HC Deb 05 November 1956 vol 558 cc1980-4
Mr. Speaker

I have further to acquaint the House that the Lord High Chancellor, being one of the Royal Commissioners, delivered Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament, in pursuance of Her Majesty's Commands, as follows :

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

I shall always retain the happiest recollections of the visit which I paid with My Dear Husband to the Federation of Nigeria and of the moving welcome accorded to us there. We also recall with pleasure our visits to the Kingdoms of Norway and Sweden and the gracious reception extended to us by the peoples of those countries. The warmth of the regard shown by My peoples of East Africa and Mauritius to My Dear Sister during her recent visit has been a source of great satisfaction to Me.

I have also been very happy to welcome to this country the President of our oldest ally, Portugal, and the King of Iraq, with whom we are so closely associated in the Bagdad Pact.

My Government have been gravely concerned at the outbreak of hostilities between Israel and Egypt. They resolved, in conjunction with the French Government, to make a quick and decisive intervention to protect the lives of our nationals and to safeguard the Suez Canal by separating the combatants and restoring peace. My Government have proposed that the United Nations should take over responsibility for policing the area, as a prelude to a satisfactory settlement in the Middle East. They earnestly trust that this purpose will be achieved.

My Government have maintained their efforts in the Disarmament Commission of the United Nations to achieve an international agreement on conventional and nuclear disarmament.

The Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth met in London at the end of June. Their discussions were prompted by a desire to further the common interests of their countries and to seek by all means to promote peace and security in the world. My Government have continued to support the purposes of the Colombo Plan and have increased their provision for technical assistance.

The situation in Cyprus has caused My Ministers profound concern. In the face of violence and provocation My Forces have shown exemplary steadiness and forbearance. My Government have taken a fresh initiative by appointing a Commissioner to make recommendations for a new and liberal Constitution for the Island.

I was deeply grieved at the loss of life and great devastation from a disastrous hurricane suffered by several of My West Indian territories. I am glad to know that with the aid of assistance from My Government in the United Kingdom, from others of My Governments, from foreign countries and public appeals they have since made good progress towards recovery.

A Round Table Conference was appointed to consider proposals for closer association of Malta with the United Kingdom. My Government accepted their report and discussions preparatory to the consequential legislation are now proceeding.

An Act was passed conferring powers on Me to provide for a British Caribbean Federation. It was agreed at a Conference with a delegation from the Federation of Malaya that a new Constitution providing for full self-government and independence within the Commonwealth should be introduced by August, 1957, if possible. An Order in Council has been made providing for an elected majority in the Legislative Assembly of Sarawak.

The pay and conditions of service of members of the Services on regular engagements have been improved. Plans have been developed for using My Forces in support of the local civil defence services which have continued to play their part in home defence.

Members of the House of Commons

I thank you for the provision which you have made for the public services.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

It has been the constant concern of My Ministers to maintain full employment, to encourage savings by vigorous and imaginative incentives and to preserve the strength and stability of the economy.

In order to stimulate competitive enterprise an Act has been passed to provide for the registration of restrictive trading agreements and their judicial examination by a special court, and to prohibit the collective enforcement of resale price conditions.

The law dealing with copyright and related matters has been revised.

The price guarantees and grants determined by My Ministers have provided valuable support for the agricultural industry. Farmers and workers have faced with courage and determination the difficulties caused by the bad weather this year.

Further help has been provided for agriculture in the hill farming and livestock rearing areas.

Further financial assistance has been provided for the fishing industry.

An Act has been passed to safeguard the health, and to provide for the safety and welfare, of those employed in agriculture and forestry.

My Ministers have ended the Government purchase of imported bacon and have arranged for the import of sugar for home consumpton to be returned to private trading. I have given My Assent to an Act to carry out the Government's obligations under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement.

Measures have been enacted to introduce new arrangements for financing agricultural research and to amend the constitution of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

My Government have announced a five-year plan for extending technical education. An Act has also been passed amending the schemes of superannuation for teachers.

The law relating to education in Scotland has been amended.

My Government have been much concerned with the problem of traffic on the roads and legislation has been passed to improve its regulation and to promote road safety.

New criminal courts have been set up in Liverpool and Manchester and legislation has been enacted to make further reforms in the administration of justice. The system of legal aid has been extended to proceedings in the county courts in England and Wales and the jurisdiction of these courts has been increased.

The law relating to rating and valuation in England and Wales has been amended. Legislation has also been passed to amend the law of valuation and rating in Scotland and to provide a new basis for the payment of equalisation grant to Scottish local authorities for an interim period.

Legislation has been enacted to abate the evils of air pollution.

The structure of the housing subsidies in England and Wales has been modified so as to encourage the building of houses to replace slums and to relieve the congestion of our cities. The compensation payable to certain owner-occupiers and businesses affected by slum clearance has been improved.

An Act has been passed to provide for the establishment of a General Dental Council.

Family allowances have been extended, improvements have been made in the war pensions and national insurance benefits of widows with children, the earnings rules for insurance pensioners have been relaxed, and provision has been made for those receiving workmen's compensation who are totally disabled. The national assistance scales have been raised. The pensions of retired members of the public services have been increased.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may attend you.

Then a Commission for Proroguing the Parliament was read ;

After which the Lord Chancellor said : My Lords and Members of the House of Commons : By virtue of Her Majesty's Commission under the Great Seal, to us and other Lords directed, and now read, we do, in Her Majesty's Name and in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands prorogue this Parliament to Tuesday, the sixth day of November. One thousand nine hundred and fifty-six, to be then here holden; and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued until Tuesday the sixth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-six.

In view of the fact that we are separating for only a few hours, I will not trouble hon. Members to observe the ancient custom of shaking hands with me. That is not to say that my affection for them has suffered any diminution.

End of the First Session (opened 7th June, 1955) of the Forty-first Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.