We also received an undertaking from the Russian Government in return for the advances which we were prepared to make, that Russia would facilitate the export of Russian produce of every kind that may be required by the allied countries. This, I believe, will be one of the most fruitful parts of the arrangements entered into. An arrangement has also been made about the purchases by the allied countries in the neutral countries. There was a good deal of confusion. We were all buying in practically the same countries; we were buying against each other; we were putting up prices; it ended not merely in confusion, but I am afraid in a good deal of extravagance, because we were increasing prices against each other. It was very necessary that there should be some working arrangement that would eliminate this element of competition and enable us to co-ordinate, as it were, these orders. There will be less delay, there will be much more efficiency, and we shall avoid a good deal of the extravagance which was inevitable owing to the competition between the three countries.
I have done my best to summarize very briefly the arrangements which have been entered into, and I would only like to say this in conclusion. After six months of negotiation by the cable and three days of conferring face to face we realized that better results were achieved by means of a few hours of businesslike discussion by men anxious to come to a workable arrangement than by reams of correspondence. Misconceptions and misunderstandings were cleared away in a second which otherwise might take weeks to ferment into mischief, and it was our conclusion that these conferences might with profit to the cause of the Allies be extended to other spheres of co-operation. [Cheers.]
By H.H. Asquith, England’s Prime Minister
Stating the estimated costs of the war to Great Britain, outlining the operations of the French and British allied fleets in the Dardanelles, declaring the Allies’ position in retaliation for the German “war zone” decree against Great Britain, and reaffirming the chief terms of peace, stated in his Guildhall speech of last November, on which alone England would consent to sheathe the sword, the following speech, delivered in the House of Commons on March 1, 1915, by Prime Minister Asquith, is one of the most important of the war.
In Committee of Supply.
Mr. Asquith, who was loudly cheered on rising, moved the supplementary vote of credit of L37,000,000 to meet the expenditure on naval and military operations and other expenditure arising out of the war during the year 1914-1915. He said: