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Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech

Volume 10: debated on Friday 30 October 1981

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I have further to acquaint the House that the Lord High Chancellor, one of the High Commissioners, delivered Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament, in pursuance of Her Majesty's Command. For greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy.

I intend to continue the practice begun at the beginning of last Session and direct that the terms of the Speech be printed in the Votes and Proceedings. Copies are being made available in the Vote Office.

The Gracious Speech was as follows:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

The Duke of Edinburgh and I recall with great pleasure the joy and affection shown by so many people on the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

We were pleased to receive the State Visits of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Nepal in November, the President of Nigeria in March and His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia in June.

We look back with much pleasure on the visits we have made over the past year. We visited Belgium, the Commission of the European Communities, and the Headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in November and Norway in May. We have just returned from visits to Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. As Head of the Commonwealth, I was present in Melbourne on the occasion of the Commonwealth Conference.

We were greatly saddened by the deaths of President Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt.

My Government welcomed the independence of Belize and its decision to join the Commonwealth. My Government took an active part in the successful Conference on Reconstruction and Development held in Salisbury in March.

My Government have worked within the North Atlantic Alliance to strengthen our common defence, have fulfilled their commitment to increase defence spending, and have announced plans to reshape Britain's defence forces.

My Government took part in consultations within the Alliance in preparation for the negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union on long-range theatre nuclear forces. They have joined in other arms control and disarmament negotiations, and have strongly supported the proposal for a Conference on Disarmament in Europe.

My Government played a constructive role in the search for solutions to the problems in East-West relations. On behalf of the Member States of the European Community, they have presented proposals for a Conference to enable Afghanistan to resume its independent status.

My Government welcomed the accession of Greece to the European Community. On 1 July the United Kingdom assumed the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Discussions have begun on the review of Community policies and the budget. Agreement has been reached in the Community on safeguarding the steel industry. My Government have taken part in discussions on the Common Agricultural Policy and a revised Common Fisheries Policy. Agreement has been reached on fishery conservation measures and improved marketing arrangements.

My Government continue to seek a negotiated peace in the Arab-Israel conflict on the basis of the statement made at Venice by the Heads of State and Government of the Community last year.

The United Kingdom took part in the summit meetings near Ottawa in July and at Cancun in October.

My Government have continued to participate in efforts to achieve a settlement in Namibia, and have supported efforts to solve the problem caused by Vietnam's occupation of Cambodia.

Members of the House of Commons:

I thank you for the provision that 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 have continued to give priority in fiscal and monetary policy to securing a substantial and lasting reduction in inflation as a basis for a sustainable growth of output and employment. Substantial net repayments of overseas debt have been made.

Steps have been taken to encourage and assist new and small firms, to help improve efficiency in the production of goods and services, and to direct help to those most adversely affected by unemployment.

Plans for a reduction in public expenditure in real terms over the years ahead have been published. Cash planning will improve control of expenditure. Civil Service manpower has been reduced in pursuit of greater economy and efficiency.

An Act has been passed to reorganise the Post Office, improve postal services, increase telecommunications competition, and permit wider participation in Cable and Wireless. Legislation has been passed to enable the British Steel Corporation to withdraw from unprofitable steelmaking, to encourage private sector investment, to ensure fairer competition, and to reconstruct the Corporation's finances.

A levy has been imposed on the British Gas Corporation in respect of certain purchases of gas from the United Kingdom Continental Shelf. Legislation has been enacted to reduce state involvement in the transport industries, to encourage private investment, and to improve road safety.

The financial arrangements of the National Enterprise Board, the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies and the Development Board for Rural Wales have been modified. Company and insurance law has been amended.

An Act has been passed to amend the industrial training board arrangements. Steps have been taken to develop understanding, especially in schools, of information technology.

Powers have been taken to set standards for new space and water heating appliances. Interim provision has been made for British activity in deep sea mining.

Legislation has been passed to improve the conservation and marketing of fish and to assist fish farming. A strategy for the continued expansion of forestry has been announced and legislation passed to encourage private investment in land for forestry.

My Government have protected the real value of the retirement pension and other related benefits. Legislation has been passed to facilitate throughout Great Britain the education of children with special needs.

The law on nationality and the law on criminal attempts have been reformed. Disqualification from election to the House of Commons has been extended to certain convicted persons and the law on reviews of European Parliament constituencies has been amended.

The law on contempt of court has been reformed. Legislation has been passed consolidating and improving the law relating to the Supreme Court in England and Wales, and amending the law relating to county courts.

In Northern Ireland the security forces have been vigilant in the impartial maintenance of the rule of law in a situation made difficult by protests in the prisons and associated public disorder. Efforts to find ways of involving local people in the administration of the Province have continued.

Changes have been made to the laws affecting local government and education in Scotland.

Measures have been passed to promote and protect the natural environment.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

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

Thereafter, a Commission for proroguing Parliament was read, after which the Lord Chancellor said:

By virtue of Her Majesty's Name, and in obedience to Her Majesty's Commission which has now been read, we do, in Her Majesty's Commands, prorogue this Parliament to Wednesday the fourth day of November, to be then here holden, and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Wednesday the fourth day of November next.

End of the Second Session (opened on 20 November 1980) of the Forty-eighth Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in the Thirtieth Year of the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.