As I write this column, Parliament has just reconvened after prorogation for the State Opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech.

Usually the Queen’s Speech would see both chambers of the Houses of Parliament packed with many guests for the height of pomp and ceremony.

However due to Covid, this state opening is very different with a much-reduced procession to hear the Government’s legislative agenda for the upcoming Parliamentary session.

The Queen’s Speech has highlighted the 31 bills that the Government intends to bring forward over the next year covering all aspects of society and life.

To support our veterans with a National Insurance Contributions Bill that will provide contributions relief for employers of veterans.

An Armed Forces Bill that will honour and strengthen the Armed Forces Covenant to support our veterans in the community.

And most importantly a Northern Ireland Bill to devolve more powers to address the legacy of the troubles and to bring an end to investigations into British soldiers from the troubles. I will continue to work with both Bury Council and the Government to work towards developing local facilities for our heroes.

There’s been lots of talk about levelling up, and this Queen’s Speech has focussed on putting meat on the bones of this agenda. With the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill bringing forward a lifetime skills guarantee to ensure that everyone has access to the training and education they need to progress in life and access skilled jobs. Combined with the levelling up fund we can make sure that we are not only improving our towns but levelling up our communities and our residents.

In terms of protecting and enhancing the environment, an Environment Bill will set out the Government’s commitment to restoring nature and biodiversity, tackling air pollution, and cutting plastic use as we head into COP26 later this year.

We are also expanding on the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act by bringing forward an Animal Sentience Bill which will recognise animal’s feelings in law to strengthen our commitment to animal welfare and tackle the awful abuse of trust that is animal cruelty.

While there are many other bills in the speech, one of the most important is the introduction of a ban on conversion therapy to protect our LGBTQ community from this abhorrent practice.