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House of Commons

Wednesday 8 November 1995

The House met at half-past Nine o'clock


[Madam Speaker -- in the Chair ]

Message to attend the Lords Commissioners:

The House went;--and, having returned:

Royal Assent

10.10 am

Madam Speaker: I have to acquaint the House that the House has been to the House of Peers where a Commission under the Great Seal was read, authorising the Royal Assent to the following Acts: Atomic Energy Authority Act 1995

Civil Evidence Act 1995

Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995

Criminal Procedure (Consequential Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1995 Law Reform (Succession) Act 1995

Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995 Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Act 1995

Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1995

Gas Act 1995

Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995

Northern Ireland (Remission of Sentences) Act 1995

Charities (Amendment) Act 1995

Town and Country Planning (Cost of Inquiries etc.) Act 1995 Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Medical (Professional Performance) Act 1995

Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995

Mental Health (Patients in the Community) Act 1995

Loch Leven and Lochaber Water Power Order Confirmation Act 1995 Accommodation Level Crossings Act 1995

Queen Mary and Westfield College Act 1995

London Local Authorities Act 1995

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Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech

Madam Speaker: I have further to acquaint the House that the Lord High Chancellor, one of the Lord Commissioners, delivered Her Majesty's Speech to both Houses of Parliament, in pursuance of Her Majesty's Command. For greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy and also directed that the terms of the speech be printed in the Votes and Proceedings. Copies are being made available in the Vote Office. The Gracious Speech was as follows:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

The Duke of Edinburgh and I were pleased to receive the State Visits of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait in May and His Excellency the President of Finland in October. We also remember with great pleasure our State Visit to South Africa in March. We are enjoying our visit to New Zealand, where we shall be present at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

The Duke of Edinburgh and I were pleased to receive Heads of State and Government, or their representatives, from fifty-six countries, to commemorate Victory in Europe Day in May. We were also pleased to see many veterans, and representatives from countries whose forces served under the Crown during the Second World War, in London in August to attend the ceremonies to commemorate the fiftieth anniversaries of the end of the Second World War.

We were pleased to attend the ceremony marking the Fiftieth Anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter in London in June.

My Government continued to make provision for the defence of the United Kingdom and our allies and for the promotion of international peace and stability. They were among the leading participants in United Nations peace -keeping operations. They contributed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and to the development of effective and reliable European defence arrangements which complement those of NATO. They welcomed the success of the Partnership for Peace between the countries of NATO and other countries of Europe; the commitment by NATO and Russia to build a co- operative relationship; and the decision to extend indefinitely the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

My Government continued to be at the forefront of attempts to find a lasting solution to the crisis in the former Yugoslavia. In response to a worsening of the conflict there, they substantially increased the British contribution to United Nations operations and provided humanitarian aid on a significant scale to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population. In Africa, my Government helped the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity in their work to prevent and resolve conflicts.

My Government have continued to act vigorously against terrorism, drugs and organised crime, both in the United Kingdom and overseas. In the European Union, my Government welcomed the accession of Sweden, Finland and Austria. They worked to promote a closer relationship between the European Union and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe,

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with a view to the enlargement of the Union. They continued to help the former communist states of Europe and Asia to establish democratic market economies: bilaterally, using the Know How Fund, and together with our European Union Partners.

My Government contributed to the European Union's efforts to combat unemployment and promote growth. They secured agreement to liberalise telecommunications by 1998. They worked to promote effective action against fraud and to achieve higher standards of farm animal welfare throughout the European Union. They participated in meetings of the Study Group which is preparing for the 1996 Inter-Governmental Conference. They welcomed the Commission's first annual report on subsidiarity.

Reducing poverty in the poorest countries remained a priority. To this end, my Government continued a substantial overseas aid programme and took a leading role in securing more generous terms for bilateral debt relief for the poorest, most indebted countries. At the Summit of the seven leading industrialised nations in Halifax in June, my Government contributed to far -reaching proposals on the reform of the international financial institutions and the United Nations. They worked at home and with our European Union partners to implement the outcome of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations.

In the interests of the people of Hong Kong, my Government worked to achieve a smooth transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997. My Government in Bermuda consulted the people of Bermuda about the future constitutional arrangements for the Territory and its relationship with the United Kingdom. My Government gave assistance to the Cayman Islands to alleviate the problems caused by the arrival of a large number of migrants from Cuba in 1994.

In Northern Ireland my Government have continued to promote peace and political stability and to encourage progress towards a political settlement. They held substantive talks with the Northern Ireland parties and other exploratory talks. They published a document describing a framework for a political accommodation in respect of Northern Ireland. Legislation has been passed to enable certain prisoners to be released on licence at the half-way point of their sentence. My Government have sought to improve social and economic conditions through inward investment and other means.

Members of the House of Commons

I thank you for the provision you have made for the honour and dignity of the Crown and for the public service.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government have pursued firm financial policies which have allowed recovery to broaden and strengthen, while maintaining low inflation. Measures have been taken to ensure that the public sector borrowing requirement is brought back towards balance over the medium term.

My Government showed their commitment to improving the nation's competitiveness through the White Paper "Competitiveness: Forging Ahead." Legislation has been

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passed to promote increased competition in the supply of gas to customers, and to reform the agricultural tenancy laws in England and Wales, so that more agricultural land is made available for rent. The first proposals were made for use of the new deregulation order- making power.

An Act has been passed to create a Jobseeker's Allowance, reforming benefits for unemployed people and giving them better help into work.

The Sunday licensing hours have been revised.

My Government continued to pursue a programme of privatisation with the successful sale of the coal mining activities of British Coal. They published a White Paper on the future prospects for nuclear power in the United Kingdom and began work to transfer parts of the industry to the private sector.

An Act has been passed which takes forward my Government's commitment to sustainable development and the protection of the environment.

The criminal justice system has been improved through legislation to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and to provide statutory authority for a compensation scheme for victims of violent crime. Legislation has also been enacted to reform the Scottish criminal justice system and the law relating to children and their families in Scotland. Legislation has been passed to combat discrimination against disabled people; to improve child support; to equalise the State Pension age between men and women; and to improve security, equality and choice in non-state pensions.

Health services have been strengthened. An Act has been passed to make further improvements to the management of the National Health Service. There has also been legislation to provide for people with a severe mental disorder discharged from hospital to be cared for under supervision, and to increase the powers of the General Medical Council to deal with doctors whose professional performance is seriously deficient.

Further successful use has been made of new procedures for enacting uncontroversial measures of law reform.

Other important measures have been enacted.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may attend you. Thereafter a Commission for proroguing the Parliament was read, after which the Lord Chancellor said:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons: by virtue of Her Majesty's Commission which has now been read, we do, in Her Majesty's name, and in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands prorogue this Parliament to Wednesday the fifteenth day of this instant November, to be then here holden and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Wednesday the fifteenth day of this instant November."

End of the Third Session (opened on 16 November 1994) of the Fifty-First Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in the Forty-Third Year of the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.

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