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July in Westminster: What's on the horizon

4 July 2017

The 2017 General Election might have been called in a bid to settle political debates, but has ultimately created more questions than it answered.

With the Government having lost its Commons majority, it now finds its plans across every key sector constrained by thoroughly pragmatic questions of political possibility. Meanwhile, as talks with other nations across the Channel begin, pressing Brexit plans must be put before the nation.

Here, DeHavilland's Monitoring Consultants highlight some of the most important events this month, sector by sector.

Education

The report in late June from the Social Mobility Commission is likely to keep the debate over social mobility and school funding on the national agenda and was much discussed by a range of stakeholders in the education sector.

Meanwhile, a Private Member's Bill put forward by Conservative peer Lord Holmes of Richmond on the prohibiton of unpaid work experience is set to be heard for its second reading in the House of Lords this month, provoking fresh debate on this controversial topic.

Elsewhere, the higher education sector will likely continue to be dominated by concerns over Brexit and the fate of international students and staff, and the high-profile fight over the relevance of the new Teaching Excellence Framework - explicitly attacked by some HE leaders for its unexpected initial results and potentially damaging impact on institutional reputations - may well develop further.

Energy and Environment

The new Parliament's Select Committee Chair party allocations will be announced on 12 July, with some hotly-contested elections to follow. The party composition of energy and environment-related Committees has not changed: EFRA will go to a Conservative, while BEIS and the Environmental Audit Committee will go to Labour. The main focus will be on BEIS, as the former's previous Chair, Ian Wright, stood down at the recent election.

With recess arriving in July, there may be no official announcements, but the Government will begin laying the groundwork for several major reports. Richard Harrington, the new Energy Minister and Claire Perry, the new Climate Change Minister, have a daunting in-tray, and Ms Perry has already indicated that the much anticipated Clean Growth Plan will be published after the Recess.

Elsewhere, Ofgem has recently announced several reforms to the retail energy market, including a possible ‘safeguard tariff’ that extends the current price cap on prepayment meters. It appears that the Government has sub-contracted its desire to intervene in the market to the regulator. Ofgem will consult on the proposals over the recess before making a final decision over the coming months.

Financial Services

Phillip Hammond was able hold on to Number 11 in the post-election Government reshuffle, whilst former Justice Secretary Liz Truss was demoted to Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Stephen Barclay took over the role of Economic Secretary to the Treasury, whilst David Gauke replaced Damian Green as Work and Pensions Secretary, and Guy Opperman was appointed as the Pensions and Financial Inclusion Minister. The new Chair of the Treasury Committee will be announced in July, with Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nicky Morgan both running for the position.

July will also see the new Financial Guidance and Claims Bill progress through Parliament. The Bill aims to establish a new financial guidance body for the funding of debt advice in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and provide regulation for claims management services. The Credit Worthiness Assessment Bill is also due for its Second Reading in the House of Lords.

The FCA consultation on the implementation of the Financial Advice Market Review will come to a close on11 July, with the report expected to be published in Autumn.

Tech and Telecoms

The long-awaited review into working practices by Matthew Taylor will soon be published (according to the Times, which is predicting it will be seen within the next fortnight), and is likely to inform Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement. Big employers in the tech industry and those who rely on a large workforce – from Amazon to Uber, Royal Mail to BT, will no doubt be interested in what Mr Taylor has to say on what constitutes ‘good’ employment and the future of work.

DCMS has changed its name, adding an extra "D" for "Digital" to reflect the Department’s growing focus on the digital economy, and its Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, remains embroiled in the discussions surrounding the proposed Sky / Fox takeover bid. The Government’s consultation seeking new evidence on whether the merged business would display a commitment to broadcasting standards is open until 14 July – meaning at some point decisions will have to be made about whether the merger can go ahead.

Transport

As part of the upcoming legislative programme, the Queen’s Speech saw the announcement of a number of transport-related Bills including the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, the Space Industry Bill and the Travel Protection Bill. These Bills are all relatively uncontroversial and unlikely to make many headlines. The Speech also saw the announcement of the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill. Not only does this Bill provide for the powers to build and operate the next stage of High Speed Two but also demonstrates the Government’s commitment to the project.
 
The Government has also recommitted to Heathrow expansion following the election, though a vote in Parliament is likely to take place next year. By contrast, the Government has yet to commit to Crossrail 2, despite mounting pressure from London politicians and businesses.
 
Following a High Court Ruling in June, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling will this month decide whether Southern Rail is in breach of its contract. This decision, combined with renewed industrial action, will ensure that the problem-prone franchise returns to the top of the political agenda.
 
The Government’s final revised UK Air Quality Plan will be published in July. Unless substantial changes are made to the draft plan, it is expected that environmental lawyers ClientEarth will take the Government back to court.
 
The Government reshuffle saw the appointment of Jesse Norman as Minister for Roads, Local Transport and Devolution and Lord Callanan as the new Minister for Aviation, International and Security. The two new ministers will spend the next month getting to know their new briefs and meeting stakeholders. July will also see the election of Select Committee Chairs. The new Transport Committee Chair will be a Labour MP, and Lilian Greenwood, Bridget Phillipson and Gavin Shuker are all in the running.

Definitive Political Intelligence

DeHavilland's expert Monitoring Consultants have all the information you need to make the most of the new Parliament. Click here to request a trial of our bespoke monitoring service now.

 
 
DeHavilland
The DeHavilland Monitoring Team

DeHavilland's Monitoring Consultants enable our clients to cut through the noise and assess changes to the political landscape.