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Monday, 18 November, 2002, 10:28 GMT
Queen's speech: Your reaction
The Queen has unveiled the government's targets for the coming year, with a crackdown on anti-social behaviour and controversial plans for hospitals, jury trials and licensing laws forming the heart of her annual speech.
Three Home Office bills on criminal justice, sexual offenders and anti-social behaviour are being pushed by ministers as the centrepiece of the government's plans.
The Queen said the aim of the proposals was "to reform and rebalance the criminal justice system to deliver justice for all and to safeguard the interests of victims, witnesses and communities".
However, the Queen did not, as expected in certain quarters, lay out concrete proposals for a referendum on the UK joining the euro or on plans for further reform of the House of Lords.
What did you think of the Queen's speech? Was there something for everyone? What would you have put in this year's speech? And what would you have left out?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Richard Carey, UK
It's all very well talking about zero tolerance policing, and looking at New York. What you have to bear in mind is how many more police officers they have in the States. Ours are so overworked they just don't have the time to clamp down on minor offences, and with child offenders the paper work doubles.
I was very disappointed to see that the speech did not advance the government's position on the euro any further than we already knew. We have to wait until June to find out whether Gordon's made his mind up or not. Staying outside the euro has cost this country so much already, and the longer we leave it the higher the costs will rise. Nissan UK has already announced that unless the UK joins, it will have no choice but to close all of its UK plants because the currency risks involved are far too high. I believe that a referendum in the UK on the euro is completely winnable, and the sooner we have it, the better.
K Budden, England
The watering down of the Bill on hunting with hounds is a national disgrace. Why should it be so difficult to pass a law for a total ban, which is favoured by 70% of the people and a substantial majority in the House of Commons!
Full marks to Mr. Blair! I find it amazing that the many whiners posting on this site fail to realise the horror of what someone must go through to watch a beloved member of their family get carjacked and murdered on videotape and then watch helplessly as the great British justice system hands down a nine year sentence to the man responsible for their loss, only to probably walk away after 5 years.
It's time to get tough on hard-crime and end ridiculous prison sentences for minor drug convictions. Britain has notoriously been seen as a country where criminals got off lightly. I hope Mr. Blair sticks to his ideas and doesn't let the loony-left persuade him otherwise.
Stewart Good, Wales
Crack down on crime? Come off it. What's the difference between London and New York? About 20,000 less policeman. You have to catch them first Mr Blair.
Nice to see the return of the Railway Inspectorate - oops, sorry, the Railway Accident Investigation Branch.
One could be forgiven for commenting given the events of recent years that the Inspectorate should never have been absorbed into the HSE.
Did I read right? Is hearsay being permitted as evidence? So we'll see witnesses saying things along the lines of "well, apparently, she said that he'd said.." I'm in my mid-30s. I didn't expect to be using the phrase "the world's gone mad!" until well into my 60s.
The Government want to eliminate rules that result in criminals getting away with crimes and introduce new rules to help prevent crimes. The power that they take is not from you or me, it's from the criminals. Make your choice and decide where you would rather the power sat. A little common sense goes a long way.
Regional assemblies - do we really need yet another layer of unproductive politicians controlling our lives? We have got too many already.
So juries can know about the previous convictions of the defendant and we are going to scrap double jeopardy. I am not saying this is right or wrong. But I bet it gets overturned by the EU courts.
Some good points made in the speech, but what about our transport system? They'll probably leave it to the private companies to sort out. That's one thing that's important for our country. They should stop ranting on about this Paul Burrell/Royal family saga and get there heads down and put pen to paper! They should ignore the media because all they talk about is rubbish! No wonder the people in this country are so gullible!
Crack down on criminals-heard it all before-enough said.
Court reforms, trial without jury, working closely with Europe on law and order, regional assemblies for England (which goes hand in hand with elected mayors) is all European legislation stemming from the Amsterdam and Nice treaties. The ultimate goal of Europe is a state with regions, which are already being built in this country behind our backs.
And surprise surprise, still no word on if there will be a referendum on the Euro. Blair is taking us yet further into the black hole of Europe from which there will be no escape in only a few years time if Europe achieve what has been the aim of the game right from the start, a single European super state.
Philip Cleverly, UK
"It is a cruel and unusual punishment to force upon my children and my children's children a life of media scrutiny without hope of privacy and normality. For their sakes I hereby dissolve the irrelevant and outdated monarchy."
Isn't it ironic that on the day a man is release from prison, after one of the worst miscarriages of justice in recent times, the government plan to bring in measures which will increase the likelihood of more innocent people being locked up?
Yet another round of measures by Blair to take away even more of our rights. It is interesting to see his new media proposals to allow overseas firms more control of the British media. I wonder if his friendship with Rupert Murdoch has anything to do with this?
So, just as it's OK to have referenda until the public vote "correctly", now we can be tried for a crime until the "right" verdict is met! This madness went out with King John in 1215, and he was probably less nasty than Blair.
As a lawyer I am appalled at some of the proposed changes to the criminal justice system referred to in the speech.
The so-called double-jeopardy rule (actually "autrefois acquit" and "autrefois convict") is one of the cornerstones of the English legal system and puts the onus where it belongs - on the police and CPS to bring charges only when they have enough evidence. How long will it be before lame-duck prosecutions are brought just to deal with those whom the government deems undesirable? This is police-state stuff. Who is going to decide whether there is "new and compelling" evidence?
Having read the comments posted on this site one would think that we live in a fascist police state. Where are these people coming from? The proposed changes in the law on double jeopardy come from real world cases where murderers are free to walk the streets. If we were to keep a law because it was traditional do they propose we reintroduce public flogging for theft? Most of the issues and changes included in the speech are things people have campaigned on and complained about for years.
Reform, anti-social behaviour, hunting with dogs, the euro... Give me a copy of the speech, I'll photocopy it again and then Blair can give it to the Queen to read again next year.
At last the government has finally introduced the bill to end our archaic pub licensing laws - and not before time..
I do agree with the scrapping of the double jeopardy rule, as I fail to see how a second trial could be deemed unfair if it is concluded on its own merit, ie the original evidence plus any new evidence. However, I strongly disagree that a defendant's past convictions should have any part in a fair trial.
Regional government has to be either equal to Scotland with tax raising powers or nothing. The proposals are just a shifting of power to the centre and a veneer of regional government. Proposed representation is less than one member per present council or parliamentary constituency in the south west.
Interesting to see streamlining of the planning law to reduce the ability of the local population to stop unwanted building to go ahead. How about something that actually increases the amount of democratic accountability for a change?
The speech contained most of the items President Blair leaked to the media earlier this week. I would have liked it to have included a new criminal act of leaking information to the media for political or monetary gains.
No doubt what Tony would have really wanted to see was to abolish trials so everyone would be automatically found guilty, a law that would let Rupert Murdoch take over the entire media and the ability to privatise the country's oxygen supplies "for best value". He'd also want a crown and a big mirror.
Crack down on anti-social behaviour and give pubs and clubs 24 hour licences? Sounds to me like pubs and clubs make more money and the government fines the rowdy revellers. Everyone happy?
Abolishing double jeopardy is a fundamental breach of rights. It is engrained in Magna Carta as indeed it is in the constitution of every civilised country like the USA. It is constitutionally the biggest mistake this government has made to date. Only in time will its repercussions be felt by the people who can now be hounded with impunity.
There goes our freedom, right out the window!
Limit how many projects can be given the sobriquet "top priority", that way at least one project might come to fruition instead of there being little bites to cover everyone in eventuality.
The proposed introduction of a seller's pack will only complicate the house buying process. I read once that a survey paid for by one party cannot be legally transferred to another. Would you trust a survey you hadn't been involved in? The only solution here is to adopt the Scottish system.
I feel that with impeccable timing, the speech should highlight plans to reform the monarchy and the constitution.
Custodial sentences for politicians who make promises which they then fail to keep. An amendment to the Trade Descriptions Act permitting newspapers and broadcasters to be prosecuted for passing off made up stories as fact.
Margaret Gair, UK
Binding targets to tackle climate change - floods are almost upon us again as a timely reminder. Labour promised to be tough on climate change - but since they came to power carbon dioxide emissions have actually increased, not gone down.
I would like the government to begin to treat all of its servants - the public - as human beings with full legal rights and all that it involves including the right to adopt, work, marry and suffer no discrimination through outdated documentation. I think this should be irrespective of whether you are gay, lesbian, or transgender. If we are going to part of the EU it is also high time that all of its regulations are implemented rather than the parts the government select.
I resign, Cherie can have my crown.
She should tell all those who revel in scandal, her families or otherwise, to get a life and then advise that she is moving to Beverly Hills to take a job as a live in nanny at Ozzy Osburne's house.
Close the Channel Tunnel.
An English Parliament to be located in the true English capital of York.
"My government has concluded that, since tax is not voluntary, it is theft. My government will introduce legislation to abolish taxation. The welfare state is self-perpetuating. My government will introduce a Community Relations Bill which will abolish the welfare state, allowing communities to support the less fortunate. This will reduce crime and increase employment by abolishing the dependency culture."
Simon Lord, UK
"My government would scrap the nonsense which is leading thousands of students unnecessarily into debt doing courses that will not benefit them whilst deflating the overall meaning of a degree."
The government should pledge to withdraw from the Common Agricultural Policy - it is bad for consumers, bad for the developing world and most of all bad for farmers. If necessary (and it is not a given) pay farmers to look after the countryside but allow full access to EU markets.
Every time Blair gets 'bolder' or 'more radical' it seems to mean he's becoming more authoritarian and more right-wing, and the upcoming Queen's speech looks set to follow this trend. A truly radical Labour agenda would include voting reform, higher taxes for the super-rich, massive investments in transport, social housing and urban renewal, a focus on the causes of crime (not knee jerk reactions), and making higher education free at the point of delivery again.
Tony apologises to everyone who believed in 1997 that things could only get better and not worse, and he resigns.
A reduction in the number of Scottish and Welsh MPs so that all of the UK gets equal representation. Tax relief on private health care subscriptions, the end of wasting police time "protecting" all and any politicians and the reopening of Downing Street to the public. Also, a ban on second rate lawyers from holding political office.
The abolition of the monarchy?
Renationalisation of rail, bus and air transport; make more schools independent, restoring the Assisted Places Scheme; withdrawal from the EU; free trade with the Commonwealth; relax immigration controls; increased construction of high density housing.
Chris B, England
The only thing that needs to be in the Queen's speech is a proclamation for the dissolution of the House of Commons and the return to direct rule by the monarch.
Parliament has ceased to be the voice of the people and has become their oppressors. Away with it!
I'd like to Queen to simply say "I abolish the monarchy"!
John Jenkins, Wales, UK
'My government will hereby end all TV shows starting with the words "Pop", "Fame" or "Top 10".
A right to immunity from prosecution for any violence against a burglar in your own home or on your own property. Compulsory early retirement on triple pension for life for anyone who has had to work shifts for more than 20 years. A privacy law so that our newspapers have to report some news for a change. A huge house building programme. An announcement that the economy will be controlled by another means apart from interest rates.
'On-the-spot' fines for litter.
19 Jun 01 | Politics
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