HC Deb 06 July 1877 vol 235 cc886-7

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he has any objection to inform the House with what object Her Majesty's Government have ordered the Fleet to Besika Bay?


said, he had a Question to put on the same subject—namely, to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If he will be good enough to inform the House the number and names of the vessels belonging to the Mediterranean Squadron ordered from the Piræus to Besika Bay; and, why they have been sent there in place of the Suez Canal? He wished to add, that if the Answer was not satisfactory, he would bring the Question forward on the Motion for going into Committee on the Navy Estimates.


Sir, the object with which the Fleet has been sent to Besika Bay is that it should be at a convenient station. The position of Besika Bay is a central one, which enables the Admiralty to communicate with rapidity, if necessary, with Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople, and with the British Government, and it is thought, therefore, to be a most convenient position for the Fleet. The hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Gourley) asks for the number and names of the vessels which have been sent there. Of course, there can be no objection, if he likes to move for a Return, to give him any particulars regarding them; but I may say generally that there are eight vessels, of which seven are iron-clads and one an unarmoured frigate. The iron-clads are the Alexandra, the Swiftsure, the Pallas, the Sultan, the Devastation, the Rupert, and the Hotspur, and the unarmoured frigate is the Raleigh. The hon. Gentleman asks why they have been sent there in place of the Suez Canal. The answer is, that Besika Bay is a convenient and central station, and that the Suez Canal is not equally central. Moreover, there is no particular reason why any vessel should be sent to the Suez Canal beyond the one already stationed there, which I believe is the Research, which has taken the place of the Hotspur.