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Labour will ‘reveal plan to nationalise railways in King’s Speech’

Labour will pledge to nationalise the railways in the King’s Speech which will set out Sir Keir Starmer’s agenda for government in less than a fortnight’s time, i understands.

The setting up of Great British Railways has been pencilled in as one of the legislative promises made in the text that the King will read out at the State Opening of Parliament on 17 July.

The state-owned body will be the holding company for all of the rail franchises as they are gradually taken into public ownership over the coming years when the existing contracts with the private sector expire.

Labour frontbenchers drew up a draft list of the bills contained in the King’s Speech in advance of the general election campaign and will spend the next few days finalising the legislation as well as the text of the actual speech itself.

Other bills to be included in the agenda are a “fiscal responsibility lock” which will bar the Government from making major tax or spending announcements without oversight from the Office for Budget Responsibility, and a package of strengthened workers’ rights.

Sir Keir has committed to an aggressive programme of housebuilding which will require legislation to overhaul existing planning rules, and the King’s Speech will also feature bills on border security and street crime.

Labour has said in addition that it is keen to fulfil promises made in office by the Conservatives to ban smoking for anyone born after 2008, and to end “no fault” evictions, which were not delivered in time for the start of the general election campaign in late May.

Parliament will return on Tuesday for the first time in six weeks, with most of next week taken up with the ceremonial processes of re-electing the Speaker of the House of Commons and swearing in each individual MP one by one.

Meanwhile Sir Keir will fly to Washington for the Nato summit, his first opportunity to hold face-to-face talks with world leaders including Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz, as well as a potential meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky.

The State Opening of Parliament will mark the official start of the substantive legislative agenda, with the first post-election session of Prime Minister’s Questions likely to take place on 24 July – although it remains unclear who will face Sir Keir across the despatch box, with Rishi Sunak yet to confirm whether or not he will continue as Conservative leader in a caretaker capacity while his permanent successor is chosen.

The House of Commons’ scheduled summer recess will be delayed until the end of July, with MPs returning at the beginning of September.

Rachel Reeves, the new Chancellor, is expected to confirm the date of her first Budget within days with the fiscal event likely to take place in late September or mid-October, depending on whether it can be fitted around the party conferences. The Budget will implement Labour’s commitment to impose VAT on private school fees for the first time, a key clause in the party’s victorious election manifesto.

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