HC Deb 06 July 1903 vol 124 c1414

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether His Majesty's Government adheres to Lord Salisbury's despatch of 14th February, 1899, to Sir C. Scott, accepting the Russian proposal for a conference to discuss the best methods of bringing about the diminution of armaments by land and sea; whether the Government has taken into consideration the Resolution of the First Commission of the Hague Conference recording its opinion that a further examination of the question by the Powers would prove a great benefit to humanity; and whether, having regard to the increased expenditure on naval armaments since the date of Lord Salisbury's despatch, the Government will take the initiative of inviting the Powers to make another attempt to deal with this question by conference or otherwise.


His Majesty's Government have not altered their views on this subject, and if any of the Great Powers of Europe will take any initiative steps in the matter we shall be very glad to join them; but it must be remembered that the expenditure for the British Fleet, alone amongst the fleets of the world, or almost alone, is mainly of a defensive character, and that the other fleets of the world cannot claim to have that character. Under these circumstances I think the initiative should come from others.