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The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, and by virtue of the Commission which has been now read, We do declare and notify to you, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons in Parliament assembled, that Her Majesty has given Her Royal Assent to the several Acts in the Commission mentioned; and the Clerks are required to pass the same in the usual Form and Words.

Royal Assent

The following Acts received the Royal Assent:

Statute Law Repeals Act, Waste Minimisation Act, Regional Development Agencies Act, Scotland Act, Northern Ireland Act, Registration of Political Parties Act.

Prorogation: Her Majesty's Speech

Her Majesty's most gracious Speech was then delivered to both Houses of Parliament by the Lord Chancellor (in pursuance of Her Majesty's Command) as follows:

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    "An Act has been passed which begins the process of modernising the social security system, particularly in the areas of decision-making appeals and national insurance contributions. And proposals for further welfare reform have been presented to Parliament to promote work for those who are able to work and security for those who cannot.

    "My Government have worked with business to promote sustainable growth. A wide range of measures has been introduced to encourage investment in industry, skills and new technologies and to increase productivity. To encourage entrepreneurship and to help create successful and profitable businesses, an Act to reform the framework for competition for business and industry has been enacted, and the structure of corporation taxes has been reformed.

    "My Government are committed to fairness at work. Legislation has been passed which will lead to the introduction of a national minimum wage.

    "My Government have completed a comprehensive review of public expenditure, reallocating spending to match priorities and eliminate waste and inefficiency. Within firm three-year limits, additional resources have been provided for education, health and transport; and the new Investing in Britain Fund will double net public investment over the Parliament, providing for the renewal, reform and modernisation of Britain's infrastructure.

    "A White Paper has been published setting out plans for an integrated transport policy in England and Wales, aimed at providing better transport services, and reducing congestion and pollution from transport.

    "Legislation was enacted to strengthen the local authority capital finance system.

    "Measures have been put forward to combat crime. Legislation has been passed to provide for radical reform of the youth justice system, local partnerships to cut crime and disorder and measures to reduce offending. Legislation had also been enacted to prohibit the private possession of all handguns.

    "To ensure that as many people as possible have access to the benefits of the National Lottery, an Act has been passed to extend the scope of lottery distribution to encompass health, education and the environment. It also included measures to improve regulation.

    "Decentralisation is essential to my Government's vision of a modern nation. An Act has been passed to enable people in Scotland and Wales to vote on proposals for a devolved Scottish Parliament and the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales. These have been approved in referendums in Scotland and Wales and Acts have been passed to implement them. My Government have also taken a first step towards decentralising decision-taking to the English regions.

    "A White Paper has been published setting out a 10-year programme for the reform and renewal of local governance in England and an Act has been

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    passed which enabled the people of London to vote in a referendum on my Government's proposals for an elected mayor and assembly for London. These proposals were approved in a referendum on 7th May, and a Bill is to be introduced to implement them.

    "An Act has been passed to establish regional development agencies in England to bring a regional focus to the economic development and regeneration of the English regions.

    "My Government are committed to open and transparent government. Legislation has been passed to strengthen the data protection controls over the use of personal information about individuals and an Act has been passed to give full effect in the United Kingdom law to the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights.

    "Members of the House of Commons,

    "I thank you for the provision you have made for the work and dignity of the Crown and for the public service.

    "My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

    "My Government have taken a leading role in the European Union. They negotiated and signed the Treaty of Amsterdam which included provisions enabling the UK to opt into the social chapter. The United Kingdom has now ratified the treaty. They took part in initial negotiations on the European Commission's Agenda 2000 proposals which included reform of the common agricultural policy.

    "During the United Kingdom's Presidency of the European Union, efforts were made to promote employment and to improve competitiveness. Negotiations on enlargement were opened and good progress was made on key Presidency priorities for co-operation in the European Union, including the fight against drugs and crime, an effective external policy, economic reform and an agreement to a code of conduct on arms export. My Government oversaw the historic decision confirming that eleven member states met the conditions for joining the single currency, as well as the establishment of the European Central Bank.

    "My Government have allocated additional resources to tackle global poverty and to promote sustainable development. They are implementing the policies set out in the White Paper on International Development.

    "In May this year, the G8 Summit in Birmingham agreed measures to promote employability at home and the development of poorer countries abroad, help the environment and tackle international crime. They also successfully hosted an Asia-Europe meeting in April 1998 and the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Edinburgh in October 1997.

    "Vigorous action has been taken to protect the environment, and against terrorism, drugs, money laundering and organised crime. My Government played a leading part in securing agreement at the

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    Kyoto Conference on Climate Change to commitments to binding reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions.

    "The United Kingdom played a full part in the negotiations which led to the agreement in July to establish the International Criminal Court.

    "My Government put human rights at the centre of foreign policy and published the first Annual Report on Human Rights. They ratified the two Additional Protocols to the Geneva convention on the Protections of Victims of War, adopted an abolitionist stance on the death penalty, and took steps to prevent the export of torture equipment. They hosted a conference on Nazi gold, and helped set up a relief fund for victims of Nazi persecution.

    "As evidence of their commitment to international peace and security, my Government passed legislation enabling the United Kingdom to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines. They will continue to urge all those who have not done so to adhere to these treaties.

    "Progress has also been made to reform and strengthen the United Nations.

    "My Government have worked to modernise our defence capability so that it matches the changing strategic setting. The Strategic Defence Review--the

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    most far-reaching reform of our armed forces since the war--reassessed our security interests and defence needs and provided the Armed Forces and all those who work in defence with a clear long-term vision. Arrangements for strong and modern defence based on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have been maintained and my Government played a major role in the decisions taken at NATO's Madrid Summit and in the steps taken to strengthen NATO's relationship with Russia, and they have notified the UK acceptance of the accession to the Alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

    "My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

    "I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may attend you".

After which the Lord Chancellor said:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, by virtue of Her Majesty's Commission which has been now read We do, in Her Majesty's name, and in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, prorogue this Parliament to the 24th day of this instant November, to be then here holden, and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Tuesday, the 24th day of this instant November.

        Parliament was prorogued at eighteen minutes past four o'clock.

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