The Alternative Queen’s Speech: How to build a fairer, healthier, greener Britain

© House of Lords 2017/Roger Harris

The pandemic has exposed inequality and insecurity, and made us re-evaluate what is most important to us. It has also exposed that we are globally interdependent and must work together to tackle the challenges that face us.

A socialist government will build a fairer, healthier, and greener Britain, and a more just and peaceful world. Now is the time to claim the future and commit to increasing investment, ending poverty and tackling climate change.

Our NHS and its workforce have been heroic in rising to the challenge of the pandemic – and now it needs investment to clear the backlog of operations and treatments. Not more crony contracting and privatisation, but investment in our hospitals and health workers.

A socialist government will protect the NHS and patient health by bringing forward an NHS reinstatement bill to ensure the future of the NHS as a public service, administered by public servants for the good of the people, not profit.

We will increase the pay of NHS workers by 15%, and ensure all public service workers get an increase well-above inflation, after a decade of pay freezes and pay caps. People have made huge sacrifices and deserve to share in the recovery.

That applies equally to the shop workers, delivery drivers, care workers and cleaners without whom we would not have got through this pandemic. We will not tolerate low pay anywhere and so a real living wage bill will lift all workers’ pay and end the indignity of poverty pay in all sectors of the economy. For too long there has been abundance for those in the boardroom, but only scraps for the rest.

The care sector is in need of urgent investment and reform. A national care service bill will co-ordinate care, raise standards and channel investment in providing dignity for all those who are supported in their own home or receive care in a residential setting. It will mean free personal care immediately, as we move to a fully universal, free service along the lines of our NHS.

Our commitments to health do not end at our borders. We will reverse the cut to aid budgets, and – to prioritise people over profit – our people’s vaccine bill will establish a generic drug company to provide subsidised drugs to countries in need and to lower costs to our NHS. We will work with the Biden Administration in the US and internationally to waive patents on vaccines to save lives, not protect profits.

We will bring forward a poverty reduction bill to commit to eradicating poverty by 2030 with a minimum income guarantee. No child shall be hungry, no adult without opportunity, and no pensioner forced to choose between heating and eating. A right to food bill will end the scandal of hunger and food banks in this country, and provide universal free school meals.

A finance bill will ensure that those companies that profited during the pandemic pay a windfall tax on any excess profits. It will ensure that income from wealth is taxed at the same level as income from work, and those earning the very highest salaries will pay a little more tax – with no tax rises for 95% of workers. We will work with the US government and others to deliver a global minimum rate of corporation tax and clamp down on tax havens and avoidance more widely. Recent finance scandals involving money laundering and consumer rip offs demand an independent inquiry into the sector to deliver stronger regulation.

A socialist government is committed to defining in law a single status for all workers that delivers full basic rights from day one in the job. The equal rights at work bill will upgrade rights in the workplace, and include measures that enforce this commitment. It will strengthen protection for workers against unfair dismissal, including for pregnant women, those going through the menopause, and terminally ill workers – and outlaw fire and rehire.

Because we know that free trade unions are key to driving up and maintaining a fair share of rewards for workers, a trade union rights and collective bargaining bill will redress the imbalance of power to benefit the real wealth creators: workers.

Achieving work-life balance is vital so that we have the time and space to cherish our loved ones. A work-life balance bill will ensure every worker has the right to flexible working, establish an independent Working Time Commission to secure reductions in the working week over time and consult on four new bank holidays. Our government will also extend maternity and paternity leave. As part of this bill a socialist government will cancel future rises in the state pension age.

Through the introduction of statutory bereavement leave and enhanced statutory sick pay, we will expand the rights of all workers and ensure the workplace recognises our commitments as human beings, not just as employees.

The national education service bill will legislate for the rollout of free education – from early years to lifelong learning, from the cradle to the grave. A socialist government will scrap academies and free schools and ensure all schools are accountable to the communities that they serve. Fees for college and university will be abolished, and the Education Maintenance Allowance and student maintenance grants will be restored.

A digital inclusion bill will ensure universal free superfast broadband to all homes and businesses by 2030, and secure every child in full-time education as access to a home computer. The bill will legislate to create a Charter of Digital Rights to protect citizens’ privacy online, and institute an online sales tax to ensure the High Street is no longer undercut.

A socialist government will introduce a corporate governance bill to ensure workers’ voices are heard on the boards of companies, and that shares are given to workers so the real wealth creators share in the wealth they create.

A late payments bill will strengthen the rights of supply chain companies against late-payers in industry and in government, and an audit reform bill will legally separate auditing from and accounting and consultancy work

A socialist government will ensure that all companies working on public contracts will be subject to the same transparency and accountability as public service providers through a Freedom of Information (extension) bill.

It is not just in the workplace that power needs to shift, but in the housing market too, which is why a socialist government will introduce a renters reform bill to end no-fault evictions, increase tenants’ security and to control rents. And we will strengthen and support renters’ unions.

A socialist government is committing to building homes for the many, not investment opportunities for the few. An affordable housing bill will redefine the measure of affordability, not by market rates but by local incomes, and put new requirements on developers to increase the share of genuinely affordable homes. A green decent homes bill will set regulations for a Green Homes Standard applicable to all new build homes and ensure minimum standards for both homes to rent and to buy.

To support leaseholders and end injustices, a leasehold reform bill will stamp out existing abuses and end the sale of new private leasehold properties.

A social security bill will scrap Universal Credit, the benefit cap, the bedroom tax, the two-child limit and the punitive sanctions regime. Those out of work, whether through unemployment, illness or disability, will be treated with respect and offered opportunities through a job and skills guarantee. No longer will ministers sheepishly confess that they could not survive on benefit levels they expect millions of others to subsist on. This will apply to carers too, whose commitment will be valued.

A socialist government will take action to accelerate the date by which the UK will reach net zero carbon emissions – investing to tackle climate change and create good unionised jobs in the industries of the future.

A climate and ecology bill will put new duties on government to address climate change and biodiversity loss, while creating jobs and investment, and improving air quality.

To reduce pollution from our domestic travel, a transport users bill will ensure that by 2030 not a single station, train, tram or bus is inaccessible. We will also control fare increases and expand the provision of free bus passes. Investment in a publicly owned rail and bus network will enable us to meet a legally binding target to decarbonise all public transport by 2030.

A socialist government will take on the moneylenders who profit from hardship, taking action in a consumer credit bill to cap interest rates on overdrafts, credit cards and loans. It will regulate the secondary debt market and the actions of bailiffs.

A new equalities bill will commit the government to act to reduce inequalities whether by gender, race, disability, sexuality or age, backed by funding co-ordinated through a new Department for Equality. It will implement the recommendations of numerous reviews, including the Lammy review into discrimination in the criminal justice system. It will also restore funding for women’s refuges to support victims of violence against women and girls, and increase funding to ensure local councils provide sufficient good quality sites for the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller community.

Measures will be brought forward in a migrants rights bill to dismantle the ‘hostile environment’ and ensure that nothing like the Windrush scandal is never inflicted on people in this country again. Migrants will be welcomed, respected and have rights to protect them from exploitation whether by government or unscrupulous employers. We will close down detention centres, and establish safe and legal routes for asylum seekers.

Our country must be accessible to all, and a British Sign Language bill will give BSL full recognition in law.

A socialist government is committed to protecting civil liberties. A public order bill will defend the right to protest, including by ending the undercover policing of trade union activity and peaceful protest movements. It will end random stop and search, repeal the Vagrancy Act, and prohibit the requirement of proof of a vaccination to access goods, services or places of employment unless otherwise authorised by law.

A football reform bill will deliver powers to fans with a 50+1 law modelled on the German system, alongside new powers to regulate ticket prices, and free-to-air access to the matches of UK teams.

Based on the successful legislation by the Welsh Labour government, ministers will introduce a wellbeing of future generations bill that will ensure that all future legislation is measured against whether it improves prosperity, resilience, public health, equality, community cohesion, benefits the environment, and is globally responsible.

To enhance our democracy a democratic accountability bill will abolish the institutionalised cronyism of the House of Lords, replacing it with a democratically elected chamber representing the nations and regions of our country.

Our government will expand participation in our democracy by bringing the UK into line with elections in Scotland and Wales by lowering the voting age to 16 for all elections in the UK. Measures will also be brought forward to tightly restrict Members of Parliament working second jobs, and to force ministers to divest of all shares before taking office.

A war powers bill will ensure that no prime minister can bypass parliament to commit to military action. The legislation will also implement the recommendations of the Chilcot Inquiry.

To tighten existing controls and put an end to arms exports where they might be used in violation of human rights or international humanitarian law, an arms export controls bill will be brought forward.

A socialist government will be a force for good, not a meal ticket for corrupt cronies. Together we can build a fairer, healthier and greener country – and a better world for all.


The bills in the Alternative Queen’s Speech
(in alphabetical order)

Affordable housing bill
To define ‘affordable’ housing not in relation to 80% of market rent, but by reference to local incomes
To mandate that all developments of over 10 properties must contain at least 50% affordable housing as defined by this Act

Audit reform bill
To legally separate auditing from and accounting and consultancy work

British Sign Language bill
To give BSL full recognition in law

Climate and ecology bill
To bring forward the government target of UK reaching net zero (currently by 2050)
To set sectoral targets with deadlines
To define net zero, building on the Climate Change Act
To require the government to come to parliament annually to update the House on its progress towards net zero
To protect against biodiversity loss

Consumer credit bill
To cap interest rates on overdrafts, credit cards and loans (e.g. at a ratio to the Bank of England base rate)
To further restrict interest rates on payday loans
To introduce a total cap of 100% of the amount borrowed for all personal loans
To regulate the secondary debt market – offering lenders a tax break for cancelling debt instead of selling it
To cap student debt interest at CPIH inflation rate

Corporate governance bill
To ensure at least 10% of shares of each company are held collectively by the workforce
To ensure that there are at least two workers elected on the board of each large company (over 250 employees)
Amend the Companies Act requiring companies to prioritise long-term growth while strengthening protections for stakeholders, including smaller suppliers and pension funds

Democratic accountability bill
To replace the House of Lords with an elected senate of the nations and regions
To lower the voting age for all UK elections to 16 years old
To bar MPs have second jobs with limited exceptions (e.g. to maintain professional registration)
To require ministers to divest of all shareholdings before taking office
To strengthen rules governed by ACOBA

Digital inclusion bill
To ensure universal free superfast broadband to all homes and businesses
To ensure every child in full-time education as access to a home computer
To create a Charter of Digital Rights to protect citizens’ privacy online
To institute an online sales tax

Equal rights at work bill
To create a single status for workers by amending the definitions used across legislation on employment rights
To legislate for basic rights at work to apply from day one in the job for all workers
To strengthen protection against unfair dismissal for workers, including for pregnant women, those going through the menopause, and terminally ill workers
To outlaw fire and rehire

Finance bill
To introduce an excess profits levy on companies that profited during the pandemic
To ensure that income from wealth is taxed at the same level as income from work
To increase income tax on those earning the very highest salaries – with no tax rises for 95% of workers
To work globally to deliver a minimum rate of corporation tax, and clamp down on tax havens and avoidance more widely

Football supporters bill
To hold 5% of Premier League and Scottish Premier League games for broadcast on free to air channels
To allow accredited football supporters’ trusts to be able to appoint and remove at least two club directors (or no less than 10% of the board)

Freedom of Information (extension) bill
To extend the Freedom of Information Act to companies delivering government contracts

Green decent homes bill
To set regulations for a Green Homes Standard applicable to all new build homes
To put a reinvigorated Decent Homes Standard in law to ensure all new homes for sale or rent meet minimum standards in terms of space, energy efficiency, and access to green space

Late payments bill
To allow persistent late payers to be barred from bidding for public procurement contracts
To increase enforcement powers against late payers

Leasehold reform bill
To reform leasehold law and give new protections to leaseholders

Living wage bill
To increase the level of the minimum wage to a real living wage
To end age discrimination on pay
To increase the level of apprentices’ pay

Migrants rights bill
To re-establish the Dubs amendment for unaccompanied children
To abolish No Recourse to Public Funds
To remove the Immigration Health Surcharge entirely
To create minimum standards for asylum accommodation
To remove the prohibition on asylum seekers to work
To offer citizenship as a birthright to all those born in the UK
To reduce the residency requirement for UK citizenship to one year

National care service bill
To co-ordinate care, raise standards and channel investment
To provide free personal care for all
To move towards a fully universal care and support service, along the lines of the NHS

National education service bill
To expand provision towards 30 hours free childcare for all pre-school children
To ensure all schools are locally accountable
To scrap fees for college and university
To restore the EMA and maintenance grant

NHS reinstatement bill
To reinstate the NHS as a fully public service
To end privatisation and marketisation in the NHS

People’s vaccine bill
To establish a generic drug company to lower costs to our NHS and provide subsidised drugs to countries in need.
To commit the UK work with other countries to waive patents on vaccines and medicines to save lives, not protect profits

Poverty reduction bill
To set the government a target of eradicating poverty by 2030
To define poverty as less than 60% of the median income after housing costs
Requiring the government to come to parliament annually to update the House on its poverty eradication strategy on an amendable motion
To allow for quarterly publication of statistics on poverty eradication to be scrutinised by the work and pensions select committee

Public order (rights for the public) bill
To repeal the 1824 Vagrancy Act
To end random stop and search
To repeal the anti-squatting measures in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012
To prohibit the requirement of proof of a vaccination to access goods, services or places of employment unless otherwise authorised by law

Renters reform bill
To grant local authorities, city region mayors and combined authorities the power to control rents in their areas
To protect renters’ unions
To end no-fault evictions
To improve tenants’ security

Right to food bill
To end the scandal of hunger and food banks in this country
To provide universal free school meals

Social security bill
To establish a minimum income guarantee and jobs and skills guarantee for all those unable to work
To remove the five-week wait
To abolish punitive sanctions
To apply the triple lock to the uprating of all social security benefits
To scrap the benefit cap
To scrap the bedroom tax
To remove or significantly raise the savings limit of £16,000
To increase Carers Allowance to the level of Pension Credit
To annually uprate Carers Allowance by the triple lock

Statutory sick pay bill
To make sick pay a contractual right for all workers for six weeks at full contractual pay
To increase SSP to the level of the Pension Credit and to uprate in line with the triple lock thereafter

Trade union rights and collective bargaining bill
To simplify balloting legislation and allow for workplace and electronic balloting
To allow for secondary industrial action in limited circumstances
Repeal 2016 Trade Union Act
To allow the government to define sectors and to mandate collective bargaining arrangements

Transport users bill
To invest to ensure that all public transport (rail, buses and trams) is wheelchair accessible by 2030
To cap fare increases to CPIH inflation rate
To set a legally binding target to decarbonise all public transport by 2030

UK arms export controls bill
To tighten existing arms export controls and put an end to exports where they might be used in violation of human rights or international humanitarian law

War powers bill
To ensure that no prime minister can bypass parliament to commit to conventional military action
To implement the recommendations of the Chilcot Inquiry

Wellbeing of future generations bill
Based on the Welsh Government’s 2015 Act
To define wellbeing goals for UK government and public bodies,
e.g. ensuring all future legislation is measured against whether it improves prosperity, resilience, public health, equality, community cohesion, benefits the environment, and is globally responsible

Work-life balance bill
To legislate for a maximum working week (of no more than 48 hours)
Establish an independent Working Time Commission (i.e. similar to Low Pay Commission) to advise on raising minimum holiday entitlements and reducing maximum weekly working time.
Give all workers the right to flexible working
Extend statutory maternity pay from nine to twelve months
Double paid paternity leave from two weeks to four
Introduce four new bank holidays – to bring the UK up to the European average
Introduce statutory bereavement leave:
– To give all workers equal right to two weeks’ statutory bereavement leave from day one in the job on full pay
– Schedule to define: Any spouse, parent, sibling or child; Anyone who the worker lives with; Any family member with whom the worker has lived with for 10 or more years; For either parent after a miscarriage

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