Queen's Speech lays out a radical agenda

The Queen's Speech marks the state opening of parliament
The Queen's Speech marks the state opening of parliament

By politics.co.uk staff

Plans to reform parliament, hold a referendum on electoral reform and repeal authoritarian legislation were delivered in the Queen's Speech today.

The historic occasion saw the first state opening of parliament with a coalition government in over half a century.

It was arguable the most extensive Queen's Speech since 1997 and it will be until November next year before a similar event is held. There are 22 bills and one draft bill in the package.


Queen's Speech: Lib-Con bills in full

"My government's legislative programme will be based upon the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility," the speech began.

Changes to national insurance will be rushed through while the welfare system will be given a substantial shake-up.

Queen's Speech: Key issues

Labour's tripartite system of financial regulation will be dismantled, with the Bank of England losing control of 'micro-prudential regulation'.

The Treasury will be given statutory authority to incur expenditure in making payments to Equitable Life policyholders.

Royal Mail will be part-privatised, although the Post Office will remain nationalised.

Queen's Speech: Could this be the most radical government of our time?

In education, the academies programme will be massively expanded, with local councils no longer part of the consultation process and the education secretary able to demand a local authority gives up its control over a school.

Elected police bosses will finally be established.

The speeding up of the reduction of the structural deficit did not recieve a bill, but it was mentioned in the first line of the speech.

Queen's Speech: Reactions

Many Tory manifesto commitments are honoured in the speech, but Lib Dem policy areas, such as political reform and the safeguarding of civil liberties, enjoy extensive and wide-ranging legislation with 'early slots' in the programme.

Fixed-term parliaments, sanctions against corrupt MPs and a referendum on voting reform all take pride of place. Constituencies will be redrawn to ensure all are of roughly similar size.

A freedom (great repeal) bill will scrap reams of New Labour legislation. ID cards will be abolished, as will the identity database, and the DNA database will be more heavily regulated. Rules on peaceful protest will be relaxed.

Queen's Speech: Take our poll

There is space for tension between the coalition partners on the subject of Europe, however, where a European Union bill will ensure any future transfer of powers to the European Union requires a vote.

Vince Cable was one of the losers of today's speech. While George Osborne's Treasury controlled five bills, Dr Cable's Department of Business rarely appeared.

Dr Cable has also had to face demands for substantial cuts in his department and the loss of banking reform, which many expected him to author.

As if to underline the point, the business secretary was talking with his EU counterparts in Brussels as the Queen's Speech was being delivered.

Queen's Speech in full

Analysts are closely watching the relationship between Dr Cable and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, who is understood to have been far more optimistic about the fortunes of a Lib-Con coalition than his former Treasury spokesman.

Responding to the speech, interim Labour leader Harriet Harman took issue with the 55% clause in the parliamentary reform proposals which would dissolve parliament, as well as some aspects of spending cuts and the stability of the Lib-Con coalition.

"It will take more than three quid a week tax break to keep this marriage together," she said, mocking the Tory policy for recognition of marriage in the tax system, which the Lib Dems oppose.

Harman takes the coalition to task

Details of this year's Queen's Speech were leaked to the Sunday Telegraph this weekend. The leak angered many parliamentarians but the prime minister's spokesman confirmed yesterday there would be no formal inquiry into what happened.

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