On 11 May the Queen delivered her speech marking the State Opening of Parliament. The usual ceremonial elements having been toned down in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the latest Queen’s Speech already looked somewhat different to previous ones, even before Her Majesty began to outline her government’s priorities for the months to come.
There were also many elements of the eventual speech that were of particular interest to commercial entities like those making use of our own company secretarial practice for PLCs.
Below, then, are some of the most pertinent points for such firms, as detailed in the Queen’s Speech itself and the accompanying briefing notes.
- Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill. This Bill will require manufacturers, distributors and importers of smart devices to comply with minimum security standards in order to guard against cyber attacks. It will also lay out new powers of enforcement, and provide a regulatory framework that is adaptable to technological advances.
- Subsidy Control Bill. This is intended to put in place UK-wide principles that public authorities will be required to follow when granting subsidies, replacing the European Union (EU)’s state aid regime. It will impose a need on public authorities to upload information on subsidies to a new nationwide database. In addition, an independent subsidy control body will be set up, providing for judicial oversight of subsidy grants.
- Procurement Bill. This aims to put in place three modern procedures to simplify the public procurement regime in the UK. It will mean buyers needing to comply with the government’s new National Procurement Policy Statement. The bill will also set up a single data platform for supplier registration, while addressing supplier fraud, reforming the process by which procurement decisions are challenged, and capping the level of damages that bidders can access, in order to minimise speculative claims.
- National Insurance Contributions Bill. As part of the government’s approach to trade after Brexit, this bill will give employers in freeports the benefit of National Insurance contributions relief.
- Health and Care Bill. Those involved in advertising law are likely to be especially interested in this bill that will ban adverts for junk food before the 9pm watershed on TV, in addition to implementing a total online ban.
- Environment Bill. Along with other environmental protection steps contained within this bill, some businesses will need to pay close attention to new measures to extend producer responsibility and new powers in relation to product labelling.
- Online Safety Bill. This bill didn’t complete its passage in the previous Parliamentary session, but will continue in the new one. It will designate Ofcom as the independent regulator for online safety, handing it powers to issue fines of as much as £18 million or 10% of annual global turnover – whichever is greater. It will also mean companies having a duty of care to enhance user safety online, particularly for children. Major platforms will also be required to clearly set out in their terms and conditions what legal content is unacceptable on their platform, allow users to report unacceptable content, and tackle online misinformation.
Are you on the lookout for capable and informed professionals who can give your firm the benefit of the highest standard of company secretarial practice for PLCs? If so, please don’t hesitate to enquire to our experts at London Registrars, so that we can discuss how we could best serve your organisation’s needs – whatever the months ahead bring.