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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 07:10 GMT
Papers analyse Queen's Speech

The contents of the Queen's Speech come under scrutiny in the papers.

"Slimline and populist" is how The Times, The Independent and The Telegraph describe the programme. All papers agree the measures are designed to suit a general election in the spring.

The importance of the foxhunting bill is emphasised in The Times, which says the issue is likely to dominate the months leading up to the election.

While 15 new bills were announced, The Sun makes the point that only five of them stand any chance of becoming law. In the paper's words, it simply was not worth the Queen getting "all dolled up" for.

The Telegraph believes measures such as the proposal to limit trial by jury and plans to ban tobacco advertising show an alarming disregard for individual liberty.

It says there was nothing of significance in proposals for the NHS, education or the transport system which will make a difference to people's lives.

The Guardian agrees with the Liberal Democrats that the speech was a mixture of "sensible reform and simplistic gimmickry". Tough on crime it may be, says the paper, but not on its underlying causes.

Christmas chaos

The Post Office is warning that Christmas deliveries will be severely disrupted because of the chaos on Britain's rail network, The Independent reports.

Post Office chief executive John Roberts describes the situation on the railways as "appalling", saying that even letters and packages sent before the last posting date cannot be guaranteed to arrive on time.

For many papers, the picture of the day is the tiny hand of Jodie, the Siamese twin who was separated from her terminally-ill sister in an operation in Manchester last month.

The Daily Mail carries an interview with the parents, who went to court in an attempt to prevent the operation from going ahead.

They say Jodie is making a remarkable recovery from the 20-hour operation, and they are delighted to have been blessed with a baby who is alive and well.

Some of the papers look forward to the European summit, which gets under way in Nice later on Thursday.

The Financial Times says the meeting could lead to the EU doubling in size. If so, the paper says, it will finally end more than 40 years of cold war division between east and west.

Fruitless quest

A bewildered reader has written to The Times on the vexing question of Cox's orange pippins. Why, he wants to know, do the apples no longer rattle as they used to?

For several years he has been on a fruitless quest in the hope of hearing the familiar pip rattle.... but sadly to no avail.

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