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House of Lords

Tuesday, 30th April 2002.

The House met at ten of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Southwark.

The Queen's Golden Jubilee:

Address to Her Majesty

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now proceed to Westminster Hall for the purpose of presenting the humble Address which the House ordered yesterday to be presented to Her Majesty, and that thereafter the House do adjourn during pleasure and do meet again in this Chamber at half-past two o'clock.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House proceeded to Westminster Hall accordingly, for the purpose of presenting to Her Majesty an Address of congratulation in accordance with the Resolution of yesterday. The Commons also assembled in the Hall for a similar purpose.

The Address from the House of Lords, read by the Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg), was as follows: "Most Gracious Sovereign,

    "We gather here today in Westminster Hall to celebrate, and to give thanks for, 50 years of Your reign and 50 years of dedicated public service. This historic Hall itself symbolises the continuity of our system of Government. Many great State occasions have been held here and, most recently, in 2000 You honoured us with Your presence when You opened the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.

    "The Commonwealth is one of the greatest achievements of Your reign. In 1952, it consisted of only a handful of countries and You were Head of State of most. Now it comprises 54 independent countries which recognise You as Head of the Commonwealth. The countries of the Commonwealth represent more than a quarter of the world's population. The Commonwealth is extraordinarily diverse in language, colour and creed. Occasionally, as all families do, it experiences differences of opinion, but it is generally united by values, which you have done so much to promote. The presence today of so many High Commissioners marks the affection in which Your Majesty is held across the Commonwealth.

    "The 50 years of Your Majesty's reign have been years of astounding change and progress.

    "We recall, from the early years: the conquest of Everest; the first scheduled Jet flight of the Comet; the breaking, by Roger Bannister, of the barrier of the four-minute mile; and, Your Majesty, Lester Piggott becoming, at 18, the youngest Derby winner.

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    "Nothing, however, prepared us for the extraordinary events to come—Sputniks orbiting the earth; Neil Armstrong landing on the moon; and Voyagers 1 and 2 reaching and photographing in amazing detail the outer planets.

    "In medicine the curses of polio and diphtheria have been eliminated. The identification of the structure of DNA has unlocked the mysteries of the genetic code. Surgery now performs operations once thought impossible.

    "In technology, who would have imagined the mobile phone, the compact disc, or the sophistication of computers and the Internet?

    "Who would have predicted the sudden collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Empire, or that the Cold War would be replaced by the threat of international terrorism?

    "At home, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all now have their own Parliament or Assemblies, giving stronger expression to the diversity of the United Kingdom.

    "As our constitution has democratically evolved, so the Monarchy, under Your guidance, has adapted too. You have encouraged and rewarded the spirit of voluntary service and co-operation and You have set a powerful example by Your own selfless devotion to duty. You have hosted 88 State visits to this country and travelled abroad to make 75 State visits Yourself.

    "In the face of change you have remained a constant in our affections. The Royal Family has been able to perform its myriad duties at home and abroad with much less formality than 25 years ago. The Royal Website, Royal.Gov.UK, is extremely popular. It is a far-sighted and effective link with the people. You have opened Buckingham Palace to visitors and, during this Jubilee year, You plan to visit more parts of the United Kingdom than ever before.

    "Your Majesty, You know that I, unlike the President of Your Most Honourable Privy Council, am no horseman, and I can claim no expertise on matters equine, but Your love of horses and horse racing is well known to thousands of Your people who share this love. We wish Your Majesty every success on the turf in Your Jubilee year.

    "We are particularly pleased that His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, has accompanied Your Majesty today. All Your people know that, throughout Your reign, His Royal Highness has been Your 'strength and stay' and has contributed greatly in his own right to the achievements of Your 50 years on the Throne.

    "And of course we must not forget that only two of Your predecessors since the fourteenth century, King George III and Queen Victoria, celebrated Golden Jubilees and, so, Your Majesty, You are a member of a very special group.

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    "We hope that the sadness of the early months of this year will begin to fade in the warmth of the affection of Your people, as Your Golden Jubilee Celebrations take Your Majesty to the four corners of the country.

    "Your Majesty, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament Assembled, give thanks for this Golden Jubilee. We look forward to Your reign continuing for many years to come; and, as at Your Coronation, we pray that You and Your realms may 'continually enjoy peace, plenty and prosperity'".

Her Majesty's Reply

Her Majesty's gracious Speech in reply was as follows: "My Lords and Members of the House of Commons.

    "You do Prince Philip and me a great honour in inviting us here today. I am most grateful to have this opportunity to reply to your Loyal Addresses and I thank you both, Lord Chancellor and Mr Speaker, for your generous words.

    "It is right that the first major event to mark my Golden Jubilee this summer is here in the Palace of Westminster. I would like to pay tribute to the work you do in this, the Mother of Parliaments—where you, like so many famous predecessors before you, have assembled to confront the issues of the day, to challenge each other and address differences through debate and discussion, and to play your essential part in guiding this Kingdom through the changing times of the past 50 years.

    "For if a Jubilee becomes a moment to define an age, then for me we must speak of change—its breadth and accelerating pace over these years. Since 1952 I have witnessed the transformation of the international landscape through which this country must chart its course, the emergence of the Commonwealth, the growth of the European Union, the end of the Cold War, and now the dark threat of international terrorism. This has been matched by no less rapid developments at home, in the devolved shape of our nation, in the structure of society, in technology and communications, in our work and in the way we live. Change has become a constant; managing it has become an expanding discipline. The way we embrace it defines our future.

    "It seems to me that this country has advantages to exploit in this exciting challenge. We in these islands have the benefit of a long and proud history. This not only gives us a trusted framework of stability and continuity to ease the process of change, but it also tells us what is of lasting value. Only the passage of time can filter out the ephemeral from the enduring. And what endure are the characteristics that mark our identity as a nation and the timeless values that guide us. These values find expression in our national institutions—including the Monarchy and Parliament—

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    institutions which in turn must continue to evolve if they are to provide effective beacons of trust and unity to succeeding generations.

    "I believe that many of the traditional values etched across our history equip us well for this age of change. We are a moderate, pragmatic people, more comfortable with practice than theory. With an off-shore, seafaring tradition we are outward-looking and open-minded, well suited by temperament—and language—to our shrinking world. We are inventive and creative—think of the record of British inventions over the past 50 years or our present thriving arts scene. We also take pride in our tradition of fairness and tolerance—the consolidation of our richly multicultural and multifaith society, a major development since 1952, is being achieved remarkably peacefully and with much goodwill.

    "But there is another tradition in this country which gives me confidence for the future. That is the tradition of service. The willingness to 'honour one another and seek the common good' transcends social change. Over these 50 years on visits up and down this country I have seen at first hand and met so many people who are dedicating themselves quietly and selflessly to the service of others.

    "I would particularly pay tribute to the young men and women of our Armed Forces who give such professional service to this country often in most demanding and dangerous circumstances. They have my respect and admiration. I also wish to express my gratitude for the work of those in the public service more widely—here in Westminster or the corridors of Whitehall and town halls, as well as in our hospitals and schools, in the police and emergency services. But I would especially like to thank those very many people who give their time voluntarily to help others. I am pleased that the Jubilee is to be marked by the introduction of The Queen's Golden Jubilee Award, a new annual award for voluntary service by groups in the community. I hope this will give added recognition to those whose generosity of time and energy in the service of others is such a remarkable tradition in our society.

    "These enduring British traditions and values—moderation, openness, tolerance, service—have stood the test of time, and I am convinced they will stand us in good stead in the future. I hope that the Golden Jubilee will be an opportunity to recognise these values and to celebrate all we have achieved as a nation since 1952. For my part, as I travel the length and breadth of these islands over these coming weeks, I would like to thank people everywhere for the loyalty, support, and inspiration you have given me over these 50 unforgettable years. I would like to express my pride in our past and my confidence in our future. I would like above all to declare my resolve to continue, with the support of my family, to serve the people of this great nation of ours to the best of my ability through the changing times ahead".

House adjourned to the Chamber of Parliament.

House adjourned during pleasure.

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House resumed at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

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