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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 12:03 GMT
What will the speech reveal?
As ever, the run-up to the Queen's Speech has been rife with rumour and speculation about what bills the government might introduce in the next session of parliament.

Here are some of the possibilities.

  • Higher Education Bill

    This legislation could be the most controversial of the session.

    It would implement the Higher Education White Paper, including the proposals for the introduction of top-up fees for students.

  • Immigration and asylum

    A scheme to cap asylum seekers' access to legal aid and cut back free criminal advice under duty solicitor schemes could be introduced.

    There is also speculation there will be legislation to allow the deportation of asylum seekers who cannot produce identity papers.

  • Corporate manslaughter

    There could be legislation to deem a corporation guilty of corporate manslaughter if management failure leads to a person's death and that that failure is seen as conduct falling below what could reasonably be expected of the corporation.

  • Domestic violence

    This would give victims of domestic violence the same right to anonymity as rape and sexual abuse victims.

  • Victims bill

    A victims bill may be introduced to create a commissioner to "champion the rights of victims and witnesses" and introduce a statutory code of practice backed by an independent ombudsman.

  • Judicial reform

    There could be a bill to wind up the post of Lord Chancellor, whose department has been replaced by the Department of Constitutional Affairs.

    A Supreme Court Bill could remove the Law Lords from membership of the House of Lords.

    A Judicial Appointments Commission Bill could replace political control over the judicial appointments process with an independent commission.

  • Pensions Bill

    A bill could be introduced aimed at addressing the growing pensions crisis.

    Measures could include the improvement of the market for private pensions and provisions to force solvent companies to honour their pensions obligations in full.

    Legislation is also possible replacing the existing Armed Forces Pension Scheme.

  • Gay Marriages Bill

    This bill would give gay couples pension and property rights, exempt them from inheritance tax on a partner's home and allow a partner to benefit from a dead partner's pension.

    Other elements could include giving next of kin rights in hospitals as well as providing a provision for a form of divorce through the "dissolution" of a partnership.

    If agreed, the legislation would bring the civil partnership between gay and lesbian couples closer to a marriage contract.

  • Hunting Bill

    The current Hunting Bill was blocked by peers.

    The government has to decide whether to reintroduce it, and, if so, in what form.

    Further opposition from the Lords could be over-ridden by introducing the Parliament Act if the bill is reintroduced in exactly the same form.

    But the bill rejected by peers was not the bill which the government initially introduced, since Labour backbenchers voted to include a complete ban.

    Minister are committed to reintroducing the amended bill, but it is not clear how they plan to proceed.

  • Child Protection Bill /Children's Commissioner for England

    The case for a Children's Commissioner was made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and the government promised to consult on the plan.

    There has also been speculation there will be a child protection bill may also be introduced.

  • Reform of the House of Lords

    Legislation is expected to end the anomaly whereby MPs are disqualified if they have served a term in prison, but peers are not.

  • Finance Bill

    This annual bill is likely to include Child Trust Fund proposals.

    This will take the form of a financial endowment of between 250 and 500 building up into a sum which the child can access at 18.

    All children born from September 2002 will be entitled to an endowment.

  • Traffic Bill

    A bill may be included to try and deal with the disruption caused by roadworks. It would establish local "road tsars" to coordinate and control roadworks.

  • Possible draft bills

    Draft legislation - bills assessed by committees before being put forward to Parliament as a whole - may be introduced:

    • to get the legal framework in place for the introduction of a system of ID cards in the UK.
    • on disability discrimination
    • to allow for a future referendum on membership of the European single currency (but there is speculation that this plan has been dropped)
    • charities reform, with a new list of charitable purposes which any organisation wishing to obtain charity status would have to show it meets


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