21 JUNE 2017

The Queen’s Speech today contained 27 Bills, eight of which related to Brexit and its implications for various industries.

Proposals that appeared in the Conservative Manifesto, including scrapping the triple lock on pensions, and ending free school lunches for infants have been dropped. Other proposals, including reforms to social care funding, will be put out to consultation.

The main proposals not related to Brexit include a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, establishing a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner to stand up for victims and survivors and monitor the response of the authorities.

The government has cancelled next year’s Queen’s Speech, so this one will cover a two-year period to give MPs more time to debate all the Brexit legislation.

In the preface to the Queen’s Speech, Mrs May said the programme was all about “grasping the opportunities that lie ahead for the UK as we leave the EU”.

Fawcett Chief Executive Sam Smethers says:

“It is absolutely vital that equalities law is not rolled back as we leave the EU. We need to see a commitment to that effect on the face of the Repeal Bill, and Fawcett will be lobbying the Government on this. We also want to see the UK keep pace with EU legislation – to ensure we don’t fall behind.”

“Aside from Brexit there are positive measures in the Queen’s Speech – we welcome the new Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, and changes to family courts, and encourage the Government to work with the sector on these bills and make sure the resources needed are in place.

“But we need to hear more detail on how the Government plans to tackle the gender pay gap. It won’t just happen on its own. We need to see things like financial penalties for employers who don’t publish their data, a change to the parental leave system so more fathers take on an equal responsibility for childcare, and steps to make work more flexible.”

What’s new in the speech for women?

A bill will be introduced to repeal the European Communities Act and provide certainty for individuals and businesses. Will they commit to no roll-back of equalities legislation on the face of the bill?

'My government will make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation.' Does this mean financial penalties for companies who don’t report their pay gap? Will the government improve shared parental pay so fathers have more of a role in looking after kids?

Legislation will be brought forward to protect the victims of domestic violence and abuse. This is welcome – the Government needs to listen to the sector when drawing up proposals.

My ministers will seek to enhance rights and protections in the modern workplace. The modern workplace – including the gig economy – has the potential to damage the maternity and workers’ rights that women rely on. Government must take a gendered approach on this – we can’t just assume that flexibility is positive.

Legislation will also be introduced to modernise the courts system This should mean a welcome end to victims of domestic violence being cross-examined by the perpetrators in court.

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The Fawcett Society works to ensure women's rights are not eroded when Britain leaves the European Union, and campaigns for equal representation at the Brexit negotiating table.

Read about what we are doing to defend women's rights ahead of Brexit

Read about our Sex Discrimination Law Review

Read more news related to the EU Referendum