King George VI – 1943 King’s Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by King George VI in the House of Lords on 24 November 1943.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

In the fourth year of war the Forces of the United Nations assumed the offensive in all theatres of war. The enemy has been cast out of Africa; freedom has been brought to Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica; and in Italy my Forces and those of my American Ally are now engaging the enemy on the mainland of Europe. On his eastern front the enemy has given ground before the massive and unrelenting advance of the Russian Armies, whose magnificent achievements we have watched with ever-deepening admiration. The captive peoples of Europe are everywhere preparing to throw off the yoke of the oppressor; and we shall continue to afford them such help and encouragement as lies in our power. On the frontier of India and in the Pacific, Japanese aggression has been halted, and the Forces of the United Nations are now moving to the offensive. At sea my Navies and those of our Allies continue to maintain their mastery over the enemy, and important successes have been won in the struggle against the enemy’s U-boats. The Air Forces of the United Nations have maintained their ascendancy in all theatres of war, and have increased the weight of their blows at the enemy’s heart.

The mounting scale of our offensive is the fruit of the devoted and untiring efforts of my peoples throughout the Commonwealth and Empire; and in the coming year we shall, with God’s help, be able to bring to bear upon the enemy a still greater weight of attack. With the growing help of our great American Ally, and together with the other United Nations, we shall go forward with confidence in our cause until we have delivered the peoples of the world from the fear of the aggressor.

My Government, taking counsel with my Allies and building upon the foundations laid at the recent Conference in Moscow, will devote continuous attention to the study of plans for the future settlement of Europe.

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,

My Government will continue to concentrate their powers and energies upon the prosecution of the war; and, until final victory is won, that will be their primary task. You will be invited to pass such further legislation as may be necessary to provide for the needs of the war and to meet abnormal conditions arising from the war.

At the same time my Ministers are resolved that, so far as the future can be foreseen, they shall be ready to meet the different tasks that await them when victory has been won. They have undertaken a special review of the problems which are likely to arise as hostilities in Europe come to an end and of the adjustments which will have to be made when we turn to prosecute with fresh vigour the war against Japan; and in the months to come my Ministers will complete their provisional plans for the period of transition through which we must pass before the troubled times of war give place to settled conditions of peace. It will be the primary aim of my Government to ensure that in this period food, homes and employment are provided for my people, that good progress is made with the rebuilding of our damaged cities, and that in industry, mining and agriculture a smooth transition is made from war to peace. For some of these purposes fresh powers will be needed; and, as the preparations proceed, proposals for the necessary legislation will be laid before you. You will, in the immediate future, be asked to make provision for the training and employment of disabled persons, and to amend the law regarding the reinstatement in their civil employment of persons discharged from the Armed Forces.

In certain fields it is already possible to look beyond the transitional period and to frame proposals for social reforms designed to confer lasting benefits on my people.

A measure embodying my Government’s proposals for the reconstruction of the national system of education in England and Wales will be laid before you. An Advisory Council is now preparing reports which are expected to form the basis for educational developments in Scotland.

My Ministers will present to you their views and proposals regarding an enlarged and unified system of social insurance, a comprehensive health service and a new scheme of workmen’s compensation; and they will decide, in the light of your discussions, what specific proposals for legislation on these matters can be brought forward at this stage.

You will be invited to pass legislation conferring special powers for the redevelopment of areas which, by reason of enemy action, overcrowding or otherwise, need to be replanned as a whole.

My Government will lay before you the results of their examination of the Reports which have been made recommending the assumption of further powers to control and direct the use of the land of Great Britain.

It is the desire of my Government that full consideration should be given to various proposals which have been put forward for changes in the existing franchise law, and you will be invited to give your early attention to this question.

My Ministers will maintain and develop the measures for promoting the health and well-being of my people which, by God’s providence, have been so successful during the past four years of war.

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