The clouds cleared briefly at Westminster this morning as the Queen arrived for the State Opening of Parliament. As for the Coalition they hope this Queens Speech will lift some of the gloom surrounding the Government at the moment.
Amongst the Government's proposals for the next 12 months in Parliament, measures aimed at helping children and families including a proposal to make parental leave more flexible and able to be shared between parents. Theres also a Bill to reform public service pensions and another one to modernise the pension system, thats the one which will bring forward to 2028 the new retirement age of 67. And a Bill to reform the House of Lords, so that most Lords are elected rather than appointed.
Labour MPs have, unsurprisingly, criticised the Governments legislative programme, saying there's too little in there and there's not enough focus on the economy. Luton South MP Gavin Shuker said the speech was an "odd collection of little bills" and offered nothing for the economy and growth.
But Treasury Minister and Norwich North MP Chloe Smith described the Queens Speech as "short and sweet" but "focussed" on the the things that matter, the economy and growth and reducing the deficit. South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss welcomed the Queens speech saying the measures would reduce burden on business.
The plans to reform the House of Lords are set to prove controversial. The Prime Minister says its not the most important thing. But the Liberal Democrats are very enthusiastic. And many Tory backbenchers in our region including Peter Bone in Wellingborough and Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson believe the Lib Dems should have less influence in Government. And they say House of Lords reform is not a key issue with voters, they want the Prime MInister to get back to "bread and butter issues".
Todays State Opening comes just a day after the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister "relaunched" the Coalition in an appearance at a tractor factory in Basild on. One Norfolk conservative MP told me that today was a big day to reboot the coalition. There now follows a weeks debate on the measures in the Speech and then of course a year to put these plans into law. After the Queen departed from Parliament today, the rain started pouring down again. The Government will be hoping the clouds lift and things start to look rosier.