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The Queen's speech and the start of the new parliamentary session

Week in Westminster

Published: 20 May 2016 | Author: Michelle Vosper

The Queen’s speech on Wednesday marked the start of the 2016/17 parliamentary session. The government’s legislative agenda includes the introduction of 21 new Bills. Those that may be of interest are:

  • Lifetime Savings Bill – to enable the introduction of the new Lifetime ISA, providing savers with a bonus on savings that can be used for a first home, retirement or both; and to create a Help to Save scheme for those on the lowest incomes.
  • Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill – to support the government’s aspirations to deliver one million new homes; strengthen neighbourhood planning; make compulsory purchase order process clearer, fairer, faster; establish the independent National Infrastructure Commission; and enable the privatisation of the Land Registry.
  • Pensions Bill – will create the new pensions guidance body, bringing together the Pensions Advisory Service, Pension Wise and the pension services offered by the Money Advice Service. Will also create a new money guidance body to replace the Money Advice Service to identify gaps in the financial guidance market.
  • Criminal Finance Bill – to implement a more effective regime to support reporting of suspicious financial activity; and to improve co-ordination between the public and private sectors to tackle criminal financial behaviour.
  • Better Markets Bill – will facilitate switching and simplify economic regulation; and boost  the Competition and Markets Authority’s powers to take on anti competitive behaviour.
  • Draft Law of Property Bill – government will bring forward proposals responding to the Law Commission’s report Making land work: essentials, covenants and profits a prendre (2011) to simplify the law around land ownership.

Our response to the DCLG’s starter homes technical consultation was picked up by CLG committee chair Clive Betts during his contribution in debate on the Queen’s speech. Mr Betts said:

“Now that the one million figure has been in the Queen’s Speech, I assume it is a clear and firm commitment…My concern arises from what the Council of Mortgage Lenders said yesterday, in a very interesting piece, about not being sure that the 200,000 starter homes and the 125,000 shared ownership properties were deliverable. The CML thought the numbers were too big and raised questions about market distortion, valuations—it had a whole load of questions about the fundamental building block of the Government’s programme to getting one million new homes. At some point, the penny will drop with Ministers that we will not achieve the 250,000 homes we need to build in this country without a substantial programme of social house building, with local councils as well as housing associations forming a key part. Without that commitment…I simply do not believe the Government will achieve their million homes.”

George Osborne published a letter to mortgage lenders this week in respect of the publication of the Financial Conduct Authority’s responsible lending review.

Meanwhile in another place, the London Assembly elected Conservative AM Tony Arbour as its chair and Jeannette Arnold as the deputy chair. The Assembly also appointed its various committees, including one on housing which will be chaired by Conservative AM Andrew Boff.

It has been reported this week that Sadiq Khan is preparing to appoint James Murray as deputy mayor for housing. Mr Murray has spent six years as executive councillor for housing in the London borough of Islington. According to reports, property developers are lobbying against this appointment as, they say, Mr Murray has a history of blocking developments that lack high levels of affordable and social housing, which could stymie development in the capital.

Nicola Sturgeon has been re-elected as Scotland’s first minister, with John Swinney as deputy. Ms Sturgeon has reshuffled her team – Angela Constance is cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities, while Kevin Stewart takes the local government and housing ministerial brief. Keith Brown is the cabinet secretary for the economy.

In Wales, it has been agreed between Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru that Carwyn Jones be re-elected as first minister. He will form a minority government. He has re-appointed Carl Sargeant as his cabinet secretary for communities, and Ken Skates cabinet secretary for economy and infrastructure. Mr Carwyn issued a statement setting out his priorities for the first 100 days.

Northern Ireland’s first minister Martin McGuiness has said that the ministers for the new Northern Ireland Executive will be appointed next week.