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Queen Reads Out British Government's Pre-Election Legislative Agenda

  • Tom Rivers

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In time-honored tradition; pageantry, pomp and ceremony were on display as Britain's Queen Elizabeth delivered a speech opening the final session of parliament before the next general election. The speech - written by the Brown government - outlines the upcoming legislative agenda, but with an election on the horizon few of the bills will ever become law.

The official opening of a new parliamentary session in Britain is a time honored tradition. And the center of attention is the head of state, the queen who reads out the legislative agenda of the government of the day. Importantly, it is written by the government and in this case, Prime Minister Gordon Brown placed his economic recovery efforts at the heart of the speech.

"Through active employment and training programs, restructuring the financial sector, strengthening the national infrastructure and providing responsible investment, my government will foster growth and employment," she said.

The queen also read that the government will try to rein in bonuses in the banking world, which has been propped up by British taxpayers' money. Ironically, that sector saw regulations loosened when the current prime minister was treasury secretary.

"Legislation will be brought forward to enhance the governance of the financial sector and to control the system of awards. As the economic recovery is established, my government will reduce the budget deficit and ensure that national debt is on a sustainable path. Legislation will be brought forward to halve the deficit," she said.

But for opposition party politicians, the words ring hollow with an election that must be held within the next six months.

Opposition Liberal-Democrat Party treasury spokesman Vince Cable says solving the country's economic woes does not require new legislation.

"Of course there has to be fiscal responsibility dealing with the budget deficit, but that is very much up to the government and indeed the opposition parties to suggest how economies are going to be made and for parliament to be involved in scrutiny. We do not need new legislation for that," he said.

The leader of the main opposition Conservative Party, David Cameron, says the list of legislative initiatives is an attempt to try to save the governing Labor Party.

"This Queen's Speech is not about the good of the country ... It is a whole lot of bills just legislating some intent, but not actually doing anything and I think that is what is such a waste of time today," he said.

Many of the items will never be passed by the time the election is called, and if the polls do not change dramatically in the coming months it appears that Britain is prepared for some sweeping political change.