HC Deb 19 July 1888 vol 328 cc1744-5

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether he has received a Memorial of the 11th instant from the Belfast Harbour Commissioners; whether, as stated in the Memorial, the War Department, in 1885, applied to the Commissioners for ground for a submarine mining establishment, and, the Commissioners agreeing to grant a site for the same on lease at a nominal rent, a lease was drawn up accordingly; whether, in consequence of an intimation in April, 1887, that the War Department had decided to use a ship as a joint barrack and submarine mining store, a deputation of the Commissioners waited on the Secretary of State for War, and were informed by him that he considered a land establishment preferable to a vessel, and that provision had been made in the Estimates for the cost of the land establishment; and, whether, in view of the representation made in the Memorial that it would be impossible, owing to the demand for space for commercial purposes in the port of Belfast, to provide a quay berth for the vessel except at very heavy expense, the agreement made by the Department with the Memorialists will be carried into effect?

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

I have received the Memorial referred to. The history of the case is, I believe, shortly as follows:—When it was de- cided to have a submarine mining establishment for the defence of Belfast Harbour, inquiries were made as to a site, and the Commissioners suggested certain sites which they were willing to lease to the War Department at a nominal rent. On examination, however, those sites were not found suitable for the purpose, and no agreement for a lease was come to. Under the circumstances, it has been decided that, for the present, a ship will be the most convenient depôt; but she will not require accommodation in the more valuable water frontage used for commercial purposes. I have been in communication with my hon. Friends the Members for Mid Armagh (Sir James Corry) and North Belfast (Sir William Ewart) on this subject for a long time past. But I never made to them, or to the deputation from the Commissioners, any such statement as that recorded in the Question.


I beg to give Notice that on the proper Estimate I shall endeavour to show cause why the original understanding should be, carried out, and that I shall oppose the grant of public money for the establishment of a ship.