HC Deb 10 February 1914 vol 58 cc51-3

Mr. SPEAKER read His Majesty's Most Gracious Speech, which was as follows:—

My Lords and Gentlemen,

My relations with Foreign Powers continue to be friendly.

It is a cause of much pleasure to Me that I shall be able, in the near future, to visit, with the Queen, the President of the French Republic, and that I shall thus be afforded an opportunity of testifying to the cordial relations which exist between Our two countries.

My Government has been in consultation with the other Powers respecting the settlement of Albania and of the Ægean Islands, with the view of giving effect to resolutions adopted by the Powers during the Conference held with Ambassadors in London last year. I hope that these consultations will contribute to the maintenance of peace in South-Eastern Europe.

Measures have been adopted by the International Commission of Control in Albania for the purpose of establishing order and security, and, on the arrival of the new Ruler, I trust that progress will be made towards the institution of an efficient and stable administration in that country.

I am happy to say that My negotiations, both with the German Government and the Ottoman Government, as regards matters of importance to the commercial and industrial interests of this country in Mesopotamia, are rapidly approaching a satisfactory issue, while questions which have long been pending with the Turkish Umpire in respect to regions bordering on the Persian Gulf are in a fair way towards an amicable settlement.

It gives Me great gratification that the International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea, which recently met in London at the invitation of My Government, has resulted in the signature of an important Convention, which will, I trust, do much for the protection of life, especially on been-going passenger steamships. A Bill to enable Me to fulfil the obligations of the Convention will be laid before you.

I regret that in My Indian Dominions the early cessation of the seasonal rains last autumn has impaired the prospects of agriculture over considerable tracts. The area visited by severe drought is fortunately restricted, and in it timely measures have been taken by My officers for the relief of the distressed population.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

The Estimates for the service of the coming year will be laid before you in due course.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

The measures in regard to which there were differences last Session between the two Houses will be again submitted for your consideration. I regret that the efforts which have been made to arrive at a solution by agreement of the problems connected with the Government of Ireland have, so far, not succeeded. In a matter in which the hopes and the fears of so many of My subjects are keenly concerned, and which, unless handled now with foresight, judgment, and in the spirit of mutual concession, threatens grave future difficulties, it is My most earnest wish that the good will and co-operation of men of all parties and creeds may heal dissension and lay the foundations of a lasting settlement.

Proposals will be laid before you for reconstituting the Second Chamber.

The Royal Commission which was appointed to enquire into the delay in the Administration of Justice in the King's Bench Division has now made its Report. Propositions will be made for you to carry into effect certain of the recommendations, which require the concurrence of Parliament. The consideration of other recommendations, which can be effected by administrative action, is already well advanced.

A Bill which has been prepared in consultation with the Governments of the Self-governing Dominions, relating to British nationality and providing for Imperial naturalisation, will be laid before you.

A Bill will be introduced to authorise the making of Loans to the Governments of the East African Protectorates to enable them, to carry out certain public works which are urgently required for the better development of their territories.

Measures will be presented dealing with the Housing of the industrial and agricultural population; to give effect to the pro- posals, which were announced last Session, for the development of a National system of Education; to amend the Law with respect to the treatment and punishment of young offenders, and otherwise improve the Administration of Justice; and, if time and opportunity permit, for other purposes of social reform.

Your labours upon these and all other matters I humbly commend to the blessing of Almighty God.