Over recent days I have been thinking about the life and service of Her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
We can all remember where we were, on that September afternoon one year ago, when the announcement came that the Queen had passed away.
I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet the Queen in an official capacity in Crawley in 2006, at the opening of the new Thomas Bennett Community College.
The State Opening of Parliament, which marks the start of a new parliamentary session, will take place in November. While written by the government of the day, the speech is delivered by the monarch. This is a duty fulfilled by Queen Elizabeth II on all but three occasions during her 70 year reign. In 2022 this was given by the then-Prince of Wales; this year will mark King Charles III delivering the Gracious Speech as monarch for the first time.
The speech will outline what ministers seek to achieve in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in what is expected to be the final session of this parliament.
There still remains, of course, much legislative work to undertake until this point.
This includes legislation which is already going through Parliament, aiming to be completed before the conclusion of the current session in the weeks ahead.
In addition to bills which have been introduced by ministers there are also proposed laws brought forward by individual MPs such as myself.
In June 2022 I introduced the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill. If this becomes law it will ban British hunters from bringing body part ‘trophies’ of endangered and vulnerable animals into Great Britain.
I regularly receive messages from Crawley residents calling for enhanced animal welfare protections and I am acutely aware that this is an issue which was pledged in the manifesto I stood on four years ago.
It is in this spirit that I am determined to get this bill onto the statute book.
My bill was approved by the House of Commons six months ago, and following subsequent debate in the House of Lords it is due to return there this week.
In our bicameral legislative system, all bills must be approved by both the Commons and the Lords before they can receive royal assent and become law.
I sincerely hope that Peers will recognise the effect this legislation would have.
It does not, of course, seek to instruct other nations how to behave.
What it does, however, is make clear that this country wants no part in the needless killing of rhinos, lions, elephants and other species in the name of ‘sport’ and will take action to end ‘trophies’ being imported.
Henry Smith MP