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Queen's Speech focuses on reducing UK debt

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 25 May 2010

The coalition government restated its desire to reduce the UK's debt today as the Queen's Speech spelled out its legislative plans for the coming months.

The Queen delivers her speech

House of Lords reform, scrapping ID cards, plans to punish those who refuse to work, and investment in high-speed broadband were among the other proposals outlined by Her Majesty in Westminster this morning.

HRH said government would also "restore trust in the democratic institutions" and "rebalance the relationship between the citizen and the state."

In an eight-minute speech at the opening of the new parliament, HRH said that the new government's "first priority is to reduce the deficit and restore economic growth."

The "first priority" vow followed plans outlined yesterday by the Chancellor George Osborne for an initial £6bn cut in public spending, in a bid to address the UK's budget deficit of more than £150bn.

Today's speech effectively sets out the new government's legislative plans for the next 18 months.

Aside from the budget deficit pledge, it included proposals for a tax and benefits system that will be made "fairer and simpler", coupled to a scrapping of the previous administration's plans to raise National Insurance contributions.

More from Channel 4 News on the Queen's speech
- Queen's speech: live blog
- What the 22 bills will do
- New government focuses on civil liberties
- Who Knows Who: the Queen, the PM, William IV and his mistress
- Queen's speech: nightmares past and present
- Peace protesters network with MPs
- Green MP's alternative Queen's speech

Her Majesty said government would seek to punish those would refused to work, and that the increase in the age by which people are eligible for a state pension would now be reviewed.

Investment will be made in new high-speed broadband, as well as plans for high-speed rail. The Royal Mail will be "modernised" in partnership with the private sector.

Low carbon energy production, and the protection of energy supplies, will also be a target for the new government.

Echoing David Cameron's Big Society campaign idea, HRH said: "My government wishes to build a strong and fair society" to "encourage individual and social responsibility".

As expected, schools will be given greater powers, while teachers to be given more freedom over how they teach, and schools given the chance to run themselves. Citizens will also be given more powers to hold their local police force accountable.

The controversial ID cards scheme will be axed, while the possibility of further powers being devolved to Scotland and Wales from Westminster will also be examined.

Her Majesty said the coalition hoped to "restore trust in the democratic institutions" and "rebalance the relationship between the citizen and the state."

In this vein, a referendum on the alternative-vote system will be held, while the House of Lords looks set for an overhaul with a move towards an elected chamber voted in by proportional representation. Political party funding also faces changes.

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