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Intelex queens speech 2016 summary

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A summary of the main points from the Queen's Speech, delivered to Parliament on 18 May 2016, prepared by Intelex, Lexington Communications' political insight and monitoring division (http://www.intelexintel.co.uk/)

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Intelex queens speech 2016 summary

  1. 1. Queen’s Speech 2016 Summary and Analysis
  2. 2. Contents Analysis – One year into a Conservative Majority- What next?....................................................3 Legislation.............................................................................................................................................4 Better Markets Bill...............................................................................................................................4 Bill of Rights..........................................................................................................................................4 Bus Services Bill ...................................................................................................................................5 Children and Social Work Bill ............................................................................................................5 Education for All Bill ...........................................................................................................................7 Higher Education and Research Bill .................................................................................................8 Investigatory Powers Bill ....................................................................................................................9 Lifetime Savings Bill ............................................................................................................................9 Local Growth and Jobs Bill ..............................................................................................................10 Wales Bill ..........................................................................................................................................10 Modern Transport Bill.......................................................................................................................11 National Citizen Service Bill .............................................................................................................11 Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill .........................................................................11 NHS (Overseas Visitors Charging) Bill ...........................................................................................12 Pensions Bill........................................................................................................................................12 Policing and Crime Bill......................................................................................................................13 Prisons and Courts Reform Bill........................................................................................................13 Small Charitable Donations Bill.......................................................................................................14 Soft Drinks Industry Levy.................................................................................................................14 Non-legislative briefs.........................................................................................................................15 Constitutional Affairs ........................................................................................................................15 Home Building....................................................................................................................................15 International Development Spending.............................................................................................15 Life Chances Strategy ........................................................................................................................15 National Security................................................................................................................................15 Northern Powerhouse........................................................................................................................16 Seven Day NHS...................................................................................................................................16
  3. 3. Analysis It might be thought cruel to require a 90-year-old lady to make the journey to Westminster to announce such a thin government programme. This year's Queen’s Speech had an end of parliament air about it. No horses were to be frightened on right or left as the government seeks to avoid trouble six weeks before the EU referendum. The whole event may have been better postponed. A few months ago, the Prime Minister had decided to move the Queen’s Speech until after the referendum. That would have allowed the government to announce its new forward-looking programme after a Cabinet reshuffle and free from the distractions and divisions of the campaign. However other ministers felt that voters would be unimpressed with government focusing entirely on the referendum and not getting on with their day jobs of governing the country. Hence the Queen’s Speech was restored to its original timetable but devoid of much substantial content. To be fair, some important and likely controversial proposals did survive. The prison and courts reform bill for example with a new emphasis on training, rehabilitation and education, will not be popular with the Tory right or the tabloid press. It is an example of genuine liberal reform championed by chief Brexiter Michael Gove and supported by remain leader David Cameron. The Home Office has a number of difficult bills including counter-extremism, criminal finances and investigatory powers (the so-called snoopers’ charter) carried over from the last session. The Digital Economy Bill provides for a legal right to a fast broadband connection through a new broadband universal service obligation. It will be easier to build mobile phone masts and there will be a right to automatic compensation when broadband service goes down. A Modern Transport Bill, meanwhile, underlines the government’s determination to make Britain a world leader in the fields of driverless cars, drones and even commercial spaceflight. There are also useful tidying up proposals on pensions, intellectual property and provisions to make it easier for customers to switch banks, broadband and energy providers. In keeping with the Prime Minister’s focus on “life chances” the speech contained a Higher Education Bill which aims to encourage new providers to enter the sector and to widen participation, especially among disadvantaged groups. Controversially, particularly for the business community, a Local Growth and Jobs Bill devolves business rates to local councils. The new mayors of combined authorities will also have scope to levy additional business rates to support infrastructure. The politics of the Queen's Speech cannot be seen outside the framework of the referendum campaign. The Conservative right had already inflicted damage on a number of government proposals including the forced conversion of all schools in England to academies which resulted in a watering down of the proposals. The immediate reaction of pro-Leave Conservatives today was criticism of the absence of a Sovereignty Bill to assert the supremacy of parliament over European law, which the Prime Minister had promised earlier in the year. This will cause him difficulties amongst an already-disgruntled group of people. It is difficult to understate the unpopularity of the Prime Minister among his more ardent Brexiter MPs. Their hostility to legislation which they do not like will be more aggressive, particularly if the referendum results in a majority for Remain. After June 23, if there is a Remain decision – and the polls seem to be pointing more strongly to a Remain lead – the Prime Minister's priority will be to stitch back together the Conservative coalition. That will make any future reshuffle tricky to handle. It will be an uphill task but the ability of even this light legislative programme to succeed will depend on his skills in reconciling the bitterly divided factions of his party.
  4. 4. Legislation Better Markets Bill The purpose of the Bill is to open up markets, boost competition, give consumers more power and choice and make economic regulators work better. The main benefits of the Bill will be to give consumers more power and choice through faster switching, and more protection when things go wrong. It will simplify the way economic regulators operate to make things more straightforward for business and cut red tape, speeding up decisions from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to benefit both businesses and consumers; and it will seek to help deliver the manifesto commitment to increase competition and consumer choice in the energy market . The main elements of the Bill are set to be announced in due course, but are expected to feature measures to:  Encourage consumers to switch providers and get a better deal.  Speed up the decision making process for competition investigations, to give the competition authorities more powers to take on anti-competitive behaviour.  Improve the landscape for economic regulation.  Take steps to ensure open and competitive markets, including delivering the manifesto commitment to act quickly on the Competition and Market Authority’s final recommendations to promote competition in the energy market.  Help businesses by simplifying regulatory processes and removing unnecessary requirements. This Bill suggests the Government will keep seek to continue to drive competition in a range of markets, in particular the energy market. The Government has also stated that it wants to ‘Simplify the way economic regulators operate to make things more straightforward for business and cut red tape’ indicating that there may be further changes for the FCA and the PRC. It also dovetails with the Government’s agenda to reduce red tape and burdensome regulations on businesses. Bill of Rights This Bill is part of the Government’s overall strategy to strengthen national security. The specific purpose of the Bill is to reform the UK human rights framework. The main benefits of the Bill will be to continue protecting fundamental human rights. It would also protect against abuse of the system and misuse of human rights laws and would restore common sense to human rights applications. The main elements of the Bill are that:  These rights would be based on those set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, while also taking into account the UKs common law tradition.  The Government will consult fully on the proposals when they are published in due course. The Bill of Rights has already proven to be a particularly controversial piece of legislation. Jeremy Corbyn has stated Labour’s opposition to withdrawing from the European Court of Human Rights and the SNP have stated their opposition as the ECHR underpins the devolved institutions in Scotland. The Government will face fierce opposition in trying to implement this Bill.
  5. 5. Bus Services Bill This Bill proposes the devolution of powers over bus services to elected mayors and local transport authorities, so as to improve service for the user. It would spread the London franchising model to other cities. This Bill would apply only to England as transport is devolved to the other nations. The main elements of the Bill are expected to feature:  Local authorities would gain power to set standards, e.g. on ticketing and frequency.  Powers over franchising granted to directly elected mayors, and to other local authorities on a case-by-case basis.  Making data accessible to app developers to promote better information for customers, including in real time. This Bill is an effort to introduce a more flexible and responsive bus service market, and to promote competition; the accompanying information notes that at present, bus services are largely operated by a few providers and rarely in direct competition with one another. By devolving decisions the Government will hope to see a liberalisation in bus services. Children and Social Work Bill This Bill will facilitate faster adoptions for children in care and also aims to raise standards in the social work sector. It seeks to ensure children going through the care system have the best possible life chances, including by increasing the number of children placed into adoption. It will largely apply only to England, though some aspects will affect Wales. The main elements of the Bill are expected to include measures to:  Alter the considerations that courts must give in favour of permanent adoption where that is in the child’s best interests.  Creating a specialist regulator for the social work profession.  Create a ‘Care Leavers Covenant’, based on statutory obligations, to ensure local authorities set out the rights of care leavers, e.g. on housing, jobs, access to a Personal Adviser and healthcare. This Bill is a clear effort to emphasise the ‘one nation’ Conservativism by David Cameron, perhaps with one eye on ensuring his successor is anchored in the centre ground. Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill The Bill will provide stronger powers to disrupt extremists and protect the public. The Bill will include measures to enable the Government and law enforcement agencies protect the public against dangerous extremists and make use of a new full range of powers. The main elements of the clauses are:  The introduction of a new civil order regime to restrict extremist activity, following consultation.  Safeguarding children from extremist adults, ‘taking powers to intervene in intensive unregulated education settings which teach hate and drive communities apart’.  Closing loopholes so that Ofcom can continue to ‘protect consumers who watch internet- streamed television content from outside the EU’.
  6. 6.  A consultation will be launched on powers to enable Government to intervene where councils fail to tackle extremism. The Bill has been the subject of much controversy recently, with the Department for Education (DfE) having a huge role to play in tackling extremism in schools. Further legislative measures will also be considered following Louise Casey’s review into integration in communities ‘most separated from the mainstream’. Criminal Finances Bill This Bill will help the Government ‘recoup’ criminal assets and deliver its pledge to tackle tax evasion and economic crime. Specifically, it will reform law on proceeds of crime, and will include provisions to strengthen enforcement powers and protect the public. It will aim to implement a regime to facilitate the reporting of suspicious financial activity and make it easily to get control of illegal funds, whilst helping improve coordination between the public and private sector to deal with illegal financial activity. The Bill will include measures to:  Introduce a criminal offence for corporations who fail to stop their staff facilitating tax evasion.  Improve the operation of the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regime to encourage better use of public and private sector resources against the highest threats and to target entities that carry out money laundering instead of individual transactions; and to provide the National Crime Agency (NCA) with new powers.  Improve the ability of law enforcement agencies and courts to recover criminal assets more effectively, particularly in cases such as those linked to grand corruption. This Bill suggests the Government is taking action to address tax evasion, corruption and other forms of financial crime. This is a particularly topical issue following the release and subsequent backlash from the Panama Papers and should resonate with the public. Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill This Bill will enable the UK to accede to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols, and allow the UK to better protect cultural property in times of armed conflict. The main elements of the Bill are to:  Introduce offences designed to protect cultural property in the event of an armed conflict at home and abroad, including an offence of making such property the object of attack.  Introduce the Blue Shield as an emblem that signifies cultural property protected under the Convention and its two Protocols.  Introduce an offence of dealing in cultural property that has been illegally exported from occupied territory and a provision for such property to be seized and returned to the occupied territory after the close of hostilities, where appropriate.  Introduce immunity from seizure for cultural property in the UK which is being transported for safekeeping during a conflict between two or more other states.
  7. 7. This Bill has been a long time coming onto the Government’s legislative programme, having been first suggested in draft in 2008. The Government have remained committed to ratifying the Convention and the Protocols but had been unable to find parliamentary time for the legislation. When passed, the UK would be the first permanent member of the UN Security Council to ratify both the Convention and its two Protocols. Draft Law of Property Bill The Government will bring forward proposals to respond to the recommendations of the Law Commission’s report on ‘Making land work: easements, covenants and profits á prendre (2011)’ to simplify the law around land ownership. Education for All Bill This Bill will give powers to convert under-performing schools in ‘unviable’ local authorities to academies. The purpose of the Bill is to make all schools academies but it will not force them to do so. The Bill will also deliver plans which will be set out in the forthcoming Skills Plan, which intends to reform technical education. The main elements of the Bill are:  To move towards a system where every school is an academy through powers to convert schools to academies in under-performing and unviable local authorities.  To make the process of becoming an academy swifter for schools and local authorities.  To move towards a more schools-led system, shifting the responsibility for school improvement from Local Authorities to Head Teachers and others in the school system.  To redress ‘historic unfairness’ in school funding through a National Funding Formula to allocate funding more fairly.  To make schools responsible for finding the right provider for excluded pupils, and make them accountable for their education. This Bill demonstrates the departure from the Government’s initial controversial plan to force all schools to become academies. As education is a devolved matter, the majority of the substantive issues in the Bill will apply to England only. Digital Economy Bill The Bill will make the UK a ‘world leader in digital provision’, describing the UK as a place where Technology ‘ceaselessly transforms the economy, society and Government’. The main benefits of the Bill are to enable the building of a ‘world-class’ digital infrastructure, supporting digital industries, strengthen the protections for citizens in the digital world and reform the way Government uses data to deliver public services. The main elements of the Bill are:  A pledge to fast broadband, which will be delivered via a universal service obligation (USO) and a new Electronic Communications Code, simplifying regulations on infrastructure.  More powers to be given to consumers, with Ofcom being able to order communications providers to release data in the interests of the consumer and competition, helping consumers to make informed choices.
  8. 8.  Intellectual property to be protected by addressing the difference in online/offline copyright laws and enabling registered design owners to give notice of their rights more cheaply and flexibly.  The use of Government data to be reformed to deliver better public services, combat sector fraud and help those in debt.  Greater protection for citizens in the digital economy, such as a protection from spam emails and children from online pornography. The Bill builds on the Government’s recent work to extend broadband to 95 per cent of the country, with the Prime Minister promising the introduction of a USO several months ago. Greater protection for consumers within a digital economy is an aspect which has seen great parliamentary pressure to be introduced, with many MPs raising the issue of child pornography online in recent months, and the Home Secretary being very critical of nuisance calls. Higher Education and Research Bill The purpose of this Bill is to deliver greater competition in the Higher Education sector and make it easier for new universities to be set up. It will also seek to maximise the Government’s investment of over £6 billion a year in research and innovation. The main elements of the Bill are:  To make it easier and quicker for new high quality providers to start up and achieve degree awarding powers and secure university status.  To ensure rigorous tests for providers that want to enter the Higher Education system and enable their students to receive funding.  The new Teaching Excellence Framework (which the Government are consulting on).  To increase transparency, requiring universities to publish detailed information about application, offer and progression rates, broken down by ethnicity, gender, and socio- economic background. This Bill demonstrates the Conservative Government’s attempt to increase competition in the Higher Education sector, as well as showing attempts to meet their targets to widen participation in the university sector. High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill This bill has been carried over from the last session. Its purpose is to provide the Government with legal powers to construct and operate Phase One of High Speed 2 (HS2). On becoming an Act, it will provide the Government deemed planning permission for the railway between London and the West Midlands. This will deliver on the Government’s manifesto commitment to build HS2. The cross-party support for HS2 means it is likely this bill will continue to pass through Parliament. The Bill is currently at the Committee stage in the House of Lords and it is expected it will receive considerable scrutiny, having been met with opposition from interested parties affected by the construction of the project. Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Bill
  9. 9. The purpose of this Bill is to reform the law of unjustified threats of infringement proceedings for patents, trademarks and design rights and deliver the Law Commission’s detailed recommendations for reform. The main elements of the Bill are:  To make a clearer distinction between approaches made to different parts of the supply chain, forcing the rights holder to focus their allegations on the source of the alleged infringement.  To exempt professional legal advisers from liability for making threats, if they are acting on instructions from a client and in their professional capacity, so that they can help settle disputes. This Bill builds on work from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, helping to turn the UK into an innovation hub. It also furthers work done by Department for Culture, Media and Sport to help IP disputes be settled quicker. Investigatory Powers Bill This Bill has been carried over from the last session. It will help modernise law and ensure it is ‘fit for purpose in a digital age’, introducing enhanced authorisation and oversight arrangements. It will also ensure police and security and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to continue to protect the public from threats. The main elements of the bill are:  To deliver on the Government’s manifesto pledge on communications data in order to strengthen the ability to disrupt terrorist plots, criminal networks and organised child grooming gangs. This Bill has been widely scrutinised in both chambers of the House and also by the Draft Bill committee. Among the many criticisms include the worry that mass amounts of data will be passed onto intelligence services in order to find a small piece of information, often described as inefficient as well as an unnecessary breach of privacy. Lifetime Savings Bill The Bill aims to allow the Government create a Help to Save scheme to support low earners to save, and to develop a new Lifetime ISA, providing savers with a bonus on savings to be used towards a first home or retirement. Specifically, the Bill aims to encourage younger people to save for both their first house and retirement without having to choose between one or the other. The Bill will include measures to:  Enable those who are in receipt of working tax credits or Universal Credit and are able to save up to £50 a month, receive a bonus of 50% - totalling to a maximum of £600 – after two years. This would be under the Government’s Help to Save Scheme. Savers who use the scheme for a further two years could earn up to another £600.  Top-up subscriptions to a Lifetime ISA for adults under 40, with a bonus of 25% on all savings up to £4,000 a year. This would equate to a tax free payment of up to £1,000 a year.
  10. 10.  Allow Lifetime ISA account holders to access some or all their funds to buy their first home (up to £450,000), or from age 60 without charge. Local Growth and Jobs Bill This Bill is part of an overall package of bills aimed at ‘strengthening the economy to deliver security for working people’. The Government claims the Local Growth and Jobs Bill will deliver the biggest change in local finance for decades, giving local authorities full control of the money they raise through business rates, so they can attract business and investment to their local areas. The Bill will include measures to:  Transfer of up to £13bn to councils through allowing them to retain 100 per cent of the business rates they collect.  Introduce new measures to allow combined authority mayors to levy business rate supplements in order to fund infrastructure projects where there is the support of local business. The Government says this Bill is part of their one nation vision for the UK. Given Labour’s support for devolution and de-centralisation it is hard to imagine how they could oppose the Local Growth and Jobs Bill. Local Wales Bill This Bill is part of the Government’s strategy to ‘strengthen devolution and local decision making’ across the UK and specifically seeks to establish a ‘strong and lasting devolution settlement in Wales’. The Government claim that the benefits of the Bill would be to:  Make Welsh devolution clearer by introducing a reserved powers model to clarify the division of powers between the National Assembly for Wales and Westminster.  Make Welsh devolution stronger by devolving important powers to the National Assembly for Wales over energy, transport and elections in Wales.  Give the National Assembly for Wales control over its own affairs, including what it should be called, its size, electoral system and voting age.  Reflect the permanence of the Assembly and the Welsh Government in statute.  Remove the requirement of the Wales Act 2014 for a referendum before a proportion of income tax is devolved. The Wales Bill seeks to strengthen devolution in Wales and, in the long term, create a balanced constitutional settlement for Wales within the UK. All three main parties in Wales will welcome the move to enshrine the permanence of the Assembly in law and to devolve further energy and transport powers. The Conservatives, whilst not ruling out further devolution in the future, say this creates a fair
  11. 11. settlement for Wales. Plaid Cymru will, by definition, always want further powers for the Assembly and, as such, it will fall to Welsh Labour to find a balanced position between supporting Wales in the UK and being seen to be ambitious on devolution. Modern Transport Bill The purpose of this Bill is to put Britain at the forefront of the modern transport revolution and, in doing so, create jobs and provide economic growth around the country. The Bill will include:  Legislation to enable the future developments of the UK’s first commercial spaceports  New legislation to make the UK ready to pioneer autonomous and driverless vehicles ownership and use  New rules to bring safe commercial drone flight for households and businesses a step closer. This Bill continues the Government’s general direction of travel in transport policy and it is likely to be passed due to the cross-party support for the proposals which it puts forward. SNP MPs have been particularly vocal in their support for a spaceport in Scotland with MPs in Devon and Wales also registering their interest in such a project to DfT. The Government’s expressed interest in developing autonomous vehicles means it is likely will force this section of the Bill through. Drones have proven to be a controversial topic with some MPs calling for much greater regulation in light of recent incidents but the commercial opportunities presented will allow the Government to pass the legislation through. The Government’s ongoing work on drone safety and the planned CAA consultation safety rules in the summer will likely influence the passage of the Bill. National Citizen Service Bill This Bill places the existing National Citizen Service onto a statutory footing, and is aimed at getting young people to mix with those of different backgrounds and to serve their communities. It will also support the Service to expand and enhance its cooperation with various bodies including schools. The main elements of the Bill are expected to include:  Formalising the National Citizen Service under a statutory framework.  Providing an £1.2 billion as a ‘cash injection’.  Establishing a duty on schools and local authorities to promote the scheme to students and parents. This is another Bill with an obvious aim of entrenching the kind of ‘Big Society’ Conservative Party David Cameron has sought to build. Putting one of his flagship initiatives onto the statute book will make sure that its influence outlives Cameron’s premiership. Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill The purpose of the Bill is to support the Government’s ambition to deliver one million new homes, whilst protecting those areas that are most of value and transform the way the Government plans for major infrastructure projects in the country. The main benefits of the Bill will be to further empower local communities to plan the homes and infrastructure they need. It will also provide for an independent assessment of the long-term infrastructure needs of the nation.
  12. 12. The main elements of the Bill will be:  To further strengthen neighbourhood planning and give even more power to local people.  To ensure that pre-commencement planning conditions are only imposed by local planning authorities where they are absolutely necessary.  Excessive pre-commencement planning conditions can slow down or stop the construction of homes after they have been given planning permission. It will also tackle the overuse, and in some cases, misuse of certain planning conditions  To make the compulsory purchase order process clearer, fairer and faster for all involved. This will include reform of the context within which compensation is negotiated – often a very significant and complex part of finalising a compulsory purchase deal.  To establish the independent National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory basis.  The new legislation will enable the privatisation of Land Registry. This Bill will seek to provide further support for the Government’s ambitious home building programme by ensuring that pre-commencement planning conditions are only imposed by local planning authorities where they are absolutely necessary. In addition the establishment of the National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory basis will provide the Government with further strategic advice on infrastructure and housing needs to the year 2050. NHS (Overseas Visitors Charging) Bill This Bill will introduce measures to ensure that overseas visitors pay for the health treatment they receive from the NHS. The Bill will meet the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitment to ensure only UK residents receive free NHS care. The detail of the Bill is set to be announced in due course, but is expected to feature measures to:  Ensure cost recovery is effective and efficient and the full cost of care is recovered and can be put back into the NHS.  Extend the number of services for which the NHS can charge overseas visitors and migrants. The introduction of this Bill continues the Government’s willingness to be seen as proactively working to reduce migration and prevent non-UK citizens for accessing free services, it will be timely for the Government to achieve press coverage on this ahead of the EU Referendum on June 23 rd . Pensions Bill The purpose of the Bill is to further reform Britain’s private pensions system by providing essential protections for people in Master Trusts - multi-employer pension schemes often provided by external organisations. It will also seek to remove barriers for consumers who want to access their pension savings flexibly and restructuring the delivery of financial guidance to consumers. With regard to financial guidance the Bill will restructure the delivery of public financial guidance through the creation of two new bodies and directing more funding to the front line.
  13. 13. The main elements of the Bill are set to be announced in due course, but are expected to feature measures to:  Master Trusts would have to demonstrate that schemes meet strict new criteria before entering the market and taking money from employers or members.  Creating greater powers for the Pensions Regulator to authorise and supervise these schemes and take action when necessary.  Capping early exit fees charged by trust-based occupational pension schemes and creating a system that enables consumers to access pension freedoms without unreasonable barriers.  A new pensions guidance body will be created, bring together the Pensions Advisory Service, Pension Wise and the pensions services offered by the Money Advice Service, providing access to a straightforward private pensions guidance service for customers.  In addition to this a new money guidance body would replace the Money Advice Service and be charged with identifying gaps in the financial guidance market to make sure consumers can access high quality debt and money guidance. This Bill will seek to build on existing Pensions freedoms and to further allow those with Pensions to access their savings in a timely and cost effective manner by providing for a cap on early exit charges. In addition to current Government commitments this will provide the legislative vehicle for the abolishment of the Money Advice Service and the setting up of a new body to provide more effective financial advice to consumers. Policing and Crime Bill The purpose of the Bill is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces, to be achieved through closer collaboration with other emergency services. It will enhance the accountability of police forces and fire and rescue services and build public confidence in policing by strengthening protection for those under investigation by, or who come into contact with, the police. The Bill will:  Facilitate closer cooperation between emergency services to drive efficiency and achieve better money for the tax payer. It will provide greater scope for joint working.  Simplify the current complaints system and reform the police disciplinary system  Reduce the reliance on the use of police cells as ‘places of safety’ when dealing with people experiencing a mental health crisis by banning their use as places of safety for under 18s. Prisons and Courts Reform Bill This Bill delivers the Conservative Government’s manifesto commitment to reform the prisons system, and will seek to give prisons Governors greater freedom and enable prisoners to receive better education. It will also seek to ensure better mental health provision in prisons and close older institutions, as well as reform and modernise the courts system. The detail of the Bill is set to be announced in due course, but is expected to feature measures to:  Reform Prisons, to facilitate a revolution in education, training, healthcare and security for prisoners, led by Governors with the power to enter into contracts and establish their own Boards with external expertise.
  14. 14.  Create new freedoms with a new regime of openness across the previously opaque world of the prison estate as prisons are required to produce statistics on areas such as prisoner education, reoffending and employment on release.  Measures to modernise the Courts and Tribunals service, by reducing delay and frustration for the public. Cameron sees this drive for prison transformation as a crucial part of his ambition for social reform, which he hopes will form a key part of his legacy as Prime Minister. He has committed to the extension of autonomous prisons later in this Parliament, along with the building of the nine new prisons announced in the Spending Review. Small Charitable Donations Bill The Bill will reform the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme, in order that is supports the widest possible range of charities and helping charities and community amateur sports clubs to maximise their fundraising power. The Bill seeks to lower the administrative burden and ensure fairness. The main elements of the Bill are expected to include:  Simplifying the scheme to make claims easier.  Introduce a ‘top-up’ for donations collected away from the building a group usually operates from.  Establishing a duty on schools and local authorities to promote the scheme to students and parents This is a relatively minor Bill as it simply adjusts existing measures, but is part of a wider picture of promoting the ‘Big Society’, ‘compassionate Conservative’ ethos David Cameron has cultivated during his leadership. Soft Drinks Industry Levy This Bill will introduce a soft drinks industry levy in the Finance Bill 2017 targeted at producers and importers of soft drinks that contain added sugar from April 2018. The Bill aims to encourage producers to reformulate their products and reduce portion sizes, in order to help tackle childhood obesity. The detail of the Bill is set to be announced in due course, but is expected to feature measures to:  A mechanism to invest the revenue from the levy in giving school-aged children a brighter and healthier future.  A consultation on the technical details of the tax. It is interesting to note that the accompanying document confirms that the Bill would apply to the whole of the UK and that the main benefit of the legislation is identified as encouraging companies to reformulate their products.
  15. 15. Non-legislative briefs Constitutional Affairs The Government will continue to work with the Scottish Parliament to implement the powers in the Scotland Act, and with the Northern Ireland Assembly to secure further progress in implementing the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements. The draft Wales Bill was published on 20 October, with the Government confirming that they will introduce the Bill to Parliament in this session. The Government will also legislate to meet the manifesto commitment to extend the franchise for British citizens living abroad to vote in UK parliamentary and European parliamentary elections. The Bill will enable British citizens who have been resident overseas for more than 15 years to continue to vote in UK elections. Home Building Outside of the Government’s legislative agenda on neighbourhood planning, the Government also reaffirms its commitment to build a million new homes, and outlined that Government policies have already seen the largest annual growth in housing for 28 years. The Government also noted that they will be launching a £3 billion Home Building Fund - £2 billion focused on long term loans to unlock a pipeline of 160,000 to 200,000 homes over the long term, and £1 billion to support small developments and custom builds. International Development Spending The Government again reaffirmed its previous commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on overseas development. Life Chances Strategy As part of the Government’s commitment to ‘an all-out assault on the root causes of poverty’, the Life Chances Strategy will outline a comprehensive plan for transforming the life chances of disadvantaged children and their families and will include a set of indicators for measuring them. Specifically, the Welfare Reform and Work Act will introduce new statutory life chances measures for both children in workless households and children’s educational attainment. National Security The Government will continue to meet the NATO guideline to spend two per cent of GDP on defence spending, with the Ministry of Defence’s budget rising by 0.5% above inflation every year to 2020/21. A £35 billion Defence budget is in place, the biggest in the EU and fifth largest in the world. From April this year, the Ministry of Defence budget has increased in real terms for the first time in six years. The four new submarines to replace the Trident system will cost £31 billion to build, test and commission over 35 years and there is also a £10 billion contingency fund. This revised cost highlights the Government’s ‘greater understanding’ about the detailed design of the submarines. A ‘Main Gate’ approach to Successor has also been abandoned by the Government, changing to a
  16. 16. staged investment programme. The Government also remains committed to the Armed Forces Covenant. Northern Powerhouse As expected, the Government pledges to continue its support in developing a Northern Powerhouse. The Government did not make any new announcements on its development, but outlined its developments to date in areas such as transport, devolution deals, science investment and arts and culture investment. Seven Day NHS The Government has reaffirmed its commitment to deliver NHS services over seven days of the week in England. It has asserted wider access will include routine GP services at the weekends and evenings, wider consultant and diagnostics access for the full week, and a more integrated and personalised 111 service. It is interesting the Government has sought to reassert their commitment to seven day NHS services at a time when the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP is coming under increasing pressure over the policy as the junior doctors’ contract dispute continues. UK Economy and Fiscal issues The Government reiterated its intention to deliver long-term economic solutions and to support the needs of the next generation. Practically, the Government committed to:  Building an economy based on lower taxes, so that people can take home more of what they earn.  Investing in education to equip the next generation for the future, tackling childhood obesity and investing in school sports.  Building the housing Britain needs.  Providing the next generation with better incentives to save, and more choice and flexibility as they do so.  Delivering on the Government’s aim to reach full employment, increasing wages so that more people are in work and earning more. UK Role in the World The UK will ‘continue to play a leading role in world affairs’, to meet environmental, economic, security and humanitarian challenges. The Government has committed to supporting Ukraine and pressuring Russia to fulfil its promises under the Minsk accords. In the Middle East, the UK will continue to take a lead role in fighting Daesh, working towards a peaceful resolution to the Syrian Civil War, assisting Iraq as well as providing aid to refugees fleeing the conflicts. The EU referendum was also referenced in passing, as was a State Visit by the President of Colombia.

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