Last autumn, the then Government presented what was generally considered a “makeweight” programme of legislation. The Government knew, irrespective of the outcome of the general election, that in terms of the Parliamentary timetable they would only have until March to put those Bills through.
The Queen’s Speech presented on 25 May covers a session that will be eighteen months long. There will be 22 Bills presented to Parliament, alongside other supporting and enabling legislation.
The priority for the incoming Coalition Government is to reduce the deficit and restore economic growth. That cannot be repeated often enough and I make no apology for saying this again.
Casting my eye down the list of Bills, the word “reform” is used frequently. I am also pleased that the words “responsibility” and “repeal” have been included in some of the titles of Bills. Many constituents have talked to me about the need for all our citizens to acknowledge that rights co-exist with responsibility.
The theme of re-balancing the economy has been discussed widely, but there is also a sense at Westminster that many other social issues must be re-balanced, too. For instance, the Health Bill addresses the matter of inequalities in health.
Education is very important to us in Buckinghamshire, so I am pleased that the initial Academies Bill (which will permit parents and other groups to set up new schools) will be followed in the autumn by a Bill which will include measures to help disadvantaged children, to look at the powers teachers have to deal with disruptive behaviour and to set the curriculum for students.