§ MR. CHAPLIN (for Mr. A. BALFOUR)
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been called to the following Resolution adopted unanimously by the Straits Settlement Association:—That the colony of the Straits Settlements, forming as it does one of the most important coaling and docking stations in the East, is at the present moment without effective defence, and would be subject, in event of war with an European Power, to immediate seizure by an enemy. That it is, therefore, with feelings of dismay and apprehension that the Association learn, from the recent statement by the Secretary of State for War, that it is not intended to proceed with the proposed fortifications of Singapore till the year 1886. That a respectful and urgent request for a reconsideration of the question be made to Her Majesty's Government, and that they may be solicited to afford temporary security to British interests in the Straits by stationing in the roadsteads of Singapore an ironclad, man of war, or floating battery, as well as torpedo boats, to provide for offensive measures against an enemy;and, whether the statements therein contained are true; and, if so, what steps Her Majesty's Government propose to take in the matter?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
My statement on moving the Army Estimates has been somewhat misapprehended. Although the existing defences at Singapore are by no means inefficient, there is no intention of delaying their improvement. Sites for the new works have been already surveyed, designs are in course of preparation, and arrangements have been made under which the execution of the works is being undertaken. Provision has been made in the Estimates of the ensuing year for the armaments and submarine mine defences of coaling stations generally; but it is not possible at the present moment to state the exact distribution which will be made. The Admiralty have been addressed on the subject of the proposal made by the Association to provide naval means of defence for the Colony.