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House of Commons

Tuesday 17 May 2005

The House met at twenty-five 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.

Members Sworn

The following Members took and subscribed the Oath, or made and subscribed the Affirmation required by Law:

Speaker's Statement

2.38 pm

Mr. Speaker: May I congratulate all Members on their success in being elected to this, the 54th Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. May I particularly congratulate those who have been elected to the House for the first time. The House always has sympathy with former Members who have lost out in the electoral contest, but there is no doubt that the House also benefits from the regular infusion of fresh blood. I am sure that that will be true on this occasion.

Great efforts have been made by the authorities of the House to ensure that Members, particularly new Members, have access to all information and briefing that they are likely to need about the House's services and facilities, its rules and procedures, and its conventions. You probably feel that you have more information than you can digest, but I urge you to make the effort and to attend as many briefing sessions as possible. Longer-serving Members are a valuable source of guidance and help. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] There is more. But—dare I say it?—their advice is not invariably up to date and reliable. There is no substitute
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for reading the documentation for yourself and seeking authoritative advice if you are in any doubt. Certainly, it will be no excuse for Members who break one of the House's rules to claim that they were not aware of it—at least, not after the first few weeks.

I draw your attention in particular to the House's code of conduct, which we should all observe in letter and in spirit, and to the rules that regulate the proper use of House facilities and allowances, which are also covered by the code. As the Freedom of Information Act has brought home to us, Members are answerable not just to the House but to the public for their conduct in this place. The same applies to behaviour in this Chamber. This House is rightly the place for strong and passionate argument and disagreement, but nothing does more to turn the public off our proceedings than debates that regularly descend into petty point scoring, spite and personalities. I hope that this Parliament will be characterised by robust debate, tempered with mutual respect.

Security is likely to be a continuing concern during this Parliament. Our recently appointed security co-ordinator is working, with the Serjeant at Arms and Black Rod, on a thorough review of our security precautions. I look to all Members to co-operate fully with any new measures that may need to be introduced. I also expect all Members to observe current security requirements, including the requirement to wear your security pass when moving around within the parliamentary estate.

Before the Clerk gives the customary First Reading to the Outlawries Bill, I shall put to the House the Sessional Order to the Metropolitan police. Before the Dissolution, legislation was enacted on the control of demonstrations and other activities in the environs of Parliament, including Parliament square, but I understand that this will not be brought into effect until later this year. I must express my personal hope that the Government will indeed put the new legislation into effect as soon as possible. That will make it unnecessary for the House to pass the Sessional Order again in future.


Metropolitan Police



A Bill for the more effectual preventing Clandestine Outlawries was read the First time, and ordered to be read a Second time.

Chairman of Ways and Means and First and Second Deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means


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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 appropriate place 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 economic policies which entrench stability and promote long-term growth and prosperity.

To this end, my Government will continue to secure low inflation and sound public finances.

My Government will build on its programme of reform and accelerate modernisation of the public services to promote opportunity and fairness. My Government will bring forward legislation in the key areas of public service delivery: education; health; welfare; and crime.

Education remains my Government's main priority. My Government will further reform the education system to improve quality and choice in the provision of schooling, and build on the progress already made to improve educational standards for all.

Legislation will be brought forward to offer greater support for working families by extending maternity benefits and improving the provision of child care.

My Government will continue to reform the National Health Service in a way that maintains its founding principles. Measures will be brought forward to introduce more choice and diversity in healthcare provision and to continue to improve the quality of health services and hospital hygiene. Legislation to restrict smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces will also be introduced.

A Bill will be brought forward to support patients who wish to seek redress should they experience problems with their healthcare.

My Government will continue its reform of the welfare state, in order to reduce poverty further, offer greater equality, and match rights with responsibilities.

My Government will introduce legislation to reform support for housing costs.

A Bill will be introduced to establish benefits which will facilitate a return to employment, while offering long-term support for those unable to work.

My Government will begin long-term reform to provide sustainable income for those in retirement. A Bill will be introduced to improve protection of consumers by bringing home reversion plans within the scope of the Financial Services Authority.

My Government is committed to creating safe and secure communities, and fostering a culture of respect.

Legislation will be taken forward to introduce an identity cards scheme.

A Bill will be introduced to give police and local communities new powers to tackle knives, guns and alcohol-related violence.
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Further legislation will be introduced to tighten the immigration and asylum system in a way that is fair, flexible, and in the economic interests of the country.

Proposals will be brought forward to continue the fight against terrorism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

My Government will bring forward legislation to reduce re-offending by improving the management of offenders.

Legislation will be introduced to reform the criminal defence service, making better use of legal aid resources.

My Government believes that the welfare of the child is paramount. A Bill will be introduced to establish a barring and vetting scheme, and other measures to provide better protection for children and vulnerable adults.

Legislation will be introduced to safeguard the welfare of children in circumstances of parental separation and to improve the process of inter-country adoption.

My Government will continue with legislation to provide a new framework for the provision of compulsory treatment of those with mental disorders.

Legislation will be introduced to modernise charity law, to develop a vibrant, diverse and independent charitable sector.

My Government will take forward proposals to introduce an offence of corporate manslaughter.

My Government will bring forward measures to tackle those who incite religious hatred.

Legislation will be introduced to combat discrimination and to establish the Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

My Government is committed to achieving sustainable development and supporting rural services.

Legislation will be brought forward to ensure the better management and protection of the natural environment and to provide support for rural communities.

A Bill to modernise the management of common land will be introduced.

Legislation will be brought forward to help reduce casualties on the roads.

My Government is committed to promoting efficiency, productivity and value for money. Legislation will be introduced to streamline regulatory structures and make it simpler to remove outdated or unnecessary legislation.

Consumer credit law will be updated to provide greater protection for consumers and to create a fairer, more competitive credit market.

Company law will be reformed to encourage greater levels of investment and enterprise.

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

My Government will continue to work closely with the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, and will work to bring about the conditions necessary for the restoration of political institutions in Northern Ireland.

Legislation will be brought forward to encourage greater voter participation in elections while introducing further measures to combat fraud and increase security.
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Legislation will also be introduced to reform the National Assembly for Wales.

My Government will bring forward proposals to continue the reform of the House of Lords.

If London is selected to host the 2012 Olympic Games, legislation will be introduced as soon as possible to establish the necessary powers to ensure the delivery of the Games, and that the requirements of the International Olympic Committee are met.

My Government will establish a single system of service law for the Armed Forces.

My Government will bring forward a Bill to give effect to the Constitutional Treaty for the European Union, subject to a referendum. Legislation will be introduced to ratify the treaty of accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the European Union.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Government will continue to play its full part in international affairs.

The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to our visit to Canada later today and to our state visit to Malta in November which precedes the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. We look forward to our visit to Australia in March next year for the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, followed by our State visit to Singapore. We also look forward to receiving Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway in the autumn.

The United Kingdom will take over the Presidency of the European Union in July, and my Government will work to build an increasingly prosperous and secure Europe.

My Government will use its Presidency of the G8 to secure progress in tackling poverty in Africa and climate change.

My Government will continue to push for a resolution of the conflict in Darfur.

My Government will continue to work to prevent terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and to combat drug smuggling and international crime.

My Government will work to strengthen commitment to the continued effectiveness of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and continue to contribute to a modern and representative United Nations.

My Government will work to secure a successful outcome from the United Nations Millennium Review Summit and the Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Hong Kong in December.

My Government will support the Iraq Transitional Government and Transitional National Assembly as they write a constitution and prepare for future elections.

My Government will continue to assist the Government of Afghanistan including in its counter-narcotics efforts, and to support better standards of governance throughout the world. Peace in the Middle East will remain one of my Government's highest priorities.

My Government will work to deepen and develop the strong partnership between Europe and the United States in order to meet these objectives.

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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