(HANSARD) in the third session of the fifty-second parliament of the united kingdom of great britain and northern ireland commencing on the seventh day of may in the forty-sixth year of the reign of
HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II
VOLUME DCVII FIRST VOLUME OF SESSION 1999--2000 House of Lords
The QUEEN, being seated on the Throne, and attended by Her Officers of State (the Lords being in their robes), commanded the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, through the Lord Great Chamberlain, to let the Commons know, "It is Her Majesty's pleasure they attend Her immediately in this House".
"This is my Government's third legislative programme. It aims to build on my Government's programme of reform as they seek to modernise the country and its institutions to meet the challenges of the new millennium.
"My Government's aim is to promote fairness and enterprise, providing people with real opportunities to liberate their potential. They will focus on continued modernising of our economy, the promotion of enterprise, reform of the welfare system, protection of the public, and the development of a safe transport system.
"The central economic objectives of my Government are high and stable levels of economic growth and employment. More people are in work in Britain today than ever before, with employment up by 700,000, and long-term unemployment has halved.
"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, long-term interest rates are around their lowest level for almost 30 years. Inflation is historically low and expected to meet my Government's target of 2½ per cent.
"To prepare Britain as a dynamic, knowledge-based economy, my Government will introduce a Bill to promote electronic commerce and electronic government, improving our ability to compete in the digital marketplace.
"Financial services lie at the heart of a modern economy. The financial services industry accounts for 7 per cent of our national income, employing over one million people. With the new Financial Services Authority, my Government are determined to maintain and advance the UK's position, and the Bill introduced last Session will be carried over to this.
"My Government believe a stronger and fairer society strengthens our economy. They will continue to give young people and the long-term unemployed the opportunity to learn new skills and fulfil their potential.
"Education remains my Government's number one priority. My Government will continue to implement policies to reward good teaching, reduce infant class sizes, and continue the drive to build on the improvements in literacy and numeracy already achieved.
"To build on my Government's modernisation of the welfare system, a Bill will be introduced to reform child support so that money gets to children more speedily and effectively. It will introduce further pension reforms, including the state second pension which will give more help to low earners, carers and long-term disabled people with broken work records. And it will reinforce people's obligations to society by linking benefit entitlement to compliance with community sentences.
"Legislation will be introduced to improve the education of children with special educational needs. My Government are determined to promote fairness of opportunity for disabled people building on the establishment of a Disability Rights Commission.
"A Bill will be introduced to ensure that the interception of communications, and the use of other intrusive techniques, continues to be regulated for the protection both of the rights of individuals and of society as a whole.
"The report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence raised profound issues for our multiracial society. A Bill will be introduced which will make it unlawful for public bodies to racially discriminate, implementing one of the report's key recommendations.
"A Bill will be introduced to give people greater access to the countryside and to improve protection for wildlife. And my Government will continue their leading role in protecting the global climate.
"My Government are committed to creating a modern integrated and safe transport system, providing more choice for the travelling public. Following the recent tragedy at Paddington, my Government will ensure that rail safety is a top priority. A Bill will he re-introduced to establish a strategic rail authority. It will contain measures to improve bus services and reduce road congestion. It will include measures for National Air Traffic Services to separate safety regulation from operational matters, and deliver major investment in the next generation technology.
"My Government will bring forward a Bill to introduce the latest accounting methods to improve value for money in Whitehall and generate more investment in public infrastructure and front line services.
"In Northern Ireland, my Government will continue to work closely with the political parties and the Irish Government to secure the full implementation of the Good Friday agreement. A Bill will be presented to implement proposals from the Independent Commission on Policing, following the completion of consultation.
"A Bill will be introduced to set up an electoral commission to regulate the funding and spending of political parties and organisations. My Government will also bring forward a Bill to reform our electoral procedures to make it easier for people to participate in elections.
"My Government will continue to provide greater openness by publishing legislation in draft for public scrutiny. This will include Bills enabling the United Kingdom to ratify the International Criminal Court, promoting more efficient water use and leasehold reform as well as commonhold for flat owners.
"My Government will take a leading role with our partners to shape the future development of the European Union. They will promote the enlargement of the Union, support co-operation in the fight against cross-border crime and work to improve the effectiveness of the European Union's foreign and security policy and its development programmes.
"My Government will ensure that NATO remains the foundation of Britain's defence and security. They will seek to continue the work of adapting the alliance to meet the challenges and opportunities of the new century.
"Over the coming year, which is the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, my Government will build on their work to strengthen protection for children. My Government will take further measures to meet their target of abolishing child poverty in 20 years. They will play an active part in the Council of Europe conference against racism.