HC Deb 06 March 1905 vol 142 cc433-91

Order for Committee read.

On the order of the day for going into Committee of Supply on the Navy Estimates, Mr. SPEAKER called on Mr. PRETYMAS, who rose amid Opposition cries of ''McCrae," in whose name there was a Motion on the Paper.


Order, order! Mr. Pretyman is in possession of the House.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)

asked leave to submit a point of order and to conclude with a Motion. He said it was in accordance with precedent, and it was also a long-established practice of the House that a private Member who had secured a place by ballot for a Motion on going into Supply should be called on first. The practice had only gained ground in the last few years of giving the Minister precedence, and in order to test the point he was going to submit a Motion—of course, not out of any discourtesy to the Secretary to the Admiralty, but the House, he submitted, ought to have an opportunity of expressing an opinion on this grave alteration of the established practice. In 1881 a Motion of Mr. Gladstone's that Mr. F. H. O'Donnell should no longer be heard was accepted and met with no opposition from the other side of the House or indeed from the Irish Members, some of whom were still Members of the House of Commons; but rather than make that Motion he would submit it in an older form, for which there was precedent:—"That Mr. McCrae be now heard."


I cannot accept that Motion. No doubt there are instances—if the hon. Member goes back for 200 to 250 years he will find them to be quite common—of a Motion being put exactly in the terms he has put before the House. But it has long been the practice for the Speaker to call upon the Member who had caught his eye and that no dispute is allowed as to who was the person who ought to have caught his eye. That is the rule now. The case referred to in 1881 was not one involving the question which of the two hon. Members should be heard; it was a case where an hon. Member was rising for the purpose of raising a question of extreme delicacy relating to foreign affairs. It was then thought proper by the Prime Minister to move that he be not heard. It was somewhat in the nature of moving the previous Question rather than a selection between two hon. Members. I think it would be an extremely mischievous departure if a now long obsolete practice should be revived, and if whenever the Speaker called on an hon. Member who caught his eye there should be a debate possible on the question that someone else should be heard. I would add, further, that in the present case it would be an extremely irregular Motion, because the hon. Member on the Treasury Bench has risen to move an order of the day. He has a perfect right to move an order of the day, when it is called, and if he chooses to preface the moving of that order by observations it is not out of order that he should do so.

MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)

asked if there was no way in which the opinion of the House could be taken on a change of the almost immemorial practice.


said there was hardly any question on which it was not possible to obtain the opinion of the House, but the proper method was by notice of Motion.


Would it be equally in accordance with the rules of House on the first night of going into Committee of Supply on the Civil Service Estimates to take away the rights of private Members?


said that hon. Members had spoken of a long unbroken practice but that particular practice, had not obtained for the last five or six years.


But whether it is a long unbroken practice or not, is it to be broken in the case of the Civil Service Estimates without the opinion of the House being taken on it.


There is no general statement by a Minister on that occasion?


But there might be.


asked whether there was any method of ascertaining and declaring to the House that a practice had become obsolete or had fallen into desuetude.


No one knows better than the hon. Member that there are numerous practices of the House which have become obsolete. In this particular case I have called on the hon. Member to move the order of the day which stands in his name, and he is perfectly in order in discussing it.


was sorry to prolong the incident. Might he put his Motion in the other form? He had thought he was putting it in a less offensive form than that the hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench might be no longer heard. They were not asserting a right to challenge the Speaker's power to call on a Member to address the House. The question was rather as to the method of obtaining the opinion of the House on a complete change in its practice. To avoid interruption of a speech in the course of delivery and to ascertain the opinion of the House, he proposed to put the Motion in the older form, "That Mr. Pretyman be not heard."


The hon. Member has been called upon by me to move the first order of the day. He is entitled to do so, and it would be quite out of order to interpose with a Motion that he be not allowed to move the order of the day.

MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

Has it not been the practice for many years for a member of the Government to move formally that you do leave the Chair, and then to allow a Member who has been successful in the ballot to move his Motion?


Both practices have prevailed. I have given my opinion, and if I am wrong, I must be corrected in a different way. [OPPOSITION cries of "How?"]


I desire, in moving that the Speaker do leave the Chair, to make, upon the authority of the Admiralty, a general statement upon the Navy Estimates for the year. It will be admitted that the present moment is one of considerable excitement and feeling in the House, but I venture with very great respect to remind the House that naval administration is not a Party question, that it never has been treated as such, and I sincerely hope that that procedure will be followed in the present instance. I cannot, of course, but be aware of the strong feeling that has to-day found expression as to the expediency of my making a general statement upon this Motion, but I venture to suggest that it really is a matter of convenience that before we enter on detailed discussion of the various points to be raised by hon. Members, and, indeed, before there can be useful criticism of the various points, it is an advantage that a general statement on policy should be made, for policy, after all, must govern the whole Estimates, and in the light of the statement and the discussion following minor points must be considered. In making my statement I have no intention of wearying the House upon points of detail, for I feel that these have been fully stated in the Statement prepared by Lord Selborne, and laid before both Houses; and I believe it is the practice of this House for the discussion of points of detail to be entirely matter for the Opposition of the day; they select the points for discussion, and I desire to submit to the practice and to answer on these points of detail. I do not desire to go over the ground discussed by Lord Selborne, but I do wish to fill up any gaps that may be left in that Statement. I do not desire to stand any longer than is necessary between the House and that eulogy of the Admiralty and the Government which the hon. Member for King's Lynn is always ready to deliver—I observe he is not now in his place, and does not appear to take much interest in the Navy Estimates of the year.

The salient feature which will have struck everybody in the year's Navy Estimates is the large reduction in the figures placed before the House. The reasons for the reductions are stated by Lord Selborne, and I do not propose to enlarge on them, but I will venture to make the general observation that, in making comparisons, we are liable to compare one year with another, whereas it is not this year as compared with last year which is so much in question as whether, in the circumstances, we are wisely or unwisely making our present proposals, and if they cover our requirements. The first consideration, apart from the reduction, which will be in the minds of hon. Members is the new scheme—if it can be called a new scheme—which was laid before the country first in Lord Selborne's Memorandum of December 6th, and further circulated in the Explanatory Statement on the Estimates now before the House. That general scheme has been treated in the Press of this country and apparently in general opinion as if it consisted of three general parts—first, the redistribution of the Fleets; secondly, the elimination of out-of-date ships; and thirdly, the organisation of new bases. These have been treated as three separate parts, but I venture to submit to the House that is not a correct view to take of this great scheme of reform. These three reforms really form one homogeneous, inseparable whole, they cannot in any sense be treated separately, they are interdependent one upon the other. The redistribution of the fleet depends mainly, if not entirely, on mobility; it is mobility, and mobility alone, which admits of concentration; and through this mobility it is possible to avoid the multiplication of naval bases. By increase of mobility we have been enabled to reduce the number of the less up-to-date ships in all parts of the world, and also to reduce smaller and more distant bases. But it will naturally be asked, why and where at this particular moment does mobility come in? I venture to point out to the House that there are two new factors of the greatest importance and of worldwide operation, the advent of armoured cruisers in considerable numbers and the invention and use of wireless telegraphy. Dealing with the scheme as a whole, I say it is based on these two factors of general application, and secondly, there is the application of a local factor of very great importance, that the great and important base of Gibraltar is only now available for the use of the Fleet. With these facts in mind we see the Admiralty is able to concentrate ships in homogeneous squadrons near our own waters, but available through facilities of communication and the now available form of wireless telegraphy, and, taking into consideration the high steaming capacity of these ships, to despatch armoured cruisers to particular places at a few hours notice instead of having ships of vastly inferior power located at longer distances. That is really the whole basis of the scheme.

I do not wish to split hairs or to go into details, but I notice in the criticisms upon one point, and gather from Questions in the House and from Returns asked for, that it is suggested—in fact, it has been so stated in the Press—that the Admiralty in removing these ships from the first line of battle [An HON. MEMBER: How many?]—the Prime Minister said they numbered 130, but I believe he was under the number; I think the number is something like 160 removed from the first line—that they are removed altogether. I may say here that in removing these ships it does not mean that they are all necessarily obsolete and useless for any purposes of war. Many of these ships, it must be clear to the minds of many having knowledge on the subject, though removed from the first line, belligerents to-day in the Far East would give large sums for and find most useful. The keynote of the scheme is that every ship for which heavy current expenditure is incurred in this country for keeping in commission shall be ready for war. That is the principle. Then there are also other ships entirely obsolete. There is nothing new about that. [An HON. MEMBER: How many of them?] Really one would think that the policy of the Admiralty on a great question such as this should be decided by considering whether 2½d. had been spent on this ship or that ship last year. I desire to raise the debate to a higher platform—to consider the efficiency of the Navy, and not whether this Government or that Government has spent 2d. too much or too little. As a matter of fact, in the last three years, no less than eighty-four ships have been placed on the scrap heap. The number of ships this year is in excess of the average. But where there is a new policy is this. There is an intermediate class of ships, of which a naval officer rather wittily said, "They are neither sheep nor goats; they are llamas." There has been a llama class created. That is a class of ship which might be extremely useful for subsidiary purposes of war. They might come into action when the first line of the, ships of this country, and of a possible enemy of this country, had been exhausted. No money will be expended on them. They will not be available for instant use in war, but will be moored in the immediate neighbourhood of a great shipyard, such as the Clyde; and in the course of three months, in case of war, these ships might be made available and be very useful. In the meantime the money of the country will not be expended upon them. That is the principle. The Admiralty has been attacked for not removing those ships sooner. But to-day I see in The Times a Letter from a very distinguished naval officer, who attacks the Admiralty for having removed too many ships, and removed them too soon. So, between these two crities, I think the Admiralty has done the right thing, and we have done it at the right time. In discussing the new scheme of redistribution and the question of the nucleus crews, I desire to deal with them on the broad lines of general policy, and to leave questions of detail to be dealt with when we come to the Votes. I venture to suggest that the Returns asked for by hon. Gentlemen opposite are not belated. They will be available when we come to these details, but their effect upon the present discussion of general policy is not important.

The next question is that of designs. It will have been noticed by those who have read the First Lord's Statement that a Committee has been appointed to consider the great and very important question of designs. I would point out that it is sometimes rather hastily concluded that the question of design is one which primarily rests with those great professional designers of whom this country is so justly proud, and that it is the great naval architect and designer who has in his charge the first stage of a design. It is not so. The first stage of a design is that the Navy itself—that these officers who are responsible for naval strategy and naval tactics should lay down clearly what their requirements are. That is the first stage of a design, and I believe that some of our, I will not use the word "failures"—but we have had perhaps less success in designing in the past because the first stage has not been given sufficient im- portance. Therefore, the first step in the consideration of this subject of designs by the Committee appointed by Lord Selborne was the formation of a Committee of future and present, leaders of the British Navy to discuss our requirements and to lay them down as clearly as possible in a reference to the Committee. That is the proceeding that has been followed, and I believe that the Committee, with the guidance it has received in that form, will be able, without delay, and in a most able and effective manner, to produce for this country designs of the very best form, embodying all that science, can yet give us for modern ships of war. In that connection I think it is necessary here to remind the House of the extreme value of the assistance which the Admiralty have received from committee work on naval questions. Every change, every reform, the introduction of a new process or improvement, is preceded by the appointment of a Committee to consider the whole question. Those who are responsible for the administration of the Navy cannot have under their own hats all the information that is necessary to enable them to exercise their judgment on any question which has to be decided. But what is judgment without information? To exercise judgment it is necessary to have the fullest and most expert evidence on the question to be decided. It is impossible to exaggerate the value of the assistance which has been given to the country and the Admiralty by hon. Members on both sides of the House, by the best brains of the Civil Service, by the best brains among those who are connected with naval construction and the use of ships. In addition to the Committee on Designs we have had the Committee on Promotion presided over by Lord Goschen, and the Committee on the Naval Reserve, presided over by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Berwickshire. We have also the Committee appointed to consider the Organisation of the Dockyards, and the Permanent Manning Committee. There is, of course, also the Board of Admiralty, which is nothing but a Committee, and, for that matter, there is also the Defence Committee. There are many other Committees. I will not weary the House by naming them all, but I desire to take this opportunity of expressing the indebtedness of the Admiralty to all those gentlemen who have come forward and given such invaluable assistance.

There is one point in reference to these Committees that I should like to touch upon. In a very large proportion of the matters which come up for decision the issue which is constantly arising is—"Is this particular thing necessary for war?" There is only one person who can give an answer to that question, and that is the First Sea Lord, that is his particular function. He is the adviser of the First Lord on all questions of policy and preparation for war. I only mention this to show how enormously important it is and how much time is saved by the fact that in a very large number of cases the. First Sea Lord is a member of these Committees. That ''short-circuits" business, and enables a decision to be given on the spot as to many points which involve reference and discussion. That prompt action can be taken only on the authoritative personal statement of the First Sea Lord on such matters as to whether or not it ministers to the fighting efficiency of the Navy and its instant readiness for war; and, therefore, the presence of the First Sea Lord on these Committees has been invaluable and has accelerated the carrying out of these reforms and changes.

The next thing I would like to say a word or two upon is the question of new construction, and also of rapid construction. It may, perhaps, have been noted in Lord Selborne's Statement that he remarks that we had hopes of greatly accelerating our rate of building. It must be evident to the House that the acceleration of the rate of building is a matter of very great importance to the, Navy. It is clear that vessels which have been quickly built can go into the line of battle with much more recent improvements and developments embodied in them, and much better equipped for war than vessels which were laid down earlier and could not have those improvements embodied in them. Secondly, there is the avoidance of alterations in construction, which are expensive. As an alternative to that expensive alteration, ships are sent into the line of battle without those improve- ments in naval architecture and gunnery. A third great advantage is the better utilisation of capital, because it is perfectly clear that the money which is being spent on a ship obtains no fruition until that ship is in the fighting line. Then there is the better utilisation and greater economy of plant in the dockyards, because, if ships are built more quickly, it is not necessary to lay down as many ships at one time, and, therefore, greater value is obtained from the plant. Another point is that it is a great advantage in considering new designs that we, should have as recent experience as possible of the ships last sent into the fighting line. It is desirable, if it were possible, that when a ship has been designed she should be built and examined and tested before another ship is laid down. You would then have the fullest experience of the latest ship before you lay down the next one. That is, perhaps, an ideal, but the nearer we can approach it the greater will be the advantage to the Fleet and to the country. I do not now wish to discuss the question in detail, but I will remind the House that the total of new construction is not necessarily any criterion of tin number of ships which are laid down in any particular year. It is possible to put down a small sum for new construction, and lay down a great number of ships towards the end of the financial year and spend little on each. On the other hand, you may lay down a few ships early in the year and spend a considerable amount of money on each. Therefore what is required in considering the question is sufficient information and a wide horizon.

Next, I would say a word on the question of education and training. The education and training of the Navy is a matter which was discussed at very great length in this House on the new scheme, and I do not propose to go over the old ground. I see the suggestion has been made that there should be a naval staff college. I venture to suggest that the sea is the naval staff college of the Navy. The Navy has a very great advantage over the land forces in that a naval officer has daily the actual responsibility for the welfare of his ship and the lives of those in it. He is put to the daily test; his nerve, knowledge, and sea equipment are daily tested, and that being the case, there does not seem to be the same necessity for a staff college for the Navy as there is for the sister service. The training at Osborne has been, and continues to be, an unqualified success. The system of entry has answered extremely well. The principal difficulty in raining young officers is the training of midshipmen when they first join. There is the inevitable conflict of the requirements of duty and education, and midshipmen naturally, perhaps, prefer the requirements of duty to those of the schoolmaster. That difficulty has not yet been entirely surmounted, but every possible attention is being given to it.

On the question of gunnery, to which very much attention has been directed in this House, I think it will have been seen with approval that a new departure has been made in the appointment of an Inspector of Target Practice for the whole Fleet, and the first appointment to that post of Admiral Percy Scott, whose name is so well known for his invaluable inventions and the training he has already given to the Fleet in the matter. There is also a very great and continued improvement in the appliances for shooting and training of personnel to shoot. In the matter of eights I would remind the House there is no such thing as finality. It is not merely a question of attaching one piece of metal to another, but a question of very great complication. The perfect sight has never been attained, and never will be. All we can do is to attain as near as possible to perfection. The latitude given in practice to the Commander-in-Chief has been very considerably increased, and in that matter there will be changes of very great advantage to the service. There has been a new departure also. Committees are sitting in the Channel and Mediterranean Fleets to consider the question of fire control in action. These Committees have reported, and their scheme of fire control in action, requiring new appliances and regulations, has been adopted. Ships are being fitted with it, and very great advantage will be derived in action from what has been done.

I should wish now to fulfil a pledge given last year—and not fulfilled owing to reasons beyond my control—and give some information to the House in the matter of submarines. The House will understand there is information as to submarines and their use which cannot profitably be given here, but so far as, information can be given I desire now to give it. First of all, in regard to the actual character of our submarines I believe it is known to the House that the first departure was the order given to Vickers Maxim to construct five submarines of the Holland model. At the same time a naval officer of great distinction, Captain Bacon, was appointed to have sole charge of the development of the submarine for the time, and he and Messrs. Vickers and Maxim together were associated to supervise the construction of the submarines and to improve the type as opportunity offered. So ably did they deal with this matter that even before the first Holland submarine was launched they had already evolved and laid down what is known as the A type, the first type of submarines. I do not want to go into a great deal of detail, but I would mention that the evolution of the submarine in the hands of Captain Bacon and Vickers Maxim has been this. After the A class there has been a still further development to the B class, and the comparison between the original boats and the B class is as follows:—The original boat was 150 h.p.; the present B class is 850 h.p. The original boat had a surface speed of 7½ knots; the B class has a surface speed of 13 knots and a radius of 500 miles. The displacement has risen from 120 tons to 300, and the below-water speed is 9 knots with a ten hours' endurance. The motive power on the surface is derived from a petrol engine; below water it is electricity. The reason of that is evident, because the petrol motor requires air, which cannot be obtained below water, and electricity requires a great deal of weight. The weight required for storing sufficient electricity for surface motor power would be prohibitive. As to the diving, these boats dive dynamically, and not statically. They always retain a slight margin of buoyancy, and, when they are brought down to their lowest point of buoyancy, they dive by the application of a horizontal rudder. As soon as the vessel gets into motion she overcomes her natural buoyancy by the use of a horizontal rudder; so she can only remain under water while in motion under the application of the rudder. There is very great security in that, because if anything happens to the boat she must automatically rise to the suface. She takes three minutes to dive. There is no real generic difference whatever between a submarine and a submersible boat. It is a question of the margin of buoyancy. The submersible has considerably more margin of buoyancy than the submarine. We have now thirteen of these boats on the Navy list, exclusive of the five original Holland pattern. There are thirteen A and B type, and also ten more in an advanced stage of construction. These boats have been constantly at work during the last two years, subject to manœuvres of very great severity, but on all occasions they have proved themselves very reliable.


Could the hon. Gentleman tell us what it would cost?


I do not know the exact figure, but I should think about £50,000. The House will not expect, of course, that I should enter into any detail as to our intention with regard to the submarines or their distribution, but I may state generally that amongst those nations who use submarines in war their rôle will be supplementary to the surface torpedo craft They are able through their invisibility to do in the day exactly what surface torpedo craft can do by night. The main attribute of the latter is invisibility. That invisibility the submarines attain by day. They have, of course, a very considerable moral effect upon an enemy; that is certainly one of their attributes. Another advantage of the submarine over her sister, the surface torpedo craft, is that, as she approaches her enemy, or supposed enemy, in daylight, it is possible to make perfectly sure of the character of the ship she is attacking before she launches her torpedo. The House will recognise that one of the greatest possible dangers in war time is that at night a surface destroyer would have the very greatest difficulty in making quite sure of the character of the ship she was approaching in the dark, whereas in the daytime with the sub- marine that danger would altogether disappear. You may classify a submarine as a daylight torpedo-boat of moderate speed and very considerable radius of action. I would mention one other point. It is not a present condition, but it certainly may be looked upon as a possible condition, that certain areas in war time, by the use of surface torpedo craft by night and submarines by day, may be practically denied to large ships. At present the only answer to that is that the other belligerent should be in a similar position to deny those same waters to its enemy's ships. Therefore the submarine in that particular is the only answer to the submarine. There is one other immediate and very important function of the submarine, and that is the defence of our ports, harbours, and coast. That is the most important point. It is quite clear that the use of the submarine extends the range of the defence far beyond the guns of the forts defending any harbour. These vessels will not only defend the ports, but link up the defences, and the possession of a sufficient number of them would greatly reduce the anxiety of any Admiral entrusted with the defence of our coast.

I do not wish to weary the House with more detail, but I will now refer to the question of new construction. It will be seen that our programme of new construction is not quite so heavy as it has been, but obviously it is not possible for me to state all the considerations which must be in the minds—if I knew them—of the Committee of Defence and the Board of Admiralty in deciding the programme of new construction for the year. I will only say this. This programme of new construction is the result not of considerations of finance or economy in the first instance, but of considerations of efficiency. Having the whole area of the navies of the world to view, the subject, of course, is vast, and with so many ramifications it is scarcely possible to allude to all the considerations which must be in the minds of those who are responsible for it. Viewing the question as a whole, recognising that one year's programme dovetails into another, and including the deferred or abandoned ships of last year's programme, the demands which are put forward for new construction in this House have been arrived at only after consideration of the whole requirements of this country, of the risks which we run, of the interests we have to defend, and of the necessary efficiency, taking all these facts into consideration. But I have no doubt that this discussion will turn chiefly on the ships which have been removed from the Navy as non-effective and inefficient. I was asked questions to-day about two of those ships, the "Clio" and the "Cadmus," which suggested that they were recent ships, but absolutely non-effective. I do not think one of them would be considered by hon. Gentlemen opposite as entirely non-effective, because one of her most recent performances was no less than the deportation of a Prime Minister and a Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I think when that ship is for sale she will probably be bid for by some hon. Gentleman opposite.

I think I have now on broad grounds of policy, so far as I am able, stated the case for the Navy Estimates which are before the House. I have not attempted to cover the ground, and I hope it will be considered that any points which I have left out have been so left out either because they were fully dealt with in the Memorandum of Lord Selborne, or because I thought they would be better considered when we come to the actual Votes and can discuss points of detail. I believe that it will not be regarded as unfitting for me—although he is my chief—to say one word in expression of the appreciation of the Board of Admiralty of the services, so far as they have seen them, of our chief, who is departing to South Africa. It is not for me to praise Lord Selborne, but I would venture to say that all those who have served under him, either as colleagues or as heads of departments, know that Lord Selborne possesses that great secret of successful administration, which is to give the fullest confidence to those under him and to leave to each one the fullest responsibility for all that comes within his province. While we knew that if we wanted a decision we could get it from him, it was yet within our it competence to give our own decision so far as work was delegated to us, and I believe that that is the only manner in which a great Department can be successfully administered.

I will only say, in conclusion, that I wish it had been possible for me in making this statement to convey to the House the spirit which has animated the Navy and the Civil Service as represented at the Admiralty in carrying on the naval affairs of the year and in the initiation of these great schemes of reform which have been laid before the House I believe that it was the First Sea Lord who, in his speech at the Guildhall, said the Board of Admiralty was united, progressive, and determined. I believe that that is true of the whole Board, and also of the heads of departments. But it is not for me to commend credit for the present Board of Admiralty. What I would press upon the House is that it is not so much the action of the, present Board, or in any sense only the action of the present Board, that has made these changes possible; the one thing that has made them possible, and a thing which lies greatly within the province of this House, is continuity of policy. The foundation stone of this Fleet which we have to-day was laid when the Naval Defence Act of 1889 was brought in by my noble friend the Member for Baling, and from that day until now, under successive First Lords of the Admiralty, and no less, perhaps, under successive Chancellors of the Exchequer, on whom the burden has been extremely heavy, that policy has been steadily prosecuted. It is only by continuity of policy, independent of Party, and with the support of Parties on both sides of the House, that a Navy such as we see to-day commanding the seas can be maintained, and I trust that nothing which I have said or which I ever will say, as long as I have the honour to represent the Admiralty in this House, will in any sense introduce a Party spirit into these discussions. I trust also that, whatever may happen in the future, that continuity of policy will still be maintained, and, if so, I have no doubt that, whichever Party is in power, the Navy will continue to grow and become still stronger.

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


thought it would be hardly right or in accordance with the sense of the House that they should proceed to discuss now the Statement of the First Lord, or attempt to deal with the Estimates to which it formed an introduction. He only wished to repeat the protest he had made on two previous occasions against the extreme and undue haste with which these great Estimates had been pushed forward. There were new questions of exceptional and enormous importance, and the Prime Minister had told them that the first essential for a private Member was that he should discuss such matters with full information. They had not got full information, and until they had it it would not be proper for the Government to force discussion. There were four material things they wanted to know before they could deal with the Estimates as a whole. The first was the full details of the list of ships discarded from the Fleet, the discarding of which, according to the Prime Minister, had, through one courageous stroke of the pen, doubled the efficiency of the Navy. Surely they ought to know what these ships were, their age, cost, and all other particulars. The second thing was: How many protected and unprotected cruisers, which had been declared by the First Lord to be in danger from our enemy's armoured cruisers, were retained on the effective list? They were also entitled to know the particulars of that great Order in Council which redistributed the business of the Admiralty; the Orders in Council were usually sent to the library, and this, the most important of all, was not there.


The Return will be issued to-morrow. There is no concealment whatever.


said he was only stating the fact, and he submitted that these documents ought to be in their hands before they proceeded with the further consideration of the Estimates. The fourth point was: What was the total naval expenditure contemplated in the year about to begin? They ought to know not merely the amount of the Estimates, but the amount of loans for naval works. These would be reasonable questions at any time, but on this occasion they were particularly opportune and necessary, because these were transition Estimates. They were put forward in the name of a First Lord who would have nothing to do with the execution of them, and it was doubtful whether his successor would have anything to do with it. They were the Estimates of a Government which was not at all likely to have the opportunity of carrying them out, and, that being so, they were bound to watch with special care the great body of Estimates, which might be a burden upon a Liberal Administration and not upon those who presented them.

*MR. McCRAE (Edinburgh, E.),

in moving an Amendment expressing satisfaction at the reduction of the Naval Estimates, and regret that the Government had not taken steps to procure still further relief by negotiations with foreign Powers for a general reduction of naval armaments, asked whether the Prime Minister seriously contemplated going through the farce of setting up Committee of Supply to consider Estimates of expenditure on the Navy with which this Government was not likely to have to deal. Much was heard about the armourproof of our battleships, but they were not more invulnerable than was the present Government to public opinion and criticism. He did not intend to say anything that would irritate or wound the susceptibilities of any foreign Power. Great Britain could be perfectly frank with regard to her policy in naval affairs, as there was no Power whom she wished to attack or against whom she had ulterior designs. Our motto was "Defence, not defiance." However difficult it might be to get foreign nations to believe; that that was the consideration which dominated our policy, it was nevertheless the fact. He entirely agreed that the question of the Navy should not be I made the battle-ground of Party and he did not think it had been in the past. As the country grudged no expenditure on the Navy, they expected no slackness with regard to naval efficiency, and the Opposition had perhaps shown more than usual confidence in the Government on naval affairs.

He was somewhat disappointed with the statement made by the Secretary to the Admiralty, for he had made a statement which would have been more properly made in Committee. He had fully anticipated that they would have had from the hon. Member a more complete exposition of the new scheme which had been put before the country. He wished to apply two tests to this proposed scheme of distribution. First of all, the test of efficiency, which, after all, must be the first consideration; and secondly, whether it conduced to economy. In these days of inflated national expenditure any relief from the great burden of national expenditure would be welcome. Looking at this scheme from the efficiency point of view, it was to be recommended in so far as it faced the facts with regard to some of our battleships. He understood that all obsolete vessels not suitable to meet the vessels of other foreign Powers were to be discarded, and they were to be taken out of the first line of defence. That was satisfactory. He wished to know if the total of 160 vessels to be taken out of the first line of defence included the eighty-four which had to go to the the scrap heap.


said this was not a new policy. In the past three years eighty-four ships had been placed upon the scrap heap. This year he anticipated that about 160 ships—he did not pledge himself to that number—would be taken out of the first line of defence. That included all the ships which would be of small value in time of war, but they would be retained if required for subsidiary purposes.


said it was was quite a new departure to take 160 ships out of the first line of defence. There was no doubt that they would have to make up their mind to have a great change in armaments. He remembered Sir William Harcourt's great Budget speech in which he said that the period of a battleship was as fickle as that of a lady's bonnet. Therefore they had that fact to face. The Prime Minister stated at Glasgow that 130 ships were to be superannuated, and they had now been told that 160 ships were to be taken out of the first line. When they got the official Return he supposed they would know how many ships were to be discarded. The Statement showed that 117 of these dis- carded ships were to be of the cruiser class. They must realise that the advent of the armoured cruiser had made almost a revolution, because it combined great speed with armament. Having regard to these facts, he thought the recent policy of the Admiralty in building so many of the other class of cruisers was open to criticism. This was an evidence that lavish expenditure was no guarantee of efficiency, and those words should be writ large over the doors and on the walls of our great spending Departments. The Government appeared to have applied to naval necessities in their scheme of distribution the principle of their scheme of Irish devolution. It seemed to him to be a co-ordination of detached posts. They were concentrating the Fleet in home waters, and under the new distribution the south Atlantic squadron would altogether disappear. This squadron, like the six Army Corps scheme, had come to an untimely end within a little more than a year of its birth, and he thought they required some further explanation upon that point. Under the changes proposed the Home Fleet was to become the Channel Fleet, and would consist of twelve battleships with attendant cruisers; the Channel Fleet would become the Atlantic Fleet consisting of eight battleships with attendant cruisers, and this Fleet was to be stationed at Gibraltar. Two cruiser squadrons were to be affiliated to these two Fleets. Then there was to be the Mediterranean Fleet at Malta, consisting of eight battleships, with attendant cruisers, and a large cruiser squadron attached, called the third cruiser squadron. In addition they were to have groups of cruisers in European waters, Eastern and Western Squadrons, and another for the Cape of Good Hope, to form the connecting link between the other two. And fifthly, there was the particular service squadron for training. That appeared to be the new distribution. It seemed to him to be sound policy to concentrate the Fleet in home waters and to have as the peace distribution the best strategical distribution suitable for war purposes. He wished to know why the Admiralty had not done all this before, because it seemed such a common-sense proposition? With regard to the nucleus crews, it appeared to him that they were founded very much upon the principle of the new Army scheme under which they were to have battalions at half strength. Having regard to the strategical disposition and the development of foreign navies, this scheme seemed to him to be based upon sound policy. He thought a revision of the old disposition ought to have been made before now. Admitting that the policy of the Admiralty was sound, surely some such advance ought to have been made before the present time. There never was a Government that had such an opportunity of carrying out with continuity the policy which the hon. Member desiderated. They had now every opportunity of giving full scope to that view.

He wished new scheme to ask how far this was conducive to economy? What was the cost of the old scheme? They had the Spencer programme and the programme laid down by Lord Goschen, and considerable expenditure had been incurred upon both of them. The expenditure upon the Navy the year before the war, in the year 1899, was £24,000,000 exclusive of £1,250,000 borrowed on loan. The following year £2,000,000 extra was spent upon a supplementary construction Vote because of a scare that Russia was going to spend £9.000,000 in addition to her ordinary naval expenditure. The following year our policy was dictated by war conditions. He wished to know, was the reduction they were promised this year of £3,500,000 entirely due to the new scheme of distribution? The Navy Estimates before the war were £23,800,000, but the reduced Navy Estimates for the coming year were £33,389,000, which showed an increase of £9,500,000. He had analysed that increase, and he found, roughly, it comprised £2,200,000 wages and victualling expenses, £4,500,000 shipbuilding, and £1,250,000 on works. They had also to take into consideration the fact that the Estimates last year bore a charge of £1,000,000 for the Chilian warships, and therefore the saving would be £2,500,000 if the whole of it were due to this scheme of distribution. In 1901 there was an increase of £4,250,000, and in 1904 an increase of £4,750,000, which, roughly speaking, accounted for the £9,000000. The country never grudged expenditure upon the Navy, but he thought they wer entitled to some relief from the heavy expenditure necessitated when war was going on.

This scheme of distribution must be judged by the scale of expenditure of other Powers, having regard to the balance of power. Our late policy was to have a two-Power. It had been recently said that that should only apply to battleships. Next we had a three-Power standard, and the expenditure last year exceeded, by £6,000,000, the combined expenditure of Russia, Germany, and France. He admitted that we must keep pace with the increases of other nations to a certain extent, but we ought not to keep pace with any threatened increase of their expenditure, which was a very different thing, and which, as had often been shown, other nations had not carried out. If it had been our duty to take the opportunity of these increases to increase our expenditure on the Navy, he thought this new scheme afforded an opportunity for considering whether we could not reasonably reduce our naval expenditure. France had been perfectly straight in this matter, and hitherto she had shown a sincere desire for economy. The French Foreign Minister had stated that France had no need to speak as to a reduction of international armaments, because they had gone on the principle of reduced expenditure. Recent or threatened expenditure by Germany had, however, evidently made it apparent to the French people that they must compete with Germany. This was an opportunity for Britain to initiate a policy of reduced armaments. When Lord Goschen was First Lord of the Admiralty he took a considerable step in advance by making the statement on behalf of the Government that if the other great Naval Powers should be prepared to diminish their programme of shipbuilding we should be prepared to meet such a mode of procedure by modifying ours. That promise was homologated by the late Secretary to the Admiralty, now the Secretary of State for War, who repeated the pledge and stated that the Government was prepared to consider any proposition of any foreign Government. It was rather an ironical commentary on this that, during the last six years, including loan expenditure, we had increased the expenditure on our Navy by £16,000,000. That was a policy not likely to impress foreign Powers as to our own anxiety for a decrease of armaments. He thought it was our duty to take the first step. He regarded the present scheme of the Government as a step in that direction.

He would like to ask whether the Government had made any attempt at negotiation with the other Powers before proposing this reduced expenditure on the Navy. Had they, in fact, tried to follow the example of Mr. Cobden when he went to France to negotiate a French treaty? It was stated that this country intended in any case to revise the duties, and Mr. Cobden made that the basis of the argument for the treaty. Secondly, he would ask whether after deciding on this scheme the Government made any representation to other Powers. We had now a good understanding with France, and it ought to be our endeavour to have a good understanding with Germany. The German Premier said the other day that their fleet was only meant for defensive purposes, and to protect their interests abroad. Unfortunately an ill-advised speech by the Civil Lord had not made a friendly agreement any more easy of accomplishment. He would ask also whether this new distribution would preserve us from those war scares which had given so much impetus to our expenditure on the Navy. In another place there was a noble Lord who seemed to be alarmed that some foreign Power would take week-end tickets at a single fare and make a Saturday to Monday invasion of this country. After that there was an appeal from the late First Lord of the Admiralty that the Press should be very careful with regard to the information they gave. They all quite admitted that the course taken by Lord Lansdowne on the Dogger Bank incident was wise and courageous. On both sides of politics they approved of that policy, but why did not the Government at that time make some protest against what the Press of this country was saying against foreign countries? Even a hint in certain quarters would have been sufficient. He had endeavoured briefly to illustrate what ho considered to be the soundness of the policy of distribution and of the concentration of the Fleet in home waters; secondly, he had tried to show that the reductions which were promised were not entirely due to the new policy, and that, we ought in all fairness to bring back our expenditure on naval matters to the prewar period. He hoped the House would have from the Government a full statement of their views with regard to the possibility of negotiating with foreign Powers. What steps had the Government taken to carry out the views which had been expressed in the House? There was no doubt that a concordat of the Powers would lead to a great reduction in naval armaments. Surely the resources of diplomacy were not exhausted, and he would impress upon the Government the desirability of doing something to further a general reduction of naval expenditure. It was in that direction, more than in the advocacy of an inflated Imperialism which this Government had made to stink in the nostrils of every sane-minded man, that we should conduce to the maintenance of the greatness of our nation. That would be a long step in the direction of international peace. He begged to move.

MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.),

in seconding the Amendment, said he had last year the opportunity of bringing forward a substantially similar proposal on this subject. He wished to re-echo the remarks of the hon. Gentleman opposite that questions in relation to the Navy should be treated as non-Party questions. He himself had always endeavoured to do so, and it was of extreme importance that the rule should be carried out. There were reasons, as his hon. friend had pointed out, why the new scheme should be further debated, and why further information should be obtained upon it. He re-echoed the satisfaction expressed by the Amendment that certain reductions had been made in the Estimates this year. The hon. Member for King's Lynn had asked very pertinently why those reductions had not been made before, and that point had been emphasised by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh. He did think that the House was entitled to some explanation, having regard to the conditions which prevailed now and had prevailed for a number of years in naval matters, why those responsible for naval policy had not earlier proposed the alterations which were now embodied in the new scheme. The substantial reduction proposed in the Estimates now before Parliament had a very practical bearing on the second proposition in the Amendment—namely, that the time had arrived when it was desirable that the Government of this country should take the initiative in approaching other Governments with the view to coming to some understanding for a general reduction of naval armaments. He had always considered the Navy as of prime importance in the defence of this country. He did not think it was sufficiently realised that the Navy provided one of the most valuable training grounds for the development of the best characteristics of our race. He could not help thinking that Parliament and the nation did not sufficiently realise the debt of gratitude which we owed to those who not only administered our Navy, but who were responsible for the equipping and manning of our ships. How did we stand to-day with respect to the strength of our Navy as compared with those of the other great Powers of Europe? Could we afford to take the initiative in asking the other great Powers to come to an understanding as to the reduction of our naval armaments. It was abundantly clear that we had maintained more than a two-Power standard, and that we could, without any uneasiness whatever as to the possibility of our motives being misinterpreted, approach the other European Powers in the direction suggested in the Amendment. It was important to remember, when discussing the desirability at the present time of our taking this step, that we last year spent considerably more on our Navy than the total expenditure of the navies of France, Germany, and Russia together.

Another aspect of the question which ought not to be forgotten was the relation of this expenditure to the taxation of the country. How did we stand in reference to expenditure? In 1870 we spent on the Navy in this country £9,500,000, which was at the rate of 5s. 10d. per head of the population at that date; in 1880 we spent £10,000,000 or 5s. 9d. per head: in 1890 we spent £15,000,000 or 8s. per head: in 1900 we spent £26,000,000 or 12s. 5d. per head: and this year the expenditure was estimated at £33,389,000, or 16s. 6d. per head. The expenditure on the service of the Navy had therefore gone up by leaps and bounds, and that was ample proof that the possibility should be taken into account of coming to some general arrangement with the other great Powers of Europe which would enable us to materially reduce that expenditure. It might be said that the wealth of the country had increased during the past thirty years. So it had, by 30 per cent., but the expenditure on the Navy had increased by over 300 per cent. The main factors favourable to carrying out the suggestion contained in the Motion on the Paper were the results of the war now going on in the Far East. It would be entirely out of place to make any comment on either side in that great struggle; but facts were facts, and what had occurred in that naval war must have some bearing on the realisation of the suggestion now made. Then, another factor was the gratifying success of the recent International Tribunal, set up under the auspices of the present Government, to settle the North Sea Incident. The result of that arbitration showed that there were possibilities along the road of diplomacy and arbitration in regard to which he had been, up to the present time, somewhat sceptical. It seemed, therefore, that the moment had arrived when such a suggestion could be made advantageously in regard to naval expenditure. His main propositions were:—first, that they were all agreed that an adequate and efficient Navy was a prime necessity of our national life; second, that a reduction could be made in the Naval Estimates without interfering with the maintenance of efficiency; and the presentation of the Estimates this year was clear evidence of the possibility of such reduction being made. In 1899 Mr. Goschen, now Lord Goschen, made an important statement on behalf of the Government upon this subject, viz., that this Government were prepared to modify their programme of ship building if the Governments of the other European Powers were prepared to modify theirs. It seemed that that only pointed to the issue, who was to take the initiative? Last year the hon. Member in charge of the Estimates, speaking for the Government, said that it would be impossible for this Government to take the initiative; but he trusted that that did not continue to be the inflexible conclusion of His Majesty's Government. The time had come when such a step as was proposed could be advantageously taken and on the grounds of international peace and the practical reduction of the burden of taxation on the people of this country he had great pleasure in seconding the Motion of his hon. friend.

Amendment proposed— To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'This House expresses its satisfaction at the reduction of Naval Estimates effected by the proposed scheme of Distribution of the Fleet, but regrets that His Majesty's Government has not taken steps to procure still further relief by negotiations with Foreign Powers for a general reduction of naval armaments'—(Mr. McCrae) instead thereof.

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

*MR. REGINALD LUCAS (Portsmouth)

said it did not appear to him that the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite was likely to give rise to much serious debate. However, he did not think it ought to be disposed of without one or two comments from that side of the House. As it stood, he supposed that nobody took much exception to the wording of the Amendment, or would express dissatisfaction if the amount of money spent on the Navy could be reduced. And nobody would be unwilling, if it could be found possible, to see steps taken whereby the naval construction in this and other countries might be diminished. The latter proposal had been discussed frequently in the House but they were not much nearer to its solution. As to the argument that there should be reductions in the Navy, the logical conclusion of it was to do away with navies altogether. As long as naval wars were inevitable, so long was it very problematical that any scheme could be devised which would be satisfactory, for diminishing from time to time naval armaments. He would like to argue that we, in England, seemed to take too much on ourselves when we always talked as if it was against us and us alone that every naval Power in Europe was armed. In the German Parliament, when great dissatisfaction was expressed that the German naval force in the Far East was supposed to be inadequate, the name of England was never once mentioned. He had pointed out on previous occasions that the development of the German Navy was not a new thing, that it was definitely and substantially begun in 1864. No one would deny that if it could be done it might be happy for us and all other nations if a general disarmament could take place, but he regarded that as Utopian. He had listened with regret to the allusion by the mover of the Amendment to a speech made in the country by the hon. Member for Fareham. Everybody was aware that the fuss made over it was a mare's nest, and no good was to be done by reviving it. After all, on previous occasions the strength of the French and other European navies had been discussed in the House, and no one could suppose that when an hon. Member was referring to the redistribution of the Fleet, or the altered circumstances of naval strategy, there was any insinuation or reflection upon another naval Power.

There was one observation of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment which seemed to him to be of no small importance. It had reference to the influence of the Press. That would be a very important influence at a critical time. He did not want to criticise the Press, or to suggest that they would knowingly or wantonly do anything improper, much less unpatriotic; but one could not help being aware that, owing to the modern demand for information, whether it be authentic or not, the Press were tempted, and indeed were bound to meet that demand. Only a few days ago a considerable amount of alarm was spread through the country by the publication of information concerning the Report of the Commission on the North Sea episode. That information was not true.


This seems to me to be beyond the scope of the Amendment.


said he would not pursue the question. There was one definite question, however, which he should like to ask his hon. friend, and that was, where in this scheme did the new naval Volunteers come in. They were a new feature in our naval establishment; and had, of course, been received with a great deal of approbation. But he should like to have a definite statement from his hon. friend as to what value was attached by the Admiralty to this Volunteer clement. The whole trend of military debates in the House had been to show that the soldier Volunteer was not worth having. He did not wish to detract from the spirit of patriotism which animated the Volunteers; but it appeared to him to be illogical, if it were admitted that the soldier Volunteer was not worth having, that they should be organising naval Volunteers, who would require training far more specialised and technical than in the case of a soldier. If the soldier Volunteer was not worth having, he submitted that, as an abstract proposition, the naval Volunteer would be of still less importance in the naval system of the country. It should not, however, be supposed that he was speaking in disparagement of the naval Volunteers; but the House ought to have more definite information regarding them.

MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)

said he was very much struck by the lack of attendance of Members on an important occasion such as the present. He had regularly attended discussions on the Naval Estimates for the past thirteen years, and was accustomed to sparse attendances when minor Votes were under discussion. But that day they had important Estimates before them, which he thought would attract attention and insure a large attendance. He could not help thinking that this listlessness arose from the fact that Parliament was worn out, and that a new Parliament was required. That spirit appeared to spread to the Secretary to the Admiralty himself; because, although he admired the abilities of the hon. Gentleman, and acknowledged that he possessed them to a marked degree, still he had never heard a more scanty statement. He should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would have given the House more information with reference to the disappearance of 160 ships from the line of battle.


The debate at present must be confined to the Amendment before the House.


said he thought the question of the disappearance of these 160 ships was germane to the Amendment.


To the Main Question, not to the Amendment.


said, on a point of order, that the Amendment dealt with the question of economy; and economy would be affected by the withdrawal of those ships.


The economy referred to is that caused by the scheme of distribution. The Amendment also calls for further economy by negotiating with foreign Powers.


said he was addressing himself to the economy effected by the withdrawal of 160 ships from the line of battle, and also by the distribution.


The scheme of distribution is restricted to ships in the Navy, and not to ships taken out.


said that the withdrawal of the ships had become necessary because of the general scheme of distribution.


It may be part of the general naval scheme, but it cannot be discussed on this limited Amendment.


said the ships had been withdrawn to a subordinate position, and what he wished to know was where the economy came in, as the ships were not to be destroyed. That affected the question of economy and was also bound up with the question of distribution. Surely there was a great lack of foresight in continuing to spend money on these ships. Take one of the ships—


This is not in order.


said he would reserve what he had to say until the general Question was before the House.

MR. MAJENDIE (Portsmouth)

said that he gathered that the hon. Member who moved the Amendment expressed satisfaction at the reduction in the Naval Estimates. He also expressed his satisfaction, on the ground that it strengthened the Fleet. The hon. Gentleman went on to say that he hoped negotiations would be opened with other Powers. He should like to ask the hon. Gentleman whether he did not think they ought to manage their own affairs without negotiating with other countries. Why should they seek the approval of other countries in such matters? The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Amendment asked why these proposals were not carried out sooner. The answer was that they were only necessitated by the advent of first-class armoured cruisers and the development of wireless telegraphy. The hon. Gentleman went on to state that the Navy of this country was equal to the navies of France, Germany, and Russia. Strictly speaking, they might put Russia out of the question now, but had it ever struck the hon. Gentleman that it was quite possible that America might be brought in? That was a reason why the strength of the Fleet should be maintained. Mr. Speaker's ruling had precluded his going into the question of the withdrawal of the ships and, therefore, he would content himself with congratulating the Admiralty on their pluck in reducing the Navy Estimates in the way they had.


said the hon. Member who had just spoken seemed to labour under some misapprehension. Those who sat on the Opposition side and who had advocated economy for so many years had not reduced the Navy Estimates. It was the Government who had done so, and it was the Government, therefore, whom the hon. Gentleman ought to reproach for so doing. This was one of the most extraordinary occasions upon which they had discussed the Naval Estimates within his recollection. For no less than eight or nine years it was treason, in the House, to speak of reducing the Navy Estimates. Wherever else economies were made, the Navy Estimates were to go up eternally. An hon. Gentleman, discussing the Estimates last year, had said that so far as the Navy Estimates were concerned they would go up and up until they reached £50,000,000. But that idea had to-night been dissipated; the Estimates had gone down by £3,500,000. He did not, however, think the full explanation had been given for this most startling reduction. The House had been told it had been effected by the new distribution of the Fleet, and that, no doubt, was strictly true; but the most vital feature of the scheme of the new distribution of the Fleet had, it seemed to him, been the casting out of the inefficient ships. The question which, then, arose was what right had the Government to spend huge sums on the maintenance of those ships, which all had to be swept away directly the new scheme was put into force? Why were all these millions spent in recent years? One was reminded that there was only one precedent for such a reduction. In 1860 the Navy Estimates amounted to £14,500,000 and they were gradually reduced to £9,500,000 in ten or twelve years. He confessed that when it came to details he was all at sea, but he maintained that it was not the business of the House to deal with details, but with the general question of expenditure, and that was the question to which he had devoted his time. He had persistently pursued that one policy, and, while imploring the House not to raise the Estimates so rapidly, he had warned them that if they persisted in doing so they would eventually have to reduce them in such a way as would make foreign nations think we were altering our policy. This reduction did not agree with the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty as to a complete continuance of policy. How could the hon. Member reconcile a complete continuance of policy with a reduction of £3,500,000 in the Estimates? If we only wanted 129,000 men last year why did we raise a number beyond that limit a year ago?


said that this was not in order upon the Amendment, but rather applied to the general Question.


explained that he had attempted to confine himself to the reduction of the Estimates, which he thought was mentioned in the Amendment, but he had no desire to make any remarks at one time which would be less convenient than at another. He would therefore reserve what he desired to say.


said he thought it was generally accepted that the distribution scheme, in so far as it had caused a reduction, had not caused that reduction at the expense of efficiency, and as long as that was agreed to and the reduction in itself was approved—of which he had no doubt, there was very little to be said further on the question. As to whether we ought to effect a further reduction by negotiation with foreign Powers, he thought the hon. Member would see that that direct method of reduction was an impossible one. For this country to discuss directly with foreign Powers its Navy Estimates was an impossibility.


said the Admiralty some time ago invited foreign Powers to make suggestions to us.


said that direct negotiations on questions of the Navy and the construction programme were impossible. Of course it was perfectly true that one of the most important factors in deciding the necessary strength

of the Navy—the Vote for construction and any possible economies—was the state of our relations with foreign countries. He thought he could not better answer the lion. Member from that point of view than by referring him to what had been said by M. Hanotaux on this interesting question, which should what, in the opinion of the French statesman, had been the effect of the excellent relations which happily obtained between France and England on our distribution scheme. M. Hanotaux said— Hardly had our Parliament ratified the Anglo-French arrangement than the English Admiralty issued an order for the general organisation of the English Fleet and the redistribution of British naval forces on the seas of the globe. Nothing to compare with it has ever been seen in history. The planet is covered by a close network, which, crossing the means of communication and completing the occupation of the waters by that of the straits and shores, enables a constant watchfulness to be kept up all over the world, which, by means of the telegraph, can be transformed into an immediate mobilisation.

And then, after a summary of the situation— It follows that at the culminating point she has reached, our neighbouring Power may calmly await the complications that may arise. By the recent measures she has set the seal to her greatness.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 220; Noes, 164. (Division List No. 24.)

Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Boscawen, Arthur Griffith Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Boulnois, Edmund Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)
Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn) Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge
Anson, Sir William Reynell Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.
Arnold-Forster, Rt Hn. Hugh O. Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh. Cripps, Charles Alfred
Arrol, Sir William Bull, William James Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Butcher, John George Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A (Glasgow Cubitt, Hon. Henry
Bailey, James (Walworth) Campbell, J. H. M (Dublin Univ. Dalrymple, Sir Charles
Bain, Colonel James Robert Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Davenport, William Bromley
Balcarres, Lord Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire Dickson, Charles Scott
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r. Cayzer, Sir Charles William Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.
Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W (Leeds Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph
Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch. Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A (Worc. Dorington, Rt. Hn. Sir John E.
Bartley, Sir George C. T. Chapman, Edward Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Clive, Captain Percy A. Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks Coates, Edward Feetham Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Fardell, Sir T. George
Bigwood, James Cohen, Benjamin Louis Fergusson, Rt. Hn Sir J.(Manc'r
Bingham, Lord Colomb, Rt. Hn. Sir John C. R. Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.
Blundell, Colonel Henry Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Finlay, Sir R B (Inv'rn'ss B'ghs)
Bond, Edward Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas Fisher, William Hayes
Fison, Frederick William Lee, Arthur H.(Hants, Fareham Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead) Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter
Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Round, Rt. Hon. James
Flannery, Sir Fortescue Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S. Royds, Clement Molyneux
Flower, Sir Ernest Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford
Forster, Henry William Long, Col. Charles W.(Evesham Samuel, Sir Harry S (Limehouse
Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S. W. Long, Rt Hn Walter (Bristol, S. Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Galloway, William Johnson Lonsdale, John Brownlee Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)
Garfit, William Loyd, Archie Kirkman Seton-Karr, Sir Henry
Gordon, Hn. J.E (Elgin & Nairn) Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft Sharpe, William Edward T.
Gordon, Maj Evans (T'rH'mlets Lucas, Reginald J (Portsmouth) Simeon, Sir Barrington
Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby- Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Gorst Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Macdona, John Cumming Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Goschen Hon. George Joachim Maconochie, A. W. Spear, John Ward
Goulding, Edward Alfred Majendie, James A. H. Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)
Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Malcolm, Ian Stanley, Hon Arthur (Ormskirk
Greene, Sir EW (B'rySEdm'nds Marks, Harry Hananel Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lancs.)
Greene, Henry D.(Shrewsbury) Martin, Richard Biddulph Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Hall, Edward Marshall Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F. Maxwell, W J H (Dumfriesshire Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Talbot, Rt. Hn J. G (Oxf'd Univ.
Hamilton, Marq. Of (L'nd'nd'rry Milvain, Thomas Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)
Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th) Montagu, Hon. J Scott (Hants.) Thorburn, Sir Walter
Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo. Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Thornton, Percy M.
Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley Morgan, David J (Walthamstow Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Heath, Sir James (Staffords N W Morpeth, Viscount Tritton, Charles Ernest
Heaton, John Henniker Morrison, James Archibald Tuff, Charles
Helder, Augustus Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer Turnour, Viscount
Henderson, Sir A.(Stafford, W.) Mount, William Arthur Valentia, Viscount
Hoare, Sir Samuel Muntz, Sir Philip A. Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Hobhouse, Rt Hn H (Somers't, E Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.
Hogg, Lindsay Nicholson, William Graham Warde, Colonel C. E.
Hope, J. F (Sheffield, Brightside Parker, Sir Gilbert Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Taunton
Horner, Fredrick William Parkes, Ebenezer Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)
Hoult, Joseph Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon
Houston, Robert Paterson Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd
Howard, John (Kent, Faversh'm Pemberton, John S. G. Whiteley, H.(Ashton und. Lyne
Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil Percy Earl Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Hunt, Rowland Pierpoint, Robert Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Jameson, Major J. Eustace Pilkington, Colonel Richard Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred. Platt-Higgins, Frederick Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Jessel Captain Herbert Merton Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Wilson-Todd, Sir W H. (Yorks.)
Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh) Pretyman, Ernest George Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Kerr, John Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Kimber, Sir Henry Purvis, Robert Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson
Lambton, Hn. Fredk. William Pym, C. Guy Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Laurie, Lieut.-General Quilter, Sir Cuthbert Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow) Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne
Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th Reid, James (Greenock) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir
Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Remnant, James Farquharson Alexander Acland-Hood and
Lawson, Hn. H L. W (Mile End) Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.
Lawson, John Grant(Yorks. N R Ridley, S. Forde
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E. Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Dunn, Sir William
Allen, Charles P. Causton, Richard Knight Edwards, Frank
Ambrose, Robert Channing, Francis Allston Elibank, Master of
Asher, Alexander Cheetham, John Frederick Emmott, Alfred
Asquith, Rt. Hn. HerbertHenry Churchill, Winston Spencer Esmonde, Sir Thomas
Barlow, John Emmott Condon, Thomas Joseph Evans, Sir Francis H (Maidstone
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Crean, Eugene Farrell, James Patrick
Boland, John Cremer, William Randal Fenwick, Charles
Bright, Allan Heywood Crombie, John William Ffrench, Peter
Broadhurst, Henry Cullinan, J. Findlay, Alexander (Lanark, N E
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Dalziel, James Henry Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Flynn, James Christopher
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)
Burke, E. Haviland Delany, William Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.
Buxton, Sydney Charles Devlin, Charles Ramsay (Galway Fuller, J. M. F.
Caldwell, James Doogan, P. C. Gilhooly, James
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Duffy, William J. Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Berwick)
Griffith, Ellis J. M'Fadden, Edward Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton M'Hugh, Patrick A. Schwann, Charles E.
Haldane, Rt, Hon. Richard B. M'Kean, John Seely, Maj. JEB. (Isleof Wight
Hammond, John M'Kenna, Reginald Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Harcourt, Lewis M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Mooney, John J. Sheehy, David
Harwood, George Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Shipman, Dr. John G.
Hayden, John Patrick Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D. Moulton, John Fletcher Slack, John Bamford
Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H. Murphy, John Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Nannetti, Joseph P. Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Higham, John Sharpe Newnes, Sir George Soares, Ernest J.
Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.) Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (Northants
Holland, Sir William Henry Norman, Henry Stanhope, Hon. Philip James
Horniman, Frederick John Norton, Capt. Cecil William Stevenson, Francis S.
Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk. O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Strachey, Sir Edward
Jacoby, James Alfred O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid Sullivan, Donal
Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) Tennant, Harold John
Jones, Leifchild S. (Appleby) O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.
Jones, William(Carnarvonshire O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)
Joyce, Michael O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.) Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)
Kennedy, Vincent P. (Cavan, W O'Dowd, John Tomkinson, James
Kilbride, Denis O'Mara, James Toulmin, George
Labouchere, Henry O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Langley, Batty Palmer, Sir Charles M. (Durham) Weir, James Galloway
Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.) Paulton, James Mellor White, George (Norfolk)
Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall) Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Layland-Barratt, Francis Pirie, Duncan V. Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)
Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington Power, Patrick Joseph Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Leigh, Sir Joseph Rea, Russell Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Lewis, John Herbert Reddy, M. Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Lloyd-George, David Redmond, John E.(Waterford) Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)
Lough, Thomas Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)
Lundon, W. Rickett, J. Compton Young, Samuel
Lyell, Charles Henry Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.) Yoxall, James Henry
Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Roche, John TELLEES FOR THE NOES—Mr.
Mac Veagh, Jeremiah Rose, Charles Day Herbert Gladstone and Mr
M' Crae, George Runciman, Walter William M' Arthur.

Question again proposed.

*MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)

wished to join in the expressions of regret at the loss of Lord Selborne. He entirely agreed with the Secretary to the Admiralty that Lord Selborne was a man of business, who always gave a prompt and decided judgment on any point submitted to him. During the last four years he had come in contact with the noble Lord a great deal in connection with the business of the Explosives Committee, and a more satisfactory chief to serve under in matters of business it would be hard to find. He trusted that the good traditions of Lord Selborne would be maintained. With regard to the general discussion, the House were at a considerable disadvantage in examining the broad policy set forth in the Statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty by reason of the omission therefrom of information as to the ships that were to be removed from the effective list. Possibly that information could not have been given before the Statement came up for consideration, but in its absence it was not easy to form a judgment upon the naval position for the coining year. Undoubtedly there was to be made a great change, which on the face of it appeared to be in the right direction. The House had confidence in the Admiralty with regard to the continuity of policy of which the hon. Gentleman had spoken, and they had confidence in the new blood which had been imported, but it would certainly have been much more satisfactory if they could have spoken with knowledge of what was actually going to be done in the carrying out of the changes of which so much had been heard recently. The redistribution scheme was the key to the whole of those changes under discussion, but that, they were told, depended upon mobility. It was the increase in mobility that was declared to have enabled the redistribution to be made. The Secretary to the Admiralty went on to say that the reason for the changes now made for the first time were the existence of the armoured cruiser and wireless telegraphy. He was not reproaching the Admiralty for not having made this discovery of the practicability of change earlier, because they were all human, and the best ideas did not always come all at once. These reforms, however, appeared to go far beyond the reason given by the Secretary to the Admiralty. The scheme with which Lord Selborne, Sir John Fisher, and the hon. Member opposite were associated seemed to go far beyond the results of armoured cruisers and wireless telegraphy. The real reason was that new mind and energy had been brought into the whole scheme, and the Admiralty had taken up the question with vigour and energy. The meaning of this very remarkable new departure seemed to him to be that the Admiralty had got away from the influence of that old mechanical formula which they had discussed so often of estimating things merely by the quantity of ships. He agreed with the notion of a Power standard, but it should be a standard of quality as well as quantity. They ought not merely to count ships, but also quality, and in estimating the standard he hoped they would not consider only what followed when a foreign nation added one or two cruisers or battleships, because they could not estimate their power in that fashion. He spoke as a member of a Party who believed in absolute free trade, and as their food supplies came mainly from across the sea he agreed that it was necessary that they should preserve the command of the sea. He did not like even to name Mr. Cobden, but Mr. Cobden did associate himself with the necessity of having a powerful Navy in connection with his free-trade policy. Our policy should be to secure the command of the sea and efficiency. They wanted to preserve their unique position on the ocean, because they were in a unique position as an island with, an enormous trade, and dependent more than any other nation upon their food supply and raw material from across the ocean. He was as keen as any hon. Member opposite for efficiency, and he approved of substituting quality for quantity.

It was plain that new ideas were getting into the minds of those responsible for the defence of our shores. Last Friday Lord Selborne spoke of invasion as a matter which was engaging the most constant and unremitting attention of the Committee of Defence, and stated that the more the question was examined the more it resulted in the conclusion that everything depended upon the command of the sea. He trusted that their policy not only in naval, but in military matters as well, would turn upon the command of the sea, and therefore they should preserve the greatest mobility that was possible in the Navy. He did not think it was possible to make a useful comparison between our own and other Fleets. They ought to start with the notion that they had to look to quality even more than quantity, and it was no use judging the efficiency of the Navy by mere numbers. The statement which had been published placed it beyond doubt that the Admiralty had come to the conclusion that numbers did not mean efficiency, but that the Navy was rather impaired by having a number of useless ships. One wondered why this idea did not occur a good deal earlier, for then they would have been able to save a good many millions of money. What was the result of this scheme? There was a reduction of £3,500,000, and he could not tell whether that could become more in the future. He was not in favour of rash reductions in a matter involving the safety of a nation so vitally, but he agreed with Lord Selborne and Sir John Fisher in this matter, for he knew that this figure had not been arrived at without the closest and the most careful consideration, and the assurance that they would have the same efficiency in the Navy. They hoped at the same time that the Navy Estimates would be of a less swollen character than in years gone by. The strength of the Navy depended upon moral considerations as well as financial, and it depended largely upon the extent to which the Navy remained a thoroughly popular institution. He believed the Navy was the most popular institution they had, and therefore it was vital that the people should not feel that it constituted any unjustifiable burden on the nation. There had been in the first place a reduction of 2,100 in the personnel, but they did not know how that had been effected. It was not enough to inform them that 120 useless ships had been taken off, because they wanted information as to what was to be done with the crews of those ships. Then there was the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, a body in regard to which some of them had considerable hopes, and in respect of which a Bill was on the Paper for that day. He regarded the Volunteer Reserve as a cheap and excellent source for getting together material out of which the personnel of the Navy could be recruited.

There was another feature worthy of comment, and it was the postponement of the four armoured cruisers and certain destroyers in last year's programme. He wished there could have been some more eliminations. He looked with some dismay at the number of battleships of the King Edward VII type, because the Lord Nelson type was more modern, had clearer decks, and heavier armaments. They would all have been pleased if more of last year's construction Vote had been utilised for vessels of the Lord Nelson type. On page 7 of the First Lord's Statement it was stated that the sum devoted to new ships for 1905–6 was a little over £1,250,000, and that the Admiralty had hopes of inaugurating shipbuilding under a system by which the period of construction would be shortened from thirty-six to thirty months. That was a very important departure. Considering the enormous cost of a battleship, there must be a considerable saving of money by reducing the period of construction. How far this policy would be carried out in the future was a matter which the House would do well to watch, because if this plan could be carried out at all, it was a line that should be adhered to, for it would also result in greater efficiency. It was a great mistake to put down a lot of ships at a time, instead of putting down fewer, and spending the money upon rapid construction and finishing off the ships one by one. He thought that was a change for the batter. Hon. Members had all, he thought, had a feeling that we had not been getting in the dockyards all that we ought to have been getting for our money. He hoped that this was only the beginning of a policy of reform which would put things on a more satisfactory footing. In regard to submarines he felt that we were in a much more experimental stage than one would gather from the State- ment. But how far submarines were to be of the value which many people set upon them could only be proved by experience, and, while the policy of constructing submarines was necessary and could not be held back, he hoped it would be pursued experimentally until we saw what was the best type, and how far the submarine was as good as it promised to be. There was no doubt that it could do well under certain conditions. It was a great departure and would go far to revolutionise many branches of the work of the Fleet. He saw nothing in the statement as to the speed of our destroyers. There was an uneasy feeling that we were sacrificing speed and other considerations. There was a distinction made between two classes of vessels—those used for one purpose, and those used for another purpose. He gathered that there was to be a different speed for these two. That might be the justification for the reduction of the speed to 25 knots. It should be remembered that this class of vessel depended for its value upon speed before almost anything else, provided that there were sea-going qualities. He did not think there was anything that could be put before the attainment of speed which could give our ships pre-eminence over other vessels.

There was to be a decrease of expenditure on guns and materials connected with guns. That, he supposed, was as it should be, but he should like to hear from the Secretary to the Admiralty what the policy of the Admiralty was in regard to the 6-in. gun, which was a very fine gun of its kind. It was a very efficient and serviceable weapon and some people still put it very high indeed. But it should be remembered that quick firing was not everything, and that the weight of the projectile and high velocity were very important. He would like to know what was being done in substituting 7.5 in. for 6 in. guns on the modern cruisers. It seemed to him that we were outgrowing the 6 in. gun owing to the increasing quality of armour plate, and that we would pass from it to 7.5 in., and oven to 9.2 in. guns in secondary armament. He wished to know the views of the Admiralty on that subject. He had no doubt they were giving the closest attention to the matter. One of the greatest attractions of the Lord Nelson type was the power of the secondary armament. He felt considerable difficulty in criticising the First Lord's Statement from the absence of detailed material. He did not think they ever had less material on which to examine the Statement than they had now. He understood that they were to get a fortnight hence a Statement showing the exact character of the ships which were to be removed from the efficient list.


said it would be quite easy to give to-morrow or next day the names of the ships. He hoped by to-morrow to furnish an incomplete preliminary Report.


said that for the purpose of this discussion the names of the ships, unless hon. Members were provided with the Blue-book, and the Naval Annuals would not enable one to come to a judgment. Even then the matter would require a great deal of consideration. He was not blaming the Government for having to give this Statement in a somewhat incomplete condition. His point was that without further information they were unable this year to form the judgment which they were generally able to form at this time on the Naval Statement. He gathered that the policy of the present year would not be before the House until late in the session, and then for the first time would it be in their power to form some kind of adequate judgment on it. In the main the First Lord's Statement was satisfactory. First of all, there was a reduction of £3,500,000 made under the sanction of names of acknowledged weight. He thought the name of the First Sea Lord was enough to inspire confidence in the House and the country. In saying that he did not in the least detract from the thoroughness with which Lord Selborne and the hon. Gentleman opposite had done their work. The change which had been made amounted to a revolution, and because it was so great he did not feel in a position to form a judgment on it. He hailed the advent of new ideas in this, as he always hailed the advent of new ideas in any department of the Government. After all, this departure was the beginning of wisdom and not the end. On his side of the House they were as keen as the hon. Gentleman and his friends to preserve an efficient Navy, and they rejoiced to think that new minds and new ideas had been brought to bear on a topic of the utmost complexity but which was vital to the life of the nation.

*SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)

said he did not intend to follow the right hon. and learned Gentleman on exactly the same lines. He demurred to the new distribution being called a remarkable new departure, because, after all, it was but another step in the long series of steps in a process of development that had actually been in progress for many years. He admitted that it was a long step, and that there were many points and circumstances connected with it which required close attention which they could not at present give it in the absence of sufficient information. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had laid it down that quantity was not the sole test of value in the Navy. He had never known any real authority who said it was. As to submarines, he entirely agreed with the right hon. and learned Gentleman that we were in the extremely experimental stage. He hoped that we would proceed with extreme caution, because many large questions-were concerned. They had not yet sufficient information, and we could not blindly follow other nations in our naval policy. He thought the Admiralty were right to make, to a reasonable extent, experiments for the purpose of arriving at certain conclusions, but he did not think they should go further.

He intended to devote his remarks to the question of the internal arrangements of the Admiralty. He joined with the Secretary to the Admiralty in the expression of appreciation and high admiration of the work done by Lord Selborne since he assumed the seals of office at the Admiralty. Lord Selborne was unquestionably a very bold administrator, and the most remarkable feature and new departure of his administration was that he had been a great educator of public opinion outside the Admiralty and the service. His Memoranda on the great organic changes which had been made, had been perfect masterpieces of light and guidance for the Press. The form in which his proposals had been placed before the public had a great deal to do with the ready acceptation they had received. In the fifty-five months during which Lord Selborne had held office, the whole Navy had really been revolutionised. Before he took office a system of training and common entry was looked upon as an impossibility, although the necessity for change was recognised. Whenever he raised the question of the training of officers and specialisation in the House it was always opposed on the Government Bench. Only in March, 1900, a few months before Lord Selborne came into office, Lord Goschen, as representing the Government, told him somewhat angrily that the policy of common entry and common training up to a certain point and specialisation afterwards could never be carried out. What happened within fifty months afterwards? It was done. That in itself had had an immense and disturbing effect on the naval service. All he wanted to point out was that with these great changes it should be remembered that the Navy required time to settle down. Under the entirely new condition of things he trusted that the Admiralty would go cautiously until the service had had time to work out its own salvation without much interference from the outside or inside.

It should be borne in mind that the constitution and organisation of the Admiralty had been a most complete success, that it had established such confidence in the service as well as outside as being the best instrument for carrying out the national will in regard to obtaining an economic and efficient Navy that the War Office had this year been remodelled on it's pattern. By experience it had been found that the one-man power at the War Office neither produced efficiency nor economy. The House was therefore bound to exercise the most jealous care in watching any symptom of change in the constitution of the Admiralty. It was for that reason that he troubled the House with a few remarks on that part of the Memorandum of the late First Lord which dwelt on the changes in the constitution of the Admiralty. Among the most experienced sea officers there was a feeling of un-easiness and almost alarm that these changes in process would by degrees have the effect of altering the character of the Admiralty. In expressing regret at the departure of Lord Selborne as a great administrator, he thought it would be found that the whole naval service greeted with satisfaction the appointment of a thoroughly capable business man to take his place; and he hoped that Lord Cawdor would give his sea officers, who were in touch with the service, every opportunity of conference with him and of telling him their views; for it was of the utmost importance that the volume of opinion of the most experienced officers fresh from the sea should be made clear to the First Lord of the Admiralty. They were told in the Memorandum that an Order in Council had been passed, and in consequence certain changes at the Admiralty were being carried out. He thought the House was entitled to have that Order in Council. He mentioned that for another reason. There was another Order in Council which naval officers knew existed, but most of whom had never seen; and that that Order in Council some time ago really abolished sea service as a qualification for naval officers' advancement. In order to allay the uneasy feeling which prevailed in the Navy he asked that these two Orders in Council should be laid before the House. It might be that the alarm was without reasonable foundation, but it existed, and its effect on the mind of the men in the service was very great at the present moment. Having spoken of the Order in Council, the First Lord's Memorandum led up to a very curious expression. It said that— The final step was taken in the readjustment of the distribution of business. "A final step"! That was a very grave phrase. But when they read further, all they were told was that the name of the Naval Lords was now to be changed to Sea Lords, and that the First Sea Lord was to be relieved of some minor matters of administration. That was an anticlimax to a "final step." If that was all, it was only a twopence-halfpenny thing. The transfer of some minor duties from the First Sea Lord could not be called a final step, but an ordinary office transaction. Therefore, the words in the Memorandum were rather calculated to enhance than to allay the feeling of unrest and discomfort in the minds of some of the ablest and most distinguished naval officers. The more information that could be given "to dispel the idea, if it was false, the better; and he trusted his hon. and gallant friend in his reply would be most careful and explicit as to what were the real changes that had taken place in the Admiralty, or were in contemplation. The disquiet in the minds of many distinguished officers who had spent their lives at sea were so far justified by the fact that it was the view of the whole Press that great changes had taken place. The Morning Post was a paper of considerable importance, and was generally pretty accurate In an article referring to the First Lord's Memorandum it declared that— The change means in fact that it has raised the office of the First Sea Lord to a position of greater authority and power than that enjoyed by the Commander-in-Chief at the War Office during the reign of Lord Roberts and Lord Wolseley. That was a specific statement, and naturally alarming to the most experienced officers in the service. What the House wanted to know was if it had any foundation whatever in fact. He hoped that his hon. and gallant friend would be able to scotch the idea that the authority of the Admiralty was going to be more centralised in the hands of one Sea Lord than it had ever been before. He himself could find nothing in the Memorandum to fully justify the uneasiness that existed, except in one little matter on which he wanted an explanation. A new office had been created, that of Inspector of Target Practice. He could not find under what Vote the salary of that officer was to be charged, unless it were that described in the Navy Estimates as Assistant to the First Sea Lord.




Then the First Sea Lord would have a new officer attached to him as assistant at a salary of £900 a year, and also an Inspector of Target Practice. Where, then, was the salary of the latter officer charged? Again, the First Lord's Memorandum said that this Inspector of Target Practice was not to be an Admiralty officer—he was to be in the Admiralty but not of them and to be independent of the Director of Naval Ordnance. That was concentrating in the hands of the First Sea Lord an amount of power and an element of direct supervision which had never been the custom in the Admiralty before. It must be obvious that it was impossible for an officer to be sent by the First Sea Lord to inspect target practice without going much further than looking at the target practice. He must be a man more or less concerned in the training of the gunnery which found its culminating, test in target practice. The creation of this new office must have this effect: that the First Sea Lord would be in a very different position from that of any former Sea Lord in having an officer attached to him who was not in the Admiralty, and who was to go about from place to place and from squadron to squadron and see not merely how the target practice was going on but really to supervise the Commander-in-Chief. There was uneasiness in the matter in the service because no First Sea Lord had ever been allowed to exercise, as an individual, any executive authority where an Admiral had his flag flying. That had been the bed rock of the efficiency of the Navy, and had been the great safeguard against centralisation and all the other ills of which the War Office had given so many unfortunate examples. Men who spent their lives at sea dreaded being governed from shore. The present First Sea Lord had less sea service than almost any officer of his standing; and they watched with great fear—it might be an unfounded apprehension, but he thought it his duty to express it for the, benefit of the service—any change, however small, which tended in any sense to diminish the authority of the Board of Admiralty in its corporate capacity, and centralise control in the hands of the First Sea Lord, no matter how able he might be. He had limited his remarks entirely to this question, as he knew that the one thing that was disturbing the minds of sea officers was that changes were in progress or in contemplation, small in themselves, but which would have, perhaps, the tendency of putting the First Sea Lord as an individual in a position never occupied by any of his predecessors. He repeated the service regarded that with the gravest apprehension.


said that the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not appear to be fully acquainted with the appointment he criticised. It was a matter of notoriety that this appointment was in the hands of Admiral Scott. It was one of the best points ever mentioned in a Naval Statement. Gunnery in the Navy had made great strides, and the Admiralty were deserving of every credit for it. The appointment had been given to the right man, who was the greatest authority on shooting in the Navy. He was, in fact, the father of modern shooting in our Navy. It was his methods that had brought gunnery to its present position, and he was competent not only to supervise but to give advice. It was true his position was not clearly defined in the First Lord's Statement; but as he read it he thought that Admiral Scott would act under the supervision of the First Sea Lord; and at the same time it would be impossible for him not to be under the control of the Admiralty. He was a distinguished expert, and wherever he went records followed him and his system. Hollingshurst, who was presented to the King at Portsmouth the other day, fired ten rounds in one minute at a small target six feet by eight feet and secured seven hits. That was a marvellous performance; and the result of Admiral Scott's methods of training. Admiral Scott's reports would enable the Admiralty to detect more quickly than at present any lack of attention on the part of commanding officers with reference to shooting; and he would be a direct link between the Admiralty and every ship in the matter of efficient shooting. A matter of supreme importance, in view of recent experience, was night firing, which ho was told was as much neglected at the moment as was ordinary day firing five or six years ago. [Mr. PRETYMAN dissented.] The Secretary to the Admiralty shook his head, but he had never heard it mentioned in this House; and, therefore, concluded it was not receiving a great deal of attention. It was a matter, however, which would have to be thoroughly gone into in order that it might be brought to a high state of perfection. Port Arthur showed the necessity for that. In the practice on the China and Mediterranean stations the torpedo in pretty well every case had got the better of the battleship in night attacks. He was glad to read the statement that a reliable night-sight had been found. Then he wished for information as to what was being done in regard to gun-sights. With regard to the ten-inch gun-sights on board the "Centurion" the Government had taken a very optimistic view when criticised with regard to them, but the record of the "Centurion" on the China station, so far as the shooting from these ten-inch guns were concerned, was the worst on the station. It could not be alleged to be the fault of the gunners, because, except so far as these guns were concerned their record was above the average. He was informed that there was only one ship in the Navy where the gun-sights were correct and that was one of the ships that was bought from the Chilian Government last year. All he desired to ask the hon. Gentleman was to give the House what information he could as to what was being done by the Admiralty as to the perfecting of the various guns sights in the Navy.

He hoped the Committee on the Organisation and Administration of the Dockyards would improve the chaotic condition to which recent reforms had reduced them. Changes, no doubt, might be necessary, but the piecemeal and chronic changes which went on prevented the smooth and economic working of the yards. It would be beneficial if the Committee brought up a system that would be thoroughly understood by all, and made applicable to all the yards, and thus prevent chronic and irritating change. There appeared to him to be too many small Fishers in the dockyards. Every admiral-superintendent vied with the other to see what reforms he could introduce of his own creation. He had a great respect for naval men, and admiral-superintendents in particular, but he did not think they knew the best requirements of a great civil factory. The best thing would be to appoint a civilian as permanent head of these great manufacturing departments. At the present moment the general manager was an admiral who was only appointed for three years. He had seen a succession of these gentlemen at Devon-port. There was the go-as-you-please admiral-superintendent who let things slide along, and then the very energetic gentleman who thought he had discovered the root and branch of all reform. It was red tape from top to bottom, and instead of the competent men like the chief constructors and chief engineers holding the sway there was really a great gulf between them and the admiral-superintendent. That was one of the directions in which reform ought to move. As to the personnel, if the Admiralty wished to get the best out of them they would have to treat the men as they were treated in private yards. They were just as much entitled to be parties to the bargaining with regard to condition of work as were the employees of Messrs. Armstrong, who had a trade council of their own with whom the firm negotiated whenever necessary. The men in the dockyards had access to the Admiralty only by humble petition, and by representations in the House. The firmer was a most unsatisfactory method, while as to the latter he assured hon. Members it was extremely distasteful to have to voice grievances across the floor of the House. There were other matters he would raise on the Votes themselves; meanwhile he hoped the Secretary to the Admiralty would be able to give satisfactory assurance about the sighting of guns.

*MR. DUKE (Plymouth)

said that while he did not pretend to have expert knowledge on the technical details of shipbuilding and the sighting of guns, he claimed to possess some knowledge as to the proper mode of dealing with civil employees in dockyards, and he entirely endorsed the remarks of the hon. Member for Devon-port with regard to the desirability of a thorough overhauling of dockyard administration. At present there was in operation an archaic system, or want of system, the foundations of which were laid almost as long ago as the establishment of the dockyards themselves, and there had never been any methodical attempt to place the yards on the footing on which they ought to stand as practically the largest factories in the country. They employed tens of thousands of highly skilled workmen, who were not members of a disciplined service, who expected to work under the condi- tions of civil life, but who now laboured under most anomalous conditions. One half of them had an established position, and looked forward to pensions, while the other half had no established position and could not get pensions, although their deserts might be as great as those of their more fortunate comrades. That was surely a state of affairs with which the Committee of Inquiry ought to deal. Then, too, these men were expected to bear themselves as though they were members of a disciplined service, and any systematic attempt to call attention to grievances in the matter of pay or terms of employment was regarded as a breach of discipline. It was most distasteful to have to use Parliamentary pressure in connection with such matters, but under existing conditions there was no other method of exercising upon the Admiralty anything like the influence which the workman outside could bring to bear upon his employer. The present system aggravated the difficulty. The Department was supreme, the admiral-superintendent having just the kind of control that one would expect to be devolved upon a gentleman in a temporary position who was not expected to exert himself very actively for the control or for the betterment of the service. If one of the results of the present tendency to reform in Whitehall should be that the admiral-superintendent, whether he was a naval or a business man, had a real interest in the betterment of the dockyard, some real control, and something like a permanent position, that would be a very great improvement. He did not know whether the hon. Member for Devonport was right in saying there should not be a naval man at the head of the dockyard. Personally, he thought the head should be a naval as well as a business man, and he did not think it was impossible to find such men in the Navy. If the hon. Member were cross-examined as to the I present admiral-superintendent at Devon-port, he would have to admit that he was a man who combined great business qualification, great eagerness in his duties, and large naval experience.


But he will go at the end of three years.


agreed that a business-like arrangement would prevent that. There was another matter he desired to refer to be hoped when the Admiralty came to propose changes they would not be suddenly sprung upon the populations in the dockyard towns. In the course of the last few months owing to the necessities of the season of the year, the civil populations of the dockyard towns had been kept in a ferment of alarm. There had been constant rumours of proposed wholesale dismissals, which had had a certain substratum of fact, because week by week there had been dismissals in the dockyards. He hoped the Secretary to the Admiralty would bear in mind in any contemplated changes that he was dealing with great civil populations in the dockyard towns to whom dockyard employment was the breath of life. If they suddenly launched a scheme of reform which entailed the dismissal of hundreds of men they created a state of things which might be excusable if the changes were really necessary, but in which want of forethought and proper arrangement might inflict great and needless hardships upon the dockyard populations. If the Admiralty were about to propose changes in the dockyard establishments he hoped they would not be sprung suddenly on the workmen, but that any scheme of dismissal would be carried out in such a way that it would not produce unnecessary hardship.

*MR. BUCHANAN (Perthshire, E.)

said his right lion, friend the Member for Haddington appeared to be under the impression that all the Members of the House, including those on the Opposition side, shared the responsibility of this large naval expenditure. He denied this, for in his opinion the responsibility rested with the present Government and with them alone. The example cited by his right lion, friend did not seem to be a very happy one, for he alluded to the vessels of the King Edward VII. type, and pointed out that a mistake had been made in the construction of eight vessels of that type costing £1,250,000 each. Although the Government had spent this huge sum of money upon these ships they acknowledged that that was not the best type of vessel, that they had since adopted a better type, and that Continental Powers were building a type of battleship against which the King Edward VII. type could not stand. He wished to remind the House that there were some hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House who took exception to this class of battleship last year, and who urged that it would only be common prudence to wait, and postpone the laying down of the last three of these eight ships until they had further knowledge of the vessels of the Lord Nelson type. The Ministers responsible for the administration of the Admiralty should not be allowed to shelter themselves behind the authority and the views of any official connected with the Department, however eminent he might be, and the fact that this official had recommended a certain policy was no reason why the House should be expected to accept it without question.


said he did not say that the Admiralty should rely upon the opinion of any individual, however distinguished. What he did say was that they were in want of fresh ideas, and they were as much in want of fresh ideas on naval matters on the Opposition side as they were on the other side of the House.


contended that the Government were responsible for the policy and the figures contained in those Estimates, and they had no right to fall back upon the authority of any permanent Civil servant, either military or naval. He had listened carefully to the speech of the Secretary to the Admiralty, but he had given them very little information as to the policy of the Admiralty beyond an interesting discourse upon the value of Committees. The hon. Member was expected to say something about the facts and figures of the Navy Estimates themselves, but from the beginning to the end of his speech pounds, shillings, and pence were not mentioned. The Estimates were of great importance from the financial as well as from the naval point of view. No reference had been made to the alteration of the policy of the Admiralty indicated by the figures which had been placed before them. The principal feature was that they had a decrease of £3,500,000. That was the first decrease they had had for the past ten or twenty years. Surely that was a very important event in their financial and naval history, and they had a right to expect more details as to how this had arisen, what it foretold, whether it marked a substantial alteration of policy, and whether it was a real decrease or not. They had not received any information upon those points. They had been told that this decrease was not due to economy, but to efficiency. He was rather tired of this cry about efficiency. There was nothing new under the sun, and there was nothing new even in the arguments used in the House of Commons. He had been reading a speech made by Sir Robert Peel in which he was found fault with for his want of economy, and he was told that he should look more at efficiency and not economy. Sir Robert Peel's reply was that "Efficiency is the first, second, and the last object of any administration, but economy is the substantial ingredient in any efficient system of administration." They had been told, that their ships were going to be built with greater speed, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Haddington had received that announcement as a step in advance. They had a right to expect the hon. Gentleman to tell them how that was going to be done. He observed from the Estimates that while there was a large decrease in the item for construction work under contract, there was an increase of £500,000 for new construction in the dockyards. Had that anything to do with the question of the speedy execution of the work? He did not think that in the past construction in the dockyards had been much more speedy than in private yards. According to the Estimates there was to be a large diminution during the present year in the amount expended on repairs, and it appeared from Lord Selborne's Memorandum that there was to be an alteration in the policy dealing with repairs. In future they were to be done entirely in the dockyards, as he read the Statement. It was only three years ago that they were told by the First Lord of the Admiralty that they were inaugurating a new policy with regard to repairs, and that these would be partly done by private yards.


said there was a misapprehension with regard to that. It was only to meet special needs and to make up arrears.


said he accepted the explanation of the hon. Gentleman. The question was discussed at the time whether that would be an economical policy, and many hon. Members contended that it would turn out to be an expensive one. That contention was borne out by Lord Selborne, who now said that the repairs could be more economically done in the Royal Dockyards than in private yards. The House had a right to ask an explanation of the future policy of the Government in that matter. Another feature of the programme was that two new forms of destroyers were to be built—five ocean destroyers and twelve coastal destroyers, and also one destroyer of a new type. It was quite possible that here the Admiralty might make the same financial mistake as was made in the case of scouts. There were still eight scouts on the Estimates this year. From the accounts in the newspapers regarding the trials the scouts could not be regarded as an unmixed success. It was urged at the time the proposal to build scouts was brought forward that it would be unwise to order eight of them right away. Costly experiments should at first be made on a limited scale. It was possible that in regard to the new destroyers there had also been a want of thinking out the subject on the part of the Admiralty. Another important point on which the hon. Gentleman had said nothing was in regard to naval bases abroad. The charges for works at Halifax, Bermuda, Jamaica, and other places which were formerly borne on the Estimates were not in the Estimates for the present year. What was the policy of the Government with regard to naval affairs in the West Indies and Canada? That was a matter of considerable importance. We had been spending large sums of money on these bases.


Bermuda is not given up.


said he should like to know what was happening at Bermuda. They were told that the garrison there was to be diminished by one-half. Certain works had been undertaken at Bermuda for which there was now no charge in the Estimates. They could only discuss in Committee of Supply items which were in the Estimates and not those which had been withdrawn from them, and now was the opportunity to ask what the policy was with regard to Halifax, Bermuda, and Jamaica. The hon. Gentleman had not referred in his speech to the largest dockyard extensions which the Government had in hand at the present moment, namely, Chatham, and the new works at Rosyth. What was the policy of the Government as to them? Were they to assume that the Chatham extension was going on so slowly that it was hardly worth while to call attention to it? As regards Rosyth, only two years ago the First Lord stated that, after a great deal of consideration and the appointment of a Committee, owing to the congestion of the southern dockyards the Admiralty had come to the conclusion that it was necessary to establish a fourth home port, and that the best place for it was in the Firth of Forth. Land was bought, expenditure was begun, and even a neighbouring town incurred expense in providing for the water supply of the people, of the new naval base. A change of policy had come, and no work was now going on at Rosyth at all. They had a right to know what the policy of the Government was in regard to Rosyth, Chatham, Bermuda, and the west Indian Stations. Then the House had never had a word from the hon. Gentleman on one of the most important parts of the Admiralty policy, viz., that relating to the Works Vote, which had gone up to nearly £2,000,000.


said that the Works Vote, instead of having been increased had actually been decreased.


said that there was £1,000,000 for annuity and £900,000 for works. If the latter had decreased he was rather suspicious in regard to that decrease. There was no longer any item on the Vote for coaling depôts and coaling facilities. Had this item been put on loan expenditure? In the past they knew that the Admiralty had transferred expenditure from Vote to loan. Another item had disappeared entirely from the Works Vote—the Wei-hai-Wei hospital. That had been began last year, and a Vote of £35,000 had been made for it. Was the work abandoned altogether, as Wei-hai-Wei had been abandoned as a naval base, or had it been put on loan expenditure for the present or ensuing year?

Then, there was an all important question to which they must have an answer. How could they discuss naval finance when they did not know what was going to be spent? Mr. Goschen and the hon. Gentleman's predecessor used to tell the House what the Estimate was for loan expenditure in the ensuing year. The hon. Gentleman had said the other day that it was impossible to do so until the Bill was introduced: but in 1903 the Bill was not introduced until the last week in July. That was preposterous. They had a right to know before they passed a substantial stage in the Naval Estimates what was the total amount of money which the Government wanted to get out of the pockets of the people for the Navy. Then there was the cutting off of 160 ships from the active list. It was astonishing that they had not had that list put before them, showing the character of each ship. It was three months since the First Lord issued his Memorandum in regard to the matter, and it was weeks since the Prime Minister at Glasgow had taken credit to his Government for having courageously struck off these ships from the active list. When the Government were going to make this great point of reducing the active list, they should have come before the House of Commons and told them what ships they were knocking off, the reason for it, and the amount of money recently spent for repairs on the ships so knocked off. Taking The Times list alone, and going through the current year's Estimates alone, he found that —140,000 had been spent for repairs on those vessels which were to be sold or thrown aside as scrap iron. The hon. Gentleman opposite had said that some of the ships were not to be treated as scrap iron; they were neither sheep nor goats, but llamas, some of which were to be sent to the Clyde, and in future wars were to be furbished up so as to be put into the fighting line. He was afraid that if these llamas were laid up long they would soon develop into goats. Moreover, what was to be done with the rest of the protected cruisers? Was this to be the beginning or the end of a policy? The Memorandum said that the protected cruisers of the second class were really useless for war purposes.

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