Author Lauren Howells
It has been almost 3 weeks since the announcement of a “shock” hung parliament, following the UK general election. The Queens Speech, which sets out the government’s legislative programme for the next parliamentary session, has now taken place.
Many will be relieved to hear that there was no mention of overturning the fox-hunting ban, with No. 10 reportedly saying that this was no longer a ‘priority’.
Additionally, manifesto pledges regarding means-testing winter fuel payments and new grammar schools were also missed out of the 27 bills and draft bills that made up the Queen’s speech.
Before we take a look at some of the key points included in the Queens Speech, it’s worth noting that there is no guarantee that any of these things will happen, especially given the fact that no one party has an overall majority.
“Unfair” rules on logbook loans could be scrapped
In recent years, logbook loans, a type of secured lending where borrowers use their vehicle as security for a loan with a logbook lender, have had their fair share of controversy.
According to the Law Commission, a new Goods Mortgage Bill could now replace Sale Acts, which would give borrowers who take out a mortgage on any goods that they own (a car, for example) more protection.
It should also ensure that borrowers are better informed about their loan. There could also be more safeguards for borrowers who find themselves in financial difficulty.
The new bill could also provide protection for people who buy second-hand cars that are subject to logbook loans.
Unfair tenant fees could be banned
The government plans to ban agents and landlords requiring that tenants must pay letting fees as a condition of their tenancy, through a new Tenants’ Fees Bill.
Although this is only a draft bill at present, many are hopeful that it should go through and become law.
The security deposit will also be capped at no more than one month’s rent, under the bill and the holding deposit capped at no more than one week’s rent.
A Travel Protection Bill
For those of us who are lucky enough to have booked a holiday this year, you may have noticed the ‘ATOL protected’ logo on your package holiday info.
The ATOL scheme provides financial protection for people booking holidays. In essence, as long as your holiday is ATOL protected, you should get your money back if your travel agent goes bust.
This new bill could update the ATOL scheme to ensure that holidaymakers are better protected, as some of the laws have become outdated as more and more of us book our holidays on the internet.
Data Protection Bill could give you more control over your data
Many of us worry who has our data and what they’re using it for.
The new Data Protection Bill should bring data protection laws more up-to-date and could include a ‘right to be forgotten’.
The government intends to crack down on fake whiplash claims
Insurers have claimed that our insurance premiums are inflated, due to fraudulent or exaggerated personal injury claims.
The Civil Liability Bill should “help reduce motor insurance premiums” by not allowing claims to be settled without supporting medical evidence. There could also be a new fixed tariff of compensation for whiplash injuries.
The government has said that this could reduce motor insurance premiums by £35 per year.
Extending the Smart Meter Bill
The new Smart Meter Bill will “extend, by five years, powers to make changes to smart meter regulations.”
The government say that they are doing this in order for consumers to have more transparent energy bills and for people to be able to more effectively monitor their energy usage.
For those who haven’t yet been offered a smart meter, the government’s aim is that every household and business should be offered one by the end of 2020.
The Bills Devoted to Brexit
It’s impossible to mention the Queens Speech, without talking about the eight bills and draft bills, that were devoted to Brexit.
As part of this, the Queens Speech talked about a Repeal Bill, which will “allow for a smooth and orderly transition as the UK leaves the EU”.
In essence, this bill should work to ensure that after the UK leaves the EU, the UK will have its own equivalent laws, in order to maximise certainty for individuals and businesses.
A Commitment to a National living wage increase
The government has also committed to increase the national living wage, although this wasn’t included as a part of any new legislation.
This is good news, as it will mean that those “who are on the lowest pay, benefit from the same improvements in earnings as higher-paid workers”.
The Queens Speech – a summary
Some are describing the Queens Speech as “watered down” or “slimline”.
To many, however, it won’t have come as much of a surprise to see that some of the Tory’s main manifesto pledges were simply not mentioned. It is, after all, a hung parliament, with no one party having a majority, so, although this may be humiliating for Theresa May, it is necessary to ensure that the government’s agenda has some prospect of being enacted.
Some commentators argue that the Repeal Bill itself is highly complex and will take up a great deal of the government’s time over the next couple of years, not realistically leaving them a lot of time for much else.
The government has said that it is, “building a stronger, fairer country by strengthening our economy, tackling injustice and promoting opportunity and aspiration”, as well as delivering a Brexit deal “that works”.
Whether both of these things can indeed be tackled in such a short period of time, in a country that is arguably more divided than at any other time in recent history, remains to be seen.