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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 20:55 GMT 21:55 UK
'Respect' key to Blair third term
Tony Blair and Michael Howard

Tony Blair has pledged to create a "culture of respect" as he put moves to tackle crime and disorder at the heart of his third term agenda.

Public service reform also figured strongly in the Queen's Speech, setting out the government's new programme.

The 44 bills for Parliament to debate by November 2006 included ID cards and laws against religious hatred.

The Conservatives say Labour has copied much of their agenda. The Lib Dems say Mr Blair has not listened to voters.

'Old policies'

The packed legislative programme includes plans to ban smoking in some public places, tackle hospital-acquired infections and to boost school standards.

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

Conservative leader Michael Howard said the government had taken on his party's election priorities, such as immigration controls, cleaner hospitals, school discipline and policing.

"We had no idea he was thinking what we were thinking," said Mr Howard, echoing a Tory election slogan.

He promised to support the government if it kept to its promises on issues such as genuine reform of Incapacity Benefit but warned against tax rises.

Mr Howard added: "All we have had so far is more fizzy rhetoric. What matters now is delivery."

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy promised to give short shrift to "Labour politicians reconfirmed on such a marginal mandate introducing illiberal measures".

Mr Kennedy also pressed for a "sane debate" on restoring certainty to pensions. Ministers are promising a draft Pensions Bill once a commission on the issue reports.

He suggested his party would not stick to the 60-year-old convention which says the House of Lords should not oppose plans from a government's election manifesto.

The Lib Dems, along with some Labour MPs, are strongly opposed to ID cards. The Conservatives back the cards in principle but were against the previously proposed scheme.

'Reclaim the streets'

Mr Blair also faces dissent from within his own party. Labour MPs from the left-wing Campaign Group met on Tuesday evening to discuss which measures they would oppose.

As the House of Commons began debating the speech, Mr Blair said the new programme was "quintessentially New Labour: economic prosperity combined with social justice".

He promised more visible policing but said: "Bringing a proper sense of respect and responsibility to others cannot be the job of Parliament alone.

Smoking could be banned in some public places

"Parents, local communities, local people have to join with law makers and law enforcers to make a difference...

"It is time to reclaim the streets for the decent majority."

The Queen's Speech, which was written by the government, outlined plans to deal with violent crime and tougher penalties for possession of knives and guns.

Police will also get more power to deal with alcohol-fuelled disorder and there will be new measures to deal with problem pubs.

Health plans

On health, there are plans to combat MRSA, but criminal prosecution of hospital bosses who fail to tackle the superbug is not mentioned in the speech.

The Queen told MPs and peers: "Measures will be brought forward to introduce more choice and diversity in healthcare provision and to continue to improve the quality of health services and hospital hygiene."

What about respect for the British public and their wishes?
Seamus, Cardiff

Education will remain the government's "top priority", the Queen said, with measures to boost standards and give parents a greater say in the running of schools.

There will be further laws to tighten the asylum and immigration system and reform incapacity benefit - an issue which has previously provoked backbench rebellions.

The government said it would work towards the restoring devolution to Northern Ireland and use its presidency of the G8 tackle poverty in Africa and climate change.

Watch the Queen's speech

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