Government's law and order programme

THE Government has set out plans to bolt the stable door as the Queen's Speech promised proposals to strengthen controls at airports and ports and send home foreign criminals,.

By Graham Dines

THE Government has set out plans to bolt the stable door as the Queen's Speech promised proposals to strengthen controls at airports and ports and send home foreign criminals,.

A Border and Immigration Bill will create tougher powers to police borders, tackle immigration crime and protect the public, making it easier to deport those who abuse the UK's hospitality and break the law.

It follows uproar over the release of foreign prisoners instead of sending them home, which led to the sacking of then Home Secretary Charles Clarke, and the admissions that tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have arrived in the UK and disappeared into the black economy.

Plans to combat terrorism, crime and anti-social behaviour will dominate the legislative programme, the last before Tony Blair quits as Prime Minister sometime in the summer.

Defiant to the end, Mr Blair is to continue with plans for identity cards and wants to increase the maximum 28 days in detention for terror suspects, a time limit he had to settle for after the Commons earlier rejected his plea for 90 days.

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Tackling climate change, prison reform, new powers for local councils, road charging, welfare reform and a London Crossrail Bill are among the 29 Bills to be presented to Parliament in the coming months.

The Queen, reading the Speech from the throne in the House of Lords, said: “At the heart of my Government's programme will be further action to provide strong, secure, and stable communities, and to address the threat of terrorism.

“My Government will put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system, support the police and all those responsible for the public's safety, and proceed with the development of ID cars.”

Mr Blair intends to push ahead with pensions reform, which means people will have to work until they are 68 before they are eligible for a state pension and they will be compelled to contribute into a company or personal pension fund.

The plus side is that the ministers will reverse a decision of Margaret Thatcher's government and restore the link with earnings. More women will be given access to a state pension.

The Climate Change Bill will disappoint green campaigners. Ministers have rejected Tory demands for annual pollution targets in favour of a long-term goal of a 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2050, with progress monitored by an independent panel.

The Government hopes to complete is constitutional reform programme by seeking all-party consensus on legislation to reform the House of Lords, which could include direct elections to the upper chamber. Ministers will also act to remove the remaining hereditary peers from the chamber.

At the start of the two-day debate in the Commons on the Speech, the legislative programme was derided by Tory leader David Cameron. “More laws on crime - yet violent crime up. More laws on health - yet hospitals closed. More laws on immigration - yet our borders still completely out of control.

“Every year the same promises. Every year the same failures.”

The Climate Change Bill was immediately condemned by the Green Party. James Abbott, the party's East Anglia spokesman, said: “The Labour Government refuses to take the action needed to cut emissions and continues to pretend that the UK is a world leader on this issue. CO2 emissions have not fallen since Labour came to power in 1997.”

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