HL Deb 29 January 1908 vol 183 cc1-4

The KING, being seated on the Throne, and the Commons being at the Bar with their Speaker, His Majesty was pleased to make a most gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament, and then retired.

His Majesty's Speech was as follows:—

"My Lords and Gentlemen,

"The visit of the German Emperor with His Imperial Consort during the past autumn was a source of great pleasure to Me and to the Queen. The cordial reception given to their Majesties by My people was warmly appreciated, and cannot fail to confirm the friendly relations existing between the two nations.

"The lamented death of the King of Sweden has caused Me much sorrow.

"My relations with Foreign Powers continue to be friendly.

"My Government, animated by the sincere desire to settle by mutual agreement certain questions concerning the interests of Great Britain and Russia on the Continent of Asia, have concluded with the Russian Government a Convention relating to their respective interests in Persia, Afghanistan, and Thibet. The terms of this Convention have already been laid before you, and, acting in its spirit, the two Governments have been able, notwithstanding disturbances and complications in Persia, to maintain a peaceful policy.

"My Government have joined with the Governments of Franco, Germany, and Russia, in a Treaty for preserving the integrity of the Kingdom of Norway. The text of the Treaty will be published in due course.

"The correspondence recently presented to you has placed you in possession of the results of the Second International Peace Conference at The Hague, which concluded its labours in October last. The various instruments annexed to the Final Act of that Conference show the progress that has been made, and they are receiving the attentive consideration of My Government. One of the most important of these instruments establishes the great principle of an International Court of Appeal in Prize cases. My Government are considering the question of inviting representatives of the leading maritime nations to attend a Conference in London in the course of next autumn, with a view of coming to an understanding on certain important points of International Law for the guidance of the Court.

"The condition of the Christian and Mussulman population in the Macedonian vilayets shows no improvement: the bands of different nationalities continue to pursue a campaign of violence, and the situation gives serious cause for anxiety. The Great Powers of Europe have agreed to present to the Turkish Government a scheme for the improvement of the judiciary in that region, and My Government have made further proposals to the Sultan, and also to the Great Powers, for dealing effectually with the principal causes of disturbance.

"My Government are fully aware of the great anxiety felt with regard to the treatment of the native population in the Congo State. Their sole desire is to see the government of that State humanely administered in accordance with the spirit of the Berlin Act, and I trust that the negotiations now proceeding between the Sovereign of the Congo State and the Belgian Government will secure this object.

"Negotiations are being conducted with the Government of the United States for an Agreement to refer to the International Court of Arbitration at The Hague questions pending between the two Governments which relate to the New-foundland fisheries. It is hoped that by this friendly procedure a long-standing source of difficulty may be satisfactorily removed.

"The difficulty which had arisen respecting Japanese immigration into Canada has been settled on terms agreed upon between the respective Governments.

"I sincerely lament to have to inform you that, owing to failure of the rains over parts of India during last year, conditions of scarcity accompanied by much sickness have arisen. Prompt and well-considered measures of relief have been taken, and the situation is faced both by the stricken people and by My officers with courage and hope."

"Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

"Estimates for the expenditure of the year will in due course be laid before you.

"In connection with the financial arrangements of the year, proposals will be brought forward for making better provision for old age, and legislation with that object will be submitted."

"My Lords and Gentlemen,

"Bills will be laid before you for the following purposes:—

"To amend the Law of Licensing in England and Wales.

"To amend the Law relating to Elementary Education in England and Wales.

"To regulate the hours of underground labour in Coal Mines.

"To amend the Acts relating to the Housing of the Working Classes, and to regulate the laying out of land needed for the development of growing urban centres.

"To amend the system of Valuation of property in England and Wales for the assessment of Imperial and Local charges.

"To improve and extend University Education in Ireland.

"To amend in various particulars the Land Purchase (Ireland) Act of 1903, especially with reference to the compulsory acquisition of untenanted land in connection with the relief of congestion.

"To establish an authority for the control and improvement of the Port and Waterway of Loudon.

"To consolidate and amend the Law relating to the Protection of Children and to the treatment of Juvenile Offenders.

"The Bills relating to Scottish Land and Valuation, which were introduced last session but failed to pass into law, will be again submitted to you.

"Your labours upon these, and upon all other matters, I humbly commend to the blessing of Almighty God.

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