HL Deb 06 December 1831 vol 9 cc1-5

His Majesty went in state to the House of Lords this day, and the Commons having been summoned to the Bar of the House of Peers, His Majesty, being seated on the Throne, delivered the following Speech:

"My Lords and Gentlemen,

"I have called you together, that you may resume, without further delay, the important duties to which the circumstances of the times require your immediate attention; and I sincerely regret the inconvenience which I am well aware you must experience, from so early a renewal of your labours, after the short interval allowed you for repose from the fatigues of the last Session.

"I feel it to be my duty, in the first place, to recommend to your most careful consideration the measures which will be proposed to you for a Reform in the Commons House of Parliament; a speedy and satisfactory settlement of this question becomes daily of more pressing importance to the security of the State, and to the contentment and welfare of my people.

"I deeply lament the distress which still prevails in many parts of my dominions; and for which the preservation of peace, both at home and abroad, will, under the blessing of Divine Providence, afford the best and most effectual remedy. I feel assured of your disposition to adopt any practicable measures, which you will always find me ready and anxious to assist, both for removing the causes and mitigating the effects of the want of employment, which the embarrassments of commerce, and the consequent interruption of the pursuits of industry, have occasioned.

"It is with great regret that I have observed the existence of a disease at Sunder-land, similar in its appearance and character to that which has existed in many parts of Europe. Whether it is indigenous, or has been imported from abroad, is a question involved in much uncertainty; but its progress has neither been so extensive nor so fatal as on the Continent. It is not, however, the less necessary to use every precaution against the further extension of this malady; and the measures recomended by those who have had the best opportuni- ties of observing it, as most effectual for this purpose, have been adopted.

"In parts of Ireland a systematic opposition has been made to the payment of tithes, attended in some instances with afflicting results; and it will be one of your first duties to inquire whether it may not be possible to effect improvements in the laws respecting this subject, which may afford the necessary protection to the Established Church, and at the same time remove the present causes of complaint.

"But in this and in every other question affecting Ireland, it is, above all things, necessary to look to the best means of securing internal peace and order, which alone seem wanting to raise a country, blessed by Providence with so many natural advantages, to a state of the greatest prosperity.

"The conduct of the Portuguese Government, and the repeated injuries to which my subjects have been exposed, have prevented a renewal of my diplomatic relations with that kingdom. The state of a country, so long united with this by the ties of the most intimate alliance, must necessarily be to me an object of the deepest interest. The return to Europe of the elder branch of the illustrious house of Braganza, and the dangers of a disputed succession, will require my most vigilant attention to events, by which not only the safety of Portugal, but the general interests of Europe may be affected.

"The arrangement which I announced to you at the close of the last Session, for the separation of the States of Holland and Belgium, has been followed by a treaty between the five Powers and the king of the Belgians, which I have directed to be laid before you as soon as the ratifications shall have been exchanged.

"A similar Treaty has not yet been agreed to by the king of the Netherlands; but I trust the period is not distant when that Sovereign will see the necessity of acceding to an arrangement in which the Plenipotentiaries of the five Powers have unanimously concurred, and which has been framed with the most careful and impartial attention to all the interests concerned.

"I have the satisfaction to inform you, that I have concluded with the king of the French a Convention, which I have directed to be laid before you, the object of which is, the effectual suppression of the African Slave Trade. This Convention, having for its basis the concession of reciprocal rights to be mutually exercised in specified latitudes and places, will, I trust, enable the naval forces of the two countries, by their combined efforts, to accomplish an object which is felt by both to be so important to the interests of humanity.

"Regarding the state of Europe generally, the friendly assurances which I receive from foreign Powers, and the union which subsists between me and my Allies, inspire me with a confident hope that peace will not be interrupted.

"Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

"I have directed the Estimates for the ensuing year to be prepared, and they will in due time be laid before you. I will take care that they shall be formed with the strictest regard to economy; and I trust to your wisdom and patriotism to make such provision as may be required for the public service.

"My Lords and Gentlemen,

"The scenes of violence and outrage which have occurred in the city of Bristol, and in some other places, have caused me the deepest affliction.

"The authority of the laws must be vindicated by the punishment of offences which have produced so extensive a destruction of property, and so melancholy a loss of life; but I think it right to direct your attention to the best means of improving the Municipal Police of the kingdom, for the more effectual protection of the public peace against the occurrence of similar commotions.

"Sincerely attached to our free Constitution, I never can sanction any interference with the legitimate exercise of those rights which secure to my people the privileges of discussing and making known their grievances; but, in respecting these rights, it is also my duty to prevent combinations, under whatever pretext, which in their form and character are incompatible with all regular government, and are equally opposed to the spirit and to the provisions of the law; and I know that I shall not appeal in vain to my faithful subjects to second my determined resolution to repress all illegal proceedings by which the peace and security of my dominions may be endangered."

His Majesty retired, the House separated, and met again at five o'clock.

Earl Grey moved, pro formâ, the first reading of an Act for the better regulation of Select Vestries.

The Lord Chancellor then read his Majesty's Speech, which was afterwards again read by the Clerk.

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