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King’s speech outlines UK’s pre-election legislative agenda

King Charles III Delivers Speech At The Opening Of Parliament seo

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Draft legislation to be introduced to the UK parliament in the coming months will promote the annual issuing of new North Sea oil and gas licences and the safe deployment of self-driving vehicles.

Proposed new legislation to update existing arbitration laws and provide for the independent regulation of football in England is also to be brought forward.

The plans were announced in a speech delivered by King Charles III at the state opening of parliament on Tuesday, in which he unveiled the government’s legislative agenda for over the course of the next parliamentary session.

Background briefing notes published by the government provide some more detail on the various legislative initiatives planned.

Andrew Henderson, a public policy expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “With an election expected in less than one year, there is limited time for the successful passing of legislation at this stage in the cycle of the parliament. Legislation also cannot be carried over into a new parliamentary session following the dissolution of parliament before a general election. However, businesses should not wait for the full text of legislation relevant to their operations, and instead begin their political engagement based on what is known in order to best understand and influence forthcoming policy.”

The annual issuance of new oil and gas licences is to be provided for under a new Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill. The government said the Bill will “will make the UK more energy independent by increasing investor and industry confidence with regular annual oil and gas licensing”. The Bill is to provide for an emissions testing regime to “ensure that future licensing supports the transition to net zero”, the government added.

“The government’s focus is on ensuring we reach net zero without unduly burdening families and businesses, increasing the use of our own secure energy sources like renewables, nuclear and oil and gas, improving the energy efficiency of homes and boosting investments in clean technologies of the future that will grow the economy and create jobs,” the government said.

“As the UK is a rapidly declining producer of oil and gas, new oil and gas licences will slow the decline in UK supply rather than increase it above current levels,” it said.

The Automated Vehicles Bill is expected to take forward recommendations made by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission following a joint review they carried out over four years into the reforms to road traffic laws necessary to support the safe use of self-driving vehicles on UK public roads.

The government said the Bill will “set a rigorous safety framework for self-driving vehicles” and “ensure clear legal liability”.

“Only vehicles that can drive themselves safely and can follow all road traffic rules without the need for a human to monitor or control the vehicle to maintain that level of safety will be classified as self-driving and allowed on our roads,” the government said. “The Department for Transport and its agencies will be given new powers to authorise these vehicles and ensure in-use compliance with the safety standards that we will set.”

Other recommendations made by the Law Commission of England and Wales will be taken forward to modernise the law on arbitration under a new Arbitration Bill. The Bill, among other things, will make clear that the law governing arbitration agreements, for the purposes of the law in England and Wales, will be that of “the legal location chosen for arbitration unless parties expressly agree otherwise”, the government said.

The Football Governance Bill planned will provide for the independent regulation of football in England, enshrining into law proposals which the government has already endorsed that emerged from a fan-led review of football governance in England, which was chaired by former sports minister Tracey Crouch. As well as providing for the establishment of a new regulator, the Bill will also strengthen the existing owners’ and directors’ tests to ensure the suitability of senior club executives.

“The regulator will address systemic financial issues in football while providing the certainty and sustainability required to drive future investment and growth, so that the Premier League and the English Football League remain a global success story,” the government said. “It will also provide greater protections for club heritage, address the issue of breakaway competitions, and most importantly ensure that fans have a greater voice in their own clubs.”

Further legislation is planned to make it “cheaper and easier for more leaseholders to extend their lease, buy their freehold, and take over management of their building”, while a Rail Reform Bill is envisaged to facilitate the transfer of the government’s franchising authority functions to a new body, Great British Railways. The government said this will ensure “operational and infrastructure decisions are made in a coordinated way” and that Great British Railways “will serve as the single point of accountability for the performance of the railway”.

Other new laws that will be tabled include legislation to enable the UK to meet its international commitments when it accedes to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade partnership, as well as “limited and targeted reforms” to the Investigatory Powers Act to “ensure that it remains fit-for-purpose to respond to modern threats”.

The King’s speech also confirmed the government’s intention to make progress with draft legislation that has already been introduced to the UK parliament – including Bills that provide for the abolition of ‘no fault evictions’ while strengthening the rights to landlords to take possession of their property in other circumstances, as well as reforms to UK data protection laws and the modernisation of competition and consumer protection rules.

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