Queen Elizabeth II to outline British coalition's plans

25th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Queen Elizabeth II officially opens Britain's parliament Tuesday in a ceremony of pomp and history following the election, and will set out the new coalition government's legislative programme.

The queen takes part in the traditional State Opening of Parliament, before outlining what are expected to be the coalition's ambitious plans in an address to lawmakers delivered from a throne in the upper house of the legislature.

A leaked draft of the Queen's Speech -- in which she sets out proposed legislation in a speech entirely drawn up for her by the government -- showed the coalition planned an 18-month programme of at least 21 parliamentary bills.

Within days, key school reforms and the scrapping of proposals to introduce a compulsory national identification cards would be brought in, according to the draft revealed in newspapers at the weekend.

A major proposal was a programme of political reform, with measures to provide for fixed-term parliaments and powers to enable voters to get rid of lawmakers found guilty of serious wrongdoing, said the Sunday Telegraph paper.

It could also lead to a referendum on voting reform -- a key demand of the Liberal Democrat party when they were negotiating to go into coalition with the Conservatives, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, after the May 6 poll.

"Freedom, fairness and responsibility" lie at the heart of the programme, as well as a "great repeals bill" to abandon laws introduced by the previous Labour administration but opposed by the coalition parties, said the Telegraph.

The finance ministry will be at the forefront of efforts to push through five bills, according to the draft, which highlights the new government's priority of tackling Britain's record deficit.

Another proposal will aim to ensure that "this parliament and the British people have their say on any proposed transfer of powers to the European Union."

The move is an apparent gesture to eurosceptic Conservatives, many of whom are deeply unhappy at their party's alliance with the Lib Dems, led by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

In the State Opening of Parliament, the queen proceeds from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament -- the lower house of the legislature -- escorted by cavalry in a ceremony which attracts large crowds.

Traditions surrounding the ceremony trace their history back 500 years. In its current forms, it dates from the opening of the Houses of Parliament in 1852 after a huge fire.

© 2010 AFP

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