The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): My Lords, it not being convenient for Her Majesty to be personally present here this day, she has been pleased to cause a Commission under the Great Seal to be prepared for proroguing this present Parliament.
Then, the Lords Commissioners (being the Lord Chancellor, the Viscount Cranborne, the Lord Ampthill, the Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, and the Lord Richard) being present and the Commons being at the Bar, the Lord Chancellor said: My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, Her Majesty, not thinking fit to be personally present here at this time, has been pleased to cause a Commission to be issued under the Great Seal, and thereby given Her Royal Assent to divers Acts which have been agreed upon by both Houses of Parliament, the Titles whereof are particularly mentioned, and by the said Commission has commanded Us to declare and notify Her Royal Assent to the said several Acts, in the presence of you the Lords and Commons assembled for that purpose; and has also assigned to us and other Lords directed full power and authority in Her Majesty's name to prorogue this present Parliament. Which Commission you will now hear read.
The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, and by virtue of the Commission which has been now read, We do declare and notify to you, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons in Parliament assembled, that Her Majesty has given Her Royal Assent to the several Acts in the Commission mentioned; and the Clerks are required to pass the same in the usual Form and Words.
Atomic Energy Authority Act, Civil Evidence Act, Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act, Criminal Procedure (Consequential Provisions) (Scotland) Act, Law Reform (Succession) Act, Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Act, Statute Law (Repeals) Act, Gas Act, Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act, Northern Ireland (Remission of Sentences) Act,
"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.
"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
"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, 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.
"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 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 powers.
"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.
"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.
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