§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ (Mr. GRANT LAWSON, York, N.R., Thirsk, in the Chair.)
§ Clause 1:—
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
The Amendment which I rise to Popes is to leave out "three" in Clause 1, page 1, line 8, and insert "two," reducing the sum proposed to be voted from £3,100,000 to £2,100,000. The object of this Amendment is to raise, in a formal manner, the question which has been discussed more than once on the preceding stages of this Bill, and to ensure that the scheme of naval works shall be carried out under annual Bills, as the original intention was, instead of under biennial Bills, which is the scheme, I understand, now favoured by the 542 Government. I have fixed upon the figure of two millions as being one which cannot unduly limit the power of expenditure of the Admiralty during the year, but which will compel them to come to Parliament for renewed authority at the end of the year. The annual policy was the signal plan upon which the whole of the scheme of naval works was introduced to the House of Commons four years ago, when the question was more or less discussed. At the Committee stage of the proceedings in 1895, the noble Lord who is now Secretary for India proposed a plan of his own for acquiring some kind of Parliamentary control of an annual character. I have looked into the proceedings, and I think it will interest the House if I state what they were. The noble Lord proposed that the Admiralty should, at the close of every financial year, cause to be made an account showing, firstly, the total cost of each work and the expenditure thereon; and, secondly, the period within which it is proposed to complete such work; such account to be laid before Parliament. 543 Now, in dealing with this motion, I said:The course which the Government proposed to adopt was to introduce annually a Bill-not an auxiliary to any previous Bill, but a principal Bill, which would stand alone. In each annual Bill they (the Government) would give a schedule of progress showing the original estimate of the probable expenditure for the work up to the last day of the past financial year, the amount to be expended in the next financial year, and the amount required to complete the work. That procedure would supply all the particulars and information required, and would be much better, he thought, than the procedure suggested in the proposed new clause.That proposal received the support of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who is now the First Lord of the Admiralty. He said, in answer to my suggestion:That would seem to be a very satisfactory arrangement, and I would ask the hon. Gentleman to consider whether he could not state in the schedule what works are commenced, how much would be required for the financial year, and also the amount required to complete.I think, therefore, I am justified in saying that the principle of proceeding by way of annual Bills, instead of by a Bill covering a longer period, received, on that occasion, the support of the right hon. Gentleman, and I would ask him to bear that in mind now, in considering the proposal which I venture to make.
In page 1, line 8, to leave out the word 'three,' and insert the word 'two.' "—(Mr. Edmund Robertson)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'three' stand part of the clause."
§ THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN,): Worcestershire, King's Norton
I am afraid we cannot accept the Amendment It is perfectly true that the first Naval Works Bill was prepared as an annual Bill, and the two previous Bills were in
§ tended to be annual, although the second has not had that effect. But we have had more experience than when the first Bill was drafted, and I do not agree with the opinion that an annual Bill is the most convenient arrangement from an administrative point of view. The Committee is aware of the great difficulties we have had in framing our estimates of the probable expenditure within the year. I hope that by giving ourselves greater time over which to spread our estimates we shall prove to have made a much more accurate calculation than in the past. That is the principal reason for the change we have introduced, and there is a subsidiary reason, that it is a great advantage, from an administrative point of view, that the works staff, and especially the higher officials, will not be occupied by drafting any Bill next year, but will be able to give undivided attention to the enormous works of which they have charge. The work thrown upon that staff has been heavy, and I would deprecate anything which would increase it considerably. The financial control of Parliament over naval expenditure will be amply secured in the ordinary way by the accounts being audited by the Exchequer and the Audit Department and submitted to the Public Accounts Committee, who will report upon them in the usual course. My right hon. friend the First Lord has already said that we will lay before the House next session in the form of a Return a statement of the expenditure of the current year.
SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)
said he was not quite satisfied with the answer of the right hon. Gentleman. He considered it would be much safer for Parliament to adhere to the old practice than to introduce the biennial system.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes,168: Noes, 95. (Division List, No. 310.)547
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Bullard, Sir Harry|
|Arnold, Alfred||Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bethell, Commander||Cayzer, Sir Charles William|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford. East)|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Bill, Charles||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Bolitho, Thomas Bedford||Chamberlain. Rt- Hon. J. (Birm.|
|Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. S.-(Hunts.||Brassey, Albert||Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Brookfield, A. Montagu||Charrington, Spencer|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Howard, Joseph||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Coddington, Sir William||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Priestley, Sir Woverend (Edin.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Purvis, Robert|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Kimber, Henry||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Cooke Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Knowles, Lees||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lecky, Rt. Hn. William E. H.||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Round, James|
|Curzon, Viscount||Leighton, Stanley||Russell, T.W. (Tyrone)|
|Denny, Colonel||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'ns'a||Rutherford, John|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Doughty, George||Lorne, Marquess of||Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lowe, Francis William||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Doxford, William Theodore||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Spencer, Ernest|
|Drucker, A.||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Elliot, Hon. Ralph Douglas A.||Macdona, John Camming||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Maclure, Sir John William||Stephens, Henry Charles|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Manc'r||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Finch, George H.||M'Killop, James||Strauss, Arthur|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Malcolm, Ian||Sutherland, Sir Thomas|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Manners, Lord Edw. Wm. J||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|FitzWygrarn, General Sir F.||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J G (Oxf'd Univ.)|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Flower, Ernest||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Middlemore, Jno. Throgmorton||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Garfit, William||Milton, Viscount||Valentia, Viscount|
|Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans||Milward, Colonel Victor||Warde, Lt. Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Gilliat, John Saunders||Monk, Charles James||Whiteley, H.(Ashton-under-L)|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh.)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Morrell, George Herbert||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm|
|Gorst, Rt Hn. Sir John Eldon||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Goschen, Rt Hn G J (St George's)||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Muntz, Philip A.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. S.-|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Wylie, Alexander|
|Hamond, Sir Chas (Newcastle||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wyndham, George|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Parkes, Ebenezer||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Henderson, Alexander||Penn, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Hill, Arthur (Down, West)||Percy, Earl||Sir William Walrond and|
|Hoare, Edw. Brodie (Hampst'd)||Pierpoint, Robert||Mr. Anstruther|
|Allen, W. (Newc.-under-Lyme)||Duckworth, James||Lambert, George|
|Asher, Alexander||Dunn, Sir William||Langley, Batty|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. H. Henry||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'land|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Fenwick, Charles||Leng, Sir John|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. J. B. (Clackm.)||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Lloyd-George, David|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Lough, Thomas|
|Billson, Alfred||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley||M'Crae, George|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Dermott, Patrick|
|Caldwell, James||Harwood, George||M'Ewan, William|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson-||Hazell, Walter||Maddison, Fred.|
|Carvill, Patrick G Hamilton||Healy, Timothy M. (N. Louth)||Maden, John Henry|
|Cawley, Frederick||Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H.||Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Holden. Sir Angus||Morgan, W. P. (Merthyr)|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.)||Holland, Wm. H.(York, W. R.)||Morley, Chas. (Breconshire)|
|Colville, John||Horniman, Frederick John||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Crilly, Daniel||Jacoby, James Alfred||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Crombie, John William||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Davitt, Michael||Joicey, Sir James||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Dewar, Arthur||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Dillon, John||Kearley, Hudson E.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Kinloch, Sir J. George Smyth||Palmer, Sir Charles M (Durham|
|Doogan, P. C.||Labouchere, Henry||Palmer, George Wm. (Reading)|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Steadman, William Charles||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Price, Robert John||Strachey, Edward||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Reckitt, Harold James||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Rickett, J. Compton||Thomas, Alfred(Glamorgan, E.||Woodall, William|
|Robson, William Snowdon||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Woods, Samuel|
|Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)||Walton, John L. (Leeds, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Warner Thomas Courtenay T.||Mr. Edmund Robertson and|
|Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)||Wedderburn, Sir William||Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttle-worth.|
|Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
I am not sure whether it would not be more convenient to move the Amendment which I have placed on the Paper when we deal with the schedule. I desire by my Amendment to object to the dock at Bermuda.
§ Question proposed, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
I desire to move the omission of this clause, as a protest against the whole of the expenditure. Our bill for naval works and armaments seems to be increasing at an incredible rate from year to year, and it is time some protest was raised. For the last four years we have had these Naval Works Bills. We have had increased Army Estimates and increased Navy Estimates. I think it will strengthen the hands of the Ministers responsible for these Estimates as against the experts who are pressing increased expenditure upon them if we enter such a protest in the House. Naturally, naval experts wish to increase the Estimates as much as possible. ["No."] I am not making any attack upon them; it is only natural that they should exaggerate their own craft as everybody else does, and think the whole safety of the Empire depends on some novel idea which they have discovered and which they think is necessary to counteract something in France, Russia, or elsewhere. What has happened in the course of the last four years in regard to these naval works? In 1895 we had a Naval Works Bill which contemplated an expenditure of under 9 millions. In 1896 that was increased to 14 millions; in 1897 to 20¼ millions, while under this Bill it is proposed to spend 23½ millions, and the First Lord of the Admiralty does not close his mind against further expenditure next year at Wei-hai-wei. So that really in the course 548 of four years we have more than doubled our expenditure on naval works. In the year 1883 the expenditure upon armaments was 30 millions, in the present year it is nearly 50 millions. If you take India into account we are spending something like 70 millions upon armaments in the present year, while if you add to that the expenditure upon past wars as shown by the National Debt, we are spending something between 95 and 100 millions upon past and future wars. This is a very serious state of things. In twenty-five years we have had an increase of 20 millions in the expenditure upon armaments. What has been the increase in our trade? In 1883 our exports and imports were 733 millions; our trade last year was only 764 millions. There is an increase of something like 60 per cent. in our expenditure upon armaments, and only 5 per cent. in our trade.
§ * SIR J. COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
Will the hon. Gentleman give us the trade of the Empire, not of the United Kingdom only?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
I am sorry I cannot at present, but in the course of the Debate I will give the figures asked for. I may, however, point out that the Empire does not subscribe to this expenditure. This is an expenditure which is incurred by the United Kingdom for the protection of its own trade. If the outskirts of the Empire want protection for their trade, let them contribute towards the expenditure. We propose to increase our expenditure upon social schemes—old age pensions, education, and so on; we spend three times as much as it is worth on Salisbury Plain, and twice as much for Nigeria. We cannot go on at this rate. This is a very rich empire, the wealthiest in the world, but there must be a limit to this expenditure upon engines of destruction, or, if you like, engines of defence. The worst of it 549 is that this expenditure has this effect—that the more you spend the more you are likely to have to spend, because if you spend money in this country France says. "Just look at the Budgets in England; look at their Naval Works Bills." Russia says the same thing—"In order to meet all this expenditure on the part of Great Britain, we must increase our Army, we must increase our Navy, we must increase our accommodation." Then there is another scare in this country, and the First Lord of the Admiralty comes to the House, and says, "Just look at the Bill which is now before the French Parliament for the purpose of increasing their Navy"—an increase which has probably been necessitated by an increase which we initiated. We are really taking the initiative, we are forcing the pace, and when bad times come the taxation will be so enormous as to be absolutely oppressive. We do not feel it at present because of the wealth and prosperity of the country, and if no protest has come from the population of these islands, it is because at present they do not feel it. We are proceeding by the method of borrowing. The amount was nine millions in 1895. We said then, "This is spread over a certain number of years." But really that was not the practical effect of it, because we are increasing the amount year by year, and the result is that so far from that being nine millions spread over twenty or thirty years, as the case may be, it becomes really an annual Bill, because you have nine millions in one year, an increase of five millions in the next, six and a quarter millions in the next, and an increase this year of three and a quarter millions. So that, although nominally it is divided over three years, it has the effect of being an annual Bill, and at some time or other somebody has got to pay this enormous bill. I move the omission of this clause in order to call attention to and protest against this enormous expenditure.
§ * MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
I join my hon. friend in lamenting the extravagant policy which is being pursued by the present Government. The expenditure is going up by scores of millions for the Services and for political friends, and when at an early stage of the session I made a plaintive appeal to the 550 Chancellor of the Exchequer, seeing that his income was so large, that he should do something for the working people by way of relief of taxation, and a deaf ear was turned to my appeal. With all the enormous wealth of this country nothing has been done during the existence of the present Government to relieve the heavy burden of taxation from the shoulders of the workers, and yet we see such Bills as that now before us at this stage of the session, dealing with millions as though they were hundreds of pounds, and no one knows where it is going to end. The First Lord of the Admiralty is a man of experience in financial affairs and in administration. No one knows better than he that our present great prosperity must be succeeded by times of depression. What will be your financial position when those times come? You will then have some reason to say that nothing can be done by way of the relief of taxation. It is almost a crime that this constant waste, of public funds should go on. If I were going to present a picture as a memorial of the administration of the present Government I should select the picture of the "Rake's Progress." It has been nothing but expenditure—no earnings, increased relief to the classes who do not need it, and wasteful extravagance of millions of pounds in quarters where it is likely to do as much harm as good. You cannot expend money in this way without inciting other nations to follow your example, and so you go on from point to point until nations will ruin nations by senseless extravagance and wasteful expenditure.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
I do not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman who spoke last in a general review of the Budgets of Chancellors of the Exchequers or of the expenditure of recent years. We are at present upon Clause 1 of this Bill. The hon. Member for Carnarvon has suggested that it might be agreeable to the Government that there should be a Division in order to strengthen our hands against the experts who ask for this expenditure. We require no such assistance. I am glad, however, that there is to be a Division taken on this point. It is not only a satisfactory issue, but it is satisfactory to have a distinct issue brought forward 551 on which hon. Members can vote, instead of having a little grumbling hero or there and not knowing whether it constitutes opposition to our proposals or whether it does not. Let us know how we stand. I am glad the hon. Member has given us this opportunity, but let the Committee understand what they arc going to vote for. We are going to vote not on the question whether there ought or ought not to be increased expenditure, but on the specific proposals of the Government as to whether certain docks and machinery be provided for the purpose of docking our warships. Is the hon. Member against this specific proposal? He is prepared to vote, I understand, that our ships should not have adequate docks. I think I hear someone say, "No, no"; but we cannot have docks without money, and we cannot get money without a Vote from the House of Commons. I claim that those who vote against the Bill vote not as a general protest, but against a specific proposal which I think ought to commend itself to every hon. Member. The working classes know that in case of war their interests are concerned as much as or more than those of any other class in the country. The materials they need for their manufactures and their food supplies all depend upon proper protection being supplied, and that protection can only be given by men-of-war, and those men-of-war can only be efficient if there is proper dock accommodation. Therefore the House and the representatives of the working men would each neglect their duty if they voted against the construction of the docks now proposed by the Government. Hon. Members are at perfect liberty to criticise our general expenditure, but that criticism should come on the Navy Estimates. These present proposals have really little to do with any increased armaments. The simple point is that our present organisation would not be strong enough or safe enough in time of war unless these proposals are endorsed by the Committee, as I hope they will be, unanimously.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
It may surprise the right hon. Gentleman, after his eloquent defence, that I am going to vote against him.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Certainly it is my intention, because I regard the expenditure on the Navy and everything connected with it as a very great deal too much. The argument of my hon. friend the mover of the Amendment is not that he objects particularly to these docks, but that the sum total of the expenditure upon the Navy—docks and things connected with the Navy—is too large, and that if you want docks you must get them out of the sum total, and not come here with a Bill at the end of the session asking us to agree to a loan. My hon. friend is perfectly right in saying that we are absolutely in the hands of militarism. The right hon. Gentleman spurns the offer of assistance made by the mover of the Amendment; we must therefore come to the assistance of the British taxpayer, and object to this large expenditure. Every year there will be greater expenditure upon military and naval armaments, while nothing will be left to spend upon social questions on which the working men think even more strongly than upon these large armaments. For instance, old age pensions. Where are you going to get the money? I was down in my constituency the other day, and naturally I advocated old age pensions for every man, not only at the age of sixty-five, but at the age of sixty. Someone said to me, "Where are you going to get the money?" I replied, "That concerns the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not me." But I can tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer where he can get at least ten millions. Let him reduce the expenditure upon armaments by ten millions, and he will be able to spend that sum more in accordance with the wishes of the working men. We have got into a thorough system of beggar-my-neighbour. We say, "We are going to spend because we think somebody else is going to spend"; somebody else spends because we have spent, and I do not know where the thing is going to end. The First Lord of the Admiralty is not prepared to say that this sum will be the end of the expenditure, or that the Navy Estimates will not go up in future. On the contrary, he says he must ask for so much money this year, for more next year, and for more the year after that. He admits he will have to ask for more in future.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
No; but that is the view of the right hon. Gentleman. He will not guarantee that as long as he is First Lord of the Admiralty naval expenditure will not go up beyond what it is now.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Of course he will not; we all know that it will go up. To test the future we take the experience of the past. So long as we are in the hands of this militarism it will continue to go up. There are special reasons why we should not agree to this clause. We entirely object to these Loans Bills, whether military or naval, being brought in at the end of the session. Whatever expenditure is proposed ought to be in the Estimates of the year, and paid for in that year. At the present moment you have got spending powers by previous Bills; yon are not going to spend this money in the present financial year. I doubt whether you are going to spend one shilling of this. You are proposing that the House of Commons as at present constituted should give you a free hand to spend money which will have to be paid by the Votes of other Parliaments. Why do you do it? Why not say what you want to spend in the year and ask us to vote the money, and not pledge future Parliaments in this way? Why should we in this country pay largo sums for docks in self-governing colonies? We are always being told that these colonies are burning with a desire to unite with us in defending the Empire. They volunteer in a vague sort of way, when they know nobody will accept the offer, to fight against anybody with whom we may rightly or wrongly be in antagonism; but when it comes to a cash contribution, they are exceedingly costive. I believe one colony has said it will give £30,000 a year, but as a rule they will not pay their legitimate share of the expenditure for the defence of the Empire. Why are we to spend money in these colonies? The colonies will benefit by it. It is not as if the work were to be done at home, and our men profited by the expenditure 554 in that way. I quite admit that as we have commerce we ought to pay a certain amount, but we ought not to spend any money on a coaling station or anything else in a self-governing colony unless we have a real understanding that that colony will bear a share of the expenditure. It is true the work may be necessary for our commerce, but they also have commerce; they have interests identical with our own in such matters. Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman wait until next year? He does not want the money, nor will he spend it this year. Why anticipate the future? We know not what the future may bring forth, we do not know what may happen next year. We may engage in a war, in which case we should have to spend very largely; but why ask us at the present moment to vote money, throwing it over a series of years, when not one shilling of the money is to be expended during the present year?
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
I think the First Lord of the Admiralty scarcely did justice to his own case What is the Amendment? It is to reject Clause 1. What is Clause 1? It only partially relates to new docks. It relates to works which are in course of execution, and to which the greater portion of the money guaranteed by this Bill applies. More, than half those works are works begun by the Party now on this side of the House. If there is a desire to raise the question suggested by the mover of the Amendment, it should be specifically done by indicating the items which relate to the new works. By moving the rejection of the whole; clause you object to works which have been sanctioned by four successive Parliaments, you declare that the money which has been spent should be thrown away and the works not proceeded with, and that being the effect of the Amendment it is perfectly impossible for me to vote for it.
§ * SIR EDWARD GOURLEY (Sunderland)
The First Lord of the Admiralty asks the House for some specific objection. I will give him one. I object to the enormous expenditure on Dover Harbour. What good will Dover Harbour be after this money has been spent? There is to be some machinery, but we have had no explanation as to its nature, 555 although it is to cost £60,000. Is Dover to be a new dockyard, supplementary to Portsmouth, Sheerness, Devonport, and the others, of which we have sufficient already? I contend that the proposal with regard to Dover is totally unnecessary in the interests of the Navy, or as a refuge from a victorious enemy. Another specific objection is with regard to barracks. We are asked to spend a very large sum on housing something like 25 percent. of our bluejackets. That is another unnecessary expenditure. If we are to have this enormous number of men continually on shore what is meant by manning the fleet? Either that there are too many bluejackets, or too few ships for the men voted for annually. Instead of spending this money on barracks for men, whether bluejackets or marines, we ought to house them mainly on board the ships of the Navy, where they can always be in touch with seafaring duties. I therefore object to these two items of expenditure, so far as expenditure is concerned. The only urgent part is that for graving docks at Gibraltar and the Cape.
§ * MR. H. J. WILSON (Yorkshire, W. R., Holmfirth)
The right hon. Gentleman wants to pin us down to the particular items to which we object. That is a device which is often resorted to, and although we perfectly understand how unfair it is, I will mention one or two points out of many. There are charges in two or three places for the provision of sick quarters. Is it not perfectly obvious that when places such as those in question are built you must have sick quarters provided? How was it the provision was not made at the beginning? Why were they not proposed before? Because the whole system is to get the money bit by bit and portion by portion, without the public knowing where all the money is going to. For my own part I entirely agree with what has been said about the colonies participating in this expenditure. We are always speaking about the defence of the country as synonymous with the defence of the Empire, but it is a totally different thing when finding the money is concerned. I am very glad to have this opportunity of recording my vote as a protest against this continually increasing expenditure.
§ * MR. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)
I join with my hon. friend in protesting against what 556 I consider almost a criminal waste of public money. I contend that this money could be employed at home on work which would be far more beneficial to the people of this country than anything which is contemplated under this Bill. I go so far as to say that if the money which has been voted for the last twenty-five years for work of this kind had been spent in warring against the poverty of Great Britain and Ireland we might have had the workhouses of this country tenantless at the present time. The hon. and gallant Gentleman interjected a remark that these naval works were required in defence of the Empire. If that is so, I would like to know why the colonies which benefit by this expenditure should not be asked to contribute something towards the expense. There have recently been offers from Queensland, New South Wales and Canada to help England if you should happen to have a small war in Africa. I venture to say that-such offers do not reflect very much credit upon the colonies, and it would have been far better if they had reserved their offers of assistance until you were engaged in war with some great Power. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty has stated that the object of this expenditure is to be prepared for possible war, but where is the possibility of war in connection with Bermuda, where you are going to expend £650,000 on naval works? Do you contemplate a war with the United States? If you do not, why are you going to create these works in that part of the world? Surely you do not mean to say that Russia, Germany, or France would go across the Atlantic to attack you in Bermuda. I find that in this Memorandum these works were not contemplated in 1895, and what has occurred since then which necessitates this large expenditure in Burmuda? If you expect hostilities with France you will have them nearer home than in the direction of Bermuda. I protest as an Irish Member against this continual shovelling of money into naval and military operations. It would be far more in keeping with your professed regard for progress, humanity and enlightenment if you spent the money in warring against poverty in your own country.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
My hon. friend the Member for Northampton, finding a 557 little difficulty in regard to Clause 1, has very ingeniously started the subject of the colonies which has occurred to him as a good one to run in this Debate. As a matter of fact think I am right in saying that there is only one dock proposed which is in a self-governing colony, and when my hon. friend says that the colonies in which these docks are situated are equally interested, that cannot be said about the dock at Simon's Bay. In time of war the great bulk of our trade, which now goes through the Suez Canal, is likely to go round the Cape, and therefore it will be necessary to have a dock at Simon's Bay; in fact, I think more than one dock is necessary at that point. My hon. friend who has just sat down has alluded to the possibility of war with the United States, but it is not altogether fair to this Bill to make that suggestion. I have always regretted our military expenditure at Bermuda; but with regard to a dock there, I think there can be no doubt that it is necessary, more especially when you consider the proposals of a neighbouring foreign Power, which has been building a large number of first class cruisers with the object, in time of war, of preying upon our trade; therefore, you must consider the possibility of fighting cruisers in West Indian waters, and it is necessary to have a dock there to repair our vessels. The possible attack upon our trade in time of war by the first-class cruisers of foreign countries is a matter which must demand the attention of the Admiralty, and it is absolutely necessary that large docks should be built for first-class cruisers in places like Bermuda. Like my hon. and gallant friend opposite, I am anxious that the colonies should make a contribution towards our naval expenditure; but while that suggestion should be constantly pressed upon the colonies, it is impossible for this country to suspend the expenditure until that is brought about.
§ MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)
I am one of those who think that the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, with all his knowledge of naval matters, does more harm than good to this country. I join with my hon. friend in protesting against this further increase of the burdens of the people. To begin with, I have absolutely no con- 558 fidence in the way the Admiralty spend their money, so long as the right hon. Gentleman opposite is at the head of affairs. It is all very well to come forward with proposals for this, that, and the other, but there is another class which is generally forgotten, which has some claim upon the Admiralty, and that is the working class. There is no Department of the State where they have got less justice than from the Admiralty, and I am here to say that, not only is this a great waste of money, but it is spent in a most unfair way so far as the working classes—more especially as regards the lower paid workers—are concerned, and those hon. Gentlemen who go down to their constituencies declaring how much good the right hon. Gentleman has done to the working classes by this great expenditure of public money are talking some very queer economics. The great mass of artisans, especially the labourers, have begun to clearly realise that their share of the Admiralty expenditure is a very niggardly and poor one, and no one is more responsible for that than the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty. I should like to know when is the most convenient occasion to protest against this constant increase in naval expenditure? If we take the opportunity to do it when the First Lord comes down during a panic to ask for a great sum of money, we are at once told that we are not patriotic, that we do not love the fatherland, and that we are little better than the emissaries of some foreign state. When we come to a more detailed matter, which it is not so convenient to discuss, then we are asked what particular detail are we referring to. I am gravely concerned about this expenditure, and in time the country will realise that a great amount of national treasure is going in one direction. During these last few sessions of Parliament it has been the easiest thing possible to get almost any sum through this House, so long as it was wanted for military or naval expenditure; and just as the House has been liberal in voting these lavish sums for military purposes, it has been just as illiberal in voting money for great reforms, such as the Old Age Pension scheme. Of course, we cannot have it both ways, for the money cannot be going on the Army and Navy and into the pockets of the people, to make their lives brighter in their old age, at the same time. At all costs, and with a full conviction that I am doing my 559 duty both to the fatherland and to the great mass of the people, I am here to protest by voice and vote against these great increases in the Army and Navy expenditure which are going on from year to year, and which are not bringing about that peace which hon. Gentlemen some-times say they want, but which is making peace further distant.
§ MR. DILLON
The hon. Member opposite, in protesting against this motion, said the effect of carrying it would be tantamount to a decision on the part of the House to stop the works which are already in progress, many of which have been approved by the Liberal Party when in power, and the money which had been expended upon them would be lost. I totally differ from the hon. Member in that opinion, for there is no foundation for it. The Government have in their possession the sum of £4,505,000, and up to the 31st of March they had expended only £3,378,000 on the works, which leaves them £l,000,000 at least still at their disposal for the continuation of those works. That million would enable them to continue these works for a considerable time, and certainly till the beginning of next year. I desire to point out that there is absolutely no urgency. If this Amendment were carried and the first clause negatived, that decision would carry with it no such principle as that which has been laid down by the hon. Member for Denbigh, for the only consequence would be that the Government would be obliged to limit their expenditure between the 31st of March last and
§ the beginning of next session to about one million of money. Last year, during the whole financial year, they only expended £1,227,000, so that on the same proportion of expenditure as that which was incurred last year they have money enough at their disposal already to last them until the opening of the next session of Parliament. Therefore, I say that no sufficient grounds have been made out for forcing through the House of Commons this enormous loan Bill at this period of the session. Objection was taken at an earlier period to taking this Bill and the Military Works Bill at such a late period of the session, and urgency was pleaded. All those hon. Members who are sound on financial matters will agree that these proposals should have been made when the Budget was before the House, so that we should have then had all the financial proposals of the Government before us. But the Government decided, against all precedent, to hold back these Bills to nearly the end of the session. Putting aside the question as to the merits of the works, and the question of the rapid increase of expenditure on such works, I say that no case of urgency has been made out, and no justification has been offered for the introduction of such a Bill at this late period of the session. Upon this ground alone I shall certainly vote for my hon. friend's proposal.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 159; Noes, 48. (Division List, No. 311.)561
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Brookfield, A. Montagu||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge|
|Asher, Alexander||Bullard, Sir Harry||Cripps, Charles Alfred|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Butcher, John George||Curzon, Viscount|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Buxton, Sydney Charles||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Balfour, Rt Hon. A. J. (Manc'r)||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Disraeli, Connigsby Ralph|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. J. B.(Clackm.||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Doughty, George|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Duncombe, Hon Hubert V.|
|Barry, Rt. Hon. A. H. S.-(Hunts||Chamberlain, J. A (Worc'r)||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph D.|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Charrington, Spencer||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Fergusson, Rt. Hn Sir J (Manc'r)|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Clarke, Sir Edward (Plymouth)||Finch, George H|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Bethell, Commander||Coddington, Sir William||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Fletcher, Sir Henry|
|Bolitho, Thomas Bedford||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Flower, Ernest|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Colomb, Sir John Charles R.||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)|
|Brassey, Albert||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Garfit, William|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Gribbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Gilliat, John Saunders||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Round, James|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Macdona, John Cumming||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Maclure, Sir John William||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Goschen, Rt. Hon. G. J. (St. Geo"s||M'Killop, James||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Middlemore, J. Throgmorten||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Milton, Viscount||Spencer, Ernest|
|Hamond, Sir Chas. (Newcastle)||Milward, Colonel Victor||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W.||Monk, Charles James||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||More. Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Morrell, George Herbert||Strachey, Edward|
|Henderson, Alexander||Morrison, Walter||Sutherland, Sir Thomas|
|Hermon-Hodge, Rbt. Trotter||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Tomlinson. Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Howard, Joseph||Muntz, Philip A.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Valentia, Viscount|
|Joicey, Sir James||Nicholson, William Graham||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u-Lyne)|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Palmer, Geo. Wm. (Reading)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Kimber, Henry||Percy, Earl||Williams. J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Lawrence, Sir E Durning-(Corn)||Pierpoint, Robert||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Purvis, Robert||Wylie, Alexander|
|Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'ns'a||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Wyndham, George|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Rickett, J. Compton||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Lorne, Marquess of||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Lowe, Francis William||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Lucas-Shadwell, William||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.)||Griffith, Ellis J.||Palmer, Sir Chas. M. (Durham)|
|Allen, W. (Newc-under-Lyme)||Hazell, Walter||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Healy, Timothy M. (N Louth)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Holden, Sir Augus||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Billson, Alfred||Holland, W. H. (York, W. R.)||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Horniman, Frederick John||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Labouchere, Henry||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Caldwell, James||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'land)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Macaleese, Daniel||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.||M'Dermott, Patrick||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Crilly, Daniel||M'Kenna, Reginald||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Maddison, Fred.||Wilson, Hy. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Davitt, Michael||Maden, John Henry||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough|
|Dillon, John||Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel||Woods, Samuel|
|Doogan, P. C.||Morgan, W. Pritchard (Merthyr||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Duckworth, James||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Mr. Lloyd-George and Mr. Broadhurst.|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause 2, agreed to.
§ Clause 3:—
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
I desire to move an Amendment to leave out "120,000" and insert "100,000." This money has been spent upon works at Gibraltar, and nothing has been spent upon the defence of the Bristol Channel.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will permit me to say that there is no money to be spent under this Bill in the sense in which he speaks at Gibraltar.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
I should like to know whether this expenditure is not under the control of the Admiralty, and whether this proposal does not mean that the whole control is in their hands. Is there some kind of joint control over the harbour? Is it proposed that these dues should be settled entirely by the Gibraltar authorities? I think there ought to be some sort of control on behalf of the Admiralty with regard to them.
In schedule, page 2, line 16, to leave out '120,000,' in order to insert '100,000.' "—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
§ Question proposed, "That '120,000' stand part of the schedule."
§ MR.AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
We will receive our share of the net profits in proportion to the contributions we have made. There will be a joint Committee who will settle with the Treasury.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. DAVITT
I beg to move the omission of the items in the schedule which include the Bermuda Dockyard extension. I wish to know why this large expenditure is to he carried out on this little island. I am not aware there is any necessity for it. I believe the dockyard accommodation has been found adequate for all the requirements of your navy in the past, and I do not see why it should not be sufficient for your needs in the future. I am of opinion that you are not contemplating these works with the view to some possible conflict with France in that part of the world. I believe you have some other purpose in view which you do not wish to explain. I am opposed to the expenditure of this large sum on this little island, and therefore I shall divide the Committee on this matter.
In Schedule, page 2, to leave out lines 42 to 45 inclusive."—(Mr. Davitt.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the schedule."
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I have little to add to what has already been said on this subject by the First Lord and the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. I suppose even the hon. Member (whose speech I think was not made for this Committee) will admit that we must keep a squadron in the West Indies, and it stands to reason that we must have a dock capable of accommodating the largest ship in the squadron. The dock at Bermuda is too small, and the only British dock on the station is in the extreme north of Halifax. I need not labour the matter further, but the Committee will see that this cannot be construed even by the wildest imagination as any provocation to any other Power, and that it is absolutely essential to the efficiency and safety of our fleet. 564 The Government, of course, cannot consent to the Amendment.
§ MR. MADDISON
The Amendment of my hon. friend is to give to this part of the scheme a kind of anti-American character, and for that reason I am bound to say that I cannot support him. As a protest against this naval expenditure I would be prepared to go a long way, but it is even more important that this scheme should not in the slightest degree appear to be directed against the American Government.
§ * SIR J. COLOMB
The hon. Gentleman is apparently ignorant of the fact that this Vote is to bring up to date a certain dock. There has been a floating dock for something like twenty-five years at Bermuda, but that is now too small for out-ships.
§ Amendment by leave withdrawn.
SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
I move this Amendment because I consider that a floating dock is not a proper charge to be included in this Bill. A floating dock is not like a permanent work of masonry, and it has not been our practice to defray the cost of a structure of this kind out of borrowed money. The right hon. Gentleman said the other night that the dock would probably last for thirty years, but our policy has been hitherto to restrict the application of the Naval Works Act to works of a thoroughly permanent character, and put all the other works on the Estimates in the ordinary way, and that is the question which I now desire to raise.
In schedule, page 2, line 45, to leave out '205,000,' in order to insert '105,000'"—(Sir U. Kay-Shuttleworth.)
§ Question proposed, "That '205,000' stand part of the schedule."
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The original intention was to construct a graving dock at Bermuda, but the expense of that was found to be too great, and we therefore proposed to substitute a floating dock. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that this floating dock will last as long as the terminable annuities created under this Bill, and there is even no 565 reason to suppose that the dock will be worn out at the end of thirty years. A large part of the structure will be of a permanent character, the dock will be kept in proper repair, and it will probably last for a much longer period. I therefore see no reason for the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment.
SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
I would ask whether the money for the dock is to be paid before or after it arrives in Bermuda.
§ MR. DILLON
I beg to move the omission of lines 46, 47 and 48 in the schedule with reference to the proposed expenditure at Simon's Bay. This is a new work of great cost and importance, and I think we are entitled to have an explanation regarding the amount. I do not profess to be an expert in these matters, but I think that Simon's Bay is not a station in the vicinity of which any considerable number of the fleet is habitually stationed. The consideration, however, to which I attach a great deal of importance is that I think I am right in saying that this is the first time that a proposal has been placed before the House of Commons to expend anything approaching such a large sum in the carrying out of naval works in a self-governing colony. I do not think there is any other case on record where that has been done. The principle at stake is a very important one. Many of the self-governing colonies are, practically speaking, independent of the mother country, and as far as I am aware, it has been the fixed policy of England ever since the colonies obtained self-government not to embark in any large expenditure in them. For instance, this has been the policy carried out in Australia and New Zealand, and if the policy now proposed were to be accepted, it would be naturally expected that the most important sites for large docks would be along the eastern coast of Australia and New Zealand. In Auckland there is a dock, 566 but the New Zealand Government have very considerable control over it, and it cannot be regarded as a precedent governing the present case. I object to this proposal in the first place because it is novel, and because it appears to be practically speaking a new departure in policy; and in the second place I object to it because the sum to be expended is so enormous, and that alone constitutes the difference between this case and the case of Auckland. In the case of New Zealand and Australia you have got to deal with colonies which according to universal testimony are thoroughly at one with the mother country; but we are told in that famous historic dispatch of Sir Alfred Milner that the Dutch population at the Cape is disaffected to the mother country. I myself have my doubts about that statement, but any man who objects to Sir Alfred Milner now is regarded with wrath.
The hon. Gentleman is now probably anticipating a Debate which will come off to-morrow.
§ MR. DILLON
I object to spending £2,500,000 of the taxpayers' money in a country which has a constitutional Government independent of this Government, and the inhabitants of which are not well affected towards this country. If we are to accept the contention in Sir Alfred Milnor's dispatch, and if you are to pursue your present policy, I think it is extremely likely that before this dock is finished South Africa will be lost to this country altogether, and you will then be in the position, after having squandered this money, of being left without the country or the dock. I think when we are called upon to face an enormous expenditure like this we are entitled to some assurance that the work executed will be there for the advantage of the taxpayers, and that a foolish and fatuous policy will not be pursued, which would rob the taxpayers of this sum.
In Schedule, page 2, to leave out lines 46, 47, and 48."—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words propose to be left out stand part of schedule."567
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
This is not the only case where we have a naval establishment in a self-governing colony. We have one at Sydney on a more elaborate scale than Simon's Bay has hitherto been. In time of peace an enormous amount of British trade passes the Cape, and in time of war the amount of trade passing would be very largely increased. For the protection of trade we must have a squadron in those waters, and we have a very considerable squadron there. We must provide facilities for the repair of the ships of that squadron, and the dock at present at Cape Town is not large enough. Accordingly we propose this expenditure in order to provide dock at Simon's Bay. With regard to the feeling in the Colony towards this proposed work, the hon. Member need be under no apprehension. We have received every assistance from the Cape Government, and two Acts have been passed through the Cape Legislature to give us proper control over the property to be acquired for the works, and I wish to express the indebtedness of the Admiralty for the spirit displayed by the Cape Ministry and Legislature. In fact they are very anxious that this work should be carried out. Then the hon. Member criticised the great expense of the work. That is a point into which we have gone very carefully. We did not enter with a light heart into an expenditure involving two-and-a-half millions. We had a very carefully survey carried out, and the report of the engineer was considered by the Admiralty and modified as far as possible, having regard to the importance of the station. All that we propose to do under this Bill is to erect a dock with the necessary shops and machinery, and to improve the coaling arrangements. At the present time the latter are so deficient that with a spell of bad weather several days might elapse before the fleet could be coaled. I need not point out how dangerous such a state of things would be in the event of hostilities, when the free mobility of the fleet would be of the utmost importance, and when any delay might lead to a great disaster or to the loss of a great advantage. I am quite certain it is impossible to give the necessary facilities for our fleet on a more moderate scale than we now propose.
§ MR. DAVITT
Will the Admiralty have any control over the way in which the work is to be carried out, and will Kaffir labour or free labour be employed?
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Free labour. It is our intention to put the work out to contract, like all our great works.
§ MR. DILLON
The hon. Gentleman said that he wished on behalf of the Admiralty to thank the Government of the Cape for the facilities they have given. I wish Statesmen in this country generally were more civil to the Government of the Cape, because that might remove some of the danger which I indicated. No language is too severe for the war organs in this country to use towards Mr. Schreiner or his Government.
§ Bill reported without Amendment; to be read the third time upon Monday next.