By Martyn Young
Stabilising the economy and introducing tough new measures on welfare and crime were the main features of todays Queen’s speech whcih outlines Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the governments legislative programme for the next twelve months.
The speech features 14 legislative bills on subjects ranging from the economy, law and order and immigration. In the speech delivered by Her Majesty and prepared for her by the government she outlined the governments plans that showed they were: ” Committed to helping families and businesses through difficult times.”
“My governments overriding priority is to ensure the stability of the British Economy during the global economic downturn.” the Queen said.
The speech was slimmed down from last May’s draft version which featured 18 pieces of legislation due to the need to introduce new measures to combat the financial crisis.
The main piece of legislation was the banking reforms bill which aims to protect peoples savings and reduce the possibility of banks getting into difficulty in the same way as HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Crime and social welfare also featured heavily in the speech as Gordon Brown attempts to focus attention away from the economy.
New measures to tackle benefit cheats with the introduction of lie detector test and a scheme to give communities a say in how criminals are punished were announced.
The speech appears to be of a more populist nature as Gordon Brown tries to attract votes before a possible general election in 2009. The focus on crime and disorder can be seen as an attempt to appeal to working class voters who are very concerned about crime and anti social behaviour. The government also promise to introduce new measures to improve policing and cut crime levels. Tighter immigration controls will be brought in with the merging of customs and immigration powers.
Underlining the governement’s commitment to social welfare are the plans for an equality bill which will promote fairness,fight sexual discrimination and address the pay gap between men and women.
The bills will now proceed through parliament during the next 12 months.