For many it seems this year’s Queen’s Speech proved to be an underwhelming affair. Not only did the Queen outline a smaller programme than usual, but critics have questioned the Government’s commitment to delivering key elements (notably, reform of the House of Lords). Legislation very strongly supported in some quarters is either proposed only in draft form (such as that on adult social care) or absent (on the regulation of lobbying, for example).
Hailed by the Prime Minister as a “Queen’s Speech to rebuild Britain” with economic growth at its heart, critics have also said that the speech lacked a coherent theme. However, any government would struggle to achieve this given its content. Issues as disparate as Croatia’s accession to the EU, individual voter registration and improved paternity leave are inevitably tricky to parcel together.
From the perspective of the property and development industry, there were no Localism-Bill type showstoppers this time around. However, items of some interest remained nevertheless. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill sets out to create a Green Investment Bank and the Energy Bill includes measures to encourage more investment in cleaner energy, for example. It will also be interesting to see reaction to measures in the Groceries Adjudicator Bill seeking to force supermarkets to treat suppliers more responsibly. Significantly, there is no High Speed Rail Bill, something the Government knows would be a red rag to some increasingly angry Conservative backbenchers. This is perhaps a further reflection of the fact that the Coalition has very much had to play to an audience inside Parliament as well as to one outside.