Downturn forces Brown to scale back Queen's Speech - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

Downturn forces Brown to scale back Queen's Speech

Bills axed so Government can focus on the economy

Gordon Brown's legislative programme for next year has been streamlined at the last minute to enable the Government to focus on the ailing economy. Previously announced plans to curb cigarette sales, set up a giant database of phone records and boost protection for ancient monuments are to be delayed by ministers.

As alarm grows in Labour ranks over the muted response to the pre-Budget report (PBR), this week's Queen's Speech has been overhauled to put the emphasis on helping small firms and families. Six months ago, Mr Brown announced plans for at least 18 Bills for the Queen's Speech, which sets out the Government's plans for the next parliamentary session. But several have been stripped out, with at least four being postponed by the Government. Final changes to the list of measures for the Queen's Speech on Wednesday were agreed last week by ministers.

The move will leave space for the Government to announce emergency economic plans, including legislation to force the banks to lend more money to cash-strapped small business. A Government source said: "A lot of it will be on the economy and, in the medium-term, what we can do to deal with the upturn."

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, confirmed yesterday that additional measures to stimulate the economy would be required. "You'd be very foolish indeed to say, 'Well, that's the job done'," he said. "This is something that needs constant attention."

And yesterday it seemed that the moves he has already made might not have had the desired impact with the public. An Ipsos Mori opinion poll for The Observer suggested a slide in Labour support since the PBR seven days ago. It put the Tories on 43 per cent (up five points) and Labour on 32 (down three), a lead of 11 points, enough for a comfortable Commons majority. The Liberal Democrats also recovered three points to 15 per cent. Voters also cast doubt on Mr Darling's attempt to stimulate growth by cutting VAT from today, with just 6 per cent saying they would spend more as a result.

The Queen's Speech – being delivered against the gloomiest economic backdrop by far since Labour came to power in 1997 – will still contain contentious measures on health, welfare and policing. Mr Brown will tell MPs this week that its underlining theme is promoting "fairness". But a Tory spokesman said: "It's no wonder they are trimming back the Queen's Speech. They have run out of ideas and the only good ones they have got are Tory ideas."

A new NHS Bill will set out plans to drive up hospital standards by fining poorly-performing hospital Trusts or even shutting them down. The long-term unemployed will be required to retrain or have their benefits docked and lone parents will have to return to work earlier, schemes that critics say should be abandoned because of growing dole queues.

A Crime and Policing Bill will make policing accountable to local elected representatives and usher in fresh proposals to tackle binge-drinking. But it is unlikely to include plans to force shops to keep cigarettes under the counter amid fears that hard-pressed retailers could lose sales as a result.

The Communications Data Bill, which would allow the state to collate information about telephone calls, emails and internet visits, was being delayed. It will be absent from the Queen's Speech, with only a commitment for a consultation document on the scheme. The Heritage Protection Bill, overhauling the listing system for historic buildings and monuments, has also been dropped.

Off the agenda: Missing measures

Bills expected to be delayed or dropped include:

*Communications Data Bill

Requires telecommunications companies to retain information of numbers people ring, email addresses on messages and web-browsing habits. Critics fear it paves the way for the details being sent to a giant government database

*Heritage Protection Bill

Reforms the listing systems for monuments and historic buildings to make it more consistent and easier to understand. Also scraps rules that prevent major museums from returning works of art looted by the Nazis to their original owners

*Victims and Witnesses Bill

Increases the protection in court for witnesses who could be intimidated. Stops criminals from profiting from their memoirs or films of their exploits. Reforms the law on defences to murder. Its provisions could be delayed or transferred to other Bills, which would cause protests that the plans were being downgraded

*Transport Security Bill

Gives the Royal Navy increased powers to fight piracy and terrorism at sea, particularly relevant this week. Also requires airports to have a proper security plan and meet the cost of it. Both provisions expected to be transferred to other Bills to save time.

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week