The Queen’s Speech & What It Means for the BBA
The Queen’s Speech is an important moment in the Parliamentary calendar, it is used by the Government to set out its legislative agenda for the year ahead. Yesterday, Prince Charles read out the Queen’s Speech prepared by the Government to assembled MPs and Peers. Despite calls from our coalition and wider group of business for reform of corporate governance, we didn’t get to hear the words “Better Business Act” from the future monarch’s mouth.
Should we be frustrated that the government is ignoring the urgent need to update the rules in UK boardrooms? Yes. Should we be disappointed or lose motivation? No. Because buried in the documents the government publishes alongside the Queen’s Speech, we found an important bit of information.
Rather than fully dumping proposed updates on corporate governance as was reported in the media, the government has said it will bring forward a draft piece of legislation on the topic. This shows that last minute efforts by the BBA and others to keep corporate reform on the agenda were heard and had an impact.
Draft Audit Reform Bill
A draft bill is issued for consultation before being formally introduced to parliament, meaning it is not yet clear if or when it will become law. We plan to get involved in the consultation as the draft bill is examined. And make the Coalition’s voice loud and clear, telling the Government they should re-examine Directors’ Duties as it seeks to rebuild trust in the UK’s audit, corporate reporting and corporate governance system and making sure they include s.172 in this.
It’s a good opportunity for us to feed in…but we know that with a draft bill, delays and hold ups can mean inaction, and it’s not good enough given how urgently we need reform in this area. We’re not alone in that view. To maintain urgency and in order to prevent another P&O, BHS or Carillion, we can’t just be feeding into the consultation process. Thankfully, there are other things we can be doing alongside.
Private Members Bill
Though the Government controls the bulk of time in the House of Commons, backbenchers also have an opportunity to bring forward their own laws through Private Members Bills. At the beginning of each session all backbench MPs are given this chance through a lottery. Those lucky enough to be drawn in the ballot are then given a chance to present their own bill to Parliament. Examples of past bills that have started this way include Investigatory Powers Act and the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016.
The BBA has a great base of parliamentary support, helped by our presence in parliament on Better Business Day. We’ll use this to give us the best chance in having the BBA taken through as a Private Members Bill. Once we know who has been picked, we’ll be calling on Coalition supporters in those constituencies to ring, write to, whatever it takes to encourage their MP to bring forward the Better Business Act.
We look forward to working with our amazing coalition, continuing the campaign to change s.172, to create a fairer, greener future for everyone.
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