UK Govt to Focus on Economy, Reform House of Lords
LONDON (AP) - Wearing a crown studded with glittering jewels, Queen Elizabeth II set out Britain’s new legislative agenda in opulent style Wednesday - but announced a frugal program aimed at boosting economic growth and overhauling the unelected House of Lords after decades of delays.
Though the queen read aloud the government’s plans in the traditional pageant of power, pomp and politics, she has no role in drafting the content. Each proposed law must also be debated and approved by lawmakers - with votes in Parliament if necessary - before it can hit the statute book.
REPAIRING THE ECONOMY
Britain’s economic woes continue to dominate the government’s work - two years after Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg formed a coalition government with a vow to clear the country’s debts.
A four-year austerity program of 81 billion pounds ($130 billion) in government spending cuts has angered the public, and seen economic growth stall.
Last month, Britain slumped back into recession for the first time since 2009.
New bills will seek to cut regulation for businesses and offer shareholders new powers to curb directors’ pay.
Seeking to safeguard Britain’s banks from any repeat of the global economic crisis, the government will demand that banks separate their high street retail operations from riskier investment divisions.
In a statement on their agenda, Cameron and Clegg vowed to "stretch every sinew to return growth to the economy," but critics said they offered few practical steps.
Mark Littlewood, of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said the "meager measures simply tweak round the edges."
LOSING THE LORDS
Cameron will take on a task that has frustrated his predecessors for decades, overhauling Britain’s 700-year-old upper chamber of Parliament, the House of Lords.
The government wants to gradually kick out unelected peers and replace them with fewer, mainly elected members who would serve a maximum term of 15 years.
Currently, Lords are appointed for life and cannot be expelled.