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Queen's Speech: What did we get?

Not since 1996 has the Queen read a script written in true blue ink at the State Opening of Parliament.

David Cameron has written four Queen's Speeches before today - but this is his first without the Lib Dems. His first without the need for negotiation with a coalition partner.

George Osborne and David Cameron listen to the Queen's Speech. Credit: PA

So what did we get?

We got the announcement, as expected, of the 'European Union Referendum Bill'.

But apart from the commitment to hold the 'in-out referendum on membership of the European Union' before the end of 2017, there were few other details.

We'll have to wait both for the negotiations to get underway - David Cameron will meet four European leaders later this week - and for confirmation that 'staying in' will be the YES campaign and 'opting out' will be the NO campaign.

And we must also wait for the timetable: could the government commit to hold the referendum as early as Autumn next year?

The Queen proceeds through to the House of Lords to deliver her speech. Credit: PA

Other measures were announced as planned: No tax rises for 5 years; no income tax on the minimum wage: further devolution to Scotland; pressing ahead with HS2; new powers to take over coasting schools; stricter rules around strike action; 30 hours of free pre-school childcare.

What was missing was legislation to scrap the Human Rights Act.

It was promised in the Conservative manifesto - and there are now no Lib Dems to stop them from pursuing it.

But there are Conservative backbenchers with serious doubts in a House of Commons with a thin majority. And plenty of legally-minded peers in the House of Lords where the government does not have a majority.

So we had a promise to 'bring forward proposals' to scrap it and replace it with a British Bill of Rights - but no legislation for at least a year.

That difficult task of drawing up a British Bills of Rights, balancing competing demands, working out the constitutional implications for the devolved parliaments and restoring 'common sense' to the application of rights in the UK will fall to Michael Gove, the new Justice Secretary.

It will not be an easy task. And nor will it - even when complete - have an easy passage through Parliament.

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