PracticePeople In PracticeLabour unveils second-term plan

Labour unveils second-term plan

The Queen today unveiled a raft of new legislation heralding the start of Labour's second term of government, including sweeping reform of insolvency laws.

Amid the pomp and ceremony of the State opening of parliament, the Queen announced 20 Bills and four draft Bills that the government hopes to enact over the next 18 months.

She said the government had set priorities for the next parliament of ‘economic stability and investment and reform in public services leading to a more prosperous and inclusive society’. The government will continue to secure low inflation and sound public finances, she added.

The well-trailed Enterprise Bill will see a ‘radical reform’ of the competition regime to end anti-competitive behaviour, with the sanction of criminal penalties. In addition it will include reform of insolvency laws.

With this legislation the government hopes to de-stigmatise failure and support entrepreneurs who have failed through bad luck rather than acting dishonestly.

But insolvency practitioners have already sounded a warning saying that reducing the bankruptcy period for ‘honest’ bankrupts from three years to 12 months will have a detrimental effect on returns to creditors.

According to the association of business recovery professionals, R3, it will have the reverse effect of making bankruptcy more appealing to directors than individual voluntary arrangements.

But after Monday’s big announcements on the Bill, it would seem it is near the top of the government’s legislative programme.

As expected, the Queen also said the government would be addressing the problem of money laundering.

‘A Bill will be introduced to increase powers against money laundering, establish a Criminal Assets Recovery Agency, and make it easier to recover the proceeds of crime and drugs,’ she said.

The Proceeds of Crime Bill was introduced in draft form at the last Queen’s Speech. The government said it would increase state powers to fight money laundering and establish a Criminal Assets Recovery Agency with operational powers.

If passed, the Bill will give the agency the ability to recover assets through the civil courts.

Other measures announced by the Queen include legislation to introduce the new tax credits system and Bills tackling health, education, work, crime and welfare reform were also announced.

Links

Read more about the proposed insolvency reforms here,/a>.

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