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Steve Clapperton

Previously CAF Campaigns Manager

Charities Aid Foundation


THE QUEEN'S SPEECH AND THE NEW PARLIAMENT - OUR ROUND-UP

21 June 2017  

The Queen’s Speech set out the Government’s programme of activity for the course of this Parliamentary session, which is scheduled to last until 2019. Here are the highlights, as well as some other things we’ve learned since the general election a fortnight ago.

  • Much of the Conservative Party’s manifesto is nowhere to be seen, with proposals around grammar schools, fox hunting and changes to school meals scrapped
  • The Queen’s Speech was – unsurprisingly – dominated by Brexit, with 9 separate Bills to be placed before Parliament including the Repeal Bill, which is enormous in scope
  • Many of the areas where the Prime Minister believes she can find consensus have been put on the radar by charities – tackling domestic violence, ending discrimination and the growing mental health crisis
  • Charities will have a role in other areas too, including conversations around a new digital charter (as set out in the Conservative Party’s manifesto)
  • The commitment to spending 0.7% of GNI on international aid – supported by all major parties with the exception of UKIP – is reiterated

Some of the big social challenges that all parties identified across the election campaign emerge as areas where the Prime Minister believes she can make progress; to do so effectively must mean working closely with the charities operating across those complex policy areas.

Ahead of the Queen’s Speech, CAF released a new report – Strong and Stable for the Many, Not the Few – that outlines areas where we think charities can make a contribution. We hope that the Government will take on board our suggestions which have the potential to strengthen our society at home, and our international relations abroad.

Away from the Queen’s Speech, the Prime Minister has appointed a new government, albeit with minor changes to the personnel in post before the election. The occupiers of the other big four posts in government – Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Chancellor Philip Hammond, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson – remain untouched. However there is a promotion for former Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green, who is now de facto Deputy Prime Minister, and a return to the Cabinet for Michael Gove.

Charities minister Rob Wilson lost his Reading seat at the election. His replacement is Tracey Crouch, although she maintains her previous portfolio and becomes Minister for Sport and Civil Society. Although concerns have been raised about the prominence of the civil society brief as a result of this merger, Ms Crouch has a strong record in working with charities, both in her ministerial role and as a constituency MP which will hopefully give her a head start on the issues likely to arise.

For Labour, Steve Reed has been re-appointed as the Shadow Minister for Civil Society, although rather than replicating Ms Crouch’s role in also covering sport he is instead simultaneously responsible for young people. Elsewhere, Priti Patel retains her position as the Secretary of State for International Development, and Mel Stride’s ascent to the Treasury team includes giving him responsibility for charity tax matters.

As we’ve explored elsewhere, the new Parliamentary intake includes a number of MPs whose experience is likely to make them amenable to charities. They’ll be currently in the process of being given offices, hiring staff and getting things off the ground – once they are properly in place, charities will be seeking to turn them into allies.

The past few weeks have been extremely eventful in politics. Although summer recess is on the horizon, that looks set to continue with Brexit negotiations having begun, the Conservative Party still seeking to strike a deal with the DUP to ensure that they can get measures through Parliament, and the clock counting down to party conference season. We’ll be updating you on all the latest and what it means for charities right here.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Six days have been set aside for the House of Commons and House of Lords to debate and make amendments to the Queen’s Speech. It is likely therefore that the final vote on whether the speech should pass will take place on Thursday 29 June. If the Conservative Party and DUP come to an arrangement, we will see the speech voted through, and normal Parliamentary business resume until it rises for summer recess on 20th July.

If there is no deal, it then seems likely that the DUP would choose to abstain, as they are extremely unlikely to vote against the Queen’s Speech allowing Jeremy Corbyn the opportunity to form a government. The speech is still then likely to pass, just with the slightly peculiar optic of being passed with the support of less than half of all MPs. If, against all odds, the DUP vote against the Government? The path towards another general election suddenly looks much, much shorter....

What are your thoughts? Let us know at campaigns@cafonline.org or on Twitter @cafonline

   

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