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Britain's Govt to unveil plans ahead of general election

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government will unveil a crackdown on the banking industry as part of a series of policies aimed at boosting its chances at the general election.

world Updated: Nov 18, 2009 07:29 IST

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government will unveil on Wednesday a crackdown on the banking industry as part of a series of policies aimed at boosting its chances at the general election.

The government will also announce assistance for the elderly and a pledge on changes to state-run schools in its last legislative programme before the general election due by June next year.

Brown's Labour party hopes the policies to be announced in the traditional Queen's Speech in parliament will stymie criticism that it no longer has the energy or initiatives to govern after 12 years in power.

With Britain still in recession and public concern mounting over the Afghan conflict, Brown is widely tipped to lose the election to the main opposition Conservatives, which has a substantial lead in opinion polls.

The government's policies are aimed at laying the battleground for the election as well as prompting the Conservatives, led by David Cameron, to reveal their plans, including possible spending cuts, reports said Wednesday.

Around 15 new bills will be announced including free home care for tens of thousands of vulnerable, elderly Britons.

"Caring for the elderly is the hallmark of civilised society," Brown said, outlining the plan in the Daily Mail newspaper.

"It is part of the soul of our nation, underpinned by those core values of fairness and responsibility."

Brown on Sunday promised a Financial Services Bill to hand tough new powers to regulators to tear up bankers' contracts if
they include excessive pay and bonus deals which might threaten the stability of the financial system.

Some observers blame the bonus culture in the financial sector for encouraging excessive risk-taking, which helped to tip the global economy into chaos.

A bill to enshrine the government's commitment to at least halve the 175 billion pound (197 billion euro, 294 billion dollar) public deficit by 2014 will also be formally announced.

In other plans, the government will create a set of guarantees for students and parents outlining what they can expect from the state school system in future, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The Conservatives warned Wednesday they would block most of the proposed legislation in the parliament, accusing the government of electioneering in the run up to the poll.

"We all know that this Queen's Speech is all about better electioneering and politics rather than the better governance of the country," said Thomas Strathclyde, the Conservatives leader in the House of Lords, the upper house.

"If these measures were so important they would have been in the legislative programme last year rather than being left to the last moment of the fifth term," he told the Guardian.

"That does not suggest they have the greatest priority or urgency."