Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

PM: Queen's Speech Is UK's Golden Opportunity; EU Vote, Curbs on Unions and Free Childcare Extended in New Bills

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

PM: Queen's Speech Is UK's Golden Opportunity; EU Vote, Curbs on Unions and Free Childcare Extended in New Bills

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil Deputy Political Editor

DAVID CAMERON today pledged to seize a "golden opportunity" to renew Britain by boosting jobs, schools, housing and childcare while tightening rules on strikes, immigration and benefits.

The Prime Minister pressed ahead with his planned referendum on EU membership by the end of 2017. But faced with the threat of a Commons revolt, he delayed proposals to scrap the Human Rights Act.

It highlighted his slender Commons majority of just 12, and how his second term could be fraught with problems getting contentious legislation through Parliament.

But the Queen's Speech -- the first under a Tory-only Government for nearly 20 years -- contained measures which will resonate among many Londoners, including: Curbing the powers of unions to hold strikes; Doubling free childcare to 30 hours for three and four-year-olds; New powers to turn coasting schools into academies; Extension of the Right to Buy to housing association tenants; Imposing a PS23,000 annual cap on benefits. Mr Cameron claimed Continued on Page 8 Continued from Page 1 Britain was now "on the brink of something special" after recovering from the financial crash.

He added: "We have a golden opportunity to renew the idea that working people are backed in this country, to renew the promise to those least fortunate that they will have the opportunity to a brighter future, and to renew the ties that bind every part of our United Kingdom."

The legislative programme of 25 Bills, and one in draft form, has three main themes; a One Nation Government helping working people have security; "championing" social justice; and bringing each part of the UK together.

A Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill aims to help create two million jobs and three million apprenticeships.

But with the Tories planning PS12 billion in welfare cuts, the main rates of most working-age benefits, tax credits and child benefit will be frozen for two years from 2016/17. …

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