Tory policy 1951

Extract from King’s speech at the opening of new parliament after the Conservatives win General Election, 6th November, 1951 (LCO 6/2285)


My Government view with grave concern the economic situation of the United Kingdom about which a full disclosure must be made to the Nation. The recent deterioration in the balance of payments causes increasing anxiety and must be urgently remedied in order to restore the fullest confidence in the purchasing power of the pound, so that we may continue to be able to obtain from overseas the supplies necessary to maintain employment and an increasingly high level of production. The measures to this end must include drastic action to reduce the growing inflation in our economy, which threatens the maintenance of our defence programme and which, if unchecked, must cause a continuing rise in the cost of living. My Government regard this problem as overshadowing all other domestic matters. They are giving it urgent examination and will announce their conclusions and make proposals to Parliament in the immediate future. They will make a searching enquiry into Government expenditure with a view to reducing it where ever possible. While pressing on with domestic remedies they will also invite the other Governments of the Commonwealth to confer together on action which should be taken in concert to remedy the adverse balance of payments.

My Government will seek to promote flexibility in those industries which have bought under public management and to stimulate free enterprise by giving a fuller share in our economic activity. They will be mindful of the great demands on our productive capacity, and will consider all methods for creating that spirit of partnership between management and workers on which industrial harmony and a higher level of productivity must depend.

My Government view with concern the serious shortage of labour, particularly of skilled labour, which has handicapped production in a number of essential industries. They will review, in consultation with representatives of those concerned, the possibilities of making available more labour for those industries and of ensuring the best use of the existing labour force.

Proposals will be made to facilitate the extension of private road haulage activities.
A measure will be laid before you for strengthening and widening the activities of the Monopolies Commission.

You will be asked to authorise for a period the continuation in force of certain emergency enactments and defence regulations which are due to expire next month. My Ministers will, however, review the whole subject with the aim of reducing the number of these controls and regulations and, wherever possible, embodying those which must be kept in legislation requiring annual renewal by Parliament.

My Government will do their utmost to stimulate the building of new houses for My people, using to the fullest extent both public and private enterprise. Their housing policy will have regard to the desire of many people to own their own homes and to the special needs of the elderly.

In their policy towards the social services My Government will pursue the aim of ensuring efficiency and providing value for money spent.

My ministers will vigorously encourage production of food by the basic industries of agriculture, horticulture and fisheries.

Further progress will be made with consolidation of the statute of law.

Other measures will be laid before you in due course.

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

Return to Attlee’s Britain 1945-1951