HL Deb 31 January 1854 vol 130 cc1-5

THE QUEEN being seated on the Throne, and the Commons being at the Bar, with their Speaker, HER MAJESTY was pleased to make a most gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament, as follows:—

"My Lords, and Gentlemen,

"I AM always happy to meet you in Parliament; and on the present Occasion it is with peculiar Satisfaction that I recur to your Assistance and Advice.

"THE Hopes which I expressed at the Close of the last Session, that a speedy Settlement would be effected of the Differences existing between Russia and the Ottoman Porte, have not been realised; and I regret to say that a State of Warfare has ensued. I have continued to act in cordial Co-operation with the Emperor of the French; and My Endeavours, in conjunction with My Allies, to preserve and to restore Peace between the contending Parties, although hitherto unsuccessful, have been unremitting. I will not fail to persevere in these Endeavours; but as the Continuance of the War may deeply affect the Interests of this Country and of Europe, I think it requisite to make a further Augmentation of My Naval and Military Forces, with the view of supporting My Representations, and of more effectually contributing to the Restoration of Peace.

"I HAVE directed that the Papers explanatory of the Negotiations which have taken place upon this Subject shall be communicated to you without Delay.

"Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

"THE Estimates for the Year will be laid before you, and I trust you will find that, consistently with the Exigencies of the Public Service at this Juncture, they have been framed with a due Regard to Economy.

"My Lords, and Gentlemen,

"IN the year which has just terminated, the Blessing of an abundant Harvest has not been vouchsafed to us. By this Dispensation of Providence the Price of Provisions has been enhanced, and the Privations of the Poor have been increased; but their Patience has been exemplary; and the Care of the Legislature, evinced by the Reduction of Taxes affecting the Necessaries of Life, has greatly tended to preserve a Spirit of Contentment.

"I HAVE the Satisfaction of announcing to you, that the Commerce of the Country is still prosperous; that Trade, both of Export and Import, has been largely on the Increase; and that the Revenue of the past Year has been more than adequate to the Demands of the public Service.

"I RECOMMEND to your Consideration a Bill which I have ordered to be framed, for opening the Coasting Trade of the United Kingdom to the Ships of all friendly Nations; and I look forward with Satisfaction to the Removal of the last legislative Restriction upon the Use of Foreign Shipping, for the Benefit of My People.

"COMMUNICATIONS have been addressed by My Command to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, with reference to the Improvement which it may be desirable to effect in their Institutions. These Communications will be laid before you, and Measures will be proposed for your Consideration, with the view of giving effect to such Improvements.

"THE Establishments requisite for the Conduct of the Civil Service, and the Arrangements bearing upon its Condition, have recently been under Review: and I shall direct a Plan to be laid before you, which will have for its Object to improve the System of Admission, and thereby to increase the Efficiency of the Service.

"THE recent Measures of Legal Reform have proved highly beneficial, and the Success which has attended them may well encourage you to proceed with further Amendments. Bills will be submitted to you for transferring from the Ecclesiastical to the Civil Courts the Cognizance of Testamentary and of Matrimonial Causes, and for giving increased Efficiency to the Superior Courts of Common Law.

"THE Laws relating to the Relief of the Poor have of late undergone much salutary Amendment; but there is One Branch to which I earnestly direct your attention. The Law of Settlement impedes the Freedom of Labour, and if this Restraint can with Safety be relaxed, the Workman may be enabled to increase the Fruits of his Industry, and the Interests of Capital and of Labour will be more firmly united.

"MEASURES will be submitted to you for the Amendment of the Laws relating to the Representation of the Commons in Parliament.

"RECENT Experience has shown that it is necessary to take more effectual Precautions against the Evils of Bribery and Corrupt Practices at Elections. It will also be your Duty to consider whether more complete Effect may not be given to the Principles of the Act of the last Reign, whereby Reforms were made in the Representation of the People in Parliament. In recommend g this Subject to your Consideration, my Desire is to remove every cause of just Complaint, to increase general Confidence in the Legislature, and to give additional Stability to the settled Institutions of the State.

"I SUBMIT to your Wisdom the Consideration of these important Subjects; and I pray God to prosper your Counsels, and to guide your Decisions."

HER MAJESTY then retired.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.