Its critics will call it a Queen’s Speech from a Coalition that has run out of ideas and run out of things upon which it agrees, whilst Cameron and Clegg continue to insist that it represents a bold package which will “take Britain towards a brighter future.”
It’s certainly true that the flow of legislation has slowed. In part that’s because the Government (very sensibly) passed their most radical legislation on schools and health reform in the first year in office, but it is also true that the list of things on which the Coalition partners can agree upon is shortening by the month.
Labour will argue this is a sign of the Government’s complacency about the big problems the country faces. And therein lies a genuine ideological difference between the parties with many Conservatives taking the view that Government passes too much legislation and see the reduced volume of legislation as a good thing. In particular, you can’t legislate for economic growth – which is the thing the country needs more than anything else.
None of this is to say there isn’t important stuff in here – pensions reform, reform of the Highways Agency and the Infrastructure Bill all stand out as significant proposals. But the more populist legislation such as childcare reforms and free school meals have all been announced before, and of the new stuff, none of it is that political and none of it will shift many votes come May next year.
The outcome of the election will be determined by the strength of the economy and public perception of the different choices of leader before them; and by psychological factors like where former Lib Dem voters go and where new UKIP voters come from. Important as they are for many people, I doubt the nuances of pension annuities will be big on the doorstep next Spring.
- A 10 bill programme, with pledges to “build a stronger and fairer society” and get Britain building again
- Changes to pensions, annuities and workplace schemes
- Populist measures such as tax-free childcare subsidies and free school meals
- Labour criticises absence of measures to boost NHS and tackle immigration
Childcare Payments Bill – will introduce tax free, state child care subsidies worth up to £2,000 per child
Infrastructure Bill – for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, the Bill will simplify the process for altering Development Consent Orders and hasten the process for appointing the Examining Authority. It aims to permit the discharge upon application of certain types of planning conditions in order to reduce delay and costs. The Bill will also enable shale gas firms to drill beneath private property without permission of the owner
Pension Tax Bill – will give effect to changes to pension tax rules announced in the March 2014 Budget. It will introduce a new tax framework that removes restrictions to the way individuals can access their defined contribution pension savings
Private Pensions Bill – provides for a wider choice of pensions, with Defined Ambition pensions encouraging greater risk sharing between parties and allowing savers to have greater certainty about their retirement savings.
Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill – will ease access to finance, improve payment practices, provide fairer access to public procurement contracts, and increase the availability and sources of finance for businesses. Rules on director disqualifications will be strengthened and unnecessary costs from insolvency law removed.
Recall of Members of Parliament Bill – will allow voters to trigger a by-election when an MP is found to have engaged in wrongdoing.