Happy New Year….what’s next?
With Parliament returning in earnest this week, what are the key moments going to be at the start of the year?
Over the last month, everyone in the political realm has had time to process the result of the General Election. Plans for government have been laid and opposition leadership elections begun as members of every major party get used to the new political reality.
MPs returned to Parliament this week after the Christmas recess, and found themselves facing the prospect of five (in theory) uninterrupted years of legislative production. For a Parliament that has recently been categorised by instability, logjam and interruption, the prospect will be very welcome for anyone wishing to see progress on legislation, regulatory reform, or even significant debate on a topic that doesn’t begin with a “B”.
What are the key milestones to look out for at the start of this new year and Parliament’s new start? The Keoghs market affairs team have some suggestions:
There’s a veritable raft of legislation and regulation that the insurance industry is waiting for, and the new, simplified Parliamentary arithmetic may be the catalyst for some of it being brought forward. Whilst January is still likely to be dominated by the process of Brexit, subsequent months should see more information being brought forward on a variety of topics – from whiplash to the extension of fixed recoverable costs. Hazard warnings apply as always, and events often get in the way, but certainly we can expect more progress than we’ve seen of late.
On 11 March, Chancellor Sajid Javid will deliver the UK’s first Budget in more than 40 years during which it won’t be a member of the EU. Early signs suggest that the Budget is being seen as an opportunity to formalise some of the spending commitments and targets from the General Election manifesto that weren’t covered in the Queen’s speech. Infrastructure spending and public services will likely feature front and centre, and there’s even talk of an announcement on tax cuts.
Select Committee Elections
One of the key powerbrokers in the corridors of Westminster (as we’ve previously talked about here), Select Committees are groupings of MPs which examine and scrutinise the work of every government department, and therefore they can have a key role in the development of legislation and can heavily affect the political agenda.
Committees are elected by members of the House of Commons and reflect the political make-up of the parties, with Chairship and membership allocated to each party depending on how many seats they have in the House of Commons overall. We would expect committees to have their elections in mid-February, with their function beginning in March.
The more unofficial groupings of MPs, All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) act as a forum for Parliamentarians interested in a certain subject, and can therefore be an important engagement target.
Although all APPGs were dissolved before the General Election, there is no official timeline for their re-instatement this year, with any MP interested in chairing an APPG being able to do so on an ad hoc basis. Already, some APPGs have been reformed, so expect there to be a drip-feed of new groups throughout the first quarter of this year (and potentially beyond).
Throughout all of these events, there is scope for industry to help shape, alter and develop policy, something that hasn’t existed in the last few years while government focus has been so preoccupied. It will be for industry to decide how best to capitalise on this opportunity, and begin the momentum now which can help carry them through the next five years.