HC Deb 05 January 1894 vol 20 cc925-6
SIR E. ASHMEAD - BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, in view of the comparative weakness of the British Naval Squadron at Rio de Janeiro, and of the importance of British interests there involved, Her Majesty's Government will direct the Commander-in-Chief of the British North American Squadron to proceed to Rio?


The Prime Minister has asked me to answer this question. As he stated on Tuesday last, the number of British ships of war at Rio is four, which is a greater number than the naval force of any other country at this moment. This is considered sufficient for the protection of British interests. There is no intention of taking the step suggested by the hon. Member's question. The Admiralty have every confidence in the ability and judgment of Captain Lang, who at present commands this Station on the South-East Coast; of America.


May I ask whether the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman, when they state that the British Squadron at Rio is greater than that of any other Power, intend to imply that it is stronger, because, as a matter of fact, the squadron of one other Power now at Rio is at least twice as strong as the British Squadron in armament and weight of projectile?


In the opinion of the Admiralty, the naval force at Rio is sufficient for the duty it has to perform.


Yes, Sir; but that is not my question. It is an important question, and I must press it. When the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman state that the British Squadron is greater than that of any other Power, do they mean to imply that the British Squadron is stronger than that of any other Power?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers, may I ask whether Her Majesty's Government contemplate any conflict between Her Majesty's Squadron at Rio and the squadron of any other Power?


I think I can leave the two questions to answer each other.