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Thursday 10th May 2012 | 14:31
At the end of one of the longest Parliamentary sessions in history, I want to thank you for all the hard work you have put in. It is down to your efforts that important, nation- building legislation has reached the statute book: the welfare reforms that are going to cap benefits and make work pay; the education reforms that have already opened the doors of opportunity to thousands of children; the deficit reduction plans that are putting our economy on a sound footing and helping Britain avoid the storms they are suffering elsewhere in Europe.
Across every area of our national life this is a Government that is resolutely looking at the long-term; taking tough – sometimes unpopular – decisions to restore our country to strength. But though the last Parliament was a long and hard one, there must be absolutely no let-up in our drive to strengthen our country.
We waited too long in Opposition to stick this Government on cruise control two years in; and this Queen’s Speech forms a vital part of the radical five-year plan we are seeing through. Our work to cut the deficit continues, with a long-overdue Public Service Pensions Bill.
This guarantees a good pension for teachers, doctors and nurses while putting the whole system on a more affordable footing – and saving the taxpayer tens of billions over the coming years. We continue to strain every sinew for more growth and jobs in our economy. An Enterprise Bill builds on the work we’ve already achieved – from corporation tax cuts to new incentives for investment – to make Britain a world-beating place to start a business.
A Banking Reform Bill will clear up the regulatory mess left after the crash and protect consumers from risky activity. An Energy Bill will channel new investment into the growing industries that are going to create thousands of good jobs across our country – nuclear, renewables, new gas technologies.
This Queen’s Speech also takes further steps to strengthen our society. Further to all the support we’ve already set in place for hard-working families – the Council tax freeze, the fuel duty cut, the increase in the personal allowance – we are doing more to help the families that are the backbone of our country. The Children and Families Bill proposes more childcare and flexible working for all parents. For parents of disabled children, we are streamlining the nightmare statementing process and making it easier to get assessed and get help.
For the most vulnerable of all – children stuck in care – we are injecting new urgency, common sense and dynamism into fostering and adoption, ending the political correctness that left children without a loving, permanent home for years on end .
For all families – who care deeply about their children growing up in a country that is safe – we have included extensive measures on crime in two bills. Together the Crime and Courts Bill and Justice and Security Bill will help to ensure that offenders are properly punished in the community, terrorists are heard and convicted in the courts, and law-abiding people are kept safe.
Crucially, we propose a new National Crime Agency – a British FBI – to confront the organised crime, traffickers and drugs gangs that ruin so many lives. Though local forces do a brilliant job, we need a major national body to confront these new threats. The NCA will fulfill that role.
It is a Queen’s Speech that takes important steps forward right across our agenda. It helps us to tackle the deficit and get our economy moving – and it is resolutely on the side of people who work hard and do the right thing. I look forward to working with colleagues as we put these plans in action and continue the vital work of re-building our country.