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An economy fit for a Queen?

Wednesday, June 04, 2014 - 02:33

June 4 - With an economy on the up and an election around the corner the Queen's Speech - a ceremony which sets out the laws to be passed by the UK parliament - takes on extra significance. Joanna Partridge reports.

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It's a ceremony rich in pomp and pageantry. But it only took Queen Elizabeth II 10 minutes to list 11 new pieces of legislation the government wants to enact before a general election next May. She set out the government's agenda for the coming year at the state opening of Parliament. It's not just the decor which is gleaming. Britain's economy is growing well once more. The government called this Queen's Speech "pro-work and pro-business". SOUNDBITE: QUEEN ELIZABETH II, SAYING: (English): "My government's legislative programme will continue to deliver on its long-term plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, to strengthen the economy and provide stability and security my ministers will continue to reduce the country's deficit helping to ensure that mortage and interest rates remain low. An updated charter for budget responsibility will be brough forward to ensure that future governments spend future taxpayers' money responsibly." One of the key bills concerned reforms to pensions - enabling people to withdraw their retirement fund in one go and not put it into a annuity. A separate bill will allow employees to pay into collective pension funds along with other workers - as is common in the Netherlands. There was also help for pub landlords, a state-funded childcare subsidy and new rules making it easier for fracking firms to run pipelines to access shale oil and gas. Most of the measures were known before the Queen announced them. And the low number of new laws led to opposition criticism the coalition government is struggling to function. While the UK's economic recovery is good news for the government, threats remain says Sarah Hewin from Standard Chartered. SOUNDBITE: Sarah Hewin, European Economist, Standard Chartered, saying (English): "We're seeing a more broad-based recovery, it's not just related to consumer spending and housing, investment is picking up, orders are strong, at the same time there are concerns about overheating in the housing market and how we deal with that. So for outside investors, the big question is when does the Bank of England start to tighten, and what sort of macroprudential measures will they introduce this month." The coalition's now in its final year in government before the election. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and his Liberal Democrat Deputy Nick Clegg sought to present a united front, even if they can't agree on many bigger issues like European integration and immigration. But it will soon be every man, and party, for himself as they try to win over voters ahead before May 2015.

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An economy fit for a Queen?

Wednesday, June 04, 2014 - 02:33