HC Deb 20 June 2001 vol 370 cc32-4
Mr. Speaker

I have to acquaint the House that this House has this day attended Her Majesty in the House of Peers, and that Her Majesty was pleased to make a Most Gracious Speech from the Throne to both Houses of Parliament, of which I have, for greater accuracy, obtained a copy.

I shall direct that the terms of the Gracious Speech be printed in the appropriate place in the Votes and Proceedings. Copies are available in the Vote Office.

The Gracious Speech was as follows:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government's central objectives are economic stability, and investment and reform in public services, leading to a more prosperous and inclusive society.

To this end, my Government will continue to secure low inflation and sound public finances.

My Government's main priorities for the forthcoming Session will be reform in education, health, crime and welfare.

My Government will introduce legislation to reform education. An Education Bill will be introduced to promote diversity and higher standards, particularly in secondary schools. It will provide new opportunities for school sponsorship, more options for tackling failing schools, and greater freedom for successful headteachers and governors.

My Government will introduce legislation to reform health services. A Bill will decentralise power and direct resources to National Health Service staff, give patients greater influence on the running of the NHS, and strengthen regulation of the health professions.

Legislation will he drafted to reform the provision of health services in Wales.

Legislation will be brought forward to reform sentencing and rules of evidence, with measures to tackle corruption and sex offenders.

A Bill will be introduced to increase powers against money laundering, establish a Criminal Assets Recovery Agency, and make it easier to recover the proceeds of crime and drugs.

Legislation will be brought forward to help the police fight crime, ensure that they can co-operate effectively across police force boundaries and establish a new complaints system.

Legislation to reform the criminal courts system will be drafted in the light of the forthcoming recommendations from the review by Lord Justice Auld.

Legislation will be introduced to extend the life of the Football (Disorder) Act.

My Government will introduce legislation to reform the welfare system. A Bill will include measures to help more people back into work. Legislation will also be brought forward to introduce the new tax credits system, and to establish the new pension credit for pensioners.

My Government will introduce legislation to encourage enterprise, strengthen competition laws, and promote safeguards for consumers.

A draft Bill to create a single regulator for the media and communications industries and reform the broadcasting and telecommunications regulations will be published.

Members of the House of Commons

Estimates for the Public Service will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

In Northern Ireland, my Government will continue to work closely with the political parties and the Irish Government to secure the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement.

My Government maintains its commitment to devolution in Scotland and Wales.

Following consultation, my Government will introduce legislation to implement the second phase of House of Lords reform.

My Government will prepare legislation to allow political parties to make positive moves to increase the representation of women in public life.

My Government will publish draft legislation to take forward the recommendations of Lord Cullen's inquiry into rail safety.

Legislation will be introduced to reform the system of land registration to promote greater electronic conveyancing. The Bill to reform the purchase of freeholds by leaseholders and to create commonhold, a new form of tenure for flat owners, will be reintroduced.

My Government will introduce legislation to make the age entitlement for concessionary travel fares the same for men and women at the age of sixty.

A Bill will be introduced to reform adoption law to make children's interests paramount, and tackle inter-country adoption.

My Government will enable a free vote to take place on the future of hunting with dogs.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

The Duke of Edinburgh and I were delighted to pay a State Visit to Norway at the end of May. Similarly, we were pleased to receive the State Visit of His Excellency the President of South Africa and Mrs. Mbeki last week.

The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Australia and subsequently visiting New Zealand in October. We also look forward to receiving a State Visit by the King and Queen of Jordan this autumn.

My Government will work with our partners to make sure that Europe has the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world. It will work for rapid progress on the enlargement of the European Union and will introduce legislation to enable the United Kingdom to ratify the Treaty of Nice and implement the Berlin Own Resources decision on the Union's future funding.

NATO will remain the cornerstone of Britain's national security, and my Government will work for a still more effective Alliance defence. In this context, and to enable the European Union to act where NATO chooses not to do so, my Government will work to improve the European Union's capacity, and Member States' capabilities, for humanitarian, peace-keeping and crisis management tasks.

Legislation will be introduced to improve the transparency of export controls and to establish their purpose.

Tackling climate change and making a reality of sustainable development will be a priority for my Government. It will fulfil the United Kingdom's international obligations arising from the Kyoto Protocol.

My Government will work for an early and comprehensive World Trade Round, which will benefit industrialised and developing countries alike.

In the United Nations, my Government will support a more modern and representative Security Council, and work to make conflict prevention and peacekeeping more effective.

My Government will work to encourage universal observance of human rights, including throughout the Commonwealth.

My Government will continue to work for a more effective global effort to reduce poverty, and will reintroduce its Bill to entrench and strengthen the poverty focus to development work.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.