Page last updated at 22:37 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Brown draws election battle lines


The Queen's Speech in full: From Democracy Live

Gordon Brown has put economic recovery at the heart of his final set of plans before the next general election.

Key measures in the Queen's Speech include a crackdown on excesses in the City and a legal obligation to halve the budget deficit within four years.

Mr Brown told the Commons Labour was the "only party with the policies to build a long-term recovery".

Tory leader David Cameron said Labour had run out of "money, time and ideas" and called for an immediate election.

Fiscal Responsibility Bill - put into law promise to halve deficit
Financial Services and Business Bill - clamp down on bonuses for bankers taking too many risks
The Flood and Water Management Bill - gives councils lead role in flood prevention
Social Care Bill - neediest elderly to get home care
Policing, Crime and Private Security Bill - DNA of more sex offenders added to database
Children, Schools and Families Bill - Guarantees school standards and extra help pupils who fall behind
Energy Bill - give Ofgem more powers to act on behalf of customers over prices
Bribery Bill - make it offence to bribe foreign officials and for business to fail to prevent bribery
Digital Economy Bill - set up fund to bring in universal broadband by 2012
Cluster Munitions Prohibition Bill - ratify international ban on cluster bombs

In a foretaste of the sort of arguments likely to be seen during an election campaign, Mr Brown said the Conservatives had been "wrong on every single issue we have faced in economic policy this year".

And he hit back at Mr Cameron's claims that he had used the Queen's Speech to set out "fake dividing lines" to trap the opposition ahead of a general election, which must happen by June at the latest.

Mr Brown told MPs the package of measures included in the Queen's Speech were "not in the party interest but in the national interest".

He mounted a robust defence of the government's economic record and vowed to continue its "fiscal stimulus", telling MPs: "As a nation we will go for growth."

He also announced what he said were four new measures to combat youth unemployment, including training guarantees and "high quality" internships for graduates out of work for more than six months.

Mr Cameron dismissed the Queen's Speech as "half-baked" and a "Labour press release on Palace parchment" and in a sustained attack on Mr Brown's "moral failure" as a leader, he accused the prime minister of "desperately trying a few tricks to try and save his own skin".

'Rotten system'

The Conservative leader said that in his obsession with trying to "get one over" on the opposition the prime minister had ignored important issues such as immigration, the NHS and cleaning-up politics, which he said were not mentioned in the Queen's Speech.

"They have run out of money, they have run out of time, they have run out of ideas, and as we have just seen from the prime minister, they have run out of courage as well," Mr Cameron said.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg attacked the Queen's Speech as a "fantasy" package full of "unnecessary" measures.

Mr Clegg, who had called for the speech to be cancelled and the remaining Parliamentary time before an election to be used to clean-up politics, said there was nothing in the proposed legislation to help create jobs, boost bank lending and fix the UK's "rotten" political system.

Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke, a longstanding Labour critic of Mr Brown said the PM's attempt to set up "dividing lines" with the Tories was wrong, telling MPs: "This Queen's Speech shows that we are dominated by political fear of our opponents - that is not the way for Labour to win and makes it more difficult for us to do so."

BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson said the Queen's Speech effectively signalled the start of the general election campaign, with Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and other senior ministers even holding an "election-style news conference" at Labour Party HQ, ahead of it.

It was a slimmer programme than normal, with 10 new bills, three carried over from the previous session and two draft bills.

But with an expected 70 to 80 days of parliamentary business remaining before an election the government still faces a race against time to get its programme through.

Air gun storage

The speech includes a bill containing guarantees about children's schooling in England, including extra tuition for pupils who fall behind and support for gifted learners.

Meanwhile, 400,000 elderly people will be promised help with care in their own homes, as part of the Social Care Bill, which applies to England only.

A Health Bill, which would have introduced maximum waiting times for some NHS surgery and consultations, has been left out of the programme, but the changes will be brought in through secondary legislation amending the new NHS constitution.

The government has also carried over a piece of legislation restating its aspiration to abolish child poverty by 2020 - despite missing its targets in this area so far.

Written by the government and delivered by the reigning monarch, it sets out the legislative agenda for the year ahead and is the centrepiece of the state opening of Parliament
The Queen normally attends in person at the state opening of Parliament and delivers the speech from the grand throne in the House of Lords
Doesn't include everything- the Budget and pre-Budget report are also increasingly used to set out strategy and announce new measures
You can watch all the Queen's speech day action from Parliament on the BBC's Democracy Live website.

The Flood and Water Management Bill, following the disasters of summer 2007, would give local authorities in England and Wales the lead responsibility for managing the risk of future flooding.

There is also a bill to cut down on the paperwork police officers have to fill in when carrying out stop and search operations, in England and Wales, and to extend the collection of DNA from sex offenders.

The crime and security bill also includes compulsory licences for wheelclampers and, following the deaths of several children, compulsory safe storage of air guns.

Elfyn Llywd, Plaid Cymru's leader at Westminster, said: "If this is Labour's shadow manifesto, they have lost the election."

Angus Robertson, leader of the SNP at Westminster, said there was little in the speech for Scotland and it was "all about positioning for the general election".

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