HC Deb 07 February 1917 vol 90 cc9-11

I have to acquaint the House that this House has this day attended His Majesty in the House of Peers, to hear His Majesty's most Gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament in pursuance of His Majesty's Commands, and of which I have, for greater accuracy, obtained a copy:

My Lords, and Gentlemen,

For the third time in succession I summon you to your deliberations in the midst of war.

Certain overtures, of which you are aware, have been made by the enemy with a view to the opening of peace negotiations. Their tenour, however, indicated no possible basis for peace.

My people throughout the Empire and My faithful and heroic Allies remain steadfastly and unanimously resolved to secure the just demands for reparation and restitution in respect of the past and the guarantees for the future which we regard as essential to the progress of civilisation. In response to an invitation from the President of the United States of America, we have outlined, so far as can be done at present, the general objects necessarily implied by these aims. The threats of further outrages upon public law and the common rights of humanity will but serve to steel our determination.

During the winter months My Navy has maintained unchallenged its ceaseless watch on the Seas and has enforced with rigour the blockade of the enemy. My Armies have conducted successful operations not only in Europe but in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and East Africa, and they are fully prepared to renew the great struggle, in close and cordial co-operation with my Allies, on every field. I trust that their united efforts will carry the successes already won to a victorious conclusion.

I have invited representatives of My Dominions and of My Indian Empire, which have borne so glorious a share in the struggle, to confer with My Ministers on important questions of common interest relating to the war. The step so taken will, I trust, conduce to the establishment of closer relations between all parts of My Empire.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

You will be asked to make the necessary provision for the effective prosecution of the war.

My Lords, and Gentlemen,

The accomplishment of the task to which I have set My hand will entail unsparing demands on the energies and resources of all My subjects. I am assured, however, that My people will respond to every call necessary for the success of our cause with the same indomitable ardour and devotion that have filled Me with pride and gratitude since the war began.

I therefore confidently commend to your patriotism the measures which will be laid before you, and I pray that Almighty God may give His blessing to your counsels.