HC Deb 03 June 1915 vol 72 cc7-8

I may perhaps be permitted to take advantage of that indulgence which the House has usually afforded to Ministers who retire from Office to refer very briefly to the subject of my resignation. I can assure the House that, so far as matter of policy is concerned, no difference has arisen to my knowledge between my colleagues and myself. Last Monday week I saw a circular issued by the Prime Minister, asking the Members of the Cabinet to place their resignations in his hands. It was intimated to us that in the national interest he thought it was necessary to introduce Members of other political parties into the Cabinet. I cannot allude to the reasons which induced the Prime Minister to take so unusual a course. I admit that I am not fully apprised of them. But I realise, at any rate, that this is not a moment for criticism in regard to the Coalition Government or its personnel, or for anything to be said which might diminish or undermine its authority. It seems to me rather that our attention, thoughts, and efforts should be almost solely directed to helping our brave soldiers in the trenches and our heroic sailors on the sea. The Prime Minister is in possession of knowledge which we do not share, and without disclosing the reasons by which he has been influenced, he asks us to rely on his judgment. Such an appeal to me was quite superfluous. Ever since the Prime Minister assumed the position of Premier, when I became in the first instance his Chief Whip, I perhaps have seen more of the Prime Minister than I have seen of any other individual Member of this House, and I can truthfully say that there is no man I have ever known in whose political judgment I have placed more implicit trust and confidence, or whom I am more disposed to follow at the present moment. I admit that at a time when we are fighting for all that we hold dear, when we are engaged in a life and death struggle with a wonderfully organised enemy, I am anxious to do more, rather than less, for my country. I am sorry to give up the administrative work with which I have recently been associated, and in which I have taken an ever increasing interest, especially at the present juncture, in connection with the new scheme I have recently propounded to the House, for the development of research and the application of science to industry, upon which I had just embarked with the approval of the Prime Minister and the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, But I recognise that we must all be ready, when called upon, to make sacrifices, if by so doing we promote the great end that we are all striving to attain. I suspect that many Members of this House feel that they, too, are called upon to make a sacrifice in giving their support to a Coalition Ministry. In conclusion, may I take this opportunity to thank my fellow Members in all parts of the House for the unvarying courtesy, consideration, and kindness which they have extended to me during the past eighteen years of my official life in this House.