Lloyd George's Cabinet memorandum
Catalogue reference: MUN 5/6/170/23

...manufacturing resources for the purpose of increasing their output. Germany is the best organised country in the world, and her organisation has told.
          Those are the disadvantages. What about the advantages? The manufacturing resources at the disposal of the Allies are enormously greater than those which Germany and Austria can command. In this computation Russia barely counts, but the manufacturing resources of France and Great Britain between them are at least equal to those of Germany and Austria, and the seas being free to them they can more easily obtain material. But apart from that they have potentially the whole of America, which is the greatest manufacturing country in the world, and Japan, to draw upon.
          I believe that France has strained her resources to the utmost, and she can hardly do much more. She has now abolished the sale of absinthe, and that will have an appreciable effect upon the productivity of her workmen. She is, therefore, doing all she can to contribute. I do not believe Great Britain has even yet done anything like what she could do in the matter if increasing her war equipment. Great things have been accomplished in the last few months, but I sincerely believe that we could double our effective energies of (sic) we organised our factories thoroughly. All the engineering works of the country ought to be turned on to the production of war material. The population ought to be prepared to suffer all sorts of deprivations and even hardships whilst this process is going on. As to America, I feel confident from what I have heard that we have tapped only a small percentage of this great available reserve of supply.
           Special attention should be given to the laying down of machinery which is essential to the turning out of rifles and cannon. I hear it takes three months to complete these machines; but even if they are only ready in September, we shall need them all. My first suggestion, therefore, would be that full powers should be taken, if we do not already possess them, as I think we do, to mobilise the whole of our manufacturing strength for the purposes of turning out at the earliest possible moment war material. I have always thought that our complete command over the railways equips us with the necessary powers without resorting to legislation. But legislation which would enable us to commandeer all the works in the United Kingdom, and, if necessary, to deal with labour difficulties and shortcomings, would undoubtedly strengthen our hands. We might even take full powers to close public houses altogether in areas where armaments were being manufactured. As to our railway powers, I made the suggestion that they should be used some time ago to the War Office. I am not sure of the extent to which that has been done.
          Now with regard to the raising of the men. France has probably brought every available man she can spare into line. That is far being the case with either the British Empire or with Russia. Great Britain on the French basis, ought to have 3,500,000 men now under arms instead of 2,000,000. The colonies ought to have, on the same basis, 1,200,000 men instead of 100,000. I believe we could with a special effort raise our 3,500,000 or, if that be found inconsistent with the turning out of the necessary equipment, we could certainly raise 3,000,000. I still think it is unnecessary to obtain compulsory powers. The young men of this country will enlist in our armies if it is brought home to them that their services are needed. I ventured to suggest some time ago that the best method of doing so would be by determining the quota each county and town ought to contribute in proportion to its population, and leaving it to local pressure and local patriotism to do the rest. If we officially announce that a particular county is expected to contribute, say, 10,000 men; that up to the present 6,000 have been enrolled in that county, and that 4,000 more ought to enlist in order to make up the quota, local pride will fill up the ranks for us.
           Some means ought also to be taken to induce our self-governing colonies to take upon themselves a larger share of responsibility in the matter of levies. They are under the impression now that they are doing all that is expected of them. The peril ought to be brought to them. The optimistic telegrams which we publish have deluded them into the belief that all is going well, and that all they need do is to send a few thousands to the Mother Country as a token of their sympathy and esteem for her. When they realise that she is in real peril, I do not doubt their response.

close window
back to top of page back to top