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King to set out UK PM's plans on crime, climate

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will promise a crackdown on crime and reduced climate measures in his first King's Speech as the UK heads into an election year.

King Charles will set out the UK government's plans on crime, climate, housing and other legislation in what could be Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's first and last so-called King's Speech before an election next year.

Sunak will use Tuesday's event, when the monarch delivers a speech listing the government's priorities for a new parliamentary session, to press on with what his team hopes will be vote-winning policies he outlined earlier this year.

Trying to create a dividing line between his governing Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party, which is way ahead in the polls, Sunak is expected to press on with watering down climate measures to reach Britain's net zero goal by 2050.

He will also drive his agenda to crack down on crime, introducing plans to expand the use of what up until now has been the rarely used whole-life term to Britain's most serious offenders and to force criminals to face their victims in court.

"I want everyone across the country to have the pride and peace of mind that comes with knowing your community ... is safe. That is my vision of what a better Britain looks like," Sunak said in a statement before the speech.

"We must always strive to do more, taking the right long-term decisions for the country and keeping the worst offenders locked up for longer. In the most despicable cases, these evil criminals must never be free on our streets again.

"Life needs to mean life."

In what will be a very political pre-election agenda, Sunak will introduce a raft of legislation such as a sentencing bill that means convicted murderers who carry out sexually motivated attacks will automatically remain in jail for the rest of their lives with no prospect of release.

The bill would make clear in law that "reasonable force" can be used to make criminals appear in the court when they were sentenced so they could hear from their victims, his office said.

Sunak will also introduce legislation for the government to hold North Sea oil and gas licensing rounds annually - something Labour has ruled out by saying it would block new domestic exploration licences if it wins power.

It will be the first time Charles will make the speech as King after standing in for his mother Queen Elizabeth last year, in a ceremony which traditionally begins with a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster.

In a pageant-laden ceremony with some of its traditions traced back to the 16th century, the monarch reads out a list of plans written by the government.

His departure after the speech signals the start of a new parliamentary session.

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