King George VI – 1944 King’s Speech

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Below is the text of the speech made by King George VI in the House of Lords on 29 November 1944.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

The United Nations look back on a year of resounding achievement. They now look forward with greater confidence than ever to those final victories which will give to the peoples of the world the just peace which is our chief desire. In Western Europe My Forces from, the United Kingdom and Canada and their comrades from the United States, with the valuable aid of the Armed Forces of My European Allies and of the peoples who have risen to meet them, have routed the enemy in a series of decisive battles and are now pressing him on the borders of his own country. In Italy the Forces of the United Nations have advanced to the northern plains and in Greece and Yugoslavia the Germans are being driven from the countries which they have oppressed for three bitter years. In the East the massive achievements of My Russian Ally have deprived the Germans of vast stretches of territory which they hoped would feed their armies and provide an impassable barrier to prevent the soil of Germany from becoming a battle-ground. Both in the East and in the West, Germany is invaded. The plight in which her armies now find themselves is a measure of the success which by God’s grace has crowned our arms.

In the war against Japan the enemy has been thrown back from India and My American Ally continues to reduce the shrinking area still under Japanese control in the Pacific. We intend to reinforce as rapidly and powerfully as possible the United Kingdom Forces who are now sharing with their comrades from all parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire and from the United States, China, the Netherlands and France the burden of the struggle against Japan.

My Navies everywhere have maintained their mastery over the enemy and have achieved great successes, in which My Air Forces have fully shared, in driving his surface and submarine forces from the seas. My Air Forces, in concert with the Air Forces of the United States, have delivered increasingly heavy blows against Germany and have maintained their support of military and naval operations in all theatres.

The successes of My Armed Forces would not have been achieved but for the devoted labours of those throughout the Commonwealth and Empire who have striven ceaselessly to arm and equip them. It is over five years now since My peoples first took up the struggle to free the world from aggression and the contribution of the civil population is beyond all praise.

The United Nations await with sober confidence the unrolling of future events. Joined in an unbreakable alliance and fortified by constant collaboration between the Governments concerned and by frequent personal meetings between their leaders, they look forward to that day on which the aggressor is finally defeated and the whole world can turn to the rebuilding of prosperity and the maintenance of an unassailable peace.

Members of the House of Commons:

You will be asked to make further financial provision for the conduct of the war and for the other necessary services.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

Victory remains our supreme aim and to this end you will be invited to pass such further legislation as may be required for the effective prosecution of the war.

Once, however, the war in Europe is over, the transition from war to peace will begin; and My Ministers are actively preparing plans to ensure that, without in any way prejudicing the active prosecution of the war against Japan, an increasing part of our resources is made available for civilian production. They will try to create conditions favourable to the expansion of our export trade and the re-equipment of our industry and to maintain a high level of food production at home. They are considering the methods by which the policy for the maintenance of a high level of employment can be implemented, especially with regard to the distribution of industry in the Development Areas. Progress will be made in fulfilling the urgent tasks of providing additional housing accommodation and of increasing supplies of civilian goods. My Ministers will continue their policy of ensuring a fair distribution of the necessaries of life so long as there is any scarcity.

My Government intend that, as opportunity serves, progress should be made with legislation arising out of the proposals already made public for a comprehensive health service, an enlarged and unified scheme of national insurance, a new scheme of industrial injury insurance and a system of family allowances. They will also invite you to approve measures embodying proposals for a national water policy which have already been presented to you.

A Bill will be laid before you dealing with electoral reform based on the recommendations of Mr. Speaker’s Conference, and a Bill providing for the resumption of local elections at the appropriate time. You will be invited to pass measures relating to the provision of finance for the capital expenditure which local authorities will incur after the end of hostilities in Europe and proposals for the adjustment of local government areas in England and Wales will also be laid before you.

You will be asked to approve legislation designed to extend export credit facilities and to conserve, subject to appropriate safeguards, the use or value of assets created at the public expense on requisitioned and other land.

Measures will also be laid before you making further provision for the regulation of wages and conditions of employment and for the development of the public educational system in Scotland.

There will be presented to you legislation making further provision for assistance towards the development of the Colonial Empire both by prolonging the period covered by the Colonial Development and Welfare Act of 1940 and by substantially increasing the provision of funds authorised to be made under that Act.

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