§ In reply to a Question by Sir J. COLOMB (Great Yarmouth), of which he had given private notice,
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.) said
The question of naval establishments has been engaging the attention of the Admiralty and the Government for a considerable period. Lord Goschen and the late Lords of the Admiralty, in March, 1900, appointed a Committee, which fully examined the whole question of the present and prospective accommodation for ships in His Majesty's dockyards, and as to how the harbours and other anchorages and waters at our disposal could be utilised for ships both completed and under construction. This Committee reported in January, 1902, that the growth of the Navy would shortly make it impossible for the existing ports to accommodate all the ships; and recommended the formation of another naval establishment. The Committee further stated their opinion that the most advantageous position for this establishment was in the estuary of the Forth. The Board of Admiralty, after full and careful consideration, approved this recommendation, and the Govern- 1552 ment therefore decided to establish a naval port and base on the north side of the Firth of Forth, at St. Margaret's Hope. They have for some months been in negotiation for the land, and it was the fact that these negotiations were going on that made it impossible for the Government earlier to take the House and the country into their confidence on this important matter.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the new naval base will be a mere base, or a dockyard, or a station for the repair of ships?