Queen’s Speech At State Opening Of U.K. Parliament

Queen Elizabeth II has opened the 2012 parliamentary year in the United Kingdom’s Parliament at Westminster.

A State Opening of Parliament is the main ceremonial occasion of the parliamentary calendar. Escorted by the Household Cavalry, the Queen travels from Buckingham Palace to Westminster. She enters the House of Lords and directs Black Rod to summon the members of the House of Commons.

Queen

Black Rod, as the chief official of the House of Lords, is ceremonially denied entry to the Commons, a practice that symbolises the independence of the Commons from the monarchy. Black Rod knocks three times on the door of the Commons chamber. When admitted, he advises the Speaker that the Queen has summonsed members to the Lords. Members then proceed to the Bar of the House and listen to the Queen’s speech.

During today’s proceedings, as Black Rod summonsed members, Dennis Skinner, the 81-year-old Labour member for Bolsover, a seat he has held for 43 years, could be heard interjecting: “The Royal Mail for sale, Queen’s head privatised”. Some of Skinner’s jokes over the years can be found here.

The Queen delivers her speech from the Throne in the House of Lords. Today she was accompanied by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. It was the first time she has been accompanied to a State Opening by her son and heir. As TIME magazine noted this week: “After more than 60 years, the Elizabethan era is drawing to a close, and the Charlesian age is dawning.”

The Queen’s Speech is written by the government of the day. It allows the government to outline its policies and proposed legislation for new parliamentary session.

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  • Download a UK Parliament Factsheet on the State Opening of Parliament (PDF)

Text of the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament.

Queen

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government’s legislative programme will continue to focus on building a stronger economy so that the United Kingdom can compete and succeed in the world.

It will also work to promote a fairer society that rewards people who work hard.

My Government’s first priority is to strengthen Britain’s economic competitiveness. To this end, it will support the growth of the private sector and the creation of more jobs and opportunities.

My Ministers will continue to prioritise measures that reduce the deficit – ensuring interest rates are kept low for homeowners and businesses.

My Government is committed to building an economy where people who work hard are properly rewarded. It will therefore continue to reform the benefits system, helping people move from welfare to work.

Measures will be brought forward to introduce a new Employment Allowance to support jobs and help small businesses.

A Bill will be introduced to reduce the burden of excessive regulation on businesses A further Bill will make it easier for businesses to protect their intellectual property.

A draft Bill will be published establishing a simple set of consumer rights to promote competitive markets and growth.

My Government will introduce a Bill that closes the Audit Commission.

My Government will continue to invest in infrastructure to deliver jobs and growth for the economy.

Legislation will be introduced to enable the building of the ‘High Speed Two’ railway line, providing further opportunities for economic growth in many of Britain’s cities.

My Government will continue with legislation to update energy infrastructure and to improve the water industry.

My Government is committed to a fairer society where aspiration and responsibility are rewarded.

To make sure that every child has the best start in life, regardless of background, further measures will be taken to improve the quality of education for young people.

Plans will be developed to help working parents with childcare, increasing its availability and helping with its cost.

My Government will also take forward plans for a new National Curriculum, a world class exam system and greater flexibility in pay for teachers.

My Government will also take steps to ensure that it becomes typical for those leaving school to start a traineeship or an apprenticeship, or to go to university.

New arrangements will be put in place to help more people own their own home, with Government support provided for mortgages and deposits.

My Government is committed to supporting people who have saved for their retirement.

Legislation will be introduced to reform the way long term care is paid for, to ensure the elderly do not have to sell their homes to meet their care bills.

My Government will bring forward legislation to create a simpler state pension system that encourages saving and provides more help to those who have spent years caring for children.

Legislation will be introduced to ensure sufferers of a certain asbestos-related cancer receive payments where no liable employer or insurer can be traced.

My Government will bring forward a Bill that further reforms Britain’s immigration system. The Bill will ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deters those who will not.

My Government will continue to reduce crime and protect national security.

Legislation will be introduced to reform the way in which offenders are rehabilitated in England and Wales.

Legislation will be brought forward to introduce new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, cut crime and further reform the police.

In relation to the problem of matching internet protocol addresses, my Government will bring forward proposals to enable the protection of the public and the investigation of crime in cyberspace.

Measures will be brought forward to improve the way this country procures defence equipment, as well as strengthening the Reserve Forces.

My Ministers will continue to work in cooperation with the devolved administrations.

A Bill will be introduced to give effect to a number of institutional improvements in Northern Ireland.

Draft legislation will be published concerning the electoral arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales.

My Government will continue to make the case for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Members of the House of Commons

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government will work to prevent conflict and reduce terrorism. It will support countries in transition in the Middle East and North Africa, and the opening of a peace process in Afghanistan.

My Government will work to prevent sexual violence in conflict worldwide.

My Government will ensure the security, good governance and development of the Overseas Territories, including by protecting the Falkland Islanders’ and Gibraltarians’ right to determine their political futures.

In assuming the Presidency of the G8, my Government will promote economic growth, support free trade, tackle tax evasion, encourage greater transparency and accountability while continuing to make progress in tackling climate change.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

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

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