Monday, 23 November 2009

UK Government Announces Legislative Agenda

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On November 18, Queen Elizabeth II performed one of her perfunctory duties as ceremonial head of state of the United Kingdom and announced to her subjects the legislative program for next year, the last before next year’s general elections. Although the message was delivered with pomp and parade by the reigning monarch, the agenda was set by and the pronouncement was written by the UK’s Labour Party, their prerogative as the party in control of Parliament.

Among the ambitious proposals outlined by Queen Elizabeth on behalf of “her government,” there is the expected litany of populist measures designed to appease a British electorate weary of runaway inflation, a woeful health care system whose errors and ineptitudes have made it a punch line, and a budget deficit that at around 14 percent of gross domestic product is the highest in the developed world.

“My government’s overriding priority is to ensure sustained growth to deliver a fair and prosperous economy for families and business as the British economy recovers for the global economic downturn,” the Queen proclaimed from her throne at the House of Lords.

The Conservative Party’s response was as predictable as was the ruling party’s platform. “What the prime minister is trying to do here is basically legislate a hole series of ideas saying that virtue is good, and then trying to dare his opponents to vote against them,” declared Conservative leader David Cameron Wednesday night in the House of Commons where he has served since 2005 as Leader of the Opposition. He further criticized the speech for making no mention of the unwieldy influx of illegal immigrants, the parliamentary expense account scandal, or how the Brown administration plans to address the reprehensible reputation of British medical treatment.

For his part, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown asserts that the announced legislative projects reflect the economic concerns of the nation, as well as demonstrating fiscal responsibility, a crucial component of any plan to be implemented in the midst of a crushing recession. “We are responding to our national needs,” Brown reiterated in defense of his party’s propositions. He believes that when viewed collectively, the items that make up Labour’s agenda bolster its image as a government dedicated to improving the cost and quality of public services, as well as limiting the growth of government to sustainable and economically feasible levels.

In order to avoid adding to his country’s record-breaking deficit, Prime Minister Brown proposes a schedule of tax increases to offset the spending he reckons is requisite to maintain the quality of life Britons have come to expect and the roster of social services upon which they have been trained to depend.

One of the most controversial aspects of Mr. Brown’s proposals is the “financial services bill.” This measure would empower the nation’s comptroller, the Financial Services Authority, to regulate the amount of executive pay packets, specifically the size of any bonuses awarded to business leaders as part of their employment contracts. According to the New York Times, if this bill is enacted into law, it will “mark the first time a regulatory agency in a major world economy wields the power to nullify individual remuneration contracts.”

With the quasi-nationalization of the banking industry in the United States and all the concomitant regulations and restrictions it imposes, President Obama and a complicit Congress has placed our own republic in the same stead with regard to the extraordinary expanse of oversight exercised by the federal government over the interests and expenditures of commercial enterprises. 

Photo: AP Images

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