BusinessBusiness RecoveryEnterprise Bill to kick-off parliament

Enterprise Bill to kick-off parliament

The new parliamentary year begins with the House of Lords considering the government's Enterprise Bill which will make far reaching changes to insolvency and competition law.

Link: Enterprise Bill may violate human rights law

Despite the huge impact the proposals will have on company directors and accountants, the main thrust of the legislation is expected to get through its final stages with little change, get the Royal Assent and become law next month.

After that comes the Queen’s Speech setting out the government legislative programme for the coming year – as always shrouded in secrecy.

But it is certain to include a flagship Criminal Justice Bill.

In among moves to ‘rebalance’ the court system in favour of the victim will be two measures affecting business.

It expected to include the end to jury trial in serious fraud cases in favour of new expert panels sitting with a judge and a new offence of ‘corporate killing aimed at ensuring that company directors are liable for disasters such as the Southall, Hatfield, and Ladbroke Grove rail crashes.

Reforms of the planning system – including fast-track ‘business planning zones’ which ministers deny are a reprise of the Tory Enterprise zones with tax breaks for firms relocating to deprived areas – are also expected to be in the Speech.

A revised Communications Bill – with massive implications for media companies, financial directors and the whole IT sector – is also a favourite for inclusion.

The Tories hope to use the next Common year to expose flaws in the government’s public spending and tax plans.

They intend to show that more ‘stealth taxes’ such as the extra penny on national insurance contributions going above the current ceiling for payments and more taxes on companies are inevitable.

And they will try and use legislation over public/private partnerships and the creation of ‘Foundation Hospitals’ to expose the inconsistencies and inter-ministerial rifts involved in the policy – notably between chancellor Gordon Brown and health secretary Alan Milburn over the borrowing powers of ‘Foundation Hospitals’.

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