Pending regulations could fall off the government's agenda

Pending regulations could fall off the government's agenda

The prorogue of Parliament has given the industry a glimmer of hope that the Pensions Bill could be introduced sooner than some expected but other pending regulations may be at risk.

This week (August 28) prime minister Boris Johnson announced his decision to suspend parliament for several weeks in September.

This will be followed by a Queen's Speech on October 14 in which the newly formed government will set out its agenda for the coming period.

While the move has prompted backlash from MPs it could in fact be good news for the long-awaited Pensions Bill, according to some.

Tom Selby, pensions analyst at AJ Bell, said: “Guy Opperman has said the work for this bill has been done, so it was always just a question of finding time in the parliamentary calendar.”

Steve Webb, policy director at Royal London and ex-minister of state for pensions, agreed. He said: “To get a pensions bill we needed a Queens Speech, so ironically yesterday’s development means we do at least have a date for the Queens Speech which is likely to include a pensions bill.”

The Department for Work and Pensions was unable to commit to a timeframe when questioned and was also unable to state whether the Pensions Bill would face significant delay given the suspension of parliament.

A spokesperson said: “On this we will legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows.”

The industry wasn't so upbeat upbeat however when it came to legislation such as the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill which would see the introduction of a no-fault divorce.

Simon Bassett, partner and head of family law at Royds Withy King, said: “The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill has been widely welcomed by the legal profession, the judiciary, MPs and separating couples, but is increasingly looking likely to fall victim to the government’s Brexit timetable.”

The bill was introduced by David Gauke, former secretary of state for Justice under Theresa May’s government, and was set to make it easier and quicker for couples to divorce.

Mr Bassett warned there was a real risk that the new Prime Minister will use the suspension of parliament to clear out the legislative agenda of his predecessor. 

He added: “This could easily be done by simply failing to find the time for its third reading or overlooking its reintroduction.

"That would be a damaging blow for couples wishing to separate. Divorce is always a challenging time and that is not made any easier by the constraints of the current legislation."

The adult social care review, which looks at the funding of social care, could also experience further delays, having been delayed several times under the previous government.

This is despite prime minister Boris Johnson promising to fix the crisis in social care “once and for all” to provide “every older person the dignity and security they deserve”.

In the March 2017 Budget the Conservative government promised to publish a Green Paper on social care, in order to allow a public consultation to be held. This was subsequently discarded, and the government announced it would publish a White Paper in the autumn of 2019 instead.