• State Opening

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    27 May 2015

    Last week saw the state opening of parliament. A tradition dating back to the 16th Century. This ceremony marks the start of the new Parliament and sees the Queen’s Speech setting out an outline of the government’s programme for the coming parliamentary session. The monarch travels in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach from Buckingham Palace to Westminster accompanied by the Household Cavalry. Arriving at The Sovereign’s Entrance her Majesty processes through the Robing Room and the Royal Gallery - packed with 600 guests - and then into the House of Lords Chamber. Black Rod - representative of the Lords - is then despatched to the House of Commons where MPs are waiting. The Queen herself remains in the Lords as the Monarch has been barred from the Commons since Charles I burst in to attempt to arrest some of its members – unsuccessful, he uttered the words ‘I see my birds have flown’. The door to the Chamber is dramatically closed to Black Rod as he approaches and it is only after he knocks forcefully three times that it is opened to him. After a little further ceremony - much nodding - Black Rod leads us back to the House of Lords. The Prime Minister followed by the Cabinet and then the rest of us. We huddled just within the Lords Chamber. Then from the throne alongside Prince Philip her Majesty read out the government’s programme. Interestingly you can be certain that this speech has not been altered in the final few days as it is produced on velum and the ink takes four days to dry! The Queen’s Speech outlined a number of key policies that the government will implement over the next session. There will be much to do. A commitment to full employment – unemployment continues to plummet but there is a way to go. We will legislate to ensure no increases in the rates of income tax, VAT and national insurance over the next 5 years. We will press hard on controlling immigration, spend £8 billion more on the NHS by 2020 and reform the health service so that it can cope with the increased pressures of an aging population, the demand for ever more sophisticated care and the increasing cost of more advanced drugs and procedures. There will be an In/Out referendum on our membership of the EU by the end of 2017 and a re-negotiation of the terms of our engagement with Europe prior to that. We will do more to support pensioners through an enhanced state pension. We will build better relations with India and China, keep the pressure on Russia over the Ukraine and play our part in confronting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. At home we will continue to work with our security services to keep our country safe. Quite a list to be getting on with. Her Majesty finished, as ever, with the words, ‘I prey that the blessings of almighty God rest upon your counsels.’ Let us hope so.