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Queen's speech: Protection for P&O workers' pay, plans for grammar schools and tackling guerilla tactics from protesters


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A crackdown on ‘guerilla’ protesters; a promise to pay seafarers the minimum wage and plans for grammar schools are among 38 Bills unveiled in the Queen’s Speech today.

Kent’s 31 grammars will be required to join multi-academy trusts under plans unveiled in the Queen's Speech .

Grammars will have to work with non-selective schools to push up standards
Grammars will have to work with non-selective schools to push up standards

However they will continue to operate as selective schools with admissions still done by the 11-plus.

Ministers say that there will be no change to that but in a wider scheme to push-up standards, they will have to work alongside non-selective secondary schools.

In the speech, the Schools Bill confirmed plans set out in the Schools White Paper to support all schools to be part of a “family of schools in a strong trust to level up school standards”.

“This will support the ambition that by 2030, 90% of primary school children will achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, and the percentage of children meeting the expected standard in the worst performing areas will have increased by a third,” the Prince of Wales announced.

In other announcements the government unveiled a fresh bid to crack down on ‘guerrilla’ protests.

Plans to outlaw guerilla tactics by protesters have been made
Plans to outlaw guerilla tactics by protesters have been made

The Public Order Bill will outlaw tactics such as protesters ‘locking on’ to public transport infrastructure or glueing themselves to roads.

“Our Public Order Bill will give the police the powers they need to prevent a minority of protesters from using guerrilla tactics that cause misery to the hardworking public, disrupting businesses, costing millions in taxpayers’ money and putting lives at risk.”

There was also confirmation that tens of thousands of seafarers must be paid an equivalent to UK National Minimum Wage.

Following P&O Ferries’ decision to sack 800 workers, the government is introducing pay protection reforms requiring ferry operators who regularly call at UK ports to pay their workers the equivalent of the UK National Minimum Wage.

The new legislation will ban ferries that don’t pay their workers the equivalent to minimum wage from docking at UK ports.

Seafarers are having to be paid National Minimum Wage. Picture: Barry Goodwin.
Seafarers are having to be paid National Minimum Wage. Picture: Barry Goodwin.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We will stop at nothing to make sure seafarers in UK ports are being paid fairly. P&O Ferries’ disgraceful actions do not represent the principles of our world-leading maritime sector, and changing the law on seafarer pay protection is a clear signal to everyone that we will not tolerate economic abuse of workers.

“We will protect all seafarers regularly sailing in and out of UK ports and ensure they are not priced out of a job.

"Ferry operators which regularly call at UK ports will face consequences if they do not pay their workers fairly.”

However, The Queen's Speech omitted any mention of planning zones, in which developers would qualify automatically for planning permission, bypassing councils.

The plans triggered a backlash in Kent with MPs saying that it would lead to uncontrolled development.

A Bill will still be put forward but the emphasis would be on giving communities a greater say.

A Downing Street briefing document, setting out the government's plan for levelling up the economy, says the Bill would “improve the planning system to give communities a louder voice, making sure developments are beautiful, green and accompanied by new infrastructure and affordable housing.”

However there is very little detail on how that would happen. Instead, the document says the reforms would “grow the economy in the places that need it most and regenerate our towns and cities – giving people the opportunities they want where they live.”

The Prince of Wales processes behind the Imperial State Crown through the Royal Gallery (Hannah McKay/PA)
The Prince of Wales processes behind the Imperial State Crown through the Royal Gallery (Hannah McKay/PA)

Today’s speech, delivered by the Prince of Wales said: “A bill will be brought forward to drive local growth, empowering local leaders to regenerate their areas, and ensuring everyone can share in the UK’s success.”

“The planning system will be reformed to give residents more involvement in local development,” it added.

Kent Conservative MPs have been particularly critical of the government plans, which they feared would concrete over the Garden of England.

Dr Hilary Newport of Kent CPRE cautiously welcomed the climb down. She said: “That was one of the things that caused the greatest outrage - people would have absolutely no say in what was built. That was very much too far.”

Due to the Queen's mobility issues, The Prince of Wales opened Parliament and delivered the Queen’s Speech for the first time in history.

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