HL Deb 09 May 1935 vol 96 cc836-9

His Majesty's gracious Speech in reply was as follows:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

"I thank you from my heart for your loyal Addresses and for the words of devoted affection which you have used in speaking of myself, of the Queen, and of our Family.

"Your presence here to-day, accompanied by the Prime Ministers of the Dominion of Canada, the commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand and the Union of South Africa, gives rise to many memories and many thoughts. The Mother of Parliaments and her children grown to full estate stand now upon equal terms in common allegiance to the Crown. The unity of the British Empire is no longer expressed by the supremacy of the time-honoured Parliament that sits here at Westminster. The Crown is the historic symbol that unites this great family of nations and races scattered over every quarter of the earth.

"The United Kingdom and the Dominions, India, the numerous Colonies and Dependencies embrace such wide varieties of speech, culture and form of government as have never before in the world's history been brought into a Commonwealth of Peace. In these days when fear and preparation for war are again astir in the world let us be thankful that quiet government and peace prevail over so large a part of the earth's surface and that under our flag of freedom so many millions eat their daily bread in far distant lands and climates with none to make them afraid. I especially welcome here to-day representatives of my Indian Empire.

"This, my palace of Westminster in the mighty heart of our Empire, is the very cradle of our envied Parliamentary institutions. Here is the anvil whereon our common law was forged to become the joint inheritance of the United States of America and our own community of peoples.

"Beneath these rafters of mediaeval oak, the silent witnesses of historic tragedies and pageants, we celebrate the present under the spell of the past. It is to me a source of pride and thankfulness that the perfect harmony of our Parliamentary system with our Constitutional Monarchy has survived the shocks that have in recent years destroyed other empires and other liberties.

"Our ancient Constitution ever adaptable to change has, during my Reign, faced and conquered perils of warfare never conceived in earlier days, and has met and satisfied new democratic demands both at home and overseas. The system bequeathed to us by our ancestors, again modified for the needs of a new age, has been found Once more as of old the best way to secure government by the people, freedom for the individual, the ordered strength of the State, and the rule of law over governors and governed alike. The complex forms and balanced spirit of our Constitution were not the discovery of a single era, still less of a single Party or of a single person. They are the slow accretion of centuries, the outcome of patience, tradition and experience constantly finding channels old and new for the impulse towards liberty, justice and social improvement inherent in our people down the ages.

"When my grandmother Queen Victoria, of illustrious memory, rejoiced with her people on the occasion of her two Jubilees she gave thanks for a long period of unbroken prosperity. Such periods cannot always recur. In looking back over the twenty-five years of my Reign the thankfulness that I feel to-day is chiefly for escape from danger greater than ever before threatened our land. I can never forget how the peril from without at once united all Parties, classes, Governments, and races of the Empire. Men and women played their parts; the ranks were closed; and, in the issue, strength upheld the free. Let us not in this hour of thanksgiving fail to remember those who gave their lives or who live now maimed or blinded that we might continue to enjoy the blessings of life.

"Through later years our path has led uphill. In the aftermath of war, in a world exhausted by its ordeals and impoverished by its destruction, we set ourselves to resume our normal ways, to recreate the structure of our industry and commerce, and to respond to the urgent desire to improve the conditions of life. We were treading unfamiliar and broken ground, for there had been far-reaching changes, especially in economic conditions. Everywhere a feeling of uncertainty and lack of confidence hung like a shadow over human endeavour. But we have made headway by the earnest good will, prudence and stability of my people, and to-day the country has attained to a measure of industrial success which gives it confidence in the future.

"I am very conscious that these years have brought hardship and often disappointment, and I have been moved with profound admiration for the great-heartedness of my people and for the steadfast fortitude and unbending will to overcome which they have ever shown in their anxieties. I sympathise deeply with those who have endured the sadness and burden of unemployment. It is a source of comfort to me to feel that from these times of trial there has grown up throughout our community a stronger feeling of fellowship one with another.

"I have been blessed in all my work in having beside me my dear Wife, of whom you have spoken so kindly.

"I give thanks to Almighty God Who has thus far sustained me and my people, and I pray that we may continue to pursue the cause of freedom and progress in a spirit of peace, tolerance and understanding."

House adjourned to the Chamber of Parliament.

House adjourned during pleasure.

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

The Viscount Portman—Sat first in Parliament after the death of his father.