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The BBC's Caroline Marston
"The extension of the law may prove controversial"
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Wednesday, 6 December, 2000, 03:16 GMT
Labour to target crime
The crown
A ceremony filled with pomp and circumstance
The UK Government is expected to unveil a Queen's speech putting the fight against crime and "yob culture" at the heart of its agenda for the new parliamentary year.

The legislative programme to be unveiled in the speech, which forms the centrepiece of Wednesday's state opening of parliament, is likely to form the backdrop to the general election expected in the spring.

The prime minister is determined to tackle the yob culture

Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman
High profile incidents, like the killing of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor, have turned the political spotlight on lawlessness and anti-social behaviour.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said the speech would contain plans for action on "priority areas which matter to the people of Britain - crime, health, education and welfare reform".

Curfews for children

A new Police and Criminal Justice Bill, which would apply to England and Wales, is expected to be one of the major announcements.

Expected in the Queen's speech
Crime and police powers
New plan for the NHS
House selling reform
Anti-hunting measures
Arms control measures
It will contain recommendations for the introduction of night-time curfews for children under 16 in areas where juvenile crime is a problem.

"The prime minister is determined to tackle the yob culture and take forward the responsibility agenda," the prime minister's spokesman said.

"You will see we are totally serious about giving the police the powers they need to crack down on yobbish behaviour that blights our cities and towns and you will see the work on crime continuing at every level."

Among the measures tipped for inclusion are 100 fixed penalty fines for drunken behaviour and police powers to confiscate the assets of known criminals

Moves to restrict the right to trial by jury, which were rejected by the House of Lords in the last session, are also expected to be re-introduced.

Election themes

On Tuesday William Hague and Michael Portillo outlined Conservative spending plans which they said would deliver 8bn of tax cuts if they were elected.

Queen Elizabeth II
Speech may set the agenda for the next election
Labour and the Liberal Democrats both countered by saying the sums did not add up.

The spat gave a foretaste of likely themes at the next election.

The Queen is expected to begin her speech - which is written by Downing Street - to MPs and peers in the chamber of the House of Lords at around 1130GMT on Wednesday.

Contentious issues which will delay their progress through parliament could influence the government's timing of the next election.

A proposed housing bill will include recommendations that sellers should provide and pay for information packs for the benefit of potential buyers.

Already the issue has divided opinion among estate agents and home owners.

And the hunting bill, which it is thought will be included in the speech, will once again prompt strong reactions among those for and against hunting with hounds.

Human rights activists will be watching to see whether the government includes details of legislation aimed at curbing the export of arms.

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See also:

05 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Tax takes centre stage
05 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Yobs at centre of Queen's speech
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