On 18 May 2016, Her Majesty the Queen, gave her annual speech to both Houses of Parliament setting out the Government’s legislative agenda for the 2016-17 parliamentary session.

In her speech, Her Majesty informed of certain bills to be brought before the Houses of Parliament in 2016-17.  The following are of interest to financial services firms:

  • The Better Markets Bill, the purpose of which is to open up markets, boost competition, give consumers more power and choice, and to make economic regulators work better.  The Bill will contain measures to simplify the way economic regulators operate, in order to cut red tape, whilst also speeding up decisions from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to benefit both businesses and consumers.
  • The Lifetime Savings Bill, which is to enable the Government to create a new Help to Save scheme, which would support those on the lowest incomes, and to create a new Lifetime ISA, providing savers with a bonus on savings that can be used for a first home, or retirement, or both.  As part of a wider package of reforms, the Government is also going to introduce new indicators for measuring life chances, such as family instability, addiction and debt.
  • The Criminal Finances Bill, the purpose of which is to allow the Government to recoup more criminal assets by reforming the law on proceeds of crime, including provisions to strengthen enforcement powers and protect the public.  The Bill will also introduce a criminal offence for corporations who fail to stop their staff facilitating tax evasion and improve the operation of the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regime to encourage better use of public and private sector resources against the highest threats.  It will also target entities that carry out money laundering instead of individual transactions, and provide the National Crime Agency with new powers.

The Government has also published background briefing notes to the speech to provide more detail on the proposed legislative agenda.