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Queen’s Speech centres on pensions and infrastructure

Queen’s Speech centres on pensions and infrastructure

🕔04.Jun 2014

The Speech marks the last before the general election, and will include the laws the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition hopes to pass before the May 2015 General Election. But what can those interested in local politics take from today’s proceedings?

A brief speech at 10 minutes, pension reform was the ‘centre-piece’ of the Government’s plans for the Coalition’s last year of government.

The Pension Tax and Private Pension Bills will give new freedoms for pensioners to cash in pension pots and not buy an annuity, and may pave way for broader reform of pensions that might give hope to supporters of Clancynomic-style reform of local government pension funds.

A planning and infrastructure bill including legislation to allow locally led garden cities to provide housing, and the relaxation of planning laws may please some councils who desperately need a new supply of housing, but includes the controversial shale gas reforms that many viciously oppose.

Local constituents may also take heart that a Recall Bill giving new powers to constituents to recall an MP found its way into the speech, but supporters will be disappointed it has fallen short of what is described as ‘true recall’.

Finally at least six bills will be carried over from the previous parliament, including the HS2 Hybrid Bill, consumer rights bill, the criminal justice and courts bill (including knife crime), the deregulation bill, a second finance bill and the Wales bill.

Full list of bills (in order of appearance):

– The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill will support small businesses, set deregulation targets and introduce a new statutory code and an adjudicator for public house tenants.
– The National Insurance Contributions Bill will simplify the collection of class 2 national insurance contributions.
– The Infrastructure Bill will bolster investment in infrastructure and reform planning law. It will also enhance energy security in the UK by opening up access to shale and geothermal sites.
– The Pension Tax Bill will give individuals greater discretion over the use of their retirement funds.
– The Private Pensions Bill will give employees greater control over their pension funds.
– The Childcare Payments Bill will help working families with childcare costs.
– The Modern Slavery Bill will strengthen the powers to prevent slavery and human trafficking and support for victims of such crimes.
– The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill will ensure courts consider the context of a person’s actions if they have acted heroically or for the benefit of others.
– The Service Complaints Bill will improve the complaints system in armed forces by creating an ombudsman.
– The Serious Crime Bill will tackle child neglect, organise crime and strengthen powers to seize the proceeds of crime.
– The Recall of MPs Bill will allow voters to trigger a by-election when an MP is found of serious wrong doing.

There are also three new draft Bills:

– The Draft Governance of National Parks (England) and the Broads Bill will provide for direct elections to the National Park authorities in England.
– The Draft Riots (Damages) Act Bill will improve the way compensation is paid to individuals and companies.
– The Draft Protection of Charities Bill will protect charities from abuse by people in England and Wales.

Full text of the speech  can be found here.

Here is the 105-page background briefing on the speech from the government, explaining in more detail what the measures in the Queen’s speech involve (pdf).

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