The Queen

THE QUEEN’S SPEECH 2017

The Queen’s Speech to the U.K. Parliament is an outline of Theresa May’s government’s legislative program during the state opening of Parliament in London on 21st June 2017. It was the first state opening with “reduced ceremonial elements” since 1974.

The Queen announced the government’s legislative programme for the next two years at the State Opening of Parliament.

The government’s proposed bills concerning family matters are listed below and taken directly from the Queen’s speech:

 

DRAFT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE BILL

Summary:

In line with the manifesto commitment, draft proposals will be published to update
the law to help tackle the evil of domestic abuse and violence. Proposals will be
published in draft for scrutiny by MPs and peers to help build a consensus and raise
the profile of this issue. The draft measures will bring forward proposals:

• to establish a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner, to stand up for victims and survivors and monitor the response of the authorities;
• to define domestic abuse and create a consolidated new domestic abuse civil
prevention and protection order;
• to ensure that if abusive behaviour involves a child, then the court can hand
down a sentence that reflects the devastating life-long impact that abuse has
on the child.

Full text:

“Legislation will be brought forward to protect the victims of domestic
violence and abuse.”

The purpose of the Bill is to:
• Transform our approach to domestic violence and abuse to ensure that victims
have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the
knowledge that the state and justice system will do everything it can to both
support them and their children, and pursue their abuser.
The main benefits of the Bill would be:
• To protect victims of domestic violence and abuse.
• To give the justice system greater guidance and clarity about the devastating
impact of domestic violence and abuse on families.

The main elements of the Bill are:
• To establish a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner, to stand up for
victims and survivors, raise public awareness, monitor the response of statutory
agencies and local authorities and hold the justice system to account in tackling
domestic abuse.
● To define domestic abuse in law to underpin all other measures in the Bill.
● To create a consolidated new domestic abuse civil prevention and protection
order regime.
● To ensure that if abusive behaviour involves a child, then the court can hand
down a sentence that reflects the devastating life-long impact that abuse can
have on the child.
Territorial extent and application
● The Bill’s substantive provisions would apply to England and Wales only. The
functions of the Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner in relation to Wales
are to be determined in consultation with the Welsh Government.

Key facts:
• The 2015/16 Crime Survey for England and Wales indicates 7.7% of women and
4.4% of men reported having experienced any type of domestic abuse in the last
year. This is the lowest level since the survey began.
• Data from 2015/16 shows that 11% of all offences recorded by the police were
flagged as domestic abuse related.

•The volume of prosecutions and convictions for domestic abuse are at the
highest ever recorded. In 2015/16 prosecutions reached 100,930 and convictions
75,235.
• Around 1 in 5 children have been exposed to domestic abuse. Those who
witnessed domestic abuse as a child were more likely to experience domestic
abuse as an adult.

 

COURTS BILL

Summary

The Bill will reform the courts system in England and Wales to ensure it is more
efficient and accessible, and in doing so utilise more modern technology. The Bill
will:
• end direct cross examination of domestic violence victims by their alleged
perpetrators in the family courts and allow more victims to participate in trials
without having to meet their alleged assailant face-to-face;
• introduce digital services which will allow businesses to pursue their cases
quickly, enabling them to recover debts more easily;
• provide a better working environment for judges, allowing more leadership
positions in the judiciary to be offered on a fixed term basis, and enabling
judges to be deployed more flexibly.

 Full text:

“Legislation will also be introduced to modernise the courts system”

The purpose of the Bill is to:
• Reform our courts and tribunal system to improve access to justice, making
better use of technology and modernising working practices.
The main benefits of the Bill would be:
• To reform our world class courts system so that it provides straightforward and
efficient access to justice for people, and provides targeted support and care for
those who need it.

The main elements of the Bill are:
• To put an end to the direct cross examination of domestic violence victims by
their alleged perpetrators in the family courts and extend the use of virtual
hearings, which will allow victims to participate in trials without having to meet
their alleged assailant face-to-face.
• To enable those charged with some less serious criminal offences to opt to plead
guilty, accept a conviction and pay a statutory fixed penalty online which will free
up court time for more serious cases. Defendants will need to actively opt into
this process and could still choose to have their case heard in court instead. An
example would be where a first time offender has admitted to travelling on a train
without purchasing a ticket. The reforms will also introduce digital services which
will allow businesses to pursue their cases quickly, enabling them to recover
debts more easily.
• To meet the demands of a modern justice system, by providing a better working
environment for judges, allowing more leadership positions in the judiciary to be
offered on a fixed term, and enabling judges to be deployed more flexibly to
improve the opportunities for career progression.
Territorial extent and application
• The Bill would apply in full to England and Wales and in part to Northern Ireland
and Scotland.

Key facts
• Reforming our courts, by making better use of technology and modernising
working practices, will result in steady state savings to the taxpayer of £226
million once the reforms are implemented.

 

Go to HMCTS (Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals). Click here.