Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Queen's Speech 'to be shameless'

David Cameron
Mr Cameron said the government was not tackling the UK's "triple crisis"

The Queen's Speech is going to be the "most divisive, short-termist, shamelessly self-serving" one "in living memory", David Cameron has said.

The Conservative leader predicted that Wednesday's speech, setting out the government's legislative programme, would lack any "reforming zeal".

Instead it would focus on "dividing lines between Gordon Brown and the Conservatives", he wrote in The Times.

Ministers have dismissed Lib Dem demands to cancel this year's speech.

There are thought to be about 70 days of parliamentary business before the next general election, which must be held by June.


Critics, including Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, say this means any legislative programme laid out on Wednesday will have very little time for implementation and amount to little more than an early manifesto.

But Commons leader Harriet Harman says this timetable will allow for "most" bills proposed to pass into law.


Written by the government and delivered by the reigning monarch, it sets out the legislative agenda for the year ahead and is the centrepiece of the state opening of Parliament

The Queen normally attends in person at the state opening of Parliament and delivers the speech from the grand throne in the House of Lords

Doesn't include everything- the Budget and pre-Budget report are also increasingly used to set out strategy and announce new measures

A Downing Street spokesman said Business Secretary Lord Mandelson had briefed Tuesday's cabinet meeting on government on the key themes to be outlined in the Queen's Speech.

In The Times, Mr Cameron said a cabinet minister had been reported as boasting that the address would be the "most political" in the 12 years since Labour came to power.

This, the Tory leader argued, meant it would fail to deal with the "triple crisis" of recession, "the broken society" and anger over MPs' expenses.

He said: "Apparently it's all going to be about dividing lines between Gordon Brown and the Conservatives.

"That tells you all you need to know about the character of the government - and, indeed, this prime minister.

"Dig deeper into any of his plans and you'll find pettiness masquerading as principle."

He added: "Two and a half years ago the prime minister stood in Downing Street and told us that he would be 'strong in purpose, steadfast in will, resolute in action'.

"But tomorrow we will hear the most divisive, short-termist, shamelessly self-serving Queen's Speech in living memory."


New legislation expected to be introduced includes a Financial Services and Business Bill, which would give the Financial Services Authority more power to ban the bonuses of bankers who take "reckless" and "excessive" risks.

There is also likely to be a Policing, Crime and Private Security Bill, requiring sexual or serious offenders convicted before 2004 or convicted abroad to add their details to the DNA database.

An Improving Schools and Safeguarding Children Bill is expected, which would replace school league tables in England with school report cards and ends the practice of national literacy and numeracy strategies.

On Monday, Mr Clegg accused ministers of "hijacking" the Queen's Speech for explicitly "political ends" in the lead-up to the election.

He said the remaining business days of the current Parliament should be used to bring in measures to reform politics, and to "hand on a legacy to the next Parliament".

But Ms Harman, who as Commons leader helps decide which bills are given parliamentary time, said most of the measures in the Queen's Speech would have time to be made into law.

She told the BBC: "I don't think it is right that we should be clocking-off now before a general election, which probably won't be until next year."

A poll for the Guardian newspaper suggests that support for the Conservatives has fallen two points to 42%, while that for Labour is up two points to 29%.

Backing for the Lib Dems is up one point, at 19%.

The ICM poll, of 1,010 adults, suggests that 48% think Mr Cameron has the right qualities to be a successful prime minister, compared with 32% for Mr Brown.

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