[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Blair's third term plans unveiled
The Queen and Prince Philip at 2004's state opening of Parliament

The Queen is outlining the government's programme for the new Parliamentary session.

Her speech includes a bumper package of 45 bills for MPs and peers to debate by November 2006.

They include ID cards, a new offence of incitement to religious hatred, measures to tackle hospital infections and the EU constitution referendum.

Tony Blair has said he wants to focus on security and public service reform in the first session of his third term.

Pomp and ceremony

Plans to tackle violent crime, ban smoking in some public places and set up more city academy schools are among the plans being unveiled in a speech written for the Queen by Mr Blair and his government.

LIKELY KEY BILLS
Identity Cards Bill
European Union Bill
Health Improvement and Protection Bill
Work and Family Bill
Asylum and Immigration Bill
Violent Crime Reduction Bill
Welfare Reform Bill
Lords Reform Bill
Protection of Children Bill
Electoral Administration Bill
Anti-Terrorism Bill

"My government will build on its programme of reform and accelerate modernisation of the public services to promote opportunity and fairness," the Queen told MPs.

"My government will bring forward legislation in the key areas of public service delivery; education; health; welfare and crime."

The speech comes amid the pomp and ceremony of the state opening of Parliament.

The prime minister last week promised a "bold programme" and the speech will lay the blueprint for his third term in office.

Tony Blair said: "Our task now is to deepen the change, accelerate reform and address head on the priorities of the British people."

Identity test

His continued reforming zeal comes with Labour's majority cut to 67 and some backbenchers saying they will rebel if necessary.

Identity cards could be one of the first tests of the government's authority. They are opposed by the Liberal Democrats and some Labour MPs, who worry about their impact on civil liberties.

Smokers
Smoking could be banned in some public places

The Conservatives back them in principle but opposed the previously proposed scheme.

Ministers say public opinion "overwhelmingly" supports the principle of ID cards, which they argue are needed to fight crime, terrorism and illegal working.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said there had been "technical modifications" to the new bill to take account of points raised in previous debates on the issue.

"But they are not great points of substance," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We won't be making great changes of substance in the route we're going down, but we will listen to what people have to say."

Mr Clarke also suggested that the government was prepared to use the Parliament Act to force through plans to introduce a crime of incitement to religious hatred which were dropped in the last session.

Plans to reform incapacity benefit are another area which has caused Labour rebellions in the past and could prove a flashpoint again.

New Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett on Monday promised the reforms were not supposed to be "punitive".

Don't believe for a minute that the reform of the welfare state for the 21st century is somehow punitive - it is not
David Blunkett

Nuisance behaviour is a major focus of anti-crime measures in the speech. Mr Blair says the need for more "respect" was one of the key lessons from the election campaign.

There are also plans for tougher penalties against possession of knives and guns.

On public health, there are new measures to tackle hospital infections such as MRSA.

Voting fraud

Plans to ban smoking in some enclosed public places also feature. Pubs that serve food will probably have to enforce a ban, other pubs would not.

Other bills include plans for a points system for immigration to the UK and new childcare measures and safeguards against postal voting fraud.

The Conservatives are likely to say the government is following some of the key themes of the Tory election campaign, such as combating superbugs and crime.

The Lib Dems argue people want better local public services, not more choice, and will be keen to fight any threats to civil liberties.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Political analysts preview the Queen's Speech



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific