King’s Speech: UK to support ‘peace and stability’ in the Middle East

Speech is the first by a king at the opening of Parliament in 70 years

UK to support ‘peace and stability’ in the Middle East, says King Charles III

UK to support ‘peace and stability’ in the Middle East, says King Charles III
Powered by automated translation

The UK will continue to support peace and stability in the Middle East, King Charles said, setting out the government’s legislative agenda for the first time at the opening of Parliament on Tuesday.

The King's Speech,the first by a male British monarch in seven decades and the last before the next general election, set out 20 measures, covering issues including oil and gas; crime; and football control.

The king condemned the “barbaric acts of terrorism against the people of Israel” in his address to Parliament, adding: “My ministers will work closely with international partners to support Ukraine, strengthen Nato and address the most pressing security challenges.

“This includes the consequences of the barbaric acts of terrorism against the people of Israel, facilitating humanitarian support into Gaza and supporting the cause of peace and stability in the Middle East.”

He also set out plans to progress the construction of a national Holocaust Memorial, updating a 1900 law that prevented the project from going ahead. The bill also allows the government to use public funding to build and operate the centre.

He said: “My government is committed to tackling anti-Semitism and ensuring that the Holocaust is never forgotten. A bill will progress the construction of a national Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens.”

Opening the speech by paying tribute to his mother, Queen Elizabeth, he said: “It is mindful of the legacy of service and devotion to this country set by my beloved mother, the late Queen, that I deliver this, the first King's Speech in over 70 years.

“The impact of Covid and the war in Ukraine have created significant long-term challenges for the United Kingdom.

The State Opening of Parliament – in pictures

“That is why my government's priority is to make the difficult but necessary long-term decisions to change this country for the better.

“My ministers' focus is on increasing economic growth and safeguarding the health and security of the British people for generations to come.”

On immigration, he said: “My government will deliver on the Illegal Migration Act passed earlier this year and on international agreements to stop dangerous and illegal Channel crossings and ensure it is the government, not criminal gangs, who decide who comes to this country.”

The bills also include legislation “to strengthen the United Kingdom's energy security and reduce reliance on volatile international energy markets and hostile foreign regimes”, he said.

“This bill will support the future licensing of new oil and gasfields, helping the country to transition to net zero by 2050 without adding undue burdens on households.

“Alongside this, my ministers will seek to attract record levels of investment in renewable energy sources and reform grid connections, building on the United Kingdom's track record of decarbonising faster than other G7 economies.”

He said the legislation will also “create a smoke-free generation” by restricting the sale of tobacco so that children currently aged 14 or younger “can never be sold cigarettes, and restricting the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to children”.

Another bill will establish a new independent football regulator, with powers to step in and resolve how money flows from the Premier League down the pyramid.

In addition, the Criminal Justice Bill will force criminals to attend their sentencing hearings, after killer nurse Lucy Letby refused to leave her cell. It also gives police powers to enter a property without a court warrant to seize stolen goods, such as phones tracked through GPS location tracking technology.

The king arrived in his state carriage accompanied by Queen Camilla, guarded by the cavalry of the Household Division. As is tradition, an MP was ceremonially held "hostage" at Buckingham Palace to ensure the king's safe return.

Royal bodyguards also ritually searched the basement of the Palace of Westminster for explosives -- a legacy of the failed attempt by Catholics to blow up parliament in 1605.

A parliamentary official known as Black Rod had the door of the lower chamber House of Commons slammed in her face, a tradition that symbolises parliament's independence from the monarchy.

The King's Speech signifies the start of a new parliamentary year and indicates the laws the government hopes to get through parliament in the next 12 or so months.

With the Conservatives behind in the polls ahead of a 2024 general, the party's defeat at the next election could mean much of the legislation never seeing the light of day.

"The problem for Sunak is he's running out of time, the public are both bored and angry at Conservative governance," said Richard Carr, an associate professor in public policy and strategy at Anglia Ruskin University.

The Queen's speech in 1952 and the King's speech in 2023

Updated: November 07, 2023, 5:44 PM