Headlines: June 21st, 2001

Investment coupled with reform in public services is the principal objective of the Government in this session of Parliament, which will last until October 2002. The Queen’s speech promised new opportunities, more options and greater freedom for delivering better education, more power for health service staff and greater influence for patients to improve health care and a police modernization programme to tackle crime.There will be new opportunities for school sponsorship, with businesses, religious and voluntary organisations being encouraged to sponsor secondary schools. There will be an Education Bill to deregulate the school system, remove legislative barriers to change and introduce new ways for private, voluntary and faith organisations to become involved in supporting schools to improve. There will be greater freedom for successful headteachers and governors, which in the light of earlier statements by Education Minister Estelle Morris, means that private sector companies will be invited to run successful and well as unsuccessful schools. There will be more diversity and more choice with a large increase in the number of specialist schools.

An NHS Reform Bill will support the next stage in reforming professional self-regulation and modernising the NHS in support of the NHS Plan published last year. The next stage of NHS modernisation will see power passed from Whitehall to frontline NHS organisations through structural and funding devolution. This Bill will give health professionals, responsible for providing local services, the freedom to shape them in a way that they see fit within a clear national framework of standards and accountability.

Among the measures for fighting crime there will be a Police Bill to pave the way for modernising the police service and giving the police the powers they need. Some provisions of the Bill will replace 19th century legislation.
Reacting to the Queen’s speech, TUC General Secretary John Monks said: “This is an ambitious programme of legislation with the reform of the public sector at its heart. Unions look forward to playing their part, working in partnership with the government to achieve public services of which we can all be proud. But during this reforming process, the government must resist the temptation to always see private as good, and public as bad.”