The last Queen’s Speech of this Parliament is almost upon us. Will the final session prove right the claims that this is a ‘zombie parliament’? Or can we expect a packed and exciting legislative agenda? Here’s a guide to what to expect tomorrow.
Freedom for pensioners
Following on from George Osborne’s announcement in this year’s budget, two pension bills are expected in the Queen’s Speech. One will pave the way for Dutch-style ‘collective pension funds’, as opposed to purely individual funds at present. The notion behind these funds is to spread the risk and offer better value for pensioners. The second bill will allow people to withdraw their savings in a lump sum, to purchase a Lamborghini for example.
Trebles all around
As we’ve seen from Nick and Vince’s trip to the boozer morning, the Lib Dems have successfully lobbied for better rights for landlords. A new code of conduct will be introduced for pub owners, particularly protecting landlords associated with large pub chains. A new independent ombudsman (Ofpub?) will be introduced to enforce this code, carry out any arbitration and fine pubs who break the new code.
Out kipping Ukip on immigration
In response to the recent success of Ukip, the Sunday Telegraph reported plans will be outlined in the Queen’s Speech for new, tougher immigration laws. Some of the measures include discouraging British-based companies from employing cheaper foreign workers, deporting Europeans who are still unemployed after six months as well as a new ‘wealth test’ targeting those from the poorest EU countries — all apparently a taster of what will come in the next Conservative manifesto. The Prime Minister has described the plans as ‘strong immigration laws to foil Ukip’.
Ending modern slavery
As predicted by Fraser last August, a Modern Slavery Bill will be introduced to give tougher prison sentences — up from 14 years to life — for human traffickers. The police will get more powers and a modern slavery commissioner will be set up.
Zac Goldsmith’s dream may finally come true – a recall bill is rumoured, which will partially follow through on the Coalition’s original promise to allow voters to sack MPs. It’s apt timing, given the Newark by-election on Thursday as a result of Patrick Mercer’s resignation. The Conservatives took the Lib Dems by surprise a few months ago, demanding that the recall should be in this year’s speech after previously ditching the idea.
No more heroes?
For members worried about the repercussions of helping in accidents, fear no more. A ‘Heroism Bill’ will be introduced to protect members of the public rushing to help in accidents or rescuing people from harm from legal action.
Clamping down on criminal renters
New plans will be laid out in the Queen’s Speech to clamp down on leasing premises to criminal gangs. Landlords will be liable for ‘participation in an organised crime group’ and may face a prison sentence of up to five years.
Slashing red tape
As James reported in his Mail on Sunday column, a small business bill will push forward David Cameron’s desire to cut red tape and make it easer for small businesses to grow. An ‘Appeals Champion’ will be named to protect businesses against overreaching regulators.
Closing the revolving door
Senior civil servants, quangocrats, top officials and NHS executives will be unable to take highly-paid redundancies and returning to the same firm within a year.
It’s shale time
An infrastructure bill will include two main elements — allowing house builders to ignore zero-carbon targets (by paving a levy) and pushing forward with shale gas drilling. The shale element will allow exploration firms to drill under private land without permission of the owner. Expect plenty of anger if this proposal goes through.
Stay at work parents
Another win for Nick Clegg — who is reportedly keen to stamp his influence on this week’s Queen’s Speech — tax free childcare will be introduced for families where both parents are working, worth up to £2,000 per child.
As Isabel revealed yesterday, some eurosceptic Conservatives are considering tabling an amendment to the Queen’s Speech bemoaning the lack of an EU referendum bill. Although such an amendment would cause less trouble than last year’s motion tabled by Peter Bone and John Baron, No.10 won’t be very happy with another EU-related distraction.