Politics resumes in earnest this September as MPs return from the August Recess to an explosive mixture of policy challenges. With Brexit talks forming the background to major conflicts between Parliamentary factions, the usual cooperative arrangements for voting look to have lapsed, leaving legislation vulnerable to high drama and powerful personalities. Meanwhile, conference season is on its way, promising the usual giddy array of leadership ambitions and setpiece policy speeches.
Here, DeHavilland's Monitoring Consultants give you the lowdown on what to watch out for as Parliament returns.
Energy and Environment
Climate Change Minister Claire Perry has said that the long-anticipated Clean Growth Plan will be published once Parliament returns in September. The release of the Clean Growth Plan will provide a blueprint for the UK's decarbonisation strategy for the 2020s and into the 2030s. It is a highly significant document that will set out how Britain will meet its statutory climate change obligations, which it is currently in danger of failing to meet.
In Brexit news, Euratom is one of the core areas of the early rounds of the negotiations. There are differences in approach between the UK and the EU in regards to who takes responsibility for special fissile material in the UK once it leaves Euratom. Currently, Euratom owns all of the EU’s special fissile materials such as uranium. The Government is also seeking to pass a Nuclear Safeguards Bill through Parliament to prepare for Britain’s exit from Euratom. However, media sources suggest Pro-EU Labour MPs are seeking common cause with potential Conservative rebels, and are reportedly planning an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill (aka the Repeal Bill) requiring the UK to remain a member.
Looking a little further ahead, another highly anticipated document, the Review into the Cost of Energy, will be announced in October, prompting topical discussion. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced its own review, which will be led by Professor Dieter Helm, last month.
The return of Parliament this month will see the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill continue at the Committee Stage in the House of Lords, whilst the Creditworthiness Assessment Bill will receive its Second Reading. The full membership of the Treasury Select Committee is also due to be announced this month, with much interest in the disposition of new Committee Chair Nicky Morgan after she hinted last month that there may be a Committee inquiry into the implications of Brexit for UK financial services.
The highly anticipated Government report on Corporate Governance is due to be released early this month, with media speculation suggesting that top companies will be forced to disclose and explain pay gaps between top executives and workers, though officials have hit the headlines by confirming that Prime Minister Theresa May has backed down on the promised 'crackdown' on executive pay. Late September will also bring the deadline for the Lords EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee inquiry into financial regulation and supervision after Brexit.
With the Summer Recess coming to an end and Parliamentarians making their way back to Westminster, focus will once again turn to the public sector pay cap. Pressure is still being piled on to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Prime Minister Theresa May to reverse their 1% cap on wages, and with ministers looking to hold steady, the clash of intents could pave the way for a very public fight between backbenchers, health workforce groups and the Government.
Meanwhile, as Brexit negotiations continue and with freedom of movement on the agenda, the issue of the NHS workforce will once again come to the fore. With so many core health service staff hailing from other EU member states, uncertainty around the future will have to be addressed.
Tech and Telecoms
The Government has now released several of its proposals for its desired relationship with the EU following Brexit. The most recent, on data sharing and data protection, outlines how ministers aim to explore a UK-EU model for exchanging and protecting personal data, which could build on the existing adequacy model.
With this in mind, data is likely to be a hot topic upon Parliament's return following the Summer Recess, with the Data Protection Bill (outlined in this year's Queen's Speech) due to be published shortly. According to Digital Minister Matt Hancock, the new Bill will be published "after the Summer Recess".
The return of Parliament this month will see Labour MPs step up the campaign for increased spending on transport infrastructure in the north of England. This follows a number of controversial decisions by the Government in July to cancel rail electrification projects across the country while approving Crossrail 2. While the projects in the north of England have dominated the headlines, MPs from Wales and the Midlands are also expected to highlight cancelled projects in their regions. Expect to see a flurry of Parliamentary Questions tabled and a number of debates in Parliament on spending on transport across the country.
September will see the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing Bill and Space Industry Bill continue their way through Parliament. The month may also see the introduction of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill and the HS2 Phase 2a Bill to Parliament. All of these Bills will, however, find themselves overshadowed by the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which will have its Second Reading on 7 September.
September will also see the full membership of the Transport Committee confirmed. After meeting for the first time under new Chair Lilian Greenwood, the Committee is expected to reveal more about its priorities for scrutiny in the 2017 Parliament.
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DeHavilland's Monitoring Consultants enable our clients to cut through the noise and assess changes to the political landscape.