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Britain Prioritizes Economy in Legislative Plan

The British government presented its legislative agenda to parliament Wednesday, and dealing with the financial crisis and stabilizing the economy are the top priorities. It's the government's program, but, as every year, it is Queen Elizabeth II, who delivered the message in a very formal and elaborate ceremony. VOA's Sonja Pace reports from London.

It's an age-old tradition, full of pomp and ceremony, as the Queen arrives in Parliament to address the House of Lords and Commons.

The speech is drawn up by the government - the Queen delivers it, and thus marks the beginning of a new parliamentary session.

There were no surprises - the financial crisis and what to do about the slumping economy tops the legislative agenda.

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons. My government's overriding priority is to ensure the stability of the British economy during the global economic downturn," said the Queen. "My government is committed to helping families and businesses through difficult times."

The government has already outlined proposals to try to re-energize the economy - including a cut in the national sales tax and tax breaks and incentives for low income families and small businesses.

And, Britain will host a summit of the G-20 group of industrialized and emerging economies in April, as the UK and governments around the world attempt to stem the economic downturn and stimulate their economies back into growth.

Announcing the government's legislative agenda, the Queen stated a number of proposals - from reforming the social welfare system and making the justice system more transparent, to forging ahead with plans to eradicate child poverty by the year 2020.

On foreign policy, it was very much a continuation of stated goals.

"My government will press for a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East, continued progress in Iraq and for effective measures to address concerns over Iran's nuclear program," said the Queen. "My government will work with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan for security, stability and prosperity."

After the annual address, the Queen, accompanied by her husband Prince Phillip, left the chamber for the carriage ride back to Buckingham Palace.