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Queen's speech promises action on energy and infrastructure levies

The Queen's speech will today promise that the Government will push ahead with plans to enable councils to tax businesses to fund infrastructure developments.

In the State opening of Parliament, which has just begun, Her Majesty will also outline Government plans to lobby the EU for the integration of European energy networks, to provide greater energy security.

The proposed Business Rate Supplement Bill is designed to give local authorities "new flexibility to set a supplement on the current national business rate of up to 2p per pound of rateable value, to be used to promote economic development in their local area".

The proposals follow on from last year's inquiry to local government by Sir Michael Lyons, which recommended a number of measures to increase the flexibility of local authority budgets, including the use of a supplementary business rate, agreed with local businesses, to fund infrastructure improvements.

Additional notes with the Queen's speech, handed to MPs and Lords, show that the Government also intends to respond the European Commission's Strategic Energy Review.

On the issue of energy security, the Government intends to focus on measures that can increase the integration of the EU energy market, and diversify the sources of energy for the EU, such as exploiting the Caspian Sea.

Plans for the forthcoming Marine Bill were also outlined.

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