§ 1. Motion made, and Question pro-proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £2,758,400, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Works, Buildings, and Repairs, at Home and Abroad, including the cost of Superintendence, Purchase of Sites, Grants in Aid, and other Charges connected therewith, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1908."
§ * THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. LAMBERT,) Devonshire, South Molton
said the policy of the present Board of Admiralty had been that of continuity. That principle had been followed in regard to shipbuilding, the distribution of the Fleet, the training of officers, and other matters of purely technical concern, but there was a sharp break in financial methods. If the precedent of the last ten years had been followed he would during that session have had to move another Loan Bill to carry out the works sanctioned under the Loan Act of 1905. But he thought all fair-minded Members would agree that borrowing in the last ten years had been unduly and unwisely extended. The present Government had not only decided that no new works 295 should be provided for under Loan Bills, but they were determined to finish the old loan works out of revenue. The temptation to do otherwise had been strong, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer had successfully resisted it. As a consequence the naval Votes this year would have to bear £900,000 in addition to the ordinary naval expenditure voted by the House. Borrowing powers had been taken to the amount of £27,593,000 during the last ten years whereas the Loan Act of 1905 sanctioned a total expenditure of £32,200,000. The Government had very carefully revised the several loan items. They had cut out everything not essential and taken into account the redistribution of the Fleet. Of course, there must also be considered the difficulty of forecasting, when the Loan Act of 1905 was brought in, what would be the actual necessities of the Fleet in 1907 –8. This careful revision had enabled the Government to reduce the total loan expenditure from £32,206,000 to £29,840,000. They had to deduct from that £29,840,000 borrowing powers to the amount of £27,593,000. The naval Votes, therefore, in this year, next year, and the year afterwards would have to bear a total of £2,246,000. As to repayment of annuity, that would have to be borne over a good many years altogether. The policy of the present Government in transferring expenditure on the works to revenue would result in a saving of £117,000 a year for the next thirty years. The reduction effected in the items of the Loan Bill would mean another saving of £123,000 a year, making a total of £240,000 saved on this annuity for the next thirty years. The annuity would reach its maximum in 1910–11, when it would be £1,350,000 a year. It would remain stationary about fifteen years and then be gradually reduced. The last payment under the Loan Act of 1905 would be made in 1938–9. If posterity had done nothing for us, we certainly had done something for posterity, and he could only hope that in those happy days they would be able to commiserate us on having lived in a more brutal age. If peace and good will did not then prevail the people who lived in 1938–9 would have to pay for their own and for some of our works as well. He would sketch the result of the works that had been sanctioned and were in process of completion under the various Loan Acts that had been passed during 296 the ten years. At Gibraltar somewhat over £5,000,000 had been spent upon a harbour, commercial mole, extension of the dockyard, and magazines. It would be very interesting indeed to know the total of the enormous expenditure on the fortifications of Gibraltar. Over £2,000,000 would have been spent at Malta by the time the breakwaters, extension, magazines, coal and oil-fuel storage had been completed in 1910. At Hong Kong, on the extension of the dockyard and coaling facilities nearly £2,000,000 had been spent. At Simon's Bay the expenditure on the new dockyard would have amounted to over £2,000,000 by 1909. At Keyham,. Devonport, nearly £6,000,000 had been. devoted to an extension of the dockyard, barracks and minor items. At Chatham nearly £2,000,000 had gone in the dock, barracks, and hospital. At Dover, to enclose a harbour of 610 acres in such an exposed position—a work which it was hoped would be finished in 1910—would cost £3,500,000. At Portland, the expenditure amounted to nearly £1,000,000. At Bermuda, dockyard extension accounted for £600,000; the expenditure at Portsmouth amounted to £2,000,000; and miscellaneous services were answerable for £2,500,000 more. Out of this last sum five churches had been added to the naval strength of the country.
§ * MR. LAMBERT
said he would come to that in due course. He proposed to-give a few figures as to the docking accommodation for large vessels. They had at home five Government docks capable of taking the "Dreadnought"; abroad three. All these belonged to the Government.
§ * MR. LAMBERT
said that of the docks at home four were at Keyham and one at Portsmouth. Of docks belonging to the Government capable of taking the "Invincible'' type there were eight at home and three abroad. In British territory there were twenty-seven docks capable of taking the "Dreadnought" and "Invincible." The 297 "Invincible" being longer than the "Dreadnought," some docks would accommodate her that would not accommodate the "Dreadnought," and there were others which would take the latter but not the "Invincible." Having sketched as briefly as he could these various items, he might now come to the question of new works. In the first place there had been a considerable amount of alarm expressed at the alleged unhealthy conditions which prevailed at Osborne among the cadets. He could dispel this alarm by saying that they had taken the utmost pains to inquire into the causes of epidemics that had unhappily raged at Osborne; and he thought he could not do better than read to the House the extract from the Report of the visit of the Medical Director-General, accompanied by several other medical men. That was on 21st November last, and their Report said—There appears to us to be a special reason why epidemics should, in spite of every care on the part of the officials, be prone to occur among the cadets. It is because a large number of boys at, a susceptible age are passed through the college in a time much shorter than obtains in public schools, and there is a continual supply of susceptible subjects.Of course, Osborne differed from any other educational establishment. They had there something like 400 boys of from thirteen to fifteen years of age, and they were told that this was the most susceptible age for catching diseases such as chicken-pox, measles and the like. It was proposed to build a new infectious hospital at Osborne to hold sixty beds, at a cost of £20,000. There had been an expression of opinion that the material of which Osborne was built might be a cause of the sickness; but a distinguished surgeon had reported as follows—I have had a chemical examination made of a sample of this material. There is no free acid of any kind in this material, and in my opinion it is quite free from any irritant properties.He hoped that those opinions of eminent medical men would allay any alarm that might have been caused. He could assure the Committee that they would do all in their power to prevent disease at Osborne, and it was with that view that they had sanctioned the proposal to build a hospital with sixty beds for infectious cases. At Shotley, also, they proposed to increase the hospital accommodation from sixty-two beds to 114 beds. 298 Another subject was that of the Portsmouth lock. Last year his right hon. friend made a statement about it, and they included a sum of £900,000 to execute the work. They had been met by many difficulties. Various schemes had been proposed to the Admiralty, and he was sorry to say that great exception had been taken to each by officials at the Admiralty and at the Portsmouth dockyard. It was a very serious thing indeed so to pull about the old dockyard as to construct a lock of the length required at Portsmouth. The proposal to spend something like £750,000 or £1,000,000 upon the building of a lock in the dockyards might paralyse, and certainly would demoralise, the work there for a considerable time. One proposal was to widen the existing lock, but it was thought that the lock would not be strongenough to stand the strain. Another proposal was to cut through the coaling point, but that was open to the obvious objection that they would have to find another place for coal. The Board of Admiralty, having carefully considered everything, consulted anoutside firm of engineers, though not from any lack of confidence in the officials of the Works Department of the Admiralty. They acted on the principle of a person who might be ill, that it was no disparagement of the ordinary medical adviser if an outside specialist were called in. He wanted to get rid of the idea that there was the smallest shadow of disparagement of the present officers of the Admiralty. During the sixteen months he had been there he was perfectly certain that no Department of the Government, nor any outside Department, was served with more fidelity or more ability than was the Admiralty in the Works Department. But this matter was so important that they took the advice of an eminent firm of outside engineers, and they hoped soon to have their Report which had been unavoidably delayed. That was all he could state about the Portsmouth lock at the present moment. The hon. Gentleman had asked him about Rosyth. There was a sum of £10,000 in the Estimates for the Rosyth works, the history of which hid been a somewhat chequered one. In March, 1900, a Committee was appointed to consider the accommodation of ships. They reported early in 1902 that there was a serious deficiency of 299 accommodation for long battleships and cruisers at some stations. They added that the expansion of our present naval ports would be very difficult, and they recommended another naval establishment as the best solution of the difficulty. At the end of March, 1902, there were bought 1,144 acres at the cost of £144,000. In 1903 sketch plans were prepared to provide berthing accommodation for one fourth of the War Fleet in 1908 –9. Those designs were completed in 1904. The designs and estimates were for a complete naval base to cost £10,000,000. Before these designs were fully finished, a great departure took place in Admiralty policy. Old ships were scrapped, and at the beginning of 1905 there was no need for this berthing accommodation. Various plans had been proposed since, not for berthing accommodation, but for a dock and basin, and other matters. There was a definite scheme decided upon in August 1905 to cost £2,300,000. That was a considerable reduction on the £10,000,000. That scheme was proposed just as the present Government came into office; but when the skilled advisers to the Admiralty had to pronounce upon it very grave objections to it were found. It was therefore determined to get the fullest information as to the sub-soil, and a series of investigations were carried out by the superintending engineer. They had sunk a cylinder, and the results of all the experiments were now before the Admiralty. They would be carefully considered by the Board, and further than that he could not go at present.
§ * MR LAMBERT
said he could not; they had not been considered by the Board of Admiralty yet. There was a new work which possibly might be of interest to Irish Members. He had stated just now that we had at home five Government docks. It was proposed to build another. Haulbow line dock was completed in 1890, but it was only 411 feet long, and was therefore inadequate, though wide enough, to take a ship of the "Dreadnought" type. They proposed to extend it to 600 feet, and it would then 300 be big enough for any existing or projected warships. The reason for lengthening the dock was that Berehaven was one of the principal headquarters of the seagoing fleet. Berehaven was ninety miles from Haulbowline, where, if a ship was damaged, she could put in, when the dock was completed. Berehaven was 250 miles from Devonport; therefore, if a ship was injured at Berehaven, she would have to steam 250miles through a rough sea to reach Devonport, a circumstance which the Admiralty could not view without concern. The total Vote was £2,758,400, which was an apparent increase of £803,900. In reality there was a decrease, because they had had to provide on the Vote £870,825 for work which would have been paid for by loan, if they had not adopted the new policy. There was also an increase of £120,000, on the loan-repayment annuity, and they had therefore had to provide for extra expenditure outside the ordinary Vote to the extent of £991,000. There was, in reality, a real decrease in the Vote of £187,000. He was sure the House of Commons would approve of the policy of paying their way. It was useless to pay off debt with one hand and to borrow money for Naval works with the other. The Admiralty hoped in this Vote and in others to give the country value for their money. All non-essentials had been eliminated, but there had been no undue cheeseparing. The sum asked for was only what, in their opinion, was necessary for the efficiency of this branch of Naval defence.
§ * MR. ARTHUR LEE
said he did not know whether the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down thought that by combining brevity of speech with paucity of information he would thereby assist the passage of the Vote, but personally he rather doubted it, and ho was really amazed at the perfunctory manner in which he had touched upon some very grave questions affecting not only the efficiency but the actual safety of some of the most valuable ships in His Majesty's Navy. He would deal with those points in detail, and commence with a review of the financial aspect of the Vote. It was perfectly clear that the Vote was of unusual importance this year, owing to the fact that a number of very important works had been transferred from the 301 Naval Works Loan to the Vote, and the hon. Gentleman talked of that as if it were an entirely new policy. It was nothing of the kind. He would be the last person to object to the principle which hon. Gentlemen had advocated, of paying their way out of Votes in view of the fact that he himself, when he was in the hon. Gentleman's position, advocated publicly in the House again and again this particular change, and had actually initiated it. On the 3rd of March, 1904, in the House he said—It was the hope of the Admiralty that they would be in a position to discontinue the system of borrowing for works, and to construct them out of the Estimates. It was obvious, however, that there must be a transition period, and they were now putting such works as they could on Vote 10. That accounted for some of the large items to be found on the Vote.And again, speaking as Civil Lord, on 28th July, 1905, he said—He had never concealed his own desire that they (i.e. the Loans) should be brought to an end as soon as that could conveniently be done, but it had not been practicable before now. This Bill marked a great step in that direction. The transference, however, of certain of this expenditure to the Votes would, he warned the House, involve an increase of £340,000 to £350,000 in next year's Naval Estimates.Moreover, in pursuance of that policy, before they left office the late Government did transfer one of the largest items of all, that of Rosyth, from the Works loan to Vote 10. The present Government, however, when they came into office, cut out that item from the Vote, and put it back on the Loan, which amounted to a reversal of the policy of transference from Loan to Vote which in that way had been initiated. He could not admit that the Government deserved any special credit for this particular reform, except in so far as it continued a policy already initiated by the late Government. But, after all, it was not professions or statements of principle which were important in this matter; it was the application of the principle. And here he came to what was apparently a conflict of opinion between the hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty. On 5th March, in explaining the policy of the Government, the right hon. Gentleman said that their unexhausted borrowing powers would be used as far as they would go; 302 and the right hon. Gentleman went on to point out that there was practically £2,000,000 more to borrow. In other words, the Government, while it was going to stop this "vicious principle" of borrowing, at the same time was going to borrow every single penny that the law allowed, to the tune of this £2,000,000. He thought, therefore, that the principle of paying their way out of Votes was still very much in its infancy. There was another point on which the right hon. Gentleman spoke last March, which also required a little explanation on the financial side. He suggested that it was contemplated to transfer the interest payments, under the previous Works Loans Act, from Vote 10, under which it now appeared, to the National Debt. [Mr. EDMUND ROBERTSON: No.] Well, here were the right hon. Gentleman's words—The Navy Estimates will have to bear a dead weight of over £1,250,000 annually, on account of past expenditure unless these payments are transferred to the National Debt. It is immaterial to the country how the money is paid.Was that the course that the right hon. Gentleman wished to pursue? He sincerely hoped that it was not, because the present system of payment provided for both interest and sinking fund, and for the extinction of the debt in the present generation. He could not endorse the hon. Gentleman's optimistic idea that by 1938–9 the world would have so advanced that there would be no necessity for Navies or Naval works. But surely it was not immaterial to the country that the present system might possibly be abandoned, and that this debt should be transferred to the National Debt of the country. He had no doubt that it would have the effect of making the Naval Estimates look slimmer at the time, and that possibly it might be used as another card for the Hague Conference, but it was certainly unsound finance. He had said just now that he did not object to the principle of transfer from Loan to Vote; but there were serious abuses which might result from its operation and there was one danger which he thought must have been foreseen by everybody who had studied the subject. If it was the case that the old system of constructing works under Loan occasionally led to extravagance, it was equally clear that the new system, at any rate under a 303 Liberal Government, must almost inevitably lead to a dangerous starving of necessary and even of essential naval works. This was an old story; it had been the history of these naval works in the past; in fact it was the sole and direct cause of the necessity of introducing the long series of Loan Bills which was now drawing to a close. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty had made some very wise remarks on this subject. In a debate some three years ago, on 3rd March, 1904, he said these words—The Works Vote in former days was not the handmaid, but it was the Cinderella of the Navy Vote, and it was snubbed and robbed. That was in the days before Civil Lords were efficient Ministers. It was no doubt starved and plundered, and in the days before the Naval Works Acts it had reached dangerously small figures He admitted that the figures were too low before the Naval Works Acts were passed, and it was because they were too low that those Acts were introduced.That was undoubtedly the origin of this loan expenditure, and he was afraid that it was too clearly evident that there was a tendency in Vote 10 to repeat the state of affairs which led to the introduction of the loan expenditure. There were two methods by which the starving of necessary works might be carried out. One was that they might abandon altogether, or postpone, works that were absolutely essential, thereby inflicting a grave injury on the Navy, and leading to panic expenditure later on. Another method was the even more pernicious process of starving works which had been actually sanctioned and begun, through the granting of insignificant yearly doles. Either of these systems was grossly unfair to any succeeding Government, because they would be compelled later on to grapple with the accumulated arrears by embarking on a vast capital expenditure. He protested, therefore, against the action of the Government in respect of two important items at least in the Vote. These were Rosyth and the new lock at Portsmouth. The hon. Gentleman had given them a history, though not an altogether impartial history, of the Rosyth works. He had told them correctly that the original idea was approved by the Board of Admiralty in 1902, that the site was purchased and examined and that the plans worked up in 1903–4. But the hon. Gentleman was not quite fair in 304 the matter of what subsequently took place. He said that a scheme was elaborated for establishing a first-class dockyard at a cost of £10,000,000, and that the scheme which was afterwards produced showed that the Admiralty had changed its mind.
§ * MR. LEE
Quite so, and that had of course influenced the decision of the Amiralty. He had explained at considerable length on introducing the Naval Works Loans Bill in 1905 that the late Government ordered plans to be drawn up for the fullest utilisation of the site purchased, in case it should become necessary to use it in years to come, because it had teen only too evident in past instances that by planning a dockyard on too small a small scale, not thinking of the future, and then attempting to extend it, they found themselves obliged to clear away works already made and generally they had no coherent and natural scheme of expansion upon which to proceed. There-fore on these sole grounds the late Government laid down, on paper only, the plans of this large dockyard, but they did not intend to construct it then, and at the period when the scheme was laid before the House of Commons in August, 1905, it provided for a small self-contained naval base which could be expanded if necessary, and on which the total expenditure was to be under £2,500,000. That item was then transferred from the Loan Account to Vote 10. They handed over the Vote in that condition to the present Government, who for reasons best known to themselves, cut the item out of the Vote. It reappeared this year with no total estimate and with nothing but a miserable instalment of £10,000 in respect of works which were to cost over £2,000,000. Last year, however, they used language which was exceedingly emphatic as to the vital necessity of constructing this base at Rosyth. Reading from a document the right hon. Gentleman said the Admiralty had no intention of departing from the scheme, because it was an imperative necessity that this base should be provided on the east coast, but that was the position of this project to-day after four years of 305 consideration? In proportion to the total cost of the works the sum of £10,000 to be spent this year was ridiculous. It was not sufficient to enable the Government to let the main contract even if it was passed by the House. Really, after all this expenditure of time, he felt that the Government were trifling with the Committee and the country about this question of Rosyth. It was a most lamentable example of the system of starving works by indefinite postponement. They had brought forward no valid excuse for further delay. The preliminary works were admittedly completed, together with the railway connections, water supply, borings, and other matters which had to be attended to in the first place. The Civil Lord had referred to the sinking of the cylinder as a matter which was still under consideration, but he knew perfectly well that that had been done most successfully. The results showed that the site was peculiarly advantageous from an engineering point of view. There was, therefore, no reason whatever, except the financial reason, for not going on with the work. There had been various incidents connected with the business at Rosyth. They were informed in December last that the superintending engineer was to be withdrawn and sent to Portsmouth because there was no work for him to do, and then later ho was ordered to remain, but he was given a staff ridiculously inadequate for the purpose of going on with the work at all. In answer to a Question asked yesterday the hon. Gentleman stated the total engineering staff now at Rosyth consisted of six persons, who had also to look after the whole of the coastguard services in Scotland. He thought they were justified in saying that the Government did not mean business in this question of Rosyth. It was not necessary to emphasise again the urgency of this work, which the right hon. Gentleman himself admitted so forcibly last year. Even under the most favourable circumstances and with unlimited funds, it would take seven or eight years to complete the work. Who could foresee what would be our international relationships in seven years time? The work ought to be pressed on with all possible despatch. The necessity for it had been more than ever emphasised by the establishment of the new Home Fleet, sometimes called the North Sea Fleet. They were told that it was to be based on 306 ports immediately in the vicinity of the North Sea. In the meantime they were told that it was based on Sheerness. He felt bound to investigate a little more closely the alleged claim that this Fleet was already provided with a base. Sheerness was practically an open roadstead. It was an absolutely impracticable and unsafe base in time of war. It was exposed to torpedo attack at any time, and as a matter of fact first-class battleships could only cross the bar and get into the roadstead eight hours out of the twenty-four, and wounded ships could only cross the bar at high water, and yet this was supposed to be a base for the Home Fleet. Chatham was quite useless as a base, the access to it being so precarious. He remembered that a calculation was made that access to it could only be obtained 150 days in the whole year. There was no dock whatever there capable of taking in the "Dreadnought" or the "Invincible." The next nearest port was Portsmouth. There again it was admitted by the right hon. Gentleman that there was only one dock which was even theoretically capable of taking in the "Dreadnought." The docks at Portsmouth were so situated that they could only be entered by the largest vessels six hours out of the twenty-four, and in the case of the "Dreadnought," they could only be entered through an emergency entrance which could not be used in certain directions of the wind and tide, and which in any case was most unsafe. The nearest available base, therefore, was Devon-port, and in the absence of Rosyth wounded ships would have to traverse 275 miles, after passing the Straits of Dover, of narrow waters probably infested with torpedo craft before they could reach a place of safety and be docked. Speaking of the necessity for a new dock at Haulbowline, the right hon. Gentleman said that vessels at Berehaven in order to get to Devonport "would have to traverse 250 miles of water, which was acontingency the Admiralty could not contemplate without apprehension." Surely that was a strong reinforcement of his argument. It was absurd to suppose that these ships could be provided with an adequate base at Devonport if they had to traverse 275 miles of narrow waters, exposed to attack all the way. As to the entrance to Portsmouth, the Civil Lord, speaking last year in very forcible 307 language in regard to the urgent necessity for a new dock entrance, said—The Board of Admiralty, with a due sense of responsibility in the matter, thought it essential that this new look should be constructed. It was impossible for large ships such as the "Dreadnought" to enter the existing locks. All those who had knowledge of naval matters would know that to take a ship into a basin with both caissons open, would be lather a serious matter should an accident occur, and the ships in the basin would run the risk of considerable damage. Therefore it was proposed by this new work to construct a lock 850 feet long, 110 feet wide, and 33 feet at low-water level.But what was the Government doing to carry out this urgent work which was to cost nearly a million sterling? They put in the Estimates of last year a sum of £10,000 of which only £250 had been spent, no doubt, mainly in correspondence. This year they put down another £10,000, though apparently nothing whatever had been done. The hon. gentleman's excuse was that there were a number of rival schemes, and that the Admiralty could not make up its mind which was the proper one.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. EDMUND ROBERTSON, Dundee)
was understood to say that they were asking outside advice.
§ * MR. ARTHUR LEE
said they were calling in outside advice, but it was perfectly absurd to suppose that the professional advisers of the Admiralty could not make up their minds on a comparatively simple matter of this kind in eighteen months. At any rate, from his own knowledge of the Works Department of the Admiralty, which the hon. Gentleman so justly eulogised, and which had carried out the greatest engineering works of this kind all over the world, he absolutely refused to believe that those splendid engineers were so incompetent as to be unable in eighteen months to work out a scheme for a new lock entrance at Portsmouth. The delay was obviously a financial one. It was very convenient, when the Government wanted delay, to point out that experts differed. He supposed that had been a common device of all Governments at different times. The fact appeared to be that the Government did not wish to provide the necessary money on the Naval Estimates lest they 308 should appear too large. That was a dangerous policy, and he would almost say that it was scandalous, in view of the accidents which had recently happened at Portsmouth in connection with the docking of vessels. He thought the fact ought to be clearly recognised by the Committee and the public that within the last few months they had very nearly had a most serious accident to the "Dreadnought," which, as he had said, could only be got into the basin at all through an emergency entrance, which was not safe in certain states of the weather. The "Dreadnought," on the occasion to which he referred, stuck in the entrance of No. 15 dock, and considerably; damaged both the dock and herself. That was a very serious matter indeed, for if it had not been for a remarkable stroke of luck, the "Dreadnought "would have broken her back. Again, there was the case of the "Britannia,"' a first-class battleship, which was entering the "Deep" or tidal dock, and owing to the insufficient margin she stuck in the entrance, just as the tide was turning, and it was only by a miracle, and by the use of several dockyard tugs, that she was hauled clear just in time to save her from breaking her back. It was common rumour in Portsmouth that the Admiral in command of the station had notified the Admiralty that he refused to take those ships of the largest class into dock under those conditions. He thought it was extremely probable that that rumour was true. In spite of all this the Government were trifling with the matter. They were putting down a ridiculously small sum on the Estimates, and they had not informed the House of the serious facts to which he had just alluded. He would not at this stage make any comments upon less important items in the Vote; but he asserted that they on the Opposition side of the House were justified in entering a most vigorous protest against a return to the system of starving works which prevailed a generation ago, and which, if persisted in, would impose once again on the successors of the existing Government a burdensome and unfair obligation to meet the accumulation of arrears by vast capital expenditure and perhaps a fresh series of Loans Bills.
§ MR. JENKINS (Chatham)
said he trusted the country would not be scared 309 after reading the speech of the hon. Member for Fareham; and he hoped that the right hon. Member for Dundee would give to him a very pertinent reply. He could not accept all that the hon. Gentleman had said as to the naval bases of the country. At the same time, the hon. Gentleman had had experience at the Board of Admiralty in the last Government, although, in order to build up a case for Portsmouth, he had discounted the existence of other naval bases such as Plymouth, Devonport, and Chatham. He (Mr. Jenkins) was not opposed to the policy of the Admiralty in so far as this Vote was concerned; he would certainly support it. What he would suggest was that the Admiralty had not gone far enough. They had heard from the hon. Gentleman that there were at the present time five dry-docks that would accommodate the "Dreadnought"; and these were at Keyham, Devonport, and Portsmouth. His contention was that it was of the greatest importance that there should be a dry-dock at every naval base in the country sufficiently large to accommodate our largest ships. There were eight dry docks that could accommodate an "Invincible." The "Dreadnought" was not very much larger than the ships of the "Invincible" class, although she might have a little more beam. Why not increase those docks in length and breadth? It could easily be done; and in that event there would be a dry dock at every station at which a fleet was stationed. They were told that there were ten private docks in the country which could accommodate ships of the "Dreadnought" class; but these were built as a private speculation and for the accommodation of the huge merchant vessels now being launched. The argument put forth at times in favour of work being given by the Admiralty to private contractors for the construction of warships was that in time of war we should undoubtedly stand in need of assistance from those private firms. What he wanted to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty was whether the Government could commandeer those private docks at any time the Admiralty might require them? He ventured to say that it was impossible to do so; and, therefore, he submitted that in the national dockyards in the United Kingdom there should be at least one dry-dock sufficient to admit not only 310 vessels of the "Dreadnought "class, but vessels of an even larger size. It would be only wise on the part of the Admiralty to look ahead and consider whether it might not be necessary to build in the future larger ships than the "Dreadnought." The Civil Lord of the Admiralty said that they had spent £2,000,000 at Chatham in the construction of docks. Was he to understand that that was for a dry or a wet dock?
§ MR. JENKINS
said he understood that nearly £1,000,000 had been paid by the country for a ship way which was sufficiently large to build a ship almost as large again as the "Dreadnought," but it was only used for building small barges. He saw that a sum of £2,800 was set aside for the lengthening of No. 2 dock at Chatham. Did that apply to a dry dock or a wet dock? If it applied to the lengthening of a drydock, he asked whether that dock would be sufficiently large to take in the "Dreadnought?" He entirely agreed with the policy of the Admiralty in making a dry dock at Haulbowline, but if they were to have dry docks at every naval base it would put the country in a more secure position. He formally moved the reduction of Item B by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item B be reduced by £100."— (Mr. Jenkins.)
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said the policy of the Government to reduce expenditure on naval works at any possible cost must load to the most disastrous results. He was a great disciple of the principles of economy, and was always pleased when expenditure was diminished, but true economy did not merely mean not spending a certain amount of money, but spending what was absolutely necessary to provide for the safety of the country. The way to secure efficiency was to spend money at the proper time and the present was a suitable moment, as the finances of the country were in as flourishing a condition as they were likely to be for some time to come. The Admiralty and the Government as a whole had taken great credit for 311 not using money by way of loan, covering it by a sinking fund spread over a number of years in order to construct these very necessary works. He thought they were yielding to a temptation not to spend money which was necessary, which they were unable to resist unless they were spurred on by hon. Members. The result of not defraying the necessary expenditure could only end in one way, and that was that they would have to resort again to the system of loans which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite disliked so much. He made these remarks in no Party spirit, but from the point of view of real and efficient administration, and he was inclined to think that his view was the true one, that the chief object of the Admiralty and the Government was to save money regardless of the fact that the safety of the Empire must be endangered thereby. It was no use having magnificent ships, if in time of war we had not the docks into which they could be placed for purposes of repair. These great vessels cost £1,000,000 or even £2,000,000, and it seemed to him to be false economy to save £400,000 or £500,000, and in consequence lose a ship which cost £2,000,000. He urged the Government to reconsider this question. There was a sum of £940,000 for a new lock at Portsmouth. The amount already voted was £10,000, and the sum expended till the 31st March was £250, while that to be voted for 1907–8 was £20,000. That left unvoted £919,750, which was necessary to complete the work, and this was done by a Government which arrogated to itself the position of being the most business-like and most efficient Government of modern days. He did not think, however, that that could be regarded as an efficient and economical way of doing business. He made no attack upon any Government, but while the Unionist Government took up this question from his point of view fourteen or fifteen years ago, the idea of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite appeared to be to put off the evil day, and to postpone payments upon anything which was not showy, and did not give to occupants of office any great credit. He asked why, when the Admiralty had engineers of their own, they should pay £2,000 salary to an outside firm of engineers.
* THE CHAIRMAN
said the hon. Baronet appeared to be wandering over the whole of the Vote, but a reduction had been moved and he must confine himself to the Amendment.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD (Liverpool, West Derby)
asked as a point of order whether it was not competent in Committee of Supply, although an Amendment had been moved, still to refer to anything which was contained in the main Question. If the closure were moved, the whole Vote might be done with.
* THE CHAIRMAN
said there was no question as to his ruling being correct under the Resolution of the House of the 9th of February, 1858.
§ SIR F. BANBURY,
proceeding, complained that the Estimates for Simons Bay dockyard extension should have been reduced from £2,460,000 to£2,060,000, a reduction of £400,000 or one fifth of the total estimate. He would be glad to have some explanation.
§ MR. MOND (Chester)
was sorry that he could not agree with the hon. Baronet, although his knowledge of business matters was so vast, when he criticised the Government for only spending a small amount on a new lock at Portsmouth. He did not suppose he wanted the Government to spend a large sum of money before they had got out their plans. No business man would rush into an expenditure of £900,000 before he had prepared himself with information, especially if the matter was not urgent.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
said that as the hon. Gentleman was not in the House when he was speaking he might interrupt him for a moment to say that he himself had detailed two cases where two of the best ships in the British Navy were very nearly lost owing to the neglect of the Admiralty to provide accommodation for remedying their defects.
§ MR. MOND
said he regretted that he was not present when the hon. Gentleman spoke. But at the same time he could not imagine that the Board of 313 Admiralty were so careless of the best ships of the Navy that they would neglect any work necessary for their maintenance. He did not rise, however, to continue that particular discussion. He wanted to hear something from the Government upon the whole question of naval works. He was horrified to see the enormous sums that were spent on naval works. Millions of pounds had been expended on bricks and mortar for which he could not see that there had been any adequate return. Had it not been for the lucky accident of the Russo-Japanese war we should no doubt have spent millions of pounds on Wei-hai-wei in turning it into a naval base. It was only the South African War that induced the late Government to cease spending money recklessly on naval works in all parts of the world. No doubt if we had an endless purse it would be useful to have dry docks everywhere, but the experience of the Russo-Japanese war had shown that the Navy could make use of temporary places when carrying on a war. He would like to see more money spent on ships and men and less on docks and harbours. He was very doubtful, for instance, of the utility, of the Dover works. The testimony of cross-Channel captains was that Dover Harbour was more dangerous to enter now in bad weather than before, and was a greater danger to navigation. On one occasion in bad weather a steamer could not get into the harbour at all and her passengers were landed on the outside of the pier. That, of course, might be due to the works not being finished. He asked how long it would be before they were, and also what useful purpose these works, costing millions of money, would serve when finished. A case for a dry dock could be established in an infinite number of places. Further he could not see that all these works should be paid for out of current revenue. Works of this kind, which were of a permanent character, were much more a capital charge than a charge on revenue. He hoped there would be some declaration by the Government that they had set their face against naval harbours and bases where they were not required. If there was a commercial dry dock in a particular place, there was surely no necessity to duplicate that because at some time they might have a war ship which they might require to put into it.
§ * CAPTAIN HERVEY (Bury St. Edmunds)
said he did not wish to follow the hon. Member who had just sat down. What he thought they ought to do was to criticise the new works which were required, and get those works carried out as quickly, economically and efficiently as possible. He could conceive no place where new works were more necessary now than at Portsmouth itself, though there were a great many other places where they were required. Last year the question of docking accommodation was taken up as it was now, and they were then told that the Admiralty were considering it. That was a year ago, and they were no further forward now, so far as getting what was required was concerned. What was wanted was proper accommodation for docking our new big battleships. When the Admiralty scheme of 1889 was brought in, workshops, docks, ships and men were included in it. But when it was found that that scheme was very expensive the men were chopped off it, and the scheme was spoilt, and in consequence the Navy was very badly off for men for some time, the Admiralty had started building big ships, and ships would be bigger in the future, and unless they built, at the same time, docks to accommodate those ships, they would in the future find themselves just as inefficient in this regard as they had been handicapped in the past for lack of men. At Portsmouth there was a dock capable of taking the "Dreadnought." That dock was inside a basin, and to get to it the ship had to go from tidal waters into that basin. There were two entrances to the basin which could only be entered at high tide. The "Dreadnought" tried to get in at one of them, but owing to its position what with wind and tide it was found to be too narrow; in the case of the other entrance, that was through a double lock which was too short. The necessity of at once increasing the size of at least one of those entrances would be apparent to the Committee, for, as his hon. friend had told them, when the "Britannia" was being taken into the lock on a nearly high but falling tide she only got half way when she stuck, and it was only by a great stroke of good luck that the country did not lose £2,000,000 through her breaking her back. The Civil Lord had told the Committee that there were ten private docks available for ships 315 of the "Dreadnought" class, but he had omitted to state that on the east coast there was not a single Government dock between Portsmouth and the north of Scotland which would accommodate the "Dreadnought." There might be one private dock that might be useful for a man of-war in case of emergency, but there was no certainty that such a dock would be empty when required. If when it was wanted there happened to be a mercantile ship in it with her bottom out it would be a difficult thing to get her out and the warship in. He had a personal experience in the Mediterranean in peace times with a dock at Malta. Torpedo practice was taking place and a torpedo with a dummy head struck the "Nile" and made a hole in her through which the water came in hard, and it was only by the exercise of the utmost promptness that she was got into dock without unnecessary damage. They did not want unnecessary risks to be run in time of war. He did not care where the Government made the dock. He did not tie them down to Rosyth or anywhere else, but he thought a dock should be built on the east coast capable of taking a "Dreadnought." For that reason he should support the reduction, although he did not like to vote against naval supplies. He supported it because he thought the Government had not been doing the best they could to keep up all the needs of a modern Navy. The big ships they were building at this time should be built concurrently with the building of big docks to keep the big ships efficient.
§ MR. C, E. PRICE (Edinburgh, Central)
said that he looked upon the Rosyth transaction as a scandal and a disgrace to the Party which carried it through. The Government paid for the site £122,000, which, invested at 3 per cent., would produce £3,765 per annum, and that was the price paid for land which before was only producing £1,622. He understood that the site at Rosyth was chosen during what was called the German scare. Had the Admiralty yet come to a conclusion regarding it? What was this £10,000 going to be spent on? It was put down in a rather loose way and no statement accompanied it, and he asked for a clear statement whether they were to look upon the Rosyth base as one which would 316 be developed in the future or as one which was going to be abandoned.
§ * MR. ASHLEY (Lancashire, Blackpool)
said that one or two of the observations made by the hon. Member for Chester required some comment. He had said that the naval harbour at Dover was a waste of money because the captains of Channel steamers had found that it was not so easy to get in as had been anticipated. Surely the harbour which the Channel steamers used and the new naval harbour were totally different things. The experience of the cross Channel steamers, however disagreeable, had nothing at all to do with the new naval harbour at Dover. He would like the Civil Lord to give them some information with regard to the recent grounding of the "Duke of Edinburgh." It had been said that there was considerable danger in entering the new naval harbour, and if the hon. Member would tell the Committee the nature of the Reports which the Admiralty had received with respect to the accident to the "Duke of Edinburgh" and the general capabilities of the new harbour at Dover, it would tend to quiet the minds of many hon. Members. It had been said that the extension of the dock at Simon's Bay was a waste of money. Supposing they went to war and the Suez Canal was closed, if they had to send their ships round by the Cape they would find a naval dockyard in Simon's Bay most necessary in the event of a naval action taking place off the coast of Africa. The Civil Lord of the Admiralty had said that the present Government were observing continuity of policy in naval matters and practically carrying out the broad lines of the policy laid down by the late Administration. In some ways he might congratulate them upon doing so, but surely they could not lay claim to any continuity of policy at Rosyth, or in regard to the new lock at Portsmouth. As far us Rosyth was concerned, it was practically decided by the late Board of Admiralty that £2,500,000 should be spent at Rosyth and they found now that £10,000 was put down. It was practically agreed by the late Board that £940,000 was going to be spent on the new lock at Portmouth, and the present Government had only spent £250, and they proposed to spend £20,000 during the next financial year. If the money was 317 spent at that rate it would take fifty years to finish the new lock at Portsmouth. The Civil Lord had stated that there were four large docks at Keyham which would take the "Dreadnought "or the "Invincible" class of battleship, but he would remind the hon. Member that Keyham was not Devonport. The new Portsmouth dockyard was an instance of the Government taking credit both ways. They were taking credit for reducing the Estimates and also for reducing the National Debt. He believed he was right in saying that if a sum of money was put down last year at £10,000 for a new dock and that money was not spent it went automatically to the reduction of the National Debt. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was taking great credit for reducing the Debt, but how had he done it? Simply by starving the naval services, and not doing what the late Government considered necessary.
§ * MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)
said that in reply to the hon. Member for Fareham he wished to point out that although it was true that the late Government decided to abandon the Works Bill, it was one thing saying they were going to do a thing, and another thing to do it. He thought the present Government were to be congratulated upon having abandoned that policy.
§ MR. ARTHUK LEE
said that what he told the Committee was that the late Government made a serious beginning by transferring the whole item of £2,500,000 for Rosyth from Loans to the Vote. They approved the Vote in that way, but the present Government cut it out and put it on Loan.;
§ * MR. BELLAIRS
said the scheme was never commenced. It remained in the air, and he hoped it would always remain in that state. He congratulated the Government upon the foresight they had shown in regard to that matter. When the late Board of Admiralty framed the estimate he did not believe they had the slightest knowledge of the foundations at Rosyth. The only intimation they had was that the Forth Bridge had to be sunk eighty-six feet deep before they reached the solid foundation. As regarded the Works Bill they found that by putting the money on the Estimate, and therefore forcing a 318 closer scrutiny of the expenditure, they, had effected an economy of £2,366,000. The abolition of the Works Bill had resulted in a saving upon the Malta breakwater of £325,000, and of £400,000 at Simon's Bay. With regard to what had been spent upon coaling facilities, many great naval authorities were against the expenditure. He agreed that it was generally unnecessary to provide such facilities, because they could get a. more efficient service by using colliers, For then they would get the coal fresh without any depreciation, and it was quite possible to organise a collier service to meet the wants of the Fleet. He agreed with the hon. Member for Fareham in regard to the system of placing the money on the Estimates and spreading the expenditure over a great number of years. In that way they did not get the benefit of the expenditure until many years had elapsed. A good instance of that had been given in regard to the lock at Portsmouth which was put down to cost £940,000, and for which £10,000 was provided last year and never spent, and £20,000 this year. He found about a dozen items in which they were only proposing to spend about 10 per cent. of the total cost, and if that sort of thing went on it meant that they would spread the expenditure over a great number of years and thus reproduce all those evils which accompanied slow shipbuilding. The-Civil Lord was very strong in his views about the lock at Portsmouth and he deserved great credit for his prophetic forecast. He had pictured the case of a vessel endangering all the other vessels in the basin by an accident, and some time afterwards, in addition to the accidents mentioned by the hon. Member for the Fareham Division, the "Terrible" ran into and sank a caisson in the basin. He would remind him, however, that it was no use knowing the Derby winner if he was not going to back it. In this case they had an instance where the Civil Lord possessed all the foresight, necessary in regard to the lock at Portsmouth, and yet he was doing very little, in the way of providing it. He wished for a few moments to draw attention to the Report of the Committee on Public Accounts for the year 1906. They had not had an opportunity of discussing those accounts, but that Committee found very serious fault with the Board of Admiralty in regard to the accounts 319 for the year 1904, and they reported on Vote 10—First on the plea of urgency, Parliament is committed to an expenditure of £35,000 for which no provision was made in the Estimates for the year; secondly, on the same plea of urgency, a departure was permitted from the general rule that tenders shall be invited for carrying out works. This expenditure was necessitated, as in many other cases, by a change of policy. The scrutiny of expenditure by subordinate officers, the criticism of errors of estimates, and in short the works of your Committee will be to a large extent useless if by the excuse of a change of policy my department can shake itself clear of Parliamentary control.It would be seen that the Public Accounts Committee censured the Board of Admiralty for changing its policy and declared that the Admiralty was trying to shake itself clear of Parliamentary control. There was a striking instance in regard to Osborne College, where the Government came to Parliament with a total Estimate, saying that it was going to cost £40,000. That expenditure was increased by Treasury sanction to £160,000, and now the Civil Lord was asking for another £20,000 for the hospital. Similar changes of policy had occurred in connection with works at Chatham. As pointed out by a memorial of the corporation, large expenditure was incurred in regard to plans for a basin and dock area of 65 acres, after which the Admiralty decided to abandon all the works on the ground that they were going to have a base at Rosyth. He would much prefer an old dockyard developed than a new dockyard, because the latter always meant great expense upon a number of items which did not occur in the case of an old dockyard. They had to provide a new base and then equipments. Then there was personnel, and finally the Admiralty generally urged the War Office to incur large expenditure on fortifications and guns. In recent years they had seen four dockyards abandoned, viz., Trincomalee, Jamaica, Halifax, and Esquimault, and in the case of three of them at any rate expenditure had been incurred up to the very last moment, and that expenditure was hastened in order to finish the contract, although they were going to be abandoned. Coaling stations had been abandoned, viz., St. Lucia, Ascension and Wei-hai-wei, and now we were undergoing disillusionment in regard to the huge expenditure at Dover. With regard to the accident 320 to the "Duke of Edinburgh," the entrance to Dover he understood was 600 feet wide in one case and 800 feet in the other, and he could not see why the fact of another ship coming out at the same time should have driven the "Duke of Edinburgh" on to the shore, as stated in the official Answer on 25th March, when it was alleged that the "Duke of Edinburgh" had to anchor to avoid collision and the vessel drifted on shore owing to the bad holding ground. He understood that all the moorings at Dover had to be relaid, and that would take two years. If the Admiralty wanted to try a very simple test at this new naval base he would advise them to send the Channel Fleet and the Home Fleet to anchor at Dover. He was confident they would not respond to this challenge. He thought the multiplication of dockyards was a great evil, and he was of opinion that everything necessary outside the Royal dockyards could easily be provided by subsidising private enterprise. At Colombo they had obtained a magnificent dock, kept in constant practice by private work, for a lump sum of only £159,000. They might have pursued that policy by subsidising the Cape Town dock, and in that way they would have saved the expenditure at Simon's Bay. Lord Spencer, one of the best First Lords this country had ever had, said on August 10th, 1903, referring to Rosyth—I do think it is a very serious matter indeed to start a new base, for my experience of having new centres is this, that directly you get a new centre, and an independent centre, you increase enormously the expenditure which has to be found. So far as I can see I should very much prefer to see almost double the amount which is supposed to be going to be spent on this new Scotch base spent on the old dockyards and the old naval bases, rather than on a new one, for the reason I have given, namely, that the moment you get a new establishment you increase the expenditure enormously.That was his case against Rosyth and against multiplying these new dockyards. Notwithstanding the expenditure upon the dockyard at Malta it was frequently found necessary to bring war vessels from Malta to this country to be repaired. When the "Hood" lost her rudder in 1902 she was brought under convoy all the way from Malta to Plymouth. In his opinion Portsmouth, Plymouth or Chatham could deal with such matters much better than they could be dealt with 321 at the small dockyard at Malta. There was the case of the "Dominion" which was sent to Bermuda to be repaired, and it was afterwards found necessary to send her to England to have her repairs attended to. The same thing happened in regard to the "Commonwealth"; she was patched at Gibraltar and then brought to England. He thought they could get all the patchwork done very conveniently by private enterprise. If they had encouraged private enterprise at Gibraltar they would have had the use of splendid docks there, which would have been available not only for the vessels belonging to the Navy but also for the mercantile marine, and would have cost country a few hundred thousand pounds subsidy instead of many millions. The Civil Lord had referred to Berehaven being a base for the Atlantic Fleet, and therefore necessitating the development of a handy dockyard like Haulbowline. He distrusted the argument of having dockyards handy in the neighbourhood of possible battles. He would remind the Civil Lord that if they went to war with any nation they would have to fight one fleet and not several. In the case of the Americans or the Germans or in the case of France, they found each navy in one fleet. In his opinion it was quite possible for any of our disabled ships to sail home for repairs at a speed of from ten to twelve knots without possibility of interference from the enemy's fleet with which it had fought as they would be too much occupied with their own damaged ships. In these days of wireless telegraphy the dockyard could be easily informed, and vessels which were damaged could be towed home at twelve knots. Where the battle of Camper down was fought was twenty hours sail from Chatham and forty-four hours from Plymouth. St. Vincent was seventeen hours from the patching station at Gibraltar and seventy one hours from Plymouth. Trafalgar was five hours from Gibraltar and eighty-three hours from Plymouth. In the case of Wilhelms-haven Rosyth was thirty-seven and a half hours off, Sheerness twenty-two and a half hours, and Portsmouth thirty-six and a half. He did not see any reason why the Chatham dockyard should not be developed as was contemplated in the original scheme of the last Government. Most people were under the impression that 322 Rosyth was just opposite the German coast. But as matter of fact it was one hour further away from that coast than Portsmouth. He did not see any reason why a patching dock should not be made at Hull in addition to the Hepburn dock on the Tyne, of course by private enterprise. He thought the strongest; argument against the late Government's Rosyth scheme was that though it purported to be an exhaustive inquiry it took for granted the crowded state of the dockyards, and on those grounds advocated the provision of a new dockyard at Rosyth. During that inquiry it was found that at a certain date in1900 there was a congestion of ships at the dockyards. The reason for that not being necessary now was that they had altered their policy, they had got better administration of the dockyards, and under the new policy they did not build so much in the Royal dockyards, which were thus rendered more available for the carrying out of repairs. Lord Selborne said that Rosyth was required simply because otherwise there would be no place at which to stow His Majesty's ships. That forecast had been completely falsified, because there was ample room room in the Royal dockyards, and since Lord Selborne delivered that speech they had discharged no less than 8,000 men for want of work. He did not intend to move the reduction of the Vote of which he had given notice. The Government were still staying their hands, and they would no doubt bring forward tangible proposals next year, either abandoning the scheme or making definite proposals in regard to Rosyth. The £10,000 could not be required for any known purpose, because the Government had £37,000 in hand last year to carry out all their surveys. It seemed to him that Rosyth had for the Admiralty the fatal fascination of a new toy. It was like a child who desired to have the moon. He hoped the Admiralty would not get Rosyth any more than the child would get the moon. They came forward with something at the back of their minds in regard to a project which on the face of it might appear a small one of a few millions, but which he was certain would extend to forty millions, in view of the great depth of mud they had to deal with, and the mile and a half of breakwater 323 to be constructed. There was behind the project an immense amount of concealed expenditure of which the House had no knowledge, and therefore he hoped the Government would exercise the greatest amount of caution before embarking upon it.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said he desired to say a word about dockyard accommodation. He regretted that any Party element should be brought in on either side, because there was from the Party point of view a great deal to be said both ways, and if they dealt with such matters they would not get any "forrarder." On that occasion they should consider what the dockyard policy should be in regard to the future, and on that they might express certain definite and general opinions without committing themselves to details in regard to matters on which they could not possibly form competent opinions. They were not competent to say whether Rosyth was or was not the best place for a new base, nor could they say whether it would be possible to deal with the situation by an extension of Chatham as against a new dockyard in the north But they could not afford to rely so much on the establishments west of Dover. The whole situation had lately changed. The question of the basing of our fleets, and the spots at which in future they were likely to be stationed, had so greatly changed in recent years that it was impossible to believe that we had sufficient establishment southeast of Dover. We had Portsmouth and Southampton, where we were spending money now on naval works; we had Portland and Devonport, and all the establishments west of Dover. He could not think that the number of docks we had now ready to accommodate our big ships were in the right places. It was necessary to look forward to the establishment of a base somewhere east of Dover and within easier reach of the North Sea, Dover being admittedly a difficult place to enter because the currents might be troublesome. He did not know that his hon. and gallant friend was justified in believing that the Board of Admiralty attached great importance to the Rosyth scheme. He had said that it exercised a fascination over the Board of Admiralty. It was impossible to allude to private conversations one had had 324 from time to time, but he might say that he very much doubted whether the Board of Admiralty had ever seen their way very clearly as to the Rosyth scheme. The question was as to the possibility of building docks at Rosyth as against providing floating docks. That question might have been settled by recent investigations, the results of which had not been communicated to them. It was possible that the foundations were better than at one time they were supposed to be. He believed indeed that it was so, but it was not possible in the House to give a solid opinion as between the Rosyth scheme or a dock at some other spot on the east coast and the extension of Chatham. It was possible for them to indicate their views, and he thought it would be a mistake to continue to spend so much money at Portsmouth or further west instead of at some new establishment or some extension of old establishments on the east coast. His hon. and gallant friend was undoubtedly right in what he told the Committee as to the original ground for selecting Rosyth. The Cawdor Memorandum, issued by the late Government before they left office, contained the announcement of the abandonment of the Rosyth policy in connection with dockyard extension. The Cawdor Memorandum stated—The saving here has been about £,5,000,000 sterling.''By the documents named in a recent debate as issued on behalf of the present Board of Admiralty it was again claimed almost in the same words as those in the Cawdor Memorandum that there had been an enormous saving owing to the scrapping policy in regard to the number of our ships. The original ground given for Rosyth at the time of the purchase had been abandoned. The Party issue of the question and the high price at which the land was bought wore discussed over and over again in the last Parliament. All those questions should be put aside and they should consider what was best, with the guidance they could obtain, for the future accommodation of the fleet and especially the big cruisers which were to be built. To contemplate the docking of ships only at Keyham and Portsmouth seemed to him to be a dangerous policy, especially when they considered what the state of of the Channel would be in time of war. 325 Whether the Hague Conference prohibited the use of floating mines or not, they certainly would be used; and, that being so, they must contemplate either the extension of Chatham or the creation of an establishment at a different part of the east coast.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
I hope the Committee will allow me to say one word on this subject, which I think is of the greatest importance in connection with our general naval policy. The right hon. Baronet rightly deprecated any Party recrimination on this matter, and I certainly, in anything I have to say, will carry out in the letter and the spirit the advice he gave us; but I may be permitted to say in regard to one class of argument used by the hon. and gallant Member for King's Lynn that I think the Committee should receive it with the greatest caution—caution amounting to suspicion. The class of argument to which I refer was this. He talked of the survey carried out and of all that had been done by Boards of Admiralty for many years past, and he pointed out, and in my opinion pointed out with perfect truth, that a great deal of money that had been spent in the last thirty years—if he had liked, he might have said sixty years or 160 years—had been money which, owing to subsequent developments of naval policy and changes in strategical problems, might with advantage have been otherwise spent. That is quite true, and it will always be quite true, if we try, as I hope we will, to do our duty to the best of our ability and keep up the naval strategic position of this country at the level at which it ought to be kept. You cannot expect greater wisdom or foresight on the part of the Board of Admiralty than you have from the ablest managers of great business and manufacturing firms. What manufacturing firm dealing with matters in which there is great development and invention, great change of markets, and great alterations in the condition of markets, has not got to "scrap" much of its plant? It is no answer to say that if they could have foreseen what would take place they would have adopted a different policy. It is not the fault of this Board of Admiralty, or of its predecessor, or again of its predecessor; it is the fault of poor human nature which is gifted with 326 imperfect powers of foresight whether they are exercised on the great national problems of defence or on the smaller, but still important, questions of manufacturing and commercial enterprise. We have to accept these facts as we find them. It was relatively easy to deal with the situation in earlier generations in which the development of the old wooden battleships and old guns was so slow that it really hardly existed. I imagine that the change between the ships with which Hawke won his victory and Nelson won his was relatively insignificant. But we live in different times and different circumstances. Invention is rapid; changes in the type of ship and armament are speedy and are constantly going on; and the very fact that we live in these times makes it inevitable that we should undertake costly operations from which our forefathers were spared, and in regard to which it is impossible to say what shall be the ultimate course of events. It may be that the money we spend could be better spent if we had knowledge which we do not now possess, but which in ten or twelve years we shall possess. Therefore, I hope the Committee will try to consider each problem as it comes up on its merits, without expending useless regrets for mistakes which have been honestly made by the most competent people at the time, and which, I suppose, their equally competent successors will honestly make in the future. May I do my best to reinforce what has been said by the right hon. Baronet who has just sat down? Owing to the great changes and reforms which enabled us to dispense with a very large number of ships, the difficulties of the problem have, relatively speaking, disappeared. It is quite true that in 1902 stress was chiefly laid upon the necessity of providing berthing accommodation at Rosyth; but it must not be supposed that strategy was then absent from the mind either of the Admiralty or of the Cabinet. I remember, when I was in a more responsible position than now, discussing at great length with experts the condition in which they might anticipate the narrow seas to be in case of a first-class war. They urged that, owing to the manifold weapons of destruction which science has perfected, such as floating mines, torpedoes, torpedo destroyers, etc., the most powerful and costly of our ships might become the prey 327 in those confined waters of a cheap and relatively insignificant opponent; and they even contemplated the necessity of diverting the whole commercial traffic of this country from the Port of London round by the north of Scotland in the case of war. It would, in these circunstances, be an impossible state of things if a ship of ours damaged in the North Sea, or on the east coast, had to pass through the Straits of Dover to Portsmouth for shelter. I do not know what the views of the present experts are in regard to Sheerness and Chatham, but undoubtedly at the time of which I speak the experts were of opinion that Rosyth would be far easier and safer of approach for a wounded vessel than was Sheerness, where there are difficulties in connection with the character of the tides and the channel. If the Admiralty and the experts have changed their views about Rosyth, it is not for me to comment upon their action. But I should like to know what they have substituted for Rosyth. If the trifling sum of £10,000 for Rosyth which appears on the Estimates is to be taken as evidence that the Government have departed from the policy of their predecessors and have abandoned Rosyth, I hope there will be forthcoming a satisfactory assurance that the Admiralty have found another place on the East coast where our great ships can be docked in case of war. In these circumstances I hope we may receive some assurance from the hon. Gentleman that this trifling and inconsiderable sum of £10,000 on the Estimates this year for Rosyth does not indicate that the Government have abandoned the policy of their predecessors in regard to Rosyth, and that if they have abandoned Rosyth they have found a substitute for it. I hope—and this is the only touch of Party criticism that anyone can find in my remarks—that the postponement in providing the new naval base at Rosyth is not due to the difficulty of finding each year the money that is required. The greatest evil that can occur is that, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer said at a given time he could not find the money, a work needed in the interest of the country must be postponed; and I trust the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some assurances in regard to that great national interest.
§ * MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said that he was not there to say that Rosyth had been abandoned. The position which the Admiralty took up last year with regard to Rosyth was substantially the position of the Leader of the Opposition himself. They recognised that a naval station, of a somewhat more moderate kind than was at first proposed, was needed on the East coast. That was the main thing. In his opinion, all the indications still pointed to Rosyth as being the best place for that station. The exact position of the Admiralty in regard to Rosyth might. be described in a very few words. They had put down £10,000 practically for plans as well as to enable the House to discuss the question. A sketch plan based on the scheme of the late Government had been drawn out, and was now in circulation among the members of the Board. When the final detailed plans were approved by the Government, and the cost ascertained, they would proceed in the ordinary way. It would be a long job, for, according to the best naval experts, it was a work that must be carried out with a good deal of caution.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Croydon)
said that last year a similar statememt was made by the right hon. Gentleman. Twelve months had passed, and absolutely nothing was added either to the declaration or to the actual operations at Rosyth. Plans of an exhaustive character were drawn up three years ago. The right hon. Member might fairly say that those plans were not the plans that were going to be adopted, but that that did not involve the abandonment of Rosyth. The information in regard to the rock at the entrance to that dock, and as to buildings for establishment and for the workmen, had all been collected long ago. As the Leader of the Opposition had said, it was of enormous importance to secure some base on the East coast on which we could fall back in the event of the Channel being closed. In these circumstances the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was not very satisfactory. That, after all, was what some of them had ventured to prophecy would happen. If the Government were frightened to put on the annual Vote what was necessary for these great works they gained. 329 nothing whatever from the point of view of economy. The work was estimated to cost £3,000,000, including all the docks and the dredging; but whatever the cost might be, they would not save any money at all by carrying on the work over a series of years. Any business man would agree that economy would not result from carrying on work with a short purse, and he earnestly hoped that the temptation to make small Estimates would not be allowed to prevent this work from being carried on on what they knew were the only economical terms possible. These Estimates came up year after year, and everyone who had seen the efforts made by other Powers and knew the foresight they had displayed to provide this accommodation for themselves, must feel that we were taking a tremendous risk in allowing the matter to hang on year after year, not because there was the slightest doubt about the naval need—as the right hon. Gentleman had told the Committee the advisers of the Admiralty were clear about that three or four years ago—but because of the fear of extending the Estimates. He hoped that what they had seen this year might be replaced next year by some more active policy.
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER (Gravesend)
said they must all be obliged to the Secretary to the Admiralty for his statement as far as it went, but he thought that if the statement of the Civil Lord of the Admiralty had been more clear and comprehensive the debate would not have been so prolonged. The Civil Lord had informed the Committee that they were unable to proceed with the construction of the new docks at Portsmouth because they had not yet decided upon the design. Lord Tweedmouth, however, speaking in another place upon the policy of the Government said they had decided on the work which was to be done at Portsmouth. The noble Lord went on to state that the scheme was being considered and the work would probably be commenced during the present year. That statement did not agree with the statement made by the Civil Lord of the Admiralty. He would like the Civil Lord to explain, also, why it was, if they had not decided upon the design of the dockyard, that they were able to place upon the Estimates the exact sum to be spent upon it, viz., £940,000? It seemed to him that the Government 330 were simply postponing proceedings in order to meet the demand for economy which had been made from certain quarters of the House. They knew perfectly well how much had been said by hon. Members opposite about the extravagance of the previous Government in matters of construction. Almost every Government was fearful of the charge of extravagance being levelled against them, and the strict revision of the Chancellor of the Exchequer every year had a tendency to check extravagance in any single Department. It was, however, a very easy thing for a Government which had decided on a policy of cutting down all round to say to its Departments—What we want this year, next year, and the year after, is that you spend less on your Department.In conclusion he again pressed for a clearer statement from the Civil Lord. The works at Portsmouth had been taken in hand because they were placed on the Estimates, but it was singular that there was no increase in the cost of maintenance. It showed, of course, a policy of economy, but it also showed that the Government were letting their estate run down.
§ MR. E. H. LAMB (Rochester)
said he had listened with intense disappointment to the statement which had been made on behalf of the Admiralty, and he was only sorry he was prevented by the action of a previous speaker from moving the reduction of the Vote by £10,000. That sum was to be used for the preparation of plans in regard to Rosyth, and in this way the House was being quietly committed to a scheme which involved an expenditure of from three to five millions. As a Party committed to a policy of economy, he thought they ought to consider for a long time before they voted this £10,000 for plans for a new naval base. He also urged that Chatham Dockyard, upon which so much money had been spent, should be improved, as well as the Medway dredged, instead of the House being committed to the large scheme at Rosyth launched by the late Government. In the case of Rosyth they knew perfectly well that an enemy could destroy it in a few hours; whereas, in the case of Chatham, as was well known, it was immune from attacks from the open sea. Surely if the Medway was efficiently 331 dredged, we could, with very little expenditure, turn that into one of the best naval bases in the world, instead of committing the country to a vast expenditure at Rosyth when it was generally admitted that so long as we had a safe naval base on the East Coast that was as much as the Admiralty would ask for. He submitted that a case had been made out for Chatham. If the right hon. Gentleman representing the Board of Admiralty had stated that it was intended to commit the country to this great scheme at Rosyth the debate that afternoon would have been of a very different character; but instead of that the matter had been introduced in an insidious way which, unless it were watched, committed the country to a vast expenditure before they well knew what they were doing. He much regretted that by the action of his hon. friend the Member for Chatham he was prevented from moving to reduce the Vote by the total amount, because he felt that a strong protest should be made against this vast expenditure at Rosyth when a perfect naval base could be provided at Chatham at a ranch smaller expenditure.
* MAJOR ANSTRUTHEE-GRAY (St. Andrews Burghs)
said he disagreed with every word the hon. Member had uttered so far as Rosyth was concerned. The hon. Member had pointed out that Chatham was near London; that was true, but it must also be remembered that Rosyth was not very far from Edinburgh, and if Scotland was to lose her cavalry the least the Government could do was to build her a dockyard. The hon. Member for Rochester appeared to think that Chatham was invulnerable, but he reminded the Committee that in the reign of Charles II. the Dutch took Chatham and burnt it. They had not yet got to Edinburgh. The truth was that in these piping times of peace we were rather apt to go to sleep. The argument that we should only have one fleet against us at any time was futile because there was no reason why there should not be a coalition and two or three fleets brought against us. We had to accept the possibility of disaster in this matter, to look at things at their worst, and believe that the worst might happen, and then and only then should we overcome the difficulties. 332 He did not believe that in the whole of Scotland a better place could have been found for a dock than Rosyth, where at the present time he believed there were nine men at work. He did not know how many hundreds of years it would take those men to complete it, but he hoped the Government would provide them with old age pensions at the finish. He thought it would be a world of pities if the Government, having abandoned Trincomali, Halifax, Jamaica, Esquimault and other places, were also to abandon. Rosyth.
§ MR. HUNT (Shropshire, Ludlow)
desired to raise the question of the granite used in the dockyards. Some three or four years ago the House of Commons passed the Fair Wages Resolution, and last year he put some Questions to the Government as to the granite used in the building of docks and harbours, and it was not then denied that the Government contractor for the Navy obtained a considerable amount of granite for use at Keyham Harbour from Norway. The Government contractor said he got his granite from Norway because it was much cheaper, owing to the Norwegian working for half the wages laid down by the British trade union. It was only a very short time ago that the district of Penrhyn, Cornwall, petitioned the Government to employ only British stone for the erection of British harbours, because 75 per cent of the population there were out of work owing to foreign competition. He desired to know whether the Government intended to continue obtaining granite from abroad, or whether they would in future obtain it from this country. It was a question that closely affected his constituency, and he would very much like to know what was to be the future policy of the Admiralty with regard to
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD (Liverpool, West Derby)
said there were two questions upon which information was required. With regard to Portsmouth they had succeeded in obtaining a dock sufficiently commodious to take in the "Dreadnought" or the "Invincible." That dock had two entrances, one of which was too narrow for the "Dreadnought" and the other too short. It was obvious, therefore, 333 that something must be done to enlarge those entrances, and the soone it was done the better. He noticed from the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty that plans had been secured, and that work was to be proceeded with this year, but the Civil Lord in his speech that afternoon had stated that two sets of plans were before the Admiralty, and that there was considerable difference of opinion as to which should be adopted, with a consequence that the work was being postponed. From the east coast there was no dock capable of taking the "Dreadnought" nearer than Devonport, save the dock at Portsmouth, and the neglect to enlarge those entrances in order to make the dock available for that class of ship was a matter which called for very serious comment. The Committee were entitled to urge the Admiralty to make that dock available at the earliest possible moment. The other point requiring attention related to Rosyth, and he did not think the Government could blame the Committee for the difficulty they found in understanding the Government plans. They found in the Estimates that £l0,000 was the amount to be devoted in the current year to this purpose, but there were no details as to how that money was to be expended. They were grateful to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, who, in reply to the Leader of the Opposition, informed the Committee that the Government were alive to the fact that it was necessary to have an important establishment on the East Coast, because, as he pointed out, the Narrow Seas might be rendered impassable in times of war by mines or other means, and in order that the fleet might be available it might have to sail right round the North of Scotland. Referring to page 139 on the same Vote, he found that £1,892 was being spent in paying the salaries of one superintendent, one superintendent engineer, one assistant surveyor, one assistant civil engineer, two draftsmen, one accountant and one foreman. An hon. Member had said that he believed eight or nine men were working at Rosyth. If that were so they had these eight eminent gentleman to superintend nine men who were carrying on the work. He found from the footnote on page 139 that the leader of these men was to receive extra pay.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD
said he was simply endeavouring to show the nature of the work that was being done at Rosyth by referring to the people who were being employed there. There was nothing definite as to what was being done there, and he found from the official1 memorandum of the progress of the work that £200,000 had already been voted and had been reduced to £165,000. That £165,000 had been laid out on land, etc. Arrangements had been made with county councils, at an expense of £10,000, to supply Rosyth with water. Then arrangements had been made with the North British Railway Company to supply railway accommodation. Therefore it was neither upon land nor upon railways that this money was to be spent. Again, £10,000 was to be spent upon borings and putting down a cylinder to find out the nature of the foundations, and it was for that purpose that this army of skilled gentlemen on extra pay were being kept. Then they were told in the official paper that the work was complete; but if, as they were told, the work was in progress, it could not be complete. What he submitted was that a little reasonable information as to the money they were going to spend and the purposes on which they were going to spend it would have saved a large amount of the debate. He hoped that the Civil Lord of the Admiralty would deal with the application of the £10,000 and also let them know what was going to be done with regard to the lock at Portsmouth, so that they might have some assurance as to when the work would be begun.
§ MR. J. WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)
asked, in regard to the works at Portsmouth, whether the fair-wage clause was to be inserted in the contract, or whether it would be clearly indicated to the contractors that they would be expected to pay a similar wage to that which was received by workmen in the locality. When the last new dock was made at Portsmouth the men were paid 1½d. per hour less than the local rates, in spite of the fact that the contractor had signed 335 the fair-wage clause. Digging a dock was entirely different from digging a place for a gasometer or anything of that description. Dock making was not a common thing, and therefore he hoped that the contractors would not be allowed to be under any mistake when they were tendering with regard to the fair-wage clause. With regard to Rosyth, he would like to know whether the Admiralty had any idea at the time the Estimates were made that it would be necessary to sink about 200 feet in order to find firm foundations, and what was now their opinion, in view of the tests and examination made by experts, of the site. Were the Estimates made on the part of the Admiralty the same now as they were prior to the soundings and the examination of the site which had taken place.
§ MR. LEA (St. Pancras, E.)
asked what was going to be done with regard to the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. He had been down there once or twice, and he had seen a dredger at work in Haslar Creek. Was that work being done to widen the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour so as to avoid the danger which existed at the present time in certain states of the wind?
§ SIR F. BANBURY
asked for some explanation of the item in regard to the factory at Portsmouth, the total estimate for which was £120,000. On looking at the Estimate he found that the cost was reduced from £188,000 to £125,000, increased to £127,000, and was now reduced to £120,000. It seemed a curious way of arriving at an estimate, and it would be more satisfactory if the Civil Lord gave some explanation.
§ MR. YOUNGER (Ayr Burghs)
said the plans for Rosyth were prepared under the previous Government, and they were of an elaborate character involving a large expenditure. Were those plans to be entirely abandoned, and did the present Admiralty treat the subject from an entirely different point of view? Was it not a fact that they had come under some grave obligations to the county councils with regard to water schemes? Generally speaking, people who had incurred expense in connection with these works would like to know how far what was originally intended was 336 to be carried out, or what plans were to be adopted.
§ * MR. LAMBERT
said that the total estimate for the steam factory at Portsmouth was £120,000. The sum of £116,700 had been expended, and this year another £3,300 was being provided, and that brought the amount up to £120,000. In all engineering works it was quite impossible to know two or three years before the works were commenced exactly what they were going to cost. In reply to the hon. Member for Stoke he might say that the fair wages clause would be inserted in all contracts.
§ MR. J. WARD
asked whether "fair wages" meant the rate of wages paid in the district for a similar class of work.
§ * MR. LAMBERT
said fair wages meant the wages current in the district. It whilst the work was proceeding, the hon. Member would bring to his attention any attempted evasion of the fair wages clause, the Admiralty would at once remedy it. His right hon. friend had already dealt with the question of Rosyth, and he did not propose to say another word about that. As to Portsmouth lock, the late Civil Lord had taunted the Government with being responsible for great delay. The word used by the hon. Member was "scandalous." He did not complain of his epithets. In these matters he wished to impress upon the Committee the absolute necessity of circumspection and ample consideration. They were going to spend a large sum of money. The hon. Member for Gravesend had asked why they had put in the total estimate. They had put in the same total of £940,000 as was in the Vote last year. In reality, he did not think that was a very businesslike proceeding, but they were forced to put in the total estimate because if they did not they could not accept a contract. Now they could let a contract up to £940,000, but unless they put in the total it could not be done. He agreed that was not business-like, because it showed the contractor what their estimate for the work was, but those were the rules of the House of Commons. The Government had called in an outside firm of engineers. He did not suppose there was any person in the House 337 who had to spend upwards of a million of money, but would give to the subject the utmost consideration and obtain the best possible advice. If illustrations of the importance of circumspection were needed, they were to be seen in what had happened during the last ten years under the Loan Act. At Gibraltar, for instance, two docks had been built under loans which would not be paid off for thirty years, and one of them would not dock the "Invincible"; and at Malta two docks had been built under similar loans with the same result. The Bermuda dock would not take the "Invincible," and the same remark applied to the permanent dock at Hong Kong. Then there was the case of the dock at Chatham. That dock was built at a cost of £450,000, and it actually would not take the "Dreadnought."
§ * MR. LAMBERT
said they could not be blamed for that. They were expecting a report from an eminent firm of engineers expressing their opinion upon Portsmouth dock. The hon. Member for Blackpool had asked some questions about the accident to the "Duke of Edinburgh." That vessel came into Dover harbour perfectly right, but unfortunately her anchors did not hold, and there was accordingly a slight mishap. The accident had nothing to do with the entrance to the harbour. The Admiralty had gone very carefully into the question of width. It has been decided to make the western entrance 740 feet wide, which it was hoped would be sufficient for any battleship. The hon. Member for Chatham had asked a Question about the £3,000 for a dry dock at Chatham.
§ * MR. LAMBERT
said it would not. The estimated expenditure at Simon's Bay had been reduced from £3,500,000 to £3,100,000. The estimate was made
§ a long time ago, and it was not always possible to foresee exactly what the expenditure would be. The Government hoped to reduce somewhat the expenditure at Simon's Bay as the result of the redistribution of the Fleet. The new scheme concentrated the vast preponderance of our naval strength around our own shores, and the South African Squadron had been largely reduced. It was also hoped to reduce the scale of equipment contemplated for the dock, though the basin itself would remain unaltered. He appealed to the Committee to allow the Vote to pass in order that they might get on with those works.
§ * MR. ARTHUR LEE
said the Opposition would support the Amendment as a protest against the delay of the Government in proceeding with Rosyth. The reduction of the hon. Member for Chatham was moved for the whole of the new works, but it might be supported from different motives. The motive which would animate him, and he hoped his friends, would be in regard to Rosyth. When this Amendment was out of the way he hoped the hon. Gentleman would be in a position to answer a number of Questions with regard to other items on the Vote.
§ MR. JENKINS
asked the hon. Gentleman to state the policy of the Admiralty with regard to the provision of dry dock accommodation. Ho had moved his Amendment solely on the ground that in his opinion there should be dry dock accommodation sufficiently large at every base throughout the country.
§ * MR. BELLAIRS
said it would be most unfortunate if, as the result of the criticisms repeatedly made, the impression should go forth that there was no dock accommodation on the east coast for such vessels as the "Dreadnought." That was not correct.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 66; Noes, 271. (Division List No. 143).341
|Acland-Hood,RtHn.SirAlex.F.||Balcarres, Lord||Beach, Hn.Michael Hugh Hicks|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Balfour,RtHn.A.J. (City Lond)||Beckett, Hon. Gervase|
|Ashley, W. W.||Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Bignold, Sir Arthur|
|Aubrey-Fleteher,Rt.Hon.SirH.||Barrie, H. T.(Londonderry, N.)||Bowles, G. Stewart|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hervey,F.W.F.(BuryS Edm'ds||Rawlinson,John FrederickPeel|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Houston, Robert Paterson||Rutherford. W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Cave, George||Kennaway,Rt. Hon.Sir John H.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Cavendish.Rt. Hon. Victor C.W.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Coates, E. Feetham (Lewisham||Lee,ArthurH (Hants.,Fareham||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lockwood,Rt.Hn. Lt.-Col.A.R.||Thomson. W.Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Macpherson, J. T.||Turnour, Viscount|
|Du Cros, Harvey||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Valentia, Viscount|
|Duncan,Robert (Lanark,Govan||Magnus, Sir Philip||Walker,Col.W.H. (Lancashire)|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Fell, Arthur||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Forster, Henry William||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield||Younger George|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Hardy,Laurence(Kent, Ashford||Pease,Herbert Pike(Darlington||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Thorne.|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Abraham, William (Cork,N.E.)||Cremer, William Randal||Haworth. Arthur A.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Crombie, John William||Hayden. John Patrick|
|Agnew, George William||Crooks, William||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Alden, Percy||Crosfield, A. H.||Hazleton. Richard|
|Allen,A.Acland (Christchurch)||Crossley, William J.||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Dalmeny, Lord||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Astbury, John Meir||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Henderson,J.M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Delany, William||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Baring,Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Devlin, Joseph||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Dickinson,W.H. (St.Pancras,N.||Hogan, Michael|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Holden, E. Hopkinson|
|Beauchamp, E.||Dillon, John||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Bell, Richard||Dolan, Charles Joseph||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Donelan, Captain A.||Horridge. Thomas Gardner|
|Benn,SirJ.Williams (Devonp'rt||Duckworth, James||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Benn, W.(T'w'r Hamlets,S.Geo.||Duffy, William J.||Hudson, Walter|
|Bennett, E. N.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Hutton, Alfred Eddison|
|Bertram, Julius||Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley)||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Bethell,SirJ.H.(Essex,Romf'rd||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Bethell, T. R, (Essex, Maldon)||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Jackson, R. S.|
|Billson, Alfred||Essex, R. W.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Boland, John||Esslemont, George Birnie||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Farrell, James Patrick||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Brigg, John||Fenwick, Charles||Jones, William(Carnarvonshire|
|Brodie, H. C.||Ferens, T. R.||Joyce, Michael|
|Brooke, Stopford||Findlay, Alexander||Kelley, George D.|
|Brunner, J.F.L.(Lanes., Leigh)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Brunner,RtHnSirJ.T.(Cheshire||Flynn, James Christopher||Kettle, Thomas Michael|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Kilbride, Denis|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Fuller, John Michael F.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Fullerton, Hugh||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Gilhooly, James||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster|
|Buxton,Rt. Hn. SydneyCharles||Gill, A. H.||Lambert, George|
|Byles, William Pollard||Ginnell, L.||Lamont, Norman|
|Cameron, Robert||Gladstone, Rt.Hn.Herbert.John||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Glendinning, R. G.||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Glover, Thomas||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras,E.|
|Channing. Sir Francis Allston||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Clark, George Smith(Belfast,N.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Gulland, John W.||Lough, Thomas|
|Cleland, J. W.||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Lundon, W.|
|Clough, William||Hall, Frederick||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Wore'r)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hart-Davies, T.||Macdonald,J.M.(Falkirk B'ghs)|
|Cotton. Sir H. J. S.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Cowan. W. H.||Harvey,W.E. (Derbyshire,N.E.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Cox, Harold||Harwood, George||MacVeagh. Jeremiah (Down. S.|
|Clean, Eugene||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||MacVeigh,Charles (Donegal,E.)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Radford, G. H.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|M'Crae, George||Rainy, A. Rolland||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Raphael, Herbert H.||Thomas,Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|M'Kean, John||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Thomasson, Franklin|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Thompson,J.W.H.(Somerset, E|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Reddy, M.||Tillett, Louis John|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Maddison, Frederick||Redmond, William (Clare)||Toulmin, George|
|Marks,G.Croydon (Launceston)||Rees, J. D.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Massie, J.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Verney, F. W.|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Vivian, Henry|
|Meagher, Michael||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Menzies, Walter||Robertson.Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Mond, A.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent|
|Mooney, J. J.||Robinson, S.||Wardle, George J.|
|Morrell, Philip||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Waring, Walter|
|Murnaghan, George||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Wason,John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Myer, Horatio||Rowlands, J.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Runciman, Walter||Watt, Henry A.|
|Nicholls, George||Russell, T. W.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Nicholson,Charles N.(Doncast'r||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Schwann, SirC. E.(Manchester)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Seely, Major J. B.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Shackleton, David James||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|O'Connon, T. P. (Liverpool)||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Ha wick, B.)||Wiles, Thomas|
|O'Hare, Patrick||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|O'Kelly,James (Roscommon.N.||Sherwell, Arthur James||Williams, Lewelyn(Carmarth'n|
|O'Malley, William||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Simon, John Allsebrook||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|O'Shee, James John||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Partington, Oswald||Stanger. H. Y.||Winfrey, R.|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Steadman, W. C.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Young, Samuel|
|Perks, Robert William||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Herbert Lewis.|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Summerbell, T.|
|Price, RobertJohn (Norfolk, E.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Original question again proposed.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
said he wished to ask his hon. friend a Question in regard to the Item O, regarding the sale of stores and land in connection with the abolition of submarine mining. It was difficult to see why the Admiralty should abolish submarine mining in commercial ports. He understood that the submarine mining plant had been sold and the proceeds had been credited to the Naval Estimates; and it was rumoured that the Admiralty had attempted to sell the land on which the Brennan torpedo installations stood. He asked whether the Appropriations-in-Aid of the present year contained the price of any land sold which was connected with torpedo work?
§ MR. ASHLEY
asked if any provision had been made at foreign Naval stations for the repairs of turbine machinery, with which, he understood, all the new warships were being fitted. The machinery
§ for the repair of ordinary engines was absolutely useless for the repair of turbine engines.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said that the Vote for the new steam factory at Portsmouth had been reduced from £188,000 to £120,000 and it was explained that that was on account of engineering difficulties. But that was a very unsatisfactory reply. They all knew perfectly well that there was no branch of work which was more difficult to estimate than engineering work. This, however, was not an engineering work, but a steam factory. How could the hon. Gentleman say that the building of a steam factory was an engineering work? The only conclusion that he could arrive at was that the hon. Gentleman gave the first answer that came into his head. Then there was the question of the expenditure of £20,000 on a new lock at Portsmouth. The hon. Gentleman had said that they must proceed cautiously because it would take 343 thirty years from now before the cost of the works could be covered. But it was no answer to the criticisms which had been offered to say that the people who were responsible for the original estimates were wrong; that they were badly prepared; and that they would not achieve what was desired. The hon. Gentleman ought to be in a position to say that he would look into the matter and see that the original policy was carried out. They were not now discussing as to how the money was to be obtained for these new works; but whether it was necessary to have proper docks in different parts of the world able to take the largest vessels in the Navy. The science of shipbuilding was progressing rapidly, and there must be a wastage of capital in regard to dock-building, but that would have to be faced. The docks already built were not sufficiently large to admit the newest ships. As to the question of loans, why should this generation bear all the burdens of posterity? What they were doing now was for the good of posterity and posterity should bear some part of the burden. Then there was a large decrease for the works at Simon's Bay, which also to the hon. Gentleman attributed the difficulty of making proper engineering estimates. The hon. Gentleman had said that there was a reduction of facilities. His contention was that there should not be a reduction of facilities and that the preparation of stations for the Navy was the most vital of all questions. He trusted the hon. Gentleman would be guided solely by the necessity of providing proper and efficient naval bases in all parts of the world. Without that, all the money spent on the Navy was wasted. It was absolutely essential that we should have proper bases at at home and abroad. As he understood the contention of the hon. Gentleman below the gangway, it was that they could not get ships of the class of the "Dreadnought" into Chatham dockyard in consequence of the condition of the River Medway, and one of the great items of expenditure in regard to docks of that class was dredging, not because of the actual cost of the operation but because the river was constantly silting up and the work had to be done over and over again. Therefore he thought that the dredging of a river was not a satisfactory solution, because it was 344 not a permanent one. The arguments advanced against the desire of the Opposition to see proper accommodation provided were most unsatisfactory, and disclosed no reason whatever for the policy of the Government. He hoped that before the Report stage the right hon. Gentlemen would reconsider his policy, and would assure the House that he really was anxious to provide proper facilities for the repair of these vessels, and that he would do so irrespective of any errors that might have been made in the past and of the amount of money it might cost. In saying that he hoped he would not be misunderstood. An hon. Member had said it would be very easy to wander over the face of the globe and place a station here and a station there. That was not what he advocated. All he wanted was that the plans in regard to stations already adopted should be completed in the best possible manner and as soon as possible.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he could assure hon. Members that all proper facilities would be given for further discussion and appealed to the Committee to allow the Government now to obtain this Vote. The hon. Gentleman opposite knew perfectly well that there were special reasons why Vote 10 should be taken early. If they obtained that Vote others to which exception might be taken could be postponed.
§ * MR. ARTHUR LEE
agreed that Vote 10 must be got through early, although there were some very important questions which he was anxious to raise upon it, and he would not get another opportunity of doing so this session. The right hon. Gentleman was anxious to get the Vote before a quarter past eight, and he did not want to prevent that by any undue discussion. He would like to know, however, why an item of £10,000 for a groyne at Hooness, near Chatham, had been struck out of the Vote this year. He considered that that work was absolutely essential to prevent the lock entrances to Chatham dockyard from being silted up, which would prevent any vessel entering except one drawing a very moderate amount of water. He noticed also that the sum for repairs and maintenance had not been increased, although a large amount of extra new works had been lately handed over to the naval authorities. He would have 345 thought that that being the case the amount for repairs and maintenance would have been proportionately increased. It had been the custom, moreover, to place at the disposal of Admirals and Admiral Superintendents at the ports a sum of money to enable them to carry out small works without special Parliamentary sanction. It had been always found that that was a most economical method, and that the Admirals had put the money to the best use. He hoped that the reduction in the Vote, under that head, did not mean that the fund which was handed to the Admirals was to be in any way reduced.
§ * MR. LAMBERT
said that their advisors had asked for the amounts which were now being voted. Next year there would have to be an increase of the Vote for maintenance. There was no intention of departing from the system of allowances to Admirals.
- 2. £837,900, Half-pay, Reserved, and Retired Pay.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed—
§ "That a sum, not exceeding £1,302,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the expenses of Naval and Marino Pensions, Gratuities, and Compassionate Allowances, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1908."
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
- 3. £370,900, Civil Pensions and Gratuities.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.