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Queen's Speech builds on strong foundations

Letter from Westminster - 29 November 2004

The legislative programme announced in last week's Queen's Speech builds on the strong foundations Labour has already put in place since 1997.

A number of Bills are designed to extend opportunity to all. The Child Benefit Bill, for example, will give new benefits to 16-19 year oldes who are in vocational training, to increase participation in education. The Disability Discrimination Bill ensures all public transport will cater for people with disabilities, completing Labour's manifesto commitment to legislate for full civil rights of disabled people. Meanwhile, the Equality Bill will provide greater protection from discrimination and exploitation by establishing a single Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

With record numbers of police officers and crime down by over 25% since 1997 we are making progress, but I know that antisocial behaviour and drugs continue to blight many communities in Bristol South. That is why the Queen's Speech includes plans to introduce a national identity cards scheme from 2008 and create a new police agency capable of fighting serious and organised crime. The Drugs Bill will modernise and toughen our drug laws, while the Management of Offenders Bill aims to prevent re-offending by supporting rigorous and effective community punishments.

Other important Bills will improve standards of animal welfare, crack down on loan sharks by giving consumers a fairer deal when taking out loans and credit cards, give local councils new powers to clean up our neighbourhoods, and enable the police to tackle drink driving and uninsured drivers.

If you would like any further information about any of the Bills announced in the Queen's Speech, or have a view you would like to express, please feel free to write to me at PO Box 1002, Bristol, BS99 1WH.

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