§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD (York)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the Formidable, Implacable, and Irresistible are three of the four new battleships projected in his statement to the House on 5th March, 1897; and if he could state on what dates each of these vessels were laid down, and the dates when the orders were given in each case for armour and guns?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
My answer to the first Question is yes. As to the second, the commencement of these battleships was from the first intended to be made towards the end of the last financial year. It was so assumed in the Debate of the 6th March, to which the noble Lord alludes. Building was commenced in the case of all the three ships in January last. The keel of the Portsmouth ship was actually laid down on the 30th March, and that of the Chatham ship on the 11th April. The laying of the keel of the Implacable has been delayed by some necessary alterations in the underwater portion of the slip at Devonport, upon which the Ocean is being built, and has put off the date of the launch of the latter vessel, but progress is being made in that work which can be performed before the keel is laid and with the machinery. The principle now systematically followed of making provision for guns and armour so that they may keep pace with the construction of the ship is being observed in the case of these vessels as in that of all others.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
Will the right honourable Gentleman say when the orders for armour and guns were given?