King Edward VII – 1905 King’s Speech

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Below is the text of the speech made by King Edward VII in the House of Lords on 14 February 1905.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

My relations with foreign Powers continue to be of a friendly description.

It gave Me particular satisfaction to receive as My guests during the past autumn the King and Queen of Portugal, a country which has for centuries been connected with Great Britain by ties of the closest friendship.

The war which has been in progress since February last between Russia and Japan unhappily continues. My Government have been careful to observe in the strictest manner the obligations incumbent upon a neutral Power.

The condition of the Balkan Peninsula continues to give cause for anxiety. The measures adopted at the instance of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Governments have been instrumental in bringing about some amelioration of the state of the disturbed districts. Progress has notably been made in the reorganisation of the gendarmerie, to which officers belonging to My Army have contributed valuable assistance. These measures have still to be supplemented by radical reforms, especially of the financial system, before any permanent improvements can be effected in the administration of these provinces of the Turkish Empire. I note with satisfaction that the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Governments have lately addressed to the Porte proposals for this purpose. My Government is in communication with those of the other Powers mainly concerned upon this important subject.

The Convention entered into between My Government and that of the French Republic for the amicable settlement of questions involving the interests of both countries has been approved by the French Legislature and duly ratified. It will, I believe, operate in a manner advantageous to both countries, while it cannot fail to strengthen the friendly relations which so happily subsist between them.

Agreements, under which international questions of a certain class will be referred to arbitration, have been concluded between My Government and the Governments of Sweden and Norway, Portugal, and Switzerland.

My Government has also come to an Agreement with that of Russia under which an International Commission of Inquiry, assembled in comformity with the principles of The Hague Convention of 1899, has been entrusted with the duty of investigating the circumstances connected with the disaster to British trawlers which resulted from the action of the Russian fleet in the North Sea; and of apportioning the responsibility for this deplorable incident.

The steps to be taken for establishing a Representative Constitution in the Transvaal are receiving the earnest consideration of My Government and of those administering the Colony, and will, I hope, result in substantial progress towards the ultimate goal of complete self-government.

An Agreement, the provisions of which are calculated to place the relations of the Tibetan Government and the Government of India on a satisfactory footing, was concluded at Lhasa on the 7th September. The great difficulties which the Mission encountered were brilliantly surmounted by the civil and military authorities responsible for its conduct.

The Chinese Government have sent a Commissioner to Calcutta to negotiate a Convention of Adhesion on their part to the Agreement with the Tibetan Government. Papers on the subject have been laid before you.

The Amir of Afghanistan has sent his son, the Sirdar Inayatulla, to pay a complimentary visit to the Viceroy and Governor-General of India at Calcutta, and a high officer of the Government of India has been deputed to Cabul to discuss with His Highness the Amir questions affecting the relations of the two Governments.

A situation has arisen connected with the administration of the property belonging to certain ecclesiastical bodies in Scotland which requires legislative intervention. With a view to the wise consideration of such a measure I have appointed Commissioners, who are engaged in making an inquiry into all the circumstances of the case, and whose Report may enable you to frame such proposals as will, I trust, tend to the efficient administration of ecclesiastical funds, and the promotion of peace and goodwill.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

The Estimates for the service of the ensuing year will be laid before you. They have been framed with the utmost economy which the circumstances of the present time admit.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

Your attention will be directed to proposals for diminishing the anomalies in the present arrangement of electoral areas which are largely due to the growth and movement of population in recent years.

A Bill to mitigate the evils arising out of alien immigration into the United Kingdom will be laid before you.

Legislation will be submitted to you for the establishment of authorities to deal with the question of the unemployed. I have noticed, with profound regret and sympathy, the abnormal distress which has been caused by the want of employment during the present winter. Arrangements of a temporary character have been made to meet the difficulty, but it is expedient now to provide machinery for this purpose of a more permanent character.

You have already partially considered provisions for amending the laws relating to Education in Scotland. They will again be brought before you.

A Bill to amend and extend the Workmen’s Compensation Acts will be submitted for your consideration.

Proposals for improving the status of the Local Government Board and the Board of Trade, and for establishing a Minister of Commerce and Industry, will be laid before you.

Bills will also be introduced for amending the law with respect to Valuation Authorities, and the procedure for making Valuations; for consolidating the enactments relating to Naval Prize of War; for amending the law relating to the notification of industrial accidents; for the renewal of the Agricultural Rates Acts and other temporary Acts affecting certain classes of ratepayers; for the prevention of the adulteration of butter; and for the amendment of the law with regard to cases stated for the Court of Crown Cases reserved.

I pray that Providence may guide all your deliberations for the good of My people.