Plan to delay Queen's Speech until 2012 sparks anger in House

The coalition government has been accused of a "major power grab" after announcing it will break more than 50 years of tradition by delaying the next Queen's Speech until 2012.

Sir George Young, the Commons Leader, said the decision had been made to ensure a smooth transition to a new system of fixed-term Parliaments, when general elections would take place every five years.

The event, when the monarch traditionally sets out the Government's programme of bills, usually takes place in the autumn. But the next speech will now take place in the spring of 2012, giving the Government extra time to push through its current programme of legislation.

Denis MacShane, the former Labour minister, described the move as a "major power grab" that had not been debated. "This represents a major shift of power to the executive at the expense of the people," he said. "Time is power in this or any democratic parliament. This constitutional change allows the Government two years to extend its legislation."

Sir George said the move would "ensure that Parliament has adequate time in this session to debate and scrutinise the Government's legislative programme." He said, "Far from being an affront to Parliament, it is one way in which this Government is empowering it". Officials said the move had been agreed with Buckingham Palace.

Under the plan, elections would take place on the first Thursday of May, every five years. It would mean the next vote would fall on 7 May 2015.

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