to make decisions about local services, already being handed to Manchester as part of what the Government calls its “Northern Powerhouse” policy.

“This Queen’s speech will drive forward jobs, investment and growth throughout the West Midlands,” he said.

“It will usher in an era where Birmingham will be able to reap many of the advantages that we are seeing in the Northern Powerhouse – if we are prepared to grasp the opportunities.”

The Queen’s Speech is read out by the Queen at the opening of a new session of Parliament, but it is written for her by the Government and sets out the laws the Government plans to introduce over the next year. Measures expected to be included in today’s speech include:

* An EU referendum bill will allow Mr Cameron to keep his promise to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union before 2017. The Bill will also ensure that only people eligible to vote in general elections can take part, including British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over the age of 18 who are resident in the UK, but excluding most EU citizens.

* A cities devolution bill – handing power to Greater Manchester and providing a mechanism for devolving power to other combined authorities.

* A jobs bill will create three million apprenticeships – and ban under-21s from claiming housing benefit or Jobseekers Allowance. The benefit cap will be reduced to £23,000.

* There will also be legislation providing a major increase in free childcare.

* There will be a bill to give the Government greater powers to ensure that failing or “coasting” schools can be turned into academies free from local authority control. Regional commissioners will be able to appoint new school leadership and set it on a path to becoming an academy.

* An enterprise bill will aim to reduce regulation, which the Government says will save industry at least £10 billion.

* A new Scotland Bill will bring together the powers agreed by all parties in the Smith Agreement, following the Scottish referendum on independence.

* A counter-terrorism Bill will introduce “extremism disruption orders”, giving police powers to apply for a High Court order to limit the “harmful activities” of extremists.

* A new immigration bill will create an offence of illegal working – allowing police to seize wages earned by people working in the UK illegally as proceeds of crime.

* The Queen’s Speech will also refer to Government plans to create a “seven-day” NHS, with full access to GP and hospital services at weekends and in the evening, and increase spending on the NHS by £8 billion a year by the end of the Parliament.

* A housing bill will extend the “Right To Buy” to 1.3 million housing association tenants.

Labour MP Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak) said the Government was creating low quality apprenticeships which did not give young people the skills they need. He said: “The Government should be providing increased help and support for small and micro businesses, and more help for young people to find work and real apprenticeships.

“But I don’t think we are going to see that happening in this Queen’s Speech.”

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