The following Members took and subscribed the Oath, or made and subscribed the Affirmation required by Law:
Mr. Speaker: May I congratulate all Members on their success in being elected to this, the 54th Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. May I particularly congratulate those who have been elected to the House for the first time. The House always has sympathy with former Members who have lost out in the electoral contest, but there is no doubt that the House also benefits from the regular infusion of fresh blood. I am sure that that will be true on this occasion.
Great efforts have been made by the authorities of the House to ensure that Members, particularly new Members, have access to all information and briefing that they are likely to need about the House's services and facilities, its rules and procedures, and its conventions. You probably feel that you have more information than you can digest, but I urge you to make the effort and to attend as many briefing sessions as possible. Longer-serving Members are a valuable source of guidance and help. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] There is more. Butdare I say it?their advice is not invariably up to date and reliable. There is no substitute
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for reading the documentation for yourself and seeking authoritative advice if you are in any doubt. Certainly, it will be no excuse for Members who break one of the House's rules to claim that they were not aware of itat least, not after the first few weeks.
I draw your attention in particular to the House's code of conduct, which we should all observe in letter and in spirit, and to the rules that regulate the proper use of House facilities and allowances, which are also covered by the code. As the Freedom of Information Act has brought home to us, Members are answerable not just to the House but to the public for their conduct in this place. The same applies to behaviour in this Chamber. This House is rightly the place for strong and passionate argument and disagreement, but nothing does more to turn the public off our proceedings than debates that regularly descend into petty point scoring, spite and personalities. I hope that this Parliament will be characterised by robust debate, tempered with mutual respect.
Security is likely to be a continuing concern during this Parliament. Our recently appointed security co-ordinator is working, with the Serjeant at Arms and Black Rod, on a thorough review of our security precautions. I look to all Members to co-operate fully with any new measures that may need to be introduced. I also expect all Members to observe current security requirements, including the requirement to wear your security pass when moving around within the parliamentary estate.
Before the Clerk gives the customary First Reading to the Outlawries Bill, I shall put to the House the Sessional Order to the Metropolitan police. Before the Dissolution, legislation was enacted on the control of demonstrations and other activities in the environs of Parliament, including Parliament square, but I understand that this will not be brought into effect until later this year. I must express my personal hope that the Government will indeed put the new legislation into effect as soon as possible. That will make it unnecessary for the House to pass the Sessional Order again in future.
That the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis do take care that the passages through the streets leading to this House be kept free and open and that no obstruction be permitted to hinder the passage of Members to and from this House during the sitting of Parliament, or to hinder Members by any means in the pursuit of their Parliamentary duties in the Parliamentary Estate; and that the Serjeant at Arms attending this House do communicate this Order to the Commissioner.
Mr. Speaker: I have to acquaint the House that this House has this day attended Her Majesty in the House of Peers, and that Her Majesty was pleased to make a Most Gracious Speech from the Throne to both Houses of Parliament, of which I have, for greater accuracy, obtained a copy.
My Government will build on its programme of reform and accelerate modernisation of the public services to promote opportunity and fairness. My Government will bring forward legislation in the key areas of public service delivery: education; health; welfare; and crime.
Education remains my Government's main priority. My Government will further reform the education system to improve quality and choice in the provision of schooling, and build on the progress already made to improve educational standards for all.
My Government will continue to reform the National Health Service in a way that maintains its founding principles. Measures will be brought forward to introduce more choice and diversity in healthcare provision and to continue to improve the quality of health services and hospital hygiene. Legislation to restrict smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces will also be introduced.
My Government will begin long-term reform to provide sustainable income for those in retirement. A Bill will be introduced to improve protection of consumers by bringing home reversion plans within the scope of the Financial Services Authority.
My Government believes that the welfare of the child is paramount. A Bill will be introduced to establish a barring and vetting scheme, and other measures to provide better protection for children and vulnerable adults.
My Government is committed to promoting efficiency, productivity and value for money. Legislation will be introduced to streamline regulatory structures and make it simpler to remove outdated or unnecessary legislation.
My Government will continue to work closely with the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, and will work to bring about the conditions necessary for the restoration of political institutions in Northern Ireland.
If London is selected to host the 2012 Olympic Games, legislation will be introduced as soon as possible to establish the necessary powers to ensure the delivery of the Games, and that the requirements of the International Olympic Committee are met.
My Government will bring forward a Bill to give effect to the Constitutional Treaty for the European Union, subject to a referendum. Legislation will be introduced to ratify the treaty of accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the European Union.
The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to our visit to Canada later today and to our state visit to Malta in November which precedes the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. We look forward to our visit to Australia in March next year for the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, followed by our State visit to Singapore. We also look forward to receiving Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway in the autumn.
My Government will continue to assist the Government of Afghanistan including in its counter-narcotics efforts, and to support better standards of governance throughout the world. Peace in the Middle East will remain one of my Government's highest priorities.
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