HL Deb 24 October 1961 vol 234 cc693-8

Her Majesty's most gracious Speech was then delivered to both Houses of Parliament by The Lord Chancellor (in pursuance of Her Majesty's Command) as followeth:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

"I was deeply moved by the enthusiastic welcome which My Husband and I received during our visits to India and Pakistan. We shall long treasure most vivid and warming memories of all that we saw in these great and growing countries, whose rich cultural heritage is now rivalled by their striking technical and industrial advance.

"It gave us great pleasure to visit Iran as the guests of His Imperial Majesty the Shah-in-Shah and to renew our friendship with Their Majesties The King and Queen of Nepal. We were also glad to meet the Head of State of the Republic of Turkey.

"I recall with pleasure the welcome given to us by the President and people of Italy and our reception by His Holiness Pope John XXIII.

"I was happy to welcome the President of the United States and Mrs. Kennedy when they came to London in June.

"My Government have worked for a resumption of negotiations on general disarmament. They have also striven for international agreement on the discontinuance, under effective control, of all tests of nuclear weapons. They deeply regret that the Soviet Government should have initiated the resumption of these tests.

"My Government have maintained their support for the United Nations and participated fully in the work of its agencies. My Ministers share my sense of the great loss which the United Nations has sustained by the tragic death of the Secretary-General, Mr. Hammarskjoeld.

"The North Atlantic Alliance and other regional associations for defence have continued to be the basis of My Government's defence policy, and My Armed Forces have contributed to peace and order throughout the world. Their ability to come to the aid of those threatened has been convincingly demonstrated by their swift response to the request from the Amir of Kuwait.

"In March I was most happy to receive the Prime Ministers of all Commonwealth countries on the occasion of their meeting in London, when the discussions showed a wide measure of agreement on the question of disarmament and other world problems.

"The Commonwealth Prime Ministers accepted the application from the Republic of Cyprus for Membership of the Commonwealth. In April Sierra Leone attained independence and was also admitted to Commonwealth Membership. I extend to both countries my warmest good wishes.

"The Union of South Africa withdrew from the Commonwealth on 31st May, 1961, and has become a Republic.

"Following on a plebiscite held last February United Kingdom Trusteeship in the Cameroons has been terminated. The Northern part has joined Nigeria and the Southern part has united in a Federation with the Cameroun Republic.

"I was pleased to open the Seventh Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which met in London last month, and to welcome representatives of sixty-one different Legislatures in all parts of the Commonwealth.

"Further constitutional advances have been made in many territories.

"Negotiations have been opened by My Government with a view to joining the European Economic Community if satisfactory arrangements can be made to meet the special interests of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the European Free Trade Association. My Government have ratified the Convention establishing the Organisation for European Cooperation and Development.

"Members of the House of Commons

"I thank you for the provision which you have made for the public services.

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

"My Government have sought to deal with an unsatisfactory balance of payments in such a way as to increase the competitiveness and the efficiency of the national economy. The short-term steps taken have included a drawing on the International Monetary Fund. Since the end of July there has been a steady improvement in the strength of sterling.

"A new Department of Technical Co-operation has been set up to coordinate and improve the administration of the technical assistance which My Government has continued to provide on a substantial scale to developing countries.

"Support for home agriculture has been maintained. Acts have been passed to enable drainage charges to be levied on agricultural land and to provide for the reorganisation and improvement of Covent Garden Market.

"My Government have continued to support the fishing industry and to seek a settlement of problems of fishery limits in those waters of importance to our fishermen. To this end, they have made agreements with the Governments of Iceland and of Norway.

"Legislation has been passed to make fresh provision for the reorganisation and development of crofting in the Highlands and Islands.

"Measures were taken to strengthen the finances of the National Health Service by increasing the National Health Service Contributions and certain charges.

"Progress has been made with the building of schools and technical colleges and with the expansion of teacher training colleges. Improved financial assistance has been made available for students at universities, teacher training colleges and other similar institutions. Steps have been taken, in co-operation with the local education authorities and voluntary organisations, to develop the Youth Service.

"My Government have continued to give special attention to the social welfare of My People. War pensions have been increased; retirement pensions and other benefits provided under the National Insurance and Industrial Injuries Schemes have been raised, and improvements have been made in the scales of national assistance. A system of graduated pensions and contributions has been brought into operation.

"My Government have been concerned to improve the protection of the community against crime. An Act has been passed to provide better means of dealing with young offenders, to extend the scope of the compulsory supervision of persons released from custody and to give new powers in connection with the management of approved schools. A number of new detention centres has been completed.

"Measures have been passed to reform the licensing laws and to strengthen the law relating to registered clubs in England and Wales.

"Legislation has been enacted to provide in England and Wales for a better distribution of housing subsidies, and to assist the further improvement of housing conditions generally.

"An Act has been passed to amend the law of rating and valuation and to facilitate the 1963 revaluation in England arid Wales.

"An Act has been passed to reorganise the financial arrangements of the Post Office in recognition of its commercial character.

"Acts have been passed to amend the investment powers of trustees and to revise and simplify previous legislation for the management of the Crown Estate by the Crown Estate Commissioners.

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

"I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may attend you."

After which The LORD CHANCELLOR said:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, by virtue of Her Majesty's Commission, under the Great Seal, to us and other Lords directed, we do, in Her Majesty's name, and in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, prorogue this Parliament to Tuesday, the 31st day of this instant October, to be then here holden, and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Tuesday, the 31st day of this instant October.

End of the Second Session of the Forty-second Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the tenth year of the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.