HC Deb 30 April 1891 vol 352 cc1758-9

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War having regard to the Report, of the Auditor General on " The Imperial Defence Act, 1888," Part II., Ports and Coaling Stations, of the date of, 3lst January, 1891 (Accounts, No. 90), which sets forth that— The proposals in the Imperial Defence Act contemplated that the actual expenditure of £2,600,000 authorised for the purposes of the Act should be completed within the three years ending 31st March, 1891; whether he will state how much of the said sum remained unexpended on 31st March, 1891; the reasons for the delay in completing the expenditure, which is declared in the Preamble of the Act to be for— Urgent works," and for the "completion without delay of the defence of the Coaling Stations, and the speedy completion of the armaments and when the expenditure account will be finally closed?

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

The amount remaining unexpended under Part II. of the Imperial Defence Act on March 31st last was £935,000, of which £550,000 will be spent during the present year. Unavoidable delay has been caused by the preference given to naval requirements by changes in the armament asked for by the Australian Colonies, and by difficulties in acquiring sites. But the main cause of delay is under the head of " Barracks and Coaling Stations," because the sum to be provided under the Act is to be supplemented by the sales of other property belonging to the War Department and by contributions from certain colonies. These questions lead to complicated negotiations, and the account under this head probably cannot be closed for two or three years.