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Immigration tops British government's agenda for the year

08 may 2013, 16:51
0
The British government will set out its legislative programme for the coming year on Wednesday, with immigration top of the agenda in a Queen's Speech aimed at people who "work hard and want to get on", AFP reports.

In a ceremony in the House of Lords filled with historical symbolism, Queen Elizabeth II will set out the coalition government's priorities for the new parliamentary session.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and his Liberal Democrat deputy Nick Clegg admitted that, three years after they formed a government, the British economy had yet to recover from the global financial crisis.

But they promised to introduce new measures intended to help people "unleash their talents", from controlling the number of incoming migrants to reducing the burdens on small businesses.

"We knew the road ahead would be tough and so it has proved to be. But three years on, our resolve to turn our country around has never been stronger," Cameron and Clegg said in a statement.

"We know that Britain can be great again because we've got the people to do it.

"Today's Queen's Speech shows that we will back them every step of the way. It is all about backing people who work hard and want to get on in life."

At the heart of the speech are measures intended to clamp down on illegal immigration and restrict migrants' rights to unemployment, housing and health benefits, which Cameron first unveiled in March.

"We want to attract people who will add to our national life and those who will not should be deterred," a government spokesman said.

Cameron's Conservative party came into office promising to dramatically reduce net migration, and claims to have already cut numbers by one third thanks largely to a tightening of the visa system.

But immigration remains a major political issue ahead of an expected fresh influx of eastern Europeans after the European Union lifts work restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians in 2014.

The anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP) has capitalised on public concerns and last week won about one quarter of the vote in local elections in England, squeezing the Tories.

Other bills proposed on Wednesday will seek to cut red tape and costs for small businesses, and change the way people save for their retirement and fund their social care, officials said.

The queen will read out the legislative programme to a House of Lords packed with peers wearing red ceremonial robes and their elected colleagues in the House of Commons.

In a ceremony filled with pageantry, the monarch will travel by horse-drawn carriage from Buckingham Palace to Parliament, where she will don a crown and state robe and take her seat on the throne in the Lords.

A man named Black Rod, the queen's representative in parliament, is dispatched to the House of Commons to summon MPs, but has the door slammed in his face, a symbol of the Commons' autonomy from the monarch dating back to the English Civil War.

After knocking three times he is allowed in, and then escorts MPs of all parties back to the Lords to hear the queen's address.

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