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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 13:02 GMT
Text of the Queen's Speech
Here is the full text of the Queen's Speech during the 2003 State Opening of Parliament.

My government will maintain its key commitment to economic stability and growth.

This will enable my government to continue to deliver reform of the public services and continue to focus on greater opportunity and social justice, enhanced security and protection and constitutional reform.

Delivering a world class education system that enables individuals to achieve their full potential remains my government's main priority for Britain's future success.

Educational reform will continue to raise standards in all schools.

A Bill will be introduced to enable more young people to benefit from higher education.

Upfront tuition fees will be abolished for all full-time students and a new Office for Fair Access will assist those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Universities will be placed on a sound financial footing.

My government will continue to reform the National Health Service by giving more choice to patients, more freedom to NHS staff and more control over hospitals to local communities.

My government will introduce a Bill that will provide all children born from September 2002 with a Child Trust Fund with an initial endowment from the government and more for poorer children - this will mean that when children reach the age of 18 they have an asset to draw on as a springboard for the future.

Legislation will also be introduced to encourage both employers to provide good quality pensions and individuals to save more effectively for their retirement.

A Pension Protection Fund will be set up to protect employees and pensioners if companies become insolvent.

My government will maintain its commitment to increased equality and social justice by bringing forward legislation on the registration of civil partnerships between same sex couples.

A draft Bill will also be published responding to a review of the law relating to disabilities as part of my government's programme to extend the rights and opportunities of disabled people.

My government is committed to the maintenance of an effective asylum and immigration system.

Legislation will therefore be brought forward to establish a single tier of appeal against asylum decisions, to reduce the scope for delay caused by groundless appeals, and to put in a place a range of other measures to tackle abuse of the system and fraudulent claims.

My government will take forward work on an incremental approach to a national identity cards scheme and will publish a draft Bill in the New Year.

My government will continue to make the reduction of crime and the fear of crime a priority.

The government will be implementing the Criminal Justice Act to ensure the effective punishment of dangerous and persistent offenders.

Firm action will continue to be taken against anti-social behaviour by strengthening the power available to schools and local authorities.

Measures will be introduced to modernise the laws on domestic violence and to establish a commissioner to speak up for the interests of victims and witnesses.

A Bill will be introduced to improve the services designed to protect children.

A children's commissioner for England will be established.

A draft Bill will be brought forward on the Criminal Defence Service.

The threat of international terrorism and a changing climate have led to a series of emergencies and heightened concerns for the future.

My government will introduce a Bill creating a long-term foundation for civil contingencies capable of meeting these challenges at national and local level.

A Bill will also be brought forward to improve the delivery of fire and rescue services, ensuring that they can respond to the changing demands placed on them in the modern world.

A Bill will also be introduced to regulate retention of human tissues after death.

My government will continue its programme of constitutional reform by establishing a Supreme Court, reforming the Judicial Appointments System and providing for the abolition of the current office of Lord Chancellor.

Legislation will be brought forward to reform the House of Lords. This will remove hereditary peers and establish an independent appointments commission to select non-party members of the Upper House.

A draft Bill will be published to enable a referendum to be held on the adoption of the single currency subject to the government's five economic tests being met.

My government will continue to take forward a Bill on election pilots introduced during the last session.

My government is committed to improving the quality of people's day-to-day lives.

Legislation will be introduced on housing that will help create a fairer housing market and protect the most vulnerable.

My government will continue to take forward a Bill on planning introduced during the last session, which will make the planning system fairer and faster with greater community participation.

Legislation will also be brought forward to improve traffic flows and manage road works more effectively.

A draft Bill will be published to enable some local authorities to pilot new arrangements for school transport to reduce road congestion.

My government will also introduce legislation on energy matters, to establish a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and to promote secure, sustainable supplies and a safer environment.

My government will maintain sound public finances and will continue to take action to secure high levels of employment and encourage enterprise.

Legislation will be introduced to implement the conclusions of the government's review of the Employment Relations Act 1999.

Legislation will also be introduced to modernise company accounting and audit arrangements.

A thriving not-for-profit is part of the fabric of modern democratic society.

My government will introduce a Bill to create community interest companies which will enable social enterprises to meet the needs of their communities in new and innovative ways.

A draft Bill on charities will also be published which will modernise charity law and better enable charities to prosper.

Further draft clauses of a Bill on gambling will also be published.

My government will continue to take forward a programme of Regulatory Reform Orders to simplify and reform burdensome and outdated legislation.

Members of the House of Commons, estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My lords and members of the House of Commons, my government will continue to work closely with the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.

Bills will be introduced to create a single public audit body for Wales and to retain the current number of members in the Scottish parliament.

In Northern Ireland, my government will continue to work closely with the political parties and the Irish Government to secure the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement.

Legislation will be brought forward to establish a Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission.

Other measures will be laid before you.

The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to paying a state visit to Nigeria in December and attending the Commonwealth heads of government meeting.

We look forward to receiving the state visit of his excellency the president of Poland next May.

To mark the centenary of the Entente Cordiale, we look forward to paying a state visit to France next April and to receiving his excellency the president of France in the autumn.

My government will play an active role in preparing the European Union for the accession of ten new member states next May.

They will work hard to conclude negotiations on a new constitutional treaty for the European Union, following which they will introduce legislation to implement the treaty.

My government will work for a strong partnership between Europe and the United States, underpinned by NATO, and for effective action in tackling the threat from global terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

My government will maintain Britain's commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan and Iraq, to promoting peace in the Middle East, and to tackling the underlying causes of the conflict and extremism.

They will help war-torn countries, particularly in Africa, to seize the opportunities for development which peace can bring.

My government will publish a defence White Paper providing a statement of defence policy and an assessment of the new strategic environment in which the Armed Forces operate.

A Bill will be introduced to give enabling powers to bring in new pension and compensation arrangements for the armed forces.

My government will work to reduce world poverty and for the achievement of the Millennium development goals including increased aid flows and effective debt relief for developing countries committed to reform.

My government will press for a fairer trade system as part of the current round of world trade negotiations.

They will work to strengthen the United Nations in response to key global challenges such as Aids and climate change.

My lords and members of the House of Commons, I pray that the blessing of almighty God may rest upon your counsels.


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