HC Deb 22 July 1907 vol 178 c1280

On the Question that the House be now adjourned,

*Mr. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)

said he desired to call attention to a matter of some importance. It was with reference to the protection of the Fleet. In common with some other Members of the House he had had the privilege of visiting the Fleet recently, and had learned a great deal, and had been much impressed with what he saw. He had asked a great many questions—among? them, if it so happened that that night a foreign torpedo boat came up to the anchorage of the Fleet, what was there to prevent it discharging torpedoes and blowing up the battleships? Were there any vessels of any sort, such as picket boats, for the defence of the Fleet? The answer he got was that there was no protection, but that it was exceedingly improbable that such an attack should be made in time of peace. They knew that no competent general of land forces would do otherwise than protect those forces by means of sentinels. They knew that Port Arthur was attacked by surprise by the Japanese, and that we did the same thing at Elsinore. So long as we spent £30,000,000 per annum in maintaining a Fleet, it should not go to bed every night without a proper guard. People might say that we would have notice before an attack was made upon the Fleet, but his contention was that in time of peace such precautions should be taken as would allow of the Navy being always protected. No foe who desired to attack us would give notice of his intention. If the Government said that it was not necessary to have a Navy at all he would go into the division lobby and support them, but as long as we had a Navy it should be protected against any unforeseen attack. He did not how ever think that any nation desired to attack us.

Adjourned at Thirteen minutes after Eleven o'clock