9 May 2012 12:21:59

Full list of legislation announced in the Queen's Speech

By Matthew Barrett
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Queen's-Speech-processionI have listed below all the Bills announced in the Queen's Speech this morning:

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

  • Repeal unnecesary legislation and limiting state inspections of companies
  • Set up a Green Investment Bank
  • Reform competition law
  • Transfer responsibility for developing the Code of Audit Practice to the National Audit Office
  • Transfer the Audit Commission's data-matching powers to another body. 

Banking Reform Bill

  • Implement some of the Vickers report recommendations to ringfence retail and investment actitivities within banks
  • Reduce the commitment of the taxpayer and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme by ensuring that depositors are treated as preferred creditors and paid before unsecured creditors.

Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill

  • A new independent ombudsman to ensure supermarkets treat suppliers fairly
  • Large supermarket chains will be held to account if they break the Groceries Code

Continue reading "Full list of legislation announced in the Queen's Speech" »

1 May 2012 14:40:30

The 37 Acts the Coalition has passed so far


By Matthew Barrett
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The legislative session which began in 2010 is finally coming to an end. In the session, nearly 40 Bills have been passed, a number of them significant Bills which helped deal with Labour's legacy. Listed below are some of the session's key achievements, which I have summarised from a Conservative press release:

  • The Welfare Reform Act caps the total amount a household can receive in benefits to the average of household earnings, so that no household can receive more than £26,000 a year. The Government also capped Housing Benefit to stop the situation under Labour where one family alone could get over £100,000 in Housing Benefit.
  • The Education Act gives teachers new legal powers to root out poor behaviour. This includes the power for schools to search pupils without consent for any dangerous or banned items, and the removal of rules that prevent schools from issuing detentions to pupils without providing 24 hours notice.
  • The Armed Forces Act enshrines the Military Covenant into law for the first time and commits Parliament to conducting a regular review of the covenant.
  • The Localism Act shifts power from Whitehall to local communities, wiping away unpopular town hall interferences and cutting red tape. Powers transferred include giving councils greater control of local business rates.
  • Council tax has been cut in real terms this year, after a second year of the council tax freeze.
  • Biggest ever increase in the Basic State Pension. The Government has decided that State Pensions will be up-rated by earnings, prices or 2.5% – whichever is highest. In April this year, the basic state pension rose by £5.30 per week – the biggest cash rise ever.
  • Reinvigorated the Right to Buy. The Government has reinvigorated the Right to Buy scheme by offering tenants in social housing a discount of up to £75,000 when buying their home.
  • The European Union Act makes provision for Britons to have their say on any proposed transfer of powers from the United Kingdom to the EU. This means that if a change to an EU treaty is proposed that moves powers or areas of policy from the UK to the EU, the Government will have to get the British people’s consent in a national referendum before it can be agreed. The Government also says it has ended Britain's participation in European Union bailouts, agreed to by Alistair Darling.
  • The Academies Act means the Secretary of State for Education can now grant academy status to any school and allow new Free Schools to be set up. More than 2,000 schools have applied for academy status and more than 1,400 have already converted. Hundreds of groups of parents, teachers and charities have also applied to set up Free Schools, and 24 opened within the Coalition’s first 18 months.
  • The Work Programme replaced Labour's patchwork of welfare to work schemes with one programme, designed to as many Britons as possible back into employment, including claimants of Jobseeker’s Allowance and those claiming Employment and Support Allowance. The programme rewards service providers on a results basis, to better ensure people find sustained employment.
  • Most importantly, the Emergency Budget laid out a deficit reduction plan, which gained the confidence of the markets, and contributed towards keeping interest rates low.

Continue reading "The 37 Acts the Coalition has passed so far" »

10 Jan 2012 11:01:59

A lot in the Lords, less in the Commons as Parliament returns today

By Matthew Barrett
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COMMONS-sittingParliament sits again today following the Christmas break, and will be considering some important legislation during January, including:

  • Local Government Finance Bill
  • Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims (Amendment) Bill
  • Public Services (Social Enterprise and Social Value) Bill
  • Wind Turbines (Minimum Distances from Residential Premises) Bill
  • Scotland Bill
  • Welfare Reform Bill
  • Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill
  • London Local Authorities Bill

There are two strands of parliamentary activity at the moment - the first is the heavy-duty Government legislation, which is mostly going through the Lords, including the Welfare Reform Bill and the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. 

Continue reading "A lot in the Lords, less in the Commons as Parliament returns today" »

5 Sep 2011 10:00:55

Parliament returns for a busy fortnight before conference season

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

COMMONS-sitting Just in case you hadn't heard about the Nadine Dorries-Frank Field amendment in the news, Parliament is back this week - and the next couple of weeks will be proof that the long summer recesses of the past really are a thing of the past. Before conference season begins, Parliament will be considering:

  • Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill
  • Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill
  • Health and Social Care Bill 
  • Public Bodies Bill 
  • London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill 
  • Legislation (Territorial Extent) Bill
  • National Health Service Redress (Amendment) Bill 
  • House of Commons Disqualification (Amendment) Bill
  • Consumer Protection (Postal Marketing) Bill 
  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulation Bill
  • Alcohol Marketing Bill
  • National Park Authorities Bill
  • Road Safety Bill
  • Secured Lending Reform Bill 
  • Safety of Medicines Bill 
  • Carers and Employment Bill 
  • Dairy Farming Bill
  • Activity Centres (Young Persons' Safety) (Amendment) Bill
  • Low Hazard Workplaces (Risk Assessment Exemption) Bill
  • Self-Employment (Risk Assessment Exemption) Bill
  • Health and Safety Consultants (Qualifications) Bill 
  • Succession to the Crown Bill
  • NHS Acute Medical and Surgical Services (Working Time Directive) Bill 
  • Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (Amendment) Bill 
  • Tribunals (Maximum Compensation Awards) Bill 
  • Public Bodies (Disposal of Assets) Bill 
  • Shared Parenting Orders Bill -
  • Volunteering Bill 
  • Medical Insurance (Pensioner Tax Relief) Bill
  • Draft Financial Services Bill
  • Draft Construction Contracts (England) Exclusion Order 2011 
  • Construction Contracts (England and Wales) Regulations 1998 (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2011
  • Draft Landfill (Maximum Landfill Amount) Regulations 2011.

27 May 2010 11:00:40

Sir George Young announces reduced summer recess and first legislation to go before the Commons

Picture 31At his first Business Questions as Leader of the House, Sir George Young has just announced the dates for this year's summer recess.

The Commons will sit all the way through until Thursday July 29nd and then return for a two-week sitting beginning on Monday September 6th, before breaking again for the party conference season.

He also announced that the first piece of legislation from the new Government's Queen's Speech to be given a Second Reading will be the Bill to abolish ID cards, which will go before the Commons on Wednesday June 9th.

Jonathan Isaby

25 May 2010 11:43:23

Summary of Bills included in the Queen's Speech

The Queen's Speech this morning included the following Bills to be introduced in this Session of Parliament:

  • Office for Budget Responsibility Bill - to set up the Office for Budget Responsibility.
  • National Insurance Contributions Bill - to amend rates of National Insurance Contributions.
  • Welfare Reform Bill - to make the benefits system simpler and improve work incentives.
  • Pensions and Savings Bill - to introduce a revised timetable for increasing the State Pension age.
  • Financial Reform Bill - to give the Bank of England control of macro-prudential regulation and and oversight of micro-prudential regulation.
  • Equitable Life Bill - to provide for payments to Equitable Life policy holders.
  • Airport Economic Regulation Bill - to reform the framework for the economic regulation of airports to benefit passengers and drive investment in airport facilities.
  • Postal Services Bill - to enable an injection of private capital in the Royal Mail.
  • Energy Bill - to deliver a national programme of energy efficiency measures and promote low carbon energy production.
  • Academies Bill - to enable more schools to achieve academy status and give teachers greater freedoms over the curriculum.
  • Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill - to provide for directly elected individuals to hold the police to account, create a dedicated Border Police Force and introduce stronger powers to tackle anti-social behaviour and alcohol-fuelled violence
  • Public Bodies (Reform) Bill - to cut the number of public bodies and allow for the abolition or merger of existing quangos
  • Decentralisation and Localism Bill - to give more power to councils and neighbourhoods through, among other measures, abolishing Regional Spatial Strategies, returning decision-making powers on housing and planning to local councils, abolishing the Standards Board regime, requiring the salaries of senior official to be pubished online, allowing local residents the power to instigate referendums on any local issues or council tax rises and abolishing Home Information Packs.
  • Local Government Bill - to stop the restructuring of local government in Exeter, Norwich and Suffolk.
  • Parliamentary Reform Bill - to provide for a referendum on changing the electoral system, to reduce the number of parliamentary seats (and equalise their size), to provide for fixed term parliaments, to intorduce the "55% rule" for dissolving parliament and to allow for the recall ballots if an MP is found guilty of serious wrongdoing.
  • Draft Parliamentary Privilege Bill - to clarify the extent and scope of parliamentary privilege
  • Freedom (Great Repeal) Bill - to restore freedoms and civil liberties through restricting the scope of the DNA database, restoring rights to non-violent protest, introducing safeguards agasint the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation, regulating the use of CCTV and ending the storage of internet and email records without good reason.
  • Identity Documents Bill - to abolish identity cards and the National Identity Register.
  • Scotland Bill - to implement the recommendations of the Calman Commission
  • European Union Bill - to ensure that any future transfer of power to the EU would be subject to a referendum and that primary legisaltion would be required for use of ratchet clauses, and to ratify a Protocol to adjust the numbr of MEPs in the UK and 11 other EU countries.
  • Armed Forces Bill - to provide the legal basis for the Armed Forces and change Court Martial powers.
  • Terrorist Asset-freezing Bill - to put the UK's terrist asset-freezing regime on a secure legislative footing.

Other key non-legislative items mentioned in the Queen's Speech:

  • A commitment that the Government's first priority is to "reduce the deficit and restore economic growth" not least through an emergency budget on June 22nd.
  • The tax and benefits system to be made "fairer and simpler" with the personal income tax allowance to be increased and pensions to be linked to earnings from April 2011.
  • Enabling the construction of a high speed railway network.
  • The introduction of a limit on non EU immigration and the ending of detention of children for immigration purposes.
  • Removing barriers to flexible working and promoting equal pay.
  • Giving doctors and patients more power in the NHS and taking action to improve public health.
  • Establishment of a Commission on Long-Term Care.
  • Giving social enterprises, charities and co-opertives an enhanced role in running public services.
  • Establishment of a committee to make recommendation on House of Lords reform.
  • The pursuance of an agreement on limiting political donations.
  • Working towards an ambitious global deal on tackling climate change.
  • A full Strategic Defence and Security Review.
  • A commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on development aid from 2013.

Jonathan Isaby

7 Apr 2010 06:50:42

The cider tax hike heads the list of measures Labour has been forced to drop

The severely compressed parliamentary agenda for today and tomorrow (details here) means that the Government has been forced to drop a variety of measures which it realised it would struggle to get through due to opposition from the Conservatives and others.

The BBC suggests that so far we know that the following have been dropped:

  • The 10% rise in cider tax - it came into force at the end of last month but will now expire on 30th June;
  • A 50p monthly levy on landline phone bills to pay for the universal roll-out of broadband, which was due to be introduced in October;
  • A tax on holiday rental homes;
  • Legislation to drive down fees charged by libel lawyers;
  • A referendum on the voting system;
  • Phasing out the remaining hereditary peers from the House of Lords.

4pm update:

The Conservatives have today blocked a number of contentious aspects of Ed Balls'  Children, Schools and Families Bill. The sections which the party has stopped would have:

  • denied parents the final say over the sex education of their child;
  • created additional bureaucracy for teachers with additional tick box exercises;
  • replaced league tables with a school report card;
  • introduced the "Licence to teach", a a Big Brother restriction on teachers;
  • introduced draconian proposals relating to the registration and monitoring of home-educated children.

Meanwhile, Chris Grayling has released the following statement explaining that the Conservatives will not seek to block the Crime and Security Bill because the indefinite retention of innocent people's DNA has already been ruled illegal:

“DNA data provides a useful tool for solving crimes. A Conservative Government will legislate in the first session in order to make sure that our DNA database will only include permanent records of people who are guilty instead of those who are innocent and to go further than the Government to help fight crime. We will collect the DNA of all existing prisoners, those on probation, on licence from prison, or under the supervision of the criminal justice system, which Labour have failed to do.

“We successfully pushed the Government to end the permanent retention of innocent people's DNA and we will change the guidance on taking office to give people on the database who have been wrongly accused of a minor crime an automatic right to have their DNA withdrawn."

Jonathan Isaby

6 Apr 2010 13:23:44

What bills are up for grabs in the "wash-up" period before dissolution?

NB Scroll down for details of Commons business for Wednesday and Thursday

A business statement is expected from Harriet Harman at 3.30pm, which will indicate how Parliament will deal with the remaining bills which are still in play in advance of Parliament being dissolved next Monday.

Harman's own Equality Bill is scheduled to get Royal Assent later today and the Finance Bill is something that will go through as a matter of course. There will follow over the next 24-48 hours much negotiation between the whips' offices and frontbenches as to what else will be able to be passed into law. it still also needs to be resolved whether certain reforms of the way the Commons works will be passed this week.

Of the remaining pieces of legislation, five are broadly non-contentious and ought to pass with relative ease and little cause for amendment:

  • Bribery Bill
  • Crime and Security Bill
  • Energy Bill
  • Flood and Water Management Bill
  • Northern Ireland Assembly Members Bill

Two Bills are highly controversial and will struggle to pass in anything like their existing form:

  • Children Schools and Families Bill
  • Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill*

Three Bills have some contentious aspects and others that are less controversial and will therefore be subject to particular discussion:

  • Digital Economy Bill (which only gets its Second Reading in the Commons today)
  • Financial Services Bill
  • Personal Care at Home Bill

* The proposal to have a referendum on electoral reform is especially controversial, and when the relevant clauses were being voted upon earlier in the year, I am led to believe that Labour MPs sceptical about the move were persuaded to back it on the basis that it would be sacrified at this stage. However, the all-important clause to instruct returning officers to count the votes at the general election on the Thursday night has all-party agreement and must be allowed to pass into law.

Wednesday morning update:

The business for today and tomorrow is as below. In addition to all the legislation mentioned above, there are two Private Member's Bills being given time to pass, including Alistair Burt's Sustainable Communities Bill, as well as a motion relating to the banning of mephedrone.

Today's Business:

  • Consideration of a business of the House motion to facilitate business to prorogation
  • Remaining stages of the Bribery Bill [Lords]
  • Consideration in Committee and remaining stages of the Northern Ireland Assembly Members Bill [Lords]
  • Motion relating to the draft Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2010
  • Remaining stages of the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill
  • All stages of the Appropriation Bill
  • All stages of the Finance Bill
  • Consideration in Committee and remaining stages of the Digital Economy Bill [Lords]
  • Consideration of any Lords amendments/messages

Tomorrow's business:

  • Remaining stages of the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill
  • Consideration of Lords amendments to the Crime and Security Bill
  • Consideration of Lords amendments to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill
  • Consideration of Lords amendments to the Children, Schools and Families Bill
  • Consideration of Lords amendments to the Energy Bill
  • Consideration of Lords amendments to the Financial Services Bill
  • Consideration of Lords amendments to the Flood and Water Management Bill
  • Consideration of any Lords amendments/messages.

Jonathan Isaby