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Statement in House of Commons, July 29, by H.H. Asquith, British Prime Minister.
Mr. Bonar Law (Lancs, Bootle)—May I ask the Prime Minister whether he has any information to give the House with regard to the European situation?
Mr. Asquith—As the House is aware, a formal declaration of war was issued yesterday by Austria against Servia. The situation at this moment is one of extreme gravity and I can only say—usefully say—that his Majesty’s Government are not relaxing their efforts to do everything in their power to circumscribe the area of possible conflict. ["Hear! hear!”]
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Declaration in House of Commons, July 30, by Prime Minister Asquith.
We meet today under conditions of gravity which are almost unparalleled in the experience of every one of us. The issues of peace and war are hanging in the balance, and with them the risk of a catastrophe of which it is impossible to measure either the dimensions or the effects. In these circumstances it is of vital importance in the interests of the whole world that this country, which has no interests of its own directly at stake, should present a united front and be able to speak and act with the authority of an undivided nation. If we were to proceed today with the first order on the paper we should inevitably, unless the debate was conducted with an artificial tone, be involved in acute controversy in regard to domestic differences whose importance to ourselves no one here in any quarter of the House is disposed to disparage or to belittle. I need not say more than that such a use of our time at such a moment might have injurious, and lastingly injurious, effects on the international situation. I have had the advantage of consultation with the leader of the Opposition, who, I know, shares to the full the view which I have expressed. We shall therefore propose to put off for the present the consideration of the second reading of the amending bill—of course, without prejudice to its future—in the hope that by a postponement of the discussion the patriotism of all parties will contribute what lies in our power, if not to avert at least to circumscribe the calamities which threaten the world. In the meantime the business which we shall take will be confined to necessary matters which will not be of a controversial character.
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Assent of Bonar Law, Leader of the British Opposition, and of Sir Edward Carson, July 30.