HL Deb 25 July 1916 vol 22 c910

My Lords, I desire to ask His Majesty's Government whether they would consider the advisability of immediately inviting the Right Hon. W. M. Hughes to return to this country that he may take his share in the management of the war as a member of the Inner War Council of the Empire. My excuse for asking this—if any were needed—would be found in the great feeling which exists in this country that Mr. Hughes ought to be invited to return. There is evidence from all parts of the country indicating that the one man people are asking for is Mr. Hughes.


My Lords, it will be remembered that in the first instance Mr. Hughes came over here from Australia to discuss certain questions which particularly concerned both countries, principally questions of shipping, and some relating to the supply of metals and of grain. We all know how numerous and important the activities of Mr. Hughes were while he was in this country; and having been a fellow member with him of the British representation on the Economic Conference at Paris, I am, of course, specially qualified to bear witness to the importance and value of his services. On the other hand, it must, of course, be remembered that Mr. Hughes has his duty to his own people. I understand that in sections of the Australian Press some resentment was expressed even at the postponement of Mr. Hughes's return, which took place in order to enable him to attend the Conference at Paris. There were points connected with recruiting and a number of financial questions in Australia on which it was held that his presence there was required. I am afraid, in those circumstances, that it would not be possible or desirable for us to attempt to put fresh pressure upon Mr. Hughes in order to induce him to return once more to this country.


I am disappointed, I must say, at the noble Marquess's answer; and I will draw attention to the matter again on some future occasion.