The Tories’ new legislative programme IS a wasted opportunity. When isn’t it?

Last Updated: November 7, 2023By Tags: , ,

Deeply unimpressed: King Charles III appeared to be frankly disgusted by the Tory plans he was constitutionally obliged to read out.

Keir Starmer has called it a wasted opportunity and for once This Writer agrees with him – although I’d be interested to see how different his own choices would be.

We’ll never know for sure because he never sticks to anything.

What we do know is Rishi Sunak’s legislative programme for the next year – as announced in the King’s Speech today (November 7, 2023). Let’s have a look at it, courtesy of the BBC’s summary:

  • A Sentencing Bill will require whole-life sentences for the worst murders, mean rapists cannot be released early, and make it more likely short sentences for lesser crimes are served in the community

We knew this was coming. The community service for lesser crimes is slightly problematic, considering this already happens. What are the lesser crimes that are now to be included?

  • Criminal Justice Bill will introduce measures to force criminals to appear in the dock, and give police new powers to enter buildings without a warrant to seize stolen goods

What if police enter a house that doesn’t have any stolen goods in it?

  • The already-published Victims and Prisoners Bill would prevent certain prisoners from marrying, create new rights for crime victims, and deliver Jade’s Law on parental rights
  • An Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill will give law enforcement agencies greater access to certain personal data, and make tech companies clear security features with the Home Office

Political control over tech firms’ security?

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And what personal data will law enforcers be able to access?

This may need stern scrutiny.

  • The existing Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill will deliver Martyn’s law, forcing UK venues to draw up anti-terror plans
  • Leasehold and Freehold Bill will ban leaseholds for new houses, but not new flats, in England and Wales, and increase the standard lease extension period to 990 years
  • The existing Renters (Reform) Bill will deliver a long-promised ban on “no-fault” evictions in England but this will only come into force after reforms to the court system

Why is this necessary? Does it seem that “no-fault” evictions won’t be banned unless these court reforms go through? Is it a sop to Tory MPs who are landlords?

  • Licences for oil and gas projects in the North Sea to be awarded annually, under the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill

This is to be opposed – extending the profit for fossil fuel corporations who should be diversifying into green energy.

  • An Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill will ban the export of cattle from Great Britain for fattening and slaughter

If anybody knows why this is necessary, please feel free to tell the rest of us?

  • An Automated Vehicles Bill will set a legal framework in Great Britain for self-driving cars
  • Pledges to strengthen consumer rights online and tackle fake reviews are contained in the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill
  • The existing Data Protection and Digital Information Bill will replace the data protection regime the UK inherited from the EU

But will it be better?

  • The Media Bill, published in draft form earlier this year, will scrap a never-enacted rule forcing media companies to pay the legal bills of people who sue them, even if they win
  • Tobacco and Vapes Bill will deliver plans for a phased ban on smoking, and introduce restrictions on the packaging and marketing of vapes
  • A regulator for the top five tiers of English professional football will be established by the Football Governance Bill
  • Pedicabs (London) Bill will give Transport for London new powers to regulate pedal-powered taxi cabs in the capital
  • An Arbitration Bill will introduce new rules for individuals and businesses to resolve disputes without going to court
  • Trade Bill will enable the UK to join the 11-nation CPTPP trade pact with several countries in Asia and the Pacific

This is another one to watch. Does it include Invester-State Dispute Settlement systems that would allow corporations to sue national governments if they enact laws that would affect corporate profits? That would be harmful to democracy and the environment.

  • The Holocaust Memorial Bill will enable a Holocaust memorial to be built in Victoria Tower Gardens, near the Houses of Parliament
  • Public bodies will be banned from boycotting Israel under the Economic Activities of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill

Again, this is to be opposed as it is an offence against free speech.

  • Rail Reform Bill creating a new body to oversee the railway in Great Britain is included, but only in draft form

This is one to watch. The Tories have no idea what to do with the rail system because privatisation has been a total disaster. It is unlikely that any changes in the new Bill will help.

Not included in the legislative programme are the following:

  • No new bill to ban the import of hunting trophies, after a Tory MP’s bill to do so was timed out in the last parliamentary session
  • A bill to introduce a ban on so-called conversion therapy to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity – promised since 2018

What’s the story here?

  • A bill authorising the construction of the HS2 rail line between Crewe and Manchester dropped
  • A draft bill to overhaul the treatment of people with learning disabilities and autism, mentioned in last year’s Queen’s Speech

Once again, vulnerable people are treated poorly?

That’s the line-up. Let’s see how it plays out.

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