Madeleine Moon

Labour Candidate for Bridgend

The Queen's Speech 2014

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In the Coalition Government's final Queen's Speech before the next General Election, there were a total of 14 new Bills announced that will be introduced in the coming year - 10 of these will significantly affect Wales. There are also an additional 6 Bills being "carried over" from the previous session of Parliament, including the Wales Bill. 

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The Queen's Speech

Headline Announcements
  • Creation of a new Armed Forces Ombudsman
  • Legislation to allow for the recalling of MPs by constituents
  • Measures to tackle modern slavery and people trafficking
  • Introduction of new childcare subsidies
  • Substantial changes to the pensions system
In the Coalition Government's final Queen's Speech before the next General Election, there were a total of 14 new Bills announced that will be introduced in the coming year - 10 of these will significantly affect Wales. There are also an additional 6 Bills being "carried over" from the previous session of Parliament, including the Wales Bill. 

The following is an analysis of the Queen's Speech, outling the 10 new Bills the Government is introducing, and how these may affect you.
Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill
Small firms will be given greater access to government and other public sector procurements, and there will now be a register of beneficial ownership which will outline who owns and controls British companies. This Bill will also introduce tougher penalties for firms flouting minimum wage rules and those that are seen to be "abusing" zero hours contracts.

This Bill creates a new statutory code
 for pub tenancies, including an adjudicator to rule on disputes between publicans and pub owners, and will prevent highly paid public sector workers from claiming redundancy and returning to the same line of work within 12 months.
National Insurance Contributions Bill
The way national insurance contributions are collected from those who are self-employed will be "simplified". The Bill will give HM Revenue and Customs new powers to enforce payments in tax avoidance cases, and new targeted anti-avoidance rules will be introduced to determine whether arrangements are designed to avoid or minimise national insurance payments.
Pension Tax Bill and Private Pensions Bill
The final part of the Government's overall pensions reform package, which was first introduced in 2010, this Bill will allow people aged 55 and over with defined contribution pensions to withdraw their savings as they wish, subject to marginal rates of income tax and scheme rules. No-one will be required to buy a guaranteed lifetime annuity with their pension pot and all other existing restrictions on accessing entitlements will be lifted; new measures will also be introduced to prevent exploitation for tax purposes.

New "defined ambition" collective pension schemes will be launched as an alternative to other existing options. This would allow thousands of people to pay into the same scheme and share the risk. All those approaching retirement who have defined contribution pensions will be entitled to guidance. Pending the outcome of a consultation, the government will have the power to ban people transferring out of private and unfunded public defined benefit schemes.

Recall of MPs Bill

First mentioned in the Coalition Agreement in 2010, this Bill will mean that voters will be soon be able to trigger a by-election in a constituency where a) the MP has committed serious wrongdoing and b) 10% of their registered constituents have signed a petition calling for their removal over an eight-week period. The "recall" process would also automatically be triggered if an MP is convicted of an offence and is sentenced to fewer than 12 months in prison.

Childcare Payments Bill

A new tax-free childcare subsidy worth up to £2,000 a year per child will be introduced in the autumn of 2015. All parents with children under the age of 12 will be eligible, if they are in paid work and earn less than £150,000 a year. For every £8 paid by parents towards the cost of childcare, the state will provide a £2 top-up. The existing employer-supported childcare scheme will be repealed.

Modern Slavery Bill

Existing criminal offences relating to slavery will now be consolidated into one piece of legislation. Those convicted of the most serious offences, including trafficking, could get life sentences while others will be subject to restrictions on their movements and activities. The courts will be able to order offenders to compensate their victims, and powers on asset confiscation will be strengthened. An anti-slavery commissioner will be established to coordinate the response of law-enforcement agencies. Victims of slavery who are forced to commit an offence will not be treated as criminals.

Social Responsibility and Heroism Bill

People who are sued after intervening in emergencies or acting to protect the safety of others will have new legal defences. When considering negligence and breach of duty cases, courts will have to consider the "wider context" of defendants' actions, including whether they behaved responsibly and "for the benefit of society" or had taken "heroic action" to help people in danger with no regard to their own safety.

Service Complaints Bill

The commissioner who investigates complaints against members of the armed forces will be given added powers. A revamped ombudsman will be able to look into whether grievances have been handled properly and to be able to overturn a decision to exclude a complaint. They will also be able to recommend actions to the authorities. New powers will allow charitable donations to continue to be made to organisations supporting the armed forces in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Serious Crime Bill

The laws on recovering criminal assets will be strengthened. The scope of serious crime prevention orders will be extended. A new offence of knowingly participating in an organised crime group will be created. The possession of "paedophilic manuals" will be made a criminal offence. There will be tougher sentences for cybercriminals and those disabling computer systems. A new offence of causing psychological harm to children through parental neglect will be created. Habitual as well as permanent residents of the UK will be liable for prosecution for female genital mutilation. Those suspected of attending terrorist training camps abroad, such as in Syria, and other acts preparatory to terrorism will be liable for prosecution in the UK.

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