HC Deb 28 November 1944 vol 404 cc2433-40

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,

The past year has seen the intensification of the efforts of My peoples and of those of My Allies to free the world from German and Japanese oppression and we are now reaping the reward of the long years of endurance and preparation that have gone before.

The victories achieved are the fruits of the close friendship which knits together My Governments and those of My Allies—a friendship fostered by the meetings between Allied leaders which have played such a notable part in the furtherance of our common purpose.

Within the Commonwealth and Empire the ties that unite My peoples were further strengthened by the meetings in London at which the Prime Ministers of My Dominions, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and representatives of My Empire of India conferred with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The declaration which they issued at the conclusion of their meetings expressed the common resolve of My peoples to devote their whole energies towards victory in the struggle in which we are engaged.

In the wider sphere, the meeting at Teheran, where for the first time the leaders of the United States and of the Soviet Union met in, joint conference with My Prime Minister, settled the co-ordinated strategy which has unfolded itself in the past year. In Cairo My Prime Minister and the President of the United States were able to confer with the leader of the Chinese people. And this autumn Afy Prime Minister has undertaken further arduous journeys, to Quebec to concert with the President of the United States plans for the conduct of the war in the Far East, and to Moscow to co-ordinate with Marshal Stalin plans for achieving the final downfall of Hitlerite Germany and to review with him the problems of Europe. More recently he has paid, at the invitation of the President of the French Provisional Government, a visit to Paris, which has demonstrated afresh the cordial friendship which unites the French and British peoples. In all these visits he has been assisted by the presence of My Foreign Secretary.

In the theatres of war throughout the world, the Forces of all My peoples have continued to fight in close comradeship with the gallant Forces of the United States and My other Allies.

My Forces from the United Kingdom and from Canada, with their comrades from the United States, successfully launched the long-prepared assault on the shores of Western Europe, established a foothold in the face of determined opposition, and, after destroying the German armies which opposed them, have advanced through France and Belgium to the gates of Germany.

Never before in our history has a single enterprise so completely absorbed the energies of the whole nation. Military success has been rendered possible only by the devotion with which the Home Guard, the Civil Defence Services and the Active Air Defences of Great Britain have fulfilled their task of guarding this island base on which the whole undertaking in Western Europe depends.

In the Mediterranean, maintaining the advance which began at El Alamein, the Forces of the United Nations have by hard and determined fighting driven the enemy from Rome and reached the Northern plains of Italy.

In Burma, My Fourteenth Army, including African Colonial Forces and aided by the Forces of the United Slates and China, has turned the attempted Japanese invasion of India into a disastrous retreat. In this campaign My Indian Forces have contributed brilliantly to the defence of their country.

In all these victories My Air Forces, fighting in the closest association with the Allied Air Forces, have played a conspicuous part. They have everywhere engaged the enemy with confidence and courage and their sustained and gallant attacks in Western Europe, in co-operation with the Air Forces of the United States, opened the way for the successful invasion of the Continent.

My Navies have been heavily and continuously engaged throughout the world. In conjunction with My Air Forces they have gained great successes against those enemy submarines and surface craft which have dared to show themselves. They secured the safe passage of the vast invasion convoys for the assault on the shores of Western Europe and they continue to maintain the flow of supplies to My Armies as well as to ensure the safe and timely arrival of the food and material on which the life and work of the nation depends. This would not have been accomplished without the splendid bravery of our merchant seamen and those of the United Nations and Denmark.

It has given Me particular pleasure to have been able to visit units of all My Forces both in Western Europe and in the Mediterranean.

Resounding victories have continued to reward the skill and valour of My Russian Allies, whose advances have carried them into Eastern Germany and brought to an end the German domination of South-Eastern Europe.

In the Pacific theatre of war the Forces of the United States, valiantly supported by Australian and New Zealand Forces, have rapidly advanced across vast spaces of the ocean and have broken into the outer defences of Japan.

The victories achieved and the successful invasion of the Continent have been made possible by the tireless effort and inventive genius of all those who have planned, produced and transported the manifold types of equipment and munitions of war for My Forces and who have maintained the services essential to the prosecution of the war. Our farmers and agricultural workers and the courageous men of the fishing fleets have toiled without respite to provide food for My people, and, in the Forces, in trade and industry, in voluntary service and in the home, women have continued to make their invaluable contributlions towards victory.

The civil population and the Police, Fire and Civil Defence Services have again shown those qualities of courage and fortitude which earned the admiration of the world in 1940 and 1941. The sympathies of the Queen and Myself extend to all those who have suffered as a result of the enemy's attacks, and We are thankful that the advance of the Allied Forces on the Continent has put an end to the shelling of the south-east coast and reduced the enemy's capacity to launch attacks by flying-bombs and long-range rockets.

I rejoice at the freeing of the territory of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece and Yugoslavia, and our sympathy goes out to the Dutch people in their present ordeal. It is My earnest hope that before long deliverance will have come to the whole of occupied Europe.

In every occupied country the enemy has been increasingly harassed by the resistance of the oppressed peoples and I have watched with warm admiration the great part which the French Forces of the Interior have played in ridding their country of the invader.

My Government have welcomed the establishment in France of a Provisional Government, which will govern the country in accordance with the laws of the Republic until general elections can be held. My Government have also been glad to join with the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Soviet Union in inviting the Provisional Government of France to appoint a representative to join as a full and permanent member in the important work of the European Advisory Commission in London.

It is our earnest desire to promote peaceful co-operation among the nations of the world, and to this end important conversations have been held with officials of the United States, the Soviet Union and the Republic of China which have resulted in the submission to each of the four Govern- ments concerned of agreed suggestions for the formation of an international organisation designed to maintain peace and security.

My Government were represented at the twenty-sixth session of the International Labour Conference, at the second council meeting of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference.

My Government have concluded an agreement with the Governments of other maritime United Nations, ensuring through a United Maritime Authority that their combined shipping resources shall continue to be available for the prosecution of the war in Europe and the Far East and for all the purposes of the-United Nations.

The need for an enlightened international settlement under which civil air transport will flourish as an aid to prosperity and peace continues to engage the attention of My Ministers. Further discussions have been held with representatives from other parts of My Commonwealth and Empire, and the Minister for Civil Aviation has headed a delegation to an international conference convened by the United States of America.

Members of the House of Commons,

I thank you for the provision which you have made towards the cost of the war. The heavy financial sacrifices which My people have continued to make during the fifth year of the war have been an essential and outstanding factor in our war effort.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

Although the successful prosecution of the war has been first in the thoughts of My Government and people, progress has been made with plans for the resettlement of the men and women who during the war have been employed in the various forms of national service, and for the reconversion of industry from war production to the production of goods for the needs of My people and for export.

I have given My Assent to a number of Measures which have been brought before you during the course of the year.

A comprehensive Act has been passed to reform the law relating to education in England and Wales in all its aspects, and to secure its progressive development at all stages. This Measure will open new opportunities to the individual, and will secure to the future service of the community the fullest advantage from the resources inherent in the national character and capacity.

Measures have been passed to provide for the rehabilitation and re-entry into employment of disabled persons and for the reinstatement in their civil employment of men and women in the Services; to facilitate the building of houses; to improve water supply and sewerage in rural areas; to assist the herring industry, and to provide for the redevelopment of war damaged and obsolescent areas and regulate the price of acquisition of land for public purposes.

Legislation has also been passed to establish a Ministry of National Insurance; to increase the rates of unemployment insurance benefit, and to set up permanent machinery for the redistribution of Parliamentary constituencies and provide for an immediate redistribution of abnormally large constituencies.

My Government have outlined the policy which they propose to follow with a view to the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment after the war. They have also published for examination and discussion proposals for a national health service, for a comprehensive system of national insurance and a new scheme of industrial injury insurance, and for a national water policy.

With you, I thank Almighty God for the victories which have been granted to us during the past year, 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-ninth day of November, one thousand nine hundred and forty-four to be then here holden; and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued until Wednesday, the twenty-ninth day of November, one thousand nine hundred and forty-four."

Mr. Speaker

As we shall meet again in so short a time, I do not propose to follow the ceremony of shaking hands with each hon. Member individually.

End of the Ninth Session (opened 24th November, 1943) of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in the Eighth Year of the Reign of His Majesty King George the Sixth.