The House met at twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock
[Mr Speaker in the Chair]
Message To Attend Her Majesty
Message to attend Her Majesty delivered by the Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod.
The Speaker, with the House, went up to attend Her Majesty; on their return, the Speaker suspended the sitting.
The following Members took and subscribed the Oath, or made and subscribed the Affirmation required by law:
Sharon Hodgson, for Washington and Sunderland West
Right honourable Owen William Paterson, North Shropshire
Hugo George William Swire, East Devon
Right honourable Hazel Anne Blears, Salford and Eccles
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Right honourable Stephen James Dorrell, Charnwood
Grant V Shapps, Welwyn Hatfield
Joseph Alan Meale, Mansfield
Khalid Mahmood, Birmingham, Perry Barr
Gordon Marsden, Blackpool South
Jon Hedley Trickett, Hemsworth
Jamieson Ronald Reed, Copeland
Tom Harris, Glasgow South
Jo Swinson, East Dunbartonshire
Sammy Wilson, East Antrim
Robert Edward Russell, Colchester
A Bill for the more effectual preventing Clandestine Outlawries was read the First time, and ordered to be read a Second time.
That the Speaker may nominate no more than three Members as Deputy Speakers to serve until the House has elected Deputy Speakers in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order No. 2A; and that the Members so nominated shall exercise all the powers vested in the Chairman of Ways and Means as Deputy Speaker .-(Sir George Young.)
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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.
I shall direct that the terms of the Gracious Speech be printed in the Votes and Proceedings. Copies are available in the Vote Office.
The Gracious Speech was as follows:
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons
My Government's legislative programme will be based upon the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility.
The first priority is to reduce the deficit and restore economic growth.
Action will be taken to accelerate the reduction of the structural budget deficit. A new Office for Budget Responsibility will provide confidence in the management of the public finances.
The tax and benefits system will be made fairer and simpler. Changes to National Insurance will safeguard jobs and support the economy. People will be supported into work with sanctions for those who refuse available jobs and the timetable for increasing the State Pension Age will be reviewed.
Legislation will reform financial services regulation to learn from the financial crisis and to make fair and transparent payments to Equitable Life policy holders.
My Government will support investment in new high-speed broadband internet connections, enable the construction of a high-speed railway network and reform the economic regulation of airports to benefit passengers.
My Government will modernise the Royal Mail, in partnership with employees, and will ensure it benefits from private sector capital and disciplines.
My Government will limit the number of non-European Union economic migrants entering the United Kingdom and end the detention of children for immigration purposes.
Legislation will be introduced to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses, to promote low carbon energy production and to secure energy supplies.
My Government will remove barriers to flexible working and promote equal pay.
My Government will seek to build a strong and fair society by reforming public services and encouraging individual and social responsibility.
Legislation will be introduced to enable more schools to achieve academy status, give teachers greater freedom over the curriculum and allow new providers to run state schools.
The voice of patients and the role of doctors will be strengthened in the National Health Service to improve public health alongside actions to reduce health inequalities. A commission will be appointed to consider a sustainable long-term structure for the operation of social care.
A Bill will be introduced to make the police service more accountable to local people and to tackle alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour.
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The role of social enterprises, charities and co-operatives in our public services will be enhanced. The cost of bureaucracy and the number of public bodies will be reduced.
A Bill will be introduced to devolve greater powers to councils and neighbourhoods and give local communities control over housing and planning decisions. Legislation will be introduced to stop uncompleted plans to create unitary councils.
My Government will propose Parliamentary and political reform to restore trust in democratic institutions and rebalance the relationship between the citizen and the state.
Measures will be brought forward to introduce fixed term Parliaments of five years.
A Bill will be introduced for a referendum on the Alternative Vote system for the House of Commons and to create fewer and more equal sized constituencies.
Constituents will be given the right to recall their Members of Parliament where they are guilty of serious wrongdoing.
Proposals will be brought forward for a reformed second House that is wholly or mainly elected on the basis of proportional representation.
Action will be taken to reform the funding of political parties. A draft Bill will be published on reforming parliamentary privilege.
Legislation will be brought forward to restore freedoms and civil liberties, through the abolition of Identity Cards and repeal of unnecessary laws.
My Government will work constructively and co-operatively with the devolved institutions.
My Government will introduce legislation to implement recommendations from the Final Report of the Commission on Scottish Devolution and is committed to a referendum on additional powers for the National Assembly of Wales.
My Government will support the political institutions and stable devolved government in Northern Ireland.
Members of the House of Commons
Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons
My Government will introduce legislation to ensure that in future this Parliament and the British people have their say on any proposed transfer of powers to the European Union.
The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to our visit to Canada in June and to our visit to the United Nations in New York in July. We also look forward to receiving His Holiness Pope Benedict the Sixteenth in September.
My Government will seek effective global collaboration to sustain economic recovery and to combat climate change, including at the climate change conference in Mexico later this year.
My Government will fully support our courageous armed forces and undertake a full Strategic Defence and Security Review.
My Government will work with the Afghan government, Pakistan and international partners for lasting security and stability in Afghanistan.
My Government looks forward to an enhanced partnership with India.
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In the Middle East, my Government will continue to work for a two-state solution that sees a viable Palestinian state existing in peace and security alongside Israel.
My Government will work to reduce the threat from nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation including the serious international concerns posed by Iran's nuclear programme.
My Government is committed to spend nought point seven per cent of gross national income in development aid from 2013.
Other measures will be laid before you.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons
I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.
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Debate on the Address
Before I call the mover and seconder, I want to announce the proposed pattern of debate during the remaining days on the Loyal Address: Wednesday 26 May-foreign affairs and defence; Thursday 27 May-energy, and environment, food and rural affairs; Wednesday 2 June-education and health; Monday 7 June-constitution and home affairs; Tuesday 8 June-economic affairs, and work and pensions.
Mr Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con):
I beg to move,
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
It is a great privilege to move the motion. I accepted the task, because it is an honour to my constituency, a rare chance to address a full Chamber and an historic opportunity to welcome the first peacetime coalition for 80 years. However, I hope that I was not as over-eager as one of our legendary colleagues, who languished unnoticed on the Back Benches for 20 years before receiving an invitation from the BBC to take part in a television debate. The invitation said that there would be a fee of £25, and he wrote back saying that he would be delighted to take part, enclosing a cheque for £25.
I confess that when the Chief Whip asked me to do this task, my immediate reaction was to say, "But surely it is traditionally shared by a genial old codger on the way out and an oily young man on the way up." When he assured me that this year, the criteria were different, I assumed that he was referring to the fact that I am still mid-career, until he added that instead of an oily young man, we have got a Lib Dem. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr Foster) who, I am sure, will do this brilliantly, is certainly not oily-like all Lib Dems, he abhors hydrocarbons-and like me, he is only young for his age, but I am sure that he is on the way up.
This coalition throws up difficult problems of parliamentary etiquette, and I am the first to have to tackle them. Should I refer to my Liberal Democrat colleague as "my hon. Friend," but that is a term reserved for members of our own parties? How about "my honourable partner"? The word "partner", however, nowadays implies an even greater degree of intimacy than friendship, which is clearly what the Daily Mail fears, so I will stick to "my honourable ally."
My constituency of Hitchin and Harpenden is unique in many ways, not least because it was tailor-made to my design. In my maiden speech in 1983, I said with more prescience than I realised that my only remaining territorial ambition was that a future boundary commission should extend the boundary to the north to include the village of Lilley from which my Saxon ancestors must have come. In 1997, it did just that. Given the promised Bill to
"create fewer and more equal sized"
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seats, new Members may want to follow my example and use their maiden speeches to lay claim to neighbouring territory.
After annexing the village of Lilley, I agreed to do a TV interview in the local pub, The Lilley Arms. Someone who saw the programme told my mother that her son must be extremely popular, as they had already named a pub after him. However, I do not rely exclusively on my personal charisma to win elections. During one particularly difficult campaign, one of my supporters, who lives next door to a funeral parlour, plastered his house with my posters, and next to "Vote Lilley" some wag helpfully scrawled across the undertaker's window, "Or die." It did the trick.
Another issue in my maiden speech-still a key local priority-was the defence of the green belt, so my constituents will be delighted that the Gracious Speech promises a Bill to