Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Queen's consent & discontent

Written by Katie Armour, senior associate
Edited by Scott Reid, associate partner

30 July 2021

Good morning,

You’d imagine the Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill to be a pretty dry piece of legislation.
 
It’s mechanical and exhaustive and sets out how to deliver renewable energy to heat homes in certain neighbourhoods or towns. 
 
But this week it’s also been the unlikely spark to reignite debate about the role of the monarchy in modern British life.
 
A new Guardian investigation has revealed that back in February the Queen’s lawyers “secretly lobbied” Scottish ministers to change the law in its draft form to exempt her estates from the requirements to let the green pipelines be laid.
 
They applied this subtle pressure through the “arcane” and under-reported parliamentary mechanism known as ‘Queen’s consent’ (explained here).
 
This is not the first in the Guardian’s Queen’s consent series, but it is the most recent instance we know about. This series started by examining opaque financial dealings in the 1970s, but fresh proof that these shadowy interventions are continuing to present day is alarming.
 
Sixty seven parliamentary bills that have passed through the Scottish parliament have been vulnerable to this suspicious process and the minister in charge when the heat networks bill made its way through said, “these sort of exemptions for the Queen’s interests are sometimes required as a necessary step.”
 
Now former MSP and land reform expert Andy Wightman is calling for reform. Firstly, he thinks the Scottish government should refuse to make exemptions for personal interests and secondly, he wants transparency, insisting that MSPs should be informed about instances where Queen’s consent is required or requested.
 
This discovery has made people look a little closer at what the palace is up to and forced a necessary discussion about how many of these practices are really conducted above board. It undermines the belief that the monarch’s involvement in legislation is purely formal and benign.

Speaking about the investigation, Lily Humphreys, who unearthed the documents, told us: “Nobody should feel comfortable with these secret doors to influence. It doesn’t fit with the definition of democracy. This research needs to prompt a conversation about how we want our laws to be made”.

Scots deserve assurances that our legislation isn’t altered for the sake of self-interest and to have confidence that our parliamentary records give a true and total account of how things came to be. Everybody else has to go through the lobbying register and document their attempts to influence; the same should be said here.
 
The story may have some mileage in it yet; so far more than 65,000 people have put their names to a petition calling for an inquiry into the use of Queen’s consent.
 
The antidote to this frustration will be transparency. We all know sunlight is the best disinfectant for scandal.

News

record 1.3m people were instructed to self-isolate in England and Wales in the last week as frustration over the ‘pingdemic’ grows. NHS data shows that in the week ending 21 July 618, 903 were told to self-isolate by the NHS app and a further 597,260 were identified as close contacts by Test and Trace. In a Radio 1 Q&A session, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the vaccine programme has prevented an estimated 60,000 deaths and 22m infections, hailing it as a “truly massive” success.
 
The RNLI has reported a 2000% increase in donations over the last 24 hours after they were criticised by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage for rescuing migrants in trouble in the English channel. Farage accused the charity of being used as a “taxi service for illegal trafficking gangs”. Downing Street has praised the “vital work” the RNLI do and members of the public donated more than £200,000 to the charity in the aftermath of the debate, up from their average daily donation rate of approximately £7,000.
 
Scottish finance secretary Kate Forbes was married yesterday in her hometown of Dingwall. After the ceremony the newlywed couple had photographs taken at the Global Energy Stadium, home of Ross County FC.

Business and economy

Chancellor Rishi Sunak visited Edinburgh, Glasgow and Fife yesterday and stressed that Scotland has a “key role to play” in powering the future of the UK’s global economy. He faced questions on the visit about cuts to universal credit and the impending end of the furlough scheme and, unfortunately, chose to livestream his speech with the counter displaying the remarkably poor attendance, with only 16 people watching live.

 

Shell has returned almost $9bn to shareholders given to it to cover potential losses incurred by global lockdown. Speaking as the company announced a hike in its dividend amid a rally in global oil prices, chief executive Ben van Beurden also used the opportunity to hit out at what he considered to be an “unreasonable” Dutch court ruling ordering the company – but not its sector peers – to cut carbon emissions by 45% by 2030.  (£)

Columns of note

Cath Bishop writes in the Guardian that Simone Biles’ exit from the Olympics is forcing us all to think about “what sporting success really means”. She considers whether Biles, Osaka and Radacanu’s recent prioritisation of mental health will make audiences feel they can relate to them more and suggests that Biles’ “greatest triumph” may be making us all confront the mental health demands our culture puts on athletes.

 

Chairman of the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust, Stephen Bayley, addresses the much criticised Marble Arch mound in The Times today, suggesting it is “heir to a line of shaky follies”. He argues that the mound is a “pleasant idea” that has been “poorly executed” and questions its views and construction.

Cartoon source: The Times

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in the black on Wednesday as investors noted some positive results from oil firms, engineering and food and drink.

The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.88% at 7,078.42 points, while the FTSE 250 was also up 0.19% at 23,050.46.

Sterling was in a mixed state, trading 0.47% weaker against the dollar at $1.39 but rising 0.11% against the euro, changing hands at €1.17.

In company news:

UK commercial vehicle production rose for the fourth month in a row even though output was constrained by staff and component shortages relating to the pandemic.

Shell’s shares rose by 3.9% after the oil giant revealed it was lifting dividends, launched a $2bn buyback and posted a rise profits for the second quarter.

BAE Systems ended the day up 2.18% after it also increased its dividend and reported a 61% increase in first half profit.

Diageo reversed early year losses to close 0.77% higher.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Victoria

Interims
Essentra
IMI
International Airlines
Intertek Group
Jupiter Fund Management
Man
Natwest Group
Rightmove

Q2 Results 
Natwest Group

Trading Annoucements 
Glencore
Paragon Group
Vodafone
Yamana Gold

Interim Management Statement 
Kerry

AGMs
Advanced Oncotherapy
Bezant Res
Danakali
Dp Poland
Edenville
Puma Vct 13 Plc
Supply@me Cap

EGMs
Castillo Coppe.

GMs
Sutton Harbour Holdings

Final Dividend Payment Date  
Anpario
B.p Marsh
Big Yellow
Calculus Vct
Hibernia Reit
Ienergizer
Inspiration Hlt
Jpmorg.eur
Mobeaus l&g 2
Morses Club
Norcros
Premier Foods
Proven Growth
Proven Vct
Riverfort
Steppe Cement
Telecom Plus

Interim Dividend Payment Date 
Aberdeen Lat
Albion Venture
Bmo Comm Prop
Bp 8Pf
Bp 9 2Nd Prf
Caledonia Min
Character
Doric Nimrod
Doric Nimrod 3
Doric Nimrod 2
European Assets Trust
Gooch & Housego
Gresham House
Hargreave
Henderson High Income Trust
Jpmorgan I
Jpmorgan Global
Lowland Investments
Martin Currie Global Portfolio Trust
Polar C. Holdings
Schroder Income Growth Fund
Shires Inc.
Smiths News
Triple Point C
Triple Point D
Triple Point E
Triple Point 11
Twentyfour Inc
Uk Mortgages
Up Global

Quarterly Payment Date 
BMO Private Equity Trust
Ediston Property
Marble Point L.
Middlefield Prf
Real Est.cred
Standard Life Private
Twentyfour Sel
Vipera

Special Ex-Dividend Date 
Albion Venture

International Economic Announcements 
(07:00) GDP (Preliminary) (GER)
(07:00) Import Price Index (GER)
(10:00) GDP (Preliminary) (EU)
(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)
(13:30) Personal Spending (US)
(13:30) Personal Income (US)
(13:30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US)
(14:45) Chicago PMI (US)
(15:00) U. of Michigan Confidence (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

A group of flamingos is called a “flamboyance”. (Source: Sporcle)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

Scottish parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess until 30 August but will be recalled on 3 August for a Covid update.

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