HC Deb 29 February 1904 vol 130 cc1256-315

Order for Committee read.

MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

said that, on a point of order, he wished to ask whether they could have the business taken in the order in which it was printed on the Paper, and whether hon. Members who had obtained a place in the ballot might not go on with their Motions before the Secretary to the Admiralty made his statement?


said there was no point of order. The hon. Member in charge of the Order of the Day was about to move that he leave the Chair, and if the hon. Member wished to preface that with certain observations it was not in his power to prevent him. That practice had of late years been frequently followed both with the Navy and Army Estimates.


said that in moving that the Speaker do now leave the Chair it would be for the convenience of the House if he made a general statement on the Navy Estimates. He felt that in continuing this practice, which had been followed for years, he was under considerable disability. His qualifications were very greatly less than those of the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who had preceded him in this task, and therefore he asked the indulgence of the House in laying before them those matters which it was now his duty to do. Before entering on his statement, however, he believed he was only expressing what was the general feeling of all Members on both sides of the House in saying how very much they should miss from these debates the late Sir William Allan, who always took a prominent part in discussions on the Navy. Though they might not always agree with all the opinions he expressed, they were assured both at the Admiralty and in the House that he was a true friend of the Navy, had its welfare at heart, and never approached naval subjects in any Party spirit. The feature of the Estimates on which the House would concentrate attention most closely was their magnitude. It was his duty, firstly, to explain, as far as he could, where these large increases arose, and secondly to justify them. Those who had studied the figures must have noticed that more than half the total increase arose on Votes 8 and 9—especially Vote 8, which was the Construction Vote. In previous discussions on these Estimates the hon. Member for Dundee more than once expressed the opinion, with which he fully concurred, that Vote 8 was the key to all; that if that Vote was large, there would be a corresponding increase in all the other Votes. The hon. Member, however, had also applied a standard which he wished to correct. The hon. Member said that Vote 8 would approximately amount to one-third of the total; but that standard was not applicable to-day, for Vote 8 was more nearly one-half than one-third of the total and it would not be a true deduction that because Vote 8 amounted to £18,000,000 this year, the Navy would cost three times that amount at some future date. All gun mountings which were not transferable were charged to Vote 8 and not to Vote 9, and as advances took place in scientific construction, they would be constantly adding to the mountings which were part of the ship and decreasing those which formed part of the gun. Then stores, coal and the increased cost of the ships themselves were charged to Vote 8. That meant that the increase in the cost of matériel was out of proportion to the other Votes. A proportion of the increase in the Vote was due to the purchase of the two Chilian battleships and to providing the ammunition for them. The remaining Votes he would shortly summarise to the House to show that there were increases common to them all, automatic increases due to the increase in the size of the fleet. On Vote 1, there was an addition of 4,000 men, but beyond that there was an increase of pay to the Royal Marines, which was necessary in consequence of the increase of pay which the Army were to receive from the 1st April next. On Vote 2, there was an increase in the total cost of victualling, due to the increase in the number of men and to the decision to grant to the Royal Marines from 1st April free rations when they were ashore, which they had not received before. The increase on Vote 3, medical establishments and services, was partly automatic, as it was calculated in direct proportion to the number of men in the fleet, but there was also an increase due to the opening of the new Naval Hospital at Chatham. A considerable increase on the Education Vote was due to the opening of the new Cadet Establishment at Osborne, and the Vote for the Royal Naval Reserves was largely increased in order to provide for additional numbers for the Reserves. The increase of Vote 9, apart from the charge which fell upon it for the Chilian ships, was due chiefly to the cost of the new cordite, which cost 1s. 10d. per lb. on an average as compared with 1s. 5d., the price of the old cordite, while a larger quantity of the new cordite was required for each individual charge than was the case with the cordite now in use. Vote 10 would be dealt with by the Civil Lord of the Admiralty, but it would be noticed that the increase there was due to the larger annuity under the Loan Act. The Admiralty Vote showed an increase of £21,000, but he did not think that the total of that Vote could be considered unduly large, as it was less than 1 per cent. of the whole sum which the Admiralty had to administer.

He would now like to say something as to the justification for these enormous Estimates. The country had decided to adopt what was known as the "two-Power standard" in its naval policy; and this, in the view of the Admiralty, meant that this country should be able to engage in a naval war with reasonable probability of emerging victorious from a contest with any other two naval Powers. This principle must be broadly applied, not solely to particular units or particular ships. So far as it was applicable to ships, he would quote the words used by the First Lord of the Admiralty, at Glasgow, in April last— The standard applies only to battleships, because in the matter of cruisers there can lie no question of equality. The standard could only apply to battleships; and though the desired preponderance could not be distinctly expressed in units, so far as it could be it was expressed in the number of battleships that could be put in line of battle against the fleets of any two other Powers. It might be said that the standard was too high, or too low, and criticisms had been offered from both points of view. It had been freely stated that the Admiralty had ignored the battleship programme of other Powers; that in making their calculations the Admiralty had not taken account of the ships laid down by Russia. The Admiralty were fully aware of what Russia was doing and well informed as to the Russian battleships programme, and the naval strength of this and other friendly Powers had entered into the calculation. There were three friendly Powers in Europe who were the principal maritime and naval Powers—Franc?, Russia, and Germany. Taking the first two combined, the total number of battleships, first and second class, built and building, was sixty-four. The total of French and German battleships, built and building, first and second class, was sixty- one. The total of battleships in the Navy of Great Britain, first and second class, built and building, was sixty-three, so that we were very close to the mark. This country was well up to the standard and not unduly beyond it.

MR. RITCHIE (Croydon)

asked if the hon. Gentleman would state the tonnage.


said he had not the figures at hand; he could give them, but did not think this was a matter of supreme importance. In considering the question of cruisers, the Admiralty were not governed solely by the two-Power standard. The duty of a cruiser was not to fight in line of battle, but to protect our trade, our commerce, and our mercantile marine; and therefore it would be seen that the standard of strength to which they had to build was not a comparative one; it was a question of proportion to be considered in relation to the magnitude of the interests to be protected. The sea-borne trade of the Empire represented £1,200,000,000. and that was a figure that spoke for itself. The Navy was not the Navy of this country but the Navy of the Empire. The importation into this country of food and raw material in 1902, was represented by £379,000,000; the tonnage for that year he had not got, but it was larger than in 1901, when it was 34,000,000 tons. Daily there were 93,000 tons of food and raw material brought into this country under the protection of our Navy. The total tonnage of the mercantile marine of the Empire was 16,000,000; the total mercantile tonnage of the test of the world was 17,500,000, and as 1,500,000 of that was on the great lakes of America, the total seagoing tonnage of the Empire was as great as that of the rest of the world. It was clear, therefore, that having these immense, these vital interests to protect, the Admiralty could not estimate the necessity for cruisers by the standard applicable to any other two Powers. Lord Rosebery, speaking not long ago in Scotland, said, "The world is our granary." Yes, and if the world was our granary the British Navy held the key of that granary, and long it would be before any responsible Government would propose, or Parliament sanction, the surrender of that key. Much had been heard of late of the enormous value; of the invisible exports of the country. In that expression was included the earnings of our mercantile marine, and these were absolutely dependent on the maintenance of the open sea by our cruisers. In the published statement of the First Lord there was a reference to the Intelligence Department, and it was one of the duties of this Department to consider the complications of these trade matters and advise the Admiralty, after scientific research, as to the cruiser strength necessary. It was no haphazard estimate; it was arrived at by scientific and expert examination. He could not lay before the House the steps by which the calculation was made, but the House would accept it from him that the Estimates laid before the House, the heavy demands made upon the country, were the result of careful and scientific consideration.


asked what was the standard by which this was arrived at.


said the basis—using that as a better word than standard—was to be found in the figures he had given, and he was sure the House would appreciate his meaning. Smaller vessels followed in proportion, and increase in other Votes was automatic. On these broad grounds, and with a full sense of their responsibility, the Admiralty presented Estimates containing these enormous figures. Repeating what had been said by his predecessor, he could assure the House the Admiralty in no way gloried in the size of the Estimates. The Admiralty much regretted to have to ask the country to make these great sacrifices, but if we were in the position of having to import this immense mass of raw material and food, on which the very existence of our people depended, this expenditure must be considered as an insurance and a set-off against the cheapness of the commodities we obtain.

Upon other matters he was absolved from entering at great length, because the statements in the Estimates and the statement of the First Lord were exhaustive and practically gave all the information necessary. One or two points, however, he would refer to, and first to the personnel. It would be satisfactory to the House to know that steps had been taken to increase the Reserves, because this bore very much on the question of economy. It was clear that, a certain number of men being required to man the Fleet when it was mobilised for war, it must be more economical that a certain proportion should be Reserve men, and not that all should be active service men, with the consequent heavy expenditure. That subject was carefully examined by a very able Committee, presided over by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Berwick, and the whole of the steps which had been taken to increase the Reserves had been taken on the recommendation of that Committee whose Report had been laid before the House. No important criticisms had been made of that Report on the platform or in the Press, and therefore it. might be taken to have been accepted by the country. One of the most important recommendations was the extension of the non-continuous service system, and he might state that the total of 1,000 non-continuous seamen and stokers, which was the number to be taken in any one year, would be reached by the end of this year. The entries wore very satisfactory and were well reported on, and there was every reason to believe that the anticipations of the Admiralty on that point would be justified. Then there was the Royal Fleet Reserve which consisted of active service ratings who were pensioners or had retired from the service and joined the Royal Fleet Reserve. That was a most important Reserve, and the numbers upon the whole were extremely satisfactory. The total number of the Fleet Reserve was 8,548 men, a considerable increase on the total of last year. The Royal] Naval Reserve was also a very important item, and by the Naval Forces Act of last session the limit of 30,000 men, which used to be the limit of that Reserve, was removed. In the coming year it was proposed to increase it by fifty executive officers, 180 warrant engineers, and 3,600 men; and also twenty-five officers for the Australian Reserve. The condition of that Reserve was satisfactory, the numbers showing an increase. An important feature of the Royal Naval Reserve was the institution of a corps of Royal Naval Reserve in Newfoundland. Under the Act of last year the force in Newfoundland was authorised and arrangements had been made by which the Newfoundland Government made an annual payment of £3,000 for the 600 men who were to be enrolled. On 31st December last there were 398 enrolled, whose progress under training was reported to be very satisfactory and whose standard of physique was very high. There was one other important section of the Reserve forces—the Naval Volunteers. They were raised under the Act of last session, organised under local divisions, and sub-divided into companies. Each division was now commanded by a commander, instead of a lieutenant. Up to the present, 2,000 men had been enrolled and two divisions had been formed—one in London, and one on the Clyde—and negotiations were in progress for the formation of divisions in other places on the south and east coasts, and at Liverpool. A drill ship was now being fitted in Sheerness for the London division.

He would like to say a word before departing from the subject of personnel about the most important question of training of men and officers. The first thing he would refer to was the new establishment at Osborne. Last September the building was occupied by eighty naval cadets, within nine months of the original decision of the Board to establish the new system of training. That decision was not come to by the Admiralty without being criticised from one or two points of view, by the hon. Member for Dundee and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University. The method of selection undoubtedly presented considerable difficulties. Hitherto the method of selection of the cadets for the Britannia had been taken at an intermediate age. There were two periods in the career of the average English boy, one when he passed from the preparatory into the secondary school, and one when he passed from the secondary school to the University. It was thought that by taking boys at the age of fifteen, the Admiralty would have the advantage of the boys having received a public school education; but it was found that they did not derive that advantage, and that the real alternative lay between taking the boys at twelve to thirteen, or at seventeen to eighteen, and it was decided, after careful consideration, that the younger age was the better, because the Admiralty would be able to combine a good secondary school education together with that particular training in a naval atmosphere which had been so advantageous in the past. Then the question arose as to competitive examination, and it was held to be cruel to subject these young lads to such an examination. The alternative decided upon was nomination, but nomination surrounded by the greatest safeguards. The system that had been adopted had already been explained to the House, and in the last few days a statement had been circulated showing exactly the way in which the selection for these nominations had been carried out. He thought that the reports of the Interview Committee threw a favourable light on the system, and that hon. Members would agree that it was working out extremely satisfactorily. One boy showed great judgment in an answer given before the Interview Committee. He was asked, "Who were the three greatest admirals?" and he answered, "Nelson, Blake, and Lord Selborne." That the parents of the boys were well satisfied might be gathered from the remark that had been made to him by a lady who had a boy at Osborne. She said, "Our boy is so happy there. He tells us he has cream with his porridge." That showed they did not starve the boys. The establishment at Osborne was provided with a sea-going vessel, in which boys were taken to sea and given instruction, and everything was provided in order to combine the best secondary education, as given in a public school, with that practical instruction so necessary for the education of a naval cadet. He wished strongly to emphasise the desire of the Admiralty that in the selection of these boys no advantage should be given to any boys who had been crammed for any form of examination. The Board of Admiralty desired that the examination should be assimilated as nearly as possible in every particular to the ordinary examination which a boy of twelve or thirteen would have to pass in order to enter a public school. He thought the House would agree that it was in no way necessary to specialise the examination of a boy before that age. It was not intended or desired that any form of specialisation should begin until after the boy had gone to Osborne, and the course of the examination would constantly be directed rather to placing at a disadvantage boys who had been specially crammed for it.

As to the general training of the men, there had been recently a very great change, which the House had fully approved, in the method of training the men of the Fleet. Up to a year ago the whole of the men of the Fleet were trained as seamen in masts and yards, and gunnery and the work in the engine-room and stokehold were treated as specialities. As the necessity for increased knowledge of gunnery, care of machinery, and stokehold duties among all the men of the Fleet was forced upon the Admiralty, it became clear that the gunnery school, the torpedo school, and the various schools in which instruction was given would have to provide accommodation for the whole of the men of the Fleet. Under the new system, instead of these schools being overcrowded, it had been realised that the necessary training for every man of the Fleet was training in gunnery, in stokehold duties, and in care of machinery, from the earliest age at which a boy entered the service on board the training ships. That had become the normal training of every man of the Fleet instead of the training in masts and yards. In addition to that, in order that they might not lose the activity and nerve which were necessary for every seaman, a course of physical instruction and gymnastics was included. The result had been that the schools of special instruction had again become, as they were originally intended to be, schools for the insturction of those who showed special aptitude for the particular work which the schools were intended to teach; overcrowdng was avoided, and the only ratings who were avoided, and the only ratings who were sent to these schools were those who were able to derive considerable profit to themselves and to the service from the instruction which they obtained.

The House had frequently expressed its interest in the question of the shooting of the Fleet, and the Admiralty had been pressed to issue a Return giving the exact particulars of the shooting of each gun in each ship. The Admiralty desired to place at the disposal of the House all the information that it was possible to give on this subject, but he thought the House would see that they could not place hat the disposal of other countries information which was extremely important to them, and which we were not able to obtain from them. But a Return would be issued which would show, not the exact shooting of every gun of every ship, but the relative value of the shooting of every ship and of every series of guns in a ship. The Return would also give the names of the men who had specially distinguished themselves. He thought the House would accept the principle that the prize-firing was by no means everything. What the Admiralty desired was that the men should learn to shoot in peace time at ranges and in conditions probable in war. They wished to avoid an artificial system of practice at ranges not likely to occur in war. He was able, from Returns which had reached the Admiralty, to report that the firing practice during the past year had been a great improvement upon past years. There had been some exceptional shooting. The "Leviathan," he thought, had a record which could hardly be beaten. Steaming at twelve knots and firing ten rounds from a 9.2 gun in three minutes, she obtained ten hits upon a target fifteen feet by twenty feet, at a range of from 1,400 to 2,000 yards. The firing of the twelve-inch guns in the Channel Fleet was also exceptionally good. By the provision of the necessary appliances the Admiralty had done their best to enable the gunners to exercise their skill. They had recently provided every important ship of the Fleet with new six-power telescopes, which was double the power of the telescopes formerly in use. These new telescopes for the China Fleet were now on their way.

There had been a good deal of discussion lately on the question of sights, and he thought it would be proper for him to say that it was a misapprehension to suppose that if they had the range accurately, if they had the cross wires of the sight upon the object, and if the sight of the gun was properly laid, the shot was bound to hit the mark. That was not the case. There were many factors which upset these calculations, such as the temperature, the exact character of the cordite, and the number of shots which had been fired from the gun. A gun had a life of so many shots, and the firing of each shot involved a certain loss in the velocity of the next shot that was fired. It was out of the power of any gunner or mechanician to deal with these factors, and if, at a range of 4,000 yards, these factors worked in the same direction they were capable of making a difference of 300 yards in the fall of the shot. That was an important point, because it showed that the actual adjustment of the sight to the situation of the moment was a matter of the greatest importance, and that what was required in the sight was that it should be accurately adjusted to the gun, and that it should be quickly and easily adjustable by those who were using the gun.


asked, on the question of training, whether the "Northampton" class of boys, who were taken at the age of eighteen or nineteen, was being continued.


said that class was being continued and he believed it was satisfactory. The next question was that of the victualling of the Fleet. The new rations which had been sanctioned had been in force in the training ships for twelve months. They had been found extremely satisfactory and had been much appreciated. The new rations consisted of coffee, condensed milk, jam, preserved vegetables, and a larger amount of preserved meat. The new rations had been in force in the Fleet for five months, and though there was no doubt that they were considerably appreciated, he could not say that they had been taken up to the extent that had been hoped and expected. Apparently many of the men regarded the new rations as an admirable means of increasing their savings, because they allowed a considerable quantity of the rations to lapse, took up the money, and purchased what they required from the canteen. The coffee, however, had been well taken up and was very much appreciated. The question was likely to be asked whether something might not be done to provide the men of the Fleet with soft bread instead of biscuits. The Admiralty had taken up that matter and a start was being made. They had ordered two sets of plant for making and baking bread and installed them in the "King Edward VII." and the "Suffolk." In the Estimates for 1904–5 money was taken for the purchase of ten additional sets of plant, which would be installed in four battleships of the "King Edward VII." class and six cruisers of the "Devonshire" class. If the experiment was successful no doubt the system would be extended. There certainly had been some complaints in the Fleet of the quality of the cooking on board the ships. That was a difficult question. The Admiralty did not wish to increase the number of non-combatants on board ship, but they were desirous of doing everything they could to give instruction in cookery. There were now three schools of cookery, one at each of the three home ports; up to recently there was only one at Portsmouth. Then there was the point raised by the hon. Member for Devonport last year, namely, the question of manufacture at the victualling yards which had been carefully considered, and it had been decided to cease the manufacture of oatmeal, flour and suet. The manufacture of biscuits and chocolate would be continued.

He now came to the progress of construction voted. The policy and the progress of construction and reconstruction were so very fully stated and the names of the ships affected were given in such detail in the statement of the First Lord, that he would only be wearying the House if he repeated the facts set forth there; but he might recall the fact that the total of new construction for the year 1904–5 amounted to the unprecedented sum of £11,500,000, but out of that £948,000 was for the "Triumph" and "Swiftsure," the two ships purchased from the Chilian Government. The point to which attention was directed by the Supplementary Estimate presented to the House a few days ago was the large expenditure on contract repairs and reconstruction. He then stated that those repairs were not progressive, but, on the contrary, that they were special, and that he hoped to be able to announce a considerable reduction in the amount devoted to them in this year's Estimates. He was glad that he could make that good, because, whereas £1,200,000 was devoted to reconstruction and repair in the Estimates of the present year, the Estimates now presented only contained a sum of £600,000, a reduction of 50 per cent. The fact was that they had got rather behindhand in their work of reconstruction and repairs owing to the congestion in the dockyards, and the object of sending these ships to the contract yards was to make up leeway. The effect had been that recently the Comptroller of the Navy had stated to the Board of Admiralty that the whole of the ships which would be mobilized in case of necessity either were actually ready for commission at this moment, or, if they were being reconstructed or repaired, could be ready in a few weeks. That, he thought, was a very satisfactory statement.

Then came the subject of the three new battleships laid down in the dockyards during the past six weeks, which were of the "King Edward VII." type. In the statement made by his right hon. friend the late Secretary to the Admiralty last year, he held out the expectation that these ships would be of a new type. It had been intended that these ships should be put out to contract at a somewhat later date; but it happened that the work in the dockyards had been so advanced that it was necessary either to discharge some of the particular men who were employed on new construction work in the yards, or law down the new ships there. It was therefore decided to lay these vessels down in the dockyards. Certainly it had been hoped at the time his right hon. friend made his statement that the new design would be ready by that period; but the new design had worked out to a considerably larger displacement than the Board had anticipate I, and it was necessary, therefore, entirely to rearrange the design and obtain a smaller displacement at a smaller cost. That would have involved such a delay that it was thought better to lay down these three ships of the "King Edward VII." type, which, after all, was as goad a type of battleship as existed at the present moment. He thought the House would realise that it was not very much out of date when ho said that the two new battleships ordered by the Japanese Government to be laid down in the last few days were practically of the "King Edward VII." type. It was therefore not an out-of-date type; but at the same time the Board of Admiralty would have been glad if they could have fulfilled the expectation held out last year and laid them down after a newer type. The two new battleships, however, which would be laid down in the autumn of this year would be of the new type known as the "Lord Nelson" type.

Criticism might perhaps be directed against the Admiralty to the effect that they were not building sufficient submarines; but he would remind the House that the submarine was still largely in the experimental stage, and he remembered well that in the debate on the Estimates two years ago the hon. Member for Dundee criticised the Admiralty very severely for building submarines too quickly. He would remind the House that these vessels could be built very quickly, and therefore it was not desirable to build too many at once of the same type, as improvements were daily being evolved, and they could hardly tell from week to week whether the existing type might not be to some extent superseded.

Arising out of the question of construction, he might say a few words on the dockyard;. In these Estimates there was a new sub-head to Vote 8 which would provide, for two years only, a sum of £200,000—£100,000 in the coming year, and another £100,000 in 1905–6— for the replacement of obsolete machinery for the dockyards. It was hoped that when that sum had been spent it would suffice to equip the yards with the most modern machinery and enable them to obtain better value from their output and the labour bestowed upon them. Good progress was being made with the installation of the system of electricity in the yards, for which the House voted large sums last year under the Naval Works Act. In the matter of labour in the dockyards questions of pay and salary had recently been raised in the House. Several improvements had been made in the pay and allowances given to dockyard labourers, and the establishment had been increased from a little over 6,000 to 7,000 men. An experiment on a small scale was just about to be tried which it was hoped might have far-reaching effects. The system was going to be inaugurated in the engineering shops of what was known as the premium system, by which a particular time would be allowed—that time having been carefully calculated beforehand by practical observation—within which any particular work could be carried out by the man engaged upon it, If he completed that work satisfactorily, and it passed inspection, within less than the allotted average time, he would then receive a premium calculated proportionately to the amount of time he had saved. That system had already been adopted in one or two large private yards. It was found to work very satisfactorily, and it was hoped that it would work equally satisfactorily in the dockyards. If so, it would certainly be extended.

He had, in conclusion, again to assure the House how deeply the Admiralty felt the responsibility which lay upon them in presenting these immense Estimates. It was suggested by a Motion which was upon the Paper that they were unnecessary, because it would be within the power of the Government and the country to make an arrangement with foreign Powers by whom our standard was set, in order to reduce the amount of naval expenditure in this and other countries. It was not, perhaps, for him to discuss that question at any length, but he might remind the House that the naval policy of this country was purely defensive. The strategy of the British Navy was purely offensive, but the naval policy of the country was purely defensive. That policy being defensive it followed that it was not we who took the lead, but that we followed other Powers and did not initiate expenditure. It had also been stated in that House on several occasions that the only overture of this character which had been made was made at that Table by Lord Goschen when he was First Lord of the Admiralty, and what he said and what arose out of it would be within the recollection of hon. Members. One more source of heavy expenditure to which he would like to refer, was the fact of the very large number of ships we were obliged to put in commission. If there was one lesson which we might learn from recent events in the Far East, it was the rapidity with which a naval blow might be struck at the commencement of a war, and it was evident, if we learnt that lesson, that the Navy which was most prepared for war would be the Navy which would get the enormous advantage of the initiative. It would be clear to the House that even if we had sufficient active service ratings in naval barracks, in the training establishments and in the coastguard, wherever they might be, fully instructed and competent in their duties, and if we had the ships in reserve ready for those men, those ships would be by no means so efficient as if they had entered on the war with their crews ready on board and thoroughly accustomed to the ships. The proof of that was to be found in what happened at manœuvres. The troubles which arose—the breaks down of machinery and mechanism—occurred almost invariably in ships specially commissioned with active service ratings to take part in the manœuvres. Comparatively few breaksdown and difficulties occurred with ships which had been in commission, and which took part in manœuvres with crews that were accustomed to everything on board. The advantages of the immediate stroke, in the case of a navy differed enormously from that in the case of an army. An army could not strike as a navy could strike immediately, and many preparations were necessary before an army could be brought into operation. Therefore, if we were to have the full advantage of the initiative in the case of the Navy it was necessary not only to have the Fleet calculated on the standard he had ventured to suggest and elaborate to the House; but that Fleet, and especially the best ships—because it was the best ships which should be sent into action first—must be kept mainly in commission and ready to strike a blow immediately the necessity arose. He would venture to say before sitting down that although the British Navy was the greatest, and, perhaps, the most powerful engine of war in the world, at the same time it certainly was the opinion of the Admiralty, this House, and the country, and, he believed, of the world, that there was no greater power for the maintenance of peace throughout the whole universe than the British Navy. To that end it should be directed.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said he did not propose at that moment to follow the hon. Gentleman into the long and interesting statement just made to the House, but he thought they should be wanting in courtesy, if they did not at once acknowledge the care which the hon. Gentleman had taken in making his statement and the perfect clearness with which he had laid the proposals of the Government before the House. The proper time for discussing the proposals would be when the House got into Committee, and he had a further reason for postponing what he had to say in the fact that his hon. friend the Member for West Denbighshire had a proposition to make to the House which was of the greatest possible importance. He should not stand in the way of the House discussing it at once. He would content himself now with the almost formal duty he had performed. He saw the acting Leader of the House in his place, and perhaps he might be permitted to say that the true answer to his hon. friend's proposition was one that must come not from the Admiralty but from the representative of the Government.

MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)

said he joined his hon. friend in congratulating the Secretary to the Admiralty on the statement he had made. He thought it would be for the general convenience of the House if they immediately proceeded to discuss the definite issue which was raised in the Motion he desired to submit. At a later stage the House would have full opportunity of discussing the many interesting and important points in the Votes seriatim, but, undoubtedly, the first point they had to consider was the magnitude of the Estimates, and that was the kernel of his Resolution. The object of his Motion in the first place was to call attention to the constant increase that was going on in the Naval Estimates in the second place, to call attention to what was patent to all, that those large increases must, if they were persisted in, have a retarding effect on the industrial system of the country; and, in the third place, to suggest that the time had arrived when they should urge the Government of this country to make every effort possible in order to come to some arrangement with other great naval Powers, which would lead to a diminution in the future shipbuilding programmes of the various countries concerned. He thought the House knew sufficient of his views in regard to the Navy to know that he was one of those who believed that an adequate and efficient Navy was absolutely necessary under existing conditions for the safety of our Empire. It was our principal arm of defence, it was the main protector of our vast commerce, and he submitted that the necessity of maintaining a thoroughly efficient Navy for our purposes was not in any way inconsistent with an earnest desire to urge the Government to make every possible effort by which a diminution might take place in those huge sums which were a burden on our national resources. If they were able happily to achieve any such result, as the outcome of his Motion, it would be a great benefit for all concerned. It would strengthen the better elements in the national life. It would transfer capital from the engines of war to remunerative work, it would vivify commerce, and it would make for international peace. It was quite evident from the speech of the Secretary to the Admiralty, and it was equally evident from the Statement issued by the First Lord of the Admiralty in connection with the Estimates this year, that the Board of Admiralty were fully conscious of the gigantic dimensions of the Estimates. The statement of the First Lord contained the following passage— The Board of Admiralty are well aware that the charge they are asking Parliament to sanction is a heavy one, but Parliament must remember how heavy is the responsibility cast by it on the Board, of providing the country with a Navy strong enough to sustain a struggle with the Navies of any two Powers, and also strong enough to ensure reasonable security to its vast sea-borne trade and to the food supply of the people. The Board ask for nothing which they do not believe to be necessary for this purpose. They have avoided, and will avoid, giving any stimulus to the expansion of armaments by the formulation of large programmes of construction, but when such programmes are adopted by other Powers, they have no choice but to take them into account in framing their own shipbuilding policy. From a practical standpoint it seemed to him that that passage was in itself a justification of the Motion he made. It was an admission on the part of the Board of Admiralty that, so long as things remained as they were now, the Board had no choice in the matter but to go on increasing the programme year by year in order to keep pace with the shipbuilding programmes of other naval Powers. He as one of those who did not challenge the necessity of the two-Power standard. He thought that under existing circumstances it was necessary, but he would point out that it was rather an elastic phrase, capable of a considerable amount of variation. One prejudicial result which had followed the adoption of that standard as the guiding principle of our policy in regard to the programme of shipbuilding, was that it had been the means of discontinuing, to a large extent, the legitimate criticism by the House of Commons of the Navy Estimates. In regard to the past history of this proposal there had been a great deal too much fatalism on the one hand in the mind of the Board of Admiralty, and on the other hand a good deal too much vague enthusiasm on the part of those who were genuinely anxious to reduce armaments. He did not think the present moment was an opportune time for peace Conferences, but he did think it was a favourable time, at all events, for a practical interchange of views between our Government and the Governments of other great naval Powers. That interchange of views should take place and be carried on by the business men of the Cabinet. As we held a predominant position among the Navies of the world he thought it was our plain duty to take the initiative in the matter.

It was admitted on all hands that the two-Power standard had been proved to be sufficient. In the interesting speech which he made on Friday last Lord Brassey emphasised the correctness of that view when he stated that in relation to battleships our strength had been brought fully up to the two-Power standard, with a large margin; while in regard to cruisers we had a still more marked superiority. The hon. Gentleman opposite laid down the proposition that that standard could not be made to apply to cruisers. In regard to the general principle the hon. Gentleman laid before the House he was inclined to believe it, but he thought a distinction might be drawn between first-class cruisers and other cruisers. Lord Brassey in the same speech stated that if the expenditure on shipbuilding had been justified the expenditure on manning had certainly been increased beyond the necessity of the case. He further said that he had done his best to promote the efficiency of the Navy, but he had striven, and would continue to strive, to combine economy and efficiency. It seemed to him in regard to that point made by Lord Brassey, that, under existing conditions, with the two-Power standard in full force, it was almost impossible for us today to combine full efficiency and full economy in our Navy. He did not wish to press the point too far. It seemed to him that, so long as the Board of Admiralty acted in accordance with the view that they should keep pace with all the developments that suddenly took place in the shipbuilding programmes of other countries, there must be a certain amount of waste of public money in carrying out such a policy. He thought it was admitted on all hands that we were in a position in which we could fairly, without our action being misconstrued, approach the other naval Powers concerned. It might be said that although that might be so now, it might not be so three or four years hence. He had been interested to see an estimate in the German Naval Annual of what the relative strength of the Great Naval Power's of Europe would be in 1907. Dealing only with battleships, in that year Great Britain would have a tonnage of 749,000 tons, France 340,000 tons, Russia 300,000 tons; the United States 260,000 tons, and Germany 213,000 tons. In other words we should be within 100,000 tons, three years hence, of the combined aggregate tonnage of France, Russia, and Germany. The same superiority, and more, would be maintained in regard to cruisers and torpedo boats. He mentioned these figures to show that even looking three or four years ahead we would be fully justified in approaching the other great naval Powers on the two-Power standard.

But turning to the other side of the question, what did these huge annual charges for our Navy mean to the people of this country who paid the taxes? He would only take a few figures relative to the last thirty years. In 1870 we spent on our Navy £9,420,000; in 1880 £10,000,000; in 1890 £15,000,000; in 1900 £26,000,000, and in 1904–5 we were going to spend £37,000,000. These, figures were alarming; but a still more serious question was raised if these figures were examined in relation to the taxable capacity of the country. They meant that in 1870 the expenditure on the Navy was at the rate of 5s. 10d. per head of the population; in 1880, 5s. 9d.; in 1890, 8s.; in 1900, 12s. 5d.; and to-day it was 17s. 8d. per head—man, woman and child. Put in another way the expenditure on the Navy was four times as much to-day as it was thirty years ago, and three times as much calculated at per head of the population. An hon. friend on the other side of the House might remind him that the wealth of the country had increased by 30 per cent. during the last thirty years; but his reply to that argument was that the weight of the burden of taxation on account of the Navy had increased by no less than 300 per cent. These were facts and figures which ought to receive the immediate attention of the House. Of course the Admiralty had a defence for this huge expenditure. The First Lord of the Admiralty on Friday night last said— The Navy Estimates are very heavy. What does that mean? What is their jus; ideation? It is by the Navy, with the assistance of the Army, that you hold these markets I have mentioned; that you hold the whole British Empire, and the rights of trade in China and countries like that. Why have you no anxiety about the continuance of your trade—cotton, woollen, iron, and all the many other manufactures? It is because their path on the great waters is rendered sure and certain by the work of the Navy. He thought there would be some difficulty in harmonising these views and those of his hon. friend opposite. He himself did not deny these facts, but maintained that a point must be reached some time, if we proceeded much further with this increased expenditure, when the drain on our national resources would seriously affect our industrial system. If his Motion were carried it would not: in any way affect the paramount position of Great Britain as the great naval Power of the world. Who could doubt, in this matter of the defence of the Empire, that the stability of the nation and the Empire did not altogether depend on our strength of armaments, but that a good deal of the vitalising power behind our industrial enterprise and progress sprang from a buoyant Exchequer and an industrious people? If our resources were buoyant in time of peace the better would we be able to bear the strain of a time of war if that time unhappily arrived.

He wished to say one word as to the possibility and advisability of taking some such step as was suggested by his Resolution. He knew there were immense difficulties in the way; he admitted that we had not yet reached the millenium. But were those difficulties insurmountable? He did not believe that; and even if they were insurmountable that would not absolve us from the duty of attempting to carry this programme out. There were one or two favourable elements in the present situation. First of all, there was what was going on in the great struggle between two great Powers in the Far East. Lord Selborne referred in his speech on Friday last to the lessons we were to obtain from that struggle. Was it not possible that when that struggle was over—and they all hoped it would be early—a favourable opportunity might arise of bringing some such suggestion as he had made before the other great naval Powers? Again, another favourable element was that all the great naval Powers of Europe were now in the greatest possible state of efficiency. Very striking figures had appeared the other day in a great London journal to show the very great increase which had taken place in the last thirty years in the naval armaments of other countries. There was another element distinctly favourable to the consideration of his Motion in a practical spirit. It was the great part which His Majesty the King had played in promoting friendly relations between this country and other Powers in Europe. His Majesty had not only brought the Courts but the peoples of the three great Powers nearer to each other. Summing up the policy which would lead to a reduction in our armaments and pave the way to the realisation of the Motion now before the House, there were certain necessary conditions. First of all, everybody would concur with him as to the necessity for tightening the bonds between this country and the United States, and the necessity for cultivating friendly relations with all the great Powers of Europe. Some hon. friends on both sides of the House seemed to think that a reduction of the burden of the Navy on the people of this country might come about through an increased contribution from the Colonies. He was somewhat sceptical of ever realising that. Lastly, there was the necessity of consolidating, instead of expanding, our territorial Empire. If all these points were looked to, he thought the time was not very far distant when a very advantageous and practical result was to be obtained in the realisation of the Motion now being discussed. Before he concluded he must refer to a very important statement upon this subject made, in this House, by Mr., now Lord, Goschen, then First Lord of the Admiralty, in the year 1899. In introducing the Naval Estimates in March of that year Mr. Goschen made use of these words— I have now to state on behalf of Her Majesty's Government that if the other great naval Powers should he prepared to diminish their programme of shipbuilding we should be prepared on our side to meet such a procedure by modifying ours. These were explicit words, and he hoped that the hon. Gentleman when he came to reply on behalf of the Admiralty would; make it clear how the Government now stood in regard to that explicit declaration, and how it was to be carried out. It was evident if those Estimates continued to expand at the present rate that they would increase far beyond the taxable capacity of the country. It was clear that they could not go on indefinitely in this manner and that the time would arrive when it would be necessary to settle the question in the direction of retrenchment.

That was the practical side of the Motion. It also had another side. The chief aim of Empire was to influence the higher qualities by all things which were honest and just and true. He believed that if that ideal could be realised it would bring inevitably in its train strength of dominion and permanence of power. While he was prepared to admit to the full the necessity for an efficient and adequate Navy, yet some kind of arrangement which would lead to the diminution of annually increasing expenditure would be a permanent blessing not only to this country but to all other countries concerned. It would make for international peace and for the progress of humanity. Ha was reading the other day a speech delivered by the late Mr. Gladstone in. 1862, and he thought it would be well if the House of Commons cherished, more than it did, something of the horror which the late Mr. Gladstone and his contemporaries entertained in regard to extravagance in public expenditure. He said that all excels in public expenditure beyond the legitimate wants of the community, was not only waste but a great political and a great moral evil. The House and the country would do well to ponder on that sentiment, and it was on those general grounds and in that spirit that he desired to commend to the favourable attention of the House the Resolution which he now moved.

MR. BUCHANAN (Perthshire, E.)

said he wished to second the Motion of his hon. friend, and in doing so would not detain the House very long because his hon. friend had gone over the ground with great ability, and because he himself trespassed on the time of the House last session on the same subject. He approached the question almost exclusively from the financial point of view. He would not venture to put forward his opinion on a purely naval subject, though he hoped he would be allowed to make one observation on the statement of the Secretary to the Admiralty, who appeared to him to give a wider interpretation as to what was known as the two-Power standard than had hitherto been given to it. The hon. Gentleman limited his comparisons to battleships, and expressly excluded cruisers, which were, he said, to be reserved for the purpose of protecting commerce.


said that perhaps he gave the House a false impression. He did not mean to convey that cruisers were not to be considered at all in arriving at a comparison between the naval strength of this country and of foreign countries. What he intended to say was that the comparison could not be confined to cruisers.


said he gathered from the hon. Gentleman's speech that he excluded cruisers altogether. In his opinion that was hardly fair, particularly as far as first-class cruisers were concerned. First-class cruisers were ships which would certainly be in the fighting fine and which ought to be taken into consideration in any fair comparison between the fighting strength of this country and of other countries. Their tonnage amounted to 12,000, 13,000 or 14,000 tons, and they were powerfully armoured and ought to be taken into consideration. At present, as regarded first-class cruisers, this country was equal to the whole world. Its power in this department of naval strength was overwhelming. The hon. Gentleman said that as regarded battleships alone this country was equal to the two-Power standard. He wished to know if the hon. Gentleman included ships in course of construction in that comparison. He himself was under the impression that in 1906 this country would in battleships be equal not only to the two-Power standard but to the three-Power standard. There was no doubt that the country was not only well up to the two-Power standard but that it was considerably beyond it; and judged by that standard their position was amply secured at the present moment. The Secretary to the. Admiralty began his speech, as all spokesmen of the Admiralty in recent years began their speeches, by a statement. about the magnitude of the Estimates and the great burden they were imposing on the people, at which he expressed regret which no doubt he felt. He thought, however, hon. Members were getting somewhat weary of the introductory melancholy observations which fell from the representatives of the Admiralty. They reminded him of the annual observations of the hon. Member for West Islington on economy, which never led to anything. During the past ten years every representative of the Admiralty who had to submit increased Estimates for naval purposes always began his speech by a reference to their magnitude and how keenly the Admiralty felt the burden which they were imposing on the people. In 1898 Mr. Goschen, as he then was, in submitting Estimates for £23,500,000. described them as colossal. They would thank Heaven most sincerely if they could now get back to those Estimates. The present Secretary for War, when he was Secretary to the Admiralty, described the Estimates he introduced as quite unparalleled in peace or war. Still the Naval Estimates continued to increase from year to year, and the object of the Motion was to endeavour to get the House of Commons to consider how that increase could be arrested.

The First Lord's Statement gave most fully the expenditure under the various Naval Votes. He only wished the War Office were in the habit of issuing a similar statement for, if any hon. Member desired to see an illustration of the difference, he had only got to compare the information given in Lord Selborne's Statement with a very skimpy document which had been put into the Vote Office that afternoon by the War Office. This table in the Navy Estimates was a very valuable one, and conveyed information which the House had a perfect right to be informed of. That statement began just at the period when the present Government came into office. In the year 1895–6 the total amount of naval expenditure was £19,637,000, but that sum had gone up by leaps of £1,000,000, £2,000,000 and £3,000,000, to £36,890,000, and in the course of ten years there had been an increase of £20,000,000. That was an enormous increase at the rate of no less than £10,000,000 every five years. In the year 1895–6 they voted 85,000 men. They were now asking for 131,000 men, or an increase of more than 50 per cent. in ten years. In 1895–6 Vote A stood at £9,000,000 and now it was £18,000,000, showing an increase of 100 per cent. But this was not all the naval expenditure for the year. As the House was well aware there was a considerable amount of naval expenditure not included in the Navy Estimates, and the expenditure on that score had also been steadily increasing year after year. He alluded more especially to the expenditure under the Naval Works Act. In 1895–6 the annual expenditure upon naval works was comparatively small, but it had been going up year after year, and on the 31st of March this year it would have reached no less than £3,490,000,ornearly£3,500,000. Therefore the total figure which they were going to spend during the currency of the present year, assuming that the expenditure upon naval works would not increase next year, was £40,718,000. That was an enormous expenditure for the House to be asked to vote for naval purposes, compared with what was considered adequate and satisfactory only five years ago. But the story did not end there, because within the limits of these Estimates there was an enormous amount of consequential, or what had been called automatic, expenditure involved. The sums of money they were asked to vote and the increase in the number of men if passed must inevitably lead to a very large increase in the Navy Estimates. He was not capable of judging the amount, but it would certainly be several millions of money, and therefore, he wished to call attention to one or two facts upon this subject.

The right hon. Gentleman opposite, dealing last year with the naval works, said it was hardly sufficiently realised by those who initiated the wholesale expansion of the Navy what that would amount to. Every year they became more and more aware of the truth of that statement which had been reiterated from time to time in the House of Commons, and by no one with greater vigour and conviction than Mr. Goschen. In introducing the Navy Estimates in 1896 Mr. Goschen reminded the House— Thay any increase in the Fleet meant not ! only an increase in the number of ships but must be followed all along the line by expenditure in other directions. More ships, meant more men to man them, more officers, more engineers, more stokers and more ratings of every kind, more centres of training, more accommodation, both on shore and sea, more schools, more hospital accommodation, and more barrack accommodation. They were becoming now more and more alive to the overwhelming burden being imposed upon them by this continual expansion of the Navy. He should like to know what was involved in this increase in the number of men by 4,000 or 5,000. He wished to know what addition these extra men would make to the annual expenditure of the country some five or ten years from now. One Vote had hardly been affected at all by this increase and that Vote was one for pensions, which still stood at the figure which was adequate to meet 6,000 or 7,000 pensions. That was a Vote which was likely to largely increase in the future. Last year the House would remember that sanction was given to two practically new dockyards. The extensions to the Chatham Dockyard practically made it a new one, and then there was the establishment of a large dockyard in the Firth of Forth. They had not been able to get a statement from the Admiralty with regard to expenditure under the Naval Works Act upon those two dockyards, and still less were they able to ascertain the amount that would fall upon the Estimates for those purposes. He asked by means of. a Question what had been the cost of the dockyards, and he was told that it was impossible for the Admiralty to give the figure. If they were going to add two extra dockyards with a full complement of men capable of building ships of a heavy character, they would be adding several millions to their annual expenditure. He did not wish to weary the House with figures, but he wished to ask was there no possibility of finality in this matter, and was it not possible, with all the expert knowledge which the Admiralty possessed, to give the House some idea when they considered that the Navy would be in accordance with the condition of naval strength rendered necessary by the shipbuilding programmes of foreign Powers, and when they would consider they had made sufficient provision for that purpose. They had occasionally had hopes held out that such a time might arrive. Mr. Goschen, in the year 1897, in one of his naval statements held out, if not the expectation, at any rate the aspiration, that such a point might be arrived at. If he might quote that somewhat unreliable prophet the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, he stated in 1902 that, after his experience of seven years at the Exchequer of the expenditure upon the Navy, in which they had increased their naval force relatively to the other great naval Powers, he saw no further reason for any increase in the naval expenditure of succeeding years. His anticipations had not been fulfilled and the expenditure went on increasing. They ought to get some promise that those Estimates would not continue to increase. Surely their naval expenditure ought not to increase out of all proportion to the growth of their revenue. He would remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the words of Sir Robert Peel, who, when pressed for large expenditure, both on the Army and the Navy, stated, in reply to the Duke of Wellington, that there was to be considered, not only the urgency of the demand, but also the capacity of the taxpayers to bear the expenditure. It was of overwhelming importance in case of war that there should be a full Exchequer, a lightly-taxed people, and the ability to raise money on short notice at a low rate of interest. The object of this Amendment was to repeat the suggestion which had been made before, not only by the Opposition but also by the Government side of the House. In fact, the words of the Amendment were largely those used by Mr. Goschen in 1898. But Mr. Goschen was not the first to urge the importance of such a course being taken. It was Pitt's remedy at the end of the Great War; it was Peel's remedy in the forties, and was urged upon the House with overwhelming force at that time; it was also the remedy urged in 1859, 1860, and 1861 by Mr. Disraeli, who, when it was contended that this country could not take the initiative, asked what was the use of Government diplomacy, and cordial understandings, if this sort of thing could not be done. The House had a right to expect the Government to make the attempt. As to the contention that we must follow in the wake of action taken by other naval Powers, we were confessedly the first naval Power in the world, and if the Government sincerely believed that their naval programme was for the purpose of defence, and not of offence, they could with a clear conscience and clean hands go to other Powers and see whether some arrangement could not be made, at any rate, as regarded future expansion of naval programmes.

Reference had been made to the commerce on the lakes between Canada and the United States. Thanks to an international arrangement of forty years standing, neither this country nor the United States were put to the expense of maintaining any armed force on those vast inland waters, although they would be of great strategic importance in the event of any dispute between the two nations. That was a small illustration, but from it he argued that something might be attempted, and certainly the Government could do no harm to themselves or to the country by making the attempt. Possibly the outbreak of war in the Ear East did not make the moment a favourable one for taking such steps, but the war would not last for ever, and possibly with its conclusion a better opportunity would present itself. In any case it was incumbent upon this House, as the guardians of the public exchequer, and as being anxious that every step consistent with the safety of the country should be taken to diminish the burden upon the taxpayers, to urge this year, as in previous years, the overwhelming responsibility which rested upon the Government of ascertaining whether by friendly negotiations with foreign Powers they could not come at any rate to a preliminary arrangement by which this enormous and increasing burden might be diminished.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words in view of the heavy burdens placed upon the people of the country by this increasing expenditure, and in the interests of international peace, this House is of opinion that His Majesty's Government should enter into communication with the great naval Powers in order to ascertain whether they will he prepared to diminish their programmes of shipbuilding, and to adjust upon some permanent basis their relative naval strength.'"—(Mr. Herbert Roberts.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said that as a member of the Defence Committee, and one who had been responsible to a certain extent for both services, perhaps it would not be out of place if he were to say a few words on the Amendment. The hon. Member who had just spoken, and the mover, need not anticipate from him any disagreement with the motives which he knew prompted the Amendment, and he should certainly be the last to treat their arguments with disrespect or discourtesy. He thought he had given evidence in the past that he was as sensible as they could be of the magnitude of the evils of which they complained. He supposed the experience of all who had to do with the administration of these great spending Departments was alike: he of ten felt that the horror of administering these enormous sums for unproductive purposes was something almost too saddening to one's political life. But he would try to recall the House to the operative part of the hon. Member's Amendment, which was the last part. Ho had listened to both speeches with interest, but he confessed a portion of them seemed to him to be rather in the nature of the tail of a comet, very easily compressible to a small amount of substance. The proposal now made was that the Government ought to do something more than it had already done in order to induce other nations to diminish their naval armaments in concurrence with our own; and in order to enforce that lesson a certain number of circumstances connected with the Naval Estimates and with the Army Estimates had been cited. The conclusion in itself was a very good one, no doubt, but he did not think the arguments supported it, or that by themselves they bore examination. He should like to ask what was the real value of recommendations of this kind unless hon. Members themselves would be prepared, if they were in a position of responsibility, to give effect to them. He ventured very respectfully to doubt whether the hon. Member, if he were, as he had no doubt he would be some day, in a position of responsibility, would be the first to give effect to the principles he now elaborated and the proposal he had put before the House. In the presence of his hon. friend the Secretary to the Admiralty it would be out of place for him to dwell on the questions of standards and naval forces which were brought in to reinforce the arguments. He did not accept all that was said with regard to those standards, still less did he accept the authority which hon. Members seemed to arrogate to themselves to pronounce on these matters. He undoubtedly agreed with what the Secretary to the Admiralty had said—for instance, that the question of the cruiser standard was purely a technical question, which could not usefully be judged merely by comparing the numbers on one list with the numbers on another. And much as he respected the financial knowledge of the hon. Member for Perth, he did not think the hon. Member was a good expositor of the relative values of the armoured and unarmoured cruisers, and he confessed he preferred to take the considered judgment of the Admiralty on this point. But he did not argue that matter, because he did not think it really touched the question at issue very closely. He did rather protest against the argument used by the hon. Member who had just sat down, and the hon. Member before him, that they could at all judge of the character of our naval expenditure by merely comparing tonnage. Of course the tonnage test was so absolutely illusory that he need not dwell on it. If he were to enumerate a number of ships in our own Navy, which, owing to circumstances which had very little to do with their fighting capacity, had a larger tonnage than what he might call their opposite numbers in the navies of other Powers, he should be able to run up thousands of tons on the account without convincing himself, at any rate, that he had shown that there was any actual battle superiority on the one side as against the other. That was no argument against our constructors; because owing to the circumstances of our Empire we were compelled to make our ships of a character which was not imposed on other constructors. But he did not want to enter at all into these questions of constructive detail. He did want to dwell on the lesson which the hon. Member desired they should learn.

The hon. Member said we ought to go to foreign nations and tell them we desired the discontinuance of their naval energies, to be accompanied by the discontinuance of our own. Now, had we not done that in the most public way in which the thing could be done? The hon. Member himself had quoted the words of Mr. Goschen in that House. He himself, though in a much less important position than Mr. Goschen then occupied, had repeated, with the sanction of the Government of which he then formed a part, the pledge which was then given. He now in the most formal manner repeated it once more. He said that this country was prepared to consider any proposition of any foreign country with a view to reducing naval armaments which might be made. It might be said that foreign countries were not aware of what was said in the House of Commons. They were not such an obscure body as that. These proposals had been discussed, canvassed, and commented upon both in the Press and in the Parliaments of other countries. That being so, he thought we had done enough. The reason he thought we had done enough was that in this matter we were passive, that we were simply defending our own. The last European annexation we made was, he thought, the annexation of the island of Corsica, and from that time we had had no part in the alteration of the map of Europe except by relinquishing the portions of European territory that we held. It was fair, therefore, that we should ask other Powers to commence, for, in this connection we were dealing with a subject-matter which no other Power was dealing with. We were dealing with the absolute life of our nation. Who could say of any single European nation that the maintenance or the increase of its fleet stood in the same proportion of importance as it did to us? What would happen if a foreign country were to diminish its fleet? Could we invade it? If it had no fleet at all we could not invade it? Our Army Establishments were not on that, scale. Foreign countries knew perfectly well that they had nothing to fear from us in that way. There was not a single country in Europe that could not practically abolish its fleet to-morrow so far as any danger from us was concerned. Our Fleet, on the other hand, was our one guarantee against invasion by those colossal armies of the Continent which would be at liberty to invade this country mmediately our maritime protection was gone. That argument might not carry conviction to hon. Members opposite, but with him it had very great weight. This Government had gone certainly as far any Government which preceded it had gone, and he thought as far as any Government of this country was entitled to go, in putting our views before the Chancellories of Europe. The hon. Member opposite cited Mr. Gladstone as a preacher in this matter, and quoted him in support of the almost immoral obliquity of increasing the Estimates. There were ways direct and indirect of increasing the Estimates. He remembered very well, not when the Navy Estimates stood at £9,000,000, bur when they stood at £13,000,000, and, at that time, when there was a threatened war with France, it was with difficulty that we could add two battleships to the British Fleet. What was the consequence? Directly Mr. Gladstone went out of office £21,000,000 had to be voted for the service of the Navy, with the consent of every sensible man in this country, in order to repair the inadequacy of the Navy. He did not consider that a great economy. If hon. Members could go, as he had gone, all over the Continent to the great naval and military establishments; if they could gee the activity with which naval and military preparations were carried on; if they could see the enormous expenditure and the enormous intellectual effort which were devoted to the increase of the naval and military forces of foreign Powers, then they would realise that this instinct of self-protection on our part was not altogether unjustified.

But he did not measure this question merely by the Navy Estimates or the Military Estimates of a single year. The hon. Member opposite said that nothing was a greater protection than a buoyant Exchequer and a prosperous people. He remembered another country which had a buoyant Exchequer and a prosperous people. He remembered also when Lord Granville informed the House of Lords that there was not a cloud on the European horizon and when twelve months after that declaration, a country with a buoyant Exchequer and a prosperous people had to pay five milliards for the liberty to exist. He remembered, too. that these little miscalculations did not end with that five milliards, and that France had had to pay ever since the most terrific toll for recuperating after that calamity, and for restoring to itself that position of confidence which every great country aspired to possess, and which, he hoped, this country would never abandon Those were the costs which they had to pay for neglect in these matters; and this he was always willing, and should be always willing, to take any step which he believed to be reasonable to induce the Powers of Europe to cooperate with us in the reduction of armaments, he would never accept the argument, unless it were backed up by much better reasons than he had heard that afternoon, that we should reduce the expenditure on our Navy, in deference to what was, after all, somewhat amateur criticism of the calculations the Admiralty had made.


said he did not ask the Government to reduce our armaments unless the other Powers were prepared to do the same. What he suggested was—and this was the whole crux of the matter—that, having regard to our special position in this matter, it would be well for us to take the initiative and make a representation to the other Powers.


said the mind or the Government as expressed last year was the mind of the Government now. They were prepared now, as they were prepared then, to accept any proposal from countries less interested than this country in a reduction of naval expenditure which should be carried on, pari passu, by the nations of the world. There would be no Government which would hail with greater satisfaction than that which now sat on those Benches the successful realisation of any proposal which would allow them to reduce this lamentable expenditure of money upon the means of war, whether it was for the Army or the Navy.


said that, while the right hon. Gentleman had made an important concession to the sentiments of his own friends, the language he used in the earlier portion of his speech did not prepare him for the conclusion at which he ultimately arrived. The right hon. Gentleman quarrelled with the arguments of his hon. friends. But they did not find fault, as he understood them, with the standard set up by the Admiralty nor with the application made by the Admiralty of that standard. The figures they used were designed to prepare the way for the operative part of the Resolution by showing that the burden of the Navy Estimates was growing year by year and was now, he did not say excessive, but oppressive on the resources of the country. Neither the right hon. Gentleman nor his colleagues would deny that for the last nine years the Estimates had been growing steadily at the rate of about £2,000,000 a year. The net Navy Estimates did not show the whole extent of our burden. Including the Appropriations-in-Aid, the money to be raised under the Naval Works Loan, and the sums borne upon Civil Service Estimates for naval purposes, the naval expenditure for the coming year would be not the sum mentioned in the Estimates, but a sum of £42,300,000. To that had to be added the amount of money under the Naval Works Loans Act, which he took to be no loss than £4,000,000. There was also a not inconsiderable sum borne on the Civil Service Estimates for naval purposes which was never mentioned. That amounted to £335,000. After knocking off £634,000 required to pay interest and to establish the sinking fund under the Naval Works Loans Act the gross result was that the naval expenditure of the coming year,.

according to the proposals now before the House, would be not the sum mentioned, but a sum of £42,300,000. [An HON. MEMBER: And the Supplementary Estimates as well.] He was assuming that there would be no Supplementary Estimates. These figures proved the first part of his hon. friend's case that naval expenditure was growing, and the second that it was oppressive. There was no sign of any limit or of any relief, for the colonial contribution was infinitesimal. Therefore a case had been made out for the consideration of his hon. friend's proposal.

What was the answer of the Secretary of State for War? From his answer it appeared that the sole point left at issue between the Government and his hon. friend was as to who should take the initiative. The right hon. Gentleman in the earlier part of his speech was unfair to the Government, and he was unfair even to himself, because on many occasions in former days when he occupied a position of less responsibility he came nearer to his hon. friend's position than when he said to-day that no person had ever gone so far as Mr. Goschen in 1898. The right hon. Gentleman forgot the most important of all the steps taken. When Mr. Goschen declared that if Russia was going to build a certain number of ships we would build against them, and that if Russia did not go on we would not, then Russia issued the invitation to the Hague Conference. Lord Salisbury, who was then Prime Minister, accepted the invitation to The Hague Conference. At that Conference the representatives of the various Governments of Europe passed a Resolution accepting the principle that there should he a concurrent and reciprocal reduction of naval armaments, and they recommended their respective Governments to fake the very step which the Amendment now called upon them to take. In July 1ast in this House, in answer to a Question whether he would do what his hon. friend now asked to be done, the Prime Minister said the Government had not altered their views, and that if any Government would take the initiative we should be glad to join them, but it must be remembered that the expenditure on the British Fleet alone among the fleets of the world, or almost alone, was mainly of a defensive character, and that the other fleets of the world could not claim to have that character. But was there any nation in the world that would not claim that its fleet was defensive? The initiative ought to come from us if for no other reason that after that statement any other Power taking the initiative would be fitting the cap offered by the Prime Minister on to its head and admitting that its fleet had the offensive character he attributed to it. We had one character which no other nation would dispute. Our Fleet at present held absolute supremacy on the seas. It was our object to maintain that supremacy, but as we were in the supreme position we could afford to take the step Russia took in 1898 better than any other nation.

* MR. HARRIS (Tynemouth)

said it was a matter of regret that circumstances had forced on the country such heavy expenditure on our Army and Navy. In view of all the circumstances of the case he thought that it lay rather with other Powers than with us to make a commencement in the direction of curtailment. In the desire for increased armaments which was so evident among all the great Powers of Europe we could not afford to be left behind. We had a responsibility to bear and obligations to meet which they had not. We owned practically half of the mercantile tonnage of the world. We had to look to the protection of a fourth of the earth's area, and a fourth of its population. So long as other nations continued to increase the amount they spent on their Navies we perforce were obliged to do the same. In listening to the figures given by the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment he was reminded of a speech by the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Islington last year in which he stated that in the twenty years between 1863 and 1883 our trade had increased from £13 to £21 per head, while in the twenty succeeding years it had only increased by £1 per head. Those things must give the hon. Gentleman, with his pronounced views of free trade, some anxiety in regard to the future trade of the country. He believed those figures were absolutely accurate; while we were obliged to spend those huge sums on our Navy and Army, we had at the same time to face this enormous decrease in the percentage of the prosperity of the country. But there were other circumstances which should carry more weight. He asserted that if we looked to our over-sea trade, to the great commercial interests involved in all quarters of the world, our existence as an Empire depended upon our mercantile marine. Looking to these considerations, if the Estimates erred at all, they erred on the side of being too small instead of being too large. We had fixed for our Navy a two-Power standard; but there had been two definitions of what that standard was. The Secretary to the Admiralty said that our Navy should be such that this country should be able to engage in a naval war with reasonable probability of emerging victorious from a contest with two naval Powers. He observed that the First Lord of the Admiralty had gone rather beyond that definition, for his Lordship said, we must have— A Navy strong enough to sustain a struggle with the navies of any two Powers, and also strong enough to ensure reasonable security to its vast sea-borne trade, and to the food supply of the people. It was in connection with the sea-borne trade that he wished to make a few remarks; but, before doing so, he desired to put before the House a further consideration in regard to the two-Power standard. To his mind a two-Power standard should not only be sufficient to enable us to hold and defeat the navies of two other nations, but should suffice to ensure the due arrival of stores and ammunition of war in every quarter of the world, to protect our transports to India and the Colonies, to safeguard our coaling stations and the great service these would be able to render to our fleet and our mercantile marine, and to leave a sufficient margin over to keep open the great trade routes and protect our mercantile marine. At the commencement of last year Admiral Freemantle wrote a very interesting magazine article in which he expressed the opinion that we required 160 additional cruisers to fulfil the conditions of a two-Power standard, and at the same time maintain our mercantile supremacy at sea. He was inclined to agree with that opinion, and, as a shipowner, and representing a shipping constituency, he must say he felt the greatest anxiety and apprehension as to what our position would be in the next great naval war. He need not remind the House that this country had to depend on its sea-borne trade for, not only the food we consume, but also the raw material we worked up in our factories and workshops. Unless, therefore, we could ensure the due arrival of this food and raw material, and the due export of our manufactured articles, we should be at the mercy of any foreign Power that chose to starve our population, or close our factories and workshops. He remembered reading a speech by an eminent statesman in which he said, speaking of this country, that "stomachs count for more than arms." There was an element of truth in that remark, and he believed that we had as much to fear in the future from starving people at home, as from the arms of any nation or combinations of nations against us. And it was because he was convinced that we should pay more attention to absolutely ensuring the due arrival of food and raw materials, that he urged the Government not be led away by criticisms which might be passed on the amount of the Estimates. No one knew what would happen in the next war, but he would read a quotation from the Press of the day which showed what an enormous amount of damage could be done to the shipping of any country even by a small number of armed cruisers. It referred to the war of 1812— The public will learn with sentiments which we shall not presume to anticipate, that a third British frigate has struck to an American. This is an occurrence which calls for serious reflection, this and the facts stated in one paper of yesterday that Lloyd's list contains notice of upwards of 500 vessels captured in seven months by the Americans. It was to be remembered that at that time the United States had no more than sixteen or eighteen ships of war, whilst we had eighty-five on the American station. Privateering was forbidden under the Declaration of Paris. But in 1870 the Prussian Government obtained the services of a certain number of merchant vessels, manned them with their own officers, furnished them with papers, and sailed them under the Prussian flag. Thus in the space of a few hours they converted what would have been privateers in other circumstances into recognised belligerents. That could be done again in another war, and showed that privateering had only been abolished in name and not in fact. It was said that under the Declaration of Paris this country would benefit by being able to obtain supplies of food and raw material in neutral vessels. Although that might appear so at first sight, as a matter of fact it constituted a greater danger to this country than if that provision had never existed at all. Mr. Cobden, in the course of a speech delivered in 1856, shortly after the Declaration of Paris was signed, said— Have you ever thought of the effects that would be produced in English shipping property in case of war with America or other maritime Power, owing to the principle now being formally admitted that free ships make free goods? All our carrying trade would, of course, be in the hands of neutrals, who would carry goods in English bottoms, and pay 20 per cent. against capture, when ships under other flags would sail without any such burden. To his mind the danger of our trade being forced into the hands of neutral owners by reason of this provision in the Declaration of Paris was one we should guard against as greater than the danger of capture itself. The cost of insurance was regulated by the protection that our Navy would be able to give to our mercantile marine, and consequently the less protection it was able to afford, the more our British shipowners and shipping would be handicapped as against neutral owners and neutral vessels. We had only to look at the experience of America during the Civil War. In 1860 the United States was paramount amongst nations as a great shipping Power; it was only second to Great Britain in the amount of its tonnage. In that year forty-one American ships were transferred from the American to the British flag, and in 1863 346 American ships of a tonnage of 252,000 tons were transferred to our flag, because American shipowners found that they were unable to affect insurances on their vessels, and rather than lay them up they sold them to foreigners. At the end of the Civil War the American mercantile fleet had practically ceased to exist—it had either been sold, or captured by a few Confederate cruisers. He might be told that if we looked to the experience of the past, to the war with France, we should find that British shipping prospered, and even at the end of the war was in a more flourishing condition than before. But he would point out that the conditions then were very different from what they were to-day. At that time any vessel carrying a British cargo was liable to capture, and therefore the cost of insurance on foreign ships was higher than on even British ships, which were able to enjoy the protection afforded by our convoy system. But to-day the convoy system was impossible. Under modern conditions it could not be expected that steamships would collect in large numbers and wait until a convoy had been prepared. They must look to other means for the protection of the mercantile marine. There was one system, and one system only, by which the mercantile marine could be properly protected, and that was the proper patrolling of the great trade routes It was estimated that if the 8uez Canal were closed, our vessels would pass any given spot between the Cape and Plymouth at the rate of one per hour, and it was evident there fore that a foreign commerce destroyer might in a few hours inflict a great amount of damage on the mercantile marine and produce a panic in this country which would increase the price of all commodities. He looked with great apprehension to what the next naval war might bring forth; and he hoped the Government would reject the dicta of those who considered only the pockets of the taxpayers, and that they would look at the interests of the Empire generally and the welfare of our mercantile marine.

MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)

said that the hon. Member who had just spoken delivered a speech in favour of a strong Navy, and discussed a variety of topics of great general interest, but he failed to see what bearing the hon. Member's speech had on the Motion. He thought, however, that the hon. Gentleman ought to be excused for the course be had taken, because the greater part of the speech of the Minister for War was in the same direction. It ignored the Motion and devoted itself to fighting against what had not been set up by any hon. Gentleman. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that there were sitting on the Opposition Benches men who were just as keen about the Navy and as anxious to have it strong and efficient as any hon. Members in any quarter of the House. But that was not what they were now discussing. He was aware of the gravity of such matters, and if a responsible Minister said that it was necessary to spend a certain amount in order to make the Navy efficient, he himself might grieve over the amount but he would hesitate long before he would oppose the expenditure. That was not the question, however, they were discussing at present. The Motion made a specific proposition, which was that it was the duty of the Ministry to enter into negotiations with other countries with a view to reducing the expenditure not of this country alone but of all the great naval Powers, and to establish some sort of balance of expenditure. The Secretary of State for War said that he was in sympathy with the spirit of the Motion and in accordance with the proposition which underlay it. One would expect that something other than what the right hon. Gentleman said would follow from that. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Navy was only for defence, and that this country had not annexed anything in Europe since Corsica many years ago, and he contended that it was not for this country to take the first step, that it was stated by Mr. Goschen on behalf of the Government that this country would be prepared to enter into negotiations, and that, therefore, there was no obligation upon it to take the first step. He himself ventured to think that if this was a serious topic, and he thought it was, it would have to be handled in a very different fashion if any progress were to be made in regard to it. Their chief complaint was that the question seemed to be treated as if it were a Departmental question. It was not a Departmental question, but a diplomatic question of the very first magnitude and importance. It was a matter to be handled by the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary, and if the Prime Minister, for reasons which they all regretted, was unable to give the House his views on the subject then they should expect from some Minister who represented the policy of the Government generally, and especially its diplomatic policy, some statement as to what the attitude of the Government on the subject was. It was not enough to say that the Navy was for the purposes of defence. He doubted very much if this country appeared to other Powers in the light in which, no doubt justly, it appeared to the right hon. Gentleman. There were other parts of the world besides Europe. There was Burma, the northeast corner of Africa, and the whole of South Africa. He wondered what other Powers would think of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman when they bore in mind, no matter for what sufficient reasons, that the position of this country was enormously greater in point of control and possession of territory than it was even a few years ago. He trusted that the Navy would continue to exist for defensive purposes only; but every Power regarded its armaments for the purposes of defence. Therefore he thought that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman altogether ignored the point of the Motion.

The right hon. Gentleman having expressed sympathy with the Motion, they were entitled to be told that the Ministry had taken every step they could to make progress and give effect to the views expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, and also that action would be taken by the Foreign Office with a view of following up such a declaration. Nothing having been said on that point, it was not too much to assume that very little had been done. He did not anticipate that any progress would be made in this matter until this country had taken the initiative. After all, it was a question of noblesse oblige. This country had immense naval strength relatively to foreign fleets. It was in a very formidable position, and unless it took the initiative he did not see how they could put pressure on other nations. He was quite aware that it was a very difficult matter, but there was one thing that gave him hope that such negotiations might not be altogether without fruit. It should be borne in mind that other countries were also being pressed with naval expenditure, just as this country was. The French Minister of Marine recently pointed that out; and within the last week observations were made by a responsible person on behalf of the French Government in that sense. He thought there was nothing to fear as regarded France. He would not discuss the position of Russia, for Russia might hereafter be very willing to come to any arrangement it could upon the subject of limiting naval expenditure. He would not discuss the United States, because he had always maintained that the two-Power standard had nothing whatever to do with the United States. He refused to contemplate war with the United States as being within the range of practical politics; and he did not anticipate that any good would come from any attempt to arrange a standard on the basis of war with the United States. The country had developed enormously, and it should be a paramount part of the diplomacy of this country to be on friendly terms with the United States. Germany was more difficult than the other Powers. She was rapidly developing her Navy, but it was a small Navy as compared with the Navy of this country. It was quite true that the German shipbuilding programme would bring up the Germany navy to a substantial level in a few years; but Germany was being pressed with naval expenditure at the present moment, and it was not altogether a source of strength to her Government. He believed that the present moment was probably more ripe than it had been for some time past to enter into those negotiations; but this country should take the initiative, and they should not have such speeches as that which had been delivered by the Secretary for War. This was a question which demanded the intervention in the debate of some one who would speak not for a Department but for the Government as a whole, and would be able to give an assurance that he represented the policy of the Foreign Office in the matter. It was not a question of the strength of the Navy, it was a question as to the relations between different navies at the present time. He was one of those who thought that the strength of the Navy was included in the policy of the country. He could conceive a case being made for less expenditure on the Navy, if they pursued a policy which would get rid of the dependence of this country on imports, and make the Empire self-trading within its own limits. But as long as they maintained the country as a great free-trade country they needed the most powerful Navy in the world. That Navy he desired to have, and he did not desire to imperil it. He did not believe the country would grudge any expenditure in making the Navy as efficient as possible; but while maintaining that position the Government should be able to satisfy the taxpayers that they had done everything in their power to keep down the relative proportions of the navies of the great Powers to the Navy of this country. Otherwise they would run the risk of the naval policy of the country losing its present popularity, and from that point of view he regretted the speech which had been delivered by the right hon. Gentleman.

* MR. REGINALD LUCAS (Portsmouth)

said it was too much taken for granted that all foreign navies were intended to operate against us. He did not think that could be proved. In the course of the debate on the Navy last year, he took occasion to point out that a debate took place in the German Parliament in which great exception was taken to the strength of the German Navy, because it was not in a satisfactory condition compared with the Italian or the Russian. Nothing was said as regarded the English Navy. It did not follow that if we were prepared to diminish our Navy that other countries would be in a satisfactory naval position as regarded each other. It was quite conceivable that the upshot of a proposal to decrease our Navy would result very much like the admirable proposal of Russia in regard to the Hague Convention. They ought not to adopt hastily any proposal which would tie their hands in the future. It was not for him to say whether this particular moment was an auspicious one for such a proposal, but they ought to bear in mind that we were not the only naval Power in the world. and that it was not only against us that other countries built their ships. Foreign countries had issues of their own to consider, and therefore it was not desirable that we should do anything which would be ineffective now and restrict our freedom in the future.

MR. O'MARA (Kilkenny, S.)

said this Resolution asked His Majesty's Government to enter into communications with the other great Powers. Suppose the Government did this, what practical result could they possibly get from such a proceeding? He had very little confidence in such a proposal, even if the Government accepted it, for communication with the great naval Powers would not really lead to economy in finance. They did not find much encouragement from the result of such conferences, as those which met at the Hague, or from the Geneva Conference, for twenty years after the Geneva Conference we had a war in South Africa. If hon. Members really had any desire for economy they would not get it through conferences with naval Powers, but the best course was to denounce both in this House and in the country the enormous Estimates which the Government were asking for to keep up the Navy. Where was it all going to end? Not many years ago the Navy Estimates amounted to £23,000,000, and now they amounted to £36,000,000. He could see no finality in these figures, and they might ultimately grow to £60,000,000. There might come a time when they would amount to as much as £70,000,000 or £80,000,000, because what had been pointed out on this side of the House up to the present was only a part of the annual expenditure on the Navy. He had read carefully the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and there was no mention in it of these other items of expenditure, although it pointed to the fact that the Estimates now asked for amounted to £36,899,000 as against £34,000,000 for the current year. This £36,000,000 concealed from the country the amount which had been spent on the naval dockyards and all the money voted under the Naval Works Act of last year. These immense sums, amounting perhaps to £4,000,000, £5,000,000, or perhaps £6,000,000, did not Come before the House in the ordinary way for criticism. He thought they were matters which ought to excite more indignation among his hon. friends above the Gangway than they seemed to do. He listened last year to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol asking the various Government Departments to practise economy. Now hon. Members on the Opposition side were asking for a reduction on these Estimates by suggesting some agreements between naval Powers. He did not think that was the proper way to secure economy. The first thing to do was to reduce your own Naval Estimates and then other countries would do the same. What was the cause of other naval Powers increasing their Navy Estimates? England was the greatest sinner in this respect. What country had shown the biggest increase? I his country had spent the most in this direction, for their naval expenditure was going up by leaps and bounds. That was the way in which it seemed to him economy ought to be brought about in this House instead of doing it in an indirect way by a Resolution of this kind. He did not desire to keep a strong Navy, for what was the good of a strong Navy to Ireland. They were going to build big battleships, submarine boats, and torpedo destroyers, and they could not even get a gunboat to defend the fisheries in Ireland, although they had had many complaints about the way fishing was carried out by foreigners. He had moved reductions upon every single Navy Vote on the ground that as an Irish Member Ireland got no benefit whatever from this huge expenditure on the Navy. He could quite understand, for instance, why the Colonies were proud of the Navy, and he could understand why the Navy was of great use to the Colonies, because, by an agreement entered into this year, he found in the case of Australia——


Order, order! An agreement between the Colonies and this country in regard to the Navy cannot be discussed under this Motion.


explained that his objection to the growing expenditure was that Ireland had to bear a heavy proportion while the Colonies escaped.


said that that was rather wide of the subject under discussion.


asked whether he was i not at liberty to explain the grounds of his objection to the growing expenditure on the Navy.


Yes, if they are relevant to the Motion before the House. But I think the hon. Member is going too far if he attempts to discuss the contribution made by the Colonies or the use of gunboats to protect the fisheries of Ireland. Those matters may be brought up on other occasions, but not on the Motion now before the House.


asked whether it was not permissible to urge, as a reason for objecting to the continually growing expenditure on the Navy, the fact that the Colonies did not in any adequate way contribute thereto.


I think it is objectionable on this Amendment. When the hon. Member proceeds to discuss the relations between the Colonies and this country, and the agreement with Australia, he is going beyond the Motion before the House.


said that all he desired to point out was that by the new agreement six warships were devoted to the protection of the Colonies which subscribed only £400,000, while Ireland, who had to pay £2,000,000, received no benefit whatever from the Navy. The fact that two new dockyards had been constructed in England intensified the grievance felt by Ireland that no fully equipped dockyards existed in that country. Although some good might come of the Resolution, he felt that if its supporters really had the interests of economy at heart, they ought to take the direct road of moving reductions on the Estimates, and of opposing the growing extravagance of the Government. The pockets of the people of this country were not unlimited, and at its present rate the enormous expenditure would exhaust the resources and cripple the industries of the nation.


said that a week ago he had found it his duty to make some strong observations on the growth of expenditure, and therefore it was only right that he should again take part in directing attention to the subject, although the Estimates under consideration were those for the Navy. He would at once admit that on the quest ion of maintaining a strong Navy there was an almost universal agreement. The Navy attracted to itself most rightly a great deal of popular sympathy and confidence; and a tendency to increase expenditure was more likely to meet with approval in respect of the Navy than in respect of almost any other department of the public service. But it was somewhat remarkable—and the House could probably derive comfort from the fact—that there should be this increase of £2,500,000 in the Navy Estimates this year, because it must naturally be supposed that the Government, before agreeing to so large an increase, must have looked to the financial position of the country, and have satisfied themselves that the country could afford this expenditure without inconvenience. Therefore, the Government must have found that the revenue of the coming year would be more than sufficient to cover any excess of this kind. Some comfort was to be extracted from this consideration, because it was impossible to imagine any Government which, contemplating a narrow equipoise of revenue and expenditure, and still more a deficit, would bring forward as the very first Estimates to be laid before the House an increase of £2,500,000. The Navy was popular, and all wished to see it maintained in adequate strength. But the House looked for their guide in that matter not to the Board of Admiralty, but to the Cabinet and the Government at large. There was a singular passage in the explanatory statement of the First Lord, to which he would call attention for a moment. It was as follows— The Board of Admiralty are well aware that the charge they are asking Parliament to sanction is a heavy one, but Parliament mast remember how heavy is the responsibility cast by it on the Board of providing the country with a Navy strong enough to sustain a struggle with the navies of any two Powers, and also strong enough to ensure reasonable security to its vast sea-borne trade, and to the food supply of the people. That was not to state the matter quite fairly. The question of responsibility was not one as between Parliament and the Board of Admiralty, but as between Parliament and the Government. This was rather a usurpation by the Board of Admiralty of the responsibility constitutionally attaching to the Government. In all technical and professional matters, the opinions of the Board of Admiralty should have the greatest weight; but the Government had to take into consideration other matters with which the professional members of the Board of Admiralty had nothing to do. In the first place, the Government had to consider what they knew of the disposition and intentions of this country towards other countries, and of other countries among themselves and towards us. They must know all that in a much more deep and intimate sense than would be conveyed by the courteous phrases usually employed in the King's Speech. Then the Government were also acquainted with the financial position of the country. They knew whether the country could afford all that the professional advisers wished to see provided, and on these grounds he declined to accept the doctrine that the Board of Admiralty was responsible to the House of Commons. It was the Government that was responsible. From this point of view as well as others he regretted the absence of the Prime Minister, because the right hon. Gentleman could have told the House better than anyone else what was the view on this question of the Cabinet at large, and he could have given an authoritative statement as to what might be called the naval policy of the Government. The House was quite at sea with regard to naval policy. A great deal had been said about a two-Power standard. The investigations which he had made of the figures pointed rather to the standard of this country being a three-Power standard. But, in any case, the fact remained that according to the accounts now presented we were simply drifting—simply playing a game of follow-my leader, infused with a strong "ash of that other game "beggar-my-neighbour."

The statement of the First Lord said that the Board asked for nothing which they did not believe to be necessary; that they had avoided giving any stimulus to the expansion of armaments by the formulation of large programmes, but that when such programmes were adopted by other Powers, they had no choice but to take them into account. That was the unbroken story. We built, and then others Powers with which we matched ourselves followed suit. Next year the Government would come forward and use the fact that they had indulged in an increase as a reason for further construction. They would cite it as a reason for a further advance; and so things went on. What was wanted was to try to stop this absurd and ruinous rivalry. The right hon. Gentleman said that our Navy existed for defensive purposes. Other States could say the same of their navies; they existed for offensive and defensive purposes. But do not let us be so insincere with ourselves as to conceal from ourselves the fact that this was the case. Undoubtedly we had a position in the world which required us, beyond the requirements of any other country, to maintain our Navy in a full state of efficiency; but were we to go on with this game, this constant race in armaments, without any hope of reducing them? The proposal of his hon. friend must commend itself to every reasonable man—namely, that an effort should be made to bring other nations into counsel in the matter in order to see whether we could not come to an understanding to save both them and us from the sacrifices that were evidently in front of all? The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government had already done this, that Ministers in both Houses had made certain statements which expressed our willingness to the world. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer said last year that he hoped there would be some sort of reasonable agreement between the Powers. Other Powers had said the same thing, and France had gone further. The Finance Minister in France had warned his countrymen of the extreme limit of the sacrifices that could be imposed upon them, both for land and sea services, and on 23rd November M. Delcassé spoke about the good relations which happily existed between most of the nations and the desire for an agreement on questions that divided them. In discussing a Motion like this, that France should take the initiative in suggesting a reduction of armaments to other Powers, M. Delcassé said: "France has no need to speak to the nations; she has acted for several years so that her naval and military estimates have been slightly lower." The Secretary for War laughed


I said they were reduced by £400.


said that, whatever the reduction was, the estimates were "slightly lower," and France did not increase them by £2,500,000. M. Delcasse had shown again and again what a friend of this country he was, always in subordination to his friendship and loyalty for his own country. "Other nations," M. Delcassé added, "can follow her example; acts are worth more than idle words." He agreed that some of the, words let fall by the right hon. Gentleman were of a satisfactory nature; but no mere repetition of what Lord Salisbury said in the House of Lords and the Prime Minister said in the House of Commons on previous occasions, which were little more than the obiter dicta of individual Ministers, could be held to take the place of the opinion of the Cabinet. They would never do any good unless they showed that they were in earnest and were sincere. He therefore regretted that the Government had not seen their way to take the moderate, reasonable, and wise step proposed in the Amendment. He would certainly support the Amendment as a demonstration of the wish which he believed to be general in this House. If the Amendment was agreed to by the House he believed that it would express the general opinion of the House better than the negative attitude which the Government seem to think sufficient.


said the Secretary of State for War no doubt felt bound to take part in this discussion owing to the office he filled at the Admiralty before he occupied his present position at the War Office. The right hon. Gentleman had twitted the House with what he termed amateur criticism, but the word amateur might, in his opinion, also be applied to the administration of the War Office and the Admiralty at the present time, having regard to the fact that all the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench at the present' time had been lately at the War Office or the Admiralty. After the ruling given by Mr. Speaker he felt himself in a difficulty in this debate as he was debarred in consequence from entering into and referring to the absurd relations of the Colonies with reference to the enormous expenditure which this House was asked to undertake from time to time in respect to the Navy. The terms of the Resolution of the hon. Members were to call attention to the continual increase in the charges for naval expenditure; and to move— That, in view of the heavy burdens placed upon the people of the country by this increasing expenditure"— In this relation the expenditure must be taken to include Ireland as well as England, and from that point of view he must repeat the protest he had made year after year so long as he had been in this House. From an Irish point of view he protested against this expenditure. The people of Ireland derived no advantage from it. They found it difficult even to get the service of a gunboat to protect their fisheries, nor did they derive any benefit in the shape of wages in their shipbuilding yards. In the words of the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, "Where was this game going to end?" He knew there were Members of the House who did not regard an increase of £2,000,000 on the last year's Estimates as a matter of much importance, but others who had listened to such statements as had been made from the Treasury Bench year after year, regarded it in quite a different light. Not so many years ago the Naval Estimates were little more than half what they were at present, and year after year there had been the same story of millions added to the expenditure, and it was time for somebody to ask the question, "Where is this expenditure going to stop or when the limit will be reached?" What had been the result of all this expenditure? Were they any safer or more sure that if they were attacked they were any more secure in their defence? They saw only the other day how in the course of an hour, with a run of ill luck, £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 in ships might be destroyed. From the English point of view, though not from his point of view, it was inadvisable to spend money in the reckless way in which it was spent, in the hope of being able to produce a Fleet which would dominate all the other Fleets of the world. However, if the people of this country allowed themselves to be led into a state of ruin by the young men who had now got charge of the Army and Navy Departments, all he could say was that the look-out would be bad for this country. He was in the position of protesting against this expenditure on behalf of people who were taxed against their will, but if he were the representative of the English taxpayer he would be exceedingly sorry to find the Army and Navy Departments controlled by a number of gentlemen whose personal excellence he would be the last in the world to call in question, but who were, to say the least of it, a lot of inexperienced young men. In regard to the young man representing the Admiralty, he dared say that in the course of half-a-dozen years or so he would develop into a first-rate Government departmental official, but he might be allowed to ask without offence What did the hon. Gentleman know about the Navy when he had just arrived in his present office? He did not mean any disrespect when he said that one might take anyone from the lobby outside, a policeman for choice, and put him there. He had not the slightest intention of being disrespectful to the hon. Gentleman. He considered that the system which allowed any inexperienced Member of this House to be promoted as the representative of a great Department was not right. He did not think it was business. If this extraordinary expenditure was to be undertaken it ought to be administered by men of knowledge and experience of the Departments. Nobody could say that he was wanting in respect, or personally offensive when he alleged that these qualities could not be possessed by the young men who had been promoted for one reason or another, without going through any probationary course at all, so far as one could judge. These reflections would not have come to his mind had it not been for the statement of the Secretary of State for War that the criticism was amateurish. In regard to amateurishness the less he said the better. It was not business that they should not have in this House the head of the Navy Department. There was an expenditure proposed of £36,500,000 on the Navy at a time when peace was supposed to prevail, and when everybody was led to believe that there would be a great curtailment of expenditure both in the Navy and Army. With the other items referred to by the hon. Member for Dundee the expenditure was brought up to £42,000,000. Why was not the head of the Department in this House? He did not speak in terms of disrespect of the First Lord of the Admiralty because he happened to be a Peer. It was not his fault, but the head of the Navy ought, to be here.


I would remind the hon. Member that the question before the House is the Amendment. The question whether the First Lord of the Admiralty should be in this House or the other does not arise on this Amendment.


said he bowed to that ruling. He had not the slightest desire to travel outside of the Amendment. The references he was making were references he had made year after year.


Not on the same Amendment.


said there were other occasions on which he made them. He would not refer to that matter further at the present time, but he had no doubt there would be an opportunity of taking notice of something that would not be tolerated in any business firm, namely, that the officer responsible for the expenditure was not present. The Secretary of State for War had stated somewhat petulantly that the communication asked for in the Amendment had been made over and over again. There was no need for petulance in these matters. He ventured to assert, without the slightest fear of contradiction, that no such communication had been entered into with any foreign Power. He wanted to know why such communications should not be entered into. Whether they believed in the bona fides of foreign Powers or not there could be no objection to asking for an interchange of opinion in this matter. He protested on behalf of the Irish taxpayers, against having to pay a farthing

of this cost, which was of no use to the Irish people now, or at any other time.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 174: Noes. 122. (Division List No. 30.)

Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Forster, Henry William Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)
Allhusen Augustus Henry Eden Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S. W. Morgan David J. (Walthamstow
Allsopp, Hon. George Fyler, John Arthur Morrell, George Herbert
Arnold-Forster Rt. Hon Hugh O. Galloway, William Johnson Morrison, James Archibald
Arrol, Sir William Gardner, Ernest Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Garfit, William Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute
Aubrey Fletcher Rt. Hon Sir H. Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H. Myers, William Henry
Bailey, James (Walworth) Gore Hon S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.) Nicholson, William Graham
Bain, Colonel James Robert Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Percy, Earl
Baird, John George Alexander Goschen, Hon. George Joachim Plummer, Walter R.
Balcarres, Lord Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W. (Leeds Gretton, John Pretyman, Ernest George
Banbury, Sir Federick George Gall, Edward Marshall Purvis, Robert
Bartley, Sir George C. T. Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F. Pym, C. Guy
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Hamilton Rt. Hn. Ld G. (Midd'x Ratcliff, R. F.
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Hare, Thomas Leigh Reid, James (Greenock)
Big wood, James Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th) Richards, Henry Charles
Bond, Edward Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo. Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybridge
Boulnois, Edmund Hay, Hon. Claude George Ritchie, Rt. Hon Chas. Thomson
Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn Heath, James (Staffords, N. W. Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Brassey, Albert Heaton, John Henniker Round, Rt. Hon. James
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T. Royds, Clement Molyneux
Bull, William James Hogg, Lindsay Rutherford, John (Lancashire)
Butcher, John George Hope, J F. (Sheffield, Brightside Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Campbell Rt. Hn. J A (Glasgow) Houston, Robert Paterson Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Howard, John (Kent, Faversham Sharpe, William Edward T.
Cautley, Henry Strother Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire Hudson, George Bickersteth Sloan, Thomas Henry
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Hunt, Rowland Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A (Worc. Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Chapman, Edward Kenyon-Slaney Col. W. (Salop. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lanes)
Charrington, Spencer Keswick, William Stock, James Henry
Clare, Octavius Leigh Kimber, Henry Stone, Sir Benjamin
Clive, Captain Percy A. Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow) Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Coates, Edward Feetham Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Lawson, John Grant (Yorks N. R. Thornton, Percy M.
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham) Tritton, Charles Ernest
Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Tuff, Charles
Cripps, Charles Alfred Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S. Valentia, Viscount
Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R. Walker, Col. William Hall
Dalkeith, Earl of Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Bristol, S) Wanklyn, James Leslie
Davenport, William Bromley Lonsdale, John Brownlee Warde, Colonel C. E.
Dewar, Sir T. R. (Tower Hamlets Lowe, Francis William Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd
Dickson, Charles Scott Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale) Wilson-Todd, Sir W H. (Yorks)
Dimsdale, Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph C. Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Disraeli, Conings by Ralph Lucas, Reginald J (Portsmouth) Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Dixon-Hartland Sir Fred Dixon Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers Macdona, John Gumming Wylie, Alexander
Darning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin MacIver, David (Liverpool) Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart Maconochie, A. W. Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Majendie, James A. H.
Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Malcolm, Ian TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Martin, Richard Biddulph
Fison, Frederick William Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir Federick G.
Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon Milvain, Thomas
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Partington, Oswald
Ainsworth, John Stirling Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John Paulton, James Mellor
Allen, Charles P. Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton Power, Patrick Joseph
Ashton, Thomas Gair Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B. Rea, Russell
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Hayden, John Patrick Reddy, M.
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Hayter Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D. Redmond John E (Waterford)
Blake, Edward Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H. Redmond, William (Clare)
Roland, John Holland, Sir William Henry Rickett, J. Compton
Brown, George M. (Edinburgh) Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Johnson, John (Gateshead) Robson, William (Snowdon)
Burke, E. Haviland Joyce, Michael Roche, John
Burt, Thomas Kilbride, Denis Russell, T. W.
Caldwell, James Kitson, Sir James Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Cameron, Robert Labouchere, Henry Schwann, Charles E.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Lambert, George Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Campbell-Bannerman Sir H. Leng, Sir John Sheehy, David
Causton, Richard Knight Lough, Thomas Shipman, Dr. John G.
Condon, Thomas Joseph Lundon, W. Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Crean, Eugene MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Slack, John Bamford
Cremer, William Randal Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Cullinan, J. MacVeagh, Jeremiah Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (Northants)
Dalziel, James Henry M'Arthur, William (Cornwell) Sullivan, Donal
Davis, Alfred (Carmarthen) M'Crae, George Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Delany, William M'Hugh, Patrick A. Tennant, Harold John
Devlin, Charles Ramsay (Galway M'Kean, John Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.) M'Kenna, Reginald Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Donelan, Captain A. M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Toulmin, George
Doogan, P. C. Mooney, John J. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark.) Nannetti, Joseph P. Wallace, Robert
Duncan, J. Hastings Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Walton, John Lawson (Leeds S)
Dunn, Sir William O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Elibank, Master of O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Emmott, Alfred O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Evans, Sir Francis H. Maidstone O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)
Eve, Harry Trelawney O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W) Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Farquharson, Dr. Robert O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Farrell, James Patrick O'Dowd, John Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Fenwick, Charles O'Kelly James (Roscommon N) Young, Samuel
Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith) O'Malley, William
Ffrench, Peter O'Mara, James TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Herbert Roberts and Mr. Buchanan.
Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Flynn, James Christopher Palmer, Sir Charles M (Durham

Main Question again proposed.

And, it being after half-past Seven of the clock, the debate stood adjourned till this Evening's Sitting.