The Queen’s Speech
Earlier today the Queen’s Speech revealed the Government’s legislative programme for the next Parliamentary session (2022/2023).
No fewer than 38 proposed pieces of legislation have been announced (some have rolled over from the last parliamentary session). Whilst some (or all) of the proposed legislation will impact or benefit businesses in different ways, we highlight the following:
- Focusing on businesses, laws will be introduced to repeal and reform regulations on businesses, reducing red tape. There will also be an Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill which will provide authority for the tackling of illicit finance, reduction in economic crime and to help businesses grow.
- For procurement, the proposed Bill which was not brought forward in the last parliamentary session has appeared in the Queen’s Speech. The Procurement Bill will simplify the procurement process and provide new opportunities for smaller businesses.
- An Energy Bill will be introduced to deliver the transition to cheaper, cleaner, and more secure energy.
- A Bill of Rights will be introduced preserving freedom of speech.
- The Modern Slavery Bill will require all companies with a turnover of £36 million or more to publish a report annually setting out the actions they have taken to prevent modern slavery in their business and supply chains.
- The requirement on public venues to implement “Martyn’s law” in relation to security surrounding terrorist attacks will be announced by the Protect Duty Bill.
- The UK Infrastructure Bank Bill will facilitate the running of a state-owned investment bank which will provide funding for Government projects, specifically Net Zero and levelling up.
- Following Brexit, a Freedoms Bill will be brought forward to facilitate a change in the laws the UK inherited from the EU.
- The financial services sector will see the introduction of the Financial Services and Markets Bill which will herald bespoke British rules to boost the City.
This is only a short snapshot of proposed forthcoming Bills to make their way through Parliament during the 2022/2023 parliamentary session. We will bring you further details once the Bills are published.
What will the 2022 Queen's Speech deliver?
The State Opening of Parliament will take place on 10 May 2022 when the Queen’s Speech will set out the Government’s policies and legislation for the forthcoming parliamentary session. As is usual, speculation is increasing around which legislation can be expected to be introduced in the new parliamentary session and what has/will become of the Bills introduced in the 2021/2022 session.
Post-COVID and Brexit, there can be little doubt that the Government will set an agenda for the growth of the UK economy and dealing with the cost of living crisis. Plans for levelling up are extremely likely.
What will be carried over?
It used to be the case that any Bills which had not progressed through Parliament during the parliamentary session would lapse. However, with the passing of a motion by the House of Commons, Bills may now carry through to the next parliamentary session, conditional on the Bill having been introduced in the House of Commons and not considered by the House of Lords.
A motion has already been passed for the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill 2021-22 to be carried over to the 2022/2023 parliamentary session and motions are to be debated imminently (prior to the proroguing of Parliament) for the carryover of the following Bills:
- Online Safety Bill 2021-22
- Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill 2021-22
- Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill 2021-22
- High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill 2021-22
Which Bills were not introduced?
Several Bills referred to in the Queen’s Speech in 2021 have not been introduced:
- The Counter-State Threats Bill and the Legacy Bill – the Government has indicated that it still intends to bring forward changes by way of legislation
- The Planning Bill – there remains a raft of mixed messages about whether this Bill will be introduced
- The Procurement Bill - Post-Brexit, the EU procurement laws no longer applied to the UK although the status quo has been maintained. However, the UK Government intend to reform the current procurement regime, replacing it with a system that is innovative and less bureaucratic. A Green Paper has been published and a consultation opened and closed. Whilst the promised Procurement Bill has not yet been introduced, the Government has responded to its earlier consultation and a Bill is expected during the next Parliamentary session.
What new Bills do we anticipate?
As stated above, Bills focusing on stabilising the economic future of the UK and measures to deal with the aftershock of COVID are anticipated. The Social Housing Regulation Bill is one such Bill. A Bill focusing on levelling up is likely to deal with the levelling up agenda to reduce economic and social disparities across the UK.
Considering Brexit, following Lord Frost’s announcement of a review of EU retained law, a Bill amending the EU (Withdrawal) Act and structure of retained EU law is anticipated. In addition, a Financial Services Bill is expected which would deal with a regulatory framework and changes to Solvency II (reported in the Financial Times in February 2022).
The above is not an exhaustive list and Bills focusing on the following may also feature in the Queen’s Speech:
- Leasehold and commonhold reform
- Schools policy
- Reform of the Mental Health Act
- Economic crime
- Digital markets reform
- Insolvency reform
- Bill of Rights (Human Rights)
- Consolidation of immigration legislation
Anticipation is increasing about the extent of the proposed legislation which will be included within the 2022 Queen’s Speech. Based on the 2021 opening where 31 Bills were promised (not all have been brought forward), there can be little doubt that a raft of new measures is likely to be promised, both for the public and private sector.
We will be monitoring the Queen’s Speech and will provide further updates thereafter.