HC Deb 18 April 1887 vol 313 cc1103-4
MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Under what authority, and for what purpose, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, a few days ago, took the main portion of the Mediterranean Squadron to Cannes; whether it is correct that he omitted to salute the French Squadron on its arrival, and the reason for this alleged want of naval courtesy; if it is the fact that about 2,000 men were allowed to land, whereby many of them were injured through collision with some of the residents; and, if he will have the Mediterranean and Channel Squadrons brought together, either at Gibraltar or some other place, for the purpose of manœuvring both Fleets in tactics such as would devolve upon them in a time of war?


A portion of the Mediterranean Squadron was ordered to Cannes, under the authority of the Board of Admiralty, in consequence of the Queen's visit to that place. By the instructions contained in the Queen's Regulations, turret-ships, and those that carry less than 10 broadside guns, are relieved from the necessity of saluting, unless they have been specially supplied with light guns for the purpose. The ships at Cannes had less guns than the number specified. The Admiral commanding the French Squadron, and the Local Authorities of the town of Cannes, are quite satisfied that no discourtesy was intended by the non-return of the salute. It is right to add that the Alexandra, the flag-ship of the Duke of Edinburgh, being under repair, the Duke had to transfer his flag to another ship, unprovided with saluting guns. It was in consequence of the lack of these guns, and not from any want of respect to the French flag, that the salute was not returned. As to the Question with respect to 2,000 men being allowed to land, it is quite clear that, as the total complement of the Squadron is under 1,700 men, and as only a very small proportion of them could be allowed on shore at the same time, the sources from which the hon. Gentleman has derived his information are not very reliable. Under the present system, all Naval Squadrons abroad are constantly engaged in tactics such as would devolve upon them in time of war.