§ SIR CHARLES PALMER (Durham, Jarrow)
To ask the Secretary of State for War whether the services of the Submarine Volunteer Corps, for the protection of commercial harbours, have been dispensed with because of their having failed to carry out the duties and work assigned to them, or for other reasons not explained; and whether the corps will now become Royal Engineer Volunteer Corps.
(Answered by Mr. Secretary Arnold-Forster.) As I have already explained to the House, submarine mining in the estuaries and harbours of the United Kingdom will be discontinued. This step has been taken after full consultation with the Board of Admiralty, who consider that under existing conditions submarine mines are not necessary for purposes of defence, and may, in some cases, constitute a danger to our own vessels. It is obvious, therefore, that the reason which has led the War Office to dispense with the submarine miners is the impossibility of utilising their services, and is due to no want of appreciation of the excellence of the work of the past. The question of how the services of officers and men who have hitherto been engaged in submarine work could be best utilised is now receiving careful consideration.