HL Deb 24 January 1860 vol 156 cc1-7

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,

IT is with great Satisfaction that I again meet you in Parliament, and have recourse to your Assistance and Advice.

MY Relations with Foreign Powers continue to be on a friendly and satisfactory Footing.

AT the Close of the last Session I informed you, that Overtures had been made to Me, to ascertain whether, if a Conference should be held by the Great Powers of Europe, for the Purpose of settling Arrangements connected with the present State and future Condition of Italy, a Plenipotentiary would be sent by Me to assist at such a Conference. I have since received a formal Invitation from the Emperor of Austria and from the Emperor of the French to send a Plenipotentiary to a Congress, to consist of the Representatives of the Eight Powers who were Parties to the Treaties of Vienna of 1815; the Objects of such Congress being stated to be, to receive Communication of the Treaties concluded at Zurich; and to deliberate, associating with the above-mentioned Powers the Courts of Rome, of Sardinia, and of the Two Sicilies, on the Means best adapted for the Pacification of Italy, and for placing its Prosperity on a solid and durable Basis.

DESIROUS, at all Times, to coneur in Proceedings having for their Object the Maintenance of Peace, I accepted the Invitation, but, at the same Time, I made known that in such a Congress I should steadfastly maintain the Principle that no external Force should be employed to impose upon the People of Italy any particular Government or Constitution.

CIRCUMSTANCES have arisen which have led to a Postponement of the Congress, without any Day having been fixed for its Meeting; but whether in Congress or in separate Negotiation, I shall endeavour to obtain for the People of Italy freedom from Foreign Interference by Force of Arms, in their internal Concerns; and I trust that the Affairs of the Italian Peninsula may be peacefully and satisfactorily settled.

PAPERS on this Subject will soon be laid before you.

I AM in communication with the Emperor of the French, with a view to extend the Commercial Intercourse between the Two Countries, and thus to draw still closer the Bonds of friendly Alliance between them.

A DISPUTE having arisen between Spain and Morocco I endeavoured, by friendly Means, to prevent a Rupture; but, I regret to say, without Success.

I WILL direct Papers on this Subject to be laid before you.

MY Plenipotentiary and the Plenipotentiary of The Emperor of the French having, in obedience to their Instructions, proceeded to the Mouth of the Peiho River, in order to repair to Pekin to exchange in that City the Ratifications of the Treaty of Tientsin, in pursuance of the Fifty-sixth Article of that Treaty, their further Progress was opposed by Force, and a Conflict took place between the Chinese Forts at the Mouth of the River and the Naval Forces by which the Plenipotentiaries were escorted.

THE allied Forces displayed on this Occasion their usual Bravery; but, after sustaining a severe Loss, were compelled to retire.

I AM preparing, in Concert and Cooperation with the Emperor of the French, an Expedition intended to obtain Redress and a Fulfilment of the Stipulations of the Treaty of Tien-tsin.

IT will be gratifying to Me if the prompt Acquiescence of the Emperor of China in the moderate Demands which will be made by the Plenipotentiaries shall obviate the Necessity for the Employment of Force.

I HAVE directed that Papers on this Subject shall be laid before you.

AN unauthorized Proceeding by an Officer of the United States in regard to the Island of San Juan, between Van Converts Island and the Mainland, might have led to a serious Collision between My Forces and those of the United States. Such Collision, however, has been prevented by the judicious Forbearance of My Naval and Civil Officers on the Spot, and by the equitable and conciliatory provisional Arrangement proposed on this Matter by the Government of the United States.

I TRUST that the Question of Boundary out of which this Affair has arisen may be amicably settled in a Manner conformable with the just Rights of the Two Countries, as defined by the First Article of the Treaty of 1846.

THE last Embers of Disturbance in My East Indian Dominions have been extinguished; My Viceroy has made a peaceful Progress through the Districts which had been the principal Scene of Disorder, and by a judicious Combination of Firmness and Generosity My Authority has been everywhere solidly, and, I trust, permanently established. I have received from My Viceroy the most gratifying Accounts of the Loyalty of My Indian Subjects, and of the good Feeling evinced by the Native Chiefs and the great Landowners of the Country. The Attention of the Government in India has been directed to the development of the internal Resources of the Country; and I am glad to inform you that an Improvement has taken place in its financial Prospects.

I HAVE concluded a Treaty with the Tycoon of Japan, and a Treaty regarding Boundaries with the Republic of Guatemala. I have directed that these Treaties shall be laid before you.

"Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

I HAVE directed the Estimates for the ensuing Year to be laid before you. They have been prepared with a view to place the Military and Naval Services, and the Defences of the Country, upon an efficient Footing.

I AM glad to be able to inform you that the Public Revenue is in a satisfactory Condition.

"My Lords, and Gentlemen,

I HAVE accepted, with Gratification and Pride, the extensive Offers of voluntary Service which I have received from My Subjects. This Manifestation of Public Spirit has added an important Element to our System of National Defence.

MEASURES will be laid before you for amending the Laws which regulate the Representation of the People in Parliament, and for placing that Representation upon a broader and firmer Basis.

I EARNESTLY recommend you to resume your Labours for the Improvement of our Jurisprudence, and particularly in regard to Bankruptcy, the Transfer of Land, the Consolidation of the Statutes, and such a further Fusion of Law and Equity as may be necessary to insure that in every suit the Rights of the Parties may be satisfactorily determined by the Court in which the Suit is commenced.

I AM deeply gratified to observe that the great Interests of the Country are generally in a sound and thriving Condition; that Pauperism and Crime have diminished; and that, throughout the whole of My Empire, both in the United Kingdom and in my Colonies and Possessions beyond Sea, there reigns a Spirit of Loyalty, of Contentment, of Order, and of Obedience to the Law.

WITH heartfelt gratitude to the Almighty Ruler of Nations for these inestimable Blessings, I fervently pray that His beneficent Power may guide your Deliberations for the Advance- ment and Consolidation of the Welfare and Happiness of My People.

HER MAJESTY then retired.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.