HL Deb 20 October 1947 vol 151 cc1485-90WA

And afterwards His Majesty's most gracious Speech was delivered to both Houses of Parliament by the Lord Chancellor (in pursuance of His Majesty's Command) as followeth:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

"During the Session which is now concluding substantial progress has been made in the work of reconstruction, but the economic difficulties resulting from the war, both at home and abroad, have presented My Ministers with serious problems and have required continuing efforts and sacrifices by My people. To enable My Ministers to deal rapidly and effectively with these problems, a measure has been enacted extending the purposes for which emergency powers can be used, and a new organization for economic planning has been established. In order to secure a redistribution of labour to assist those industries which are essential to economic recovery, My Government have reintroduced a measure of control over the engagement of labour, supported by some limited use of the power of direction of workers.

"My Ministers have given unremitting attention to the serious deficit in the overseas balance of payments and to the continuing need to stimulate exports and limit imports. In order to protect our reserves of gold and foreign exchange, it has been necessary temporarily to suspend the convertibility of sterling. My Government have been fully aware that our own difficulties cannot be overcome except in conjunc- tion with other Governments. Trey have, therefore, warmly welcomed the initiative of the United States in seeking to promote joint action by the Governments of the European nations to increase production and extend international trade, and they have given tits initiative their strongest backing.

"My Government have continued to give full. support to the United Nations in the task of promoting international understanding and co-operation. They have played a leading part in establishing the Trusteeship Council and have continued to share fully in the deliberations of the Economic and Social Council, the International Labour Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization and other specialized agencies. They have also put forward proposals for defining and safeguarding the fundamental liberties which it is tie right of all peoples to enjoy.

"A Treaty of Alliance has been concluded with the Government of the French Republic.

"My Ministers have persisted in their efforts to establish true democracy in Germany, and they have approved the establishment of popularly elected regional Governments in the British Zone and encouraged a gradual transfer of powers to the German people.

"Treaties of Peace with Italy, Roumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland have been signed and brought into force, and My Government have consequently resumed diplomatic relations with those countries. The technical state of war between the United Kingdom and Austria has been terminated and diplomatic relations have been resumed between the two countries.

"The Queen and I were deeply moved by the warmth of the welcome which We received throughout Orr visit to South Africa, and will always treasure the happiest memories of Our journey.

"It is with very great pleasure that I have given My consent to the engagement of My beloved daughter, Princess Elizabeth, to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, R.N.

"Ministers from the United Kingdom have attended a Conference of Ministers and other representatives of My several Governments held in Canberra, at the invitation of My Government in the Commonwealth of Australia. This Conference resulted in a valuable exchange of views on problems likely to arise in the drawing up of a Peace Treaty with Japan.

"In July I assented to the Indian Independence Act under which on 15th August two new Dominions, India and Pakistan, came into being. Thus was brought to fruition the declared policy of Parliament that the peoples of British India should achieve complete autonomy within the British Commonwealth. I trust that the most cordial relations will rule between India and Pakistan and the other members of the British Commonwealth.

"The relationship which had so long subsisted between the Crown and the Ruling Princes of India has inevitably also changed. I acknowledge with gratitude the loyalty and devotion of the Indian Rulers to Myself and to My Royal predecessors and I hope that in association with India or Pakistan their ties with the Commonwealth will endure.

"I remember gratefully the services of all those men and women who have served the Crown in India and all those who have given their best in the service of the peoples of India; particularly I am mindful of the faithful and gallant services of the men of My Indian Forces in time of war.

"I am grieved at the grave disorders now occurring in India and Pakistan. My sympathy goes out to the Governments and peoples of both Dominions in their present troubles and especially to the refugees seeking new homes.

"It gives Me much pleasure to record that self-government in internal affairs has been restored to Malta, that gallant island whose signal contribution to the common cause in the late war has been a source of pride to us all.

"Delegates chosen by the legislatures of My possessions in the Caribbean have discussed the question of the closer association of those territories. I am confident that this conference will contribute to the progress and wellbeing of My peoples in this valued section of the British community of nations.

"My Government have referred the question of the future status of Palestine to the United Nations, whose recommendations are now awaited as the result of the present discussions in the Assembly. Meanwhile they have made it clear that, in the absence of a settlement, they must plan for an early withdrawal of British Forces and of the British Administration from Palestine.

"At the invitation of My Government in the United Kingdom, a conference of representatives of British Commonwealth Governments in the sterling area has been held in London to discuss questions of common interest arising out of the general financial situation.

"My Government have taken an active part in the discussions preparatory to an International Conference on Trade and Employment. I hope that these efforts will assist the expansion of international trade and will create world conditions favouring its further expansion and the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment in all countries.

"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,

"I have assented to legislation setting up a Ministry of Defence charged with ensuring the formulation and general application of a unified policy relating to the Armed Forces and their requirements.

"In many parts of the world My Forces continue to make their contribution to the maintenance of order and the restoration of peaceful conditions; their devotion to duty and the forbearance displayed in many difficult and trying circumstances are deserving of the highest praise.

"Despite the responsibilities of My Forces overseas and the many tasks at home arising from the aftermath of war, the progress of demobilisation has brought the total number of men and women released from them since June, 1945. to about four and three-quarter millions. The resettlement in civil life of those released has been continued with success.

"The National Service Acts have been amended to provide for the continuation of national service for a further period of five years from 31st December, 1948.

"The exceptionally severe winter weather, followed by unprecedented floods, inflicted grievous damage on agriculture. In order to mitigate the losses sustained, My Government contributed to the Lord Mayor's National Flood Distress Fund and to the Agricultural Disaster Fund, and a measure was passed to provide special assistance to farmers cropping abnormally flooded land and rebuilding depleted flocks.

"My Ministers are acutely aware of the distress caused by the housing shortage. They have continued to regard the provision of houses as a matter of the utmost urgency and have made substantial progress with their programme.

"Steps have been taken to provide the additional teachers and the accommodation required as a result of the raising of the school-leaving age, and facilities for enabling promising students to obtain university and advanced education have been increased. The Universities are responding readily to the demand for an expansion of their activities and they have been aided by largely increased grants from the Exchequer.

"My Ministers have devoted continuous attention to the development of industry in Scotland and Wales in order to provide increased opportunities for employment. New industrial projects have been started, substantial progress has been made in the diversification of industry, and a large programme of afforestation is proceeding. Scottish hydro-electric schemes have been advanced and an Advisory Panel for the Highlands has been set up. Special attention has been given to improving the Government machinery for the consideration of Welsh problems.

"Measures have been passed for the better organisation of inland transport services under public ownership and control, for the co-ordination of the electricity supply industry under public ownership, and for continuing the centralized buying of cotton.

"I have given My assent to legislation making fresh provision both in England and Wales and in Scot and for planning and controlling the development and use of land.

"Bills have been passed into law to promote the stability and long-term development of agriculture in England and Wales, to extend the powers of the central agricultural wages boards, and to enable land to be dedicated permanently to forestry purposes.

"I have assented to legislation providing for exchange control, for a far-reaching measure of company law reform, for the establishment of development councils with a view to increasing efficiency and output in industry, and for the collection of statistics showing the use made of the nation's resources and the changing structure of its economy.

"A measure has been passed to amend the law relating to civil proceedings by and against the Crown.

"My assent has also been given to legislation providing for the arrangements consequent on the termination of the National Fire Service.

"Provision has been made for a National Health Service in Scotland and legislation has been passed consolidating the law relating to the constitution and general administration of local authorities in Scotland.

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

Then a Commission for proroguing the Parliament was read.

After which the LORD CHANCELLOR said:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, by virtue of His Majesty's Commission, under the Great Seal, to us and other Lords directed, and now read, we do, in His Majesty's name and in obedience to His Commands, prorogue this Parliament to Tuesday the 21st day of October instant, and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Tuesday the 21st day of October instant.

End of the Second Session of the Thirty-eighth Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the eleventh year of the Reign of His Majesty King George VI.