The Queen addresses the House in her 64th speech. Photo: BBC
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Queen's Speech 2015: full text

What the Queen mentioned in the state opening of parliament.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons. My government will legislate in the interests of everyone in our country. It will adopt a one nation approach, helping working people get on, supporting aspiration, giving new opportunities to the most disadvantaged and bringing different parts of our country together.

My Government will continue with its long-term plan to provide economic stability and security at every stage of life. They will continue the work of bringing the public finances under control and reducing the deficit, so Britain lives within its means. Measures will be introduced to raise the productive potential of the economy and increase living standards.

Legislation will be brought forward to help achieve full employment and provide more people with the security of a job. New duties will require my ministers to report annually on job creation and apprenticeships. Measures will also be introduced to reduce regulation on small businesses so they can create jobs.

Legislation will be brought forward to ensure people working 30 hours a week on the National Minimum Wage do not pay income tax, and to ensure there are no rises in income tax, rates, value-added tax or national insurance for the next five years.

Measures will be brought forward to help working people by greatly increasing the provision of free childcare.

Legislation will be introduced to support home ownership and give housing association tenants the chance to own their own home.

Measures will be introduced to increase energy security and to control immigration. My government will bring forward legislation to reform trade unions and to protect essential public services against strikes.

To give new opportunities to the most disadvantaged, my government will expand the Troubled Families Programme and continue to reform welfare, with legislation encouraging employment by capping benefits and requiring young people to earn or learn.

Legislation will be brought forward to improve schools and give every child the best start in life, with new powers to take over failing and coasting schools and create more academies.

In England, my government will secure the future of the National Health Service by implementing the National Health Service’s own five year plan, by increasing the health budget, integrating healthcare and social care, and ensuring the National Health Service works on a seven day basis. 

Measures will be introduced to improve access to general practitioners and to mental healthcare.

Measure will also be brought forward to secure the real value of the basic State Pension, so that more people live in dignity and security in retirement. Measures will be brought forward to increase the rights of victims of crime.

To bring different parts of our country together, my government will work to bring about a balanced economic recovery. Legislation will be introduced to provide for the devolution of powers to cities with elected metro mayors, helping to build a Northern powerhouse.

My government will continue to legislate for high-speed rail links between the different parts of the country.

My government will also bring forward legislation to secure a strong and lasting constitutional settlement, devolving wide-ranging powers to Scotland and Wales.

Legislation will be taken forward giving effect to the Stormont House Agreement in Northern Ireland.

My government will continue to work in cooperation with the devolved administrations on the basis of mutual respect.

My government will bring forward changes to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. These changes will create fairer procedures to ensure that decisions affecting England or England and Wales, can be taken only with the consent of the majority of Members of Parliament representing constituencies in those parts of the United Kingdom.

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. Alongside this, early legislation will be introduced to provide for an in-out referendum on membership of the European Union before the end of 2017.

Measures will also be brought forward to promote social cohesion and protect people by tackling extremism. New legislation will modernise the law on communications data, improve the law on policing and criminal justice, and ban the new generation of psychoactive drugs.

My government will bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights.

Members of the House of Commons. 

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons.

My government will continue to play a leading role in global affairs, using its presence all over the world to re-engage with and tackle the major international security, economic and humanitarian challenges.

My ministers will remain at the forefront of the Nato alliance and of international efforts to degrade and ultimately defeat terrorism in the Middle East.

The United Kingdom will continue to seek a political settlement in Syria, and will offer further support to the Iraqi government’s programme for political reform and national reconciliation.

My government will maintain pressure on Russia to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, and will insist on the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.

My government looks forward to an enhanced partnership with India and China.

Prince Philip and I look forward to our State Visit to Germany next month and to our State Visit to Malta in November, alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. 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.

My government will seek effective global collaboration to sustain economic recovery and to combat climate change, including at the climate change conference in Paris later this year.

My government will undertake a full Strategic Defence and Security Review, and do whatever is necessary to ensure that our courageous armed forces can keep Britain safe.

My government will work to reduce the threat from nuclear weapons, cyber attacks and terrorism.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons.

I pray that the blessing of almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

Speech from gov.uk

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The deafening killer - why noise will be the next great pollution scandal

A growing body of evidence shows that noise can have serious health impacts too. 

Our cities are being poisoned by a toxin that surrounds us day and night. It eats away at our brains, hurts our hearts, clutches at our sleep, and gnaws at the quality of our daily lives.

Hardly a silent killer, it gets short shrift compared to the well-publicised terrors of air pollution and sugars food. It is the dull, thumping, stultifying drum-beat of perpetual noise.

The score that accompanies city life is brutal and constant. It disrupts the everyday: The coffee break ruined by the screech of a line of double decker buses braking at the lights. The lawyer’s conference call broken by drilling as she makes her way to the office. The writer’s struggle to find a quiet corner to pen his latest article.

For city-dwellers, it’s all-consuming and impossible to avoid. Construction, traffic, the whirring of machinery, the neighbour’s stereo. Even at home, the beeps and buzzes made by washing machines, fridges, and phones all serve to distract and unsettle.

But the never-ending noisiness of city life is far more than a problem of aesthetics. A growing body of evidence shows that noise can have serious health impacts too. Recent studies have linked noise pollution to hearing loss, sleep deprivation, hypertension, heart disease, brain development, and even increased risk of dementia.

One research team compared families living on different stories of the same building in Manhattan to isolate the impact of noise on health and education. They found children in lower, noisier floors were worse at reading than their higher-up peers, an effect that was most pronounced for children who had lived in the building for longest.

Those studies have been replicated for the impact of aircraft noise with similar results. Not only does noise cause higher blood pressure and worsens quality of sleep, it also stymies pupils trying to concentrate in class.

As with many forms of pollution, the poorest are typically the hardest hit. The worst-off in any city often live by busy roads in poorly-insulated houses or flats, cheek by jowl with packed-in neighbours.

The US Department of Transport recently mapped road and aircraft noise across the United States. Predictably, the loudest areas overlapped with some of the country’s most deprived. Those included the south side of Atlanta and the lowest-income areas of LA and Seattle.

Yet as noise pollution grows in line with road and air traffic and rising urban density, public policy has turned a blind eye.

Council noise response services, formally a 24-hour defence against neighbourly disputes, have fallen victim to local government cuts. Decisions on airport expansion and road development pay scant regard to their audible impact. Political platforms remain silent on the loudest poison.

This is odd at a time when we have never had more tools at our disposal to deal with the issue. Electric Vehicles are practically noise-less, yet noise rarely features in the arguments for their adoption. Just replacing today’s bus fleet would transform city centres; doing the same for taxis and trucks would amount to a revolution.

Vehicles are just the start. Millions were spent on a programme of “Warm Homes”; what about “Quiet Homes”? How did we value the noise impact in the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow, and how do we compensate people now that it’s going ahead?

Construction is a major driver of decibels. Should builders compensate “noise victims” for over-drilling? Or could regulation push equipment manufacturers to find new ways to dampen the sound of their kit?

Of course, none of this addresses the noise pollution we impose on ourselves. The bars and clubs we choose to visit or the music we stick in our ears. Whether pumping dance tracks in spin classes or indie rock in trendy coffee shops, people’s desire to compensate for bad noise out there by playing louder noise in here is hard to control for.

The Clean Air Act of 1956 heralded a new era of city life, one where smog and grime gave way to clear skies and clearer lungs. That fight still goes on today.

But some day, we will turn our attention to our clogged-up airwaves. The decibels will fall. #Twitter will give way to twitter. And every now and again, as we step from our homes into city life, we may just hear the sweetest sound of all. Silence.

Adam Swersky is a councillor in Harrow and is cabinet member for finance. He writes in a personal capacity.