Queen's Speech lays out radical agenda for coalition

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David Cameron's coalition Government launched its first legislative programme today - with flagship Bills on schools, political reform and a promise to scrap ID cards.



The Queen's Speech contains 22 Bills and one draft Bill and, speaking from her throne in the House of Lords, the sovereign told assembled peers and MPs: "My Government's legislative programme will be based upon the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility."



The speech also pledged: "The first priority is to reduce the deficit and restore economic growth."



There were few surprises in the widely-leaked programme of Britain's first coalition administration since 1945.



Measures were also promised to inject new private capital into the Royal Mail, put an annual cap on non-EU migrants, allow for elected sheriff-style police bosses, and create a dedicated Border Police Force.



The sale of alcohol below cost price would be banned under a Social Responsibility Bill, and councils and police would be given greater powers to close down trouble-making clubs and bars.



Other pledges include moves to slash the number of quangos and cut bureaucracy to save £1 billion a year.



On schools, an Academies Bill will allow all schools - including primaries - to gain academy status, removing the need for local authority approval.



The Prime Minister made good his promise on voting reform, with a pledge to move to five-year fixed-term parliaments and a referendum on moving to the Alternative Vote system for elections to the Commons.





Video: Queen's speech

The Parliamentary Reform Bill will also remove the right of the Premier to decide the date of the next election, unless he can gain support of 55% of MPs in a Commons vote.



The Commons will still be able to kick out a government on a simple confidence motion.



The next general election will be held on May 7 2015 under these proposals.



Voters will be given the chance to recall an MP for serious wrongdoing, forcing a by-election if more than 10% of voters sign a petition. Tory plans to reduce the number of MPs and re-draw boundaries will also be included.



But House of Lords reform - a potential flashpoint - has ben sidelined to a committee reporting back by the end of the year.



ID cards will be scrapped among measures in a Freedom (Great Repeal) Bill designed to "roll back the state".



It would also restrict the scope of the national DNA database, and give added protection to innocent people whose samples have been stored.



The use of CCTV will be more tightly regulated and the Government promises to ensure anti-terror legislation "strikes the right balance between protecting the public, strengthening social cohesion and protecting civil liberties".



Today's packed announcements reflect the fact that this Queen's Speech programme will run until autumn 2011, rather than the usual 12 months, because of the general election.



All eyes will now be on how far Tory and Liberal Democrat backbenchers may want to flex their muscles, with Mr Cameron and his Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg hoping they have already defused the most contentious issues.



The Liberal Democrat leader told BBC Breakfast: "We want to give people more control over their schools, over their hospitals, over their police, over their politicians."







The Queen's Speech also confirmed that the Bank of England would take over both macro and micro regulation of banks and the City.



And a new Office of Budget Responsibility, chaired by ex-Whitehall mandarin Sir Alan Budd, will take responsibility for fiscal forecasts away from the Treasury.



A Welfare Reform Bill is promised to simplify the benefits system, and the state pension age could be increased to 66 sooner than the present 2024 timetable as part of measures to pay for restoring the link between state pensions and earnings.



A European Union Bill will make good the Tory pledge that future EU treaties or amendments to existing treaties will have to be approved in a referendum - the so-called "referendum lock".



Among moves not needing legislation are pledges to speed up the roll-out of high-speed broadband across Britain and to enable the construction of a high-speed rail network, starting with a new London-Birmingham link.



The speech also promised a strategic defence and security review.

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