The Queen’s has reiterated Government plans to develop the driverless and electric car industries, while also boosting protection for national infrastructure security and take high speed rail to the North.
Following the the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill, which was put forward in the last Parliament, a new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill was also announced to “allow the regulatory framework to keep pace with the fast evolving technology for electric cars, helping improve air quality as well as provide for the installation of charging points for electric and hydrogen vehicles”.
It would also extend compulsory motor vehicle insurance to cover the use of automated vehicles, “to ensure that compensation claims continue to be paid quickly, fairly, and easily, in line with longstanding insurance practice”.
Recent months have been a horrific period for the nation’s security, with vehicles used as weapons by terrorists leading to barriers being installed on bridges across London as well as busy pedestrian tourist spots.
Her Majesty announced: “My government will bring forward proposals to ensure that critical national infrastructure is protected to safeguard national security.”
On a global scale the UK’s infrastructure will have to adapt in light of action on climate change.
The Government “will continue to support international action against climate change, including the implementation of the Paris Agreement”, Her Majesty said.
Her Majesty also announced a new High Speed Rail Bill to provide the powers to build and operate the HS2 network between Birmingham and Crewe. Construction on Phase One between London and Birmingham is due to start next year.
Patrick Flaherty, Chief Executive – UK & Ireland, AECOM, said: “Given the difficult circumstances the government faces following the recent election, there was a lot to welcome in today’s speech. We were especially pleased that the new modern industrial strategy played such a prominent role and agree with the government about the vital importance of infrastructure investment to the future of the nation’s prosperity.
“Commitments to HS2, electric cars and protecting critical infrastructure were all welcome. However, we would also like to have seen Crossrail 2 and the Heathrow expansion mentioned.”
“It was good to see the government’s reiterated commitment to the importance of technical education and fairer funding in schools.
“We also support the government’s reaffirmed commitment to important initiatives such as the 2% GDP pledge to NATO and standing by its obligations to the Paris Agreement.”
“AECOM is a long term strategic partner of the UK government and we look forward to continuing our work with them to achieve the commitments outlined in the speech.”
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said, “While more electric vehicle charging points are welcome, the proposals are rather unambitious and do not include plans for more charging points in places where, arguably, motorists would benefit most from them – the car parks of major shopping centres and supermarkets. Future legislation should include compelling private parking operators and perhaps also major property developers to install charging points.
“Charging technology that is introduced also needs to be of the type that actively encourages a generation of drivers to get behind the wheel of an electric car – so this means installing the most rapid charging technology that plug-in vehicles can accept. After all, no one would accept a dial-up internet connection in this age of fibre optic broadband, and drivers should not have to wait for many hours in order to be on their way again. It is also important that a minimum charger standard is established and there are moves to simplify the plethora of different and sometimes confusing charging options for consumers.
“We are disappointed that plans to tackle the unfair practices of private parking operators do not appear to be included – better regulation is needed in this sector to make sure motorists’ interests are protected.”
RAC insurance director Mark Godfrey added, “With car insurance prices at an all-time high due to recent Government Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) increases and changes they have made to the Ogden discount rate, we’re pleased to see that proposals to cut down on bogus whiplash claims, which have been one of the causes of recent rises in motor insurance premiums, have been included within the Queen’s Speech. We need tough action on this to protect the vast majority of honest drivers, and now look forward to seeing all insurers pass on the savings directly to drivers as soon as this this comes into law.
“It’s worth remembering that the savings from tackling bogus whiplash claims are all but wiped out following changes to the Ogden discount rates. The recent changes the Government made to this has cost insurers £3.5bn so therefore alongside this legislation to tackle whiplash claims, it is vital the Government takes into account concern from the insurance sector when it responds to and takes forward proposals following the recent consultation.
“Strengthening of the regulation of claims management companies is also to be welcomed but we need to see the detail to assess if will be effective to curb the aggressive contact strategies we see today.”