The King’s Speech 2023 – what does it mean for the sport and recreation sector?

King's Speech 2023 - Parliament ()

The King’s Speech took place yesterday 7 November 2023, during the State Opening of Parliament, marking the start of the next Parliamentary session. In his speech, His Royal Highness set out the government’s legislative and policy agenda for the coming parliamentary year.

For what is likely to be the final King’s Speech before next year’s anticipated General Election, the purpose for the Prime Minster and his government was twofold: firstly to clarify what legislation they intend to progress before the end of their term, and secondly to start setting out political positioning and priorities ahead of the election.

Some key points of interest to Alliance members and the sector more broadly featured in the speech – and some were more noticeable by their absence. Our Policy ManagerMax Nicholls, outlines below:

What made it in? Terrorism Bill and Football Governance Bill

Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill

As anticipated, The Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, which is the legislative underpinning to bring Martyn’s Law into force, is set to be introduced. Named after Martyn Hett, one of the victims of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, the new law will place a new requirement on those responsible for certain publicly accessible locations to consider the threat from terrorism and implement appropriate and proportionate mitigation measures.

The requirements on a qualifying premises will depend on their capacity. Premises with a capacity of between 100 and 799 people will be in the ‘standard tier’ and premises with a capacity of 800 people and over in an ‘enhanced tier’.

The Home Affairs Select Committee undertook pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill earlier this year. The Alliance responded to the Call for Evidence outlining the concerns raised by members including the lack of clarity of key provisions within the Bill, the impact on volunteers and community organisations and the potential for duplication of requirements at large venues which are already subject to existing regulatory regimes.

In light of the concerns raised regarding community organisations and venues, the government has confirmed it will hold a consultation on the standard tier to find the balance between public protection and undue burdens. Government has not yet provided detail on timings, but we will update members once this is available.

Football Governance Bill

The government has reiterated its commitment to strengthening football governance through the creation of an Independent Football Regulator. This follows the publication of the football governance white paper in February 2023. The new regulator will attempt to address issues of financial sustainability in English football and provide a greater voice to fans of clubs in England and Wales.

Criminal Justice Bill

Through the Criminal Justice Bill, the government will progress plans to introduce a mandatory duty on those who work with children to report concerns relating to child sexual abuse. This follows a Call for Evidence earlier this year, which the Alliance responded to. The government has now launched a further public consultation, seeking views on specific policy questions. The deadline for responses is 30 November and we will work with members to develop our response.

What didn’t make the cut? Mental Health law updates and much long-term

Given the current position in the electoral cycle, it comes with no surprise that there is less focus or legislation on tackling longer-term challenges.  

Though the speech did introduce government’s new landmark generational smoking ban policy, the speech was light on any other commitments around addressing health and wellbeing, and crucially the supporting role physical activity can play in this regard. Notably missing was any updated legislation on mental health, which featured in the 2019 Conservative manifesto promises.

What next?

In the advent of the next General Election, we intend to make the case to all political parties as to why the UK needs a greater vision for sport and recreation, maximising the sector’s potential to unlock significant social and economic value and address some huge, longer-term challenges around health and wellbeing. Making it easier for people to play, move and be active is vital to ensuring a happier, healthier nation and to meeting many national priorities – and government need to use all levers at their disposal to make this happen.

As Parliament returns, the Alliance – alongside sector partners - will build on our engagement in Parliament and across recent party conferences, and continue to highlight the role the sector can play in supporting key policy priorities of any future government. In the shorter term, we will also be keeping an eye on the Autumn Statement on the 22 November, and what, if any, proposals impact and support the sector.

Further details on the King’s Speech can be found here.

If you would like any more information or to speak to the Alliance about the King’s Speech or our Public Affairs activity please email Molly Hartill at