Minister Graves to the Secretary of State .

No. 46.]

Sir: The formal opening of the Riksdag was held on the 15th instant, with the usual elaborate ceremonies, which have been fully described by my predecessor.

The speech from the Throne was read in a firm voice by His Majesty King Oscar II, who appeared in good health and vigor.

For your information I append hereto a rather free translation of such portions of the address as may be of interest to the Government:

The perilous days of the last year are now, God be praised, past, and a calmer time has set in. Our relations to foreign powers are satisfactory.

In order to protect our interests I have found it necessary to establish diplomatic relations with our western neighbor in advance of action by the Riksdag.

* * * * * * *

Elective franchise.—In the most important of internal affairs, namely, the extension of the elective franchise for election to the Second Chamber, a proposition will be presented to you. It is intended for extension of the elective franchise to the same extent as indicated in the propositions of 1904–5, but it differs by embracing the retention of the present system of one-man election districts, and applies the same system also in cities which have to elect several members of the Riksdag. True, I have before proposed proportionate manner of election, and I know that many well-informed and warm-hearted friends who have embraced that thought as tending to promote justice will hesitate in deserting the standpoint they have once taken. Others wish that the elective franchise should be extended still further than is indicated in the proposition.

* * * * * * *

Labor question.—Next after the elective question the workman’s question calls for the attention of the state. I hope again to be able to present to you a proposition for a law for negotiation of labor controversies, intended to prevent, to a considerable degree, the strifes so disastrous to both employer and employee, and eventualy to the whole community, such as have too often taken place of late.

To the important question of the arrangement of other relations between employer and employee, as well as to the question of old-age insurance, I am directing the most careful attention. In the latter question I may, during the session, present to you a proposition of principle. The former demands a very careful preparation, and can not be taken up by me at this Riksdag. The very strong support of industries must be the main object of the care of the state.

* * * * * * *

Free ports.—The question as to what form the bonded or free port question, which is of such great importance to commerce and navigation, should most suitably assume in being introduced into our country is under consideration.

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The budget.—The keeping up of diplomatic and consular relations requires, since the dissolution of the union (with Norway) considerable additional subventions, both for the last half of 1905 and for the present year.

Military expenditures.—During the past year I have found it necessary to make use of the small credit for military purposes. What has been used for this I consider should be replaced by a subvention in the budget * * * Maintaining and strengthening of our defense must still require great economical sacrifices. Thus, among other things, I ask for the army a larger sum for mobilization ammunition and a sum for reuniforming the army; and for the navy a subvention for building 3 new hunters (torpedo-boat destroyers) and 11 torpedo boats.

Other parts of the speech cover local affairs, also purposing, in order to meet the increased expenses, a stamp tax, “both on the transfers of stock and bank shares, and on the emission of new shares in already formed stock companies.” This is followed by a recommendation to increase the maximum limit of nontaxable income for relief of those of small means.

I have, etc.,

Charles H. Graves.