HC Deb 12 March 1974 vol 870 cc43-7
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:

My Husband and I look forward with pleasure to our visits to Indonesia and Japan and to the State Visit which Her Majesty Queen Margrethe of Denmark will pay to this country.

My Government will work for the strengthening of international institutions and of co-operation between all countries concerned to promote peace and to achieve prosperity in the face of world-wide inflation and far-reaching monetary disturbance. They will attach particular importance to the work of the United Nations and its agencies and to co-operation within the Commonwealth.

My Government will seek a fundamental renegotiation of the terms of entry to the European Economic Community. After these negotiations have been completed, the results will be put to the British people.

Recognising the economic problems concerning the developing countries My Government will seek to increase the provision of aid and to establish a more liberal pattern of world trade.

My Government will give their support to the search for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 of 1967 and 338 of 1973.

Recognising that the availability and the price of oil is a problem for the whole world, My Government will cooperate with consumer and producer countries in seeking to establish arrangements which will be in the interests of all.

My Government will oppose all forms of racial discrimination at home and abroad. In Rhodesia they will agree to no settlement which is not supported by the African majority.

My Government will give full support to the maintenance of the North Atlantic Alliance. They will regard the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as an instrument of détente no less than of defence. In consultation with their allies they will pursue a policy directed to maintaining a modern and effective defence system while reducing its cost as a proportion of our national resources.

My Ministers will contribute fully to the negotiations for force reductions in Central Europe and to the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe.

My Ministers will give their support to the constitutional arrangements which now offer to Northern Ireland the prospect of healing its political and social divisions and of achieving prosperity and security for all its people. They will play their part, together with the Northern Ireland Executive and the Government of the Republic of Ireland, in developing co-operation in matters of mutual interest and in bringing violence to an end.

Members of the House of Commons:

Estimates for the public service will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

In home affairs, My Government will first seek to ensure a return to full-time working in industry. I have been able to end the State of Emergency, occasioned by the coal mining dispute, which had existed since 13 November 1973 and which I had renewed by Proclamation on 6 March 1974 before the dispute was settled.

My Government will give the highest priority to overcoming the economic difficulties created by rising prices, the balance of payments deficit and the recent dislocation of production.

Measures will be laid before you to establish fair prices for certain key foods, with the use of subsidies where appropriate; and to restrain price inflation.

Legislation will be introduced to reform and extend the law relating to consumer credit; and a measure will be laid before you to require goods, where appropriate, to be labelled with the price at which they are to be sold, and to provide for unit pricing.

My Government is taking immediate steps to halt the increases in rents due in 1974. They will bring forward comprehensive proposals, which will require the repeal of the Housing Finance Acts, to reform the law relating to rents and housing subsidies in England, Wales and Scotland. Urgent measures will be taken to reverse the fall in house-building, to protect furnished tenants from eviction and to encourage municipal ownership. Proposals will be prepared for bringing land required for development into public possession and for encouraging home ownership. Proposals will be brought forward to eliminate the abuses arising from the lump.

My Ministers will work for a greater measure of social justice as a pre-requisite of national unity at this difficult time. A Bill will be introduced to increase pensions and other social security benefits. Proposals will be put before you for the redistribution of wealth, the protection of the lower paid and the disadvantaged, and for better methods of meeting the needs of the disabled.

In the light of these measures, My Ministers will discuss urgently with the Trades Union Congress, the Confederation of British Industry and the others concerned, methods of securing the orderly growth of incomes on a voluntary basis.

My Ministers will hold urgent consultations on measures to encourage the development and re-equipment of industry. A Bill will be laid before you to consolidate and develop existing legislation to promote national industrial expansion. High priority will be given to the stimulation of regional development and employment. They will develop an active manpower policy, and bring forward legislation for protecting the health and safety of people at work.

My Government will encourage the maximum economic production of food by the farming and fishing industries of the United Kingdom in the interests of the national economy.

My Ministers will set in hand urgent action to improve energy supplies, to secure their efficient use and to ensure that oil and gas from the Continental Shelf are exploited in ways and on terms which will confer maximum benefit on the community, and particularly in Scotland and the regions elsewhere in need of development. An urgent examination will be carried out of the future of the coal industry.

Measures will be introduced to repeal the Industrial Relations Act and to replace it by new legislation which will include the establishment of a new conciliation and arbitration service.

Comprehensive proposals will be brought forward to reform the law relating to the adoption, guardianship and fostering of children on the basis of the recommendations of the Interdepartmental Committee on the Adoption of Children.

Within available resources, My Government will progressively improve and expand the National Health Service and the personal social services. They will review the working of the reorganised National Health Service.

My Government will give priority to improving educational facilities for children in need of special help, and will prepare plans for the nation-wide provision of nursery education and for the development of a fully comprehensive system of secondary education. A major review will be made of the particular needs of handicapped children.

The museum charges recently introduced will be abolished.

My Ministers will work for the protection and improvement of the environment including the improvement of public transport, and will reappraise accordingly the value of certain major development projects.

My Ministers will initiate discussions in Scotland and Wales on the Report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution, and will bring forward proposals for consideration.

My Ministers will make proposals for securing equal status for women.

My Ministers will consider the provision of financial assistance to enable Opposition parties more effectively to fulfil their Parliamentary functions.

Measures will be introduced to make further reforms in the law and improvements in the administration of justice.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

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