pARLIAMENT has now
adjourned and failing some major emergency will not return until the end of October. It has been a gruelling session with continual
three line whips and late night sittings.
How has the House of Commons stood up to the strain? The House today has two principal functions, one legislative, the other educative. It has to pass the legislation brought before it by the Cabinet and by private members and to concentrate the mind of the nation on the great issues of the day.
Legislatively, the House has not done too badly, although many of the measures foreshadowed in the Queen's speech have not yet reached the statute book. Some, such as the Steel Bill and the Land Bill, have not appeared at all.
The major piece of legislation of the session has undoubtedly been the Finance Bill, which whatever one thinks of its intrinsic merits has brought about a revolution in our system of taxation.
The old system of company taxation has disappeared and will be replaced by the corporation tax, and for the first time we have a fully fledged capital gains tax. Taxation experts will be working out the implications of these changes for years to come, A Tory government would not, I believe, fundamentally alter the new tax structure, but would almost certainly lower the rates at which the two new taxes are levied.
The most impressive legislative achievements of the session have been in the field of law re form. First of all there has been the abolition of the death penalty. The Bill is now over its last major hurdle in the Lords and is certain to receive the Royal assent in October.
The same is true of the Race Relations Bill, which declares discrimination on racial grounds unlawful in public places and sets up new conciliation machinery to achieve its purpose,