Long list of 'missing' Bills points to an early election

The legislative timetable
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Indy Politics

With just 15 Bills, this year's Queen's Speech was the shortest since Labour came to power, fuelling speculation that a general election is likely next spring.

With just 15 Bills, this year's Queen's Speech was the shortest since Labour came to power, fuelling speculation that a general election is likely next spring.

As ever, the identity of those bills left out of the speech prompted as much interest as those included in it and the Tories were quick to point out which ministers and departments had lost out.

The four draft Bills outlined yesterday will also have to wait until after the general election before they can come forward as Bills in their own right.

Chief among the promised pieces of legislation that didn't make the final 15 was the abolition of Section 28, part of a 1996 Act that banned councils from the "promotion" of homosexuality.

However, there was a raft of other planned measures that failed to win inclusion in the speech.

Legislation to award compensation to vaccine-damaged children, which was promised by Alistair Darling, the Social Security Secretary, has not appeared.

Adoption groups will also be unhappy that there is no Bill to change the rules to make adoption easier and more consistent across the country.

The Government's frequently-touted Consumer Bill, which would have clamped down on rogue traders and so-called "Rip-off Britain", was another casualty.

A new law to liberalise alcohol licensing has also failed to materialise, despite repeated briefings from the Home Office that pubs would be allowed to open all hours.

Because of the lateness of the publication of the Urban White Paper, measures to increase housing density and regenerate inner cities will not reach the statute book before the election.

On electoral reform, Tony Blair's manifesto promise to hold a referendum on the issue has been unceremoniously dumped.

Other "missing" Bills included referendums on the creation of regional assemblies, a Water Bill, to promote further competition in the industry and protect the consumer, and a Communications Bill.

The four draft Bills unveiled yesterday, Safety, Proceeds of Crime, Export Control, and Justice (Northern Ireland) were all contenders for real Bills but failed to make the final list.

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