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.

King Edward VII – 1904 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 2 February 1904.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

My relations with Foreign Powers continue to be of a satisfactory character.

My Government has concluded with that of the French Republic an Agreement which will, I trust, do much to promote the recourse to arbitration in cases of international dispute. Apart from its intrinsic value, the Agreement affords a happy illustration of the friendly feelings prevailing between the two Countries, of which striking proofs were given during My visit to France and that of the President of the French Republic to Great Britain, and of which further evidence has been furnished by a recent exchange of international courtesies.

Similar Agreements are in process of negotiation with the Governments of Italy and the Netherlands.

An Agreement has been concluded between My Government and that of Portugal for the settlement by arbitration of the frontier line between the possessions of Portugal in South-West Africa and the territory of the Barotse Kingdom. His Majesty the King of Italy has been pleased to accept the office of Arbitrator.

The Tribunal appointed under the Convention concluded on the 3rd March last between My Government and that of the United States has given a decision on the points referred to it. On some of these the verdict has been favourable to British claims; on others it has been adverse. Much as this last circumstance is to be deplored, it must, nevertheless, be a matter of congratulation that the misunderstandings, in which ancient Boundary Treaties, made in ignorance of geographical facts, are so fertile, have in this case been finally removed from the field of controversy.

The military operations in Somaliland are being pushed forward as rapidly as difficulties of climate and transport will permit. The successes recently obtained by My troops under General Egerton will materially contribute to the destruction of the Mullah’s power and the consequent pacification of the country. I have received cordial co-operation from the Italian Government, and from the Emperor Menelik of Abyssinia, who has organised a force which, by advancing from the west, will, it is hoped, materially assist the movement now in progress.

I have watched with concern the course of the negotiations between the Governments of Japan and Russia in regard to their respective interests in China and Korea. A disturbance of the peace in those regions could not but have deplorable consequences. Any assistance which My Government can usefully render towards the promotion of a pacific solution will be gladly afforded.

The scheme of Macedonian reforms proposed in February last by the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Governments, with the concurrence of the other Powers Signatories of the Treaty of Berlin, has been improved and strengthened in several important particulars. The revised scheme has been concurred in by the other Powers, and accepted, after a regrettable delay, by the Porte. The winter has brought a cessation in the disturbances which prevailed throughout Macedonia during the greater part of last year; and it is to be earnestly hoped that advantage will be taken of this respite in order to carry out those practical measures of amelioration which are so sorely needed in these unhappy regions.

Amongst these measures the organisation of the Macedonian Gendarmerie deserves a prominent place. I note with satisfaction that His Majesty the Sultan has appointed a distinguished General Officer of the Italian Army to take charge of this reform. He is to be assisted in the discharge of his task by other officers appointed by the Powers, and I have authorised the employment of a Staff Officer of My Army, aided by other British Officers, for this purpose.

I am gratified to observe that the Legislatures of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Colony of New Zealand have passed laws giving effect to the Naval Agreements entered into at the Colonial Conference of 1902, under which they assume a larger share than heretofore in the general Scheme of Imperial Defence. The New Zealand Legislature has also sanctioned a Tariff which gives a preference in its markets to the produce of this Country.

The insufficiency of the supply of the raw material upon which the great cotton industry of this Country depends has inspired Me with deep concern. I trust that the efforts which are being made in various parts of My Empire to increase the area under cultivation may be attended with a large measure of success.

With the concurrence of the Chinese Government, a Political Mission has entered Tibetan territory in order to secure the due observance of the Convention of 1890 relating to Sikkim and Tibet. A Chinese official has been despatched from Pekin to meet it, and I trust that an arrangement may be arrived at with the Chinese and Tibetan authorities which will peacefully remove a constant source of difficulty and friction on the northern frontier of My Indian Empire. Papers on the subject will be laid before you.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

The Estimates for the year will be laid before you. Although they have been framed with the utmost desire for economy, the burden imposed on the resources of the Country by the necessities of Naval and Military Defence is undoubtedly serious. The possibility of diminishing this burden is being carefully considered in connection with the general problem of Army and War Office Reform.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

A measure for the purpose of dealing with the evils consequent on the Immigration of Criminal and Destitute Aliens into the United Kingdom will be laid before you.

A Bill amending the Law with respect to Licences for the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors in England will be submitted to you.

A measure for the Amendment of the Law with respect to Valuation Authorities and the Preparation of Valuation Lists will be introduced.

A Bill to Amend the Laws relating to Education in Scotland has been prepared for your consideration.

A measure will be introduced to Amend the Labourers Acts and the Housing of the Working Classes Act in Ireland.

Proposals will be laid before you for Amending the Workmen’s Compensation Acts, for Amending the Law relating to Public Health, for dealing with the Hours of Employment in Shops, for Consolidating the Enactments relating to Naval Prizes of War, for removing, after the termination of the, present Parliament, the necessity for Re-election in the case of Acceptance of Office by Members of the House of Commons, for Supplementing the Powers of the Congested Districts Board in Scotland, and for Amending the Law relating to Sea Fisheries.

I commend your deliberations to the care and guidance of Almighty God.

King Edward VII – 1903 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 17 February 1903.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

My relations with all the Foreign Powers continue to be friendly.

The blockade of Venezuelan ports, rendered necessary by outrages on the British flag and wrongs inflicted on the persons and property of British subjects by the Venezuelan Government, has led to negotiations for the adjustment of all the matters in dispute. I rejoice that a settlement has now been arrived at which has justified the blockading Powers in bringing all hostile naval operations to an immediate close. Papers on the subject have been laid before you.

Negotiations have taken place for the adjustment of the questions which have arisen with regard to the boundary between My possessions in North America and the territory of Alaska. A treaty providing for the reference of these questions to an Arbitral Tribunal has been signed and ratified.

The condition of the European provinces of Turkey gives cause for serious anxiety. I have used My best efforts to impress upon the Sultan and his Ministers the urgent need for practical and well-considered measures of reform. The Governments of Austria-Hungary and Russia have had under their consideration what reforms it would be desirable that the Powers who were parties to the Treaty of Berlin should recommend to the Sultan for immediate adoption. I trust that the proposals made will prove to be sufficient for the purpose, and that I shall find it possible to give them My hearty support. Papers on the subject will be laid before you.

I regret that the efforts which My Government have been making to arrive at a joint delimitation with the Turkish Government of the boundaries of the tribal country adjoining Aden have hitherto failed to bring about a settlement. Negotiations upon this subject are being urgently pressed forward.

A body of My troops, including a small corps of mounted infantry raised from the inhabitants of the Transvaal and Orange River Colony, has been disembarked at Obbia, in Italian Somaliland, to operate against the Mullah Abdullah, and an advance inland is about to be made. The co-operation of the Italian Government in this undertaking has been most cordial, and I trust that as a result of these operations the tribes of both Protectorates may be secured from further molestation.

The progress of events in South Africa has been satisfactory. The visit of the Secretary of State for the Colonies to that portion of My dominions has already been productive of the happiest results; and the opportunity which it has provided for personal conference with Lord Milner, with the Ministers of the self-governing Colonies, and with the representatives of all interests and opinions, has greatly conduced to the smooth adjustment of many difficult questions, and to the removal of many occasions of misunderstanding.

It has been found necessary to send an expedition to Kano in consequence of the hostile action of the Emir of that place. My troops have successfully occupied his capital, and I trust that it will now become possible to proceed in safety with the delimitation of the boundary between My territory of Northern Nigeria and the adjoining possessions of the French Republic. Papers upon this subject will at once be presented.

My succession to the Imperial Crown of India has been proclaimed and celebrated in an assembly of unexampled splendour at Delhi. I there received from the feudatory Princes and Chiefs, and from all classes of the peoples within My Indian dominions, gratifying marks of their loyalty and devotion to My Throne and family. I am glad to be able to state that this imposing ceremony has coincided, in point of time, with the disappearance of drought and agricultural distress in Western India, and that the prospects both of agriculture and commerce throughout My Indian Empire are more encouraging and satisfactory than they have been for some years past.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

The Estimates for the coming year will be laid before you. Although they have been framed with due regard to economy, the needs of the Country and of the Empire make a large expenditure inevitable.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

A Bill will be laid before you which will, I trust, complete the series of measures which have already done much to substitute single ownership for the costly and unsatisfactory conditions still attaching to the Tenure of Agricultural Land over a large portion of Ireland.

Proposals will be submitted to you for completing the scheme of Educational Reform passed last session by extending and adapting it to the Metropolitan area.

Measures will be introduced for the purpose of carrying into effect engagements arising out of the Convention for the Abolition of Bounties on Sugar which has recently been ratified at Brussels; and for guaranteeing a Loan to be raised for the Development of My new Colonies in South Africa.

A Bill will be laid before you for Improving the Administration of the Port and Docks of London, the condition of which is a matter of National concern.

A measure Amending and Consolidating the Licensing Laws in Scotland is greatly desired in that country, and I trust will pass into Law.

Measures will also be proposed to you for Improving the Law of Valuation and Assessment; for Regulating the Employment of Children; for dealing with the Sale of Adulterated Dairy Produce; for Amending the Law relating to Savings Banks; and for Reconstituting the Royal Patriotic Fund Commission.

I pray that the guidance and blessing of Almighty God may direct all your labours.

King Edward VII – 1902 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 16 January 1902.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

Since the close of the last Session of Parliament I have had the happiness to welcome back the Prince and Princess of Wales on their return from their lengthened voyage to various parts of My Empire. They have everywhere been received with demonstrations of the liveliest affection, and I am convinced that their presence has served to rivet more closely the bonds of mutual regard and loyalty by which the vigour of the Empire is maintained.

My relations with other Powers continue to be of a friendly character.

I regret that the war in South Africa has not been yet concluded, though the course of the operations has been favourable to our arms.

The area of the war has been largely reduced, and industries are being resumed in My new Colonies. In spite of the tedious character of the campaign, My soldiers have throughout displayed a cheerfulness in the endurance of the hardships incident to guerilla warfare, and a humanity, even to their own detriment, in the treatment of the enemy, which is deserving of the highest praise.

The necessity of relieving those of My troops who have most felt the strain of the war has afforded Me an opportunity of again availing myself of the loyal and patriotic offers of My Colonies, and further contingents will shortly reach South Africa from the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, and from New Zealand.

On the invitation of the King of the Belgians, an International Conference on Sugar Bounties has recently reassembled at Brussels. I trust that its decision may lead to the abandonment of a system by which the sugar-producing Colonies, and the home manufactures of sugar, have been unfairly weighted in the prosecution of this most important industry.

I have concluded with the President of the United States a Treaty, the provisions of which will facilitate the construction of an interoceanic canal under guarantees that its neutrality will be maintained, and that it will be open to the commerce and shipping of all nations.

I have concluded a Treaty with the President of the United States of Brazil referring to arbitration questions relative to the frontier between My Colony of British Guiana and Brazil. I have much pleasure in stating that the King of Italy has consented to act as Arbitrator.

In My Indian Empire the rainfall has been less abundant than was desired, and the continuance of relief measures, though on a less extensive scale than in the past year, will be necessary in certain parts of the Bombay Presidency and of the adjoining Native States. I anticipate a further improvement in the methods and efficiency of famine relief in the future from the labours of the Commission who have recently reported.

The death of Abdur Rahman, the Ameer of Afghanistan, has been followed by the accession of his son and appointed heir, the Ameer Habibulla, who has expressed his earnest desire to maintain the friendly relations of Afghanistan with my Indian Empire.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

The Estimates for the service of the year will be laid before you. They have been framed as economically as a due regard to efficiency renders possible, in the special circumstances of the present exigency.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

Proposals for the co-ordination and improvement of primary and secondary education will be laid before you.

A measure will be introduced for amending the administration of the water supply in the area at present controlled by the London Water Companies.

A Bill for facilitating the sale and purchase of Land in Ireland will be submitted for your consideration.

Measures will be proposed to you for improving the Law of Valuation; for amending the Law relating to the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors and for the Registration of Clubs; for amending the Patent Law; and for sundry reforms in the Law of Lunacy.

I pray that, in the consideration of these important questions, you may have the guidance and blessing of Almighty God.

King Edward VII – 1901 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 1901.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

I address you for the first time at a moment of National sorrow, when the whole Country is mourning the irreparable loss which we have so recently sustained, and which has fallen with peculiar severity upon Myself. My beloved Mother, during Her long and glorious reign, has set an example before the world of what a Monarch should be. It is My earnest desire to walk in Her footsteps.

Amid this public and private grief it is satisfactory to Me to be able to assure you that My relations with other Powers continue to be friendly.

The war in South Africa has not yet entirely terminated; but the capitals of the enemy and his principal lines of communication are in My possession, and measures have been taken which will, I trust, enable My troops to deal effectually with the forces by which they are still opposed. I greatly regret the loss of life and the expenditure of treasure due to the fruitless guerilla warfare maintained by Boer partisans in the former territories of the two Republics. Their early submission is much to be desired in their own interests, as, until it takes place, it will be impossible for Me to establish in those Colonies institutions which will secure equal rights to all the white inhabitants, and protection and justice to the Native population.

The capture of Peking by the allied forces, and the happy release of those who were besieged in the Legations, results to which My Indian troops and My Naval forces largely contributed, have been followed by the submission of the Chinese Government to the demands insisted on by the Powers. Negotiations are proceeding as to the manner in which compliance with these conditions is to be effected.

The establishment of the Australian Commonwealth was proclaimed at Sydney on the 1st January with many manifestations of popular enthusiasm and rejoicing.

My deeply beloved and lamented Mother had assented to the visit of the Duke of Cornwall and York to open the first Parliament of the new Commonwealth in Her name.

A separation from My Son, especially at such a moment, cannot be otherwise than deeply painful; but I still desire to give effect to Her late Majesty’s wishes, and as an evidence of Her interests, as well as of My own, in all that concerns the welfare of My subjects beyond the seas, I have decided that the visit to Australia, shall not be abandoned, and shall be extended to New Zealand and to the Dominion of Canada.

The prolongation of hostilities in South Africa has led Me to make a further call upon the patriotism and devotion of Canada and Australasia. I rejoice that My request has met with a prompt and loyal response, and that large additional contingents from those Colonies will embark for the seat of war at an early date.

The expedition organised for the suppression of the rebellion in Ashanti has been crowned with signal success. The endurance and gallantry of My Native troops, ably commanded by Sir James Willeocks, and led by British officers, have overcome both the stubborn resistance of the most warlike tribes in West Africa and the exceptional difficulties of the climate, the season, and the country in which the operations have been conducted.

The garrison of Coomassie, which was besieged by the enemy, has been relieved after a prolonged and gallant defence; the principal Kings have surrendered, and the chief impediment to the progress and development of this rich portion of My West African possessions has now, I hope, been finally removed.

The suffering and mortality caused by a prolonged drought over a large portion of My Indian Empire has been greatly alleviated by a seasonable rainfall; but I regret to add that in parts of the Bombay Presidency distress of a serious character still continues, which my officers are using every endeavour to mitigate.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

The Estimates for the year will be laid before you. Every care has been taken to limit their amount, but the Naval and Military requirements of the Country, and especially the outlay consequent on the South African war, have involved an inevitable increase.

The demise of the Crown renders it necessary that a renewed provision shall be made for the Civil List. I place unreservedly at your disposal those hereditary revenues which were so placed by My predecessor: and I have commanded that the Papers necessary for a full consideration of the subject shall be laid before you.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

Proposals will be submitted to your judgment for increasing the efficiency of My Military forces.

Certain changes in the constitution of the Court of Final Appeal are rendered necessary in consequence of the increased resort to it, which has resulted from the expansion of the Empire during the last two generations.

Legislation will be proposed to you for the amendment of the Law relating to Education.

Legislation has been prepared, and, if the time at your disposal shall prove to be adequate, will be laid before you, for the purpose of regulating the Voluntary Bale by Landlords to Occupying Tenants in Ireland, for amending and consolidating the Factory and Workshops Acts, for the better administration of the Law respecting Lunatics, for amending the Public Health Acts in regard to Water Supply, for the prevention of drunkenness in Licensed Houses or Public Places, and for amending the Law of Literary Copyright.

I pray that Almighty God may continue to guide you in the conduct of your deliberations, and may bless them with success.