HC Deb 04 July 1907 vol 177 cc857-8
SIR BERKELEY SHEFFIELD (Lincolnshire, Brigg)

I beg to ask the Secre- tary to the Admiralty whether he can state the names and class of the ships of the Home Fleet, exclusive of the fully-manned ships of the Nore Division; whether these vessels can be, and have been, made ready for service within a few hours; if so, when; and whether he will give the number and class of ships so made ready.


As regards the first part of the Question, I must refer the hon. Member to the Navy List, pages 270 to 270e. Unless undergoing refit, the ships referred to can be made ready for sea within a few hours, with the exception of the special service vessels; but no test mobilisation has been carried out since the formation of the Home Fleet last March. The vessels now composing the Home Fleet were successfully mobilised in a few hours for last year's manœuvres, and the conditions are now more favourable to rapid mobilisation.


The right hon. Gentleman says the ships were mobilised in a few hours for last year's manœuvres. Is he aware that seven days before the Admiralty issued the appointments of officers and five days before drafted reserve men down to the ports?


That hardly arises out of the Question.


I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether, hitherto, arrangements have always been made to keep men to their own ports as far as possible, both for the sake of enabling men to go home when in port and to encourage esprit de corps; and whether the crews at Portsmouth, Devonport, and Chatham are chiefly composed of men belonging to those ports.


The answer to both Questions is in the affirmative; but a few temporary exceptions have been made to this general principle to meet special manning requirements.