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QUEEN'S SPEECH 1999

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The government's new legislative programme is set out in the Queen's speech. It is a radical and reforming programm...
The government's new legislative programme is set out in the Queen's speech. It is a radical and reforming programme based on promoting enterprise and fairness, and creating a modern Britain.

The government's first two legislative programmes vigorously took forward that objective. The Queen's Speech is a further step towards delivering the government's commitments - to build a strong economy, to modernise our schools and hospitals, to tackle crime and to reform the welfare state.

We are building on action to secure a platform of economic stability and steady growth which has led to low inflation, sound public finances and control of spending, and which has seen 700,000 new jobs since 1997.

The legislative programme set out in the Queen's Speech - a total of 28 bills - focuses on the modern economy, on modern public services and on the Government's priorities: crime, transport, welfare reform, health and education.

It includes a number of measures promoting enterprise, including bills supporting e-commerce, regulatory reform, financial services, insolvency and the Post Office.

There are measures promoting greater fairness, including supporting children with absent parents, decent pensions for all, tackling crime and drugs, protecting children in care, access to the countryside and improving race relations.

There are measures, too, aimed at the further modernisation of Britain, including giving people greater power over local council services, opening up Whitehall, and setting new standards in politics.

The government's pre-budget report set out our economic programme based on enterprise and fairness. The Queen's Speech sets out the government's legislative programme based on enterprise and fairness. We believe that this dual approach is central to creating a modern Britain - fit for the 21st century.

QUEEN'S SPEECH - BILLS

MAIN PROGRAMME

ARMED FORCES DISCIPLINE

Main points:

Reforms discipline procedures to bring into line with ECHR

Custody of suspect before charge or trial to be subject to approval of judicial officer

Improves safeguards for fair trial in summary dealing by commanding officer

Introduces right of appeal to a court compliant with ECHR

Maintains essential structure of current disciplinary systems

CARE STANDARDS

Main points:

Independent streamlined regulation system for care & children's homes

National standards and tough new powers to protect vulnerable people

New arrangements for inspecting private hospitals and clinics

New inspection system for early years services

General Social Care Council to raise professional social care standards

CHILD SUPPORT, PENSIONS AND SOCIAL SECURITY

Main points:

Replaces complex formula for child support liability with simple system

New penalties to ensure compliance

New child maintenance premium

Establishes state second pensions

Benefit entitlement to be linked to compliance with terms of community sentence

COUNTRYSIDE AMENITIES AND CONSERVATION

Main points:

Statutory right on foot to open countryside

Access restricted where necessary to take account of conservation, land management etc

Improvements to existing system of rights of way

Measures to prevent damage to sites of special scientific interest, and increase penalties

Increased powers to prosecute for wildlife species offences

CRIME AND PROTECTION OF THE PUBLIC

Main points:

Modernising and improving effectiveness of the probation service

Creating a single service to look after interests of children in family court proceedings

Introduces mandatory drug testing

Extends use of electronic monitoring of offenders

New scheme to help prevent sex offenders and other unsuitables working with children

CRIMINAL JUSTICE (MODE OF TRIAL)

Main points:

Remove ability of defendants to elect for Crown Court trial in either-way cases

Applies England and Wales

Omits requirement for defendant's consent to summary trial

Magistrates must consider effect on defendant's reputation etc of mode of trial

Right of appeal to Crown Court against magistrates decisions to try case themselves

E-COMMUNICATIONS

Main points:

Greater confidence in E-business through courts recognising electronic signatures

Sensible electronic option will provide for moving away from using paper

Ending formalities such as sealing

Possible establishment of kitemark scheme on electronic signing

Modernise procedures for modifying telecommunications licences

FINANCIAL SERVICES AUTHORITY

Main points:

Modern framework for regulation of financial services

Brings together separate regulatory bodies into single statutory regulator

New disciplinary powers to help fairness in UK financial markets

Single compulsory ombudsman and compensation schemes

Introduction of statutory oversight of Lloyd's

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

Main points:

Statutory right of access to information held by wide range of bodies across public sector

Subject to certain commissions and exemptions

Consider disclosure of information in public interest even where exemption applies

Duty to publish information proactively

Enforcement regime including Information Commissioner with wide powers

GOVERNMENT RESOURCES AND ACCOUNTING

Main points:

Modernises government accounting methods

Provides for resource accounting and budgeting

Biggest change since Gladstone

Provides for preparation and audit of consolidated accounts for whole public sector

Forms new body Partnerships UK

INVESTIGATORY POWERS

Main points:

Modernise law on interception of communications

Keeps abreast of changes in technology

Regulate use of covert surveillance in accordance with ECHR

Powers to ensure law enforcement not hampered by spread of encryption technology

Provides clear avenue of complaint for people who believe privacy is breached by state

LEARNING AND SKILLS

Main points:

Establishes new Learning and Skills Councils to replace TECs

Responsible for planning and funding of all post-16 education andtraining

New inspection regime to raise standards

Creates new youth support service to help people stay on in education and training

Establishes new Council for Education and Training for Wales

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Main points:

Provides opportunity for directly elected mayors

Councils required to set up cabinet-style executive to lead and run council affairs

New roles for councillors to scrutinise executive and champion people's interests

Statutory code of conduct for councillors including disqualification if warranted

New powers for councils in response to modernisation and improvement

NORTHERN IRELAND POLICING

Main points:

Implements Patten Commission report following consultation

Provide for new police accountability bodies

Provide for equal numbers of Catholics and Protestants to be recruited to NI police

Change name of the RUC

Provide for new declaration to be made by police officers

POLITICAL PARTIES, ELECTIONS AND REFERENDUMS

Main points:

Prohibit foreign donations to political parties

Requires public disclosure of large donors, & donations to individuals as well as parties

Establishes independent Electoral Commission

Sets caps on election and referendum spending

Provides for fair conduct of referendums

POSTAL SERVICES

Main points:

Converts Post Office into public limited company wholly owned by Government

Confirms no share disposal without further legislation except for limited alliances

New independent Postal Services Commission with powers to regulate prices

PSC powers to licence providers in monopoly area and introduce greater competition

Restuctures statutory users council to improve consumer representation

PREVENTION OF TERRORISM

Main points:

Permanent UK-wide anti-terrorism legislation

Definition of terrorism to apply for first time to 'domestic' terrorism

Strengthened powers to tackle terrorist financing and confiscate terrorist assets

Judge (rather than a Minister) able to consider police requests for extension of detention

Additional temporary Northern Ireland measures

RACE RELATIONS (AMENDMENT)

Main points:

Post-Stephen Lawrence inquiry

Extends Race Relations Act to all public services

Unlawful for public authority to discriminate on racial grounds in carrying out functions

Includes the police

Makes police chief officers liable for acts of racial discrimination by police officers

REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE

Main points:

Gives effect to Howarth Working Party on Electoral Procedures

Provides for system of rolling electoral registration

Makes it easier for people to apply for and cast absent votes

Restricts sale of electoral register

Allows pilots for innovations in electoral procedures in local government elections

SEXUAL OFFENCES (AMENDMENT)

Main points:

Equalises age of consent for male homosexuals

Age equalised with heterosexuals and lesbians at 16, and 17 in NIreland

Equalises law on age of consent on homosexual offences with heterosexuals

Introduces new offence of abuse of trust

Offence applies to someone over 18 in a position of trust with someone under 18

TRANSPORT

Main points:

Establishes Strategic Rail Authority

Makes railway regulation more effective and accountable

Gives local authorities power to improve local bus services through partnerships

Powers to introduce charges on congested roads & workplace parking charges

PPP for National Air Traffic Services

TRUSTEE

Main points:

Gives trustees same power to make investments as they would have as absolute owners

Safeguards to protect beneficiaries' interests including uniform statutory duty of care

Gives trustees power to purchase land

Enables trusts to acquire and hold wider range of investments

Arises from report published by Law Commission

UTILITIES

Main points:

Gives utility regulators new primary duty to protect consumer interest

Replaces individual regulators with regulatory boards in specified sectors

Requires regulators to give reasons for key decisions

Establishes new consumer councils for each utility sector

Provides powers for ministers to regulate to promote energy efficiency

OTHER BILLS

CHILDREN (LEAVING CARE)

Main points:

Removes perverse financial incentive for local authorities to force people out of care at 16

Local authorities must assess care needs of 16-17-year olds whether staying in care or not

All eligible 16-year olds in care to have pathway plan mapping route to independence

All eligible young people to have young person's adviser

Local authorities must assist care leaver in higher education with vacation accommodation

COMPANIES HOUSE

Main points:

Changes amount of detail registered by companies

Gives wider powers to company registrar to determine how information is sent to him

Provides for electronic delivery of information

Simplifies registrar services charging regimes

Allows for prescription of length of time paper documents must be kept

CROWN PROSECUTIONS INSPECTORATE

Main points:

Creates an independent Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate

Reports directly to Attorney General

Annual report to be laid before Parliament

Open competition for inspectors - significant recruitment from private sector

Power for Attorney General to refer any CPS issues to new inspectorate

FUR FARMING (PROHIBITION)

Main points:

Prohibits keeping of animals solely or primarily for slaughter for fur

13 licensed fur farms in England (none in rest of GB)

Winding-down period of not less than two years

Provision made to allow for compensation scheme for certain types of losses

Disputes over compensation referrable to arbitration

INSOLVENCY

Main points:

Assist rescue of companies in financial difficulties by staying creditors' actions

Improve procedures for disqualifying unfit company directors

Ensure creditors' rights to recover what they are owed

Streamline process for reporting possible criminal conduct of company directors

Provide powers for notice to be given before administrative receiver appointed

LIMITED LIABILITY PARTNERSHIPS

Main points:

Provides for formation of limited liability partnerships

Businesses have the option to operate with limited liability while retaining partnership

Make clear relationships between members and the LLP

Sets outs taxation position of LLPs

Provides power to make laws on insolvency and winding up of partnerships

NUCLEAR SAFEGUARDS

Main points:

Puts into law international agreements on non-proliferation

Enhances the ability to detect or deter clandestine nuclear weapons programmes

Enables provision of information unrestricted by confidentiality or disclosure limits

Provides powers to serve notices requiring information to be provided

Criminal sanctions for non-compliance, and rights to enter premises to obtain information

REGULATORY REFORM

Main points:

Removes barriers in existing legislation to wider application of deregulatory powers

Expands limited powers of the 1994 Deregulation and Contracting-Out Act

Allows orders to modernise, simplify and clarify the law

Adds to protection and procedural safeguards of 1994 act

Updates requirement that subject of deregulation orders must have been made before 1995

SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS

Main points:

Raises standards of achievement for all children with special needs

Improves services to parents by establishing better partnership arrangements

New conciliation procedures to resolve disputes between parents and LEAs

Reinforces powers of Special Educational Needs Tribunal

Strengthens rights of children with SEN to be educated in mainstream schools

ADVANCE DRAFTING

COMMONHOLD AND LEASEHOLD REFORM

Main points:

Make it easier for flat leaseholders collectively to buy their freehold

Introduce new form of tenure:commonhold

May also: give leaseholders right to manage their own building

: introduce new controls to improve building management standards

: protect service charge funds

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

Main points:

Ratifies Rome statute establishing International Criminal Court

Enable UK to fulfil obligations to co-operate with the court

New measures on arrest and transfer of suspects, gathering and taking of evidence

Enable imprisonment in UK prisons of people convicted by the ICC

Incorporate into UK law crimes in Rome Statute - including genocide, war crimes

WATER

Main points:

Overhaul system of water abstraction licensing

Require water companies and abstractors to conserve water in their own operations

Require water companies to produce drought plans

Provide opportunity if needed to promote competition in water industry

Provide opportunity to consult on water quality improvements

QUEENS SPEECH

MY LORDS AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

This is my government's third legislative programme. It aims to build on my government's programme of reform as they seek to modernise the country and its institutions to meet the challenges of the new millennium.

My government's aim is to promote fairness and enterprise, providing people with real opportunities to liberate their potential. They will focus on continued modernising of our economy, the promotion of enterprise, reform of the welfare system, protection of the public, and the development of a safe transport system.

The central economic objectives of my government are high and stable levels of economic growth and employment. More people are in work in Britain today than ever before, with employment up by 700,000, and long term unemployment has halved.

My government are helping people back into work. The New Deal has helped 145,000 young people into employment.

My government have introduced a national minimum wage and a new 10p starting rate of tax. They have reformed National Insurance and from next April will cut the basic rate of income tax. The new Working Families Tax Credit, introduced in October, is raising incomes of working families.

My government will continue to manage the public finances prudently, in accordance with the Code for Fiscal Stability and the two fiscal rules.

The new system of monetary policy-making ensures that interest rate decisions are taken in the best long-term interests of the economy. As a result, long-term interest rates are around their lowest level for almost thirty years. Inflation is historically low and expected to meet my government's target of 2 .5 per cent.

My government will continue to work with others to promote economic reform in Europe. They will work for more open markets, greater economic growth and new job creation.

To prepare Britain as a dynamic, knowledge-based economy my Government will introduce a Bill to promote electronic commerce and electronic government, improving our ability to compete in the digital marketplace.

Financial services lie at the heart of a modern economy. The financial services industry accounts for 7 per cent of our national income, employing over 1 million people. With the new Financial Services Authority, my government are determined to maintain and advance the UK's position, and the Bill introduced last Session will be carried over to this.

As part of my government's drive to address inappropriate and over-complex regulation, legislation will be introduced to increase the effectiveness of the power to remove regulatory burdens.

My government will introduce a Bill to enable the Post Office to improve its services and to compete more effectively in UK and overseas markets.

To put the consumer first, cut prices and make utility regulation more transparent and accountable, a Bill will be introduced to modernise the utility regulation system.

Legislation will be introduced to assist the rescue of viable businesses in short term difficulties, and improve the procedure for disqualifying unfit company directors.

My government believe a stronger and fairer society strengthens our economy. They will continue to give young people and the long-term unemployed the opportunity to learn new skills and fulfil their potential.

Education remains my government's number one priority. My government will continue to implement policies to reward good teaching, reduce infant class sizes, and continue the drive to build on the improvements in literacy and numeracy already achieved.

Having focused change upon primary and secondary education, a Bill will now be introduced to establish a new Learning and Skills Council to improve standards for Post 16 education and training.

As part of my government's drive against social exclusion, a Bill will be introduced to improve the help available to young people leaving local authority care.

To build on my government's modernisation of the welfare system, a Bill will be introduced to reform child support so that money gets to children more speedily and effectively. It will introduce further pension reforms, including the State Second Pension which will give more help to low earners, carers and long term disabled people with broken work records. And it will reinforce people's obligations to society by linking benefit entitlement to compliance with community sentences.

Legislation will be introduced to improve the education of children with Special Educational Needs. My government are determined to promote fairness of opportunity for disabled people building on the establishment of a Disability Rights Commission.

MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

Estimates for the public service will be laid before you.

MY LORDS AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

My government's ten year programme of modernisation for health and social care will provide faster, more convenient services to help improve the country's health.

As part of this programme, a Bill will be introduced to improve standards and stamp out abuse in social services, in private and voluntary healthcare, and in childcare.

My government are determined to reduce crime and improve public protection. A Bill will be introduced to extend the use of mandatory drug testing in the criminal justice system. It will reform the probation services in England and Wales, create a new Children and Family Court Advisory Service, and prevent unsuitable people from working with children.

A Bill will be introduced to give the courts themselves the power to decide whether certain defendants should be tried by jury or by magistrates.

The Bill to equalise the age of consent, and strengthen the protection of young people from abuse of trust, will be re-introduced.

My government are determined to combat terrorism. A Bill will be introduced to modernise and make permanent the powers available to respond to all forms of terrorism.

A Bill will be introduced to ensure that the interception of communications, and the use of other intrusive techniques, continues to be regulated for the protection both of the rights of individuals and of society as a whole.

The report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence raised profound issues for our multiracial society. A Bill will be introduced which will make it unlawful for public bodies to racially discriminate, implementing one of the report's key recommendations.

A Bill will be introduced to give people greater access to the countryside and to improve protection for wildlife. And my government will continue their leading role in protecting the global climate.

My government are committed to creating a modern integrated and safe transport system, providing more choice for the travelling public. Following the recent tragedy at Paddington my government will ensure that rail safety is a top priority. A Bill will be re-introduced to establish a Strategic Rail Authority. It will contain measures to improve bus services and reduce road congestion. It will include measures for National Air Traffic Services to separate safety regulation from operational matters, and deliver major investment in the next generation technology.

My government will bring forward a Bill to introduce the latest accounting methods to improve value for money in Whitehall and generate more investment in public infrastructure and front line services.

A Bill will be brought forward to allow firms to incorporate with limited liability whilst organising themselves as partnerships.

A Bill will be introduced to modernise the powers and duties of trustees.

MY LORDS AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

In Northern Ireland, my government will continue to work closely with the political parties and the Irish Government to secure the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. A Bill will be presented to implement proposals from the Independent Commission on Policing, following the completion of consultation.

My government are committed to making devolution in Scotland and Wales work and to continue the process of decentralising government in the interests of all the people in the United Kingdom.

A Bill will be introduced to set up an Electoral Commission to regulate the funding and spending of political parties and organisations. My government will also bring forward a Bill to reform our electoral procedures to make it easier for people to participate in elections.

My government are committed to further long-term reform of the House of Lords and will look forward to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords.

A Bill will be brought forward to reform local government to make it more innovative and accountable.

My government will introduce a Bill on Freedom of Information. It will give everyone the right of access to information held across the public sector for the first time.

My government will continue to provide greater openness by publishing legislation in draft for public scrutiny. This will include Bills enabling the United Kingdom to ratify the International Criminal Court, promoting more efficient water use and leasehold reform as well as commonhold for flat owners.

Other measures will be laid before you.

TheDuke of Edinburgh and I look forward to receiving a State Visit by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Prince Henrik in February next year.

We also look forward to our visit to Australia in March.

My government will work towards a new partnership between Britain and the Overseas Territories. They will take forward the offer of British Citizenship to the people of the Territories.

My government will take a leading role with our partners to shape the future development of the European Union. They will promote the enlargement of the Union, support co-operation in the fight against cross-border crime and work to improve the effectiveness of the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy and its development programmes.

My government will ensure that NATO remains the foundation of Britain's defence and security. They will seek to continue the work of adapting the Alliance to meet the challenges and opportunities of the new century.

A Bill will be introduced to reform aspects of the armed forces' system for administering discipline.

My government will seek to modernise the United Nations. They will work to make the Security Council more effective and more representative.

Over the coming year, which is the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, my government will build on their work to strengthen protection for children. My government will take further measures to meet its target of abolishing child poverty in 20 years. It will play an active part in the Council of Europe Conference against Racism.

My government believe this is a substantial programme of work, addressing their priorities and helping the country to meet the challenges of the new millennium.

MY LORDS AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

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