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1. the Speaker shall not adjourn the House until any Messages from the Lords shall have been received; and
2. if the House has completed its consideration of any Messages received from the Lords and the Lords have adjourned their sitting, the Speaker shall adjourn the House without Question put.

Mr. Fraser: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. As you issued the writ for the Kensington and Chelsea by-election, would it be possible for you to speak to the appropriate authorities, so that peers who are on the electoral register and who, from tomorrow, will be legally entitled to vote will be able to exercise that right? In

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another place, Lady Jay promised that the enfranchisement of those peers would immediately follow the passage of the House of Lords Bill.

Madam Speaker: I had responsibility for issuing the writ for the by-election, and I did so; but I have no responsibility for the electorate in the area.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. May I seek your guidance? I understand that, because we voted for the motion, we can now be summoned back at any time by the Leader of the House, whereas, if we had not voted for it, we would have had to wait until 7 pm. Am I right in thinking that we can be summoned back before 7 pm for any reason, not just because messages may have arrived from the other place--for instance, because of the screaming headlines in all today's papers about the crisis in the beef industry? The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food might want to make a statement about that.

Madam Speaker: If the hon. Gentleman had read the motion, he would know that only a message from the Lords can bring us back.

Mr. Hawkins: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will recall that, during the first of the two Divisions that have just taken place, I sought to raise a matter arising from the written answer that the Home Secretary gave this morning, and you advised me that it would not be appropriate for me to make a point of order at that stage because a point of order during a Division could relate only to that Division. May I now return to the written answer? According to the Home Secretary, the inquiry that he has announced

Madam Speaker: That is highly unlikely. As I said earlier, we are waiting only for Lords messages. I anticipate that the Lords will be dealing with the House of Lords Bill at 3 o'clock this afternoon. We must await the message that will come from the Lords at that time. Pursuant to the Order of the House this day, the sitting is suspended. Before the sitting resumes, I shall see that the Division Bells are sounded so that all Members are made aware of it.

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1.41 pm

Sitting suspended.

5.5 pm

On resuming--

Message to attend the Lords Commissioners:

The House went; and, having returned:

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Royal Assent

5.36 pm

Madam Speaker: I have to acquaint the House that the House has been to the House of Peers, where a Commission under the Great Seal was read, authorising the Royal Assent to the following Acts:

Food Standards Act 1999

Greater London Authority Act 1999

Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999

Contracts (Right of Third Parties) Act 1999

Mental Health (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 1999

Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

House of Lords Act 1999

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Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech

Madam Speaker: I have further to acquaint the House that the Lord High Chancellor, one of the Lord Commissioners, delivered Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament, in pursuance of Her Majesty's Command. For greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy and also directed that the terms of the speech be printed in the Journal of the House. Copies are being made available in the Vote Office.

The Gracious Speech was as follows:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

The Duke of Edinburgh and I were pleased to receive the State Visits of His Excellency the President of Germany last December, of His Excellency the President of Hungary last June and of His Excellency the President of the People's Republic of China in October.

We recall with pleasure our State Visit to Korea in April.

We were delighted to pay State Visits to Ghana, and South Africa, over the last four days, and to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

My Government have taken action to build a platform of economic stability and steady growth, based on clear long-term objectives for monetary and fiscal policy, with openness and transparency in policy making.

My Government's goal is high and stable levels of growth and employment. The new system of monetary policy-making ensures that interest rate decisions are taken in the best long-term interests of the economy. As a result, the UK now has a sound and credible platform of stability. Inflation is historically low and expected to remain close to target. And long-term interest rates are also at historically low levels. Employment is up by over half a million since the election, with more people in work in Britain today than ever before.

To ensure high levels of employment, my Government are extending the new deal, to help more young people and the long-term unemployed. And my Government are tackling the poverty and unemployment traps. To make work pay and encourage job creation, they have introduced the national minimum wage and the new 10p starting rate of tax, cut the basic rate of income tax from next April, and reformed national insurance. And the Working Families Tax Credit, introduced in October, is helping to make work pay for low-paid working families.

My Government are continually looking at ways to improve productivity, including in the public sector. They have set tough targets for outputs from every department in Public Service Agreements.

My Government's legislation to raise standards for all children is now coming into effect. There has been a widespread reduction in the number of children in infant classes of over 30 and there is extensive support for the literacy and numeracy strategies. My Government published the Teachers Green Paper--the most radical reform of the teaching profession in a generation--and has since announced progress towards a new pay structure for teachers.

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Parliament has passed for the first time legislation for the creation of a Disability Rights Commission, which will help create a positive climate for people with disabilities in their lives and work.

My Government have put in place the framework for a modern National Health Service. An Act has been passed to replace the NHS internal market with decentralised arrangements based on partnership, quality and efficiency. Waiting lists have been reduced by 200,000 since their high point in April 1998, and by 69,000 since March 1997.

An Act has been passed to establish a Food Standards Agency to protect public health and the interests of consumers in relation to food.

Legislation has been enacted to support minimum standards at work, to promote partnership and to make it easier for people to combine family responsibilities and employment.

An Act has been passed which takes forward my Government's programme of welfare reform, promoting work for those who are able to work and security for those who cannot.

My Government have begun the modernisation of local government. Legislation has been enacted to secure the delivery of high quality local services on a sound financial basis.

My Government have begun the process of restoring democratic, city-wide government in London. Legislation was enacted to establish the Greater London Authority, providing London with a new form of strategic governance.

An Act has been passed which will enable the implementation of the EU Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control, which will maintain a coherent pollution control regime for the United Kingdom.

Legislation has been enacted to provide a fair basis for water charging in England and Wales.

An Act has been passed to modernise and strengthen immigration control. It will speed up the system of immigration and asylum appeals. This Act is essential to the delivery of a fairer, faster and firmer immigration and asylum system to which my Government is committed.

An Act has been passed which creates a new sentencing disposal for first-time defendants pleading guilty in the youth court and introduces new measures to help vulnerable witnesses to give their best evidence in criminal trials.

Legislation has been enacted to establish a Community Legal Service and a Criminal Defence Service. They will replace existing legal aid arrangements and enable resources to be better targeted. The Act also extends the use of conditional fees, removes unnecessary restrictions on the provision of legal services and makes reforms to magistrates' courts and the appeals system. This will increase access to justice. Other law reform measures have been enacted.

As a first step in a process of reform, legislation has been enacted to remove the automatic right of hereditary peers to membership of the House of Lords.

The people of Scotland and Wales voted to have their own Parliament and National Assembly and it was my pleasure with The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales to open the National Assembly of Wales on 26th May and to open the Scottish Parliament on 1st July.

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In Northern Ireland, my Government have continued to work to secure the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. They have, in co-operation with the Irish Government, established a review to overcome difficulties in its implementation. They have welcomed the Report of the Independent Commission on Policing.

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