Queen's Speech as-it-happened

Ian Dunt By

09:50 - Good morning and welcome to yet another live blog. It doesn't seem so long ago that we were here and in fact it wasn't. It was last Thursday for the local elections. The Queen's Speech is usually described as theatrical but it isn't really. It is full of pomp, certainly, but when it all comes down to it it's probably the worst speech you'll ever hear, a bit like the Budget. It's what comes afterwards that gives it the drama. First the Commons debate and then, importantly, the sombre assessment of what's in the document and what that means for the government.

10:08 - First things first. Let's get a timetable up. The Queen should arrive at 11:15am and then proceed to do a series of things with bizarre and archaic names. First she goes to the Robing Room, where she puts on the imperial state crown and parliamentary robe. Then there's a procession through the royal gallery to the House of Lords Chamber, where she takes the throne. Black Rod then goes off to the Commons to tell MPs to get themselves to the House of Lords. To symbolise the Commons' independence the door is slammed in his face (it's not unlike my average weekend) and then he knocks three times before they follow him. This is the really painful bit when David Cameron and Nick Clegg have to pretend to be all matey before proceeding to tears strips off each other an hour or so later. MPs then stand behind the bar of the Lords to hear the speech. They then break for lunch before they start debating the speech at 2:30pm. We'll take a short break then as well - not so much for lunch but to try and write up an analysis of what's in the thing.

10:20 - The overnight briefings were all on the Queen's Speech being family friendly, by the way. Flexible working time, action on adoption, reform of the system for diagnosing and helping children with special educational needs, ensuring care proceedings take no more than six months, helping children of divorced parents have close relationships with both. We also know House of Lords reform will be in there, but probably with a caveat demanding it have parliamentary approval. There will be material on the economy. There will also be eyes on gay marriage and libel reform - have they survived the disastrous local election results?

10:56 - Cameron has left Downing Street with Samantha. The carriages are outside parliament with the crown. It's not quite enough to make the heart beat faster, unless you're into that sort of thing, but it means we're gearing up form a bit of action.

11:02 - Pomp is on full power now. The beefeaters (are they really called that?) are doing very little in blue carpeted corridors in Westminster. A while back a few journos from the lobby shuffled off to watch the scenes in the Lords. Huey Edwards is looking very self-satisfied on the BBC. The parliamentary estate is on full lock down. It's all terribly exciting.

11:04 - "Men in tights looking extra bling with frilly white collars & cuffs and shiny swords," Diane Abbott observers.

11:05 - Labour MP Denis MacShane: "Many more medals on red tunics of Guards than in my first state opening. But then many more dead soldiers. Worth it?"

11:08 - Ken Clarke is looking, well, I just don't know what to say. He has the black and gold robe and the white wig. He looks like he's been cut and pasted out of a Dickens novel. Sir George Young stands precipitously over the people speaking to him, like a tiny BFG.

11:12 - The cavalry are trotting along. It's just so palpably absurd it's very hard to take seriously I'm afraid. In the middle of it all is the royal carriage.

11:14 - First glimpse of the Queen in that rather charming little white robe. Prince Phillip gives one of those staccato little waves.

11:15 - The carriage pulls in to parliament. And a fanfare. She rearranges her big white scarf thing a bit and off they go up the stairs. It's all relentlessly on time. The union flag is replaced by the royal standard to signal she's here in the palace of Westminster. Heralds lead the way with two great maces.

11:17 - There's a bit of debate where I am about whether it looks like the Queen is wearing pyjamas or a nightdress under her magnificent white scarf thing. The monarch goes into the robing room and the door closes.

11:18 - Much snickering at Huey Edwards suggesting there's "a lot of pressure on Black Rod". Enough said, I think, but it wouldn't be the Queen's Speech without at least one Black Rod innuendo.

11:20 - There are reports Cameron is to be given a major UN role delivering the Millennium Development Goals. There's plenty of other news around by the way, not least that Cameron is reported to have texted Rebekah brooks "keep your head up" when she resigned. Unfortunately, we're on full Queen's Speech mode here at politics.co.uk.

11:23 - Things to look out for: Libel reform - is it in there? Gay marriage - have they kicked it into the long grass to satisfy right wing Tory MPs? House of Lords reform - any movement on what we already know and will the government spin be thrown off course by a media focus regardless of what else is in the speech? Social care - will the government duck it? Ok, let's get going.

11:24 - "Hat's off strangers," comes the call as the Speaker's procession, with the sergeant at arms, goes through central lobby.

11:25 - The Speaker takes his place in the Commons. Black Rod turns up. We're nearly at the best/worst bit - watching Tories and Labour people pretend to get on as they walk to the Lords.

11:26 - Oh, and we'll have Dennis Skinner traditional bit of anti-monarchy abuse.

11:27 - The fanfare, again. The monarch is out of the robing room and there's silence as she walks to the Lords. Sorry, the correct term is a procession in state in the royal gallery.

11:31 - Ready for a Skinner gag? Black Rod goes in, marches up to the bar. "Mr Speaker, the Queen commands this honourable House to attend her majesty immediately in the House of peers.. "Jubilee year, double dip recession, what a start" Skinner says. More of an angry Commons attack that a joke, but there you are. Skinner's slipping. Lots of irritation from the Tory benches.

11:29 - And she's sat down. It's just been pointed out to me that there is an actual job called 'gold stick in waiting'. I want that job.

11:30 - "My Lords pray be seated," the monarch says. The new Black Rod gets the signal and makes his way to the Commons. Remember the whole door slamming bit coming up. Quite good this bit.

11:31 - The door is slammed. There. That just happened. Black Rod knocks it three times.

11:33 - And off they go, Cameron and Miliband frantically pretending to like each other. It's tougher now, given the last few PMQ jousts have had an element of true anger to them, as if they are starting to genuinely dislike each other rather than just theatrically dislike each other.

11:34 - They don't do a bad fist of it. It was almost plausible they were talking about something. Everyone is in the Lords. The signal is given to the Lord Chancellor. he approaches the Queen, bows and hands her the speech. Clarke leaves walks away, turns again and bows and we're off.

11:35 - Ok, let's get down to business. Reducing the deficit is the primary responsibility of the government. Unnecessary regulation and state inspections will be reduced. Competition law will be reformed. A green investment bank will be introduced. Regulations will be brought forward to control the financial services sector.

11:37 - There'll be a draft bill to reform the water industry. The state pension will be reformed. Another draft bill will close the audit commission and allow public bodies to be audited by local authorities. On children and families, there will be better provision for disabled children and those with special educational needs. Court processes for those in care will be reformed and the children's commissioner role strengthened. Parental leave will be more flexible.

11:39 - Reform of the rules around succession will be hammered out with other Commonwealth countries. There will be a bill to reform "the composition of the House of Lords". There will be a bill to establish the National Crime Agency, for serious and organised crime. Courts and tribunal services will be reformed. Legislation will protect freedom of speech through libel reform.

11:40 - Secret courts is in there. The snooping measures will be in a draft clause.

11:41 - There's some babble of the usual sort about Afghanistan and nuclear power in Iran and some material about supporting democratic transition in the horn of Africa. The 0.7% aid benchmark is in there - there were some rumours it wouldn't be.

11:43 - The Queen says she's still go to festivities around jubilee and says she's looking forward to the Olympic Games. "Other measures will be laid before you." And that's that. 

11:44 - Everyone stands with the Queen. She takes Phillip's hand and they walk. A minor spasm on Twitter as Ken Clarke may have inadvertently turned his back on the Queen. "There was a time that would have cost him his life," one commentator says.

11:46 - MPs file out. The Speakers chaplain (who is utterly wonderful by the way) leads the parade out, followed by Cameron and Miliband. The Speaker is back in the Commons.

11:57 - And the Queen has gone. OK, I'll take a pause now so I can do you up some analysis. Back in half an hour or so. Your real deadline is 2:30pm though, for the Commons debate.

12:53 - Actually, it's just been pointed out to me that the 0.7% aid commitment is in fact a watering down of both the Tory 2010 manifesto and the coalition agreement, both of which promised to enshrine it in law. No mention of that today, but the government craftily mentioned it in the speech so those of us in a rush quickly ticked it off our list (little bit of self-justification there, hope you don't notice). It's a pretty significant bit of red meat for the Tory backbenchers.

13:45 - OK, I'm back. We've got 45 minutes until Ed Miliband offers his response to the Queen's Speech. Until then, I'll mostly be collating interesting responses from the interweb. First off, Labour on House of Lords reform, where the party wants a (wait for it... wait for it...) referendum. Here's shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan: “There is no mention here of a referendum. The government must make clear it is ready to trust the people. The 15 words in the Queen’s Speech dedicated to reform of the House of Lords leaves big questions unanswered. It’s not clear if Lords reform remains a priority for the government. It's not clear how they plan to reform the composition of the House of Lords. After almost two years, this demonstrates the incompetence of this Tory-led government. Lords reform was heavily trailed as the centre piece of the Queen’s Speech but they still don’t have a clue about what they intend to do about it.” This is a standard attack, but it's not really up to scratch. it certainly wasn't trailed as the centre-piece except by the media. If the Tories had any hopes it was that it would be ignored. But Labour needs to make as much noise about this about possible, because it distances the coalition partners from each other.

13:52 - Again from Labour, this time on the 0.7% decision. It's Ivan Lewis, shadow international development secretary, this time: "Failing to include 0.7 legislation in the Queen’s Speech breaches promises made to the electorate both in the Tory manifesto and the coalition agreement. UK aid and development is about standing up for global social justice but is also about Britain’s national interest. David Cameron used the promise of legislation as a key symbol of how he had changed the Tory party. It has now become a symbol of how he has become a prisoner of the right and is unable to change his party." You can expect to hear the line 'prisoner of the right' again before the day is done.

13:55 - Human rights groups are deeply unhappy about the secret courts policy making it into the speech. Amnesty International UK policy adviser Tara Lyle said: “These proposals are dangerous and should be dropped. After David Cameron promised to get to the bottom of allegations of complicity in human rights violations by UK officials, this Bill is a sell-out to the security services." And here's Reprieve legal director Cori Crider: "If you think closed courts are a good idea, go talk to Khadidja al-Saadi, who Britain helped render to Gaddafi in 2004 when she was only twelve. This is a clear effort to cover up her case, the Belhadj case, and those like them – to stop the airing of the dirty laundry of the ‘War on Terror.’ The British public should not stand for it.”

14:00 - The TUC's Brendan Barber just offered the most glowing review of a coalition government policy I've ever seen from him. He didn't say anything nice, admittedly, and he called for them to do more, but it didn't contain prolonged attacks. Maybe they will get on in the end. Here he is on director pay: "Making shareholder votes binding won’t be enough on its own to start to rein in runaway executive pay in the UK. Alongside strengthening shareholder powers on top pay, the government must also allow workers to sit on remuneration committees. Employee representatives would bring a much-needed injection of common sense into the setting of executive pay and, if the European experience is anything to go by, would help keep directors’ salaries in check. In addition, introducing a requirement that pay reports can only go through with a 75 per cent approval rating would increase the pressure on companies to stop paying top executives huge salaries and bonuses which bear no relation to the pay of the rest of the workforce, or to the way in which a company has been performing.”

14:02 - If we were missing Barber's anger, there's plenty available from Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, on the snooping powers. "This is a direct attack on the coalition's promise to end the storage of email data without good reason. Gaining access to your Facebook and Google data without court supervision is not preserving powers, it is a massive extension of the ability of a police officer to see what you are doing. It would be wide open to abuse, endangering whistleblowers and journalists' sources. The interception powers open a whole new can of worms. No law has ever previously claimed that people's communications data should be collected by third parties just in case. This data has never been previously collected. This bill could mark the end of the government's reputation as a force for protecting our freedom and privacy. They should scrap it now."

14:06 - Bit more from Labour, on the family friendly stuff this time. It's from Yvette Cooper, shadow women's minister. "David Cameron and Nick Clegg are still making life harder not easier for families across the country, and the Queen's Speech doesn't change that. The Government cannot claim to be family friendly when it is cutting child care support, cutting tax credits for part time working parents, and taking more from children than the banks. Over 30,000 women have left work in the last year because they can't afford child care and are struggling to make work pay. Labour introduced flexible parental leave to make it easier for parents to balance work and family life. Improving adoption is also important. But working families are feeling really pressed as a result of the Government's own decisions. For working mums and dads up and down the country, David Cameron's pledge to be the most family friendly government ever rings very hollow in the face of the fiercest attack on family support in generations.”

14:09 - Oxfam are displeased with the absence of a 0.7% bill. Kathleen Spencer Chapman, senior policy adviser, had this to say: "The Government deserves credit for sticking to its aid promises during bad times as well as good. But we are disappointed at the absence of a Bill to enshrine in law Britain's commitment to providing life-saving medicines, schooling and clean water for the poorest people on the planet. There is no reason to delay a Bill which has all-party support, would protect life-saving aid from future politicking and would increase the UK's standing on the world stage."

14:10 - And a little more on those snooping powers, from Big Brother director Nick Pickles: "The Home Office have been very good at saying what the problem is, but seem intent on keeping the technical details of what they are proposing secret. It’s essential that the whole Bill, not just clauses, are subject to rigorous scrutiny. Instead of scaremongering, the Home Office should come forward and engage with the debate about how we improve public safety, rather than pursue a policy that will indiscriminately spy on everyone online while the real threats are driven underground and escape surveillance. If someone is suspected of plotting an attack the powers already exist to tap their phone, read their email and follow them on the street. Given how little detail has been offered is it any wonder that the public are scared by a proposal for online surveillance not seen in any other Western democracy?”

14:17 - That's more like it. Union Unite says the Queen's Speech shows the government is "deluded". Here's general secretary Len McCluskey: “With mass unemployment and a double dip recession Cameron and Clegg should be outlining plans for growth and jobs. Instead we had a Queen’s Speech lacking in imagination where the only idea is more austerity. The government is delusional, if it thinks that making it easier to fire people will suddenly spur the flagging economy into life. Today’s Queen Speech was devoid of any hope or ideas of how to get the economy growing. Instead the government signalled more misery with plans to penalise ordinary working people by either stripping their employment rights away, or making them work until they drop."

14:32 - Commons debate starts in a moment.

14:33 - Bercow is doing a little preliminary statement on treating House staff with respect etc. It's a bit weird. Does this happen at the start of every parliamentary session? I guess it must. I've never heard it before, or at least I don't think so.

14:35 - We start with two backbenchers, apparently, then Miliband's response, then Cameron. Then I'll bring you any news from the prime minister's spokesman. After that, we'll close the blog down.

14:36 - Bercow reads out the timetable for the debate. Naadhim Zahawi (Con, Thunderbird villain) does the loyal address. He takes the loyal bit rather seriously and gets a bit colourful. He tries to make a funny about House of Lords reform, which will not be funny to anyone outside the chamber, nor many of those in it.

14:39 - "This will probably not be my most watched speech," he says. Apparently he's been downloaded many times on YouTube for his response to a backbench speech. "I recommend a loud tie, preferable one with a soundtrack." Nope, I don't know either. Don't care. He takes the mick out of Speaker John Bercow, saying his 90% white constituency is not a "kaleidoscope". That's a reference to Bercow's badly-received multi-culturalism speech the when the Queen addressed both Houses of Parliament. Particularly damaging coming from a ethnic minority MP. "What mattered was our shared values," Zahawi said.

14:43 - Zahawi is now considering the election results in the UK and Europe. "In business you soon learn the world owes you nothing," he continues. "It is a lesson we ignore at our peril." But there's one area the world owes Britain, he says. "I am describing our extraordinary cultural industries." Now he quotes Shakespeare to aim a spear at Bercow's wife Sally. Tory MPs' chuckle contentedly.

14:48 - He celebrates Shakespeare's business achievements, saying he was "self taught and self made". It takes a special degree of commitment to Toryism to focus on Shakespeare's business achievements rather than literature. He ends by saying the Bard was "a natural Tory". Sigh.

14:49 - Macolm Bruce (Lib Dem, harmless old guard) starts with a pointed attack on Zahawi's House of Lords jokes. That wasn't funny either.

14:52 - It's a frighteningly tedious speech. "I, like most people in Gordon did not support the tax changes in last year's Budget," he says. Christ.

14:55 - There's a passable joke about Alex Salmond saying he will only wear a kilt in Scotland when there is independence. Bruce says it's a duty to prevent the good people of Scotland having to witness him doing so. As soon as his one good joke comes, however, he is in party-political material, banging on about the deficit.

14:56 - It's sparks into life for a second when he says he regrets the decision to give up the 0.7% law. Kerry MacCarthy tweets: "They should have got the Mogg to do this. Old fogey and Tory future rolled into one. But he's not even here as far as I can see." Ok, he's done, thank mercy.

14:59 - Miliband starts by reading the names of those who died in Afghanistan since parliament last met.

15:00 - It's customary to discuss those MPs who have died since the House last met, and Miliband does so. He also pays tribute to the Queen. Miliband praises Zahawi's speech. "He is the first member of this House to be born in Iraqi Kurdistan," Miliband points out. He says he brings "a perspective which enriches us all". He adds: "He is also the founder of the polling company YouGov. I've spent much of the recent months thinking he has much to answer for. No doubt after the last few weeks the prime minister feels the same."

15:03 - Miliband is not generous on Bruce. OK, we're onto the meat now. Miliband says the flexible parental leave is a Labour idea. The Tory benches erupt in anger. Aaaaaaand we're back to normal.

15:06 - Miliband is confident and effective. He quotes Osborne from his emergency Budget promising a steady economic recovery - "a new model of economic growth". Now he cites the result -a million young people out of work, double dip recession etc. "They have failed," he says.

15:07 - Miliband is doing that thing he does (inadvisably) quoting deputy chairs of local organisations and the like. "It comes to something when even lifelong Tories don't believe the prime minister is on their side," he says. "The prime minister says he gets it." Someone says "what about London"? Miliband quotes Boris - "We survived the wind, the rain, the BBC, the Budget and the endorsement of David Cameron. I think they walked into that one." Labour is loving it.

15:09 - Miliband says Osborne and Cameron think the problem is a PR one - not a political one. He laughs at Clegg for saying the Budget presentation went wrong. "It's comments like that that got him where he is today," Miliband says. "It's not the presentation, it's the reality." Miliband performing very well here.

15:10 - He quotes Cameron from yesterday when he said "you call it austerity, I call it efficiency". He says: "In two years he's gone from David Cameron to David Brent."

15:12 - He says the energy bill has nothing to help people trying to make ends meet. No legislation on water or train fares. "Nothing to relieve the squeeze on ordinary families." A Tory MP tells Miliband they are all concerned about electricity bills. Miliband: "I'll tell him what we did in government - the winter fuel allowance, far more than this government has ever done." Tories groan when Miliband mentions directors pay. "How interesting," Miliband barks. He says Cameron pretends to care, but there was no action on executive pay and no push for workers on the remuneration committee. "Why not start with the government?" He wants Nadine Dorries on there, with her posh boys jibe. "She's only saying what so many people are thinking. It's high time the Shareholder Spring came to the Conservative party."

15:16 - This is a strong one from Miliband. Louise Mensch asks a question only for him to shoot her down by citing how many seats she predicted Labour would get at the local election (Admittedly he probably only gave way to use the quote, but still). Miliband attacks the lack of social care policy. Cameron shouts there was a draft bill. Miliband tells him to calm down. "They promised a bill on social care, they have chosen not to put it in." He moves on to House of Lords reform. "I thought a Queen's Speech was supposed to reflect a government's priorities," he says. It's not a Tory priority, the DPM says there's other things he cares more about. "I'm bound to ask, if it's not a priority how on earth did it end up in the Queen's Speech? What's it doing gin there? Now the 0.7% promise. "He's not putting it in law. He keeps saying he's doing it when all he's doing is putting it in draft bills."

15:19 - Miliband jokes that everyone already thought Cameron was a core participant in the Leveson inquiry. He cites Cameron's text to Rebekah Brooks. "Sorry I couldn't have been as loyal to you as you were to me" it apparently reads. He says it shows who's side Cameron is on. "Isn't it time this government stopped governing for the few and started governing for the many?" OK, Cameron up next. Just as well. Some Tories were red faced with rage.

15:21 - Cameron lists the coalition achievements, which actually don't sound too bad when spoken quickly. It was just the start of clearing up the mess, he says.

15:22 - He cites foreign aid and standing up to Gaddafi. "All sides of this parliament can unite in defence of freedom," he goes on. Now Cameron cites the deceased MPs. I'm hearing Abu Qatada has won his right for appeal. That's an absolute disaster for Theresa May.

15:24 - Cameron jokes that when he was called to be told who was making the early speeches he heard "I've asked Nadine to do it". Very funny, and the Commons loves it.

15:26 - And now I hear Qatada's request to the European Court of Human Rights for an appeal against his deportation was rejected. I think I'll just keep my mouth shut about that for now until we have verified information.

15:27 - OK, serious business now. Denis MacShane says Cameron rolled out the red carpet for a defeated Bosnian candidate and then Sarkozy, who was defeated. Can he endorse Mitt Romney and make sure Obama is elected, he says?

15:29 - Cameron gives way to Keith Vaz, who he mistakenly calls "right honourable friend", prompting Labour MPs to ask "are you defecting Keith?" Wouldn't surprise me.

15:32 - Caroline Lucas (Green, lonely) asks why there is nothing for the environment in the Queen's Speech. "Is it because he doesn't want to show climate leadership or because of his chancellor"? Cameron is still reeling off foreign affairs matters which everyone agrees with.

15:34 - He's on the Speech proper now. Cameron says it's about spreading opportunity. He says Miliband had almost nothing in terms of "a costed credible alternative". He sounds like Brown four years ago. It doesn't pay to follow politics too long, you realise how cyclical it is.

15:36 - Cameron says it's a Queen's Speech for the "doers, the strivers, the ones who follow the rules". Jesse Norman (Con, looks out of place without red wine and roaring fireplace) says Lords reform should go to referendum. Cameron says all political parties put proposals for an elected Lords in all their manifestos. "This is only going to proceed if all parties work together towards this reform. I would ask people to work together across party lines to make sure that happens." That was more revealing than the section of the Queens Speech.

15:40 - Cameron's response is workmanlike and efficient, but it's hardly encouraging anyone. He does make good work of Labour failing to cost their proposals. "They've spent their bonus tax ten times over," he laughs. He makes a mess of Labour promises on it. "They've no idea whatsoever how to deal with this deficit." That was a very good attack from Cameron.

15:42 - Jack Straw, who nearly broke his back trying to secure House of Lords reform, asks for a pre-legislative referendum. Cameron doesn't like it. "That's a weapon that's been used by slightly unsavoury regimes over the years". Tom Clarke asks about cost. Cameron says a referendum would have "significant" costs.

15:44 - Cameron delivers the standard message - expanding the private sector, regulating the financial services sector and limiting the size of the public sector.

15:47 - The Qatada appeal was definitely rejected by the way.

15:49 - Cameron is asked why there is no lobbying bill in the Queens Speech. Cameron says Labour had 13 years to publish a register of lobbyists. The coalition has already doing it. He gets stronger. "We'll have a Queens Speech for the 2013 session packed with great bills, and the 2014 session - and when we've beaten the rabble opposite at the next election we'll be at it again," he says. His strongest moment so far.

15:52 - Now we're on crime. People are starting to leave, which tells you most of what you need to know about Cameron's statement. "This is a government that confronts the long term challenges that we face, not an opposition that thinks you can borrow your way out of debt," he says. "A government that is backing hard working people, not a coalition that says it's on their side,... but wants to heap debts on our children. Acting for the long term, governing in the national interest, this is a Queen's Speech for modern Britain." And with that, almost all the MPs file out the Commons.

15:58 - I'm going to nip upstairs to the prime minister's spokesman's huddle to get some information on what we've heard today. There'll be a short delay.

16:17 - OK, not much report back, although it's interesting to note that once forced into a corner the PM's spokesman is a little tougher on Lords reform that you might expect. He faced a barrage of questions about precisely how committed the government was to the reforms and kept repeating "it is a government bill" - as if to say 'the intention is to pass it'. Some journos pointed out that there is a contradiction between 'we are prepared to use the Parliament Act' (to force it through the Lords) and 'we will make sure we have consensus'. To that, the prime minister's spokesman said carefully: "We want to proceed on the basis of consensus". So they'll try for consensus but will proceed without it if necessary. Probably. It's a bit of a dog's breakfast.

16:21 - Ok, that's it from me for today. Have a pleasant evening.

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