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British monarch unveils legislative agenda for new UK gov't

(Xinhua/Agencies) Updated: 2015-05-28 08:52

British monarch unveils legislative agenda for new UK gov't

Britain's Queen Elizabeth delivers her speech to the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster, during the State Opening of Parliament, in London, Britain, May 27, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]

LONDON -- Queen Elizabeth II unveiled the proposed policies and legislative agenda of the incoming British government in her speech at the opening of the new parliament here on Wednesday.

It was the 62nd time the 89-year-old monarch has delivered the annual Queen's Speech, but this year's proposals have especially profound implications for the future of the United Kingdom she heads.

Early legislation is to be introduced to provide a referendum on Britain's membership in the European Union (EU) by the end of 2017, the monarch said.

"My government will renegotiate the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union and pursue reform of the European Union for the benefit of all member states," she noted.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to hold an "in or out" referendum on whether Britain should withdraw from the EU by 2017.

Other proposed legislation in the 26-bill package unveiled Wednesday was to provide more devolved powers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and possible "English votes for English laws" arrangements.

Additional legislative goals included a ban on increase in value added tax (VAT), income tax, and national insurance increases for five years, seven-day National Health Service (NHS) access, more restrictions on strikes, new measures to tackle extremism, and greater powers for Manchester.

The British monarch also announced her planned visits abroad and forthcoming state visits to the United Kingdom by foreign leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan.

"We also look forward to welcoming His Excellency the President of The People's Republic of China and Madame Peng on a state visit in October," she added.

The last state visit by a Chinese president was in 2005.

The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, made a state visit to China in 1986.

The Queen said the British government was looking forward to "an enhanced partnership" with India and China under the nation's new leadership.

The speech, delivered by the queen but written by the government, is the centerpiece of the ceremonial State Opening of Parliament. It follows a May 7 election that unexpectedly gave Cameron's center-right Conservatives a parliamentary majority _ and with it the power to implement a political agenda without coalition compromises.

"This is the Queen's Speech for working people, from a one nation government that will bring our country together,"Cameron told lawmakers in the House of Commons after the queen's address. He vowed to create "a country that backs those who work hard and do the right thing."

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