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Her Majesty’s Most Gracious Speech

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 8 November 2006

I have further to acquaint the House that the Lord High Chancellor, one of the Lords Commissioners, delivered Her Majesty’s most Gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament, in pursuance of Her Majesty’s Command. For greater accuracy I have obtained a copy, and also directed that the terms of the Speech be printed in the Journal of this House. Copies are being made available in the Vote Office:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government has pursued policies which entrench stability and promote long-term growth and prosperity. My Government has secured low inflation and sound public finances.

My Government has continued its programme of reform of the public services to promote opportunity and fairness. Legislation was brought forward in the key areas of public service delivery: education; health; welfare; and crime.

Education has remained my Government's main priority. An Act has been passed to increase diversity and choice in the provision of schooling, ensure fair access, and build on the progress already made to improve educational standards for all.

Legislation has been enacted to offer greater support for working families by extending maternity and adoption pay, paternity leave, and rights to flexible working.

My Government has continued to reform the National Health Service in a way that maintains its founding principles. An Act has been passed to make healthcare provision more responsive to the needs of patients, improve hospital hygiene and enable the restriction of smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces.

Legislation has been enacted to support patients who wish to seek redress should they experience problems with their healthcare.

My Government has continued its reform of the welfare state, in order to reduce poverty further, offer greater equality, and match rights with responsibilities.

Legislation has been introduced to facilitate a return to employment for people with health conditions, while offering long-term support for those unable to work, and to reform housing benefit.

My Government has begun long-term reform to provide sustainable income for those in retirement.

An Act has been passed to improve protection of consumers by bringing home reversion and home purchase plans within the scope of the Financial Services Authority.

My Government remains committed to creating safe and secure communities and fostering a culture of respect.

Legislation has been enacted to enable an identity cards scheme to be introduced.

An Act has been passed that gives police and local communities new powers to tackle knives, guns and alcohol-related violence.

Further legislation has been enacted to tighten the immigration and asylum system in a way that is fair, flexible, and in the economic interests of the country.

An Act has been passed which will continue the fight against terrorism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Legislation has been enacted to reform the criminal defence service, making better use of legal aid resources.

My Government believes that the welfare of the child is paramount. An Act has been passed to prevent those deemed unsuitable from gaining access to children or vulnerable adults through their work.

Legislation has been enacted to safeguard the welfare of children in circumstances of parental separation and to improve the process of inter-country adoption.

An Act has been passed that modernises charity law, to develop a vibrant, diverse and independent charitable sector.

Legislation has been brought forward to introduce an offence of corporate manslaughter.

An Act has been passed to tackle those who incite religious hatred.

Legislation has been enacted to combat discrimination and to establish the Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

My Government has taken action to achieve sustainable development and support rural services.

Legislation has been enacted to ensure the better management and protection of the natural environment and to provide support for rural communities.

An Act has been passed to modernise the management of common land. Legislation has been enacted to help reduce casualties on the roads.

My Government is committed to promoting efficiency, productivity and value for money. An Act has been passed to streamline regulatory structures and make it simpler to remove outdated or unnecessary legislation.

Consumer credit law has been updated and will provide greater protection for consumers and create a fairer, more competitive credit market.

Company law has been reformed to encourage greater levels of investment and enterprise.

Members of the House of Commons

I thank you for the provision you have made for the work and dignity of the Crown and for the public service.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government continues to work closely with the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, and has continued to work to bring about the conditions necessary for the restoration of devolved institutions in Northern Ireland.

Legislation has been enacted to encourage greater voter participation in elections while introducing further measures to combat fraud and increase security.

An Act has also been passed to reform the National Assembly for Wales.

As London was selected to host the 2012 Olympic Games, an Act has been passed to establish the necessary powers to deliver the Games, and to meet the requirements of the International Olympic Committee.

My Government has established a single system of service law for the Armed Forces.

Legislation has been passed to ratify the treaty of accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the European Union.

Draft legislation has been published on the reforms to legal services, the courts and tribunals and to the coroner system.

Other important measures have been enacted.

My Government has continued to play its full part in international affairs.

The Duke of Edinburgh and I were pleased to pay a visit to Canada and then a State visit to Malta, before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. We were pleased to visit Australia for the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, followed by our State visit to Singapore. We were also pleased to pay State visits to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia last month. And we were pleased to receive Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, and President Hu Jintao of China and President Lula da Silva of Brazil.

The United Kingdom held the Presidency of the European Union between July and December 2005, during which time my Government worked to build an increasingly prosperous and secure Europe.

My Government used its Presidency of the G8 to secure progress in tackling poverty in Africa and climate change.

My Government has continued to push for a resolution of the conflict in Darfur.

My Government has continued to work to prevent terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and to combat drug smuggling and international crime.

My Government has worked to strengthen commitment to the continued effectiveness of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and has continued to contribute to a modern and representative United Nations.

My Government worked to secure a successful outcome from the United Nations Review Summit and continues to strive for a successful conclusion to the Doha round of World Trade Organisation talks.

In Iraq, my Government has supported the election of a new Parliament and the formation of a Government of National Unity, based on the permanent new Constitution written and agreed by the people of Iraq.

My Government has continued 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 remains one of my Government's highest priorities.

My Government has worked to deepen and develop the strong partnership between Europe and the United States in order to meet these objectives.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

A Commission was also read for proroguing this present Parliament, and the Lord Chancellor said:

“My Lords and Members of the House of Commons: By virtue of Her Majesty’s Commission which has now been read, we do, in Her Majesty’s name, and in obedience to Her Majesty’s commands, prorogue this Parliament to Wednesday, the Fifteenth day of this instant November, to be then here holden, and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Wednesday, the Fifteenth day of this instant November.”

End of the First Session (opened on 17 May 2005) of the Fifty-Fourth Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in the Fifty-Fifth Year of the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.