HC Deb 03 November 1936 vol 317 cc9-13

I have to acquaint the House that this House has this day attended His Majesty in the House of Peers, and His Majesty was pleased to make a Most Gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament, of which for greater accuracy I have obtained a copy, which is as followeth:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

My relations with foreign Powers continue to be friendly.

The policy of My Government continues to be based upon membership of the League of Nations. They desire to see the League strengthened for its work in the pacific settlement of international disputes, and they have already made known at Geneva their proposals for the improved working and wider authority of the League. My Government will co-operate with other Governments in the work of the Committee of the League which has been set up to examine these and other proposals.

My Government will continue to do all in their power to further the appeasement of Europe. With this object in view they will persist in their efforts to bring about a meeting between the Five Powers signatory to the Treaty of Locarno.

I trust that, as a result of the negotiations at present in progress, the Treaty for the limitation of naval armaments, which was signed in London on March 25th by representatives of the United States of America, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand and India, will form the basis of an international agreement to which all naval Powers will eventually become parties.

My Government have followed with concern the political situation in the Far East, where peace and tranquillity are so essential to the important interests of My people in that part of the world. It is My hope that the negotiations now in progress between China and Japan may result in a satisfactory solution.

My Ministers, while maintaining their determination to support the international agreement for non-intervention in Spain, will continue to take every opportunity to mitigate human suffering and loss of life in that unhappy country.

I trust that before the end of the present year the Treaty of Alliance with Egypt will have been ratified by Myself and the King of Egypt, and that it will prove to be the means of loyal co-operation between our two Governments and peoples whose destinies are inseparably bound together by common aims and interests.

A meeting of the Imperial Conference is to be held in London next May, and I am confident that the opportunity thus afforded for discussions between representatives of My several Governments will once more prove its value in promoting a closer understanding between all My peoples. I am glad to think that this meeting will coincide in time with the occasion of My Coronation.

It is My hope, when the solemnity of My Coronation has been celebrated, to revisit My Indian Dominions and there to make known in the same manner as My revered Father to the Princes and Peoples of India My succession to the Imperial Crown.

You will be asked to approve the drafts of various instruments which are required to implement your decision that the provisions of the Government of India Act affecting the Provinces and of the Government of Burma Act shall come into operation in April next. I have every confidence that the great responsithilities which will devolve upon the representatives of the people of India and of Burma will be faithfully and effectively discharged.

I deeply regret the serious disturbances which have taken place in Palestine during the last six months, and which made it necessary to despatch additional troops. I welcome the recent improvement in the situation and the Royal Commission, which I have appointed, will leave England this week to undertake their inguiry. I sincerely trust that their examination of the very difficult problems which will come before them will lead to a just and permanent settlement.

Members of the House of Commons:

The Estimates for the Public Services will be laid before you.

The work of strengthening My defence forces is being pressed on with the utmost energy and is now making rapid progress. My Government are satisfied that the measures they are taking are essential to the defence of My Empire and to the ability of this country to discharge its international obligations. My Ministers will nevertheless lose no opportunity of promoting general international appeasement and the limitation of expenditure on armaments which would naturally follow upon such an improvement of relations.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

I am gratified to note that the general trade and industrial outlook continues to be favourable, and that there is good ground for expecting that there will be further improvement. My Ministers will continue to foster industrial activity at home and, in the belief that the attainment of general prosperity here depends on further expansion of our overseas trade, to maintain their efforts to promote the freer exchange of goods throughout the world.

You will be invited to extend the period of operation of the Special Areas (Development and Improvement) Act, 1934.

The position of the shipping industry is receiving the careful consideration of My Ministers, with a view to deciding what measures are required to secure the maintenance of a mercantile marine adequate for the needs of the country.

You will be invited to consider proposals for the furtherance of re-organisation in the coal industry, and for the unification of coal royalties under national control.

My Ministers have come to the conclusion that the existing law requires amendment in order to deal more effectively with persons or organisations who provoke or cause disturbances of the public peace. A Bill for strengthening the law without interfering with legitimate freedom of speech or assembly will be submitted to you.

The present law regulating the conditions of work in factories is based upon the Act of 1901, and though it has from time to time been modified in certain particulars, further amendment and consolidation are long overdue. My Ministers intend to invite Parliament to undertake and carry through this important task in the course of the present Session.

My Ministers will continue to promote by an active and constructive policy the development of home agriculture and fisheries. The position of the livestock industry has been engaging their close attention and legislation will be introduced to promote increased efficiency in that industry and to provide for assistance to the producers of fat cattle.

A Bill will be introduced with a view to transferring from the county councils to the Minister of Transport the principal roads which constitute the national system of through traffic routes in Great Britain.

I am impressed with the need for more comprehensive efforts to improve the physical condition of the nation,. especially among the younger members of the community, and My Ministers-will in due course submit to you proposals designed to carry out this purpose.

Encouragement will continue to be given to the development of the existing public health services. Vigorous action for the provision of housing accommodation to replace slum dwellings and abate overcrowding will be maintained.

Legislation will be introduced to provide medical care for young persons who have left school and entered employment, and to extend to persons with limited income voluntary insurance for the purpose of pensions.

Measures will also be submitted to you to reduce the age limit for the award of pensions to blind persons and to make further provision for the superannuation of local government officers.

A Bill will also be laid before you to remove certain anomalies in the present standing of Ministers by adjustments and alterations in their salaries, and for other purposes.

Close attention will continue to be given to the improvement of conditions in Scotland. My Ministers are examining the Report of the Committee on Scottish Health Services and among measures relating to health a Bill for the development of Scottish maternity services will be introduced. Legislation affecting agriculture in Scotland will also be submitted to you.

Among other Bills you will be invited to pass are measures to make better provisions for preventing abuses of the law relating to clubs, to regulate unit trusts, to improve the efficiency of the organisation of the fire brigade services of the country, and to amend the scheme of railway freight rebates.

Other measures of importance will be laid before you and proceeded with as time and opportunity offer.

And I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your deliberations.

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