YESTERDAY'S Queen's Speech on the UK government's legislative programme for the next year contained more than had been expected.
There are 29 Bills with the promise of more to come, so MPs can expect a busy time. Advance briefing by the government had concentrated on immigration and security measures and as a result Mr Blair got the kind of headlines he wanted, the Sun's Blair: I'll Tighten Borders for example. Although five of the Bills listed in the Speech are the responsibility of the Home Ofice, its anticipated major Terrorism Bill is not among them. Before bringing this forward Home Secretary John Reid will want to be sure that he has enough support for an extension of detention without trial beyond 28 days to avoid another embarrassing defeat on this issue. There are proposals for legislation on climate change, pensions, road pricing, the London Crossrail project and reorganisation of child support.
Reform of the House of Lords makes its annual appearance with a promise of a White Paper by early next month and a vote in January.
But there is an air of unreality about this Queen's Speech.
Although the Prime Minister must surely have consulted Gordon Brown about its contents, the fact remains that Tony Blair's influence on the progress of the legislation and the compromises that have to be made as it passes through Parliament will be diminished month by month as the time for his departure draws closer.
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