§ MR. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether arrangements have been made with the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company for the retention of any of their vessels on the list of the Royal Naval Reserved Cruisers for the protection of commerce in the event of hostilities; and, if such a contract, has been made, will he state its general conditions, the names and leading particulars of the vessels which are to receive such a subvention, the amount of such subvention, and the names of any other vessels similar subventions secure to the service of the Admiralty?
§ THE FIRST LORD (Lord GEORGE HAMILTON) (Middlesex, Ealing)
Arrangements have been made with the Peninsular and Oriental Company under which, in consideration of an annual subvention of about £3,500, payable in respect of each of three of their new ships—namely, the Victoria, Britannia, and Oceana, of 6,300 tons each—that Company engage to hold these steamers at the disposition of the Admiralty for service as armed cruisers or transports whenever required. That Company also engage to hold in the same manner at our disposal and for the same purposes, but without further charge, seven of their other steamers—namely, Arcadia (new), Valetta, Masslia, Rome, Carthage, Ballarat, and Paramatta. All these vessels, representing over 48,000 tons of shipping, especially the four new ones, possess a high rate of speed, and have an unusually large coal endurance. In the event of the Company building further steamers which the Admiralty consider more suitable than those named in the agreement we retain the right of substitution. The prices for hire or purchase are specified in the agreement. The agreement is determinable at 12 months' notice on either side. The vessels are to have such fittings placed on board as will enable them to be pre- 954 pared at the shortest notice in the event of contingencies.