HC Deb 21 February 1902 vol 103 c736

The armour question, as hon. Members know, has long been a very great difficulty, but I think I may say that that difficulty has been got over, and that we are now able to obtain armour, owing to the patriotic exertions of the great armour makers, at any speed which may be required for the service of the Navy. I do not know whether hon. Members have noticed that it was stated the other day that a large amount of armour was constructed in six weeks for the ships now in hand, and we were able to obtain a margin of days to the good from the great armour manufacturers at Sheffield. With regard to the large amount of the vote spent on contract work, I think I can say that the relations between the Admiralty and the great contractors are of the most harmonious character. It will be in the recollection of the House that a Committee was appointed, of which the hon. Member for Maidstone and Sir Thomas Sutherland were members,charged with the duty of inquiring into all the questions at issue between the contractors and the Admiralty. That Committee has now completed its work, and I hope in a few days to be able to lay the Report on the Table of the House. But I claim that there is at present very little at issue between these two important bodies—the Constructive Department of the Admiralty and the great contractors. It is of vital importance to the service of the Navy that such harmony should exist, and I am certain that the aim of the Admiralty is to produce and to maintain it. I think that the contractors will now be ready to admit that this desire exists, and that, to a large extent, this desire has been efficacious at the present time.