Queen's Speech: David Cameron says plans will rebuild Britain

 

The Queen sets out the government's plans for the year ahead

David Cameron has hailed the coalition's plans for the year ahead as a "Queen's Speech to rebuild Britain".

They include flexible parental leave, breaking up the banks and exempting the UK from euro bailouts.

Lords reform is the most controversial measure in a slimmed down programme but the PM said boosting growth and cutting the deficit were his top priorities.

He denied Labour claims the plans include nothing to get young people into work or kick start the economy.

The prime minister told MPs: "Let me say exactly what this Queen's Speech is about. It is about a government taking the tough, long-term decisions to restore our country to strength.

"Dealing with the deficit, rebalancing the economy and building a society that rewards people who work hard and do the right thing."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said his party would support measures such as parental leave and a Green Investment Bank - but the Queen's Speech contained nothing for the young unemployed, working families and "millions of people who don't think the government is on their side".

David Cameron say the government is "taking tough decisions to help families who work hard and do the right thing"

"No change, no hope - that is the real message of this Queen's Speech," Mr Miliband told MPs.

The legislative programme - unveiled by the Queen in a speech to MPs and peers - contained 15 bills and four draft bills, a much slimmer programme than in previous years.

It had been billed as a fightback for the coalition after the Conservatives and their Lib Dem partners suffered heavy losses at last week's local elections.

BBC Political Correspondent Norman Smith said it was a "hotch potch" of bills with "no over-arching theme", explicitly designed to prevent the government from becoming "bogged down" with difficult legislation when it should be focusing on the economy.

But some fear that the inclusion of House of Lords reform in the legislative programme will stoke tensions between the two governing parties, with some Tory MPs strongly opposed to the plans.

Key legislation in the Queen's Speech includes:

  • Children and Families Bill: Mothers in England, Scotland and Wales will be able to transfer maternity leave to their partners. There will be better support for special needs pupils and improved access arrangements for divorced fathers in England. The adoption process in England will also be reformed to end delays and making inter-racial adoption easier
  • Banking Reform Bill: Splitting banks into separate retail and investment arms
  • Draft Communications Bill: Making it easier for police and intelligence agencies to access, store and share data on private phone calls and email communications
  • Crime and Courts Bill: Moving towards televised court proceedings and creating a specific offence of driving under the influence of drugs. Establishing a National Crime Agency
  • Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill: Curbing the power of large supermarkets and ensuring suppliers are "treated fairly and lawfully" through a new independent adjudicator
  • Electoral Registration and Administration Bill: Introducing individual voter registration to cut down on fraud

There is also a bill to establish a Green Investment Bank, make it easier for firms to sack workers by reforming the employment tribunal system and to strengthen shareholders' ability to curb directors' pay.

More detail on measures

But Lords reform is likely to prove the most hotly-contested measure, with some Conservative MPs likely to fight plans for a smaller and mostly-elected second chamber.

In a joint statement, Mr Cameron and his Lib Dem deputy Nick Clegg said: "The primary task of the government remains ensuring that we deal with the deficit and stretch every sinew to return growth to the economy, providing jobs and opportunities to hard-working people across Britain who want to get on."

But they insisted pushing ahead with Lords reform was in the best interests of the country.

"We believe that power should be passed from the politicians at Westminster back to the people of Britain, which is why we will keep the promise in our parties' manifestos and reform the House of Lords, because those who make laws for the people should answer to the people."

Labour's Sadiq Khan said it was "not clear" how ministers planned to reform the House of Lords, or whether it remained a priority for the government. He also noted it made no mention of a referendum.

'Snooper's charter'

Proposals to give parents the right to request flexible working, such as fewer hours and job sharing, throughout their working lives also appear to have been dropped.

And there was no mention of legalising gay marriage, which will please some Conservative backbenchers who have criticised it as a distraction from fixing the economy, but the Home Office said it remained committed to introducing same-sex civil marriage "by the end of this Parliament" and a consultation was "still ongoing".

Planned reforms to adult social care in England also look a way off after the much-delayed publication of a government White Paper, which is now expected in the summer.

A bill to make it easier for the police and security services to intercept personal data has been published in draft form only, allowing for greater scrutiny before it becomes law, will please Lib Dem and Tory backbenchers angry at what they saw as plans for a "snooper's charter".

There is also a measure to deal with negative headlines generated by Chancellor George Osborne's decision to increase tax on charitable donations from the super rich, announced in last month's Budget.

When Black Rod summoned MPs, Dennis Skinner said: "Jubilee year, double-dip recession, what a start"

A Small Donations Bill will provide a top up payment similar to Gift Aid to charities that receive small cash donations of £20 or less, enabling them to claim 25p for every £1 collected in the UK, on up to £5,000 of small donations.

In his Commons response to the speech Labour leader Ed Miliband also questioned why Lords reform was in the speech when senior ministers had said it was not a big priority.

He contrasted it with the absence of other coalition pledges, such as reforming adult social care, enshrining in law a commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid and reform of lobbying rules.

He said Mr Cameron's proposals showed the government "just don't get it".

 

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  • rate this
    +25

    Comment number 50.

    I think it is necessary in order for the country to move forward.
    There are almost 30 unelected bishops sitting in that house; and still a few peers who gained their seat simply by right of birth.
    In a modern foward looking state should be be accepting such a thing?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 49.

    Today's the day when they give another part of the game away.
    Look out for: "My government & I......."
    .
    What about our government, what about our representation?
    .
    Well, those who make it to the higher levels of government can only do so after swearing an oath which is itself a secret.
    .
    Got more than a little something to hide?
    You bet!

  • rate this
    -26

    Comment number 48.

    Unless by reform it means lining them up against the wall it just doesn't matter as it all will be is a shuffling of bodies, nothing meaningful what-so-ever.

    I don't understand the Queen's speech, is it a speech read out to the Queen? Or the Queen making a speech, and if it is the latter surely it should be up to her and independent researchers appointed by her to decide what it contains.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 47.

    Not really much point in commenting before the speech, let's hear it first.

  • rate this
    +184

    Comment number 46.

    The last thing that we need is a House of Commons Mark II.

    What we do need is a body of experts, not political placemen, with no political parties allowed, to revise and delay all the daft ideas that the Commons dream up or haven't thought through properly.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 45.

    It worries me that some on this thread (e.g. Mike from Brum) don't understand how the Lords works. Since 1911 the Lords have not been able to block any measure passed by the Commons. They often act as a guardian of our civil liberties, unafraid of the ruling PM (e.g. holding suspected terrorist without trial)
    People don't realise that our constitution isn't broken. If it ain't broke, don't fix it

  • rate this
    +88

    Comment number 44.

    The House of Lords has served us well. Why bother spending millions on reform?

    All efforts should be on getting our economy growing and our citizens back to work.

    There should be nothing periferal in the Queen's Speech and the Coalition should demonstrate that they will not waste time money and effort on legislation which the British Public neither want nor need.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 43.

    Lords reform as discussed so far seems to be just a way of removing any experienced, independent and knowledgeable people from the legislative process and replacing them with yet more politicians. I've no objection to removing a few ex-MPs from the Lords and shrinking it a bit, but another elected chamber is pointless.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 42.

    This is another sign of Cameron's weakness. Too watered down for true blue Tories, too socially conservative for Liberals and an old etonian elitist to left wingers and the Labour heartlands. However if some of the anachronistic power of the landed classes can be wrestled away, mores the better. Just nice to see it further weaken Dave as well!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 41.

    A reformed house of Lords should consist of people with wisdom and experience, with no formal political alliegence to any party. There should be 300 members elected on a local basis, and no-one should have membeship of any major political party. They should advise the government but have no legal right to supercede the will of the House of Commons.- simples!

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 40.

    1 elected chamber, 2 elected chambers, whats the point. The lords seems largely toothless to me. Delaying legislation but powerless to stop it. Do something radical. A jury of 50, selected randomly for each bill, sitting in every city, linked electronically with a power of veto.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 39.

    The changes will not be for the good of the country. They will probably be changed to suit the Conservative agendas. They are in it for themselves and not the UK public.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 38.

    Would it not be better to let our Queen read her Government’s speech before speculating on something that has yet to happen?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 37.

    The House of Lords seems to be doing fine just as they are.

    Can we have Commons Reforms instead please? This seems a more pressing issue. Pay capped at £40,000. No more silly claim backs for TV Licences and Sky subscriptions. No more party whips.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 36.

    Also to be used as a platform to take various freedoms from us

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 35.

    Not really a priority is it? Unemployment, the environment, civil unrest, crisis in the euro.... No, let's do something easy.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 34.

    Ah the Tory/UKIP keyboard commando.
    Furiously tapping away on a PC in a Midsommer homestead.A bust of Churchill stairs at him from the mantelpiece whilst ELGAR blasts out blocking out the negative vibes from the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation.And inbetween posts he votes down any comments slightly to the left of Ghengis Khan in sentiment.
    You guys are Heroes.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 33.

    Reform of The Lords.

    As both Clegg and cameron have said, it's not top of their agenda.

    Why does it seem to be top of the BBC's agenda? By putting it their, it's the BBC that is promoting the idea that it's all the coalition is interested in. If the BBC cut coverage we'd see it for the minor part of coalition policies that it is.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 32.

    Oops. I'm wrong with comment 16. One in the eye for tongue tied and tiredness.

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 31.

    Lords reform is long overdue and has been shuffled around by vested interests for too long. The latest vested interest - blinkered Tories who completely fail to recognise that they are in a coalition but still want it all their own way - are just using the issue to make trouble, not because they actually think the existing House of Lords is any good...or maybe they do as they are so off the wall.

 

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