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House of Commons

Wednesday 6 December 2000

The House met at twenty-six minutes past Eleven o'clock


[Mr. Speaker in the Chair]

Message to attend her Majesty:

The House went; and having returned:

The sitting was suspended until half-past Two o'clock, and then resumed.

2.30 pm

On resuming--





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Queen's Speech

Mr. Speaker: I have to acquaint the House that this House has this day attended Her Majesty in the House of Peers, and that Her Majesty was pleased to make a Most Gracious Speech from the Throne to both Houses of Parliament, of which I have, for greater accuracy, obtained a copy.

I shall direct that the terms of the Gracious Speech be printed in the Votes and Proceedings. Copies are available in the Vote Office.

The Gracious Speech was as follows:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government will continue to pursue its central economic objective of high and stable levels of growth and employment. My Government will ensure the continued economic stability which has enabled it to increase the resources available for education, health, transport, and police services. My Government will reflect these policies in its Finance Bill.

This is my Government's fourth legislative programme. My Government's main Bills for the coming Session will focus on improving public services and cutting crime.

My Government also plans other major Bills and other significant initiatives, particularly in secondary education with the creation of more specialist schools, urban school reform and improved teaching in the early years of secondary education.

My Government is determined to combat all aspects of crime to protect all members of our society. My Government will introduce legislation to modernise and improve law enforcement by, for example, tackling disorderly conduct. Legislation will be introduced to regulate the private security industry.

A Bill will be introduced to cut vehicle crime, reduce opportunities to dispose of stolen vehicles, and extend the time limit for prosecution for vehicle theft.

A Bill will be published in draft to increase powers against money laundering and make it easier to recover the proceeds of crime.

The Bill to give Courts themselves the power to decide whether certain defendants should be tried by jury or by magistrates, will be reintroduced.

Legislation will also be brought forward to reduce benefit fraud. This will enable more information to be obtained to prevent fraud and will provide power to withdraw or reduce benefits where a person has twice been convicted of benefit fraud.

My Government remains committed to the founding principles of the National Health Service. My Government's NHS Plan showed how it would take forward further reform of health services to improve standards. Legislation will be introduced to support many of the commitments in the Plan, in particular to improve the performance of the NHS. The legislation will also take forward my Government's response to the Royal Commission on Long Term Care for the Elderly.

A Bill will be brought forward to ban the advertising and promotion of tobacco products.

My Government continues to attach the highest importance to improving education. It has already secured a number of changes to the law to further this end, including legislation to reform the training of

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teachers, to secure improved school standards and to create the Learning and Skills Councils. My Government will introduce a Bill to improve the framework for meeting special educational needs and access to learning for disabled people. During the new Session, my Government will continue to work to improve standards in education.

Legislation will be introduced to extend the functions of the Children's Commissioner for Wales, to provide better protection for children in Wales.

A Bill will be introduced to increase the effectiveness of the power to reduce regulatory burdens by removing inappropriate and over-complex regulation.

Legislation will be brought forward to ease the process of buying and selling homes, and to improve the protection given to homeless people. Progress will also be made on the purchase of freeholds by leaseholders, and on commonhold, a new form of tenure for flat-owners.

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

A Bill will be introduced to enable a free vote to take place on the future of hunting with dogs.

My Government has appointed Lord Cullen to head an Inquiry into safety on our railways. A Bill will be drafted to provide for safer travel on the railways, in the air, at sea and on the roads, and will take forward proposals for revitalising health and safety at work.

A draft Bill will be published to improve the transparency of export controls and to establish their purpose.

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 published in draft on the implementation of the recommendations of the review of the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland.

My Government is committed to making devolution in Scotland and Wales work and to continuing the process of decentralising Government in the interests of all the people in the United Kingdom.

A Bill will be introduced to maintain the legislation relating to the Armed Forces for the next five years.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to our State Visit to Norway.

My Government will continue to work with our partners to shape the future of the European Union. It will work for rapid progress on the enlargement negotiations, and for reform of the institutions of the European Union to prepare them for a wider membership.

My Government will continue to ensure that NATO remains the foundation of Britain's defence and security. My Government will continue to work to make the United Nations Security Council more effective and representative. It will support efforts to improve the United Nations' capacity to undertake peacekeeping operations.

A White Paper will be published outlining how my Government will work to shape the forces of globalisation to benefit the world's poor.

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My Government believes that those who commit crimes against humanity should be brought to justice. It will introduce a Bill to enable the UK to ratify the statute of the International Criminal Court.

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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