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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Blair's New Agenda Is Unveiled

LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair unveiled a packed agenda on Tuesday for what should be his most challenging parliamentary session yet after British voters, many angry over the Iraq war, slashed his majority this month.

Queen Elizabeth II was present for the ceremony in the House of Lords. "My government will build on its program of reform and accelerate modernization of the public services to promote opportunity and fairness," she said.

The program for Blair's third term could mark his last chance to secure a lasting legacy before stepping down. But his fate lies in the hands of Labour Party rebels. Defeat on key bills could fatally undermine the power of a leader who already risks becoming a lame duck.

Blair's agenda contains 45 bills and five draft bills for an 18-month session. The government says there will be no major changes "in substance" on its plan for compulsory ID cards.

Another controversial bill would overhaul incapacity welfare benefits to get many claimants back into work. Other measures will seek to tighten the asylum and immigration system, and ban smoking in enclosed public places.

On the foreign policy front, the government said it would keep its troops in Iraq "for as long as the Iraqi government wants us to remain." Blair will also legislate for a referendum on the European Union constitution. Many analysts believe that vote, expected in 2006, could prompt Blair's departure, win or lose.