Shoosmiths experts react to Queen’s Speech

May, 2022 - Milton Keynes, England

The State opening of parliament began with the Queen’s Speech and was delivered by Prince of Wales this year. Our experts respond below to the speech at large.

Alex Bishop, co-head of the Shoosmiths Birmingham office, said:

“We were delighted to see Birmingham and the Commonwealth Games specifically mentioned in the Queen’s Speech, marking this pivotal year for the city. It is imperative we leverage the opportunity the Games will bring to propel the city forwards and to take advantage of the levelling up agenda. Any support Government can give to further this objective is most welcome - giving greater autonomy to the regions has to be a move in the right direction”.

Gurvinder Samra, senior associate specialising in assisting parents of children and young people with special educational needs (SEN), said:

“We hope that the words from the Queen’s Speech on every child fulfilling their potential are realised and actioned by her central and local governments.

“Currently, children with special educational needs are facing issues with capacity in special schools, which is becoming more and more prevalent across the country. This is hampering the fulfilment of potential and we hope that this problem is addressed as quickly as possible.”

Kiran Desai, head of office, Brussels who specialises in business advisory said:

“Changes to competition law regarding the digital economy were announced, although these were announced by government in the week before and have been foreseen for some time. Indeed, the Digital Markets Unit, a specialist department within the Competition and Markets Authority is already established, although currently has no additional powers”.

“Brexit of course was mentioned, in particular the government’s desire to remove EU laws in line with the government’s stated policy objective of having a ‘light regulatory touch’. The devil will, of course, be in the details. Trade was an element behind Brexit and the government plans to enact into law two trade agreements it has entered into, namely, with Australia and New Zealand. The former in particular is likely to be contentious for some sectors, such as the agricultural sector”.

Nicky Jenkins, legal director, who specialises in intellectual property, said:

“The proposed Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech earlier today, will allow those involved in agri-research and innovation to bypass the strict regulatory controls on genetically modified organisms, which were inherited from the EU. The aim of the proposed new law is to enable universities and commercial organisations to carry out research in the generation of food with improved nutritional benefits, and less reliance on environmentally harmful pesticides. Recent rises in the cost of living, in part caused by reliance on global resources which are currently affected by the war in Ukraine, shows that there is an urgent need for innovation and sustainability in the UK’s farming sector. Today’s announcement demonstrates some commitment by the Government to ensure that the UK’s regulatory regimes support and promote innovation in key areas, as set out in the July 2020 Research and Development Roadmap”.

Sarah Teal, co-head of the Shoosmiths Manchester office, said:

“Manchester is a fast-growing, world-class city that needs a suitable public transport infrastructure to meet not only expected further population and business growth, but its low-emissions targets.

“The High Speed Rail Bill set to improve links in and out of Manchester, as set out in the Queen’s Speech, is a step forward in the hope that Greater Manchester will be able to benefit from quick, reliable and affordable public transport as we look to tackle the regional disparity still evident.”

David Mathias, planning partner at Shoosmiths, commented:

“The UK is facing a chronic shortage of new housing. Any aim to reform the planning system has to be seen through the lens of historic undersupply.

“Today’s announcement could see the demise of Section 106 agreements as we know them. While not without its flaws, the existing system allows for flexibility and certainty of delivery, especially on non-financial planning obligations, such as those securing affordable housing delivery.

“The new locally set, non-negotiable levy must enable swift decision making that offers flexibility and certainty if it is to succeed. Local authorities and their planning departments must also be provided with the resources to manage the levy and ensure that obligations are delivered.

“We have to make sure the planning system is working efficiently – enabling local authorities and developers to bring forward the scale and mixed-tenures of housing the UK needs, with the accompanying infrastructure and community facilities that will truly level up those areas of the country that have fallen behind. Adding an additional level of scrutiny in the form of ‘street votes’ has the potential to run counter to the swift and effective decision making these reforms are aiming to facilitate.”

Nick Holland, commercial partner specialising in international technology and data privacy, commented:

“Ever since Brexit the UK Government has been trying on the one hand to ensure data can move freely to and from the UK to the EU without any restrictions but on the other hand ensuring that can happen without necessarily having to comply with the same data privacy laws that exist in the EU-the so called ‘adequacy regime’. The UK data privacy watchdog, the ICO, issued a detailed and comprehensive set of wish lists for change in UK privacy law last Autumn for consultation in that same vein but we not heard anything more, and it is likely the Data Reform Bill will focus on those proposed changes which potentially will put it on a collision course with the EU as it will no doubt attempt to cut the so called ‘red-tape’ that many UK businesses suffer when trying to comply with EU GDPR.”