During the state opening of the new parliament Her Majesty the Queen outlined the Tory Government's agenda to curb the rights of working people to take collective action.
The new Tory Government proposes to bring a Bill to Parliament that will further restrict the rights of working people to take industrial action. Among the proposals a 50% turnout threshold in ballots and a 40% minimum of support for action for workers in essential services including the health, education and transport. In addition the Trade Unions Bill will contain a provision for changes to union political ballots, further restricting the rights of unions to campaign on political issues. The Queens speech also outlined proposals cap welfare payments, cap on public sector redundancy payments and remove the rights of 18-21 year olds from claiming housing support. The full Queens Speech can be download here.
Here are some of the new legislation proposed:
Trade Unions Bill
- Introduction of a 50% voting threshold for union ballots turnouts (and retain the requirement for there to be a simple majority of votes in favour).
- In addition to the 50% minimum voting turnout threshold, introduction of a requirement that 40% of those entitled to vote must vote in favour of industrial action in certain essential public services (health, education, fire, transport)
- Tackling intimidation of non-striking workers during a strike.
- Introduction of a transparent opt-in process for the political fund element of trade unions subscriptions. This will reflect the existing practice in Northern Ireland.
- Introduction of time limits on a mandate following a ballot for industrial action.
- Making changes to the role of the Certification Officer.
Health and Social Care
- Shift to 7 day a week opening of services.
Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill
- Remove automatic entitlement to housing support for 18-21 year olds
Policing and Criminal Justice Bill
- The Bill would include changes to HMIC’s powers that will strengthen its independence and extend its remit to better allow it to comment on the efficiency and effectiveness of policing as a whole.
- The powers will:
- Extend HMIC’s remit to contractors and to Police and Crime Commissioner staff who are supporting the police and delivering policing functions
- Introducing a cap on exit payments made to public sector workers to end six figure payoffs for the best paid public sector workers.
European Union Referendum Bill
- Enable a referendum to allow the electorate to have an in-out vote on the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) before the end of 2017
Personal Tax Allowance
- Raising the personal tax allowance to £12,500.
Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill
- Remove the current statutory limitation on local authority functions (currently these are limited to those on economic development, regeneration, and transport), where combined authorities will be formed with elected Mayors.
- Triple lock will continue to apply to the basic State Pension for the duration of the Parliament.
Tax lock commitment – National Insurance Contributions Bill/Finance Bill
- Ensure there are no rises in income tax rates, VAT rates or National Insurance contributions (NICs) rates for individuals, employees and employers
- To provide for an increased entitlement to 30 hours a week of free childcare (for 38 weeks of the year) to be made available to eligible working parents of three and four year olds
- To enable the extension of Right to Buy levels of discount to housing association tenants
- Devolve consenting powers to local authorities on the application of new onshore wind farms.
- Extend the principle of “deport first, appeal later” from just criminal cases, to all immigration cases.
Education and Adoption Bill
- Speeding up intervention in failing schools and being clear that these inadequate schools will become sponsored academies.
High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill
- To allow the Government to build phase 1 of HS2
- Banning Orders: a new power for the Home Secretary to ban extremist groups.
- Extremism Disruption Orders: a new power for law enforcement to stop individuals engaging in extremist behaviour.
- Closure Orders: a new power for law enforcement and local authorities to close down premises used to support extremism.
Investigatory Powers Bill
- Maintain the ability of our intelligence agencies and law enforcement to target the online communications of terrorists, paedophiles and other serious criminals.
Psychoactive Substances Bill
- The Bill would make it an offence to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply, import or export psychoactive substances.
Proposals for a British Bill of Rights
- Repeal of the Human Rights Act.
Votes for Life Bill
- Enable British citizens living abroad the right to vote for in UK election for life.