|Financial Services Bill 2010-12 to 2012-13
Lords Committee Stage continues on 24 October (9th sitting).
Summary: To amend the Bank of England Act 1998, the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and the Banking Act 2009; to make other provision about financial services and markets; to make provision about the exercise of certain statutory functions relating to building societies, friendly societies and other mutual societies; to amend section 785 of the Companies Act 2006; to make provision enabling the Director of Savings to provide services to other public bodies; and for connected purposes.
The Guardian, 24 October: "Sir Donald Cruickshank has condemned the government's shakeup of financial regulation, warning that it will fail to tackle competition and that it will concentrate too much power in the hands of the Bank of England."
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill 2012-13
Lords first reading took place on 18 October. Second reading is yet to be scheduled.
Summary: A Bill to make provision about the UK Green Investment Bank; to make provision about employment law; to establish and make provision about the Competition and Markets Authority and to abolish the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading; to amend the Competition Act 1998 and the Enterprise Act 2002; to make provision for the reduction of legislative burdens; to make provision about copyright and rights in performances; to make provision about payments to company directors; and for connected purposes.
Out-Law.com, 17 October: "Automatic liability for work accidents to go as part of regulatory shake-up": "Changes to the 'strict liability' regime that makes companies automatically liable for some workplace injuries regardless of fault have been confirmed by the Government. The measure, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in January, will be included as a new amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which is currently before Parliament. Business Minister Jo Swinson said that the Act would also include other proposals to 'free up business', many of which have previously been trailed by the Government. These include removing employer liability for third-party harassment, reforms to the planning consents regime for listed buildings and allowing individuals to enter into bankruptcy without having to go to court."
Local Government Finance Bill 2010-12 to 2012-13
Final amendments were made to the Bill during the third reading on 22 October.
The Bill will now go to the Commons for consideration of Lords amendments.
Summary: To make provision about non-domestic rating; to make provision about grants to local authorities; to make provision about council tax; and for connected purposes.
Mark D'Arcy, BBC, 19 October (before third reading): "Labour is planning to put down amendments, including a call for an independent review of CT reduction schemes, for guidance to local authorities on who should be considered 'vulnerable' and so entitled to a Council Tax discount."
BBC News, 23 October: "The peer who designed what became known as the 'poll tax' in the 1980s has warned that Council Tax Benefit cuts risk creating a 'poll tax Mark 2'. Lord Jenkin says the cuts will mean that from next April large numbers of poorer households will be asked to pay council tax for the first time... Some local authorities have already announced plans to not just scrap the council tax discount on second homes and empty properties, but to charge double the standard rate on those properties instead... The change is included in the Local Government Finance Bill..."
InsideHousing.co.uk, 26 October: "Ministers will next week push for an amendment to the Local Government Finance Bill to be overturned after a government defeat in the House of Lords. Peers on Monday defeated the government on an amendment to the bill which will abolish council tax benefit and replace it with a grant which only covers 90 per cent of the cost. The government hopes this will save £500 million a year in Great Britain. Councils from April will have to make up the 10 per cent shortfall but cannot reduce support for pensioners."
Defamation Bill 2012-13
Lords Committee Report stage still to be scheduled.
Summary: The aim of the Bill is to reform the law of defamation to ensure that a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and the protection of reputation. The Bill makes a number of substantive changes to the law of defamation, but is not designed to codify the law into a single statute.
Key areas: Includes a requirement for claimants to show that they have suffered serious harm before suing for defamation; removes the current presumption in favour of a jury trial; introduces a defence of "responsible publication on matters of public interest"; provides increased protection to operators of websites that host user-generated content, providing they comply with the procedure to enable the complainant to resolve disputes directly with the author of the material concerned; introduces new statutory defences of truth and honest opinion to replace the common law defences of justification and fair comment.
Public Service Pensions Bill 2012-13
Presented to Parliament 14 September; second reading scheduled for 29 October.
Summary: To make provision for public service pension schemes; and for connected purposes.
Treasury: "The Public Service Pensions Bill 2013 will be published today, the final stage in delivering billions of pounds of savings from reforms. The Bill is forecast to save £65 billion over the next fifty years, a significant proportion of the total of more than £430 billion which the Government’s overall package of reforms to public service pensions is estimated to save.
"Reforms will reduce public service pensions costs by around half, delivering sustainability for the long-term while ensuring that public service pensions remain amongst the very best available.
"The Independent Public Service Pensions Commission published its final report in March 2011. The Government accepted its recommendations as the basis for consultation with public servants, trades unions and other member representatives and this Bill implements the agreements reached:
• "moving to career average pension schemes, instead of unfair final salary schemes;
• "asking public servants to work longer to receive a full pension, linking their Normal Pension Age to their State Pension Age, except for the Armed Forces, Police Officers and Firefighters;
• "protecting those closest to retirement: those ten years from their Normal Pension Age on 1 April 2012 will not see any change in when they can retire, nor any decrease in the amount of pension they receive on retirement;
• "setting an employer cost cap to ensure that public service pensions remain affordable and sustainable;
• "creating a high barrier to changes to specific elements of these pension designs for 25 years – a settlement for a generation; and
• "setting a common legislative framework and improving governance arrangements of public service pension schemes."
Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary of Unite, 13 September: "The Public Service Pensions Bill is being steamrollered through by the coalition, eager to make teachers and nurses pay for the financial chaos caused by the City elite."
"Ministers have turned unfairness and not listening to the reasoned arguments of the public sector unions into an art form. We will be urging the Labour Party and those Liberal Democrats unhappy with the coalition’s direction of travel to put up a strong fight as the bill goes through its parliamentary stages. Ministers have dressed up their statements to give the impression that their plans for public sector pensions have been universally agreed by the respective workforces. This is simply not true. Unite will continue to campaign against this legislation, as it will mean public sector workers paying more, working longer up to the age of 68, and receiving less when they eventually retire."
Small Charitable Donations Bill 2012-13
In Commons, Public Bill Committee stage. Will meet next on 30 October.
Summary: Introduces the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) which was announced in the 2011 Budget. The purpose of the scheme is to enable charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) to claim a Gift Aid-style payment on small cash donations up to £20 where it is often difficult to obtain a Gift Aid declaration. In general, eligible charities and CASCs will be able to claim top-up payments on up to £5,000 small donations each year.
Third Sector, 17 October: "Charlotte Ravenscroft of the NCVO tells the Small Charitable Donations Bill Committee that measures to combat fraud would put charities off. About 12,500 small charities that claim only a few hundred pounds a year in Gift Aid will not be able to make full use of the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme, MPs on the Small Charitable Donations Bill Committee heard yesterday. ... The chief executives of the Charities Aid Foundation, the Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Finance Group all told the committee that they would like the matching element of the bill and the three-year rule to be scrapped. The Small Charities Coalition and the NCVO have also repeatedly called on government to scrap the matching requirement."
European Union (Croatian Accession and Irish Protocol) Bill 2012-13
Presented to Parliament 18 October; second reading to be scheduled.
Summary: To make provision consequential on the treaty concerning the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union, signed at Brussels on 9 December 2011, and provision consequential on the Protocol on the concerns of the Irish people on the Treaty of Lisbon, adopted at Brussels on 16 May 2012; and to make provision about the entitlement of nationals of the Republic of Croatia to enter or reside in the United Kingdom as workers.
Growth and Infrastructure Bill 2012-13
Presented to Parliament 18 October 2012; second reading scheduled for 30 October.
Summary: To make provision in connection with facilitating or controlling the following, namely, the provision or use of infrastructure, the carrying-out of development, and the compulsory acquisition of land; to make provision about when rating lists are to be compiled; to make provision about the rights of employees of companies who agree to be employee owners; and for connected purposes.
Nicola Walker, CBI Head of Infrastructure, 18 October: "This new Bill should give confidence to business that the Government understands the need to fast track important infrastructure projects to boost growth."
Telegraph, 18 October: "Fresh assault on planning rules to boost economy": "Ministers are launching a new assault on planning rules in a controversial bid to get the economy growing. David Cameron will unveil plans to loosen planning rules to make it easier for big companies to win planning permission for new developments. That came as ministers started a fresh review which could lead to thousands of pages of planning protections being ripped up by Christmas."
HGV Road User Levy Bill 2012-13
Presented to Parliament 23 October 2012; second reading scheduled for 6 November 2012.
Summary: To make provision for charging a levy in respect of the use or keeping of heavy goods vehicles on public roads in the United Kingdom, and for connected purposes.
Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill 2012-13
Lords second reading 23 October. The House of Lords cannot amend Money Bills so committee stage, report stage and third reading are just formalities. Royal Assent is expected on 31 October.
Summary: Allows the Government to provide financial assistance of up to £50 billion in support of infrastructure investment. This limit could be increased by order. The Government would have to report to Parliament at the end of each financial year on any commitments made under the Bill’s provisions.
Plan-it Law, 10 October: "Its premise is to encourage growth in the UK economy, and bring forward investment in major infrastructure projects. As its name suggests, it will provide for the Government to give financial assistance - by way of loans, guarantees, indemnities or other financial assistance - to any person in respect of the provision of infrastructure. That could mean the construction of new infrastructure or the improvement, operation or repair of existing infrastructure. For the purposes of this legislation, 'infrastructure' is defined very widely, with the non-exhaustive list referring expressly to housing, education and health facilities. The assistance is to be capped (initially at least) to Government liability and expenditure of £50m at any one time. "
Electoral Registration and Administration Bill 2012-13
Lords second reading 24 July. Committee stage scheduled for 29 October.
Summary: To make provision about the registration of electors and the administration and conduct of elections.
Electoral Commission, 19 October: "The Electoral Commission has called on the Government to change the law so that voters are never again refused the opportunity to cast their vote, as happened at some polling stations during the last general election."
Civil Aviation Bill 2010-12 to 2012-13
Lords report stag to be scheduled.
Summary: To make provision about the regulation of operators of dominant airports; to confer functions on the Civil Aviation Authority under competition legislation in relation to services provided at airports; to make provision about aviation security; to make provision about the regulation of provision of flight accommodation; to make further provision about the Civil Aviation Authority’s membership, administration and functions in relation to enforcement, regulatory burdens and the provision of information relating to aviation; and for connected purposes.
Centre for Aviation Transport and the Environment, Manchester Metropolitan University: The Bill "goes some way to recognising the importance of [environmental] matters by placing transport users at the centre of CAA responsibilities and requiring the publication of environmental performance and good practice guides. However, some have argued that it does not go far enough, ignoring as it does calls for there to be a general duty upon the CAA to have regard to the environment and local communities when discharging its regulatory duties."
Trusts (Capital and Income) Bill [HL] 2010-12 to 2012-13
Lords Report stage took place on 15 October. No amendments were discussed.
Third reading is scheduled for 23 October.
Summary: To amend the law relating to capital and income in trusts.
Third Sector, 24 October: The Bill would allow "charities to adopt a 'total-return' approach to investment without permission from the Charity Commission. Permanently endowed charities will be given more freedom to manage their investments once a new bill making its way through parliament comes into law, the Charity Commission has said."
Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill [HL] 2012-13
Commons second reading yet to be scheduled.
Summary: To set up a Groceries Code Adjudicator with the role of enforcing the Groceries Code and encouraging compliance with it.
European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill [HL] 2012-13
In the House of Commons, the Bill had its committee stage and third reading on 10 September 2012. Both Houses have now completed their stages of the Bill.
Summary: The Bill enables the UK to ratify an amendment to Article 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The amendment will give legal basis to the creation of a permanent European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which will provide financial assistance to eurozone States, up to a limit of €500bn, in order to safeguard the economic stability of the eurozone. The ESM is established in a separate treaty between the 17 Member States in the eurozone.
Crime and Courts Bill [HL] 2012-13
In Lords Committee stage (7th sitting to be scheduled).
Summary: To establish, and make provision about, the National Crime Agency; to abolish the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the National Policing Improvement Agency; to make provision about the judiciary and the structure, administration, proceedings and powers of courts and tribunals; to make provision about border control; to make provision about drugs and driving; and for connected purposes.
The Guardian, 30 October: "More offenders will have to meet their victims and apologise before being sentenced under a rapid expansion of restorative justice unveiled on Tuesday... Details of how restorative justice encounters will operate will be set out in a new clause of the crime and courts bill being debated in the House of Lords... Its formal inclusion in the bill is being presented as a victory for Liberal Democrats."
Out-Law.com, 23 October: "US-style deferred prosecution agreements to be made available for economic crimes": "Deferred prosecution arrangements (DPAs) will be made available in England and Wales to allow prosecutors to deal with unacceptable corporate behaviour and economic crime, the Government has announced. Changes to the draft Crime and Courts Bill, currently before the House of Lords, that will establish the new framework have been introduced today... UK prosecutors can currently negotiate a form of plea agreement with organisations, but those companies still face criminal punishments that can harm their reputation and restrict their trade. Businesses that do make plea agreements also have no guarantees that courts will accept those agreements. In other jurisdictions, such as the US, organisations can negotiate settlements with prosecutors with a degree of certainty over the scope of their punishment."
BBC News, 23 October: "Almost all community sentences will involve an element of punishment, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced. The government is planning to amend the Crime and Courts Bill to ensure that community sentences are 'not a soft option any more'. Satellite tracking of offenders will be brought in and a £5,000 cap on magistrate fines will be removed."
Mark D'Arcy, BBC, 25 September: "Is the toughness promised by the new Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, about to take legislative form?
"The House of Lords was due to spend a couple of days in October discussing the way community sentences operate as part of its detailed committee stage scrutiny of the Crime and Courts Bill - but no more. A holding clause, clause 23 on 'community and other non-custodial sentencing of adults', was due to be fleshed out in good time for the debates in October, following consultation on what were billed as 'radical reforms to the way in which sentences served in the community operate'.
"The plan was to give peers a general second reading-style debate on the new provisions, on 9 October, followed by detailed committee stage discussion on 22 October. All this is now cancelled, and the government is seeking to bring forward the Defamation Bill instead.
"There are two possible reasons for the delay. Firstly, that drafting the new clauses has simply taken longer than expected. But the consultation closed in June, so there has been a fair amount of time to prepare them. Most Westminster-watchers are opting for another interpretation; that proposals which were acceptable to Ken Clarke are not tough enough for his successor, and that a furious process of redrafting is now under way.
"The consultation focused on extending and reforming community sentences, including the use of curfews and tagging - but Mr Grayling is not keen on reducing the number of prison places, so maybe he's less keen on increasing the number of crimes for which community punishment is the default option. He has certainly made clear that he wants to rebuild public confidence in the courts, by showing that real punishments will be meted out. And he may also want to act on the recent report by the think tank, Policy Exchange, which found that tagging was being conducted expensively and inefficiently, and that the police should be given the opportunity to run tagging systems directly, rather than being required to contract it out to the private sector.
"Incidentally, one of Mr Grayling's first acts in his new post was to commission a report on current knife crime laws - perhaps the fruits of that report may appear when the bill moves over to the Commons. MPs will hold their first debate on it in December - new clauses may be promised then and appear at committee stage, early in the new year."
Justice and Security Bill [HL] 2012-13
Lords Report stage to be scheduled.
Summary: To provide for oversight of the Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service, the Government Communications Headquarters and other activities relating to intelligence or security matters; to provide for closed material procedure in relation to certain civil proceedings; to prevent the making of certain court orders for the disclosure of sensitive information; and for connected purposes.
The Guardian, 26 October: "The increasingly tense battle over the legal and political accountability of the security services has intensified with Ken Clarke, the minister without portfolio, accusing campaign organisations of describing his plans in hyperbolic terms that obfuscate the safeguards he is proposing. He has been accused of proposing secret courts in which civil claims of maltreatment by the security services would be heard. Clarke insists that under the justice and security bill, only judges, and not ministers, would decide if hearings should be held in private, and nothing currently heard in open court could be heard in closed court in future. He has written to the shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, saying he was wrong to claim as he had a in a letter to the Guardian that 'ministers retain the power on what is kept secret'. The dispute over the bill, currently in the Lords, has become more fraught following the decision of the Liberal Democrat conference, against the advice of the party leadership, to vote overwhelmingly against the so-called secret courts."
The Guardian, 16 October: "The US government and its intelligence agencies were influential in the UK government decision to introduce a highly controversial new generation of secret courts, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation has told MPs and peers. David Anderson QC told parliament's joint human rights committee on Tuesday that he could not know whether the US was the driving force behind the justice and security bill but, after a series of conversations during a visit to America, he concluded: 'I am quite sure they had something to do with it.'"
BBC News, 15 October: "Amnesty International attacks justice and security bill. Government plans for more secrecy in British courts could reduce the ability of people in Northern Ireland to hold the security forces to account, it has been claimed... If the proposal becomes law, security-vetted lawyers, known as Special Advocates, would represent a claimant in secret 'closed material procedures'... Amnesty International NI's Patrick Corrigan said: 'If introduced, these secret evidence measures could contribute towards a dangerous unravelling of public confidence in the justice system in Northern Ireland.'"
Lib Dem conference, BBC News, 25 September: "The Lib Dem leadership has been defeated over plans for 'secret' court hearings in some terrorism cases. Activists backed a motion opposing plans to allow intelligence evidence to be heard behind closed doors, despite the government arguing it was necessary for security reasons. Instead members called on Lib Dem MPs to press the coalition to drop the proposed changes in the Justice and Security Bill. A compromise motion allowing cases to be heard in private 'only as a last resort' was defeated."
Shami Chakrabarti, The Guardian, 23 September: "Heavy on secrecy and light on justice, it would turn trials into covert committee meetings, locking the public, press and even claimants and their lawyers out of court wherever the government asserts 'national security'. It is 'reform' of the most reactionary kind – overturning more than 400 years of civil justice and effectively putting the government above the law."
Statute Law (Repeals) Bill [HL] 2012-13
Presented to Parliament 10 October; second reading is yet to be scheduled.
Summary: A Bill to promote the reform of the statute law by the repeal, in accordance with recommendations of the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission, of certain enactments which (except in so far as their effect is preserved) are no longer of practical utility.
"The 19th Statute Law (Repeals) Bill was introduced into Parliament on 10th October 2012, and is the work of the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission. The Bill is the largest produced by the Law Commissions and in it they propose the repeal of 817 Acts and part repeal 50 other Acts, dating from 1322 to 2010.
"Repeals included in the Bill include:
"An Act of 1856 passed to help imprisoned debtors secure their early release from prison.
"A 1710 Act to raise coal duty to pay for 50 new churches in London.
"38 obsolete Acts relating to the various railway companies operating in British India and the wider East Indies.
"40 Acts relating to the City of Dublin and passed by the UK Parliament before Ireland was partitioned in 1921.
"A 1696 Act to fund the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral after the Great Fire 1666.
"An 1800 Act to hold a lottery to win the £30,000 Pigot Diamond.
"57 obsolete Acts to raise money for the parish poor, including a 1697 Act to run a workhouse in Exeter.
"295 obsolete railway Acts. Many of the railways projects outlined in these Acts collapsed in the banking crisis of 1866.
"16 Acts passed between 1798 and 1828 to impose duty on every pint of ale, beer or porter brewed or sold in parts of Scotland.
"A 1696 turnpike Act to repair the roads between Reigate (Surrey) and Crawley (West Sussex).
"The removal of unnecessary taxation provisions.
"'We are delighted to see the introduction of this important Bill into the House of Lords. It is a great achievement for us and the Scottish Law Commission,' said Sir David Lloyd Jones, Chairman of the Law Commission for England and Wales. 'We are committed to ridding the statute book of meaningless provisions from days gone by and making sure our laws are relevant to the modern world.'"
Children and Families Bill
In pre-legislative scrutiny.
The main elements of the forthcoming Bill include: family law, adoption, shared parenting, office of the Children's Commissioner, special education needs.
12 September: The Justice Select Committee, chaired by Sir Alan Beith, is undertaking pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft family justice clauses of the proposed Children and Families Bill as published on 3 September 2012, and the draft clauses to be published in the Autumn on shared parenting and enforcement of court orders.
The Guardian, 15 October: "Almost two thirds (62%) of families with disabled children are not getting crucial support and services in their local area, according to a report by the disability charity Scope published on Monday. The figures were released as charities, parenting groups and disability campaigners warned that families with disabled children are at breaking point because of a chronic shortage of local childcare, nursery places, appropriate schools, essential therapies and even healthcare in their local area.
"Scope, Sense, 4Children and The Family and Parenting Institute came together as the government prepares 'the biggest shakeup of support for disabled children or those with special educational needs for 30 years': the children and families bill.
"The Scope report says 60% of the 600 families spoken to said getting their child the right services was a 'battle'. Of the families who couldn't access services locally, 80% said it caused them stress and anxiety, while 51% said it affected their ability to work and meant they missed out on family activities such as birthdays and playing together.
"The draft bill, published in September does not go far enough, charities say. A Department for Education spokesman said: 'We're changing the system so they get this help as quickly as possible, and we've already started to test new arrangements in 31 local authorities well before they come into force in 2014.'"