(1.) That it is expedient to make further provision for the construction of works in the United Kingdom and elsewhere for the purposes of the Royal Navy, and to authorise the issue, out of the Consolidated Fund, of such sums not exceeding in the whole £3,100,000, as may be required for those purposes, and to apply the provisions of The Naval Works Act, 1895, and of The Naval Works Act, 1896 (as to the mode of raising money, and as to the application of surplus income), to the said purposes.
(2.) That it is expedient to amend the law with respect to the construction and use of tramways for naval purposes.'
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
said there were one or two points as to which he desired some explanation. 1343 The amount of money asked for seemed to be out of all proportion, as far as he could ascertain, to precedent. The House was asked to sanction the borrowing of £3,100,000—and this in the middle of July—while the Admiralty had already unexhausted borrowing powers in regard to a million of money. Hitherto the Naval Works Bill had been an annual Bill, but the money now asked for was to cover the expenditure of two years.
§ THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN,) Worcestershire, E.
If the House will consent to pass this Resolution now and allow the Bill to be brought in, I hope the Bill itself will be in the hands of Members to-morrow morning, together with a memorandum giving a full explanation of the works proposed as well as a schedule setting out each work separately. We desire to give the House the fullest possible information. The expenditure for which we provide in this Act is to last until the 31st March, 1901, that is to say, for two years, in the same way as the money under the last Act was for two years. The Bill follows very closely the Act of 1897, as far as it is applicable to present circumstances. As soon as the Bill is circulated plans of the new works shall be placed in the Tea Room.
* SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)
We must all be obliged to my hon. friend who has asked this question, and to the hon. Gentleman opposite for the statement he has made. This Bill is brought in at an extremely late period of the session, and apparently is in some respects a departure from precedent. For the first time the House is informed that this is a Bill for two years, instead of an annual Bill, by which the control of Parliament over this great expenditure is preserved from year to year. But I do not rise for the purpose of offering criticisms on this Bill, because I think it would be very much more convenient that we should discuss the measure when it is in our hands, with the memorandum to which the hon. Member referred. I think we may fairly ask that as there is this new departure in respect of the Bill being for two years, and as new works are included, a reasonable time should be allowed for its consideration. I hope that the Second Reading will not be taken this week.
§ MR. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
asked whether the memorandum to be presented to-morrow would show the estimates for the last three years on the various works compared with the actual expenditure, as there appeared to be a great discrepancy between the estimated expenditure and the actual expenditure. It was manifest that the Civil Lord must have expected small progress during the coming year, and still smaller in the following year, if this amount of £1,400,000 were a correct estimate.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The remarks of the hon. Gentleman show the great inconvenience of discussing a matter of this kind before the Bill is in the hands of hon. Members. The hon. Gentleman has stated not very accurately the amount of money required for works already completed, and has assumed that it is for the expenditure of the next two years. He will find when the Bill is in his hands that this is not so, and with regard to the next two years I hope we shall make good progress.
§ Resolutions agreed to:—Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Goschen, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Macartney, and Mr. Austen Chamberlain.