At the official State Opening of Parliament on Wednesday 27 May, the Queen will deliver the Conservative Party’s agenda for their upcoming term in Government, an agenda which will greatly impact your business.
After securing a surprise majority at the General Election, the Conservatives are now able to implement their Manifesto pledges in full, without a Coalition partner to appease in order to pass certain Bills.
This blog from Tracker looks at the key announcements which are likely to make up this important Queen’s Speech and what the implications might be for your business.
1. A new deal for businesses
The Conservatives have already announced a new Enterprise Bill as part of their first Queen’s Speech, with incoming Business Secretary Sajid Javid stating: “We will sweep away burdensome red tape, get heavy handed regulators off firms’ backs and create a Small Business Conciliation Service to help resolve disputes.”
Mr Javid has already said that the savings expected from removing unnecessary red tape will amount to £10bn for UK businesses.
In addition, the Enterprise Bill will create a Small Business Conciliation Service to help settle disputes between small and large businesses, as well as providing advice on business practices and regulation.
2. Employment and apprenticeships
The proposed Employment and Trade Union Bill will secure measures to push for two million more jobs and three million more apprenticeships over the next five years.
In addition, rules around trade unions and workers’ rights to take strike action are likely to be tightened, with proposals in place to ensure that any strike affecting health, transport, fire services or schools will need to be backed by 40% of eligible union members. The strike will also only be able to go ahead with a 50% voter turnout.
3. EU Referendum
The Conservative majority means that one of the key pre-Election issues, a referendum on EU membership, will no longer require political wrangling or negotiation, and will be free to go ahead.
The Government’s majority in the House of Commons could even see the vote brought forward to as early as 2016 in order to quell uncertainty in the markets.
A quick vote, however, will mean a shorter campaign and would seriously hamper Mr Cameron’s ability to reform the UK’s EU membership from within ahead of the vote. Reforms already on the agenda for Mr Cameron include exempting the UK from an ‘ever closer union’, the ability to veto certain regulation and improved access to the EU single market.
4. Further devolution
Following last year’s Scottish independence referendum, the issue of further devolution for not only Scotland, but Wales and across English cities, has been at the forefront of the political argument.
The Scotland Bill, built on the cross-party Smith Commission proposals, will be included in the Queen’s Speech, although First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Mr Cameron have also agreed to examine further devolution beyond the Smith proposals, although no agreements have yet been made.
The Wales Bill will outline plans to devolve power across areas such as energy, new controls over fracking, transport, the environment and speed limits. New financial measures would involve the introduction of a ‘funding floor’ to the Barnett formula to secure “fair funding” for Wales moving forward.
At a city level, new powers would be given to new city-wide elected mayors who work with local councils. English cities would receive powers over housing, transport, planning and policing.
Tied to the devolution proposals for Scotland and Wales is Mr Cameron’s controversial English Votes for English Laws (EVEL), which would exclude Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland MPs from voting on certain issues and effectively create a split House of Commons.
5. Counter terror and communications legislation
In an effort to promote safer communities and combat extremism, the Conservatives have also announced a Counter-Terrorism Bill to be included in the Queen’s Speech.
These measures will focus on reducing the presence of those who incite hatred against gender, race or religion on social media and in print.
In addition, the Communications Bill, known as the so-called “Snoopers Charter”, will aim to help police and security services improve their access to communications surveillance.
Understanding the opportunities
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