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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A curate's egg?

Today's Queen's Speech was a bit of a mixed bag, and although I welcome many of the measures within it, there were one or two issues that I might take issue with.

"Tough action", including bigger fines, against businesses which employ illegal labour is welcome as are plans to make it easier to deport people from Britain who commit serious crimes, unless there are exceptional circumstances to say otherwise. The rest of this Immigration Bill though seems to be designed to placate the Daily Mail and I will be interested in seeing the evidence to justify the proposed measures as well as how they fit in with various treaty obligations. I will also watch to see whether other countries in the European Union take retaliatory measures against British citizens working in their territories.

More help with child care costs and obtaining a mortgage are also welcome as are the two "meaty" social measures that will affect millions of vulnerable people in the UK.

The Independent says that the Care Bill will reform long-term care so that the elderly do not have to sell their home to pay for residential care. There will be a cap on care costs, which is expected to be set at £72,000 per person, after which the state will fund care. We await the decision of the Welsh Government as to whether this will apply in Wales.

The Pensions Bill is particularly significant as it will bring in a flat rate state pension of £144 a week from April 2016. The change will help women who have given up work to raise children and end means-tested top-ups such as pension credit.

I am also pleased at some of the measures that have been left out. I remain unconvinced that a minimum unit price for alcohol will have the impact claimed for it and am still waiting to see the evidence to support those claims. Finally, good riddance to the Communications Data Bill or snoopers' charter, which was comprehensively killed off by Nick Clegg.

The speech may have been short but it contained many goodies despite the misstep on immigration.
I shouldn't worry. Most of the attention went on Alex Ferguson's retirement announcement anyway.
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