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Cameron’s agenda includes EU referendum

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne and acting Labour Party leader Harriet Harman arrive for the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords on Wednesday.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne and acting Labour Party leader Harriet Harman arrive for the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Stefan Rousseau

The newly elected David Cameron government has promised to hold an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU); a five-year freeze on income-tax, VAT and national insurance payments; and the right-to-buy for tenants of housing associations.

These are among the 26 new bills that the Conservative Party will introduce in fulfilment of their election pledges. The party, which was elected with an absolute majority, is free to implement measures that it could not do in the last government when it was in coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party.

Mission statement

The mission statement of the Cameron government was presented on Wednesday in the Queen’s Speech, an occasion of much pomp and pageantry that marks the beginning of the parliamentary year in Britain.

The government has decided not to legislate on a controversial British Bill of Rights, which was to replace the current Human Rights Act. Although this had been part of Mr. Cameron’s campaign promise, he decided not to hurry with the legislation owing to mounting opposition.

The Queen’s Speech mentioned India, along with China, as a country with which the U.K. will seek an “enhanced relationship.”

An Investigatory Powers Bill, branded the “snooper’s charter” by human rights groups, will give intelligence agencies the right to intercept communications data.

As expected, Mr. Cameron’s package envisages significant cuts in benefits and welfare. With a promise to reduce the deficit ‘y £12 billion, and a commitment that he will not increase income taxes, Mr. Cameron must find other ways of keeping that promise.

Immigration Bill

The government will bring in an Immigration Bill to clamp down on illegal immigration and give it the right to seize wages of illegal workers. It will also bring in legislation to reform trade unions and protect essential public services against strikes, a move the Trade Union Conference was quick to condemn.

Legislation that will devolve more powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is part of the package.

The Conservative Party has 330 MPs in the Parliament; the Labour party 232; and the Scottish National Party 56. With the Labour Party in disarray following its electoral defeat, the SNP is likely to act as the most trenchant critic of the government. By branding this Parliament Britain’s “austerity Parliament”, the SNP has made its priorities clear.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 6:20:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/david-camerons-agenda-includes-eu-referendum/article7252414.ece

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