Wednesday 27-05-2015 - 17:07
We have put together a short summary of some key legislation, including what the implications might be and details about how to start influencing your local MP on these and other issues.
What’s in the Queen’s speech?
A new Immigration Bill which will include requirements for landlords to check their tenants’ immigration status. We campaigned against this when it was first proposed in the Immigration Bill 2014 and we remain extremely concerned that these measures will be both impractical and divisive and will ultimately increase international students’ vulnerability.
The Immigration Bill will also extend rights for the government to ‘deport first, appeal later’ which would strip migrants of the limited rights they have to challenge decisions made by the Home Office. We are worried that, with 50 per cent of the appeals made against Home Office decisions finding in favour, it could force students home in the middle of their study, losing them the time and money they have invested, because of a Home Office mistake.
A Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill will introduce a new Youth Allowance for 18-21 year olds which will have stronger ‘work related conditionality’ – it will require that after 6 months recipients will be required to take up an apprenticeship, training or community work placement. It also includes plans for Jobcentre Plus adviser support in schools across England to supplement careers advice and provide routes into work experience and apprenticeships.
A new Trade Unions Bill will make a number of changes to strike laws including increasing the voting threshold for union ballot turnouts to 50% and increasing the requirement that 40% of those entitled to vote must vote in favour of industrial action in essential public services (health, education, fire, transport).
An EU Referendum Bill which will set out the terms for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. We now know that UK nationals, Commonwealth and Irish Republic citizens over the age of 18 will be eligible to vote. As this Bill progress through Parliament we will be putting pressure on the government to include 16 and 17 year olds in this important vote.
The Conservative Party manifesto had included plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and introduce a British Bill of Rights and it was widely speculated that legislation to enable them to do so would be included in the speech. However, due in part to considerable opposition being voiced already, the government are now consulting on these proposals before they introduce legislation. We will be joining organisations across civil society to campaign against these ill thought out and dangerous plans to get rid of the Human Rights Act.
Keeping up the pressure
The Queen’s speech foretells some very serious challenges on the horizon, and we know that there will be more risks to come - from privatisation of education and the rising costs of learning, to attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable people in society and the danger that we will be cut off from the rest of the world altogether. In the face of this, the student movement will be at the heart of demonstrating the importance of community, collectivism, and working together for a better future.
Over the next five years, you will also want the support of your local MP on the issues which students care about and are campaigning on in your area, as well as nationally. We have set up a draft letter which you can edit and send to your MPs through a simple online form – arrange a meeting soon and start influencing the agenda locally and nationally on the issues that matter to students.