HL Deb 24 February 1835 vol 26 cc63-7

The King went in state to the House of Peers this day to open the Parliament for the despatch of business. His Majesty delivered the following Speech:—

"My Lords and Gentlemen,

"I avail myself of the earliest opportunity of meeting you in Parliament, after having recurred to the sense of my people.

"You will, I am confident, fully par ticipate in the regret which I feel at the destruction, by accidental fire, of that part of the ancient Palace of Westminster, which has been long appropriated to the use of the two Houses of Parliament.

"Upon the occurrence of this calamity I gave immediate directions that the best provision of which the circumstances of the case would admit, should be made for your present meeting; and it will be my wish to adopt such plans for your permanent accommodation as shall be deemed, on your joint consideration, to be the most fitting and convenient.

"I will give directions, that there be laid before you the report made to me by the Privy Council, in reference to the origin of the fire, and the evidence upon which that report was founded.

"The assurances which I receive from my Allies, and generally from all Foreign Princes and States, of their earnest desire to cultivate the relations of amity, and to maintain with me the most friendly understanding, justify, on my part, the confident expectation of the continuance of the blessings of peace.

"The single exception to the general tranquillity of Europe, is the civil contest which still prevails in some of the northern provinces of Spain.

"I will give directions, that there be laid before you articles which I have concluded with my Allies, the King of the French, the Queen Regent of Spain, and the Queen of Portugal, which are supplementary to the treaty of April, 1834, and are intended to facilitate the complete attainment of the objects contemplated by that treaty.

"I have to repeat the expression of my regret that the relations between Holland and Belgium still remain unsettled.

"Gentlemen of the House of commons,

"I have directed the estimates for the ensuing year to be prepared, and to be laid before you without delay.

"They have been framed with the strictest attention to economy, and I have the satisfaction of acquainting your that the total amount of the demands for the public service will be less on the present, than it has been on any former occasion within our recent experience.

"The satisfactory state of the trade and commerce of the country, and of the public revenue, fully justifies the expectation that, notwithstanding the reductions in taxation, which were made in the last Session, and which, when they shall have taken full effect, will tend to diminish the existing surplus of the public revenue, there will remain a sufficient balance to meet the additional annual charge which will arise from providing the compensation granted by Parliament on account of the abolition of slavery throughout the British dominions.

"I deeply lament, that the agricultural interest continues in a state of great depression.

"I recommend to your consideration whether it may not be in your power, after providing for the exigencies of the public service, and consistently with the stedfast maintenance of the public credit, to devise a method for mitigating the pressure of those local charges which bear heavily on the owners and occupiers of land, and for distributing the burthen of them more equally over other descriptions of property.

"My Lords and Gentlemen,

"The information received from the Governors of my Colonies, together with the Acts passed in execution of the law for the abolition of slavery, will be communicated to you.

"It is with much satisfaction that I have observed the general concurrence of the Colonial Legislatures in giving effect to this important measure; and notwithstanding the difficulties with which the subject is necessarily attended, I have seen no reason to abate my earnest hopes of a favourable issue.

"Under all circumstances you may be assured of my anxious desire, and unceasing efforts, fully to realize the benevolent intentions of Parliament.

"There are many important subjects, some of which have already undergone partial discussion in Parliament; the adjustment of which, at as early a period as is consistent with the mature consideration of them, would be of great advantage to the public interest.

"Among the first, in point of urgency, is the state of the tithe question in Ireland, and the means of effecting an equitable and final adjustment of it.

"Measures will be proposed for your consideration, which will have for their respective objects to promote the commutation of tithe in England and Wales—to improve our civil jurisprudence, and the administration of justice in ecclesiastical causes—to make provision for the more effectual maintenance of ecclesiastical discipline, and to relieve those who dissent from the doctrines or discipline of the Church from the necessity of celebrating the ceremony of marriage according to its rites.

"I have not yet received the Report from the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of Municipal Corporations, but I have reason to believe that it will be made, and that I shall be enabled to communicate it to you at an early period.

"I have appointed a Commission for considering the state of the several dioceses in England and Wales, with reference to the amount of their revenues, and to the more equal distribution of episcopal duties—the state of the several cathedral and collegiate churches, with a view to the suggestion of such measures as may render them most conducive to the efficiency of the Established Church, and for devising the best mode of providing for the cure of souls, with reference to the residence of the clergy in their respective benefices.

"The especial object which I have in view in the appointment of this Commis- sion is to extend more widely the means of religious worship according to the doctrines of the Established Church, and to confirm its hold upon the veneration and affections of my people.

"I feel it also incumbent upon me to call your earnest attention to the condition of the Church of Scotland, and to the means by which it may be enabled to increase the opportunities of religious worship for the poorer classes of society in that part of the United Kingdom.

"It has been my duty, on this occasion, to direct your consideration to various important matters connected with our domestic policy.

"I rely with entire confidence on your willing co-operation in perfecting all such measures as may be calculated to remove just causes of complaint, and to promote the concord and happiness of my subjects.

"I rely also, with equal confidence on the caution and circumspection with which you will apply yourselves to the alteration of laws, which affect very extensive and complicated interests, and are interwoven with ancient usages, to which the habits and feelings of my people have conformed.

"I feel assured that it will be our common object in supplying that which may be defective, or in renovating that which may be impaired, to strengthen the foundations of those institutions in Church and State which are the inheritance and birthright of my people; and which, amidst all the vicissitudes of public affairs, have proved, under the blessing of Almighty God, the truest guarantees of their liberties, their rights, and their religion."

His Majesty retired, and the Houses adjourned. At five o'clock they again assembled.

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