After the success in the Lords of my Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill I’m very happy with the warm cross party support for my new Anti-corruption Bill (thank you Mr Starmer). When adopted it will reverse the damage done by over a decade of corporate lobbying and political donations to the Conservative Party.
I’ve taken a very modern approach to effective government by adopting similar powers to the Retained EU Laws Bill. The civil service will be asked to compile a register of all laws that have been initiated or influenced by companies lobbying, who gave money to the Conservative Party over the last 14 years. I realise this may well involve thousands of bits of legislation and also the complicated regulatory detail of secondary legislation, which is why it’s important to start the process the day after the election.
Given the additional burden on the police and civil service of trawling through ex-Ministers’ WhatsApp messages and the guest lists of numerous Conservative Party fundraising events, the list of contaminated legislation may continue growing for several years. That is a lot of corrupt practices for us to examine and make judgements on, which is why the pledge to pass this legislation within the first 100 days is so important – even while the list of laws to be deleted or replaced is still being finalised.
Ministers will need to have the power to assess, reject, amend, or replace all the relevant legislation and regulations passed during the last 13 years. This process can start with the oil and gas industry who donated £3.5m to the Conservative Party last year and funded the election campaigns of various MPs, such as ex chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng. The North Sea licences will all be subject to reassessment as part of the anti-corruption review. The Minister will also be able to enact a tight set of environmental controls, including a zero carbon requirement for any North Sea extraction. This can all be fast tracked via secondary legislation and without the theatre of parliamentary scrutiny.
One of the major rewrites of legislation will inevitably be planning rules, as property developers account for around a third of donations to the Conservative party since 2010. I anticipate that all major housing developments will be required to be net generators of energy through the use of solar panels, heat pumps and appropriate energy standards. This will help people’s bills and help the planet within a few months of the election, as no separate legislation will be required as this can all be achieved by Ministerial decree, once the anti-corruption bill has passed.
It is anticipated that several other key areas of government can be tackled without clogging up Parliament with a long queue of reforming legislation. For example, the negative influence on the UK’s real economy of the banking and financial sector is well documented and, given they are a major source of donations, Ministers will have scope to rewrite the rules that govern the City of London, especially the lucrative hedge fund industry.
Unlike the current government I wouldn’t risk the rush of a sunset clause losing laws by default because some email got caught in the junk file. No, you can trust the next government to delete, or replace, only those laws they definitely don’t like.
There are bound to be complaints about the by-passing of parliamentary democracy whenever Ministers are given such dictatorial powers and I admit that I previously voiced similar reservations. However, I think that those MPs who are not Ministers will welcome having several months off each year to spend more time with their money.
Our parliamentary traditions and laws are built upon layers of precedent and the Retained EU Law Bill is a foundation on which the far ranging powers in this anti-corruption legislation can be built. The current government are awful and corrupt. I’m sure the next one will only do good things. Fingers crossed.
PS: Happy April 1st 😉