HL Deb 06 November 1951 vol 174 cc5-9

The Commons being at the Bar, with their Speaker, The LORD CHANCELLOR delivered His Majesty's Speech to both Houses of Parliament. Then the Commons withdrew.

His Majesty's Speech was as follows:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

"It is a matter of sincere regret to Me that I cannot address you in person on this Opening of a new Parliament. I have been sustained and strengthened through My illness by the prayers and the sympathy of all My peoples.

"It has given Me great satisfaction that the Princess Elizabeth, accompanied by her husband, has been able to undertake her projected journey to Canada and the United States of America, and I have been deeply moved by the warmth of the reception accorded both to her and to the Duke of Edinburgh.

"The Queen and I are deeply touched by the sympathy and understanding shown by My peoples in Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon on learning that We had, for the second time, been prevented by My illness from carrying out Our plan to visit them. Happily My elder daughter and her husband will make this journey in Our stead; and they ardently look forward to their visit to these and other Commonwealth countries through which they will pass in the course of their journey.

"My Ministers will ever be anxious to maintain the intimate and precious ties of friendship and understanding which exist between all the peoples of the Commonwealth and Empire.

"My Government will make it their first duty to ensure our national safety and, in concert with the other members of the Commonwealth, the United States of America and our European partners, will share in a supreme effort to build a more tranquil and prosperous world. They will take the necessary measures to strengthen our defences both in trained men and in equipment, to re-establish the Home Guard and to develop Civil Defence.

"My Government will faithfully support the United Nations as the World instrument for peace and security. They will continue to play their part in Korea with the aim of restoring peace and well-being.

"My Ministers will try to repair the injuries our rights and interests have suffered in Persia.

"My Government regard the abrogation by the Egyptian Government of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of Alliance of 1936 and the Sudan Condominium Agreements of 1899 as illegal and without validity. They are resolved, in conjunction with the Governments of the United States, France and Turkey, to press forward with their proposals for joint defence arrangements in the Middle East. In the meantime they will maintain their position in the Canal Zone under the terms of the 1936 Treaty and will safeguard the international highway. Nothing can be allowed to interfere with the rights of the Sudanese to decide for themselves the future status of their country.

"The text of the Japanese Peace Treaty signed at San Francisco on the 8th of September will be presented to you before ratification. Legislation will be introduced to give effect to certain provisions of the Treaty.

"My Government will introduce legislation to regulate the position of Commonwealth and foreign armed forces who are stationed in this country.

"Members of the House of Commons:

"The estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

"First steps will be taken to fulfil the plans of My Ministers for the management of Scottish affairs.

"I have approved new arrangements to bring added strength to the counsels of My Government upon the special problems and interests of Wales.

"My Government view with grave concern the economic situation of the United Kingdom about which a full disclosure must be made to the nation. The recent deterioration in the balance of payments causes increasing anxiety and must be urgently remedied in order to restore the fullest confidence in the purchasing power of the pound, so that we may continue to be able to obtain from overseas the supplies necessary to maintain employment and an increasingly high level of production. The measures to this end must include drastic action to reduce the growing inflation in our economy, which threatens the maintenance of our defence programme and which, if unchecked, must cause a continuing rise in the cost of living. My Government regard this problem as overshadowing all other domestic matters. They are giving it urgent examination and will announce their conclusions and make proposals to Parliament in the immediate future. They will make a searching inquiry into Government expenditure with a view to reducing it wherever possible. While pressing on with domestic remedies they will also invite the other Governments of the Commonwealth to confer together on action which should be taken in concert to remedy the adverse balance of payments.

"My Government will seek to promote flexibility in those industries which have been brought under public management and to stimulate free enterprise by giving it a fuller share in our economic activity. They will be mindful of the great demands on our productive capacity, and will consider all methods for creating that spirit of partnership between management and workers on which industrial harmony and a higher level of productivity must depend.

"My Government view with concern the serious shortage of labour, particularly of skilled labour, which has handicapped production in a number of essential industries. They will review, in consultation with representatives of those concerned, the possibilities of making available more labour for those industries and of ensuring the best use of the existing labour force.

"A Bill will be placed before you to annul the Iron and Steel Act with a view to the reorganisation of the industry under free enterprise but with an adequate measure of public supervision.

"Proposals will be made to facilitate the extension of private road haulage activities.

"A measure will be laid before you for strengthening and widening the activities of the Monopolies Commission.

"You will be asked to authorise for a period the continuation in force of certain emergency enactments and defence regulations which are due to expire next month. My Ministers will, however, review the whole subject with the aim of reducing the number of these controls and regulations and, wherever possible, embodying those which must be kept in legislation requiring annual renewal by Parliament.

"My Government will do their utmost to stimulate the building of new houses for My people, using to the fullest extent both public and private enterprise. Their housing policy will have regard to the desire of many people to own their homes and to the special needs of the elderly.

"In their policy towards the social services My Government will pursue the aim of ensuring efficiency and providing value for money spent.

"My Ministers will vigorously encourage production of food by the basic industries of agriculture, horticulture and fisheries.

"Further progress will be made with the consolidation of the statute law.

"Other measures will be laid before you in due course.

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

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.


Several Lords—Took the Oath.

The Earl of Lytton—Sat first in Parliament after the death of his father.

The Lord Douglas (E. Home)—Sat first in Parliament after the death of his father.

Several Lords—Took the Oath.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed at half past two of the clock, The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.