The House, in conformity with a resolution, agreed to on motion of the Right Hon. the Prime Minister on Monday, the 15th day of April inst., went into secret session, until the House should otherwise order.
At the conclusion of the secret session, the following report of its proceedings was issued under the authority of Mr. Speaker.
"The Prime Minister, on a motion to go into Committee of Supply, made a full statement surveying the present war situation. treating of the military position, the
supply and production of foodstuffs, and the problem of merchant shipping and the submarine, with especial reference to the man-power position of the British Empire and the Allies.
"He stated that the Government, being impressed with the desirability of giving to t'he House the fullest possible information had communicated to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom its intention to move for a secret session and had requested from Mr. Lloyd George a statement of the present position which might be made known to the House. Mr. Lloyd George's message in response to this request was then read.
"The Prime Minister then presented other information and considerations' bearing on the situation. The military position confronting the Empire was explained in detail. The enemy had clearly disclosed his intention to make a supreme effort to destroy the British army on the western front as an effective fighting force. To this end he had adopted measures placing every man in the German Empire between the ages of 17 and 60 at the disposal of the Government, reducing the age limit for military service, and re-organizing his formations in the field. His forces and reserves for striking at the western front had been enormously increased by the withdrawal of Russia from the war. The employment of Landwehr and Landsturm formations for the defence of the eastern front, the use of these formations to supply individual men as drafts to replace casualties in France and Flanders, their places being taken in turn by the youngest recruits for purposes of training, the cessation of war wastage in the East, and the transfer in addition of large numbers of Austro-Hungarian troops-considering all these factors, the Russian withdrawal had increased the potential enemy strength on the western front, including 'Italy, by possibly -as many as 1,600,000 men without taking into account the reserves which would otherwise have been necessary for the Russian front.
"France had made already enormous sacrifices, and she would continue her heroic and glorious effort to the end.
"The Government of the United Kingdom had accordingly initiated the most drastic measures for maintaining their effective forces and providing the necessary reserves for the future.
"The military effort already made by the United Kingdom, France and the Dominions
was shown by means of detailed confidential information as to the strength of the forces which have been raised by each.
"As to the position confronting this Dominion, it was apparent that an attack upon the Canadian Army -corps in full force must be expected. No one could say when, but in view of the strategic value of their position there could be no doubt they must be prepared to meet any attack launched by the enemy and the country must be prepared to provide the reinforcements to make good all losses. The Government had been in communication with the overseas military authorities, and as the result of the most careful consideration the clear conclusion had been reached that if the Canadian Army corps- was to be maintained as an effective fighting force, additional measures must be taken. The Canadian Army corps must be maintained; no one -could question that. There was therefore no other alternative before the Government but to propose further measures for recruiting the needed reinforcements. These measures had been formulated and announced.
"With regard to the shipping situation, the Prime Minister pointed out that allied and neutral ocean-going tonnage, estimated at 33,000,000 tons at the beginning of the war, had been reduced at the end of 1917 by a net loss of 2,500,000 tons, that is, about 8 per cent; while British tonnage, considered separately, had suffered a reduction of 20 per cent, the tonnage being 18,000,000 tons at the outbreak of war and the net loss, taking into account new construction as in the other case, being 3,500,000 tons.
"The strain on British shipping was illustrated by a citation of the very large proportion which is devoted to the special war services of the army, navy, the Allies and the British Dominions. The result was a very serious reduction in the amount available for supplying the United Kingdom with its essential foods and materials and the sacrifices imposed upon the people of Great Britain could not be overstated. The shipbuilding programme of the Empire and the Allies was explained. The important question of the world's food supply was reviewed and the House was made acquainted with information pointing to the vital neoessit-y for stimulating increased production.
"In conclusion the Prime Minister urged that it must be recognized that the position was one of extreme gravity. In view of the issues involved Germany must be defeated. There could be no other alternative. And to this end Canada must provide all the