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Wednesday, 6 December, 2000, 22:27 GMT
Hague: All spin, no delivery
William Hague
William Hague accused the government of "arrogance"
Opposition leader William Hague has accused the government of "arrogance" for producing a Queen's Speech which is "all spin and no delivery".

The new legislative programme - with 15 bills and four in draft form, the slimmest since Labour came to power - would likely be the last before a general election, Mr Hague predicted.

Yet it missed out measures pledged in Labour's last manifesto, he said.


The Queen's speech is 1,000 words long but it can be summed up in one sentence - all spin and no delivery

William Hague
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats accused Labour of adopting Tory spending plans and Tory polices.

Mr Hague framed his assault on the Queen's Speech with wide-ranging criticism of Labour's governing record.

But his attack, which opened Commons debate on the Queen's Speech, was dismissed by Prime Minister Tony Blair as he savaged the Conservative's record and current policies.

Mr Hague said manifesto proposals - including referenda on the House of Commons voting system and directly elected regional government - were missing in part thanks to the government's "mismanagement" of the parliamentary timetable.

He taunted both the Liberal Democrats for being "gullible" enough to believe there would be a voting system referendum and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott for being involved in "so little" Queen's Speech legislation.

'Cosmetic' measures attacked

Declaring "this is an arrogant government", Mr Hague said it was exemplified by the re-introduction of the Mode of Trial Bill.

The measure, which seeks to restrict the right to trial by jury, would result in "fewer criminals in jail and more in the streets", he said.

Mr Hague said measures to cut crime and red tape were "cosmetic" while the 'yob culture' crackdown merely "parroted" the government's first Queen's Speech.

Mr Hague said Mr Blair had been forced to admit the NHS was in crisis while schools were facing a teacher recruitment crisis and a four-day week .

Blair 'should not be trusted'

The one bill the Queen's Speech failed to mention, Mr Hague went on, was Mr Blair's "surrender" to Europe imminent at the Nice summit, starting on Thursday.

The Tory leader said the prime minister had "forfeited the right to be believed or trusted" after a lifetime of "u-turns, errors and sell-outs".

"The Queen's Speech is 1,000 words long but it can be summed up in one sentence - all spin and no delivery."

Tony Blair
Tony Blair said Mr Hague had "lousy judgement"
Mr Blair said the Tory leader's policies and spending plans were riddled with contradictions which were "amusing" in opposition "but in government he would be a disaster".

Mr Blair concluded that the opposition leader's "funny speech summed up his leadership: good jokes, lousy judgement".

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said the government's programme would be a "failure" and claimed it was about one thing: "Re-election, re-election, re-election".

He claimed the government had been wrong to stick to Tory spending plans when it came into office, and was wrong to introduce Tory policies now.

Arms trade 'disgrace'

Liberal Democrat spokesmen also attacked the government for its planned curbs on the right to a jury trial, for their "Dutch auction" on benefit fraud and said it was a disgrace that they had taken so long to curb the arms trade.

Former Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond described the speech as "tub-thumping populist stuff".

Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru leader, said the Queen's Speech should have given the Welsh Assembly control over police and fire services.

Government 'ambitious'

Labour former minister Dr David Clark praised the "very ambitious" government while another Labour backbencher, Bill Michie, broadly welcomed the Queen's Speech but warned his party to "keep listening".

Tory MP Andrew Robathan said it was a typical pre-election programme with a few "populist measures" but nothing that would "rock the boat".

Meanwhile in the Lords, Conservative leader Lord Strathclyde accused ministers of "executive arrogance" for, he said, planning to use the Parliament Act to force the Mode of Trial Bill into law.

Leader of the House Baroness Jay urged peers not to imagine that the lower number of bills in the Queen's Speech was a sign of easier times ahead.


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