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August in Westminster: What's on the horizon

31 July 2017

MPs have returned to their constituencies for the Summer Recess, but with Brexit negotiations already underway and a new Parliament just kicking off, the stakes are too high to put politics truly on pause.

Here, DeHavilland's Monitoring Consultants present their guide for what to watch out for during the Recess month.

Energy and Environment

July has seen a array of announcements from Ofgem designed to help consumers, including the possibility of a safeguard tariff, plus measures to ease switching - and the industry will continue to react.

Indeed, Ofgem is using the summer to gauge the opinion of stakeholders before it publishes its announcements in full. Behind the scenes, this is where the policy will take shape.

Furthermore, on 14 August the energy regulator will close its consultation on the cap and floor regime for electricity interconnectors, a subject of key importance due to Brexit.

Financial Services

With the ONS revealing moderate growth in the UK economy of 0.3% in the three months to June, many are expecting the Bank of England will decide to keep interest rates at their current record low level when the Monetary Policy Committee meets this month.

A number of consultations will be closing during August, including the Prudential Regulation Authority consultations on Solvency II and accountability in banking and insurance, the Treasury consultation on anti-money laundering and the Financial Conduct Authority consulation on the implementation of the Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

Health

As the Brexit countdown clock ticks, attention this month is likely to turn to the possible relocation of the European Medicines Agency, currently based in London. EU Member States have had until 31 July to apply to be the new host, and the coming month will see discussions about its future intensify, with the UK continuing to push for it to stay in London.

Elsewhere, NHS England has launched its consultation on low-value prescription items, a key intervention in an increasingly cost-pressured health service. The consultation includes proposals for new CCG guidance designed to cut costs and improve consistency across areas by preventing the prescription of "low priority" items such as gluten free foods and travel vaccines.

Tech and Telecoms

As new Select Committee Chairs have now been announced, this month we are likely to hear more on the areas they will want to scrutinise when Westminster returns from the Summer Recess.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee Chair, Labour's Rachel Reeves, has announced her intention to grill Deliveroo and Uber executives on the "gig economy".

With former Liberal Democrat Minister Norman Lamb elected to Chair the Commons Science and Technology Committee, it is expected that the Committee will be keen to promote the importance of science, technology and research within Brexit negotiations.

Transport

The end of July saw a flurry of Government announcements on Transport including launching a consultation on the Aviation Strategy; publishing the Air Quality Plan; confirming the route of the second phase of High Speed Two; setting out the next steps for Crossrail 2; and cancelling rail electricification projects in Wales, the Midlands and the north of England. These latter announcements have proven particularly controversial, raising issues around regional spending differences and mobilising political leaders in the North in a bid to reverse the electrification decisions.

The Government also created major controversy around the future of internal combustion engines in late July when it unveiled its final revised UK Air Quality Plan. Alongside a council-led approach to cutting air pollution, Environment Secretary Michael Gove revealed his timeline for eventually banning petrol and diesel vehicles from the road -  a future that, for populists at least, will take some getting used to.

 

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DeHavilland
The DeHavilland Monitoring Team

DeHavilland's Monitoring Consultants deliver a service tailored to our clients' individual needs, enabling them to cut through the noise, assess changes to the political landscape and conduct bespoke research tasks.