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Britain's Queen Opens Parliament


Britain's Queen Elizabeth II
Security and combating crime will be the major themes of Tony Blair's historic third term of office. The prime minister's legislative overview was revealed in time-honored tradition by the Queen, who led the state opening of parliament.

Even though Tony Blair's parliamentary majority was slashed earlier this month, his legislative agenda remains tough, predictable and also controversial.

The speech delivered by the Queen at the official opening of parliament, signaled that Mr. Blair will be focusing on security and crime fighting over the coming months.

As is the tradition, the British monarch reads out the speech that is written by the government of the day.

"Legislation will be taken forward to introduce an identity card scheme,” she said. “A bill will be introduced to give police and local communities new powers to tackle knives, guns and alcohol-related violence. Further legislation will be introduced to tighten the immigration and asylum system in a way that is fair, flexible and in the economic interests of the country. Proposals will be brought forward to continue the fight against terrorism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere."

The identity card plan is particularly contentious as many opposition politicians, and some members of Tony Blair's own ruling Labor party, say it would be ineffective in practical terms, it would cost billions of dollars to implement and it would attack civil liberties.

The Queen also read out the government's intention to continue support efforts in Iraq and elsewhere.

"My government will support the Iraq transitional government and transitional national assembly as they write a constitution and prepare for future elections,” she added. “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."

The Queen's speech also highlighted the government's plan to spur the world's seven leading industrial nations plus Russia into tackling poverty in Africa and to address global climate change when Britain hosts the next G-8 summit in July.

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