Economy And Family At Top Of Queen's Speech

The Queen's Speech has identified how the Government hopes to focus on economic reforms and family-friendly policies in the year ahead.

Addressing MPs and peers, Her Majesty said measures would be taken to improve the regulation of banks, while reforms to the Enterprise Bill will make life easier for businesses.

The Queen opened her 69th Speech by saying it would be ministers' "first priority... to reduce the deficit and restore economic stability".

She went on to talk about voter-friendly measures, such as improving the lives of children and families.

"My Government will propose measures to improve provision for disabled children with special educational needs.

"New arrangements will be proposed to support children involved in family law cases, reform court processes for children in care and strengthen the role of the Children's Commissioner.

"Measures will be proposed to make parental leave more flexible so both parents may share parenting responsibilities and balance work and family commitments."

After last week's drubbing by Labour in the local government elections, both Conservative and Lib Dem ministers are hoping the Speech will relaunch the coalition Government.

So the aim is to promote a series of voter-friendly measures, such as curbing electricity prices and protecting farmers and grocers from rip-offs by big supermarket chains.

As expected the Queen also said the Bill to reform the House of Lords would be brought forward - despite a Tory backbench revolt.

The Government will also push ahead with the introduction of controversial new surveillance methods that will give authorities access to communications data under strict safeguards.

"My Government will introduce legislation to strengthen oversight of the security and intelligence agencies," the Queen said.

"This will also allow courts, through the limited use of closed proceedings, to hear a greater range of evidence in national security cases.

"My Government intends to bring forward measures to maintain the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access vital communications data under strict safeguards to protect the public, subject to scrutiny of draft clauses."

She finished on a lighter note, detailing her plans for the coming months.

"In the year of the Diamond Jubilee, Prince Philip and I will continue to take part in celebrations across the United Kingdom.

"The Prince of Wales and other members of my family are travelling widely to take part in festivities throughout the Commonwealth.

"Prince Philip and I look forward to the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and to welcoming visitors from around the world to London and venues throughout the country."

Some bitterly controversial proposals did not feature in the Queen's Speech, however.

Legislation on high speed rail, fiercely opposed by many Conservative MPs whose constituencies will be affected, will be introduced next year, as was always planned.

And a law on gay marriage, strongly backed by David Cameron and George Osborne but bitterly opposed by many Conservative MPs, will also come later, since it is still at the consultation stage.

In the Commons clash between the party leaders after the Queen's Speech, Ed Miliband said the the Government's legislative outlook was "out of touch, unfair and incompetent".

"This is the Speech that was suppose to be the Government's answer to the clear message from the electorate last week. But on today's evidence, they still don't get it," he said.

"For a young person looking for work, the Speech offers nothing. For a family whose living standards are being squeezed, this Speech offers nothing.

"For the millions of people who think the Government isn't on their side, this Speech offers nothing. No change, no hope. That is the real message of this Queen's Speech."