The Queen has delivered her speech to Parliament this morning (Wednesday), setting out the Government’s legislative programme for the next year. Eleven new bills were included in the speech, with housing and pension reform being two of the biggest issues on the agenda to be tackled. Another topic for the coalition to tackle in its last year is EU reform.
At its core the speech had the issue of the UK’s economic recovery, opening with a pledge to continue bringing down the deficit and cut taxes “to increase people’s financial security”.
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There was also a promise to keep mortgage and interest rates low – despite the fact that the Bank of England has hinted that it will increase the base rate prior to the General Election.
The speech revealed that ministers intend to keep backing the Help to Buy scheme, even though critics have warned that it is causing a potentially damaging housing bubble.
The Government has also pledged to boost construction in the UK in an attempt to tackle the housing shortage.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Nick Clegg argued that the measures laid out in the Queen’s Speech are “unashamedly pro-work, pro-business and pro-aspiration”.
All-in-all there were 11 new bills introduced by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament.
Last year there were 19 new bills, a fact which could strengthen Labour’s claims that the coalition is now a “zombie government” which has run out of steam.
Labour leader Ed Miliband criticized the speech. He said: “We need action, we need answers, we need a programme for government equal to the scale of the challenge our country faces.
“We would have a Queen’s Speech with legislation which would make work pay, reform our banks, freeze energy bills and build homes again in Britain. A Queen’s Speech which signals a new direction for Britain, not one which offers more of the same.”
Her Majesty arrived at Parliament in the new state coach created to mark the Diamond Jubilee.
The coach is made from pieces of some of Britain’s most historical artefacts including fragments from Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree, wood from 10 Downing Street, a piece of oak from Nelson’s ship HMS Victory and metal from a Battle of Waterloo musket ball.
The carriage, hailed as a living time capsule, was created by Australian Jim Frecklington, who learned his trade working in the Royal Mews.
He has spent the last decade building the majority of the royal carriage in his workshop in Manly, a suburb of Sydney.
The 11 new bills are:
Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill (England and Wales)
National Insurance Contributions Bill (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)
Infrastructure Bill (England)
Pension Tax Bill (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)
Private Pensions Bill (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)
Childcare Payments Bill (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)
Modern Slavery Bill (England and Wales)
Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill (England and Wales)
Service Complaints Bill (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)
Serious Crime Bill (England and Wales – with certain provisions elsewhere)
Recall of MPs Bill (UK-wide)
Draft Governance of National Parks (England) and the Broads Bill (England only)
Draft Riot (Damages) Act Bill (England and Wales only)
Draft Protection of Charities Bill (England and Wales)
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