HL Deb 12 November 1975 vol 365 cc1968-74WA

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 follows:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

"It was with great pleasure that My Husband and I visited Bermuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Mexico, Jamaica, Hong Kong and Japan. We were very pleased to welcome to this country King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

"My Government welcomed Papua New Guinea's decision to join the Commonwealth on independence.

"I was pleased to be in Kingston for the important and useful meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government. Since then good progress has been made in pursuing the far-reaching proposals on world trade in commodities which My Government put forward at that meeting.

"My Government have participated fully in the Seventh Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly which continued its efforts to promote a more just world economic order.

"My Government successfully renegotiated the terms of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Economic Community. Their recommendation for continued membership was confirmed by the British people in the Referendum. They have made an important contribution to the evolution of Community policies, particularly those concerning its relations with the rest of the world.

"My Government have made a major contribution to the development of detente between East and West and warmly welcome the successful conclusion of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. Particular efforts have been made to improve bilateral relations and economic cooperation with the Soviet Union and other countries of Eastern Europe.

"My Ministers played a constructive role in the Geneva Conference which reviewed the operation of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

"Following a searching review, and after consultation with our Allies, My Government have announced reductions in our defence commitments and forces.

"In Rhodesia My Government have sought to bring all sides to an agreement by negotiation.

"My Government have continued to seek a political solution to the tragic situation facing the people of Northern Ireland. The Constitutional Convention set up to consider what provision for the government of Northern Ireland is likely to command the most widespread acceptance has recently completed its report. Legislative provision has been made to improve the standards of benefits in Northern Ireland in social security and other fields. The shipbuilders Harland and Wolff have been taken into public ownership.

"My Armed Forces and the Royal Ulster Constabulary have continued to perform their difficult duties in Northern Ireland with devotion and with considerable success. An Act has been passed, to come into full effect when reciprocal legislation has been passed in the Republic of Ireland, to enable courts in Northern Ireland to try persons accused of serious crimes of violence in the Republic of Ireland. Following the recommendations of the Gardiner Committee, legislation has been enacted to deal with terrorism in Northern Ireland. Legislation has also been enacted for the prevention of terrorism in the United Kingdom.

"Members of the House of Commons,

"I thank you for the provision which you have made for the honour and dignity of the Crown and for the public services.

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

"My Government made clear their determination to reduce the rate of inflation. In agreement with the General Council of the Trades Union Congress they initiated measures for securing a voluntary flat rate limit on pay increases. The programme of subsidies on basic foods has been continued, to keep down prices paid by consumers. Grants are being made to encourage the provision of information and help to consumers, by the setting up of consumer advice centres and other means. A National Consumer Council has been established and measures to protect consumers have been passed.

"Measures have been taken to stimulate the development of efficient and profitable industry, and of industrial democracy. An Act has been passed to establish a National Enterprise Board to provide for public participation and partnership in industry. A system of planning agreements is also being set up. Development Agencies are being established to pursue similar objectives of economic development and to improve the environment in Scotland and Wales. As part of their programme of industrial support, legislation was passed for My Government to acquire shares in the British Leyland Motor Corporation.

"My Government have taken major steps to regulate the production of offshore petroleum and to ensure that a fair share of the profits accrues to the community. Legislation has been enacted to establish a British National Oil Corporation; to provide for the acquisition and reinstatement of oil sites in Scotland; to regulate the provision of refinery capacity and the construction and use of submarine pipelines; to impose a new tax on the profits from United Kingdom petroleum production; and to close certain loopholes in the taxation of oil companies. Measures have also been announced for protecting our off-shore interests in peacetime. Legislation has been enacted to permit easier access by the National Coal Board to coal resources.

"My Government have published a White Paper setting out guidelines and objectives for domestic agriculture and food production to 1980.

"My Government have made clear their intention of using the taxation system to promote greater social and economic equality by the redistribution of wealth as well as income. A comprehensive capital transfer tax on property in place of the estate duty has been introduced. Measures have also been introduced to end abuses arising from the "Lump".

"Legislation has been passed to protect and extend the rights of employees and to establish the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service on a statutory basis.

"The Health and Safety Commission and Executive have been established to secure the health, safety and welfare of persons at work.

"Over the past year My Government have taken positive steps to alleviate unemployment and to meet the longer-term need for skilled manpower. They have provided for expansion of the training programmes of the Manpower Services Commission and of industry, and for a job creation scheme to be administered by the Commission. The Employment Services have been strengthened, and a temporary employ- subsidy and a recruitment subsidy for unemployed school leavers have been introduced.

"An Act has been passed to provide a new and improved earnings related pension scheme to operate in partnership with good occupational pensions schemes. Measures have also been enacted to increase social security benefits and contributions; to make additional provision for the disabled; and to provide for a system of universal child benefits.

"The law on adoption and custody has been reformed and further provisions made for ensuring the welfare of children in care.

"Legislation has been enacted to enable My Government to contribute towards the National Coal Board's scheme for compensating existing pneumoconiosis sufferers.

"My Government have encouraged the abolition of selection in secondary education and made further progress towards a fully comprehensive system. Steps have been taken to bring to an end the systems of direct grant schools in England and Wales and grant-aided schools in Scotland. Financial aid to voluntary schools hase been increased and the arrangements for mandatory student awards extended.

"A substantial increase has been achieved in the provision of new housing, and significant progress has been made towards the stabilisation of mortgage funds. Legislation passed on housing rents and subsidies has restored freedom to local authorities to fix their own reasonable rents.

"Legislation has been passed to enable land suitable for development to he brought into public ownership, so that the community may exercise positive control over the development of land and may enjoy increases in land values arising from its own efforts.

"Legislation has been passed to protect policyholders of insurance companies which are unable to meet their liabilities, and to establish the Air Travel Reserve Fund.

"Discrimination on grounds of sex has been made unlawful.

"Acts have been passed to provide for the safety of spectators at football and other sports grounds, and to facilitate the promotion of lotteries by local authorities, sporting, charitable and cultural organisations.

"The Limitation Act and other measures have furthered the progress of law reform, and new arrangements have been made for the administration of criminal justice in Scotland.

"Financial provision has been made to assist Opposition Parties in carrying out their Parliamentary duties.

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

"I pray that the blessings 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, which has now been read, we do, in Her Majesty's name, and in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, prorogue this Parliament to Wednesday the nineteenth day of November, to be then here holden, and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Wednesday, the nineteenth day of instant November.

House rose at eighteen minutes before nine o'clock.

End of the First Session of the Forty-seventh Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the twenty-third year of the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II