FINANCIAL services and the economy are set to take centre stage when the first Queen’s Speech of the new Liberal-Conservative coalition is read tomorrow.
According to a leaked draft of the speech, the government is planning to introduce a flurry of legislation during its first 18 months, putting at least 21 Bills on the statute books.
The Queen will say that her government’s first priority will be “to reduce the deficit and restore economic growth” and to “accelerate the reduction of the structural budget deficit”.
Chancellor George Osborne is responsible for around a quarter of the Bills – more than any other cabinet minister – and will steer at least five pieces of legislation through parliament in the government’s first 500 days.
Chief among these is the Office of Budget Responsibility Bill, which will set up a statutory body which will replace the Treasury as the official forecaster of growth and borrowing. It will be introduced before the summer recess, expected to be in late July.
Osborne will also steer a radical Financial Services Regulation Bill through the house when MPs return from their summer break, which will give greater powers to a beefed-up Bank of England and a new economic crime agency.
A crackdown on the banking industry has been well-trailed, with a levy on banks and tougher rules on bonuses widely expected.
However, there will be palpable relief that Osborne – and not business secretary Vince Cable – has won control of financial services regulation. Cable, who is responsible for no legislation whatsoever in the first parliament, supports more radical reform of the banks, including a forced separation of retail and commercial banks.
The Treasury is also responsible for the National Insurance Contributions Bill, which will reverse part of the rise in NI contributions for employers, as well as a bill to freeze terrorists’ assets and compensate out-of-pocket Equitable Life savers.
Elsewhere, the government is introducing two key bills, paving the way for radical reform of schools and the welfare state.
AT A GLANCE | KEY BILLS IN QUEEN’S SPEECH
● Financial Services Bill (Treasury)
Banking levy; bonus crackdown; more powers for Bank of England.
● Office for Budget Responsibility (Treasury)
Sets up the OBR, replacing Treasury as forecaster for growth and borrowing.
● National Insurance Bill (Treasury)
Paves way to reverse most of Labour’s rise in employer NI contributions.
● Terrorist Asset Freezing (Treasury)
Gives government more power to freeze assets of terrorists.
● Equitable Life Bill (Treasury)
Compensates affected savers.
● Pensions & Saving (Work & Pensions)
Restores earnings link for state pension.
● Welfare Reform (Work & Pensions)
Radical reform of welfare state, with tougher regime for claimants.
● Parliamentary Reform Bill (Justice)
Five year fixed-term parliaments; 55 per cent dissolution rule; right to recall MPs; possible referendum on alternative vote
● Academies Bill (Education)
Allows more schools to become academies, free from local authority control.
● Education & Children Bill (Education)
Paves way for private and voluntary sector to operate “free” schools.
● ID Cards Bill (Home Office)
Scraps the identity card programme and planned National Identity Register.
● Police Reform (Home Office)
Paves way for directly elected chiefs.
● Public Bodies Bill (Cabinet Office)
Reduces number of quangos.
● Great repeal bill (Cabinet Office)
Scrap universal DNA database, reviews use of CCTV, reviews libel laws.
● Energy Security Bill (Energy)
Seeks to improve energy efficiency.
● Railway Bill (Transport)
Paves way for high-speed network.