Mr. Speaker: As the House will recall, it was decided earlier this month to dispense with most of the Sessional Orders. In their place, it was agreed that the Speaker should make a brief statement about the duties and responsibilities of Members. I am grateful to the Standards and Privileges Committee for its advice and suggestions.
Our privileges allow us to conduct our debate without fear of outside interference. In particular, we enjoy freedom of speech, both in proceedings in Committee and debates on the Floor of the House. It is a privilege that comes with our membership since the Bill of Rights. This is one of a number of great privileges that we should all seek to preserve.
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It is up to each one of us to ensure that we, both as individuals and collectively, do not abuse the rights that we have been given. They should only be exercised in the public interest. We must ensure that we follow the letter and spirit of the code of conduct and related rules which we have approved to regulate our business.
Each Member is here to represent the views of his or her constituents and to participate in the process of democracy that we all cherish. It is the hallmark of our procedures that every Member has the right to speak and to be listened to. We should ensure that every Member is heard with the respect to which we are all entitled, regardless of the views that are being expressed.
Every member of the public has the right to expect that his or her Member of Parliament will behave with civility, in the best traditions of fairness, with the highest level of probity and with integrity. Their views are influenced by our behaviour here and if we are to maintain and increase public support, we should bear it in mind that how we behave in this House has a substantial bearing on the levels of confidence and trust which others have in us.
I turn now to security, not only for Members of Parliament, but also for our staff and for the staff of this House, who work so hard on our behalf. In the coming months, further security measures will be put in place to ensure that this House remains a safe and secure place in which to conduct our business. In this respect, Members would not expect me to go into detail, but these measures must ensure that the House of Commons continues in its tradition of welcoming the maximum number of visitors, both from home and abroad.
Before the Clerk gives the customary First Reading to the Outlawries Bill, I must put to the House the Sessional Order to the Metropolitan Police. We will continue to pass this Order until we have the new legislation, which the Government have promised, about demonstrations[Interruption.] Order. We will continue to pass this Order until we have the new legislation, which the Government have promised the Speaker, about demonstrations and security around Parliament.
That the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis do take care that the passages through the streets leading to this House be kept free and open and that no obstruction be permitted to hinder the passage of Members to and from this House during the Sitting of Parliament, or to hinder Members by any means in the pursuit of their Parliamentary duties in the Parliamentary Estate; and that the Serjeant at Arms attending this House do communicate this Order to the Commissioner.
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.
My Government attaches the highest importance to extending educational opportunity so that all individuals can realise their full potential and the country can benefit from the talents of all its people. A Bill will be introduced to streamline the regime of school inspections to help raise standards for every child in every school.
My Government recognises that we live in a time of global uncertainty with an increased threat from international terrorism and organised crime. Measures to extend opportunity will be accompanied by legislation to increase security for all.
Legislation will be introduced to establish the Serious Organised Crime Agency, and the powers the police and others have to fight crime will be strengthened. In particular, the Bill will introduce new measures to deal with harassment by animal rights extremists.
Legislation will be introduced to reform the criminal defence service, making better use of legal aid resources. A draft Bill will be published to support those with legitimate civil claims and reform the system of tribunals.
Legislation will be introduced to combat discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of religion, as well as race, sex and disability. A single Commission for Equality and Human Rights will be established.
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