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Lack of AI-specific legislation in King's Speech risks UK ambitions

7 November 2023

Following last week’s AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, which underlined the need for global action to ensure the safe development of ‘frontier AI’, today’s King’s Speech was notable for the absence of AI-specific legislative proposals.

In August the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee published an interim report in its major inquiry on AI, which set out 12 key governance challenges that must be addressed before the technology outpaces efforts to regulate and ensure its safe deployment. The interim report called for “a tightly-focussed AI Bill in the new session of Parliament”, to underpin the risk-based approach set out in the Government’s AI white paper, published in March.

Chair's comment

Science, Innovation and Technology Committee Chair, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, said:

“This new session of Parliament will be the last opportunity to pass significant legislation before the General Election, and in all likelihood, before 2025. It is therefore disappointing that there is no mention of an AI Bill in today’s King’s Speech. 

“In March the Government said that it would consider legislating to establish ‘due regard’ duties for existing regulators, as part of the implementation of the high-level principles set out in the AI white paper. In our interim report, we called for the introduction of such a short tightly-focussed Bill to make sure existing regulators’ powers are up to date to be applied to AI. We warned of the risk that without regulators’ powers being up to date the UK could be overtaken by other jurisdictions – particularly the European Union and United States. 

“Since our interim report was published both the EU and US have moved closer to setting de facto AI governance standards, and whilst the UK demonstrated its convening power at Bletchley Park, the international regulatory picture is likely to look very different by 2025 – simply put, it may by then be too late for the UK’s approach to become the international standard.

“My Committee will continue to consider these issues in depth, including at our next hearing on Wednesday 8 November with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, where we will hear from the Prime Minister’s summit representative, Matt Clifford”.   

Further information

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