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Jobs And Crime At Heart Of Queen's Speech

Jobs and crime will be at the heart of a Queen‘s Speech that focuses on what matters to voters, according to the Government.

But Tory MPs fear proposals like House of Lords reform, a flagship Liberal Democrat policy, will be a turn-off to voters and send out the wrong message.

After last week’s drubbing by Labour in the local government elections, both Conservative and Lib Dem ministers are hoping the Speech will relaunch the coalition Government.

So the aim is to promote a series of voter-friendly measures, such as curbing electricity prices and protecting farmers and grocers from rip-offs by big supermarket chains.

The Queen will address MPs (BSE: MPSLTD.BOnews) and peers at around 11.30am. 

After nearly a week in their constituency and suffering a battering at the polls, Tory MPs look set to return to Westminster for the Queen’s Speech in a mutinous mood.

Many of them are calling on the Prime Minister to return to “core values” and follow Boris Johnson’s lead in London by advocating lower taxes.

Labour MPs will return to Westminster cock-a-hoop after their successes in the town hall elections and now the triumph of Francois Hollande in France.

In the Commons clash between the party leaders after the Queen’s Speech, Ed Miliband is expected to claim that voters in the UK have had enough of austerity, just like those in France.

Among the jobs measures in the Queen’s Speech will be legislation to make it easier for employers to hire and fire staff, which the Government sees as a vital move to stimulate growth in the economy.

The big crime measure will be the creation of an FBI-style National Crime Agency.

Former Warwickshire Chief Constable Keith Bristow has already been appointed as head of the agency.

The electricity pricing legislation will allow consumers to get a refund if prices are higher than an agreed tariff.

The legislation on food prices in supermarkets follows a Competition Commission inquiry which found big supermarkets putting unfair pressure on grocery suppliers.

Also likely is a crackdown on binge drinking, with minimum alcohol pricing, with a minimum price of 40p per unit and a clampdown on multi-buy discounts in supermarkets.

Following a Sky News campaign, filming in courtrooms will go ahead, initially from the Court of Appeal and limited to judges’ comments, with no filming of victims, witnesses, offenders or jurors.

There will be anti-terrorism legislation, including extending the maximum pre-charge detention period from 14 to 28 days, an issue that led to a huge row for the Labour government before the last election.

There could be a Bill on defamation, introducing a public interest defence and reducing scope for so-called “libel tourism”.

There will be some controversial measures, too, such as the public sector pensions shake-up that has triggered a wave of strikes by Whitehall and town hall unions.

And a Bill on internet surveillance, which will give the Government and security agencies powers to intercept emails and other electronic material, has been branded a snooper’s charter.

After the MPs’ expenses scandal of three years ago, there will be a Liberal Democrat proposal for the recall of MPs. Those MPs jailed for less than a year or given a suspended sentence will lose their seat in Parliament if 10% of voters on the electoral register back a recall petition.

Some bitterly controversial proposals will not feature in the Queen’s Speech, however.

Legislation on high speed rail, fiercely opposed by many Conservative MPs whose constituencies will be affected, will be introduced next year, as was always planned.

And a law on gay marriage, strongly backed by David Cameron and George Osborne but bitterly opposed by many Conservative MPs, will also come later, since it is still at the consultation stage.

:: Watch live coverage of the Queen’s Speech on Sky News HD, iPad and online, which will stream live pictures and host a live blog with twitter updates.

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