Coalition running out of steam? Key measures dropped from Queen's Speech over differences between partners

Tories shelved plans for minimum unit price for alcohol and plain cigarette packaging and Lib Dems pronounced 'snooper's charter' as dead

Political Editor

The Coalition Government was accused of running out of steam today as differences between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats led to several key measures being dropped from the Queen's Speech.

Two years before the next general election, the two Coalition parties began to diverge earlier than expected as behind the scenes tensions between them were exposed.  They will have to present their final Queen's Speech of the five-year parliament in a year's time and one minister admitted: "I don't know what we will have left to put in it."

Today's package saw the Conservatives shelve plans to bring in a minimum unit price for alcohol and plain packaging for cigarettes as they tried to focus on the economy, welfare and immigration ahead of the 2105 election while avoiding measures that alienate voters.  Also omitted were a statutory register of lobbyists and Nick Clegg's plans to allow constituents to force a by-election when their MPs are guilty of misconduct.

The Tories refused to enshrine in law the Coalition's target to raise spending on overseas aid to 0.7 per cent of gross national income. Although the Coalition will meet the goal, the decision means future governments will not be bound by it. Mr Clegg had described such a law as "a priority" for the parliamentary session which began yesterday. Aid groups warned that the world's poorest countries would be unable to plan ahead for levels of UK assistance.

The Lib Dems pronounced as "dead" a Bill to allow the security services to track emails, text messages and internet use, dubbed the "snooper's charter." It was omitted from yesterday's Speech after Mr Clegg objected and Lib Dems dismissed speculation that it may be revived later. Mr Clegg vetoed a government Bill to pave the way for the in/out referendum on the European Union David Cameron has promised by 2017. Instead, Tory ministers may support a backbench Bill.

A Labour source said: "The Coalition was meant to last for a five-year parliament. It has run out of ideas after three years. The people who will suffer are the British public, who are seeing no action on jobs and growth as the economy flatlines."

Conservative and Lib Dem ministers denied that their programme was "thin," pointing to two "meaty" social measures - to cap the amount old people have to pay for residential care at £72,000 and introduce a £144-a-week flat rate state pension.

However, there were differences between the Coalition partners over the Immigration Bill, seen by Tory ministers as a way of reassuring voters who backed the UK Independence Party in last week's local elections. The measure will restrict the right of migrants to free NHS treatment and social housing but the details have not yet been worked out yet and may not be known before the autumn. Downing Street could not promise the law would come into effect before Romanians and Bulgarians get the right to work in Britain from next  January.

Lib Dems said they supported a "tough but fair" immigration system but that they would use "different language" to the Tories on the issue. Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Cabinet minister, said: "The message I give as the Business Secretary is that, actually, people who come into the country overwhelmingly make a positive contribution." Lord Oakeshott, the Lib Dems' former Treasury spokesman, accused Theresa May, the Home Secretary,  of "pandering to Ukip" by forcing private sector landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants.

Referring to Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader,  Ed Miliband warned Mr Cameron he would not be able to "out-Farage Farage".   The Labour leader told the Commons that yesterday's package was "a no answers Queen's Speech from a tired and failing government --out of touch, out of ideas, standing up for the wrong people and unable to bring the change the country needs."

Mr Cameron described the immigration measures as the "centrepiece" of his administration's  plans as they "go right across government". He told MPs: "Put simply, our Immigration Bill will back aspiration and end the legacy of the last Government, where people could come here and expect something for nothing."  He insisted the Coalition was "rising to the challenge of preparing this country for the future". 

The Prime Minister said the Government was standing up for hard-working people and  those who want to get on and making the country competitive so it could win the global race.

Probation shake-up aims to cut stubbornly high reoffending rate

All offenders will be compelled to receive at least one year’s supervision in the community after release from prison – no matter how short a sentence they have served – in an attempt to drive down “stubbornly high reoffending rates”.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, will set out the plan today as part of a shake-up of the criminal justice system.

The Offender Rehabilitation Bill, to be published tomorrow, will also announce the designation of 70 jails as “resettlement prisons” where inmates are held before their release near their home areas to prepare them for life in the outside world.

At the moment only offenders sentenced to 12 months or more  have to undergo supervision in the community, which can include regular meetings with probation staff to help them with drink and drug problems, as well as with finding a home or job.

Now the scheme will be extended to all offenders, affecting thousands jailed every year.

Under the plans, which are due to come into force in England in 2015, it will be made more difficult for ex-offenders to move home while under supervision. Those who fail to comply with their supervision terms could be fined, ordered to do community work or jailed for up to 14 days.

Although rates of recorded crime are falling, reoffending rates have hardly changed in the past 10 years, with 58 per cent of prisoners serving less than 12 months going on to reoffend in the year after release.

Mr Grayling said: “These reforms represent a golden opportunity to finally turn the tide and put a stopper in the revolving door of the justice system.”

Nigel Morris

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own