HL Deb 13 February 1923 vol 53 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 Members of the House of Commons,

"The Conference, which was held in London early in December on the subject of the payment of Reparation by Germany was resumed in Paris in January. My Government, in their desire to hasten a complete settlement of the Reparation question, offered to the Allied Governments far reaching concessions on Allied debts to this country; I greatly regret that it proved impossible to reach a general agreement. The French and Belgian Governments have therefore proceeded to put into force the plan which they favoured, and the Italian Government, have countenanced their action. My Government, while feeling unable either to concur or participate in this operation, are acting in such a way as not to add to the difficulties of their Allies.

"During the past three months, the plenipotentiaries of My Government, in conjunction with those of the other Allied Powers, have been engaged at Lausanne in a sincere and patient effort to bring to a close the conditions of warfare which for over eight years have desolated the regions of the Near East.

"I greatly regret that, in spite of the conciliatory spirit shown by the Allies, and of the immense concessions which they were prepared to make, the Treaty when on the verge of signature was declined by the Turkish Delegation. But I cherish the hope that, when a full report of the proceedings has reached the Turkish Government, the latter may still be disposed to accept the Treaty and that the opportunity, so earnestly and laboriously prepared, of rebuilding the peace of the East and the stability of the future Turkish State may not be sacrificed.

"I welcome the prospective settlement of our War Debt to the United States of America, which reflects the determination of our people to meet their obligations.

"Members of the House of Commons,

"The Estimates for the public service in the coming year will be laid before you in due course.

"The financial burdens of the country are heavy, and reductions in public expenditure remain essential to the well-being of the State.

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

"The serious state of unemployment among My people causes Me the deepest concern, and must continuously engage the attention of My Ministers. The increase which has recently taken place in our oversea trade gives ground for confidence in the future, and I earnestly trust that we may anticipate a continued improvement in both our external and our home trade. I look forward more particularly to a greater development of inter-Imperial trade in co-operation with the various Governments of My Empire. Meanwhile full effect will be given to the special measures which have been initiated to afford relief to the situation.

"The condition of agriculture continues to receive the careful consideration of My Ministers. With a view to the alleviation of some of the difficulties in the industry you will be invited to consider proposals for granting credit facilities to agriculturists.

"The anomalies and inequalities of the present system of local taxation have long called for reform and My Ministers are examining the whole question. It is hoped that it may be found practicable to deal with the subject on a comprehensive basis and, in particular, to remove some of the burdens which press on the agricultural industry.

"Among the measures which will be presented for your consideration will be Bills dealing with unemployment insurance benefit, housing, trade hoards and industrial assurance.

"The Departmental Committee appointed to consider the operation of the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act has now made its final reports and proposals will be made to you to carry into effect certain of the Committee's recommendations. You will also be asked to deal with difficulties arising out of the legal interpretation of the Act.

"Measures will be submitted to you for simplifying legal procedure and effecting economies, especially in the County Courts, and for the consolidation of various branches of the law, particularly that relating to the Supreme Court and to Real Property and Conveyancing.

"And I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your deliberations."

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed at a quarter past four of the clock, The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Several Lords—Took the Oath.