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
    +2

    Comment number 350.

    Lords Reform: Irrelevent
    Motoring Drug Tests: Scientifically flawed
    National Crime Agency: Rearranging deckchairs
    Supermarket Regulation: Toothless
    Flexible Parental Leave: Irrelevent
    Special Needs Kids: Fixing a problem they created?
    Divorced Fathers: Unneccessary

    So where's the substance? Really? Europe in collapse and UK taxed into the ground. Anything? Nope

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 349.

    296.Have your say Rejected
    2 Minutes ago
    288. Justin33, "Why do most comments seem to be obsessed with having some kind of average joe as a PM"

    because it would be a step up from camoron.
    ****
    We had Brown so anything has got to be a hell of a step up.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 348.

    People can't be bothered voting for the "lower house" so I can't see them voting for the upper! despite everything, the current (albeit anachronistic) system seems to work. If it ain't broke........

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 347.

    "332.old codger
    what ever this goverment promisses it will only talk about it and do nothing except rob the poor"

    Can you explain how increasing the tax free personal allowance from £6,475 (when they got into power) to £8,105 now is the coalition "robbing the poor"?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 346.

    The coalition have already enacted all their proposed major reforms e.g. Health and Social Care, Welfare Reform, Education, Justice (Legal Aid) in their first two years so there will be slim pickings left for the remainder of the five year parliamentary term.

    That will give them plenty of time to concentrate on the economy so opposition politicians and the media shouldn't be too worried.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 345.

    True Democracy =

    1.Abolish the Monarchy
    2.A fully elected Parliament / Republic Senate style house.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 344.

    Why are they discussing the reforming of lords when there are far more important issuses,like how are we going to get people back into work and get the economy growing,they don't have a plan for this.
    plan A isn't working and never was going to,instaed of coming up with plan B just carry on killing the patient with the same medicine and blaming the last government.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 343.

    Why dont we just dissolve both houses and the Queen can run the country? The Lords is a throwback to those days, the life peers are mostly her cousins

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 342.

    Who cares if they are elected or not as long as they serve the country. We saw elected leaders could be worse than lords and monarchs.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 341.

    Why should we have "Lords Reform" when the elected chamber has yet to prove their worth in honesty, integrity and democracy in the wake of the expenses scandal? I shudder to think of the types that would be on offer as candidates for this new senate for second-raters. All on some PR slate of closed lists. It is a complete waste of our time right now!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 340.

    the judge was progressive so the jury got hung,the coalition has been given a suspended sentence if Queenie & the rest of the entourage had anything about them this coalition nonsense would be disolved,vapourised,gone,they have no mandate to govern,they were never elected in the true sense of the word & after thier more recent blatant failures why are they still there?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 339.

    Goatskin vellum, eh? Thank you for that little gem.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 338.

    An elected chamber is a bad idea.Politicians are only interested in reelection, so pass popular laws. An unelected chamber is free to vote for what is best for the country, which isn´t always what the country wants. The Lords needs reform but an elected chamber is not the way forward. I suggest a system whereby experts are appointed to the Lords to provide proper and intelligent scrutiny of laws.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 337.

    Why impose change when the system works as it stands? Why impose destructive change when there is no need or desire to do so?

    Why?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 336.

    The government can do more than one thing at a time, Lords Reform does not mean a setback to an economic recovery. Lords reform is necessary to really give Parliament a more representative voice as it should be expected in any second chamber. This reform is necessary for true democracy.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 335.

    The problem with the plans for HoL reform is they plan to use PR for 80% of the chamber. This would mean that as a result we would have an upper chamber that would have a claim to be more democratically elected than the lower chamber. Such a move would signal a massive shift in the constitution of the UK, vastly detracting from the legitimacy of the Commons as our supreme law-making body

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 334.

    327.MilesTegg
    Just now
    You either elect a second chamber, or come up with some criteria to choose the members. The "most able" seems the best answer, but what constitutes the "most able".


    +++
    Certainly not the legal(???) profession as they seek only advantage, not the truth.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 333.

    The Lords reform is nothing more than a distraction. It is something I cannot agree with or support. At the the end of the day, the House of Lords does actually work. Don't fix it if it's not broken. What is really scary is the thought of having two elected houses. Just look at the mess that the one elected house has got us into. The focus should quite rightly be the economy ... and nothing else!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 332.

    what ever this goverment promisses it will only talk about it and do nothing except rob the poor to help the rich get riccher at our expense

  • rate this
    +26

    Comment number 331.

    Wonder what she would say if she was allowed to give us her thoughts.

 

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