HC Deb 08 February 1974 vol 868 cc1492-6
Mr. Speaker

I have further to acquaint the House that the Lord High Chancellor, being one of the High 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

My husband and I had the pleasure of visiting New Zealand, where we attended the Commonwealth Games. I also had the pleasure of visiting the Cook Islands.

My husband and I were pleased to welcome to this country the President of Zaire and Madame Mobutu.

My Ministers welcome Grenada as a new partner in the Commonwealth.

My Government have continued to make a strong contribution to the work of the European Economic Community. The meeting of Heads of State or Government at Copenhagen in December was the first of a planned series of meetings which will give a continuing impetus to the Community's progress.

Agreement has been reached between Member States on the content of a Social Action Programme designed to benefit very many people in the Community. Discussions on a Regional Development Fund are still in progress.

The Community has reached agreement on the measures to be included in a second stage of progress towards Economic and Monetary Union.

In this 25th year of the North Atlantic Alliance My Government have continued to work to strengthen the Alliance in discharging its vital rôle in the preservation of peace and security.

My Government have attached major importance to the development of closer understanding between East and West. They have played a full part in working for the success of the Conference on Security and Co operation in Europe and in the opening stages of the negotiations for force reductions in Central Europe.

My Government have continued to attach the highest importance to the relations of the United Kingdom and of the European Community with the United States. Fruitful co-operation with Japan has continued to develop. My Ministers have had useful contacts with their counterparts in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. They have also had useful meetings with Ministers of governments of a number of East European countries. Relations with China have continued to develop favourably.

My Government have welcomed the opening of negotiations in Geneva on the disengagement of forces in the Middle East as a first step towards the establishment of a just and assured peace.

My Ministers have continued to play an active part in the development of a reformed international monetary system.

My Government have welcomed the proposal of the President of the United States for a conference of oil importing countries, to be followed by a conference with the oil producing countries.

My Government have concluded an interim agreement on fisheries with the Government of Iceland.

In Northern Ireland an Executive of the Assembly has entered into office and, in accordance with the constitutional arrangements, powers have been devolved upon the Assembly. After successful discussions between My Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and the Government of the Republic of Ireland, work has begun directed towards the development of mutual co-operation.

My Armed Forces and the Royal Ulster Constabulary continue to make their contribution towards the restoration of peace in Northern Ireland. They merit the highest praise.

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

My Government have continued to pursue policies to counter the threat which inflation poses to the prosperity of the nation and to the maintenance of a fair and orderly society. They have sought to bring about settlement of industrial disputes in ways consistent with these objectives.

Measures have been announced to increase taxation on higher incomes and to reduce public expenditure, to help to meet the changed situation created by the higher prices of oil and the restricted supply of sources of energy.

My Ministers have acted promptly to minimise the disruption of industry and commerce due to shortages of energy. Legislation has been passed to provide additional powers of control over fuel and electricity.

Proposals have been announced for increases in the taxation of profits from land and property development and for ensuring that empty office blocks are brought into occupation.

Legislation has been introduced to give additional help to the voluntary housing movement and to improve living conditions in the worst housing areas.

A Bill has been introduced extending controls over waste disposal, water pollution, air pollution and noise. Measures have been tabled to control dumping at sea and to make provision concerning oil pollution by ships.

A Bill has been brought forward making better provision for the health and safety of workers and the public.

Legislation has been introduced providing for important reforms in company law.

As part of My Government's programme to ensure improved protection for consumers, measures have been laid before you to reform and extend the law relating to credit and to provide for unit pricing.

A Bill has been introduced to provide for the licensing of sports grounds in the interests of the safety of spectators.

Legislation has been brought forward to promote road safety, to improve the control of traffic and promote greater flexibility in the provision of rural road transport.

An Act has been passed to provide initial finance for the channel tunnel and a further Bill has been introduced to provide for its construction and operation.

Legislation has been passed to reform certain aspects of local government finance in England and Wales and to establish machinery for investigating complaints of maladministration in local government.

Legislation has been brought forward on the reform of crofting and parts of the law relating to land tenure in Scotland.

A measure has been introduced to strengthen the laws against indecent public advertisement and display; and to extend the controls over cinematograph exhibitions.

Legislation has been passed to mitigate the effect on the pension entitlement of certain servants and other public service employees of the Counter-Inflation (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972.

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 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, and now read, we do, in Her Majesty's Name and in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, prorogue this Parliament to Tuesday, the twelfth day of this instant February, to be then here holden; and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to the twelfth day of this instant February.

End of the Fourth Session (opened on 30th October 1973) of the Forty-fifth Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in the Twenty-third Year of the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.