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Coalition programme targets deficit

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David Cameron and Nick Clegg

David Cameron and Nick Clegg

David Cameron and Nick Clegg

David Cameron's coalition government is due to set out its programme for the coming 18 months, with a Queen's Speech paving the way for hundreds of new academy schools in the state system.

A late draft leaked at the weekend suggested the monarch's address at the State Opening of Parliament would unveil an ambitious programme of at least 21 parliamentary bills setting the Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration's new course for Britain.

According to the leaked draft, the Queen will state the Government's priority will be to "reduce the deficit and restore economic growth" and to "accelerate the reduction of the structural budget deficit", with five bills led by the Treasury.

A bill to be published within days of the speech is expected to fulfil a key plank of the Conservative manifesto by offering around 600 highly-rated secondary schools and 2,000 primaries academy freedoms from council control.

And early legislation will roll back Labour's "surveillance state", including the scrapping of ID cards and regulation of the use of CCTV cameras and DNA.

Treasury bills will block the planned rise in employers' National Insurance contributions; return supervisory powers over the City to the Bank of England; and set up an Office of Budget Responsibility to remove the power to make economic forecasts from the hands of politicians.

The main themes of the address are expected to be "freedom, fairness and responsibility", with a "great repeals bill" to get rid of Labour legislation opposed by the Tories and Lib Dems when they were in opposition.

A Parliamentary Reform Bill is expected to usher in a shake-up of the political system, with measures to provide for fixed-term parliaments and powers to enable voters to get rid of MPs found guilty of serious wrongdoing. And the same bill could also be the vehicle for delivering a referendum on voting reform for Westminster elections - a key demand of the Liberal Democrats in the coalition negotiations.

Public service reforms are expected to include an overhaul of the benefits system to cut payouts for claimants who refuse to work, a bill to reduce health inequalities and a second education bill to introduce Education Secretary Michael Gove's Swedish-style "free schools" plan to open up the state system to new providers.

The draft is also said to list an energy security and green economy bill, and a police reform and social responsibility bill, which could introduce elected police commissioners.

PA