HC Deb 04 April 1889 vol 334 cc1574-5

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty if he can be so good as to give some more particular indication as to where in his speeches is to be found the plan of the Government for uniting under one authority the Land, Sea, and Amphibious Forces for the defence of the British Coasts; whether the difficulty has been got over that one class of men cannot be allocated any share of the work of land batteries and submarine mines because those things are under the War Office, and another class cannot serve on floating batteries because those are under the Admiralty; and, whether Her Majesty's Government will consider the possibility of the greater development for the defence of our coasts of an amphibious class of defenders, ready to serve for coast batteries, submarine mines, and local floating batteries?


In reply to the hon. Gentleman, I beg to say that I have never made any statement of the kind mentioned in the question, neither have I ever even heard of any proposal to establish the amphibious force he refers to. As to the second part of the question, men who volunteer for service under the Admiralty cannot be compelled to serve under the War Office, and vice versâ, and there are no floating batteries in the possession of the Admiralty.


I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty why more has not been done, or whether Her Majesty's Government will new try to do more to enlist the great material available, in the shape of fishermen on the East Coast of Scotland, for the defence of those shores, by enrolling them in some sort of Marine Militia or Local Marine Reserve, upon terms more consistent with their position and avocations than have hitherto been offered, and designed to make them available for local defence as distinguished from a Naval Reserve for the Regular Navy?


The second class of the Royal Navy Reserve was established for the purpose of enrolling the class of men named in the question, and I cannot suggest any plan for more usefully employing their services in the event of war. I should be opposed to any proposal that might have the effect of deterring these men from joining the Reserve in favour of a corps which would entail their employment in particular localities, and thus circumscribe their sphere of usefulness.


I beg to give notice that, unless something is done in the direction suggested, I shall vote against all increases of the Regular Forces.