HC Deb 10 March 1892 vol 2 cc524-5
MR. MUNRO PERGUSON (, &c.) Leith

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, with reference to the position of Her Majesty's Government towards the harbours and fortifications of Esquimalt, whether the land upon which the dockyard buildings stand is reserved to the Crown, or is it the property of the Dominion Government; if it is, the property of the Dominion Government, by what tenure is it in the occupation of the Admiralty; if any rights are exercised over this land by Her Majesty's Government, by what Statute or other instrument are they secured; what rights of control, if any, has the British Admiral commanding on the Pacific Station over the harbours or anchorage of Esquimalt; are any advantages secured to the vessels of Her Majesty's Navy at Esquimalt which would not be accorded to them in any foreign port; is the land upon which it is proposed that the Canadian Government should erect fortifications at a cost of £11,000, to be armed at a cost of £50,000 to the people of the United Kingdom, the property of Her Majesty's Government, or of the Dominion Government; when the fortifications are erected, and the guns mounted, whose property will they be; will the garrison be under the orders of the Canadian Government or that of the United Kingdom; if manned by Canadians under Canadian Government, will Her Majesty's Government have any means of insuring that they shall be available for the defence of the British Fleet; and if, as was suggested, Canada should join the United States, to whom would the guns belong?


In reply to the first three questions, the land upon which the dockyard buildings at Esquimalt stand is the property of the Crown? By an Order of the Dominion Privy Council passed in 1889 a portion of Esquimalt Harbour was reserved for the exclusive use of Her Majesty's ships. The sites for the fortifications will be provided by the Dominion Government, with, whom also will rest the responsibility of providing the garrison. The remaining questions seem to have been framed for the purpose of suggesting that in time of trouble or danger the Imperial Government could not rely upon the Canadian Government taking common action with them in defence of common interests. I must decline to answer any hypothetical questions which seem to me to be prompted by suppositions which are both injudicious and baseless.


I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether in the event of Canada leaving the Crown—


That is an exceedingly hypothetical question.


Whether the guns would in any case belong to the British Government?

[No reply was given,]