But when Mr. Asquith's Ministry fell he retired from office along with that minister's principal colleagues.
In Mr Asquith's phrase, it was "ploughing the sands."
Accordingly he stated in the House that Unionists would welcome an Irish settlement by general consent, but would not make new friends by betraying old; and in Oct., in answer to Mr. Asquith's overtures at Ladybank, he said that he and his colleagues would consider any proposals with a real desire to find a solution if possible.
He did not find in Mr. Asquith's proposals, in the session of 1914, for exclusion by county option for six years, any sufficient compromise; but he formally announced that, if they were endorsed by the country, Lord Lansdowne would use his authority in the Lords to have them passed without delay.
But when circumstances had overcome Mr. Asquith's antipathy to compulsion, Mr. Law took charge of the first military service bill in the House of Commons in Jan.
The crisis started by this demand produced, in the course of a few days, first Mr. Lloyd George's and then Mr. Asquith's resignation; and the King, adopting the ordinary constitutional course, sent on Dec. 5 for Mr. Bonar Law, who had become, through by-elections before the war, the leader of the largest single party in the House of Commons, and invited him to form an administration.
The general election of 1910 placed the Liberal and Unionist parties in a position of almost exact equality in the House of Commons, and it was at once evident that the Nationalists under Mr Redmond's leadership would hold the balance of power and control the fortunes of Mr Asquith's government.
In 1905 he became lord president of the council in the Liberal government; and in 1908, in Mr Asquith's cabinet, he became secretary of state for the colonies and Liberal leader in the House of Lords.
His chief contribution to the discussions during the later stages of the Gladstone and Rosebery ministries was in connexion with Mr Asquith's abortive Employers' Liability Bill, when he foreshadowed the method of dealing with this question afterwards carried out in the Compensation Act of 1897.