Let me add this about personal suggestions made by the German Ambassador, as distinct from communications made on behalf of his Government. He worked for peace; but real authority at Berlin did not rest with him and others like him, and that is one reason why our efforts for peace failed. [Loud cheers.]
Mr. Keir Hardie—May I ask whether any attempt was made to open up negotiations with Germany on the basis of suggestions here set forth by the German Ambassador?
Sir E. Grey—The German Ambassador did not make any basis of suggestions. It was the German Chancellor who made the basis of suggestions. The German Ambassador, speaking on his own personal initiative and without authority, asked whether we would formulate conditions on which we would be neutral. We did go into that question, and those conditions were stated to the House and made known to the German Ambassador.
Mr. Keir Hardie [who was received with cries of “Oh!” from all parts of the House]—May I ask whether the German authorities at Berlin repudiated the suggestions of their Ambassador in London, and whether any effort at all [renewed cries of “Oh!” and “Order!”] was made to find out how far the German Government would have agreed to the suggestions put before them by their own Ambassador?
* * * * *
REPLY TO MINISTER GREY.
Made by J. Ramsay Macdonald, Member of Socialist Labor Party, in House of Commons, Aug. 4.
I would have preferred to remain silent this afternoon, but circumstances do not permit of it. I shall model what I have to say upon the two speeches to which we have just listened. The right honorable gentleman has delivered a speech the echoes of which will go down in history. However much we may resist the conclusions to which we have come, we have not been able to resist the moving character of his appeal ["Hear, hear!”]
I think, however, he is wrong, and I think the Government for which he speaks is wrong. I think the verdict of history will be that they are wrong.
The effect of the right honorable gentleman’s speech in this House will not be its final effect. There may or may not be opportunities for us to go into details, but I want to say to the House, and without provocation, that if the right honorable gentleman had come here today and told us that our country was in danger, then I do not care what party he appealed to or to what class, we would be behind him. We would vote him what money he wants, and we would go further, for we would offer him ourselves—if the country was in danger. [Cries of “But it is!”] He has not persuaded me that it is, and he has not persuaded honorable friends with me that it is.
I am perfectly certain that when the light honorable gentleman’s speech gets into cold print tomorrow he will not persuade a large section of the country. If the nation’s honor were in danger we would be with them. There has been no crime committed by statesmen of this character without those statesmen appealing to the nation’s honor.