Headlines: November 18th, 1999

The Government has unveiled a heavy programme in the Queens Speech, which it hopes will help it deliver outstanding manifesto pledges before the next election.There are 28 substantive bills, which is about five more than for an average session. It’s likely to be the last full session before the Government names the election date.

The Government says the key themes driving the legislation are enterprise and effectiveness. The heaviest workload falls to the DETR and Home Office.

The Transport Bill will establish a Strategic Rail Authority and see privatisation of air traffic control. It will also bringing in new powers for local authorities to promote public transport at the expense of cars.

There are several measures to reform the work of local government, many of which have been welcomed by the Local Government Association.

The Home Office’s workload includes modernisation of the jury process and freedom of information legislation.

The e-communications Bill promotes the use of the Internet.

The Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill promises to reform the poorly performing Child Support system to ensure that money gets to children more speedily and effectively. The Bill will also deliver the final stage of the Government’s pension strategy.

The Learning and Skills Bill will improve the state of post-16 education in an effort to encourage more youngsters to stay on in education beyond sixteen.

The Postal Services Bill will create a public limited company wholly owned by the Government.

The Care Standards Bill will ensure tighter regulation of care homes in both the public and private sector, will introduce tough new checks on private health care and drive up standards in care services for the young and the elderly.