Where do the dangers lie for the coalition's ambitious programme?

The Queen's Speech aimed high – but there are many pitfalls ahead
Click to follow

ROYAL MAIL

Postal Services Bill

Purpose To enable private companies – and employees – to buy a stake in the Royal Mail. The Government says the injection of cash will rejuvenate the struggling business and safeguard universal deliveries. It promises that the Post Office network will stay in public hands.

Unanswered questions What proportion of the business will go to private investors and Royal Mail staff? Who will take responsibility for its massive pension deficit? How can ministers be sure that private firms will be any more interested in the business than they were when Labour tried to part-privatise the Royal Mail?

Danger rating 4 stars

Peter Mandelson was forced into a humiliating retreat after he attempted the same thing. There is no guarantee the coalition would find it any easier. Vince Cable should be ready for a bruising battle with unions, and the possibility of industrial action. He will also be aware of the soft spot the public has for the Royal Mail.

CIVIL LIBERTIES

Freedom (Great Repeal) Bill

Purpose To "roll back the state" by restricting the scope of the DNA database, ensuring internet and email records are not stored without good reason, regulating the use of CCTV and easing the current restrictions on protests.

Identity Documents Bill

Purpose ID cards and the national identity register will be scrapped. To be published this week.

Unanswered questions How will the number of CCTV cameras be reduced without harming the fight against crime? How can the ID card scheme be extricated from work on biometric passports?

Danger rating 2 stars

Nick Clegg's big idea might have widespread support among the political classes. But the public might be less sympathetic to criminals going undetected because CCTV cameras have been taken down and DNA records destroyed.

POLITICAL REFORM

Political Reform Bill

Purpose Fixed-term parliaments will be introduced, with the next general election date set at 7 May 2015. Constituents will also be handed the power to throw out their MP if their representative is found guilty of "serious wrongdoing". It also sets up a referendum on the alternative vote system.

Unanswered questions Though a referendum on AV is promised, no date has yet been announced for the ballot. The timetable on reforming the Lords is equally vague.

Danger rating 4 stars

As Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs campaign on different sides of the AV debate, tensions will inevitably open between the coalition partners. The proposal that a vote of 55 per cent of MPs would be needed to dissolve Parliament has already caused disquiet on Mr Cameron's own back benches.

POLICE

Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Purpose To create "directly elected individuals" ("commissioners" to the Tories) to hold the police to account, set up a dedicated border police force and give police and town halls more power to crack down on rowdy pubs and clubs.

Unanswered questions What safeguards will there be to prevent these individuals influencing operational decisions? How do you stop unrepresentative people grabbing the posts?

Danger rating 3 stars

Growing police anger that the move will undermine their independence.

EUROPE

European Union Bill

Purpose To guarantee the public a referendum on any proposed transfer of powers to the EU.

Unanswered questions It is unclear whether the guarantee would apply to any strengthening of EU monitoring of national economies following the crisis in Greece. The Tories have shelved plans to repatriate powers on employment law.

Danger rating 4 stars

Eurosceptic Tory MPs fear a sell-out and will demand a referendum at every opportunity. Tension likely between Tories and Liberal Democrats.

WELFARE

Welfare Reform Bill

Purpose Simplify the benefits system and improve work incentives to get "the 5 million-plus people languishing on benefits into work and out of poverty".

Pensions and Savings Bill

Purpose To raise the state pension age and restore link between basic state pension and earnings from 2012.

Unanswered questions The involvement of private firms in helping people off benefits is likely to be enhanced – but remains unclear. The state pension age is subject to a review.

Danger rating 3 stars

Cuts in benefits for sick and disabled claimants (rather than new claimants) could prove controversial; possible source of tension between Tories and Liberal Democrats anxious to protect the most vulnerable.

TAX

National Insurance Contributions Bill

Purpose Raise £9bn by raising NICs paid by employees next April, to finance an increase in personal income tax allowances towards the long-term Liberal Democrat goal of £10,000. Labour's proposed rise in NICs for employers will not go ahead. All lower- and middle-income employees to be better off.

Unanswered questions Doubts over whether the Liberal Democrat plan to raise £4.6bn from anti-avoidance measures on tax will be achieved.

Danger rating 2 stars

Tory MPs are lobbying hard against the Liberal Democrat-inspired plan to increase capital gains tax from 18 per cent to 40 or 50 per cent.

HEALTH

Health Bill

Purpose To set up an independent NHS Board to allocate resources and provide guidance on commissioning; to allow GPs to commission services and to give patients a stronger voice.

Unanswered questions The precise relationship between the new board and ministers, who will still be accountable to Parliament for NHS spending – and may get the blame in any crisis.

Danger rating 2 stars

End to top-down reorganisations will be widely welcomed but there may still be teething troubles.

SCHOOLS

Academies Bill

Purpose Allows far more schools (including, for the first time, primary and special schools) to become academies, with control over their budgets and admissions policies. Parents, teachers and charities given state funding to set up schools.

Education and Children's Bill

Purpose Introduces "pupil premium" payments for schools with children from poorer families, reforms Ofsted, makes the national curriculum less prescriptive and introduces reading tests for six-year-olds.

Unanswered questions Is there enough time for the first rebranded academies to be operational by September? Who takes responsibility for their teachers' terms and conditions of employment? There is no mention of a figure for the "pupil premium".

Danger rating 3 starsHHHII

Lots of practical problems to be resolved in a short period of time. Much of it puts the Government on a collision course with the education establishment.

TRANSPORT

Airport Economic Regulation Bill

Purpose To come up with "a new vision for a competitive aviation industry" now new runways have been ruled out in south-east England. It aims to improve airports for passengers. Plans for a high-speed rail line proceed without legislation.

Unanswered questions The coalition now seems to have blocked any increase in aviation infrastructure, leading to fears that other airports in Europe will leave Britain behind.

Danger rating 2 stars

Both Liberal Democrats and the Tories backed the scrapping of Heathrow's third runway, but there will be rebels within the Conservatives on the side of the aviation industry who back expansion.

ENERGY

Energy Bill

Purpose Improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses. The Bill may go as far as capping emissions from coal-powered fire stations.

Unanswered questions Does not deal with the UK's future energy supply, such as the extent of the use of nuclear energy. Funding for a new "green investment bank" has to be found.

Danger rating 3 stars

Nuclear energy will be tough to swallow for many Liberal Democrats. They will be allowed to abstain.

QUANGOS

Public Bodies (Reform) Bill

Purpose Cut the number of quangos and make them more accountable.

Unanswered questions Few new details of which ones will be abolished.

Danger rating 2 stars

Promising a "bonfire of quangos" is easy politics. But every time the axe falls people are thrown on to the dole.

BANKS

Financial Reform Bill

Purpose Responsibility for regulating the financial services to be returned to the Bank of England.

Unanswered questions What role will the Financial Services Authority have? No mention of plans to tax banks' profits or curb large bonuses.

Danger rating 3 stars

Risk of tensions between Osborne and Cable. Inevitable City opposition.

EQUITABLE LIFE

Equitable Life Bill

Purpose Compensates policyholders (and dependants of those who have died) who lost out when the insurance company Equitable Life came close to collapse in 2000.

Unanswered questions How much will they get back – and when?

Danger rating 1 stars

Complicated to calculate the compensation, but politically uncontentious.

Comments