Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Queen's Speech summary

So, the proposed legislation for the (short) session before the general election is announced.

  • Child Poverty Bill: the only substantial bit from the summary seems to be the duty on local authorities, which if not backed up with funding isn't going to help much.
  • Children, Schools and Families Bill: requiring some SRE is good (though the SRE curriculum is not great, which is something I need to find time to write about). On the other hand, it also proposes some unnecessary and counterproductive restrictions on home education.
  • Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill: "Repeals legislation limiting protests around Parliament." Now there's a sign the government expects to lose the next election.
  • Crime and Security Bill: again, mixed. "Gives police the power to bar suspected domestic violence offenders from their homes for a period, even when not charged." could be very helpful. Reducing the paperwork requirements for stop and search - when it's already got a massive racial bias in who it gets used on - not good at all.
  • Equality Bill: carried over from the previous session. It's another mixed - the anti-sexism and class-based provisions are pretty good, but there's concern that it's weaker than the anti-racism legislation it replaces, and its provisions for trans people are a mess. Then there's how much the Lords will fight it and how much the Commons will let them have in an attempt to get something passed.
  • Personal Care at Home Bill: Good idea, but the implementation might be insufficient
  • House of Lords Reform Bill: Still a draft, but it looks like it could be very good for democracy if it passed. Of course, the Lords might strongly object, so not much chance of it passing, especially if it's only in draft stage.

My overall impression from this is on balance positive, but only just, and there'd be some very unpleasant compromises involved in passing everything as-is: as I get time I'll examine the bills in a bit more detail and see if my overall impression holds up and if there's any obvious places to ask for amendments.