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Monday, 18 November, 2002, 10:28 GMT
Queen's speech: Your reaction
Talking Point: Queen's Speech 2002
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.


Balancing the changes to criminal justice with civil liberties will require strong opposition and careful scrutiny

Richard Carey, UK
Yet again, a rag-bag collection of legislation that goes too far in the rhetoric and not far enough in reality. Balancing the changes to criminal justice with civil liberties will require strong opposition and careful scrutiny, whilst the announced "reforms" in our public services are timid and will have very little real effect on the quality of people's lives. The more things change....
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.
Ian, Vienna

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.
Scott Lafferty, UK


I think the speech should be read by the leader of the house

K Budden, England
I think the speech should be read by the leader of the house with the Queen present who will then open Parliament. It is silly to call it her Government, it is our Government and she is our Sovereign and ambassador because we wish it and consent to it. New laws will not do much, we need the Police Force doubled in size and the Crown Prosecution Service enlarged so that evidence is properly collated, this will produce better results. We also need more short sentence open prisons with rehab. facilities so that first offenders do not go to the University of crime.
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!
Stanley, UK

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.
Jeremy, US/UK


We're saturated with words saying how everything can be sorted out

Stewart Good, Wales
This Government is all talk. Bluff to patch over society's sad problems. The reality is that we've heard all these "solutions" before and things are certainly getting progressively worse in most aspects of social behaviour. This is due to a lack of decent parenting skills of great numbers of parents who are either too busy to be able to bother with their children or others who simply couldn't be bothered anyway. We're saturated with words saying how everything can be sorted out. The only solution is to think of how parents can be trained and guided to love and look after their children. Only then will the problems that are rapidly emerging start to disappear.
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.
Bernard, UK

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.
Jeremy, England

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.
Ken Tindell, UK

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.
Lee, England

Regional assemblies - do we really need yet another layer of unproductive politicians controlling our lives? We have got too many already.
Mike, UK

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.
Alex, England

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!
Tom Bazan, UK

Crack down on criminals-heard it all before-enough said.
Adrian, UK

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.
Richard Johns, England


New Labour gets full marks for news management

Philip Cleverly, UK
Once again this government have announced very popular headlines and this is what they will stay. Once again New Labour gets full marks for news management.
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."
Richard Newbury, UK

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?
Angela, Scotland

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?
Tommy, Wales


What next, compulsory ID cards?

Loz, England
So, retrials where compelling evidence has come to light? And judge and jury privy to defendants' previous convictions? Hardly the return of the Star Chamber but I am sure it will have civil libertarians across the land banging their drum once again. What next, compulsory ID cards? Good grief, I can almost hear the authorities running up the stairs haul my innocent form off to jail. Perhaps if we had less whining about our individual 'rights' and channelled our energy into getting more criminals off the streets we'd all benefit from a lot more liberty.
Loz, England

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.
Russ, London, UK

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?
Nigel Pond, Brit living in the USA

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.
Andrew, UK


This government is a joke!

Tom, England
Once again Tony Blair does nothing for the countryside or the farming community. This country no longer has a backbone and is falling apart. This government is a joke!
Tom, England

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.
Graeme L, Bristol UK

At last the government has finally introduced the bill to end our archaic pub licensing laws - and not before time..
Barnaby Smith, UK

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.
Chris, Bristol, England


The Queen's speech ignores the needs of disabled people

Simon, UK
Yet again the Queen's speech ignores the needs of disabled people. The government was due to amend and widen the Disability Discrimination Act, and has performed another one of its famous U-turns. Perhaps we could look at its previous failures - seeing as the government is so keen on using previous convictions.
Simon, UK

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.
Jeremy Blatchford,

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?
Niall, UK


Backwards, retrograde and dangerous steps

Tom, England
The plans to erode the right to trial by jury, the erosion of the presumption of innocence by admitting previous convictions at trial and the abolition of double jeopardy are backwards, retrograde and dangerous steps which are the hallmarks of dictatorships and totalitarian regimes through the world and history. As a lawyer I am ashamed that any British government could consider such draconian and undemocratic measures against its subjects while seeming to care so little about the police state it is constructing.
Tom, England

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.
Caron, England

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.
Alexander, UK

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?
Chris Partridge, UK

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.
Mike, UK


I would make sure that we never join the single European currency

Graham, UK
I would have included: My government would increase spending in schools and the NHS; and the way to get that money would be to cut social service payments to people who are too lazy to work and depend on the dole. Anyone who has a valid reason not to work due to ill health will continue to receive social service payments. My government would also make sure that more houses are built which are cheap enough for first time buyers. I would also make sure that we never join the single European currency.
Graham, UK

There goes our freedom, right out the window!
Geoff, UK

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.
K Kerr, Sleaford, UK

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.
Anon, England

I feel that with impeccable timing, the speech should highlight plans to reform the monarchy and the constitution.
Paul Johnson, UK

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.
Christine Burns, UK


Plans to help the world's hungry and abused children

Margaret Gair, UK
I would like to see the Royal Family making plans to help the world's hungry and abused children. Making offers from their own coffers would really start the ball rolling here. Let us put important issues first.
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.
Martyn, UK

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.
Natalie Jones, UK

I resign, Cherie can have my crown.
Jon, England

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.
Maek Ward, Canada

Close the Channel Tunnel.
C, London

An English Parliament to be located in the true English capital of York.
Mark, England

"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."
James, UK


A ban on all newspaper payments to those with a "story"

Simon Lord, UK
A ban on all payments by newspapers to those with a "story". The 300,000 paid to Burrell has wasted more newsprint and TV/radio airtime than we can bear.
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."
James Lockwood, UK

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.
Paul, UK

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.
Stewart, UK

Tony apologises to everyone who believed in 1997 that things could only get better and not worse, and he resigns.
John Hully, England

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.
Stuart Fountain, England

The abolition of the monarchy?
P, UK

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.
James, UK


But it isn't "The Queen's speech", is it?

Chris B
But it isn't the Queen's speech, is it? It's a statement from the PM, read to us by the Queen. Under the present circumstances, the other way round would be far more interesting.
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!
Brian W, U K

I'd like to Queen to simply say "I abolish the monarchy"!
Steve Hodgson, UK


Health and crime should be the major focus of this year's Queen's Speech

John Jenkins, Wales
Health and crime should be the major focus of this year's Queen's Speech. To waste time on trivia like the euro and fox hunting would be weird priorities for this government. Crime is rampant and healthcare in Britain is in a worse state than it was in 1997. I would like the government to be bold on health reform and take a stronger line on crime and drugs but I expect to be disappointed.
John Jenkins, Wales, UK

'My government will hereby end all TV shows starting with the words "Pop", "Fame" or "Top 10".
Mark Walsh, NI, UK

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.
Andrew M, UK

'On-the-spot' fines for litter.
Michael, Scotland


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