Queen Victoria – 1875 Queen’s Speech

Below is the text of the Queen’s Speech given in the House of Lords on 8 February 1875. It was spoken by the Lord Chancellor on behalf of HM Queen Victoria.

My Lords, and Gentlemen,

It is with great satisfaction that I again meet you and resort to the advice and assistance of my Parliament.

I continue to receive assurances of friendship from all Foreign Powers. The peace of Europe has remained, and I trust will remain, unbroken. To preserve and consolidate it will ever be a main object of my endeavours.

The Conference held at Brussels on the Laws and Usages of War has concluded its sittings. My Government have carefully examined the reports of its proceedings; but, bearing in mind, on the one hand, the importance of the principles involved, and, on the other, the widely divergent opinions which were there expressed, and the improbability of their being reconciled, I have not thought it right to accede to proposals which have been made for further negotiations on the subject. The correspondence which has passed will be presented to you.

The Government of Spain, presided over by Marshal Serrano, has ceased to exist, and the Prince of Asturias has been called to the throne under the title of King Alfonso XII. The question of formally recognizing, in concert with other Powers, the newly restored Monarchy, is at this moment before my Government, and its decision will not be long delayed. It is my earnest hope that internal peace may be speedily restored to a great, but unfortunate, country.

The exertions of my naval and consular servants in the repression of the East African Slave Trade have not been relaxed, and I confidently trust that they will bring about the complete extinction of a traffic equally repugnant to humanity and injurious to legitimate commerce.

The differences which had arisen between China and Japan, and which at one time threatened to lead to war between those States, have been happily adjusted. I have learnt with pleasure that the good offices of my Minister at Pekin have been largely instrumental in bringing about this result.

The past year has been one of general prosperity and progress throughout my Colonial Empire.

On the Gold Coast, a steady advance has been made in the establishment of civil government, peace has been maintained, and I have procured the assent of the protected tribes to the abolition of slavery. Henceforward, I trust, freedom will exist there as in every part of my dominions.

In Natal, I have found myself under the necessity of reviewing the sentence which had been passed upon a native Chief, and of considering the condition of the tribes, and their relations to the European settlers and my Government. I doubt not that I shall have your concurrence in any measures which it may become my duty to adopt for ensuring a wise and humane system of native administration in that part of South Africa.

Papers will be laid before you on these several matters.

The King and Chiefs of Fiji having made a new offer of their Islands unfettered by conditions, I have thought it right to accept the cession of a territory which, independently of its large natural resources, offers important maritime advantages to my fleets in the Pacific.”

An ample harvest has restored prosperity to the Provinces of my Eastern Empire which, last year, were visited with famine. By the blessing of Providence my Indian Government has been able entirely to avert the loss of life which I had reason to apprehend from that great calamity.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

I have directed the Estimates of the year to be prepared and presented to you without delay.

My Lords, and Gentlemen,

The condition of the finances is satisfactory. The trade of the country in the past year has somewhat fallen short of that of the year before, but the general prosperity of the people, supported as it has been by an excellent harvest, as well as by the great reductions lately made in taxation, has led to a steady increase in the consumption of all the necessaries of life, and of those articles which contribute to the revenue.

The various statutes of an exceptional or temporary nature now in force for the preservation of peace in Ireland will be brought to your notice with a view to determine whether some of them may not be dispensed with.

Several measures which were unavoidably postponed at the end of last Session will be again introduced. Among the most important are those for simplifying the Transfer of Land and completing the reconstruction of the Judicature.

Bills will be also laid before you for facilitating the Improvement of the Dwellings of the Working Classes in large towns; for the consolidation and amendment of the Sanitary Laws; and for the prevention of the pollution of rivers.

A measure has been prepared for consolidating and amending the laws relating to Friendly Societies. Its object will be to assist without unnecessarily interfering with the laudable efforts of my people to make provision for themselves against some of the calamities of life.

A Bill for the amendment of the Merchant Shipping Acts will be laid before you.

Your attention will be moreover directed to legislation for the better security of my subjects from personal violence, and for more effectually providing for the trial of offences by establishing the office of a Public Prosecutor.

Although the Report of the Commission issued by me to inquire into the state and working of the law as to offences connected with trade has not yet been made to me, I trust that any legislation on this subject which may be found to be expedient may take place in the present Session.

You will also be invited to consider a measure for improving the law as to Agricultural Tenancies.

I commend to your careful consideration these and other measures which may be submitted to you, and I pray that your deliberations may, under the Divine blessing, result in the happiness and contentment of my people.