London: Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday announced tougher curbs on immigration to the UK saying the country wants to attract people who will add to national life while keeping out foreign criminals and illegal immigrants.
The Queen`s speech, which marks the State Opening of Parliament, was read out by the 87-year-old monarch at a special gathering of the House of Lords and Commons, as part of her role as head of state of the country.
The Queen, setting out the government`s legislative programme for the year ahead in a speech written for her by ministers, said its "first priority" remains strengthening Britain`s economy, and it would "continue to prioritise measures that reduce the deficit".
"It will also work to promote a fairer society that rewards people who work hard," she added.
Prince Charles, joined by wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, attended for the first time since 1996.
The speech took place a day after it was announced he would represent the monarch at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka in November. It has triggered talk of the Queen wanting to pass on more and more responsibility to her son and heir.
The list of bills she announced for 2013 includes a parliamentary bill aimed at making it easier to deport foreign criminals and those who enter the UK illegally.
"We want to attract people who will add to our national life, and those who will not should be deterred," the Queen said, speaking on behalf of the government during the traditional parliamentary ceremony.
She added that the bill "will further reform the immigration system by tightening immigration law, strengthening our enforcement powers and clamping down on those from overseas who abuse our public services".
If passed, the new bill would also ensure illegal immigrants cannot get driving licences, and change the rules so private landlords have to check their tenants` immigration status.
Businesses that use illegal foreign labour would face bigger fines, immigrant access to the National Health Service (NHS) will be regulated and temporary migrants will be expected to make a contribution.
The immigration bill`s publication comes a week after the extraordinary success in local elections across England of the far-right UK Independence Party (UKIP), which campaigns to cut net migration.
British Prime Minister David Cameron says the new policies will back the people of Britain "every step of the way".