§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I wish to ask the Prime Minister a Question of which I have given him private Notice—namely, Whether the Government contemplate taking any measures to relieve the anxiety which prevails in the public mind as to the state of the Navy, and particularly as to its sufficiency for the protection of the trade and commerce of the country in the event of war?
Sir, I will take the liberty of answering the Question in the general terms in which the right hon. Gentleman has put it, which do not precisely correspond with the Notice that he was kind enough to give me; but I will not refer to that. For some considerable time the Admiralty have had the subject of the Naval Establishments of the country under their consideration in a somewhat larger way than must, of course, always be the case with reference to the annual Estimates for each year. The Papers relating to the coaling stations have been recently circulated, and are now in the hands of hon. Members; and the Department will be prepared, in the course of next month, to bring before the House, in whatever form may appear to be most convenient, a statement of their views and intentions generally on that subject.