Queen's Speech 2012

Queen's Speech 2012 focused on the economy, criminal justice and constitutional reform
Queen's Speech 2012 focused on the economy, criminal justice and constitutional reform

The coalition has reloaded its legislative agenda with a Queen's Speech dominated by Lords reform.

May 9th's state opening of parliament saw the Queen outline the priorities of her Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers for the next 12 months.

Liberal Democrat-backed proposals to make parliament's second chamber elected look set to take up much of Westminster's time in the next 12 months

But the government is also determined to force its other bills through in order to back up its claim that Lords reform is not the main 'priority' of the coalition in a tough period for the country.

A number of bills announced in this year's Speech focus on the economy, as Britain battles with the double-dip recession and difficult economic conditions around the world.

The coalition is going to legislate to reform competition law, tighten up pension arrangements and impose shakeups on the banking, grocery and energy sectors.

Both coalition partners agree on the need to tackle the deficit and are hoping that repealing "unnecessary" legislation will help businesses. Charities will be helped by being handed the ability to claim additional payments on small donations.

This is a Queen's Speech which goes beyond bills helping struggling firms, however, as the coalition seeks to change the direction of Britain's society as well as the direction of its GDP growth graph.

A children and families bill is going to make it easier for parents to share parental leave and family law cases will also be reformed to support children.

That will be welcomed by Conservative MPs, who will also be pleased by the inclusion of a crime and courts bill which will reform the courts and tribunal service and create a National Crime Agency.

Civil libertarians will be less pleased by the draft communications data bill, which will "maintain the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access vital communications data" - by extending 'snooping' rights to email, mobile and other online communications.

In addition to Lords reform, the Queen's Speech also covers constitutional reform with an electoral registration and administration bill which will replace household with individual registration. Parliament will also approve the financial stability mechanism within the euro area.

In the 'miscellaneous' section are bills improving oversight of the security and intelligence agencies, legislation rubber-stamping Croatia's accession to the European Union and a draft local audit bill, which will close the Audit Commission and establish its replacement in law.

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