HL Deb 09 August 1899 vol 76 cc257-60

Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech was delivered to both Houses of Parlia ment by the Lord High Chancellor (in pursuance of Her Majesty's Commands), as followeth:—

"My Lords and Gentlemen,

"My relations with other Powers continue to be friendly.

"The Conference summoned by the Emperor of Russia to consider measures for promoting the maintenance of peace has completed its sittings. Although the result of its deliberations has not fully corresponded with the lofty aims which it was summoned to accomplish, it has met with a considerable measure of success. The institution of a permanent tribunal of arbitration cannot fail to diminish the frequency of war, while the extension of the Geneva Convention will mitigate its horrors.

"I have concluded a Convention with the President of the French Republic, by which the spheres of influence of the two Powers over a large portion of Northern Africa have been determined. Such an Agreement had become necessary, especially in respect to the Valley of the Nile, in consequence of the successful operations of the Anglo-Egyptian Army during last autumn.

"I have concluded an Agreement with the Emperor of Russia for regulating the conditions under which either Government will encourage the development of railway enterprise by its own subjects in China.

"I have received a Petition from a considerable number of My subjects residing in the South African Republic, praying for My assistance to obtain the removal of grievances and disabilities of which they complain. The position of My subjects in the South African Republic is inconsistent with the promises of equal treatment, on which My grant of internal independence to that Republic was founded; and the unrest caused thereby is a constant source of danger to the peace and prosperity of My Dominions in South Africa. Negotiations on this subject with the Government of the South African Republic have been entered into, and are still proceeding.

"From My Indian Empire I have continued to receive satisfactory reports of the rapid recovery of agriculture and trade from the depression caused by the late famine, but during the last few weeks the rainfall has been insufficient over a portion of Western and Central India, and fears are entertained as to the prospects of the harvests in those regions. My officers are carefully watching the situation, and timely precautions to meet any scarcity, should it occur, will be adopted. I regret to add that the plague, though still confined to the areas affected last winter, shows no signs of abatement.

"Gentlemen of the House of Commons.

"I thank you for the liberality with which you have provided for the Naval and Military defence of My Empire.

"My Lords and Gentlemen,

"The formal inclusion within My Empire of the territories occupied by the Royal Niger Company will facilitate the good administration of that region, and the effective defence of its frontier.

"I have had great satisfaction in giving My assent to a Bill for completing the organisation of Municipal Government in London. I do not doubt that the inhabitants of the various portions of this Metropolis will derive from it the benefits which similar institutions have conferred upon other cities and towns in this country.

"I have also gladly sanctioned Bills for the simplification of private legislation in Scotland, for the encouragement of agricultural and technical education in Ireland, for the better distribution of the supply of water in the Metropolis, for the removal of an injustice in regard to the incidence of rates under which the beneficed owners of tithe rent-charge have too long suffered, and for securing the purity of certain articles of food and drugs. I trust that the Bill which you have passed for consolidating the educational departments, and extending their powers, will tend to the improvement and completion of our educational system. The measures you have passed for facilitating the acquisition of the ownership of small houses by those who occupy them will be of considerable advantage to the working classes in many parts of the country.

"I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may attend upon the fruit of your labours for the benefit of My people."

Then a Commission for proroguing the Parliament was read.

After which the lord chancellor said:

"My Lords and Gentlemen,

"By virtue of Her Majesty's Commission, under the Great Seal, to us and other Lords directed, and now read, we do, in Her Majesty's Name, and in obedience to Her Commands, prorogue this Parliament to Friday the twenty-seventh day of October next, to be then here holden; and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Friday the twenty-seventh day of October next."