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David Cameron and his all-Tory government can get the ball rolling with the legislation it intends to pass over the next year following yesterday’s Queen’s speech. With the usual pomp and ceremony that accompanies the occasion, Her Majesty presented to a packed House of Lords the laws that her new government will look to pass over the next 12 months. The Conservative Party, self-proclaimed as the party for working people, laid all of its cards on the table as the Queen read out plans to create full employment in the UK with 26 bills, which are intended support both workers and businesses in the UK.
The first order of business for the Tories is their plans to bring forward legislation that ensures full employment and the security of a job for more people. Accordingly, the Queen unveiled the Employment Bill, which pledges to create two million more jobs and three million more apprenticeships over the course of the Parliament, with the apprenticeships to be funded by a reduction in the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise Bill will aim to reduce regulations in small businesses so that they can create more jobs. Newly appointed business secretary, Sajid Javid, recently announced the ambitious bill, which will look to cut at least £10bn of red tape over the next five years. The bill will also establish a small business conciliation service that will handle disputes between businesses, including on matters around late payment, without court involvement.
The Conservatives will also begin to roll out the European Union Referendum Bill as the Queen announced the legislation that will pave the way for an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. The proposal has been a big source of contention within the British business community, with many enterprise leaders, including the Bank of England’s Mark Carney, indicating that an early referendum would be better, if only to put an end to the uncertainty around the issue.
Prior to the general election, the prime minister pledged to legislate to prevent the government increasing income tax rates, national insurance and VAT during his term. And the Queen’s announcement of the Income Tax Bill set the wheels in motion on this promise. Businesses alike are sure to welcome a freeze on VAT and the national insurance cap that will stop businesses’ national insurance contributions from creeping up. The Prime minister also pledged to tackle the bread and butter issues that see working people left worse off by doubling the current free childcare allowance to support parents getting back into work. This was another measure mentioned by Her Royal Highness yesterday.
John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the measures put forward in the Queen’s speech. “We are pleased the government is maintaining focus on small businesses,” he said. “Our members have been very clear on the need to cut burdensome red tape and on addressing issues like the billions owed to small businesses in overdue payments. The Enterprise Bill is a real opportunity to make progress on these issues.”
As with every Queen’s speech, this is probably only the beginning of what the government intends to do in its first term. We’re keen to see what else Cameron has up his sleeve.