HC Deb 23 November 1943 vol 393 cc1475-80

Message to attend the Lords Commissioners.

The House went; and, having returned—

Mr. Speaker

(standing in the Clerk's place at the Table): I have to acquaint the House that the House has been to the House of Peers, where a Commission under the Great Seal was read. The LORD CHANCELLOR, being one of the Lords 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,

During the past year My peoples and those of My Allies have been brought, by God's providence, to a turning point in their unceasing fight for freedom. The mounting strength of the United Nations has enabled them to wrest the initiative from the enemy and to take rite offensive in all parts of the world.

Our common purpose has been furthered by an ever closer co-operation between the United Nations—above all between My Governments and those of our Allies in the United States and the Soviet Union. My Prime Minister has three times met in conference the President of the United States. The Foreign Secretary has recently returned from concerting with M. Molotov and Mr. Cordell Hull plans for the joint conduct of the war and for a united approach to the problems of the transition from war to peace. It is a matter for gratification that the Chinese Government associated themselves with one of the more important instruments resulting from that Conference. The results of this most fruitful meeting in Moscow have brought new hope to all who look to a speedy victory over our enemies and a just and enduring peace. I rejoice in the warmth of the reception accorded to My Ministers in Washington and Moscow and in the historic city of Quebec in My Dominion of Canada.

In the various theatres of war throughout the world My Navy, Army and Air Force have fought in, close and continuous fellowship with their comrades from My Dominions and India and My Colonial Empire, and with the forces of the United States and My other Allies. Their united efforts have produced solid and striking achievements in every theatre of war.

The dangerous attack of the U-boats has been largely broken by our Navies and Air Forces, whose continued success rejoices all our hearts. Their task will be notably eased by the facilities granted by My oldest Ally, Portugal, in her Atlantic islands. Over Germany itself our Air Forces are striking increasingly heavy blows at the heart of the enemy, in the face of the most desperate opposition. Throughout Europe a mounting tide of resistance is rising against the oppressor.

In the Mediterranean resounding victories have been won. The enemy has been driven from the soil of Africa; Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica have been liberated; the Italian fleet is in our hands; one-third of Italy has been occupied; and My troops and those of the United States confront the foe on the mainland of Europe. The Italian people's repudiation of their false leader and their readiness to strike against their German oppressors have shaken the guilty confederacy of our enemies to its foundation.

It was a special pleasure to Me to visit My Navies, Armies and Air Forces in the midst of these memorable operations and Myself to witness their courage and ardour.

I continue with My people to watch with admiration the increasing successes of the armies of our heroic Russian Allies, and rejoice with them in the liberation of great regions from the ravages of our common foe.

In the Far East the advance of the enemy has been halted and the offensive of the United Nations has begun. I trust that this may soon bring some relief to our Chinese Allies, whose long struggle against the Japanese invader has inspired our deepest sympathy. In South-East Asia a new Command has been created and new Commanders appointed. In the Western Pacific freedom has already been restored to some of the islands which were overrun by the enemy. I look forward to the day when we shall, with God's help, restore to all My peoples the blessings of peace and progress.

These successful operations in all theatres of war have been sustained and supplied by the untiring efforts of the men and women working in the industries and services essential to the prosecution of the war—in the great manufacturing industries, in agriculture, in the mines, and in transport by land and by sea. For the third successive year we have been blessed with a bounteous harvest.

The splendid courage and determination of My merchant seamen and those of the United Nations, and of the men of the fishing fleets, with the untiring aid of the minesweepers, have continued to assure the flow of supplies essential to the prosecution of the war and to the life of My peoples.

I have also watched with pride the fortitude and endurance shown by those whose duties, though no less necessary, are less directly concerned with the activities of war—the women at home, so many of whom combine their domestic duties with other work, and the men and women working in the industries supplying the essential civil needs of My people.

The perseverance and industry of My people in the United Kingdom has been emulated by My peoples in My Dominions and Colonial territories and in India. I trust that the special hardships which the war has lately brought to many among My Indian subjects will be relieved; and that the steps My Government have already taken will assist the Governments in India in relieving the grave shortage of food in certain areas of India.

The unity of My peoples with those of My Allies has contined to hearten our friends and confound our enemies. Once again we have had the advantage of the wise counsel of My Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa; and several of My Ministers from other Dominions have also been able to visit us, with beneficial results. The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs has visited My Dominion of Canada and Newfoundland; and the Secretary of State for the Colonies has recently returned from a visit to My territories in East and West Africa. We have been happy to welcome here many distinguished members of the United States Administration.

Matters of great import for the future of the United Nations and of freedom loving peoples everywhere have been considered at international discussions; and My Ministers here have welcomed the opportunity of exploratory conversations on the future of civil air transport with representatives from My Commonwealth and Empire.

The Treaty for the abolition of extraterritorial rights has been successfully concluded with My Chinese Ally. In the summer we had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. T.V. Soong, the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs, on a brief visit, which unhappily was overshadowed by the death of the Chinese President, Dr. Lin Sen.

My Government have welcomed the establishment of the French Committee of National Liberation at Algiers, and have recognised it as the body qualified to ensure the conduct of the French effort in the war within the framework of inter-Allied co-operation. We look forward to the liberation of France and her restoration to the ranks of the Great Powers.

Members of the House of Commons,

I thank you for the provision that you have made towards the cost of the war. The ready support given by My people to the measures you have adopted has ensured that the very heavy expenditure required by the war has been met with due regard to the social and economic interests of My country.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

It is a matter of especial satisfaction to The Queen and Myself that Parliament has complied with My request that the Regency Act should be so amended as to enable Our beloved daughter Princess Elizabeth, when she attains the age of eighteen, to serve as one of the Counsellors of State should occasion arise for their appointment.

I have given My Assent to a number of measures which have been brought before you during the course of the year. These have included Acts providing for the reorganisation of My Foreign Service, for strengthening public control over the planning of town and country, and for the development of hydro-electric power in Scotland. Legislation has been passed to introduce a new system of taxation of wages and salaries, which will be of substantial convenience to all employees, particularly those whose earnings are liable to fluctuation. An Act has been passed to facilitate electoral registration under war conditions. Provision has been made for the development of the catering trades and for regulating the conditions of employment in those trades, for improving the administration of pensions, and for further temporary increases in the rates of workmen's compensation.

Steps have also been taken to establish machinery for dealing with questions of wages and conditions in the coat-mining industry.

My Government have taken the necessary action to ratify the International Labour Conventions concerning the Regulation of Written Contracts of Employment of Indigenous Workers and Penal Sanctions for Breaches of Contracts of Employment by Indigenous Workers.

With you, I thank Almighty God for having brought us victoriously through a year of peril and anxiety, and I pray that His blessing may attend you at all times.

Then a Commission for Proroguing the Parliament was read in the House of Lords.

After which the LORD CHANCELLOR said:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

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 Wednesday, the twenty-fourth day of November, one thousand nine hundred and forty-three, to be then here holden; and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued Until Wednesday, the twenty-fourth day of November, one thousand nine hundred and forty-three."

Mr. Speaker

I propose to dispense with the usual ceremony of shaking hands, in view of the shortness of the period of Prorogation, in accordance with the precedent set by my predecessor.

End of the Eighth Session (opened 11th November, 1942) of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in the Seventh Year of the Reign of His Majesty King George the Sixth.