The following Bills will were announced which are likely to have some impact on the construction and engineering sector:

  • Enterprise Bill
  • Housing Bill
  • Energy Bill
  • HS2 Bill
  • Scotland Bill

Clearly there is a long and often bumpy road before a Bill is given Royal Assent and brought into law, but nevertheless those companies that are strategizing in the medium term will want to take heed of the path government wishes to follow.   

Enterprise Bill

The purpose of this Bill is to cut red tape and make it easier for small businesses to resolve disputes quickly and easily.  The main elements of the Bill are deregulation, the introduction of a Small Business Conciliation Service to deal with disputes and public sector redundancy pay.

Housing Bill

The purpose of this Bill is simply to increase the stock of affordable housing in the UK.  In particular, it will increase the supply of new starter homes and ensuring local people have more control over planning.  In will achieve this by introducing a statutory register for brownfield land, to help achieve the target of getting Local Development Orders in place on 90% of suitable brownfield sites by 2020.  It will simplify the neighbourhood planning system and give effect to other changes to housing and planning legislation that would support housing growth.

Energy Bill

The Energy Bill will give the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) increased powers in order to maximise extraction of oil and gas from UK waters and give local communities the final say on onshore wind farm applications.  In relation to onshore wind in particular, the power to grant or refuse onshore wind projects will be devolved to local planning authorities.  However, this will only relate to England & Wales.  The Bill will not deal with the government’s commitment to end new subsidy for onshore wind farms, which will be dealt with separately. 

HS2 Bill

This Bill will provide the government with the legal powers to construct and operate phase 1 of HS2. On becoming an Act, it would give the government deemed planning permission for the railway between London and the West Midlands.  In other words, it will enable the government powers to compulsorily acquire or temporarily take possession of land required for the scheme, and construct and operate the railway.

Scotland Bill

This highly contentious Bill will give more powers to the Scottish parliament to keep hold of tax raised in Scotland and spend it as it wishes.  In particular, the Bill enables the Scottish Parliament to set the thresholds and rates of income tax on earnings in Scotland and keep all the money raised in Scotland.  It provides the Scottish Parliament with the first ten percentage points of standard rate VAT revenue raised in Scotland.  It will also implement the Smith Commission, a new fiscal framework for Scotland. This should ensure Scotland enjoys the benefits of economic decision-making closer to home within a strong and secure UK system and shared UK currency.