§ * THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY, (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fifeshire, E.
This is, I suppose, the first time in the memory of any of us when the annual financial statement has been submitted to the Committee of Ways and Means by any other Minister than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, although there are precedents for that course as far back as the time of the Ministry of Sir Robert Peel. I need hardly say that it would have been more 446 agreeable to me to leave the task where it naturally falls, in the hands of my right hon. friend; but we both felt that my relinquishment of his office, and his accession to it, are so recent that for me to take his place this afternoon would be a matter not merely of personal, but of public convenience. But it is only for this afternoon. I hope and believe that in the later stages of our discussions the Committee and the House will have the full benefit of the assistance and guidance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.