Welcome to this Queen’s Speech special edition of PA’s PA.
Some might say this was a Queen’s Speech to remind the country that the Government is doing something apart from fight amongst itself over the EU Referendum. The Speech was heavy on delivering improvements to public services and on targeting inequality. The Prime Minister will certainly claim it as a one nation conservative slate of legislation, whilst sprinkling it with an element of technology enabling policies to give the Government an air of modernity. Far less focus this year on public spending and austerity, perhaps signalling a Queen’s Speech shaped more by David Cameron’s politics than those of George Osborne (though Northern Powerhouse still got a mention) with a good example being the statutory basis planned for the National Citizenship Service, which Cameron wants to be seen as part of his legacy. There was some politics in there though, particularly around legislation on the nuclear deterrent and on the fizzy drink tax, but more generally it was perhaps less political and antagonistic than previous Queen’s Speeches. Whether the references to seven day health services, higher education reform and school funding will antagonise those employed in the public services remains to be seen, but he steered away from replacement of the House of Lords and there was limited ambition on the Bill of Rights so perhaps he has listened to his backbenches and developed a schedule of legislation that they feel they can get through Parliament without the revolts facing the current slate.
The BBC has a useful summary of all the Bills announced here and live reactions here.
Items in the Bill of particular interest to the publishing community include:
Higher Education Bill
· Removing barriers for new universities to be set up and for existing providers to get university status
· New Teaching Excellence Framework to focus on raising standards
· Universities to be required to publish detailed admissions data on ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background
Education for All Bill
· Powers to convert under-performing schools in "unviable" local authorities to academies
· Goal of making every school an academy but no compulsion to do so
· Head teachers, not councils, to be responsible for school improvement
· A new national funding formula for schools
Digital Economy Bill
· Support for digital industries by addressing difference in online/offline copyright laws.
We will read these Bills with interest and monitor them for any potential impact on the publishing industry. We will also explore ways in which we might be able to use them to raise and promote a number of our ongoing campaigns e.g. probing amendments to the Education for All Bill on school libraries and to the Digital Economy Bill on further measure to combat digital piracy such as duty of care on internet intermediaries (search engines etc). Any questions please contact Susie Winter.