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Queen’s speech 2021

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Opening the 2021/22 parliamentary session on 11 May 2021, the Queen’s speech set out the UK government’s legislative priorities. Background briefing notes provide further detail of the Bills which are expected to be brought forward, which include the following:

  • A National Insurance Contributions Bill which will include secondary NICs relief for employers of eligible employees in freeport sites from April 2022 (or from the date a freeport site is so designated) until at least April 2026 and potentially up to April 2031. Relief for employers of veterans will also be included in the Bill (putting the relief which is available from 6 April 2021 onto a statutory footing). The Bill will also provide NICs relief for self-employed individuals who receive covid-19 test and trace support payments, and is expected to include anti-avoidance provisions to mirror the Finance Bill 2021 measures addressing promoters.
  • A Subsidy Control Bill will be introduced, following consultation in early 2021 on a bespoke UK-wide subsidy control regime. According to details published alongside the consultation, the new regime will facilitate ‘strategic interventions to support government priorities’ and protect the UK’s internal market, alongside reflecting the UK’s international obligations (under the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA), for example). The House of Commons Library has published a guide to the UK’s obligations under the TCA to set up an independent UK state aid regime.
  • A number of Bills will be introduced to ‘ensure the integrity of elections, protect freedom of speech and restore the balance of power between the executive, legislature and the courts’. These will likely include a Judicial Review Bill taking forward the findings from the independent review of administrative law.
  • A Procurement Bill will ‘simplify procurement in the public sector’. Consultation on the UK government’s green paper Transforming public procurement earlier in 2021 set out the government’s intention to replace more than 350 regulations with a new, single regulatory framework. This will likely include priority given to UK suppliers for public contracts below a certain value threshold, with exclusions for non-disclosure of beneficial ownership, non-payment of UK taxes and tax evasion.
  • A Building Safety Bill will set out the regulatory framework for building safety, and will sit alongside the proposed new residential property developer tax which is likely to be included in a future Finance Bill.

The Finance Bill has formally been carried over into the new parliamentary session. Dates for report stage have not yet been announced, although royal assent is expected in July.

The speech also noted that the government ‘will ensure that the public finances are returned to a sustainable path once the economic recovery is secure’ although no detail on potential changes to tax rates or to the tax system was mentioned.

EY observes: ‘There was no mention of an Employment Bill, which was included in the 2019 Queen's speech but not taken forward. That Bill would have put into law some of the recommendations of the Taylor review into good working practices. Kwasi Kwarteng, the secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said in March 2021 that the government does intend to bring forward the Employment Bill when parliamentary time allows.’

Issue: 1531
Categories: News