On the 21st of June, Her Majesty the Queen reopened Parliament and set-out the government’s legislative agenda in an uncustomary manner that dispensed with much of the typical pomp and ceremony. Much like the occasion itself, the speech had been slimmed down to account for the government’s loss of a majority. However, several initiatives were mentioned by the Queen that will be of interest to those operating in the financial services sector they include:
- The Great Repeal Bill
The replication of all existing EU law has been confirmed, once again, by Her Majesty. This measure will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and transpose most community legislation into domestic law. It is likely that this will not be a ‘wholesale’ transposition of law, but instead an interim measure allowing for a later and selective repeal of community law at Parliament’s convenience.
- The Customs Bill and the Trade Bill
The proposed bills will form the foundation of an independent UK customs and trade regime following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in 2019. These acts will provide a legislative basis upon which future trade agreements with the EU and other nations can be predicated whilst they simultaneously seek to increase protectionist measures to the benefit of UK industry.
- Data Protections Changes
The Data Protection Bill may have some impact on firms due to its aim to give individuals more control over their personal data with a proposal to introduce a ‘Right to be Forgotten’. Additionally, there appears to be a move to enhance the powers and sanctions available to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
- An Independent Sanctions Regime
As a United Nations Security Council member, the UK plays a central role in negotiating sanctions to counter a variety of threats and concerns on the international stage. Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, this bill will establish a distinct sanction regime, separate to that of the continent’s. Furthermore, this bill is expected to amend regulations on anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing.
- The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and National Crime Agency Merger
The merger of these two law enforcement agencies, first attempted by the Prime Minister during her tenure in the Home Office, was a notable absence from the Queen’s speech. The proposal failed to be realised on at least two prior occasions and the SFO, despite a history of much derision, has seemingly improved its reputation with the announcement that four senior Barclays executives are facing prosecution for the way the bank raised money in Qatar during the height of the financial crisis.
- The Extension of FCA Power and a New Financial Advisory Body
The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill outlined in the Queen’s speech, should it pass, will have three main impacts. The first, being that FCA will be given the power to implement a claims management regulatory regime following the growth of acute public concern at rising travel and car insurance premiums as the result of an unsustainable growth in baseless claims. Additionally, the FCA will be able to create an authorisation process for firms seeking to enter this market. Secondly, the bill will seek to establish a financial guidance body to replace the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service, and Pension Wise as a cost-saving and efficiency measure. The third, is the transfer of complaints-handling responsibility to an empowered Financial Ombudsman Service.
For a full official text of the speech please go to https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/queens-speech-2017