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Queen unveils government's plans

Published:Thursday | June 5, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Britain's Queen Elizabeth smiles at Earl Marshall as she leaves the Palace of Westminster, after delivering the Queen's Speech in the House of Lords at the State Opening of Parliament in London, England, yesterday. - AP


Queen Elizabeth unveiled the British government's legislative agenda yesterday in a ceremony that combined a sumptuous display of pomp and power with a slim slate of bills on crime, pensions and fracking.

The annual Queen's Speech is both a policy statement and an ermine-draped display of regal grandeur. It is read by the monarch but written by the government and marked the final opportunity for Prime Minister David Cameron's government to offer ideas ahead of a May 2015 election.

The 11 bills outlined in the 10-minute speech included changes to pension plans, a five-pence (J$8.80) levy on supermarket plastic bags, and a measure giving voters limited powers to recall wayward lawmakers.

The plans also included tougher penalties for human trafficking and a bill to safeguard Good Samaritans in the case of lawsuits stemming from actions taken in an emergency.

More contentious were moves to encourage companies to drill for gas through hydraulic fracturing, a practice that faces strong opposition from British environmentalists.