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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Britain cannot shirk its duty to defend Hong Kong from China's authoritarianism

Arrests of pro-democracy activists show China is breaching its commitments to the “one country, two systems” agreement.

When Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in June that the Sino-British Joint Declaration no longer has any “practical significance”, shivers were sent down the spines of those who want democracy to flourish in Hong Kong.

“It is not at all binding for the central government's management over Hong Kong. The UK has no sovereignty, no power to rule and no power to supervise Hong Kong after the handover,” he said.

Going by the British government's failure to respond firmly to the jailing of Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow for standing up for democracy, it appears the UK agrees.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed in 1984, was committed to the “one country, two systems” principle, making Hong Kong a Special Administrative Region of China but ensuring a range of freedoms, which future British governments would ensure were upheld.

China’s creeping influence over Hong Kong’s legal affairs and freedom of speech are not new. Earlier this year, Amnesty International said the human rights situation in Hong Kong was at its worst since the handover in 1997. That assessment followed the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers, later found to have been in the custody of the Chinese police, with one describing having been blindfolded and kept in a tiny cell. In other instances journalists have been attacked by police. 

But in Hong Kong, resistance is on display in familiar scenes on the streets. Tens of thousands of people have marched through the financial and legal hub in protest at the jailing of the three pro-democracy activists for their role in the Umbrella Revolution in 2014 – a fundamentally peaceful movement.

It was a moment where people came out to fight for universal suffrage, which I continue to support as key to safeguarding the island’s stability and prosperity (and something Hong Kong’s Basic Law secures by stating that the chief executive should be selected by “by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures”).

For showing courage in fighting for universal suffrage, Wong has already served 80 hours of community service and Law 120 hours. Chow received a three-week suspended prison sentence a year ago. Yet now Wong has been jailed for six months, Chow for seven months and Law for eight months.

Wong was even summoned again to court today for an ongoing contempt charge related to the 2014 "Occupy" pro-democracy protests.

Perhaps more importantly, Wong is now not eligible to stand for the legislative council for five years due to his six-month jail sentence, while Law, who was a member of the council, was removed from office.

This all comes after a 2016 order from Beijing for Hong Kong’s government to dismiss officials thought lacking in their allegiance to China, which led to six legislators being banned from holding office.

Many, including Hong Kong’s last Governor, Chris Patten, have suggested Wong, Law and Chow's sentences were a deliberate attempt to prevent them from taking on these legislative positions.

Patten added that he hopes friends of Hong Kong will speak out, having previously written the UK is “selling its honour” to secure trade deals with China, letting down pro-democracy activists who have been trying to fight to maintain freedoms that were guaranteed during the deal that ended over 100 years of British rule.

The prising open of the case by the Hong Kong government to push for tougher punishments reinforces concerns about Beijing’s willingness to interfere in Hong Kong’s democracy. As Amnesty International stated, seeking jail terms was a “vindictive attack” on freedom of expression.

China’s enthusiasm for subverting democracy has recently been on show in its attempts to censor Cambridge University Press (CUP), which initially complied with a Chinese request to block access to more than 300 articles from the China Quarterly, a leading China studies journal, including articles on Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Following public pressure CUP have now reversed their position.

But while freedoms granted under the Joint Declaration may have contributed to Hong Kong becoming fertile ground for those supportive of democracy and critical of China, it does not free the United Kingdom from its responsibility to uphold the “one country, two systems” principle, which promises extensive autonomy and freedoms to the island, except in the area of foreign relations and military defence.

Read more: The dream deferred by Chris Patten

The Joint Declaration is a legally binding treaty. It is registered with the UN and is still in force. As the UK is a co-signatory, it should be doing all it can to make sure it is upheld.

Yet, in late June one of Hong Kong’s most respected democracy activists Martin Lee described the British government as "just awful. I’m afraid I cannot find any kind words to say about that.”

It is not for either China or the UK to unilaterally decide the Joint Declaration is null and void. The people of Hong Kong understand that and are standing up for democracy in the face of adversity. Our Government has a duty to stand by them.

Catherine West is the Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green