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By David Butler (eds.)

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F. G. Masterman as candidate8 - arose from internal disagreements within local party caucuses, not from disputes between the national parties. Asquith continued as Liberal prime minister from August 1914 with apparently assured all-party support in the House and the country. The suspension of the general election provisions of the Parliament Act underlined his security. However, a party truce fell far short of a coalition. It was a very 31 1902-1924 uneasy relationship that existed between the two front benches in the autumn of 1914 and the spring of 1915.

The party balance certainly altered as time went on - and as Lloyd George's initial dazzling authority began to decline. In February 1920, the Labour element in the government was largely removed by the almost simultaneous resignations of Barnes and G. H. Roberts. Thereafter, any claim of the coalition to represent Labour was plainly fraudulent, as the resurgence of Labour in by-elections from Spen Valley (January 1920) onwards testified. Coalition Liberal representation in the government was also seriously eroded.

At one important level, the Home Affairs Committee of the Cabinet, which under H. A. L. Fisher, dominated domestic legislation in 1919-21, had a clear Liberal preponderance in it, 26 and was accused by one critic of almost turning into 'a bill factory'. By contrast, the other major Cabinet committee, the Finance Committee, was chaired by the prime minister, with Austen Chamberlain its dominant figure. In general, it is the absence of partisan feeling within the government that is impressive. Sir Robert Horne's pronouncement to the Cambridge University Conservatives in November 1921 (given as the verdict of 'a Disraelian Tory') that he had never known a major issue to be discussed in Cabinet on party lines had the clear ring of truth, 27 and a modern historian would confirm it.

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