Bill to curb migrants' rights to be at heart of Queen's Speech
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Sunday 05 May 2013
A Bill to curb migrants' rights and make it easier to deport foreign nationals will be at the heart of the Queen's Speech at the start of a new parliamentary session this week.
Conservative ministers will trumpet the Immigration Bill as they try to reassure jittery Tory MPs worried about the success of the UK Independence Party in last week's local elections – and win back voters.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, will promise to kick foreign criminals out of Britain more quickly by streamlining the deportation process and reducing the grounds for appeal. The measure will limit the access that migrants enjoy to the NHS, benefits and social housing to reduce the "pull factor" before Romanians and Bulgarians get the right to work in the UK from next January.
The overall theme of the Queen's Speech will be that the Government is on the side of "hard-working families who want to get on". A Consumer Rights Bill will give people more protection on goods, services, digital content and unfair contract terms, by bringing together eight previous pieces of legislation.
The measure could make it easier to get a refund after one failed repair or replacement; obtain a replacement phone app for a faulty one or money back, and to force decorators to repaint a room or give householders a refund.
Among the previously promised Bills unlikely to feature are those to set up a register of lobbyists; write into law the pledge to raise overseas aid spending and to boost Britain's £50bn-a-year communications sector.
Harriet Harman, the shadow Culture Secretary and Labour's deputy leader, attacked the Government's failure to bring in a Communications Bill to ensure fast broadband reaches the whole country, to prevent consumers being "ripped off" when they buy packages for telephone, internet and TV services, and to tackle "media monopoly" when ownership is concentrated in too few hands.
Ms Harman told The Independent: "Ministers have promised a Bill, but all we have had is a farce. This is not just a technical issue. The communications industry is in limbo."
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