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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 17:04 GMT
Brown lacks vision, say Lib Dems
Vincent Cable
Mr Cable said Mr Brown was like a boxer 'hanging onto the ropes'

The Queen's Speech was an "anticlimax" which contained "little vision", acting Lib Dem leader Vincent Cable has said.

He told MPs that the government's proposals to update anti-terror laws were "a cover for inaction".

Mr Cable also dismissed constitutional reform plans as "rather minor" and said "first-past-the-post" Westminster elections had to end.

The government's Planning Bill would put more power in the hands of an "unelected quango", he added.

'Sad figure'

Earlier, the Queen outlined Gordon Brown's plans for the next parliamentary year, including 29 bills and draft bills.

The speech came after criticism of the prime minister for not calling a November general election, despite many commentators predicting that he would.

Mr Cable said: "The prime minister now, I fear, cuts a rather sad figure. He was introduced to us a few months ago by his predecessor as the 'great clunking fist' but the boxing story has gone completely awry.

"Like a great boxing champion as he once was, he somehow made himself unconscious, falling over his own bootlaces and he's now staggering around the ring, semi-conscious and lost and hanging onto the ropes.

"What certainly is absent is any forward movement and new ideas."

'Counter-productive'

Among the proposals in the Queen's Speech was the EU Reform Treaty Bill, which would see Parliament ratify the document, which is due to be signed by European leaders in December.

Mr Cable reiterated his party's commitment to a referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the EU, as "no-one under the age of 50 has had a say at the ballot box" on the issue.

Any government attempt to extend the limit for holding terror suspects before they are charged from 28 days to 56 days would be "counter-productive", Mr Cable said.

Plans to bring in identity cards were also "counter-productive" and would be "massively expensive", he added.

Mr Cable said he welcomed the "principle" of the Climate Change Bill, but said it should be "strengthened" by demanding annual emissions targets.

He told the Commons: "The sense of anti-climax is deafening. We have got very little new, no ideas, little vision. Is this really what we were wanting?"

Mr Cable is acting leader of the Lib Dems following the resignation of Sir Menzies Campbell last month.

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