Mr. Speaker on Friday evening last I received His Majesty’s commission to form a
new Administration. It was the evident wish and will of Parliament and the nation
that this should be conceived on the broadest possible basis and that it should
include all parties, both those who supported the late Government and also the parties
of the Opposition.
I have completed the most important part of this task. A war cabinet has been formed
of five members, representing, with the Liberal Opposition, the unity of the nation.
The three party leaders have agreed to serve, either in the war cabinet or in high
executive office. The three fighting services have been filled.
It was necessary that this should be done in one single day, on account of the extreme
urgency and rigor of event. A number of other key positions were filled yesterday,
and I am submitting a further list to His Majesty tonight. I hope to complete the
appointment of the principal ministers during tomorrow. The appointment of the other
ministers usually takes a little longer, but I trust that when Parliament meets
again, this part of my task will be completed and that the administration will be
complete in all respects.
Sir, I considered it in the public interest to suggest that the House should be
summoned to meet today. Mr. Speaker agreed and took the necessary steps, in accordance
with the powers conferred upon him by the resolution of the House. At the end of
the proceedings today, the adjournment of the House will be proposed until Tuesday,
21st May, with, of course, provision for earlier meeting, if need be. The business
to be considered during that week will be notified to members at the earliest opportunity.
I now invite the House, by the Resolution, which stands in my name, to record its
approval of the steps taken and to declare its confidence in the new government.
Sir, to form an Administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking
in itself, but it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one
of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many other points in
Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the
air battle is continuous and that many preparations have to be made here at home.
In this crisis I hope I may be pardoned if I do not address the House at any length
today. I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are
affected by the political reconstruction, will make all allowance for any lack of
ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. I would say to the House, as I
said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood,
toil, tears and sweat.
We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many
long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say:
It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength
that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in
the dark, lamentable catalog of human crime. That is our policy.
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory, victory at all costs,
victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for
without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realized, no survival for the
British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival
for the urge and impulse of the ages that mankind will move forward towards his
But, I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not
be suffered to fail by men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all,
and I say come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.