The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President, Sunand Prasad, has given the Institute's initial reaction to today's Queen's Speech setting out the Government's legislative programme for the coming year. The Speech contained references to a number of Bills which the RIBA will be following closely over the coming Parliamentary Session.
Of particular interest to the RIBA were:
1 Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill: places a duty on councils to "promote democracy"; makes it a legal duty for them to respond to petitions; and monitor local economic conditions by integrating the remits of the Regional Assemblies and the Regional Development Agencies. It also ensures a more level playing field for small, local construction business in construction contracts.
2 Equality Bill: simplifies and harmonises discrimination law and introduces transparency in the workplace to help address the difference in pay between men and women.
Commenting on the Queen's Speech, Sunand Prasad said:
"The Government is understandably focusing on the economic situation and the need to put in place reforms to the banking sector. Integrating the remits of Regional Assemblies and Regional Development Agencies should bring benefits socially and economically but must not be to the detriment of inclusive decision-making, through erosion of consultation. Any potential democratic deficit relating to the changes must be avoided.
"We are disappointed that the Heritage Protection Bill and the Flooding Bill were not mentioned in the speech. We trust that heritage protection is not dropped from the Government's priorities. The historic built environment is a valuable asset and there is a great need to reform the system to ensure we better protect but also utilize this living resource in the future.
"It is clear that a framework to address all sources of flooding, clarify responsibilities and tackle flood risk management is needed and we hope the Government will at the very least publish a draft Bill during 2009."