By PRW Staff
A European Union (EU) referendum by the end of 2017 was one of the key features of the new Conservative government’s Queen's Speech.
Other legislative measures outlined today included a ban on increases in income tax, VAT and national insurance increases for five years and more devolution for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, the prime minister delayed plans to scrap the Human Rights Act to avoid a potential confrontation with his own backbenchers.
Instead, the government will bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act, with legislation expected following consultation later. Another key priority for the new government is Chancellor George Osborne's Northern Powerhouse plan, with a bill paving the way for the second phase of the High Speed rail link, HS2, and another piece of legislation enabling cities to bid for an elected mayor, who would have more powers over transport, planning, policing and health. There is also a Trade Unions Bill, imposing a 50% turnout threshold on strike ballots, with a further requirement in essential public services for strikes to be supported by 40% of those entitled to vote, and an Enterprise Bill, which will include measures to reduce regulation on small businesses in a bid to boost job creation. The Enterprise Bill will seek to cut red tape for UK business by at least £10bn and, for the first time, require independent regulators to contribute to that target. In addition, it proposes to create a new Small Business Conciliation Service, to help settle disputes between small and large businesses, especially over late payment practices.
Prime minister David Cameron described the programme as "the bold first step of a One Nation government," which would create a Britain whose people could "get a decent job, have a good education, buy a home of your own, have dignity when you retire and feel safe and secure throughout your life". In response, Terry Scuoler, chief executive of manufacturers trade body EEF, said: “The coalition government set the UK off on the road to economic recovery and this government’s task is to get us safely over the finish line. The timing of the EU referendum must be accelerated so that it does not become a drag on industry and investment, but overall today’s speech suggests that the government stands shoulder-to-shoulder with business in wanting to see policies that support growth, productivity and jobs. “It is vital that this focus continues throughout the policy-making and budget-setting processes and we look forward to working with Government on the finer details. But, ultimately, the acid test will be whether this government can accelerate the ability of business to deliver jobs and growth.”
On the EU Referendum Bill, Scuoler added: “The voice of manufacturing is clear, 85% of manufacturers want Britain to remain in the EU. The key thing now is to get on with the referendum as soon as feasibly possible, and certainly before the end of 2016, so that we can limit the potential fallout for business and investment certainty.” On the Enterprise Bill, Tim Thomas, head of employment policy at EEF, said: “The government has made better regulation a key plank of its new Enterprise Bill and its ambition will be welcomed by large and small businesses alike. However, what businesses will now want to see are changes that will affect their everyday business life, and not a numbers driven approach that measures success by the quantum of regulations repealed or amended. “Getting all regulators, in all sectors, to buy into the drive to lower the cost and burden of business regulation will determine whether employers feel any relaxation of the current red-tape burden, and this is where government must now relentlessly focus.”
The Confederation of British Industry responded to new legislation announced in The Queen’s Speech.
Deputy director-general Katja Hall said: “This is a jam-packed Queen’s Speech, with a strong focus on stepping up a gear on the economic recovery - locking in growth, creating jobs and boosting investment right across the country. “With the starting gun on the European Union debate having been fired, the government must be careful not to let it overshadow the rest of its programme. “Businesses need to see it commit to a genuinely achievable reform agenda, making the UK and the EU more competitive. That must go hand in hand with other measures to boost growth, like expanding aviation capacity and getting on with HS2.”
For more information contact Mrs Raffaella Previtera at:
British Consulate in Italy
Via San Paolo 7
20121 Milan / Italy
Tel +39 02 72300253