§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have further to acquaint the House that the Lord High Chancellor, being one of the High Commissioners, delivered His Majesty's Most Gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament in pursuance of His Majesty's Commands, as followeth:
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:
My relations with Foreign Powers continue to be friendly.
The negotiations for My participation in the multilateral Treaty for the Renunciation of War in the form proposed by the Government of the United States were successfully concluded on the 2nd March last when My ratifications of this instrument in respect of all parts of My Empire were deposited in Washington.
I have entrusted My Son, the Duke of Gloucester, with the Mission of conferring the Insignia of the Order of the Garter upon the Emperor of Japan as a token of My high regard for His Imperial Majesty, and as a pledge of the friendship which unites Our two countries in their determination to cooperate for the peaceful settlement of international questions, both in the Far East and in the world at large.
I hope that events in China will continue to show improvement and gradual progress towards more stable conditions. I am glad that it has been possible for full recognition to be accorded to the National Government established at Nanking and for My Government to conclude with them a Treaty recognising the principle of complete tariff autonomy.
Owing to the uncertain situation in Afghanistan and the absence of a settled Government, My Representative was withdrawn from Kabul at the end of February. It is My earnest hope that internal peace may soon be restored and a Government established acceptable to the people generally with 2452 which my Government will be able to resume the friendly intercourse of the past.
My Government have continued to press for the reduction of armaments in consultation with other Governments at Geneva. New hope of an early settlement of the question of further naval disarmament has recently been given by the speech of the United States delegate there, of which My Government were not slow to express their appreciation.
My Government have announced their intention of taking the necessary action to enable Me to accept, subject to reciprocity, the Protocol prohibiting chemical and bacteriological methods of warfare. All My Governments in My Dominions have announced a similar intention.
The seven members of your two Houses, to whom, eighteen months ago, I issued a Commission to enquire into the working of the existing system of government in India, have now completed the first part of their task. They have visited India twice to acquire information and collect evidence for the purpose of their enquiry. They have enjoyed the co-operation of Committees of Provincial Legislatures, as well as that of a Committee of members of the Central Legislature who, at the invitation of My Government, will be associated wih them also in the final stages of their enquiry. There lies before them, to complete their arduous task, the duty of framing a Report which, when drawn, will be presented to the Parliament at that time assembled. I pray that success may crown their labours.
In pursuance of the recommendations of the Imperial Conference of 1926, arrangements have been made for the meeting in London in October next of an Expert Committee on the Operation of Dominion Legislation, consisting of representatives of My Governments, and for the holding of a Sub-Conference on Merchant Shipping Legislation.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons
The number of persons unemployed in certain industries during the past year has continued to cause anxiety, but a substantial improvement has taken place and there are good grounds for the belief that we are moving towards a higher level of employment in all parts of the country. The reorganisation of industry, and its development in new directions, are steadily proceeding and, with continued co-operation and goodwill between employers and workers, will lay the foundation for a lasting improvement. It is clear, however, that owing to the altered needs of industry a redistribution of workers must take place on a large scale and it has been the policy of My Ministers to aid and guide this movement by schemes of training and transference.
I have given My assent to the measures embodying the comprehensive scheme which has been before you for relieving agriculture and other productive industries from the burden of rates, for the reorganisation of local government and for the readjustment of the financial relations between the State and the local authorities. The measure of relief in respect of railway freights which it has been possible to give in regard to selected industrial and agricultural traffics in anticipation of the general scheme has proved of value. It is a hopeful augury of the greater and more widespread benefits that should accrue, particularly to the basic trades whose conditions are least satisfactory, when the full scheme of relief takes effect.
I have given My assent to a Measure providing that in the case of agriculture this relief from rates shall come into force immediately.
My Ministers are confident that the reforms in local government, which include recommendations made by My 2454 commission on Local Government, and the reorganisation of the financial relations between the State and the local authorities will promote efficiency and economy in local administration, will enable better provision to be made for the health and welfare of the people, and will in particular direct special relief to those areas whose needs are most pressing.
Steady progress continues to be made in the provision of houses, and the reductions in costs which are being secured should materially facilitate the erection of houses for the less well-paid members of the community.
My Ministers have initiated an inquiry into the radium requirements of the country in the light of the knowledge and experience gained as to the importance of radium in the treatment of cancer, and in accordance with the recommendation made to them they have agreed to contribute to a fund for the acquisition of a stock of radium. It is My earnest hope that this action may prove a substantial step forward in the campaign against one of the most distressing maladies known to mankind.
I have given My assent to a Bill effecting a consolidation of the law as to companies.
A Bill has also been passed which, it is hoped, will assist the further development of the gas industry.
Measures have been passed for the reform of Local Government in Scotland and for granting substantial relief from the burden of rates to agricultural, industrial and freight-transport lands and heritages.
Provision has also been made to increase the available facilities for the supply of credit to the agricultural industry in Scotland.
The Scottish Departments of Health, Agriculture, Prisons and other Departments have been reorganised in accordance with the terms of the Reorganisation of Offices (Scotland) Act of last Session.
2455 In bidding you farewell, I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your labours.
§ Then a Commission for proroguing the Parliament was read.
§ After which the LORD CHANCELLOR said:
§ My Lords and Members,—By virtue of His Majesty's Commission, under the Great Seal, to us and other Lords directed, and now read, we do, in His Majesty's name and in obedience to His Majesty's Commands, prorogue this Parliament to Friday, the twenty-fourth day 2456 of May, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-nine, to be then here holden; and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued until Friday, the twenty-fourth day of May, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-nine.
§ End of the Fifth Session (opened Tuesday, 6th November, 1928) of the Thirty-fourth Parliament of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in the Twentieth year of the Reign of His Majesty King George the Fifth.