LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II, in a ceremony full of pomp and pageantry, opened a new session of Parliament today with government pledges to cut taxes, sell off more state-owned industries and maintain its commitments in the Falkland Islands.
The monarch, wearing the imperial state crown encrusted with 2,783 diamonds, read to the House of Lords a 10-minute speech outlining the Thatcher government's plans for the parliamentary year.
Political commentators noted that the program was relatively light, giving a further boost to speculation that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government intends to call early elections next year.
Cutting Public Spending
On the domestic front, the government repeated its intention to cut public spending as a proportion of national income from 44% at present to 41.5% in 1989-90.
This would allow the government to make good its promise to reduce the basic rate of income tax from its current level of 29%, although no time frame has been set. The target announced last March was 25%.
The sale of state industries and utilities will continue with British Gas, British Airways, Rolls-Royce and the British Airports Authority over the next 12 months, the queen said.
The privatization of the four, with a combined turnover of $18.5 billion, will mean a 40% reduction in the state sector since 1979.
Looking abroad, the government underlined its continued commitment to arms control and the fight against international terrorism.
The queen also reiterated Britain's commitments to residents of the Falkland Islands, now the center of a dispute over fishing rights.
"My government will honor their commitments to the people of the Falkland Islands while continuing to seek more normal relations with Argentina," she said.
In the ceremonies that date from the Norman kings of England, the queen was attended by courtiers with titles such as Black Rod, the Lord Privy Seal, Gold Stick in Waiting and the Sword of State as she addressed ermine-clad peers, wig-bedecked judges and members of the House of Lords and the Cabinet.