§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
asked the Under Secretary of State 703 for the Home Department, did he, on 7th January, when speaking at the Govan Election, promise that the naval work of this country should be put out to contract instead of relying on the Dockyards; and, if so, on whose authority he made the promise?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. STUART-WORTLEY,) Sheffield, Hallam
I had no authority to make, nor did I make, any promise either verbally or substantially corresponding to that attributed to me in the hon. Gentleman's Question.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
May I on this subject ask the hon. Gentleman if he is accurately reported in the Scotsman of January 8, the day following the meeting at Govan, when he is stated to have used these words—Mr. Stuart-Wortley said he had come down from London to say that Lord Salisbury's Ministry favoured Sir John Fender's candidature, and were anxious that he should be returned. From a conversation he had had with the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretary for War, he knew it was the policy of the Government to place Dockyard work out to contract on a large scale.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY
The report in the Glasgow Herald does not sustain the allegation in the Question of the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. Cossham). As to the extract from the Scotsman, read by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan), of which he has not given me notice, and which does not profess to be a verbatim report, I must decline to be made responsible. What I did say at Govan referred to present policy and to past indications of it, and I expressly disclaimed knowledge of Admiralty programmes. I announced no future change of policy, and certainly I did not, as some London newspaper reported me, say that something about to be done was to be conditional on the election of the candidate in whose support I was speaking.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
The hon. Gentleman is reported to have stated that a few days before he went down to take part in the Govan election he had a conversation with the First Lord of the Admiralty. May I ask the noble Lord if that is the fact?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Lord GEORGE HAMILTON,) Middlesex, Ealing
As I saw that certain language was attributed to my hon. Friend, I asked him to send me a verbatim report of what he said, and from that report it would appear that the summaries that were given of it totally misrepresented his speech. What he did say was, that he had seen the heads of the War Office and the Admiralty, and that the policy of the Government was not to run up Government establishments, but to keep them at a certain level, and to put certain work out to private yards. That is the policy of the Government, and I venture to say that it will be the policy of every future Government.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
Are we to understand that before the hon. Gentleman went down to Govan he had a conversation with the noble Lord as to what he was to say?