Gordon Brown today presented a slimmed-down legislative programme for the coming year in a Queen's Speech focusing tightly on measures to help Britain through the economic downturn.
The programme for the Prime Minister's last full year before a general election includes 13 new Bills, along with a Constitutional Renewal Bill which will be introduced "when time allows".
The package's centrepiece is a Banking Bill designed to enhance financial stability through measures to reduce the likelihood of banks getting into difficulty, improve the tools available to the authorities when they do and strengthen protection for depositors if they fail.
In an address prepared for her by the Government, the Queen told MPs and peers that ministers' "overriding priority" in the new parliamentary session will be "to ensure the stability of the British economy through the global economic downturn".
And she added: "My Government is committed to helping families and businesses through difficult times."
The programme represents a scaling back of the draft legislative programme set out by the Prime Minister in May, with less urgent bills dropped or merged to allow ministers more time to address the UK's economic difficulties.
Most notable absence from the May list is a Communications Data Bill which would have paved the way for a national database of phone calls and emails, but has been postponed by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
The programme includes measures to give local councils greater decision-making power and new means to promote the economy of their area, as well as a legal duty for them to respond to petitions from the public.
The construction sector, which has been one of the main victims of the recession, is to be helped with new measures to provide a "fairer" system of commercial contracts and more cash flow.
A Welfare Reform Bill will introduce new requirements for disabled people and single parents to seek work, with the aim to cut Incapacity Benefit claimants by one million, help 300,000 lone parents and one million older people into work and achieve an all-time high employment rate of 80 per cent.
The Bill will also abolish Income Support in favour of a new streamlined system of out-of-work benefits.
A Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill will place new responsibilities on migrants wishing to settle in the UK, slowing down the path to citizenship if they commit crimes or fail to integrate. It will also bring Customs functions under the UK Borders Agency, providing an "integrated approach to border control".
And police accountability will be increased by the introduction of directly elected representatives to police authorities in a Policing and Crime Bill which also tightens up controls over the licensing of lap-dancing clubs and the sale of alcohol.
The Government's target of ending child poverty by 2020 will be enshrined in law through a Child Poverty Bill and a Health Bill will establish a new constitution for the NHS.
A Savings Gateway Accounts Bill aims to create a new financial incentive for eight million of the UK's poorest people to save, with the Government contributing 50p for every £1 saved.
And an Equality Bill will combine nine pieces of anti-discrimination legislation and 100 statutory instruments into a single Act of Parliament to give everyone "a fair chance in life" regardless of gender, race, sexuality or disability.
Schools and colleges will be given powers to search pupils for alcohol, drugs and stolen goods and a Children, Skills and Learning Bill will introduce an entitlement to an apprenticeship for all suitably-qualified young people.
The public will be given the right to walk round the entire English coast for the first time in a Marine and Coastal Access Bill which also introduces a marine planning system to cover all projects impacting on the seas around the coastline.
The Government is continuing to work on a Constitutional Renewal Bill published in draft form in March, which is intended to give Parliament a vote on the ratification of treaties and place the civil service on a statutory footing. It will be introduced as a bill "when time allows".
A Political Parties and Elections Bill, which introduces greater transparency on political donations and strengthens the role of the Electoral Commission, has been carried over from the last session.Reuse content