HC Deb 19 May 1915 vol 71 cc2392-3
The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

Owing to another engagement, which I could not put off, I was unable to make this Motion myself for the Adjournment, but I think it right, at the earliest possible moment, to say two or three words to the House in regard to the matters which have been the subject of public report and rumour. I cannot say more at the moment than that steps are in contemplation which involve the reconstruction of the Government on a broader, personal and political basis. Nothing is yet definitely arranged, but to avoid any possible misapprehension and, as the House is about to adjourn, I wish here and now to make clear to everybody three things.

The first is, that any change that takes place will not affect the offices of the Head of the Government or of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. They will continue to be held as they are now.

The second is, that there is absolutely no change of any kind in contemplation in the policy of the country in regard to the continued prosecution of the War with every possible energy and by means of every available resource.

The third and last point, one of great importance to my hon. Friends behind me, and I have no doubt also to hon. Gentlemen who sit behind the Leader of the Opposition, is this: Any reconstruction that may be made will be for the purposes of the War alone, and is not to be taken in any quarter as any reason for indicating anything in the nature of surrender or compromise on the part of any person or body of persons of their several political purposes and ideals.

That is really as far as I can go at the moment. As I have told the House, nothing definite has yet taken place. When and if arrangements of the kind should become an accomplished fact, the House will, of course, have the fullest opportunity of expressing itself, if it so desires, upon them.


I think it is only necessary to say on behalf of my Friends and myself that at the stage which this matter has reached our sole consideration, taking into account what further steps will be taken, will be the sole idea as to what is the best method of finishing the War successfully—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up!"]—and we shall leave out of our minds absolutely all considerations, political or otherwise, beyond the War. Of course, if such an arrangement should take place, it is obvious that our convictions on other subjects will remain unchanged and will be settled when this danger is over.