British Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
Later that same day, the U.S. Ambassador to the UK telegramed the Prime Minster's speech on the same topic to Secretary Lansing:
5344. The Prime Minister made the following statement in the House of Commons to-day:London, December 19, 1916.
The new government had hardly been formed when there came the declaration of the German Chancellor. I propose to deal with this at once. The statement made by the German Chancellor in the Reichstag has been followed by a note presented to us by the United States of America without any note or comment. The answer that will be given by the Government will be given in full accord with our brave Allies. Naturally there has been an interchange of views not upon the note, because it only recently arrived, but upon the spirit which propelled it, inasmuch as the note itself is practically only a reproduction of the speech.The discussions have been informal but I am glad to say we have each of us separately and independently arrived at identical conclusions.I am very glad the first answer to the statement of the German Chancellor was given by France and by Russia.They have an unquestionable right to give the first answer to such an invitation—the enemy is still on their soil; their sacrifices have been greater. The answer they have given has already appeared in the papers, and I, on behalf of the Government, give a clear and definite support to the statements which have already been made.Any man or set of men who abandoned the struggle without achieving the high purpose for which they had entered into the war would be guilty of the costliest act of foolery ever perpetrated by any statesman. I should like to quote the words of Abraham Lincoln under similar conditions: “ We accepted this war for an object—a worthy object—and the war will end when that object is attained. Under God, I hope it will never end until that time.”Are we likely to achieve that object by accepting the invitation of the German Chancellor? That is the only question that we have to put to ourselves.There has been some talk about proposals of peace. What are the proposals? There are none.To enter on the invitation of Germany, proclaiming herself victorious, without any knowledge of the proposals she proposes to make, into a conference, is to put our heads into a noose with the rope in the hands of Germany—and this country is not altogether without experience in these matters.It is not the first time we have fought against Military despotism in Europe and it will not be the first time we have helped to overthrow such a despotism. We feel we ought to know before we give consideration to the offer of the German Chancellor that Germany is prepared for peace to be obtained and maintained in Europe, and these terms which have been stated by all the leading statesmen of the Allies are: complete restitution; full reparation; and effectual guaranties for the future.