HC Deb 09 June 1955 vol 542 cc41-5
Mr. Speaker

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

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

The grave situation created by the interruption of the railway services has made it necessary to advance the date of the Opening of Parliament. I have proclaimed a state of emergency under the Emergency Powers Act, 1920, to enable My Ministers to take the steps needed to maintain supplies and services which are essential to the life of the community.

In their relations with foreign Powers My Government will resolutely go forward with the policies to which they are pledged. The United Nations, the Atlantic Alliance and the new association of Western European Union will all receive their whole-hearted support. They will continue to work in close accord with the United States of America.

Fortified by the growing unity and strength of the free nations, My Government look forward, in a spirit of confidence and goodwill, to fruitful negotiations with the Government of the Soviet Union.

My Government welcome the progress which has recently been made in the United Nations' discussions on disarmament and will zealously maintain their efforts to reach agreement on a comprehensive disarmament plan designed to bring peace and security to all countries.

My Government have warmly welcomed the signature of the State Treaty for the re-establishment of an independent and democratic Austria. The text of this Treaty will be presented to you before ratification.

In consultation with the other Governments concerned, My Government will continue earnestly to seek a peaceful settlement of the situation in the Formosa Strait.

My Government will continue their efforts to uphold the Indo-China settlement concluded at Geneva and to promote the peace, security and prosperity of South East Asia through the regional organisations set up for that purpose.

My Government will maintain and strengthen consultation within the Commonwealth for the fulfilment of our common aims and purposes.

The economic development of the Commonwealth and Empire will be steadily encouraged, and My Government will continue to support the Colombo Plan.

My Government look forward to further progress in establishing the British Caribbean Federation.

My Forces will continue to play their full part in maintaining peace and stability in the world.

My Ministers are reviewing the problems of Home Defence and the measures required to meet new forms of warfare.

Members of the House of Commons

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you in due course.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

The full employment of My People will continue to be the first care of My Ministers. To this end they will actively seek the co-operation of employers and workers in ensuring that full employment and expanding output shall not be jeopardised. They are convinced that, with a steady expansion of production in industry, commerce and agriculture, an ever higher standard of living can be secured for the whole nation.

My Government will actively promote the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Legislation, consistent with My Government's international obligations, will be introduced to permit the imposition of countervailing and antidumping duties on imported goods.

My Ministers will take such further action as may be required in the public interest to deal with abuses in the field of monopolies and restrictive practices.

It will be the aim of My Government to strengthen the balance of payments and to extend overseas markets for our goods and services. Together with the other Governments of the Commonwealth and of Europe, and with the Government of the United States of America, they will work for a further advance towards a free flow of international trade and payments.

My Ministers will not relax their efforts to secure the utmost economy in public expenditure, and by sound handling of financial affairs to check the dangers of inflation.

My Ministers recognise the need for maximum economic production from our land. They will continue, through guaranteed prices and assured markets, to ensure a fair return to producers, and will encourage the efficient marketing of food.

Legislation will be introduced to safeguard the health and provide for the safety and welfare of those employed in agriculture and forestry.

My Ministers will continue to promote the well-being of the fishing industry and to support the efforts of the White Fish Authority and the Herring Industry Board to improve the condition of the fishing fleets and enable them to operate on an efficient basis.

My Ministers will ensure that steady progress is made with the modernisation and re-equipment of the railways, so that they may give better service to the public and provide improved working conditions for railway workers.

My Government will press forward their far-reaching programme of road construction and improvement and their plans to ease the flow of traffic and reduce danger on the roads. A Measure will be laid before you to amend the Road Traffic Acts.

In the light of proposals recently agreed among the local authority associations My Government are examining the problems of local government in England and Wales with a view to introducing legislation on this subject.

While maintaining a high rate of house building, My Ministers will encourage action to secure the more rapid clearance of slums in both town and country and to relieve urban congestion. They will introduce such legislation as may be found necessary to further these objects.

In step with the continued expansion in the building and improvement of schools My Government will give close attention to the number and needs of the teaching profession. They have very much in mind the special requirements of rural areas. Secondary schools will be encouraged to provide a choice of courses; and facilities for technical education will be extended.

My Ministers will propose amendments to the scheme of superannuation for teachers following the discussions now proceeding with representatives of teachers and local authorities.

A Bill will be laid before you to extend the period during which family allowances are payable for children who remain at school.

Legislation will be introduced to amend the law of valuation and rating in Scotland in the light of the recommendations of a Departmental Committee; and an inquiry into the working of the arrangements for ascertaining Equalisation Grant in Scotland will be made in consultation with the associations of local authorities.

You will also be invited to pass a Measure to amend the law relating to valuation and rating in England and Wales.

Legislation will be proposed to reform the law of copyright on the basis of recommendations in the report of the Copyright Committee.

My Government will proceed with a Bill to enable them to carry out their obligations under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and to bring to an end the present system of state trading in sugar.

My Ministers will bring forward legislation to reduce the pollution of the air by smoke and other causes.

Steps will be taken to extend legal aid to proceedings in county courts in England and Wales, and the jurisdiction of these courts will be increased. A Measure will also be introduced to set up new criminal courts at Liverpool and Manchester, and to amend the law relating to recorders and stipendiary magistrates.

An inquiry will be held to consider practice and procedure in relation to administrative tribunals and quasi-judicial inquiries, including those concerning land.

Further consideration will be given to the question of the composition of the House of Lords.

Other Measures will be laid before you in due course.

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