Party Politics

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The announcement of a General Election casts some interesting spanners into the process of government:

• Parliament is likely to be prorogued on 3 May – just over a week’s time.

• In the interim, there will be a “wash-up” period during which the many Bills currently going through Parliament will be rushed to Royal Assent or dropped.

• One very large piece of legislation caught in this limbo is the Finance (No 2) Bill 2017, which coincidentally reached its House of Commons second reading stage on the day the Prime Minister made her announcement. It is likely that the Election will mean an abbreviated Finance Act followed by another Finance Bill once the new government is chosen – a repeat of what happened in 2010 and 2015.

• The Pensions Schemes Bill 2016/17 is just about at the end of the parliamentary process so should survive unscathed.

• An Election will mean a new set of manifestos for the political parties. The Conservatives’ 2015 manifesto, prepared under David Cameron, was causing Theresa May’s government problems – witness the Class 4 NICs U-turn last month.

A new manifesto will allow the Conservative party to regain the tax flexibility it lost with George Osborne’s ill-fated ‘triple lock’ on VAT, income tax and NICs. It could also see the widely-expected demise of the other triple lock – on state pension increases – brought forward.

Ironically Mr Hammond may end up having a Summer Budget, having killed off Spring Budgets in favour of Autumn.

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