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Speech Archive

Leader's speech, Nottingham 1912

Herbert Asquith (Liberal)

Location: Nottingham


At the time of this conference, Britain was working with the other Great Powers to bring the war in Eastern Europe to an end. However, Asquith’s speech focused on domestic politics, where a Commons Committee had reached two conflicting decisions on the financial clauses of the Home Rule Bill. Following an appeal by the Speaker, the original resolution was carried. He also denied the charge that the Liberals would immediately begin the reform of the House of Lords, stating that there would be an interim period between the passage of the Parliament Act and the reconstitution of the Second Chamber. A further issue was Tariff Reform, which Asquith believed was the most serious threat facing the country at that time.

Before I enter, as I shall in a moment, the controversial arena of domestic politics, I think it right to say a word in regard to the international situation. It is a fortnight since, at the Guildhall, I endeavoured to define in clear and precise terms the attitude of this country and, as I then believed and still believe, that of the other Great Powers, in face of the war which is unhappily still raging in Eastern Europe. That attitude has not, so far as I know, been in any way changed or modified. We are all anxious to stop the further effusion of blood between the actual combatants. We are even more anxious to limit and circumscribe the field of possible conflict. The Powers are working together to that end, and I repeat today, and I am glad to be able to do so, that while we and others retain with unabated constancy our friendships and understandings, we are satisfied that there is no division of wish or purpose in the co-operative policy of all; and that it is in the best interests of peace and of ultimate stability that special and particular questions should, as far as possible, be reserved to be dealt with when the time comes, as part of the general and definitive settlement.

Tory Attitude Towards Past and Present Liberal Leaders

It is twenty-five years exactly since, as one of the rank and file of the Liberal party, I addressed a meeting of the National Liberal Federation here in Nottingham. Mr. Gladstone, our then illustrious leader, was present, and we were in the first stage of the campaign which we are today bringing to a close. I feel that I do not deserve many of the kind things that you were good enough to say of me, but they are a welcome change from much of the language which I am accustomed both to hear and to read. So long as I possess the confidence of my friends, I am indifferent to what is said on the other side. I am constantly told - indeed, it is one of the platitudes of Tory invective - that I am a past master in the art of political chicanery. I remember well that, at the time to which I have just referred, exactly the same thing used to be said, from exactly the same quarters, of Mr. Gladstone. Now, in these days, if Mr. Gladstone is not actually canonised in the Tory calendar, his name is rarely invoked except to contrast his patriotism and straight­forwardness with the partisanship and the obliquities of his decadent and degenerate successors. I do not presume, and never shall, to measure myself with that great man, but I am not without hope that, when the time comes for me to seek and to obtain repose, and to hand over the leadership of the Liberal party to still darker and more dangerous spirits, as the years roll by, and the past recedes, and the mists accumulate, I may soften into a gracious legendary figure, and some Tory orator of the future, some yet unborn Carson, will be found laying a belated wreath of rhetorical immortelles upon my humble tomb.

The Presence of Mr. Redmond

I am quite sure of this, that if the cup of my offences was not already full to overflowing, the last necessary drop will be supplied by the presence tonight on this platform of Mr. John Redmond. Whether our appearance here tonight is to be represented as an act of subservience on my part or an act of subservience on Mr. Redmond’s part depends entirely on whether the picture is intended to be exhibited in Great Britain or in Ireland. We Liberals - and I am sure I am speaking in your name - are heartily glad to see him here, and we perceive nothing unnatural, nothing derogatory to the best traditions of our political life, in the fact that there should be co-operation on the platform as well as in the House of Commons between those who are carrying on in concert, and without the sacrifice of conviction or principle, either on the one side or on the other, a common campaign for a great and a worthy cause.

The Finance of the Home Rule Bill

If you ask me how that cause is faring at Westminster, my answer is, ‘Very well.’ We are now in the midst of what is in some ways the most intricate and difficult part of the Home Rule Bill, the financial clauses, the active supervision of which I have largely delegated to the most capable hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Herbert Samuel, with the ever ready help of our two brilliant Law Officers, and with, as always - and perhaps in this controversy it is our most invaluable personal asset - the genial and unfailing sagacity of Mr. Birrell. In all its essential features, and I am sure Mr. Redmond will agree with me here, our financial scheme is weathering the storm of criticism. It becomes more and more apparent, in fact, as discussion proceeds, that the only real alternative to it is the continuance and development of the present vicious system of giving Ireland, year by year, a constantly swelling stream of doles and gifts from the British Exchequer, while leaving untouched, without any motive or incentive to retrenchment, the extravagant costliness of Irish administration.

A ‘Momentary and Accidental Reverse’

It is true that last week in this matter of Irish finance we suffered a momentary and accidental reverse, which involved the loss of valuable time. So much nonsense has been talked and written with regard to this incident and our method of dealing with it that I must once more, in as few words as possible, state the plain facts. On Thursday in the previous week our financial resolution was carried in Committee, after a full debate, by a majority of no fewer than 121. On the following Monday, after a perfunctory discussion of less than half an hour on an amendment of which no notice had ever been given, that amendment, which made the whole resolution futile and unworkable, was carried by a majority of 21. It was obvious that the two decisions could not be reconciled, and it was plainly necessary, unless the Government thought fit, as they did not, to abandon the Bill and resign office, that steps should be taken without delay to ascertain which of the two contradictory votes represented the considered judgment of the House of Commons.

The Government’s ‘Simple and Direct’ Proposal

The case was a wholly exceptional one; conflicting and opposite decisions had been given on the same point in the course of a single week. It seemed to us, and I think we were perfectly right, that the simple and direct course, well warranted by Parliamentary precedent, a course which would have been adopted in any other assembly of business men, was to ask the House to cancel the second vote and to restore the first. We hear a great deal about the sacro-sanctity of our Parliamentary forms and the procedure which has been consecrated by the usages of 300 years. It is curious to recall that only ten years ago Mr. Balfour, the Leader of the Tory party, pro­posed to abolish all discussion on these money resolutions - they were to be decided upon without amendment or debate. If that plan had been adopted there could have been no Banbury amendment at all. So you see there is nothing so very sacrosanct after all about these Parliamentary forms.

A ‘Scene of Disorder and Violence’

But what was the result? The result was a scene of disorder and violence which happily has few parallels in the history of the House of Commons. The Speaker made an appeal, and in response to his appeal we adopted a more circuitous method of obtaining precisely the same result. That result has been obtained, the obnoxious amendment has been wiped out, the original resolution has been restored in all its essential details by practically the same majority by which it was in the first instance passed. In other words, the second division in the House has proved to be wholly misleading, and the first to represent the true judgment of an overwhelming majority. I see that in some quarters this result is represented as a triumph for the Opposition and a humiliation for the Government - a triumph for them, when we accomplished our purpose; a humilia­tion for us, when its accomplishment was not prevented but delayed by the degradation of the House of Commons! I gladly make them a present of the only triumph they can claim - namely, the consump­tion and loss of four or five days of Parliamentary time.

The Price of this ‘Barren Victory’

But there is something much more serious than that. Have they reflected, do they reflect, at what a price this barren victory has been purchased? I deprecate disorder, either outside or inside the House of Commons, by whomsoever it is originated, because I believe it to be fatal to the first principles of Parliamentary and Constitutional Government. I warned the Tory party six weeks ago that their Blenheim and Ulster performances earlier in the autumn would leave them without one shred of moral title to resist any course the majority of the Irish people might take in the event - happily in the highest degree improbable - of a denial of Home Rule. Now, this demonstration, conceived upon the same lines and in the same spirit, that a minority can, by shouting and tumult, bring the Parliamentary machine to a standstill, will not fail to be remembered and cited in the future if, when the Tory party is in power with a majority, not subject, as we are, to the restrictions of the Parliament Act, but capable of registering upon the Statute book any of its decrees at will through the automatic compliance of a partisan House of Lords - if, I say, with such a majority in power, the minority should be so ill-advised as to follow their example. That is the strange pass to which the party of law and order has been reduced.

The Tory Theory of the Parliament Act

The whole theory upon which the Opposition, not only to the Home Rule Bill, but to all our measures, has been conducted rests upon this assumption - the assumption that, having passed the Parliament Act after strenuous controversy and after a General Election it had been approved by a large majority of the electorate, we are constitutionally debarred, after all we have said and done, from making any effective use of it. That is a very peculiar position, when you come to examine it, to take up. All this time, all this labour, all this controversy has been expended for absolutely nothing. The latter-day Tory seems to spend a large part of his working hours in hunting for our broken pledges. It is becoming an obsession with him, and the results are sometimes pathetic, but more frequently grotesque. I shall have to consider later, in view of their own promises, what are the moral qualifications of these gentlemen to complain of broken pledges.

The Charge of ‘Election Trickery’

First, you will allow me to examine very briefly and dispose of - not for the first time - the charges they bring against us, which by frequent repetition may obtain credence in the minds of people of short memory. The first is - I am almost ashamed to go back upon it, but I am obliged to - the charge of what is called ‘election trickery’; in other words, that we carefully concealed from the electors in November and December, 1910, that Home Rule was an issue, and, consequently, that our introduction of the Home Rule Bill was a fraud upon the constituencies. I should like on that point before I say a word about the actual facts, to quote a rather remarkable passage from a speech made by Mr. Balfour at Manchester towards the end of his term of office in January, 1905. He used some very striking words. He said: ‘What is the charge? It is that the present Government are in office immorally and illegitimately, that the election was taken upon a particular issue’ - that was the war, you will remember - ‘that one question was before the country at the time and absorbed men’s attention, and that consequently all legislation outside that one issue is legislation for which… we are without a mandate.’ What did Mr. Balfour say about that? ‘That is an entirely new constitutional theory; and it is not only new, but it is fundamentally, essentially, a vicious theory; and, much more than that, it is a theory invented by the Opposition quite late in the day when they began to think it would be convenient to get rid of the present Government.’ That is what Mr. Balfour said in 1905. Even if we had said nothing at the Election about our intentions as to Home Rule, we should have been doing, after all, no worse than the Government which, after the khaki election, introduced the Education Bill; and we should be well within the shelter of Mr. Balfour’s constitutional principle.

Lord Lansdowne’s Evidence

As a matter of fact, we did nothing of the kind. We gave the fullest and most explicit notice; and the evidence is overwhelming that at the General Election of 1910 it was universally recognised and understood. I made it perfectly plain the year before - in my speech at the Albert Hall in December, 1909 - and whatever may be said of us now, we were certainly not dependent on the Irish vote then. I repeated it in the clearest and plainest terms at the commencement of the Election of 1910, addressing the delegates of this Federation at Hull. It is just as well in these matters to take unimpeachable testimony, and I will not go to any partisan authority. On November 30th, before a vote had been given in the Election of 1910, Lord Lansdowne, the Leader then as now of the Tory Party in the House of Lords, speaking at Portsmouth, said: ‘Mr. Asquith’ - that is me - ‘to my mind has made it perfectly clear’ - not a matter of inference, to be drawn from circum­stances, but that I, the Leader of the Liberal Party, then as now the Prime Minister of the country, had made it clear - what? ‘That the first step that will be taken will be to deal with the question of Home Rule.’ I am quite content with that testimony; it remains on record, and it cannot be contradicted. It is impossible to explain it away.

The Allegation as to Immediate Reform of the House of Lords

Now let us come to the second charge. It is this - that we have failed to perform what is, I think, properly described as a debt of honour - the carrying out of the intention declared in the preamble of the Parliament Act. In other words, that if we kept faith with the electors we ought to be devoting this Session to a scheme for the reconstruction of the House of Lords. I undertake to say that if you look at the records of the General Election of December, 1910, there was not a single speaker on either side who ever said or suggested anything of the kind, nor was there a single elector who gave his vote either on one side or the other upon that hypothesis I said in the House of Commons, when this ridiculous charge was first put forward at the beginning of the present Session, speaking on February 20th, ‘I want to know by whom, when, and where was any promise ever given that in the next Session after the passing of the Parliament Act the Government would proceed with proposals for the reconstitution of the Second Chamber.’ ‘That,’ I said, ‘is a very specific question and it demands a specific answer, and the answer is - Nowhere, at no time, and by nobody.’

What the Preamble of the Parliament Act Says

Indeed, these people have not read the preamble of the Parliament Act. What does it say? It recites an intention to substitute for the present House of Lords a new Second Chamber, and it goes on to say that such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation. Further, it says, ‘And whereas pro­vision will require hereafter to be made by Parliament in a measure effecting such substitution for limiting and defining the powers of the new Second Chamber, but it is expedient to make such pro­vision as in this Act appears for restricting the existing powers of the House of Lords.’ Could anything more clearly indicate an intervening period between the passing of the Act and the re­constitution of the Second Chamber? And it provides what in the interval is to be done to restrict the existing powers of the present House of Lords. I may tell those gentlemen who are so solicitous about the redemption of our debt of honour that the Government is engaged in the careful consideration of the reconstruction promised in the preamble, and in due course our proposals will be submitted for Parliamentary discussion.

The ‘Suspension’ of the Constitution

They talk about the suspension of the Constitution! The Constitution is much more rational now than it has ever been within the lifetime of any one of us, more rational in the sense that it is less uneven between the two parties in the State, but it still leaves a great deal to be desired. We are still handicapped, we are still under this disability - we cannot pass a Liberal measure into law of a controversial kind, and of the first importance, if it has not been through three Sessions of the House of Commons and been two years before Parliament; and in the meantime we are absolutely at the mercy of an irresponsible and partisan assembly. If the Tories come into power tomorrow the Parliament Act dis­appears completely. They can pass any measure they please in the course of a single Session. Therefore, if ever there was a party which had a direct interest in putting an end to that state of things, and in bringing the Second Chamber into something like harmony with the principles of justice and equity, it is the Liberal Party.

Not More Than One Controversial Bill a Session

I am sorry to keep you so long, but it is necessary to run these things to earth. The Opposition has recently discovered, or professes to have discovered, that I gave something in the nature of a pledge that we would not introduce more than one Bill, or more than one controversial Bill, in one Session. That suggestion was never dreamt of in the earlier months of the year, never even hinted when we introduced into the House of Commons, in the spring and the summer, first the Home Rule Bill, then the Welsh Church Bill, and then the Franchise Bill. It has been unearthed by what I cannot help thinking a very misplaced industry in the course of the Autumn Sitting, and unearthed for the purpose of prejudicing the Welsh Church Bill. Let us examine it for a moment, though really it is a mare’s nest of a most absurd and grotesque kind.

Lack of Foundation for this Allegation

What really happened was this. In the course of the discussion last year, when the Parliament Bill was in Committee, Mr. Peel, as he was then, moved an amendment providing that the provisions of the Parliament Act should only apply to one Bill in a Session - the very thing to which I am now supposed to have pledged myself. I was representing the Government; I got up and opposed the amendment, and it was rejected by a majority of 83. The imaginary picture the mover of the amendment drew was that we or some other Government might ‘pile up’ a great number of Bills, ‘deluge’ the country, and overwork the House of Commons. I said that was an alarming but a perfectly unfounded representation of what was likely to happen. I said the limits to the power of human and Parlia­mentary endurance afforded adequate safeguards, and I said we could not accept any artificial limit to the right of the House of Commons to pass more than one Bill in one Session. See how it was interpreted at the time. Mr. Long said he was not surprised at what I said, because it was quite obvious that three measures in one Session would be the minimum to meet the requirements of the Government in order to give satisfaction to the different sections which supported them. Another, unofficial, Tory member, in order to clinch the matter got up and said, ‘I presume the Prime Minister will not deny that next Session the Government will introduce a Home Rule Bill, a Scottish Land Bill, and a Welsh Disestablishment Bill. He has got to do so.’

The Tories and Their Referendum Pledge

But let us turn from our own misdeeds and make a short incur­sion into the enemy’s territory. I am going to ask you to consider a very serious matter. What, in this matter of the redemption of electoral pledges, is the record of those gentlemen who are day and night bringing charges against us? You will remember the con­troversy which raged at the time of the last election in regard to what was called the Referendum. In 1907, when Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman’s resolution was before the House of Commons, Mr. Balfour said the Referendum was alien to our traditions. But before long he gave, as you know, a rapid and complete consent to the greatest innovation that has been proposed in our time in our Parliamentary and constitutional system. The Referendum began by being commended as a solvent for disputes between the Houses, but it was soon found to be capable of, as it was then thought, other and more convenient applications.

Mr. Balfour’s Albert Hall Pledges

At the General Election of December, 1910, it was all-important for the Tory party to secure the Unionist Free Trade vote, and, accordingly, at the very beginning of the election, on November 29th, in the Albert Hall, Mr. Balfour used these remarkable words: ‘I frankly say that without any question Tariff Reform is a great change. I admit that this election - or any election perhaps, cer­tainly this election - cannot be described as taken upon Tariff Reform simply, but I have not the least objection to submit the principles of Tariff Reform to a Referendum.’ You will remember the enthusiasm in the Tory ranks - broken, I admit, by a few dissentient murmurs - following that memorable declaration. The audience said almost to a man: ‘This has won the election for us.’ The very same day, or the next day, Lord Lansdowne used words to the same effect; and Mr. Bonar Law, who was not then the Leader of the Unionist party, and who was fighting a very hard fight in Manchester, where the Unionist Free Traders are an im­portant element, said early in December that their leader had given a pledge that Unionists would not pass a Tariff Reform measure until the people were given an opportunity of saying whether they desired it. Much as he believed in Tariff Reform, if they found by a Referendum that the people did not want it, then he would not wish to force it upon them. Lord Milner the same day, with the air of moral superiority which our opponents so commonly assume, said: ‘He (Mr. Balfour) is not going to carry it by a side-wind. There is something which comes even before Tariff Reform, and that is straight dealing in public life.’ This was followed - and it is interesting in another connection - by the assurance of Mr. Balfour and Lord Lansdowne that not only was there to be a Referendum, but a Referendum from which plural voting was to be entirely absent. ‘Each voter,’ said Mr. Balfour, ‘will have a right to give one vote and no more. There is no plural voting, and the gross inequalities in the size of constituencies will be avoided.’

This Pledge Remained After the Election

The election took place, the majority was not secured, but the pledge remained. I say that not on my own authority, and not merely as a matter of inference, but I say it by virtue of the declara­tion of Lord Lansdowne himself. Lord Lansdowne, speaking in the House of Lords after the election, in March, 1911, made a special reference to this case and said, speaking of Mr. Balfour’s memorable announcement at the Albert Hall, ‘That pledge will, of course, be fulfilled whenever we have an opportunity of fulfilling it.’

This Pledge Now Withdrawn

Yes, but how do we stand today? These are the people who talk about broken pledges. Why, just a week ago, in the Albert Hall, we have this very same Lord Lansdowne, with the assent of Mr. Bonar Law - the presumed assent - saying: ‘We pro­posed a Referendum as a means of settling the differences between the two Houses. Our scheme was not accepted at the polls. I suggest to you that from that moment we regained our freedom. To apply it any longer to Tariff Reform is not a business proposi­tion.’ It is not a business proposition to keep a pledge, deliberately given, which, as Lord Milner said, was essential to straight dealing in public life, and which, after the election was over, Lord Lans­downe had recognised as a matter of course as a pledge which would be fulfilled whenever they had any opportunity of fulfilling it. I think the less they say about broken faith, the better for their reputation - for anything but hypocrisy.

The Tories and Tariff Reform

Now that brings me to say - if you will bear with me - two or three words upon this very matter of Tariff Reform. It has been carefully kept in the background in the by-elections in great indus­trial constituencies such as Manchester and Mid Lothian, and today at Bolton, but nevertheless, as is clear from what Lord Lansdowne and his colleagues said in the Albert Hall, it is the intention of the leaders of the Tory party, if they can obtain a majority in the next General Election, without any Referendum or anything of the kind, to incorporate Tariff Reform as part of the fiscal system in the Statute book of this country. They have tried to minimise its effects; they have told you that the increases will be small, and that, as Mr. Balfour said in 1910, and as they repeat today, there shall be no increase in the cost of living, due to any change in these taxes on consumption, which shall fall on the working man’s budget with increased severity, because, as he said, we have the power, and the power will be exercised, of reducing other indirect taxes - the taxes, for example, on tea and sugar; at all events, the taxes on the consumption of the working man.

The Consumers and the Tariff Reform Taxes

That is the statement which is presented, and upon the strength of which the votes of the constituencies are going to be invited. That brings us to very familiar ground. Let us see what it really comes to. First, it is an admission that the results of the new taxation - taxation upon corn, meat, upon dairy produce - will, or at any rate may, fall upon the consumer. I need not point out to any body of intelligent men, that if a tax is paid by the foreign producer or importer no assurance for the readjustment of the burden on the shoulders of the working classes is in the least degree necessary. That is the first point.

The Exchequer and the Tariff Reform Taxes

The second is this, and I cannot state it better than by quoting the language used by Mr. Chamberlain himself when he opened his fiscal campaign in Glasgow nine years ago. He said this, and it is perfectly true: ‘The Exchequer, when it reduces tea or sugar, loses the amount of the tax on the whole consumption’ - that is perfectly clear – ‘but when it imposes a tax on corn or upon meat it only gains the duty on a part of the consumption, since it does not collect it either upon the Colonial or upon the home production.’ So that - assuming Colonial corn came in free, which is no longer to be the case - the taxes you are invited to remit are taxes the whole benefit of which goes into the Exchequer, but the new burdens, as com­pensation for which the remission is to take place, are burdens not measured by that amount of the tax that is going into the Ex­chequer, but measured by the increased price of the whole supply.

How the Tariff Reform Scheme Works Out

You see how that works out in practice. It is very important to bring these things clearly home to the minds of the people. We have no greater, or I think more trustworthy, authority in the actual working out of these problems than my honourable friend, Mr. Chiozza Money. I see that he has actually worked out a sum - I do not, of course, though I have the greatest respect for his judg­ment and his accuracy, commit myself to his precise figures - you cannot predict with anything approaching accurate precision what will be the exact effect in pounds, shillings, and pence, or any other form of numbers, of any fiscal change. He says that if you take the import duties proposed by Mr. Chamberlain’s friends upon cereals and upon meat and dairy produce, taking the higher duty upon the foreign supply and the lower duty upon the colonial supply - he calculates that in 1912 the duty received by the Exchequer would not be more than eight millions, whereas the cost to the consumer in the increased price of the whole supply would be no less than eighteen millions. If you look at the duties, the whole benefit of which flow directly into the Exchequer, the duties on tea, sugar, cocoa, and coffee - they come in all to about 10½ millions - by a very simple calculation you will see that if the time should ever come for the redemption of this pledge that the burden to be imposed upon the consumer by the new taxes upon imported food is to be met by a diminution or some readjustment of existing taxation on food which we now consume - that it is a pledge which it is abso­lutely impossible for any Government or any party to fulfil.

On What Would the Tories Fight an Immediate General Election?

If we were to have a dissolution of Parliament tomorrow, what is the topic to which two-thirds of the Tory orators would devote themselves? Would it be Home Rule? No. Would it be Welsh Disestablishment? No. Would it even be Tariff Reform? That perhaps the least of any of the three. No; it would be an appeal dilating upon the hardships and grievances of the Insurance Act; and a majority so obtained, acting on the principle so clearly laid down by Mr. Balfour in the speech I quoted, would be used to carry Tariff Reform, with its burden of infinite suffering and loss on the working classes and upon the industries of this country, in defiance, as I still believe, of the opinion of the vast majority of the electors. I am giving my own deliberate judgment when I say to you that I think that is the greatest danger that threatens this country at the present moment.

The Threefold Duty of the Liberal Party

I have thought it necessary to go in some detail and at some length into this, and I hope you will agree it is not inappropriate that I should come back before I finish to the point at which I began. What is the duty of the Liberal party at this moment in the House of Commons and outside? On that question my answer is threefold. It is to persist without haste, but without rest, in the programme which we have laid down; to obtain all those great measures of reform upon which for a generation past the aspirations and the hopes of the progressive party in this country and in Ireland have been fixed; and to claim for those measures what they have never had before, fair play and the possibility of passing into law. We are not going to lay aside any part of the programme. We are not going to desert the cause either of Ireland or of Wales. We are going to do our best, and I believe our best will be a successful best, to secure such reform in our franchise law as will make the House of Commons a truer and more accurate reflection of the mind and will of the people. If those tasks are to be accomplished they will involve undoubtedly a long and ex­hausting Session, great effort, and much sacrifice on the part particularly of members of Parliament, and we have good reason to recognise not only with appreciation but with the warmest gratitude the splendid constancy with which all the ranks of the Progressive Party, without distinction, have, amidst almost un­exampled exigencies, responded to the exceptional calls that have been made upon them.

We Shall Persist to the End

Our divisions during this Autumn Sitting have, as a whole, surpassed anything during the present Parliament, and I believe it will be generally agreed that there never was a time in our political and Parliamentary history when there was such a good spirit, such strong, I might say sturdy, determination of the rank-and-file, of all those who support us, that these sacrifices shall not be thrown away. No great campaign was ever carried on without occasional checks and delays. It is part of the fortune of war, and we are not discouraged by the passing incidents which come today and which are forgotten tomorrow. As far as we at Westminster are con­cerned, we mean to persist to the end, and we rely upon you, whom, I believe, we represent in this matter, to give us the sympathy, support, and loyalty which has never yet failed us. If we have - and I believe you will see that we have - concentration of purpose, unity of spirit, and unshaken firmness of resolve, then, long and stormy though the voyage may have been before it comes to an end, the ship will find her way with a full cargo into the desired haven.

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