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QUEEN'S SPEECH SUGGESTS BLOCK ON CONTENTIOUS BILLS

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Prime Minister John Major's back to basics legislative programme announced last week has either delayed or excluded...
Prime Minister John Major's back to basics legislative programme announced last week has either delayed or excluded several contentious Bills resisted by councils. Legislation to force the sell off of council airports and other council assets, deregulate London buses and establish an environmental protection agency by 1995 were missing from last Thursday's Queen's Speech.

But local authority association officers fear spending on council run airports could be used to reduce their capital allocations. This could be achieved in next week's Budget or through the activation of long awaited regulations governing council controlled companies.

An Environment Agencies' Paving Bill will let the DoE prepare for an agency but it said it had no timetable for its introduction. It is the only Bill the DoE will sponsor in the forthcoming parliamentary session. The withdrawal of bus deregulation has been blamed on Conservative Party fears of further injuring its chances in next May's London council elections. The Department of Transport is also wrestling with rail privatisation and will sponsor no Bills this session. Bills to reorganise council boundaries in Scotland and Wales were introduced as promised. But the new Welsh authorities will be delayed a year. The Deregulation Bill will allow councils and government departments to delegate some functions directly to the private sector. But it is not yet clear whether these functions will be set out in the Bill - to reassure councils which are worried it will be used to enforce wider privatisations - or leave all definitions to later regulations. Plans to create a 'mum's army' of teachers have also been dropped.
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