Queen's speech pledges to curb banks, benefits and binge drinkers
The Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has delivered her speech opening parliament, outlying the plans of the government as written for her by Gordon Brown and his administration. The agenda was light, and mostly focused on the unfolding global economic turmoil. The speech allows the parliament to start its new session.
Banks, benefit cheats and binge drinkers all face crackdowns in the Queen's Speech today.
Gordon Brown has pinned his political hopes on a populist package of laws targeting public dislikes and aiming to strengthen Britain's chances of recovering from recession. The Prime Minister is portraying the list of 14 new Bills plus other measures as an attack on unfairness, which seeks to lay down stronger responsibilities as well as rights.
At the top of the list are expected to be the banks, now facing unlimited fines if they fail to treat customers and small businesses fairly. Ministers will make the current voluntary code of practice legally binding to protect firms from sudden hikes in charges or changes to overdraft limits.
Sweeping welfare reforms will attempt to get a million people off sickness benefits and impose on all claimants a duty to try to get themselves back into jobs, if they can. Irresponsible nightclubs will be barred from offering "drink as much as you like" events, giving free drinks to women and using alcohol as prizes, in an attempt to tackle the binge boozing culture.