HL Deb 21 December 1906 vol 167 cc1852-5

And afterwards His Majesty's Most Gracious Speech was delivered to both Houses of Parliament by the Lord High Chancellor (in pursuance of His Majesty's Command) as followeth—

My Lords and Gentlemen,

The marriage of My niece to the King of Spain took place last June in Madrid, and the ceremonywas attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales. Happily, their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain were mercifully preserved from being injured by the outrage committed against them.

The recent visit of the King of Norway with the Queen, My daughter, has given Me sincere pleasure, and cannot fail to promote friendly relations between the two Countries.

My relations with Foreign Powers continue to be friendly.

The Conference which met at Algeciras, on the invitation of the Sultan, to consider the introduction of reforms into Morocco, concluded its labours by the signature of an International Act which should be conducive to an improvement of the situation in Morocco.

There has been a distinct improvement in the condition of affairs in Crete, and the Powers are still giving close attention to the reforms which are being gradually introduced into the administration of the Macedonian vilayets.

My Government have concluded Agreements with the French and Italian Governments for the maintenance of the status quo in the dominions of the Emperor Menelek in Abyssinia, and for the regulation of the traffic in arms on the Somali Coast.

In conformity with the Declaration of the 8th April, 1904, concerning the New Hebrides, a Convention with France has been signed for the purpose of putting an end to the difficulties arising from the absence of jurisdiction over the natives, and of settling land disputes in those islands.

My Government have concluded satisfactory arrangements with the German Government in regard to our respective frontiers in the neighbourhood of Lake Tchad and Lake Victoria Nyanza, and with the Government of the French Republic respecting the Anglo-French boundary between Lake Tchad and the Niger.

The boundaries between the Anglo-Egyptian Soudan and the Congo State have been satisfactorily swettled by an Agreement which has been signed with the Sovereign of the Congo State, and the eastern administrative boundary of Egypt has been delimited by a Joint Commission with the Government of Turkey.

A Conference, in which my Plenipotentiaries took part, was held at Brussels in October to revise the Regulations instituted under the Brussels Act for the restriction of the liquor traffic in Africa, and a Convention was signed, which will shortly be laid before you.

The visits of friendship which the Amir of Afghanistan will shortly pay to the Governor-General of India is a gratifying indication of the amicable relations that exist between the Amir and my Government.

In pursuance of the promise given in my speech at the opening of Parliament, the arrangements for the establishment of Responsible Government in the Transvaal have now been completed, and I have caused Letters Patent to issue under the Great Seal. The Instruments providing for the grant of a similar Constitution to the Orange River Colony are in preparation.

I trust that during the coming year the new form of Government will come into full operation and will exert a powerful influence not only in securing the peace and prosperity of both Colonies, but in contributing to the unity and strength of my possessions in South Africa.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons:

I thank you for the liberality with which you have made provision for the services of the year.

My Lords and Gentlemen:

A measure for further extending and facilitating the provision of cottages and allotments of land by the Rural District Councils of Ireland for the use of labourers and for conferring other benefits on this deserving class of My subjects has passed into law. I am happy to say that the country continues tranquil and that the general improvement in the state of the peasantry makes the failure of the potato crop, which has in some districts been serious, a less grave misfortune than it would have been in former times.

A Bill relating to the Tenancy of certain Classes of houses in Ireland, which has also been passed, will place the law on a more equitable footing and remove a long-standing sense of grievance.

Important measures have received My sanction for the Amendment of the existing Merchant Shipping Laws, having in view alike the well-being of the seamen and the interests of shipowners, and for taking a periodical census of the industrial production of the country.

A measure has been passed amending the Law in regard to Trade Disputes, which will, I hope, remove all legitimate cause of grievance, and I have also given My assent to an Act to amend and consolidate the Law of Workmen's Compensation, extending the benefits of the Law to over 6,000,000 persons not included under the provisions of preceding Acts.

I have assented to an Act for the amendment of the Law relating to Agricultural Holdings and to other measures affecting agriculture. I trust that the close attention which has been given to these questions will be of material benefit to that important industry.

I hope that the Public Trustee Act will afford, especially to the poorer classes of the population, valuable facilities for the safe and inexpensive management and distribution of Trust funds.

Further measures have been passed for placing the control of the National Galleries in Scotland on a better footing, for abolishing the property qualification previously required of County Justices, for more effectually dealing with the evils incident to the prevalence of street betting, and for making provision for the feeding of school children.

I regret that, notwithstanding the protracted consideration which you have given to the improvement of primary and secondary education, no settlement of the difficulties which surround this question has been arrived at.

I recognise the zeal which you have devoted to your arduous labours, and I pray that their results may have the blessing of Almighty God.

Then a Commission for proroguing the Parliament was read.

After which the Lord Chancellor said:—

My Lords and Gentlemen, By virtue of His Majesty's Commission, under the Great Seal, to us and other Lords directed, and now read, we do, in His Majesty's Name, and in obedience to His Commands, prorogue this Parliament to Tuesday, the Twelfth day of February next, to be then here holden; and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Tuesday the Twelfth day of February next.