King George VI – 1948 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 26 October 1948.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

The Session beginning to-day opens in a troubled world still suffering from the ravages of war. To spend all our energies on repairing these ravages has been our constant desire, but we have been hindered by distrust and dissension between the nations. Yet, with mutual confidence and goodwill, the problems now facing us would not defy solution, and the peoples of the world would be able to live in peace and enjoy the fruits of their labours. Meanwhile, as the recent meeting in London of Prime Ministers and their representatives has shown, the peoples of My Commonwealth offer an example of voluntary and useful co-operation.

My Government will continue to work closely and harmoniously, within the framework of the Treaty of Brussels, with the other Governments which are parties to it; to give full support to the United Nations, and to strive to fulfil the aims of world peace and well-being set forth in the Charter.

In the Western Zones of Germany, economic revival has begun. Currency reform has brought stability and renewed faith in the value of money. The Germans themselves are working hard to design a democratic constitution for Western Germany.

In Berlin, however, a difficult situation has arisen as a result of the action of the Soviet Government in cutting surface communications between the city and Western Germany. My Government hold the view that this action constitutes a threat to peace and therefore referred the matter to the Security Council of the United Nations. The resolution of the Security Council has been vetoed by the Soviet representative, and the situation thus created is under consideration by My Government in consultation with the two other Governments concerned. Meanwhile, Berlin is being supplied by air; and aircraft from the United Kingdom, some of them flown by crews from other Commonwealth countries, are combining with those of the United States to keep Berlin linked with Western Europe.

The Queen and I look forward with pleasure to visiting Australia and New Zealand next year. We shall welcome this opportunity of meeting again My peoples of those countries, whose generous support both in war and peace has never failed us.

Legislation will be laid before you to give effect to whatever decisions may result from the negotiations for admitting Newfoundland to the Canadian Confederation.

My Ministers will continue to devote themselves to the problem of the balance of payments. Fortified by the generous aid of the United States, and working together with the other members of the Commonwealth and of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, we shall hope to progress further towards paying our way abroad and restoring the prosperity of our country and the world. It is only by our continued exertions and self-restraint that we shall win through. Inventive thought matched to hard work is necessary to enable workers and management, in common effort and counsel, to make the fullest use of our available resources. By increasing the individual contribution of skill and labour, we must build up our production still further.

My Ministers are taking steps to ensure that My Armed Forces shall be efficient and well equipped, and that the best use shall be made of men called up under the National Service Act. Recruiting for the Regular Forces will be stimulated, and the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces will also be built up. A Bill to amend the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act will be laid before you.

You will be asked to consider a measure for the future organisation of Civil Defence.

Members of the House of Commons:

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

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

You will be asked to consider further the Bill to amend the Parliament Act, 1911, on which during the last two Sessions your Houses have disagreed.

A measure will be laid before you to bring under public ownership those companies extensively engaged in the production of iron ore, or of pig iron or steel, or in the shaping of steel by a rolling process.

Legislation will be introduced to establish national parks in England and Wales; to improve the law relating to footpaths and access to the countryside; and to ensure the better conservation of wild life.

You will be asked to consider proposals for making legal aid and advice more readily available to persons of small or moderate means.

Legislation will be introduced to improve the organisation of Magistrates’ Courts in England and Wales and to amend the law relating to Justices of the Peace.

A Bill will be laid before you to provide for the payment of jurors and for the abolition, with limited exceptions, of special jurors.

Measures will be laid before you to extend the powers of local authorities in regard to new housing, and to promote the improvement of existing dwellings by local authorities and by private owners. You will also be asked to pass a measure to provide for reviewing the rents of shared rooms, and of houses and flats let for the first time since the war.

Legislation will be introduced to change the constitution of the General Nursing Council and to provide for the better training of nurses.

A Bill will be laid before you to amend and consolidate the law of patents and designs.

Legislation will be introduced to protect the coast from erosion by the sea.

Bills will be laid before you to modify the constitution and powers of producers’ marketing boards; to encourage the development of the white fish industry, and to provide for safer milk.

You will be invited to pass a measure to enable My Government to ratify an international convention on safety of life at sea.

You will be invited to consider Bills to improve water supplies in Scotland, and to amend the Scottish criminal law.

Other measures will be laid before you if time permits; and it is hoped to make further progress with the task of consolidating and revising the Statute Law.

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.