§ MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
To ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether his attention has been directed to the speech in the French Chamber by M. d'Estournelles de Constant, on 11th April, advocating a mutual understanding between the great Powers with a view to a general reduction of naval armaments, and quoting, in favour of this policy, declarations by the Member for West Birmingham and other public men in this country; and whether he will consider the advisability of approaching the French Government to ascertain whether some general agreement can be arrived at to further this end.
(Answered by Mr. A. J. Balfour.) The naval forces of this country are necessary for its national existence, and are kept solely for the purpose of defence. It is for countries of which these things cannot be said, or cannot be said to the same extent, to initiate suggestions on the subject of naval disarmament, if they think fit.