A look at commercial, tech and communications-related proposals in the Queen's speech.

What's the issue?

In the run-up to the General Election, there was, as everyone knows, huge uncertainty about whether any party would be able to form a coalition, how long it would take them to do so and the impact the results would be likely to have on the UK's stability and its legislative agenda.

What's the development?

Although it already seems a while ago now, the shock result of a Conservative majority meant that the Queen's speech was an entirely straightforward affair and there were few surprises but a number of measures were announced which will be relevant to the technology and communications sectors including:

  • an in/out referendum on the EU by 2017;
  • Enterprise Bill – intended principally to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, especially SMEs, by cutting red tape, improving the business rates system and introducing other measures to create jobs and stimulate competition;
  • Investigatory Powers Bill – will govern the collection of communications data by intelligence agencies in the UK.  The government intends the law to reduce regulatory fragmentation and address gaps in the ability of agencies to build intelligence and evidence, as well as to increase transparency over their activities;
  • Policing and Criminal Justice Bill – intended to continue reforms to policing and the criminal justice system, and includes proposals to close an existing loophole relating to sanctions for live streaming of child pornography;
  • replacement of the Human Rights Act 1998 with a Bill of Rights although the Bill was not introduced in the speech.  A consultation is expected later in the year; 
  • various Bills involving devolution of powers to Scotland and other UK countries as well as major cities, and proposals to legislate on the question of English votes for English laws.  

What does this mean for you?

The biggest issue here is clearly the EU referendum. The impact of Brexit will doubtless be hotly debated over the coming months but a vote to leave the European Union would certainly bring huge change even if it would not see an end to compliance with EU laws.  Compared with this, the other issues dealt with in the Queen's speech (with the possible exception of the Human Rights Bill and general devolution) look relatively minor, but Radar will continue to keep you up to speed with sector-relevant developments.