"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Queen's Speech: Bills, Round-up & Video

The twenty-two bills, pinched from the papers:

National Insurance Contributions Bill
Income tax allowances raised so that “low and middle income” employees will pay less than they do now. Funded by a rise in national insurance which will raise £9billion.
Financial Reform Bill
Greater powers handed to the Bank of England and “reform the framework for financial services regulation to learn from the financial crisis”. It could pave the way for a levy on banks following the mammoth bailouts worldwide amid the financial crisis.
Decentralisation and Localism Bill
Abolishes the Infrastructure Planning Commission, set up by the previous government to streamline major projects such as power stations, airports and motorways. It had been criticised for taking power away from local people.  Also allows residents to veto unreasonable council tax rises
Welfare reform bill
Streamlines the welfare and benefits system and provides better incentivs to work. Removes “the confusing complexity of the benefits system”.
Office for Budget Responsibility bill
Will take charge of producing budget forecasts removing the resposibility from the Chancellor so that the figures are unbiased.
Pensions and savings bill
Restores the pensions link to earnings in April 2011. Carries out the findings of the review of state pension age being conducted by the government. Review proposes accelerating current plans to raise the retirement age to 66 by 2024
Equitable Life bill
Compensation for savers who lost cash when Equitable Life, an assurance company, came to the brink of failure
Postal services bill
Part-privatisation of the Royal Mail, as set out by Lord Mandelson, while retaining the network of post offices in public ownership
Energy bill
Incentivises suppliers and households to save energy with a “green deal” charging system.  Creates a Green Investment Bank and may regulate emissions from coal-fired power stations.
Academies bill
Allows more schools the freedom to become academies releasing them from Whitehall control
Health bill
Gives more “power and responsibility” to doctors and nurses in order to replace the “top-down” approach
Airport economic regulation bill
Promotes competition in the airport market with a possible break up of the BAA monopoly
Police reform and social responsibility bill
Creation of a border police force and overhaul of the 24-hour Licensing Act. Make the police more accountable through “directly elected individuals.” Make sure health and safety doesn’t get in the way of “common sense policing”
Public bodies (reform) bill
Reduces the number of quangos in order to save £1bn a year
Local government bill
Bans the creation of unitary councils in Exeter and Norwich
Parliamentary reform bill
Voters given the right to recall MPs found guilty of serious wrongdoing. Establishes the referendum on the alternative vote system. Fixed-term parliaments introduced
Freedom (great repeal) bill
Reinstates civil liberties and repeals “unnecessary” laws
Identity documents bill
Abolishs ID card system and scraps the national identity register
Scotland bill
Gives more devolution to Scotland by implementing the final report of the Calman commission.
European Union bill
Makes sure there is a referendum on any future plan to transfer powers to  the EU
Armed Forces bill
Improve facilities for servicemen and women. Continues to force the legislation giving the armed forces a legal basis
Terrorist asset-freezing bill
Strengthens government’s right to freeze assets of terrorists after a supreme court decision that over-turned legislation governing the finances of terrorists.
Draft parliamentary privilege bill

Clarifies the law surrounding parliamentary privilege

More detail:
A ''significant acceleration'' in the reduction of the UK's state deficit, delivered mainly by cutting spending rather than increasing tax.
Reversal of the bulk of the former Labour administration's planned rise in employers' National Insurance contributions.
Opportunity for more schools to take up academy status.
Abolition of ID cards and National Identity Register.
Referenda on any future EU treaty.
Government to ''examine the case'' for a UK Sovereignty Bill to make clear that ultimate authority rests in the country.
Legislation for fixed-term five-year parliaments, with a requirement for 55% Commons support to seek an earlier dissolution.
A referendum on the Alternative Vote for House of Commons elections.
A review which could bring forward the date when the state pension age increases to 66.
Annual limit ''in the tens of thousands'' on non-EU migrants allowed to live and work in the UK.
A ''significant increase'' in personal allowances for income tax in next month's Budget, with a long-term goal of taking the first £10,000 out of tax.
Full strategic defence and security review.
Maintenance of Britain's nuclear deterrent, with continued scrutiny to ensure that the renewal of Trident is value for money.  Liberal Democrats will ''continue to make the case for alternatives''.
New restrictions on the authorities' use of CCTV cameras and DNA data and a ban on the storage of internet and email records without good reason.
Creation of new Border Police Force.
Directly-elected individuals to hold the police to account.
Transfer of City supervision powers to the Bank of England.
Redrawing parliamentary constituency maps to reduce numbers of MPs and make seats a similar size.
Power for voters to ''recall'' errant MPs with a petition signed by 10% of electors in a constituency.
Proposals by the end of this year for a ''wholly or mainly elected'' Upper House of Parliament elected by proportional representation.
Establishment of an independent Office of Budget Responsibility, taking the power to set economic forecasts out of the hands of politicians, and Office of Tax Simplification, to suggest reforms to the tax system.
Simplification of benefits system to improve the incentive to work.
Restoration of pensions link to earnings in April 2011.
Plans to reduce and simplify corporation tax rates over five years.
Capital gains tax on non-business assets to be imposed at rates close to income tax.
Support for the development of a high-speed rail network.
Part-privatisation of the Royal Mail, while retaining the network of post offices in public ownership.
An end to the detention of children in immigration cases.
Moves to give NHS clinicians more power over care provision and to enable patients to share in decisions over their treatment.
Creation of a Public Health Service to encourage people to take greater responsibility for their own health.
Independent commission on how to fund long-term care for the elderly and disabled.
Relaxation of health and safely laws to allow ''commonsense policing''.
Stronger powers for police and councils to remove licences from problem pubs and clubs.
Measures to allow social enterprises, charities and co-operatives a greater role in public service provision.
Cut in number of quangos and cost of bureaucracy.
Devolution of powers over planning and housing to local councils and communities, scrapping the Infrastructure Planning Commission.
New rights for communities to take over state-run services.
Requirement for public bodies to publish salaries and expenses of senior officials online.
Residents' referendums on local issues - including the power to veto excessive council tax rises.
National programme of domestic energy efficiency measures, along with plans for a possible ''smart grid'' and Green Investment Bank.
Abolition of Home Information Packs.
Promise to pursue agreement on party funding reform ''to remove big money from politics''.
Restoration of rights to non-violent protest.
Implementation of Calman Commission recommendations on Scottish devolution.
Commitment to work towards an ''ambitious'' global climate change deal.
Continued commitment to working with the Afghan government to deliver lasting security and stability in the country.
Commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, particularly in relation to Iran's suspected weapons programme.
Aid spending to reach 0.7% of national income by 2013.
Enhanced measures to freeze terrorist assets.
Extension of the right to request flexible working.
''Fair and transparent'' compensation for Equitable Life policy-holders.
A pledge to support ''market-led'' investment in high-speed broadband.
Scrapping the planned creation of single-tier councils in Exeter and Norwich.

Well, at first glance it seems okay.  There are measures to restore civil liberties, cut quangos and simplify taxes on individuals and businesses as well as devolving power closer to communities (a double-edged sword) but we'll have to wait until the bills are published and scrutinised before any judgement can be made.

There was nothing about English MPs voting on English laws but plenty about devolving more powers to Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland.

I didn't understand about the Armed Forces Bill: "Continues to force the legislation giving the Armed Forces a legal basis".   Does that mean that if legislation lapses the AF have no legal basis?

One thing I'd like to see on all new legislation is a sunset clause whereby legislation would be reviewed/renewed on a regular, automatic basis or else allowed to lapse.

There's a good write-up in the Daily Mail  together with some terrific photos but the comments are some of the nastiest and most stupid I've ever seen there, and that's saying something.

The speech is being debated in the Commons at the moment and Sir Gerald Kaufman (Lab, Manchester Gorton) is creating a stir - apparently his LibDem opponent at the GE went round all the mosques telling Muslims not to vote for him [Kaufman] because "he is a jew".  Has he only found out about their dirty tactics?  It's par for the course in some parts of the country together with vote-rigging.

Here are the videos, beginning with Part 2 and the speech itself at 03:58

Part 3, the speech ends at roughly 02:00.   The remainder and Part 1  is taken up with ceremonial

The Harman/Cameron exchange

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