§ MR. YERBURGH (Chester)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether, seeing that Russia has now commenced to build two first-class battleships in the Black Sea since the Admiralty framed their Naval Estimates for the current year, is it their intention, in accordance with the precedent of 1898, to introduce a supplementary shipbuilding programme.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY(Mr. ARNOLD-FORSTER, Belfast, W.)
I think my hon. friend is under a misapprehension. No new fact has come to the notice of the Admiralty which would necessitate such a proceeding as that suggested. The fact that the building of these two ships was contemplated by Russia was known to, and taken into consideration by, the Admiralty when framing the programme 1444 submitted by them to Parliament. When the last Return was presented, no reference was made to these ships, because, as I have already explained, it has been the practice to include only such ships as have been actually sanctioned or begun. I can only repeat that should developments take place which have not been anticipated, or taken into account by the Admiralty, Parliament will be informed; but such an event has not yet occurred.
§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY (Yorkshire, Shipley)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that during the last six years there have been laid down for England nineteen battleships, while France and Russia together have laid down twenty-two.