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Blair Takes Final Legislative Agenda to British Parliament


Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair has taken his final legislative agenda to parliament with promises of tougher legislation on terrorism, crime, and illegal immigration. The agenda was unveiled amid a great deal of pomp and pageantry as Queen Elizabeth II formally presented the government's program to parliament.

It is an annual ceremony, laced with traditions dating back centuries - the flourish of trumpets, the monarch entering the upper House of Lords, wearing the jewel studded Imperial State Crown.

And then, the Queen's messenger knocks on the doors of the House of Commons, summoning members to attend the opening of parliament.

After that it was down to business as the Queen read the government's program for the upcoming legislative session.

"At the heart of my government's program will be further action to provide strong, secure and stable communities and to address the threat of terrorism," the queen said.

It came as no surprise that tougher security legislation and countering the threat of terrorism top the legislative agenda.

It follows a revelation by Britain domestic intelligence chief, Eliza Manningham-Buller that her agents are tracking about 30 terrorist plots involving 16,00 people.

The government has warned that young British Muslims are being radicalized at an alarming rate and that the terrorist threat will likely continue for a generation to come.

The government wants to introduce legislation to allow the use of phone intercepts in court, to extend the current 28-day limit on detention without charges and to make it easier to deport terrorist suspects.

The Queen read an agenda that includes more than 30 legislative proposals ranging from public transport, road congestion, and health care to climate change and foreign policy issues.

"My government remains committed to peace in the Middle East. It will continue to work to find a lasting settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, to support the new Iraqi government in its efforts to build an enduring constitutional settlement and to assist the government of Afghanistan."

Mr. Blair has promised to focus on the Middle East during his remaining months in office.

In a speech earlier this week, he repeated calls for a "whole Middle East strategy," which focuses first and foremost on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

That, the prime minister believes, will relieve "pressure points" elsewhere and will help stabilize the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and prove more effective in countering terrorism on a global scale.

In her annual address, Queen Elizabeth also announced that she and her husband, Prince Philip, will visit the United States in May for the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the settlement of Jamestown in the state of Virginia.