The week in Parliament
Parliament is back after its February recess. Did you miss it? They have wasted no time in getting back down to business. We are now stampeding at full speed towards the budget on 11th March, the first to be delivered by Rishi Sunak, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer. One of the major things that the Institute and our associates and friends will be looking out for is the prospects of funding for consultation heavy areas, and there are a lot of them. The Government has already started discussing their plans for healthcare, infrastructure projects will be a big investment, and funding for local government will be being watched very carefully.
It was the third of these that was being debated in the Commons on Monday, in particular the upcoming consultation on the local government funding formula. The Government has been insistent on referring to this as the ‘fair funding review’, and although at the moment it still exists merely in the mists of the near future, we should hopefully know more including the all important start date very soon. For local authorities, this could be a big one. The government has been very keen to emphasise that the belt-tightening of the last decade is now over, and that might give grounds for some to hope for something of a funding windfall. For councils, getting involved with the consultation to let the Government know where that windfall might be best directed will be absolutely critical.
Debate in the Lords was largely over the new Pension Schemes Bill, with many peers concerned about missing detail that the Government has promised will be filled in by secondary legislation. A point of some concern to many as secondary legislation is not subject to the usual parliamentary scrutiny and cannot be amended by either House. An interesting curio of the system is that some of the most consulted upon legislation is not in the glamorous realm of statute, but instead in the rules and regulations made by ministers under delegated powers. In this particular case, the minister (Baroness Stedman-Scott) assured peers no fewer than sixteen times that the regulations would be subject to extensive consultation.
As of the beginning of March, This Week in Parliament will also be covering the activities of the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly. Don’t worry! I’ll be fiddling around with the length to ensure consistency! As always, if you have any questions, or if there is anything you would like to discuss further, please do drop me a line at StephenH@consultationinstitute.org