The King’s Speech is coming up shortly, which means Parliament must ‘prorogue’ and draw a close to the current Parliamentary session. It is a fascinating period, which includes a number of traditions which date back over hundreds of years.
During the period when Parliament is prorogued, neither the House of Lords nor House of Commons sit until the King has delivered his speech. There is always a lot of parliamentary business to clear before the speech, so it’s been a busy week as we have voted through last bits of legislation.
For the outstanding legislation to become law it must have ‘royal assent’ – effectively the agreement of the monarch. Royal assent is granted by the ancient Norman French phrase ‘le roy le veult’ meaning “the King wills it.” This is because the procedure dates back to when Norman French was the official language of Government, a legacy dating back to the Norman conquest!
The prorogation ends with the King’s Speech, during which King Charles will set out the Government’s plans for the next parliamentary session. The speech is made in the House of Lords, with MPs being summoned from the House of Commons to hear it. This is because the Monarch is prohibited from entering the House of Commons, a rule that followed after Charles I stormed into the chamber to arrest five MPs in January 1642, and a strong statement that the people ultimately rule through their elected Government.
It is these traditions which make the UK’s political system so special, and I am incredibly proud to play my part in them as a Member of Parliament. They are also a fantastic showcase of our rich history, somehow keeping hundreds of years of parliamentary history relevant.
I was delighted to hear this week that the Government is extending the £2 bus fare cap until December next year. The cap was due to increase to £2.50 next month, but the government has extended the current £2 cap for the third time - taking total government investment to cap bus fares at £2 to £600 million.
The pandemic hit bus services very hard, with usage falling dramatically and threatening the viability of some routes. Good public transport links are important for a variety of reasons – businesses benefit by allowing customers and patrons to reach them, people who may otherwise be isolated are able to get around, and they can help the environment by reducing congestion and emissions. So, it is important that they are protected.
I recently had meetings with both Swindon Buses and Stagecoach, during which I was very pleased to hear that the fare cap and Government support was having a positive impact.
Finally, from Tuesday, millions of households across the UK will receive a Cost of Living Payment worth £300.
This is the second of three payments totalling up to £900 for those eligible and on means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit, Pension Credit, or tax credits. In addition to this, eligible pensioner households will also receive a further £300 payment later this year as an addition to the Winter Fuel Payment.
This latest Cost of Living payment is part of a package of support worth £3,300 per household on average over this year and last to help those struggling the most.