13 Nov 2002 : Column 1

THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

OFFICIAL REPORT

IN THE SECOND SESSION OF THE FIFTY–THIRD PARLIAMENT OF THE

UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND [WHICH OPENED 13 JUNE 2001]

FIFTY–FIRST YEAR OF THE REIGN OF

HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II

SIXTH SERIES

VOLUME 394

FIRST VOLUME OF SESSION 2002–2003

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House of Commons

Wednesday 13 November 2002

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

PRAYERS

[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—

SESSIONAL ORDERS

Elections

Ordered,


Resolved,


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Resolved,


Resolved,


Ordered,


Ordered,



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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's main priorities are economic stability, investment and reform in public services and a constructive foreign policy.

To this end, my Government will maintain sound public finances and will continue to take action to secure high levels of employment.

This approach will enable my Government to continue to invest in the public services, while supporting major programmes of reform on health, education, transport and crime.

At the heart of my Government's legislative programme is a commitment to reform and rebalance the criminal justice system to deliver justice for all and to safeguard the interests of victims, witnesses and communities.

A Bill will be introduced to reform sentencing arrangements and criminal procedures.

Sentencing will be reformed to ensure that the punishment is appropriate for the offender. New types of sentence will be introduced to protect the public from dangerous offenders, help reduce re-offending and deal with young offenders.

The Bill will also allow retrials for those acquitted of serious offences where new and compelling evidence emerges. It will also simplify the rules of evidence to allow judge and jury to hear all the facts, including relevant previous convictions of a defendant.

Legislation will also be introduced to reform the courts system. It will bring together Magistrates' Courts and the Crown Court to work more effectively under a single organisation. New sanctions will allow courts to enforce the payment of fines more efficiently.

My Government will introduce a Bill to tackle anti-social behaviour that damages communities.

A Bill will be brought forward to modernise the laws on sexual offences and to strengthen the framework of penalties for sex offenders to protect the public.

A Bill will also be introduced to improve international co-operation in tackling crime, including drugs trafficking, and to modernise the arrangements for international mutual assistance to catch criminals.

My Government will bring forward legislation to streamline the licensing system for premises selling alcohol. This will abolish fixed opening hours and introduce a range of measures to reduce anti-social behaviour.

My Government will continue to modernise the delivery of healthcare based on the founding principles of the National Health Service.

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Legislation will be brought forward to devolve power and resources to frontline staff; give greater freedom to successful hospitals while increasing their accountability to local communities; and to introduce an independent health inspectorate.

A Bill will also be introduced to help ensure that local authorities support older people awaiting discharge from hospital.

Raising educational standards remains my Government's main priority for Britain's future prosperity. Secondary school reform will continue to promote opportunity and choice through greater diversity for parents and pupils. University reform proposals will be published to improve access and build on excellence.

My Government wants to create a welfare state based on giving people rights and responsibilities. They will pursue proposals that focus on the importance of work as part of our social security system. They will also bring forward proposals to tackle problems of truancy.

A Bill will be brought forward to establish a Railway Accident Investigation Branch in the light of Lord Cullen's recommendations on transport safety and reform the way railways are regulated to improve services for the public.

My Government will introduce a Bill to modernise local government by improving the delivery of local services through better financial management and greater freedom for councils based on performance. Legislation will also be introduced to provide for the holding of referendums on the issue of regional governance in England.

Legislation will be brought forward to reform the broadcasting and telecommunications industry by promoting competition and investment and giving powers to the Office of Communications.

Measures will be brought forward to protect our environment including legislation on the conservation and proper management of water.

My Government will also introduce legislation to speed up the planning system while improving the involvement of local communities.

Members of the House of Commons

Estimates for the Public Services will be laid before you.

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 Belfast Agreement. Legislation will be brought forward on policing in Northern Ireland.

My Government maintains its commitment to devolution in Scotland and Wales. A Bill will be introduced to reform the provision of health services in Wales.

A Bill will be introduced to enable Parliament to reach a conclusion on hunting with dogs.

Parliament will be invited to scrutinise legislation in draft on a number of measures, reflecting the importance that my Government places on pre-legislative scrutiny by Parliament.

Legislation in draft will be published to improve both housing standards and standards of management of private rented accommodation by landlords.

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Draft legislation will be published on the management of nuclear liabilities. A draft Bill will also be published to reform the laws on corruption.

My Government looks forward to considering the report from the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform.

Other measures will be laid before you.


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