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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 11:48 GMT
Will these measures outlast PM?
By Nick Assinder
Political correspondent, BBC News Website

According to the document's preamble, Tony Blair's last ever parliamentary programme is "bold and ambitious".

The Queen at state opening of parliament
Queen's speech set out a security agenda

But many are asking whether it is actually worth the paper it is written on.

The central focus of the package is exactly as billed - security.

Economic security, as ever, but also against crime, anti-social behaviour, terrorism, migration and climate change.

Of the 29 proposed bills, by far the largest number fall to the Home Office under John Reid, who set out the background to the measures with another grim warning about the terror threat facing the country.

Some of the measures will be "bold", for which read controversial - particularly any attempt to revisit the proposal to allow police to hold terror suspects for 90 days without charge and which previously saw Mr Blair defeated for the first time by his own MPs.

It is probably no surprise, therefore, that nothing concrete is yet being offered on this issue.

No guarantee

Similarly the Climate Change Bill, which refuses to set annual targets for emission reductions, will spark opposition from not only the Tory and Liberal Democrat parties but many Labour MPs.

The moves on pensions, border controls, immigration and child support will almost certainly be seen as significant, even "ambitious".

John Reid
Mr Reid has the largest workload
But, for the glaringly obvious reason that Tony Blair is on his way out, there is probably not a single MP on any side of the Commons who would be willing to bet on how many of these measures will ever become law.

While much of the programme, such as pensions reform and tougher anti-terror measures, has been agreed with Mr Blair's likely successor, Gordon Brown, there is no guarantee the next prime minister will feel obliged to accept the programme lock stock and barrel.

Indeed, when the next leader walks into Downing Street, he will not only want to mark his succession with a fresh, headline-grabbing programme all of his own, he will want to create his own Cabinet.

So, for example, while John Reid may well be looking at a huge programme of legislation for the next parliament, he may not be required to see much of it through. And his successor may also have some of his own ideas.

Big project

There is, therefore, little in this programme that the prime minister can be confident will provide him with that longed-for legacy.

Gordon Brown and Tony Blair
Blair and Brown agreed many of the measures
If that is going to come from anywhere, it will have to be from the eventual success, or otherwise, of measures he has already taken on health, education and welfare and which are still far from settled.

At the same time, with the political earthquake in Washington which has weakened his greatest ally George Bush, even Tony Blair's foreign policy agenda is out of his control.

Characteristically, the prime minister has attempted to turn this into an opportunity to press his case for a powerful new focus on the Middle East.

And this may well become his big project for the remaining months of his premiership.

But, as this programme appears to confirm, it is still a premiership which is most likely going to be remembered for the war on Iraq and its consequences rather than any of the domestic measures taken by Tony Blair in this, or any previous Queen's speech.




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