Today was the state opening of Parliament and Her Majesty the Queen outlined the legislative programme that Gordon Brown wishes to pursue over the coming Parliamentary year. Of course, this Parliamentary year has an election breaking it up so quite how much of the programme will get passed is something we shall have to wait and see.
Unsurprisingly many of the Bills set out in the Queen’s Speech were a response to the economic crisis. How successful the proposals set out would actually be is somewhat questionable. How effective a Council for Financial Stability chaired by the Chancellor will be is a question the needs more probing. What would the exact remit of such a council be, even in a basic advisory capacity having the Chancellor chairing it weakens its influence and scope.
I do have concerns about giving the FSA the authority to take “action” (whatever that means) on the pay of those in the financial industry. This is the nanny state creeping further in; yes some of the bonuses that the top executives at the banks were receiving were deplorable. However, trying to regulate the negotiation of Employment contracts (especially giving the FSA a veto over parts of an employment contract) isn’t something that should be encouraged. It’s back to New Labour’s micro-management of the country.
The proposed Crime and Security Bill has some good parts to it, but also some concerning bits to it. One of the most concerning proposals contained within the proposed Bill is giving the police the authority to keep DNA samples of adults who are arrested but not charged for six years. In my opinion, there should be no occasion when a person who is either not charged or charged and later found not guilty at court where their DNA can be kept on record. New Labour is determined to have everyone on a database. My objections start with the inability of the Police and Government to keep private and sensitive information safe and secure and range all the way through to the serious affront to Human Rights and the idea that everyone is innocent until found guilty. New Labour is treating us all as if we were criminals.
Working in the Energy industry at the moment gives me an interest in the proposed Energy Bill that I might not otherwise have had. The regulation on Energy Companies is already quite stringent. Giving OFGEM the responsibility for ensuring they proactively protect consumers isn’t a bad thing, so long as their powers are reasonable and that they are then used appropriately. I suspect that most energy companies already provide rebates and other forms of support for poorer customers – certainly the company I work for has very good support packages available for customers who are poorer.
The Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill has some potentially good proposals contained within it. I would like to see the treaties proposals go one step further to requiring a Referendum on treaties which give away parliamentary sovereignty to other institutions (such as the EU), meaning that future treaties such as the Lisbon treaty have to be subjected to a referendum. However, even if that were to be included as Parliament cannot bind future Parliament’s then there would be no guarantee that such proposals would continue in the future.
So, there are some of the Bills that have caught my eye and very brief views on them. As I have already pointed out, time really is of the essence with about 5 – 7 months to go before an election how many of the Bills proposed within the Queen’s Speech will be passed is anyone’s guess.