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The King's Speech

Volume 137: debated on Wednesday 15 August 1945

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

The KING being seated on the Throne, and the Commons being at the Bar with their Speaker, His Majesty was pleased to make a most gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament, and then retired.

His Majesty's Speech was as follows:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

"The surrender of Japan has brought to an end six years of warfare which have caused untold loss and misery to the world. In this hour of deliverance, it is fitting that we should give humble and solemn thanks to God by whose grace we have been brought to final victory. My Armed Forces from every part of my Commonwealth and Empire have fought with steady courage and endurance. To them as well as to all others who have borne their share in bringing about this great victory and to all our Allies our gratitude is due. We remember especially at this time those who have laid down their lives in the fight for freedom.

"It is the firm purpose of my Government to work in the closest cooperation with the Governments of my Dominions and in concert with all peace-loving peoples to attain a world of freedom, peace and social justice so that the sacrifices of the war shall not have been in vain. To this end they are determined to promote throughout the world conditions under which all countries may face with confidence the urgent tasks of reconstruction, and to carry out in this country those policies which have received the approval of my people.

"At Berlin my Ministers, in conference with the President of the United States and Premier Stalin, have laid the foundations on which the peoples of Europe, after the long nightmare of war, may restore their shattered lands. I welcome the establishment of the Council of Foreign Ministers which will shortly hold its first meeting in London and will continue the work begun at Berlin in preparation for a final peace settlement.

"My Ministers will submit to you the Charter of the United Nations which has now been signed without reservation by the representatives of all the fifty States who took part in the Conference at San Francisco and which expresses the determination of the United Nations to maintain peace in accordance with justice and respect for human rights and to promote the welfare of all peoples by international co-operation. The devastating new weapon which science has now placed in the hands of humanity should bring home to all the lesson that the nations of the world must abolish recourse to war or perish by mutual destruction.

"It has given me special pleasure to meet the President of the United States on his brief visit to my country after the Conference at Berlin. I have also been glad to express the gratitude of this country to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force for his inspiring leadership in the campaign for the liberation of Europe.

"My Forces in Europe continue to discharge the duties entailed in the occupation of enemy countries and the, repatriation of the many thousands of persons who were deported from their homes by the enemy. My Navy, aided by the Navies of my Allies, is clearing the seas of mines so that merchant ships and fishing fleets may once more sail in safety.

"In the Far East my Ministers will make it their most immediate concern to ensure that all prisoners in Japanese hands are cared for and returned to their homes with all speed. The bringing of relief to those who have suffered under Japanese tyranny and the disarmament and control of the enemy will continue to impose heavy demands on my Forces.

"Members of the House of Commons,

"You will be asked to make further financial provision, not, happily, for the continuance of the war, but for expenditure on reconstruction and other essential services.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

"My Government will continue the orderly release of men and women from the Armed Forces on the basis of the plans announced in the autumn of last year and will take every step to secure that these plans are carried out with the greatest speed consistent with our military commitments and fair treatment to serving men and women. The arrangements already in operation for the resettlement in civil life of men and women released from the Forces and from war work, including those who have been disabled during their service, will be continued and, where necessary, expanded.

"The continuing shortages in the supply of many necessaries, especially houses, food, clothing and fuel, will call for the same spirit of tolerance and understanding which the nation has displayed during the past six years of war.

"It will be the aim of my Ministers to see that the national resources in labour and material are employed with the fullest efficiency in the interests of all and that the standard of living is progressively improved. In the pursuit of this aim the special problems of Scotland and Wales will have the attention of my Ministers.

"My Government will take up with energy the tasks of reconverting industry from the purposes of war to those of peace, of expanding our export trade, and of securing by suitable control or by an extension of public ownership that our industries and services shall make their maximum contribution to the national well-being. The orderly solution of these difficult problems will require from all my people efforts corn-parable in intensity and public spirit to those which have brought us victory in war.

"In order to promote employment and national development machinery will be set up to provide for the effective planning of investment and a measure will be laid before you to bring the Bank of England under public ownership. A Bill will also be laid before you to nationalize the coalmining industry as part of a concerted plan for the co-ordination of the fuel and power industries.

"Legislation will be submitted to you to ensure that during the period of transition from war to peace there are available such powers as are necessary to secure the right use of our commercial and industrial resources and the distribution at fair prices of essential supplies and services.

"An urgent and vital task of my Ministers will be to increase by all practicable means the number of homes available both in town and country. Accordingly they will organize the resources of the building and manufacturing industries in the most effective way to meet the housing and other essential building requirements of the nation. They will also lay before you proposals to deal with the problems of compensation and betterment in relation to town and country planning, to improve the procedure for the acquisition of land for public purposes, and otherwise to promote the best use of land in the national interest.

"You will be asked to approve measures to provide a comprehensive scheme of insurance against industrial injuries, to extend and improve the existing scheme of social insurance and to establish a national health service. Legislation will be introduced to repeal the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act.

"My Ministers will develop to the fullest possible extent the home production of good food. To this end they will continue, with suitable adaptations, those war-time policies under which food production has been organized and the efficiency of agriculture improved, and will take all necessary steps to promote a healthy fishing industry. The ravages of war have made world food supplies insufficient to meet demands, but my Ministers will do all in their power to provide and distribute food to my peoples at prices which they can afford to pay; and they will keep in being and extend the new food services for the workers and for mothers and children which have been established during the war.

"A measure will be laid before you for the reorganization of air transport.

"It will be the aim of my Ministers to bring into practical effect at the earliest possible date the educational reforms which have already been approved.

"My Government will continue to work in close consultation with the other members of my Commonwealth on all matters of mutual concern.

"In accordance with the promises already made to my Indian peoples, my Government will do their utmost to promote in conjunction with the leaders of Indian opinion the early realization of full self-government in India.

"They will also press on with the development of my Colonial Empire and the welfare of its peoples.

"I pray that Almighty God may give His blessing to your counsels."

House adjourned during pleasure.

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


Several Lords—Took the Oath.

The Lord Ker ( M. Lothian)—Sat first in Parliament after the death of his kinsman.

Several Lords—Took the Oath.

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