On November 7, 2023, King Charles III delivered his first address as monarch at the opening of Parliament. The king laid out the government’s legislative agenda for the next session.
Opening his speech, King Charles paid tribute to his “beloved mother”, the late Queen Elizabeth II, remembering her “legacy of service and devotion to this country”.
The government announced 21 bills during the speech, with particular attention paid to plans to “ease the cost of living”, “strengthen the United Kingdom's energy security”, justice department reforms and “tackling climate change and biodiversity loss”.
The king also stated the government’s intention to deliver on the “first long-term plan” for the NHS. He said the NHS workforce plan will include provisions to train more healthcare professionals.
In October, the government announced its intent to introduce a historic new law to create a ‘smokefree generation’. King Charles’ speech re-iterated this intention, he said, “My Government will introduce legislation to create a smoke-free generation by restricting the sale of tobacco so that children currently aged fourteen or younger can never be sold cigarettes and restricting the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to children.”
Following the address, Steve Brine MP, Health and Social Care Committee chair said, “I welcome the introduction of legislation to create a smoke-free generation by restricting the sale of tobacco and to safeguard children from the harmful effects of vaping by restrictions on the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes.
“However, it is disappointing that the government has failed to bring forward legislation to overhaul the Mental Health Act. The draft Bill, among its planned reforms, would outlaw the inappropriate detention of people with learning disabilities and autism. Without change, too many people will continue to be held in secure units, often for years at a time. These reforms are long overdue.”