King George VI – 1946 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 12 November 1946.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

During the Session that lies before you my Government will seek by all means in their power to promote the well-being of my people and to enable the nation, by its example and leadership, to play a worthy part in the advance of all nations of the world towards greater freedom and prosperity.

My Ministers will shortly meet representatives of the United States, Russia and France to discuss the future of Germany. It will be their aim to establish in Germany conditions which will foster true democracy, will guarantee the world against further attempts at world domination, and will remove the financial burden which the occupation has laid on my people.

I trust that at an early date a treaty will be concluded with Austria which will enable all forces of occupation to be withdrawn from that country.

The control of Japan and the measures taken to bring about a stable and just settlement in the Far East will remain the concern of my Ministers.

The General Assembly of the United Nations has resumed in New York the session begun in London last January. It will be the policy of my Government to share fully both in these discussions and in the meetings of those other international bodies which have been created to foster mutual help and understanding among the nations of the world.

I earnestly hope that the preparatory work for an International Conference on Trade and Employment which is now proceeding in London will lay the foundations for an increase in international trade over a wide area and for the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment in all the countries of the world. My Government will use every endeavour to bring these and wider international discussions to a successful conclusion.

My Ministers will continue to develop the existing intimate understanding and close working relations between this country and the self-governing members of the British Commonwealth.

My Government will forward by every means at their disposal the policy with regard to the governance of India laid down in the statements made by them and by the Mission of my Ministers which recently visited India.

Steps are being taken to hold elections in Burma early next year, as the necessary preliminary to further constitutional progress.

In the territories for which my Government are responsible they will seek actively to promote the welfare of my peoples, to develop the economic life of the territories and to give my peoples all practical guidance in their march to self-government.

The Queen and I are looking forward with the greatest pleasure to the visit which we propose to pay to South Africa early next year.

Members of the House of Commons,

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you in due course.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

My Government will press on with the conversion of the national economy from war to peace and will endeavour to ensure that the resources of the nation are effectively employed for the common good.

It will be an urgent task of my Ministers to encourage an increase in the productivity of industry and so to secure the greatly increased flow of both consumer and capital goods needed for the raising of the standard of living of my people and the expansion of the export trade. In particular, my Ministers will, in fostering the growth of industry, continue to pay special attention to the needs of the development areas.

My Ministers recognize the urgent need for securing an adequate flow of volunteers for the Regular Forces, and their efforts to stimulate recruitment will be intensified. The reconstitution of the Territorial and Reserve Forces will be begun at an early date and my Government will bring forward a measure providing for the continuation of national service from the date when the present transitional scheme comes to an end.

My Ministers will do all in their power to increase the supply and variety of food and to see that it is efficiently and equitably distributed. They will also prosecute with the utmost vigour the task of providing suitable homes for my people, and will seek to ensure that those most in need of it have first claim on new accommodation. They recognize that the housewives of the nation have had to bear a specially heavy burden owing to the shortages of houses, of food-stuffs and of other consumer goods. It will be their constant endeavour to alleviate the hardships and inconveniences caused by this legacy from the years of war.

All necessary action is being taken to enable the school-leaving age to be raised in April of next year.

A measure will be laid before you to bring inland transport services under national ownership and control; and you will be asked to approve proposals to deal with compensation and betterment in relation to town and country planing and otherwise to improve the machinery of planning.

A Bill will also be submitted to you to bring into national ownership the electricity supply industry as a further part of a concerted plan for the co-ordination of the fuel and power industries.

Valuable reports have already been received from working parties appointed to make recommendations for the better organization of a number of important industries, and you will be asked to approve legislation to enable effect to be given to their recommendations.

A measure dealing with exchange control will be placed before you, and you will be asked to approve legislation to provide for the amendment of the Companies Act and for the establishment of a commission to purchase, import and distribute raw cotton.

Proposals will be laid before you to give effect to the plans prepared by my Ministers for the efficient development of agriculture in this country, based on the system of guaranteed prices and assured markets for the principal farm products, and to give permanent effect to the transfer of wage-fixing powers from the local agricultural wages committees to the central Wages Boards.

Legislation will be submitted to you to provide for the establishment of a comprehensive health service in Scotland, and to consolidate, with amendments, the local government law of Scotland.

You will be asked to approve a Bill to provide for the establishment of a Ministry of Defence.

Measures will be laid before you providing for the arrangements consequent upon the termination of the National Fire Service and for empowering local authorities to operate civic restaurants.

A Bill will be introduced to give effect to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed at Chicago on the 7th December, 1944.

Other measures will be laid before you if time permits.

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