HC Deb 24 June 1901 vol 95 cc1200-1
MR. NORMAN (Wolverhampton, S.)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether his attention has been drawn to a letter from Rear-Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, in which the latter states that he has communicated his views upon the want of strength and the want of proper war organisation of the British Fleet in the Mediterranean to the properly constituted authorities in as strong and clear Anglo-Saxon language as he can command; whether such a communication has been received; whether its contents, or any part of it, can be published; and, if not, whether any steps are being taken to remedy the shortcomings which Lord Charles Beresford says cause him extreme anxiety.


My attention has been drawn to the letter from the Rear-Admiral Second in Command in the Mediterranean, which has appeared in the public press. There is nothing to show that the letter was intended for publication, and it seems highly improbable that the Rear-Admiral would have taken a step so contrary to the discipline of the Navy as to make a public communication with regard to confidential reports transmitted by him in respect of the Fleet in which he is serving. All official communications from the Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, as well as any communications from the Rear-Admiral and Captains of the Mediterranean Fleet, which the Commander-in-Chief of that Fleet has thought fit to transmit, have been carefully considered by the Admiralty. They are of a confidential nature, and there is no intention of making them public.


I wish to ask my hon. friend a supplementary question—whether, with regard to the regular communications to which the hon. Member has adverted, the I Government will take into consideration the condition of the defences and the number of the garrisons at Gibraltar, Malta, and Egypt.


Order, order! That does not arise out of the question.


The answer is—Yes.