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 490.

    #472 8alma

    I am just an ignorent yokel. Please can you explain to me how the House of Lords and the Queen are illegal when they form part of the legislature? (Admittedly, the Royal Assent has not been refused since Queen Anne on 11 March 1708, on the settling of militia in Scotland).

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 489.

    448.
    Annie-Lou

    How many other countries are there where religious leaders assume unelected positions in government by virtue of their religious power? Well, there's Iran! Its a theocracy, its positively Medieval!

    ''''''''''''''''''''''''
    So's the Vatican.
    Nothing wrong with it whatsoever

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 488.

    My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen. I hereby announce the plans my government shall adopt for the forthcoming year. My government shall increase unemployment to 3 million. My government shall ensure we stay in recession. My government shall continue to reduce the tax burden for the rich and increase it for the poor. My government will ensure the human rights to terrorists above all others. Lordy!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 487.

    Yet again Our government mistake Activity for Achievement, we need GROWTH in the economy not wasting money on unnecessary reforms and Legislation.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 486.

    @466.david
    "I'd like to have an argument."
    470.farkyss
    "What would you like to argue about?"

    Would that be a 5 minute or a 10 minute argument?

    With thanks to Monty Python.

    Just a little light relief why we digest the Queen's Speech and then continue the debate.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 485.

    The elephant in the room being the state of the economy with the Govt's self inflicted double dip recession.......but of course they can't change course on that because it would be to admit their dignosis was over board, egro admit they lied to us about the severity of the illness in the first place.....

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 484.

    And were in the speech was there a promise to restore the life style of millions of people who have had there lives turned upside down by gambling bankers, And then made to pay for this mistake with there family,s income by millionaire politicians. Who even though they got hammered at the polls, They cant see they there doing no wrong. What we want is a election asap.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 483.

    Of course the problem with an elected Lords is election campaigns and advertising cost money. This money is too often pledged by rich donors in exchange for favours.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 482.

    455.Andrew Maund
    Good for North Carolina! You have no right to steal another word, you have made 'gay' a term of playground abuse already. Why would anyone let you do it to marriage? You have all the privileges already in CPs.
    Oh and people show themselves up putting themselves first as in, 'me and'.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 481.

    461. George

    The manner in which the speech is prepared is well known: the government prepares it and she reads it. There is no suggestion that she has any input into its preparation nor that it is "her idea". Indeed, the very idea that it is actually her's rather than the governments is very undemocratic.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 480.

    'I say, Nick old chap - the proles are getting restless, what?!'
    'I agree David - best throw them a sop to keep them happy. How about pretending to reform the House of Lords?'
    'A cracking idea! We all know how the average man in the street yearns for the reform of our archaic form of bicameralism. Bound to be a vote winner!'

    and so on and so forth. Government by pantomime horse...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 479.

    the world is never going to get sorted out if these toffs don't do something important like create a new fuel or help find a cure to cancer but no instead they have to WASTE money on something no one wants and the only thing it will do to the country is create another room where politicians can shout at each other and not get anything done like they do now!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 478.

    Just as with the Budget, HMG leaks the news selectively in advance.
    THEY think, "Clever news management, eh?"
    WE think, "Just stop it. Major political news events- Budget, Queen's Speech, etc.- should not be 'trailed' or pre-announced."

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 477.

    I am extremely disappointed that there was no clear statement about adult care. This is a huge burden on so many - and will only become a bigger issue. There was mention of pension reform - for private, tax free saving. I would expect to see a tax credit given to people who save in a given tax year.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 476.

    The government has been proposing a second stage of Lords reform even since the first phase in 1999, but nothing has yet happened again. So why is the government focusing on reforming something that the Lords always opposes, when the main valence issue of the economy and unemployment has become even more important in the current crisis.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 475.

    Greece also needs a Plan

    Meet-up and discuss a plan for Greece this Satuday 12 May

    http://greece-reconstruction-fund-london.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/planning-group-for-greece-economic.html

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 474.

    The only "reform" needed is the abolishment of the House of Lords. People elect a government to do a job and don't require yet another level of unelected (or elected) folks to possibly go against what is presented to them.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 473.

    It's not the most radical Queens speech ever, most of the legislation for the governments main reforms was passed in the last session, but I like most of the bills announced. I don't like the idea of Lords reform without a referendum and I surprised a high speed rail bill wasn't included, but on the whole it was a good Queens speech. Should be enough to keep parliament busy for another year.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 472.

    Once again we have put Reformation on the back burner, MP,s frightened of the establishment, don't want to upset them. So much for DEMOCRACY, roll on the REPUBLICANS, maybe they would make us a true DEMOCRACY instead of us having the establishment running things their way, carry on with the ILLEGAL 2nd house and head of state. Probably another 100+ years.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 471.

    "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." The people of Britain expect a Government to Govern not shurk responsability and pass the buck.

 

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