HC Deb 09 June 1887 vol 315 cc1435-6
MR. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is true, as reported in the newspapers, that at the recent Colonial Conference the War Office raised objections to assisting in providing for the defence of King George's Sound; and, if so, whether he can state the reasons for these objections?

THE SECEETAEY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

Yes, Sir; the matter is easily explained. The list of coaling stations now being defended was framed originally by the Royal Commission on the Defence of British Possessions Abroad. That Commission went very completely into the whole question, and selected a certain number of stations, which it described as of first-rate importance, and the defences of which it recommended should be at once undertaken. King George's Sound was not included. That case was considered, but was decided to be of secondary importance. This list was approved by the Treasury, and laid before Parliament. A large sum still remains to be spent before the defences even of these first-class stations are complete; and the War Office accordingly, when represented at the Colonial Conference, did not feel justified in promising to furnish, at once an expensive armament for King George's Sound—first, because to include any place not upon the list would necessarily have entailed large expenditure in other cases similarly situated; secondly, because it would have had neither Treasury nor Parliamentary sanction; and, thirdly, because it would have recognized a principle against which the Treasury has always contended—that the Imperial Government should bear any share in the expenditure necessary for the land defence of Australia.