The Queen's Speech took place on 10 May, outlining the key legislative reforms Parliament intends to pass for the year and offering a flurry of announcements on big tech, data protection and planning reforms among others.
Planning reforms got an early mention in the speech, with the government's 'levelling up' agenda alive and well in the form of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which aims to "improve the planning system to give communities a louder voice, making sure developments are beautiful, green and accompanied by new infrastructure and affordable housing".
Commenting on the planning reforms announcement Al Watson, partner and Head of Planning & Environment
said: "Localism - or localism-ish - makes a return after its previous difficulties as a concept. Via digital planning technology to bring about informed engagement, Government wants local people to consider for themselves what local development should look like - subject of course to Government having the final say. We all need to question how this will speed up the delivery of housing.
The 1980s and the vision of Heseltine is proved right again - central Government clears the ground, and it is the private sector that delivers and builds. The Levelling Up Agenda and the Levelling Up Bill, at its heart, wants and needs private sector engagement, investment, and skills. Government needs to remind itself of those facts and use the Bill to promote confidence and certainty for the private sector to commit and invest."
Tech regulation and digital markets were also mentioned in the speech after speculation the Government intended on dropping any planned reforms. The Draft Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill was announced as part of the parliamentary agenda, intending to "boost competition by introducing a new regime to address the far-reaching market power of a small number of very powerful tech firms".
Commenting on the proposed regulations Paolo Palmigiano, partner and Head of Competition, Trade and Foreign Investment
said: "For the last few years competition authorities have struggled to deal with the challenges of the digital sector and the emergence of large digital players. While they all admitted that competition rules were fit for purposes and could adapt to capture the challenges of the 21st century, they all acknowledged that the tools were slow.
There have been several studies and reports published in the UK and in other jurisdictions in the last few years. Today the recommendation in those reports will start to be put in place in the UK.
In the EU, at the same time, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) will ban certain practices used by large platforms acting as 'gatekeepers' and enable the Commission to carry out market investigations and sanction non-compliant behaviour."
The anticipated move away from EU GDPR proposals was also confirmed with the Data Reform Bill, which the Government says "[takes] advantage of the benefits of Brexit to create a world class data rights regime".
Commenting on the data protection proposals Jo Joyce, senior counsel
said: "The Government's aim for data protection reform is to reduce the burden on businesses operating in the UK and to encourage more international tech companies to consider the UK as a natural base. However, while some elements of the GDPR regime may benefit from reform, an attempt at wholesale departure from the structure and principles of EU privacy law seems unlikely to succeed. The GDPR represents a model for data protection legislation and, partly thanks to its extraterritorial effect, many countries outside the EU have been heavily influenced by the GDPR when reforming their own regimes.
Some small UK businesses and organisations may benefit from a reduction or relaxation in data protection regulation, but many will still wish to trade in the EU and so will still have to comply with the GDPR. If the Government does not manage its proposed reform carefully the effect may be to require businesses to comply with two separate privacy regimes.
At a time when international transfers of data are heavily regulated and, in the case of transfers to the US, under threat, UK businesses rely heavily upon the mutual finding of adequacy between the UK and the EU to allow personal data to flow without the need for extra contractual arrangements. Any changes that threaten the UK's ability to retain its finding of adequacy are likely to lead to a significant increase in paperwork for UK businesses and may not prove as popular as the Government is hoping."