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 You are in: Special Report: 1998: 11/98: Queen Speech  
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Queen Speech Tuesday, 24 November, 1998, 19:28 GMT
Speech heralds decentralisation of power
Queen
There was little reference to Scotland or Wales
The Queen's speech has been heralded as showing the decreasing relevance of Westminster politics to many parts of the UK.

The Queen's Speech
The speech made little reference to Scotland and Wales, only referring to the forthcoming elections to select representatives to sit in the assemblies established in the last session of parliament.

It also moved to decentralise local government, including announcing legislation for a Greater London Authority.

Salmond
Alex Salmond: Power is shifting north
Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party, told BBC News: "This is the first Queen's speech in a quarter of a century without any specific Scottish legislation - that's a good thing.

"It's because they are all moving north to the Scottish Parliament and power and responsibility is transferring north and that will be widely welcomed by the people of Scotland."

Plaid Cymru gave the speech a cautious welcome.

Elfyn Llwyd MP said: "By and large it is a very useful speech."

But he went on to express his disappointment that it did not contain proper legislation to introduce a Food Standards Agency or a Freedom of Information.

Bills will affect Scotland

Although the Queen's Speech did not contain any major programmes for Scotland, there were Scottish provisions in two key programmes.

The Water Industry Bill will include a provision to establish an independent water regulator in Scotland, replacing the current Customers' Council.

The NHS Bill will implement the white paper on the NHS Scotland, "Designed to Care" which sets out measures to streamline the number of NHS Trusts in Scotland as well as improvements in clinical standards.

The government will also introduce a technical bill to increase the financial borrowing limit of Scottish Enterprise from 3bn to 5bn.

Major UK bills on welfare reform, employment law and immigration and asylum will also be applied in Scotland.

Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar said the measures on health, welfare reform, water regulation, fairness at work and disability rights would make Scotland "a fairer and more equal society".

He said: "Together all of these measures improve the lives of families and workers across Scotland.

"They build on the progress that we have already made in Scotland."

London
A Greater London Authority will be established
Legislation to end central government's budget-capping powers, which enables Whitehall to limit the amount local councils spend, were also announced by the Queen.

The current system will be replaced by "more flexible and discriminating" powers, said the Queen.

The new Bill would enable councils to bring in cuts over a number of years instead of just one, but central government would still have the power to order budget reductions.

London will get an elected mayor and separately elected assembly, with powers to tackle road congestion and improve public transport.

The Greater London Authority Bill would also set up a Transport for London body, a London Development Agency, and new police and fire authorities.

Links to more Queen Speech stories are at the foot of the page.


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