§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling, &c.)
Sir, I desire to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty a Question of which I have not been able to give him private Notice, but which, no doubt, he will be able to answer. He has, on more than one occasion recently, and especially at the banquet at the Guildhall last Friday, stated that Her Majesty's Government have decided to make a further expenditure on the Navy. I would ask him when does he propose to give the House of Commons any information on that subject; and will he take the opportunity afforded by the approaching discussion of the Navy Estimates to make a statement to the House?
§ THE FIRST LORD (Lord GEORGE HAMILTON) (Middlesex, Ealing)
The right hon. Gentleman was Chairman of a Select Committee upon the Navy Estimates which made certain recommendations; and I have publicly announced that, when the time arrives, the Government will be prepared to give effect to those recommendations. I think it will be more convenient when the Navy Estimates come on that the discussion should, in accordance with the Rules of the House, be confined to the individual Votes under consideration; but, of course, it is in the power of hon. Gentlemen to put to me any Questions, 912 which I will answer to the best of my ability.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
The matter to which I refer is quite outside any recommendation made by the Committee. The noble Lord stated that a few years ago a great shipbuilding programme was entered upon; that the financial operations involved in it had now ceased; and that the Government had resolved to call upon the country to make a fresh and further effort in that direction. I submit, the House of Commons is entitled to know as early as anyone what is to be done; and I should have thought the Government would have been prepared to explain the matter to the House of Commons at the first opportunity.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has accurately quoted my words. What I did say was this—that a large shipbuilding programme had been originated three years ago, and that programme was now practically completed. For the future the hands of the Government were financially free, and therefore I hoped that next year a fresh and bolder start—a more sustained effort—would be made to bring the Navy up to the state of strength and efficiency which Her Majesty's Government consider to be necessary in the interests of the country.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL (Paddington S.)
May I ask my noble Friend if the House may take it fur granted that no special proposal for extra expenditure on account of the Navy will this year be made by the Government to the House?
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
We do not propose to ask for any additional sums this year. Our proposals have strict reference to the Estimates of next year.