Skip to main content

Prime Minister's Statement

Volume 117: debated on Monday 30 June 1919

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

After Question No. 99 had been answered, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lloyd-George) entered the Chamber, and was greeted with loud cheers, nearly all the hon. Members rising and joining in the greeting. When the cheering had concluded, hon. Members sang "God Save the King."

Before I ask a question of which I have given private notice may I—as I think I can on this occasion, on behalf of the whole House—express our hearty congratulations to our most distinguished colleague the Prime Minister, who is back among us again after discharging duties as arduous and as responsible as have ever been undertaken by any British Minister? The question I wish to ask is: On what day will the Prime Minister make a statement to the House with regard to the Peace Treaty?

I wish to thank my right hon. Friend for the very kind words which he has just uttered. It has, indeed, been a very anxious time, because of the gigantic character of the interests concerned, and the fear lest any failing on my part should prejudice those interests. I think that it would meet the convenience of the House if I made on Thursday next my statement with regard to the Treaty of Peace signed on Saturday, which brought to an end the most sanguinary war of modern times, or, indeed, the most sanguinary war that has ever been waged in this world. The document then signed is the most comprehensive and far-reaching Treaty which has ever probably been concluded, whether you regard the number and the might of the nations who are parties to it, whether you regard the infinite variety of the interests or the vastness of the territories affected, or whether you regard the great and promising new experiments which are embodied in it, and which may alter the whole character of the affairs of the world, and give a new turn to the destiny of mankind. I think it would be better that I should wait until I get the authentic copy of that great document. I hope to be in a position to lay it on the Table of the House, certainly by Thursday, and, if possible, I shall introduce on that occasion a Bill which will enable the Government to give effect to its provisions, and I shall take the opportunity, with the permission of the House, of saying something about the Treaty itself and the methods of its execution.

May I ask whether the question to be proposed in the House on Thursday will leave the opportunity open to the House to discuss the statement of the Prime Minister?

I certainly contemplate that there will be a discussion, and I think it would be desirable that views should be freely expressed upon the general character of the Treaty. I do not suppose it would be possible to discuss it in detail until the House has an authentic copy of the Treaty, and has had an opportunity of examining it in all its details. Of course, it is a very vast document.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will declare a public holiday to commemorate this day, and let it be a recognised anniversary?

I think a statement will be made on the question of the Peace celebration by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House tomorrow.

On a point of Order. We have just witnessed one of the most historic scenes that this ancient House has witnessed. Every Member has subscribed fealty to the Crown. I notice the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Neil Maclean) remained in his seat. I hope that a record will be made that although he has sworn fealty to the Crown, he showed disrespect in this great crisis.