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Queen Formally Opens Parliament

Aired November 13, 2002 - 06:36   ET


CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: We're taking you now live to London, where the queen is now opening the new session of Parliament -- let's listen to what she says.

QUEEN ELIZABETH ENGLAND: This approach will enable my government to continue to invest in the public services, while supporting major programs of reform on health, education, transport and crime.

At the heart of my government's legislative program is a commitment to reform and rebalance the criminal justice system, to deliver justice for all and to safeguard the interests of victims, witnesses and communities.

A bill will be introduced to reform sentencing arrangements and criminal procedures. Sentencing will be reformed to ensure that the punishment is appropriate for the offender. New types of sentence will be introduced to protect the public from dangerous offenders, help reduce re-offending and deal with young offenders.

The bill will also allow retrials for those acquitted of serious offenses, where new and compelling evidence emerges. It will also simplify the rules of evidence to allow judge and jury to hear all the facts, including relevant previous convictions of a defendant.

Legislation will also be introduced to reform the court system. It will bring together magistrates courts and the crime court to work more effectively under a single organization. New sanctions will allow courts to enforce the payment of fines more efficiently.

My government will introduce a bill to tackle anti-social behavior that damages communities. A bill will be brought forward to modernize the laws on sexual offenses, and to strengthen the framework of penalties for sex offenders to protect the public.

A bill will also be introduced to improve international cooperation and tackling crime, including drugs trafficking, and to modernize the arrangements for international mutual assistance to catch criminals.

My government will bring forward legislation to streamline the licensing system for premises selling alcohol. This will abolish fixed opening hours and introduce a range of measures to reduce anti- social behavior.

My government will continue to modernize the delivery of health care based on the founding principles of the National Health Service. Legislation will be brought forward to devolve power and resources to front-line staff, give greater freedom to successful hospitals, while increasing their accountability to local communities, and to introduce an independent health inspectorate.

A bill will also be introduced to help ensure that local authorities support all of the people awaiting discharge from hospitals.

Raising educational standards remains my government's main priority for Britain's future prosperity. Secondary school reform will continue to promote opportunity and choice through a greater diversity for parents and pupils.

University reform (UNINTELLIGIBLE) be published to improve access and build on excellence.

CALLAWAY: The queen formally opening the new session of Parliament, as she does every year. She has opened Parliament every year of her reign, except 1959 and 1963, in fact. She is now sticking to the outline of the upcoming legislation.

David Clinch back with me, our international editor on the International Desk.

And, David, it's amazing to me that she gives this speech that really, as we have said before, she didn't even prepare; that it was actually prepared by the prime minister's office.

DAVID CLINCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL EDITOR: That's correct. And you know, as our royal analyst was saying here in the situation now in the United Kingdom, where you have a Labor government, a government that traditionally, when I was young, you know, was quite anti-royalist in many ways, or at least very much in favor of reducing the role of the royal family, certainly reducing the costs of the royal family.

And you look at these events, and obviously, they do cost a lot of money, and the royal family costs a lot of money to maintain. But again, I think as you see Tony Blair there, his government -- now very much a centrist government rather than left-wing as they were traditionally -- and accepting and reveling in the image of the royal family as a symbol of Britain and Britain's past and present greatness.

So, this speech, as you say, was not put together by the queen, but it is even by Labor government standards important that it be her that reads this and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and make it more easy to hear some of the horrible things that are in the budget and that kind of thing...


CLINCH: ... if you hear them from the queen.

CALLAWAY: From the queen, right. CLINCH: You know, usually, I am sitting here watching this speech while nobody else is paying any attention to it, listening for some hint on a change in British policy on the euro or something like that, and you know, now, we're interested again, as I say, because of the scandals.

But every year, she comes out and she does this, and every year she does her Christmas address, and every year she does all of her royal duties. And as our analyst was saying, it's in some ways such a shame that she is involved in these scandals, because...

CALLAWAY: And I know we have been talking a lot about the politics, as you are now. But let's talk just this moment about the pageantry...

CLINCH: Right.

CALLAWAY: ... because it is incredible. We've seen here now this beautiful crown that she's wearing, the Imperial State Crown, one of the biggest diamonds in the world in that crown...

CLINCH: Right.

CALLAWAY: ... a 317 carat diamond. Of course, she's wearing her robe, the ceremonial robe.

CLINCH: Right.

CALLAWAY: And we saw that...


CLINCH: So many things relate to empire, to empire, you know, the diamond, a gift from South Africa, as I remember, at the time when it was part of the empire. The coach she rode to the thing...

CALLAWAY: Irish State Coach.

CLINCH: ... the Irish State Coach, I mean, part of Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom...


CLINCH: ... but as I can tell you authoritatively, the rest of this it not.

But you know, a lot of the pageantry and a lot of the symbols that the queen uses relate to that image of empire, which, of course, now is really only an image.

But also, you have to think about the queen when you look at this pageantry. She is relatively an old lady at this point, and yet, she still has to sit there with this heavy crown on, the heavy robe, walk through, you know, the House of Lords and do this lengthy speech. But she performs it without question.

CALLAWAY: Flawlessly, yes -- and flawlessly.

All right, thank you, David.


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