HC Deb 02 August 1889 vol 339 cc179-80

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether any part will be taken by the Military Forces in the forthcoming Naval Manœuvres, which may be expected to include a threatened or actual attack on the coasts of the United Kingdom by hostile vessels?


The Military Forces will not combine with the defending squadrons for the defence of the coast during the manœuvres. Such a combination would carry with it no practical lesson unless the Land Forces were mobilised; and, even if the law gave power for mobilization in a fictitious emergency—which it does not— the expense and disturbance of industry would be far too high a price to pay for such an operation. We hope, nevertheless, to derive considerable instruction from these manœuvres. The Naval Authorities who control the Coastguard, the actual watchers round the shores of the United Kingdom, will telegraph to the Military Commanders of districts notice of the approach of hostile vessels. These notices will be recorded, as will the steps that would have been taken on the instant if the forces had been mobilised and actual warfare had existed. Much valuable information will be obtained in this way. At the same time, if points are threatened where defensive works exist, and at which a military muster of forces actually on the spot can take place, the firing of a few rounds will be permitted as evidence that the attack is observed and met.

MR. COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)

Will the right hon. Gentleman take care that the trade of ports is interfered with as little as possible?


I am afraid I have no control over the movement of Her Majesty's ships.


The right hon. Gentleman has indicated the possibility of the Local Forces taking part in the manœuvres. Will travelling allowances be made?


No, Sir; there will be no travelling allowances.