HC Deb 10 December 1900 vol 88 cc354-5

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether Her Majesty's Government are aware that the new commercial mole at Gibraltar is only 3,200 yards from Punta Mala in Spain, and that the whole of the commercial anchorage, the man-of-war anchorage, and the three new docks, which are now being constructed there at an estimated total cost of £4,369,000, are within the range of modern artillery and the shipping therein liable to be exposed to a converging fire from a segment of nearly half a circle of the shore round the Bay of Gibraltar; whether the advisability has been considered of constructing these docks and works, or a portion of them, on the eastern side of the Rock; and, whether steps will be taken to suspend the construction of the works on the western side of the Rock until Her Majesty's Government have satisfied themselves that they are safe from attack from the land.


The distance mentioned by my hon. friend is substantially accurate. It is quite true that the western side of the Rock is more exposed than the eastern side to attack from the land, but the eastern side is more open to every form of attack from the sea. The construction of the works would have taken a serious additional number of years on the eastern side as compared with the western side. The question of the east side or the west side was very fully considered by Lord Rosebery's Government in 1894, and again by the late Government on assuming office, and in both cases it was decided that the weight of advantage was on the western side. The Government are not prepared to recommend a suspension of the works.


In reference to the statement that the works on the eastern side would have taken longer to complete than those on the western side, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the bottom is exactly the same depth and of the same character on each side? Why then should the works take longer?


I am not aware, but if my hon. friend will put down a question I have no doubt an explanation will be given.