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So what happens at these sessions after the actuall Speech? Is there a debate? Does it have substance?

You have likened the Queen's speech to the US' "state of the Nation" address. That one (at least in recent years when I have paid attention) has mostly consisted of a patriotic speech by the President to standing ovations from the assembled Congress, and little actual debate.

In Spain we have a "State of the Nation Debate" (I think the official name is "Debate on general policy" [Debate de política general]) which consists of a speech by the PM followed by answers and counter-answers (two rounds) from each of the parliamentary groups in the parliament and from each of the individual MPs in the "mixed group", the whole thing taking two full days.

This Queen's speech seems to have less political substance than the average Spanish King's Christmas-eve TV address.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 16th, 2006 at 03:34:16 AM EST
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Following the Queen's speech there is a multi-day debate, in theory to decide on Parliament's reply thanking the monarch for making the speech.

The debate starts with a general discussion of the programme of the government and then spends time on each subject area.

The highlight so far is Tony Blair likening the Opposition Leader to a fly weight boxer who is going to be knocked out when he fights Labour's next heavyweight leader. This is being seen as a sort of endorsement of Gordon Brown. Brown seemed to think so anyway, as he patted Blair's shoulder as he sat down.

A commentator (Gordon Brown's biographer) on a BBC programme I saw seemed to think Blair was just going through the motions and that Cameron was really eager to see the end of the Blair era and taken on Brown.

There may be some unreality about the whole debate, because when Brown becomes Prime Minister he will probably see political advantage in dropping Blair's daft ideas and replacing them with his own silly plans.

The other big political story of the day (perhaps soon to be of the century) is that Yates of the Yard (the man investigating the cash for peerages scandal) has sent a letter to a Parliamentary committee to say he is making good progress, has strong evidence that has not yet been publicly revealed and hopes to send papers to prosecuting lawyers in January.

Frenzied speculation is that if Blair is questioned under caution (i.e. that he is a suspect in the criminal investigation not just a witness), let alone if he is arrested (prior to questioning, as is the standard police procedure) then this might cause an earlier resignation than Blair currently hopes.

by Gary J on Thu Nov 16th, 2006 at 08:34:18 PM EST
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