HC Deb 26 October 1972 vol 843 cc1334-8
Mr. Speaker

I have further to acquaint the House that the Lord High Chancellor 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:

My Husband and I recall with pleasure our visits to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Maldives, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Kenya, to France, and to Yugoslavia. We also had the pleasure of welcoming to this country Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, the Grand Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg and the President of the Federal Republic of Germany and Frau Heinemann.

Negotiations for British membership of the European Communities were successfully concluded by My Ministers. Following the passage of legislation making the requisite changes in United Kingdom law an Instrument of Ratification of the Treaty of Accession has been deposited to provide for accession to the Communities on 1st January, 1973. At the European Summit My Government joined with the other Governments in formulating constructive policies for the future development of the Communities.

My Ministers have played a full part in the North Atlantic Alliance and have striven to improve relations between East and West. Ambassadors have been exchanged with the People's Republic of China. My Government have continued their efforts to achieve international agreement on arms control and disarmament and have signed the Biological Weapons Convention.

My Government regret the decision of Pakistan to withdraw from the Commonwealth. They welcome as a Commonwealth partner the People's Republic of Bangladesh and are making a substantial contribution to relief and rehabilitation in Bangladesh.

My Ministers welcomed the opportunity for discussions with the Shah of Iran during his private visit to this country in June. My Government reaffirmed their support for the Central Treaty Organisation at the Ministerial Meeting in London in June.

My Government deplore the action of the Government of Uganda in expelling residents of Asian descent. They have made strong representations to the Ugandan Government and have sought the support of many Commonwealth and foreign Governments in offering to those expelled a choice of countries in which to live. My Ministers accept the responsibility to admit to this country any citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies who are expelled from Uganda and wish to make their homes here. The Uganda Resettlement Board has been established to ensure the orderly reception and resettlement of these unfortunate people.

I have been deeply grieved at the loss of innocent lives in Northern Ireland as a result of terrorism.

The Parliament of Northern Ireland has been prorogued and provision made for direct rule for one year. My Ministers and striven for peace and understanding in the Province and a just share in its government for all its citizens. A conference has been held as part of the process of consulting people and organisations on the future constitutional framework for Northern Ireland.

My Armed Forces are carrying out with skill and determination their difficult and dangerous duties in Northern Ireland. Their courage deserves the greatest admiration and they will continue to act with vigour against lawlessness from any quarter.

Members of the House of Commons:

I thank you for the provision which you have made for the honour and dignity of the Crown and for the public services.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

My Government have taken vigorous steps to encourage economic growth and industrial modernisation and to increase employment. Special attention has been paid to the problems of the assisted areas. Legislation has been passed to make regional development grants, to give selective financial assistance to industry and to provide special help for shipbuilding.

All remaining short and medium-term official overseas debt has been repaid. The reserves are at a satisfactory level. In June My Government decided that for the time being the sterling exchange rate should not be maintained within the normal dealing margins. My Government welcome the establishment of a new Committee of Twenty in the International Monetary Fund which will meet at Ministerial level to press forward the study of international monetary reform.

The burden of taxation has again been significantly reduced. Tax reform has been carried forward by providing for a new system of company taxation, for the abolition of purchase tax and selective employment tax, and for the introduction of a value-added tax. My Ministers have published Green Papers containing proposals for a new tax credit system and for a different death duty system.

Under the Industrial Relations Act. 1971, a code of industrial relations practice containing guidance for management and trade unions has been approved. Training opportunities for individuals have been greatly improved. My Government have announced proposals for the reform of industrial training arrangements.

Acts have been passed to strengthen the finances of the British Steel Corporation and to reorganise the gas industry.

My Government have taken active steps to promote a strong agricultural industry which will be competitive within the enlarged European Economic Community. Support is being given to the British fishing fleet in the exercise of their right to fish on the high seas off Iceland.

New arrangements covering Government-financed research and development, the Research Councils and the use of scientific manpower in the Civil Service have been announced.

My Government have continued their policies of protecting and improving the quality of the environment. Legislation has been passed to prevent the irresponsible disposal of poisonous wastes on land. My Government played a leading part in the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.

Legislation has been passed to reform the finance of rented housing, to give help to tenants who need it, and to make improved financial arrangements for slum clearance.

Legislation has been passed for the reorganisation of local government in England (outside Greater London) and Wales.

An Act has been passed to reorganise the health services in Scotland and to establish a Health Commissioner to deal with complaints.

Substantial increases have been made in national insurance retirement pensions and related benefits under the first of the annual reviews introduced by My Government.

Provision has been made for substantial extension of the attendance allowance for the disabled; and family income supplements have been increased.

Proposals have been published for the future development of State and occupational pensions.

Pension schemes of the public services have been reformed. An Act has been passed to improve and widen the scope of the parliamentary pension scheme.

The school-leaving age has been raised to 16.

Grants to direct grant schools have been increased.

An Independent Broadcasting Authority has been established.

An Act has been passed to widen the powers of the courts to deal with offenders, strengthen the administration of criminal justice and reform the qualifications for jury service.

Legislation has feen passed to improve the facilities for giving legal advice and assistance to persons of moderate means.

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 this Parliament was read; after which the Lord High 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, we do, in Her Majesty's Name and in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, prorogue this Parliament to Tuesday, the thirty-first day of October, one thousand nine hundred and seventy-two, to be then here holden; and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued until Tuesday, the thirty-first day of October, one thousand nine hundred and severity-two. End of the Second Session (opened on 2nd November, 1971) of the Forty-fifth Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in the Twenty-first Year of the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.