§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That 128,000 officers, seamen, and boys be employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1909, including 18,463 Royal Marines."
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. EDMUND ROBERTSON,) Dundee
said that on the assumption that a general discussion would be permitted, he would proceed to answer some of the questions addressed to him, which were summed up in handy form by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman's first question related to the effective strength of the Home Fleet. The allegation was that ships were brought home from foreign stations for extensive refit and then placed in the Home Fleet with nucleus crews, and as soon as the refit was completed the ships were again commissioned and returned to some other stations. The strength of the Home Fleet was thus artificially inflated. The questions asked had involved a good deal of inquiry, and there was nobody, either inside the Admiralty or outside who knew the whole of the Navy Estimates. He had made full inquiries on a matter which did not concern his own Department. Ships in foreign stations were usually relieved a few months before their big refit was due. This big refit was due at the end of two or three commissions. He had found it impossible to get a certain answer to that question, but the most precise information he could get was that the big refit became due at the end of two or at the outside three commissions. Those ships were then placed in the Home Fleet with a nucleus crew of one-half full complement. When the dockyard was ready to take them in hand, and the extent of the refit necessary had been determined, the Admiralty decided whether the nucleus crew should be allowed to remain on board whilst the ship was in dockyard hands. That, it 1139 would be obvious, was purely a question of naval administration in which neither he nor any one of his civil colleagues could for a moment interfere. If it was likely to take more than five or six months the ship was usually paid off and placed under the control of the Admiral Superintendent with what was called a skeleton crew of thirty men. As long as a ship was under the control of the Admiral Superintendent she was not part of the Home Fleet. If the nucleus crew remained on board, the ship, of course, continued in commission, because a nucleus crew was a real crew, and a ship in commission must belong to some division. For disciplinary reasons, the ship remained under the command of the Admiral of the Home Fleet; but she was not regarded as ready for mobilisation until the repairs had been completed in the dockyard. For administrative reasons the dockyard authorities preferred the nucleus crew to remain on board during the refit. As compared with other fleets, the Home Fleet was at this disadvantage—that it might have to replace vessels withdrawn from other fleets owing to some unforeseen casualty. But these relief ships were never taken from the Nore Fleet or the Cruiser Squadron. Again it must not be supposed because a ship in one of the other fleets was relieved and went into the Home Fleet, and some months afterwards was taken in hand by the dockyard for a big refit, that in the interim she was not capable of carrying out ordinary fleet duties. The refit was not postponed until those duties were incapable of being performed any longer. Nor was it to be assumed that a ship coming for repair had been waiting in an inefficient condition. The programme of dockyard work was liable to some modifications owing to unforeseen casualties, but it was so arranged as to provide that every ship should be taken in hand as soon as she ceased to be fit. The Home Fleet really consisted of three entirely different elements. There was the first, the Nore Division; next, the nu leus crew divisions; and lastly, the special service vessels. The last were a reserve, and could not be described as anything else. The Nore Division was fully manned and fully equipped in all respects. It would shortly 1140 consist of twelve of the latest battleships and armoured cruisers. Any ships which did not answer this description would be replaced in a few months. The destroyer flotilla at the Nore was of the same character. This division was constantly ready for war. The nucleus crew divisions consisted of older ships, still efficient, and handicapped only by age and not by want of repair. For instance, the "Majesties" were just about to join these divisions. This fine squadron would have attached to it some nine modern armoured cruisers; the nucleus destroyer flotillas were of older type. These divisions could be ready, at the outside, in twenty-four hours. There was no justification for the aspersions made the other day by the hon. Member for Fareham. The number of vessels under repair on a given date was only 30 out of 208. The Home Fleet was a real fleet in being, and its officers and men had the same esprit de corps as the rest of the Navy. He had good reason to know that the campaign of calumny and disparagement which raged all last year had wounded them deeply. It was much to be regretted that the hon. Member had suggested the Home Fleet was a fraud and a fleet of lame ducks; because for the first time it gave some kind of ex-official sanction to these statements. He did not believe that his predecessor in office would have adopted this tone; and that was one more reason why he regretted the absence of Mr. Pretyman from the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had asked for information as to the number of fast cruisers, torpedo-gunboats, and torpedo craft in home waters. The only vessels included in the following comparative table were, excepting submarines, vessels with a speed of 18 knots and over:— Cruisers (excluding armoured cruisers): Great Britain, 47; Germany, 25. Torpedo-gunboats: Great Britain, 14; Germany, 0. Torpedo-boat destroyers: Great Britain, 124 (of which 107 were under twelve years of age); Germany, 56. Torpedo-boats (ex-coastal torpedo-boat destroyers): Great Britain, 13; Germany, 10. Torpedo-boats (first class): Great Britain, 54; Germany, 47. Torpedo-boats (second class): Great Britain, nil; Germany, 27. Submarines: 1141 Great Britain, 41; Germany, 1. The right hon. Gentleman had asked for information as to the expenditure on guns, ammunition, and torpedoes in the coming year compared with the provision-two years ago. All three items showed a considerable reduction, and the explanation was that all three were dependent on the new shipbuilding in the period concerned. On 1st April, 1906, there were under construction sixteen armoured vessels, as compared with eleven on 1st April, 1908. Besides, the simplification and reduction in the number of types of guns involved a large diminution in the ammunition required. As to the torpedo item, a number of small vessels had to be brought into account, but the result would be the same. Mines were also included, and as to them, for a reason which the right hon. Gentleman would appreciate, no statement could be made. The reserve of torpedoes, like that of guns and ammunition, was fully maintained. The right hon. Gentleman had suggested that the present Estimates were not a fair everage, and that succeeding years must show a great increase. The foundation of much criticism on this point was his statement made by way of warning to his hon. friends below the gangway that the automatic increases which had swelled the Votes this year were not going to end this year. As his warning of two years ago passed unheeded he thought it best to be explicit on this point. Of course this increase would have to be met somehow; but surely the right hon. Gentleman would never suggest that it was the duty of the Government to provide this year for the automatic increase of next year. When he warned his hon. friends that there would be further automatic increases of the same general character as those which would burden the Estimates of the coming year, he did not mean to imply that the Navy Estimates for the year following would show necessarily that amount of increase. There would, he hoped, be something to set off. It was unreasonable to expect him to give next year's Estimates now, and he could not do so, nor did he know when he would be able to do so, as it took some time to make a forecast. The Estimates they were now discussing 1142 were arrived at some time ago. But apart from the automatic increases, a great deal of the argument addressed to him the other day was founded on the assumption, first, that this year's programme was very small, and secondly, that the amount they were taking in the new Estimates to commence it was unusually small.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
said the point he had made was that the usual allowance ought not to be taken under unusual circumstances. It was rather to be hoped that they were unusual circumstances.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said the point certainly was made, he did not remember by whom, that this was not only a small programme, but that the small amount taken made it a sham programme. He thought it worth while, therefore, to give the figures to the House, and in so doing he was giving more information as to the cost of the new programme than was usual at this stage. He would give the full information as to the new programme in terms of money as being more easily measured than in any other form. There was no doubt that the new programme was the crux of every year's Estimates, it was the one malleable and plastic part of the Estimates, and on the new programme in any given year depended ultimately in future years the total expenditure. More important than the Shipbuilding Vote, or than new construction, was that part of new construction provided for the first time in the existing Estimates, which he called the new programme. He hoped hon. Gentlemen would understand that he was referring not to the position of new construction to cover ships laid down this year, last year, and the year before; but he was dealing with that part, of it which was announced for the first time in these Estimates. Measured in money, the new programme of the present year exceeded the new programme of last year by £825,000; it fell below the last new programme for which hon. Gentlemen opposite were responsible, and which was taken over by the present Government, by only 470,000. The provision they made this year rather exceeded the usual provision. It 1143 was all very well to say the circumstances were exceptional, but the regular rule was to lay down ships towards the end of the year. Ships must be laid down in some uniform way; but the provision made in any one year for the new programme of that year had been on the average 9.45 per cent. Their provision for 1908–1909 was 9.6 per cent. In the last Estimates for which the Opposition were responsible, those of 1906–1907, it was 7.8, and in 1901–1902, when a new programme calling for an expenditure of £10,500,000 was produced, the amount taken to commence the new programme Was £537,850 or 5.1 per cent. He thought that was sufficient explanation of the new programme from the money point of view; but from the other point of view, of the types, substance, and contents of the new programme, he had a few words to say.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Before the right hon. Gentleman comes to that, may I remind him what our contention was on which we were anxious to have an answer, for his answer, it seems to me, does not really touch our position. We understand that in view of what is being done abroad there will have to be a great augmentation in the number of our most costly ships. The Shipbuilding Vote this year is lower than it has ever been, I believe, in the last ten years.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes. What we want to know is this. Considering that we have in front of us these immense obligations, to which the right hon. Gentleman made no reference, and which are not affected by what you are laying down this year, ought not the Government, if they wished to defer the building of new ships to meet the new necessities, at all events to have equalised Naval Estimates as between year and year, considering how much requires to be done at Rosyth and elsewhere?
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said the point, then, was the equalisation of Estimates, according to the practice of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
In view of the obligations, to which the right hon. Gentleman has made no reference in his speech.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he was coming to that. He would give the variations in new programmes. In 1901–1902 the new programme was £10,500,000; it dropped the next year to £6,500,000; in 1903–1904 it rose to £12,000,000. Then it dropped next year to £7,600,000; rose in 1905–1906 to £9,900,000; and dropped next year to £8,200,000.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said the Navy Estimates as a whole depended on this Vote; they were automatic and consequential.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would give the total figures for new construction in the years he had mentioned.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he had not got them with him, but would give them to the right hon. Gentleman. But more important, as he had shown, than new construction, was the new programme. That was the real question.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said that that was the real question. The right hon. Gentleman said that whatever the programme produced by the Government that was not enough, and that they should lay down more ships this year. After what had been said outside and inside the House on this subject, he thought he might be permitted to repeat himself. The real question always was the question of standard, and relative strength was the real crux of the question. He had said on behalf of the Admiralty that the Admiralty disclaimed any right or title to fix what the relative standard ought to be. That was not an Admiralty question at all, it was a question for the 1145 Government, for the Cabinet, and, in the last resort, for Parliament.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said the Admiralty had no authority of itself; but when the two-Power standard had been accepted and determined by both sides of the House, he claimed for the Admiralty the right to say whether a given standard, in this case the two-Power standard, was maintained or not; and he repeated, that in the opinion of the Admiralty, this new programme was amply sufficient to maintain the two-Power standard. The Admiralty said that the programme now proposed was adequate. At all events the new programme announced in the First Lord's Memorandum was in substance the same programme which he outlined to the House nine months ago. It had not been altered, certainly had not been reduced since that time. This was the old programme outlined in July last which had not been modified, except In details, and certainly it had not been reduced since that time.
§ MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)
asked what was the nature of the programme. They knew there was one "Dreadnought" and another armoured cruiser. Was the latter to be an "Invincible"?
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said that was just the sort of question he could not answer. He did not know that anybody knew. One would be a "Dreadnought" and the other probably a large armoured cruiser, but types still wanted great consideration. No statement of this sort was usually asked for until they came to Vote 8, which came on towards the end of the Session, when the intentions of the Admiralty with regard to the whole of the programme were given. He begged hon. Members to allow them to pursue the ordinary course. The right hon. Member for Dover demanded increases; he had to tell him on behalf of the Admiralty that the Admiralty wanted no increase and thought the present provision adequate. There was 1146 often a certain ad vantage to be gained by waiting to see what the other side were doing. This advantage had been lost up to the present time. He was not going to raise controversies between the two Boards of Admiralty, but at all events the present Board did advise that the programme asked for was certain to maintain a two-Power standard, and the Government did not think it necessary to ask Parliament to supplement it. The hon. Member for Fareham had also asked him for some statement as to the comparative strength of Great Britain and Germany in battleships and destroyers. As to destroyers he had already given the figures. As to battleships he did not think he could add anything to the statement he had already made, except on one point. Briefly put, it amounted to this—that with regard to battleships of what might be called the pre-"Dreadnought" type, this country was in a position of undoubted superiority. That was the statement already made by him on the authority of the Board of Admiralty. With regard to the newer ships of the "Dreadnought" type, the position in the autumn of 1910 would be this: Great Britain, nine battleships and three cruisers; France, two battleships and no cruisers; Germany, four battleships and two cruiser. But, to be perfectly frank, he should say there were certain possible accelerations—only possible, but possible—which might affect the result at the end of 1910. Germany might have seven battleships and three cruisers completed. This would leave France and Germany combined with a total of twelve battleships as against twelve British battleships. In these he included the "Lord Nelson" and the "Agamemnon" which were still uncommissioned. That, he was advised, was the very worst that could happen. He took no account of the two new ships of 1908–1909. These new ships would be ready for completion as soon as, if not sooner than, the additional German ships. So the result would be that in the early part of 1911, Germany and France would have twelve ships as against Great Britain's fourteen. If that was not satisfactory he did not know what was, and he should despair of 1147 bringing conviction to the mind of anybody who doubted it.
There was another point in regard to stores as to which information had been asked by the hon. Member for Fare-ham and the right hon. the Member for East Worcestershire. It was said that in the last three years of the late Government the average annual outlay for new stores was £3,700,000, and the annual average issue of stores was £3,600,000; and that during the three sets of Navy Estimates of the present Government the average purchases of new stores had been £2,350,000, and the average issue £2,600,000. This showed that the issue had been more than the Estimates in the last case, and less thin the Estimates in the former case. It also showed a drop of £1,000,000 per annum in the issue of stores to ships. He had to admit that these figures were accurate, and make the best explanation he could. They related only to naval stores provided for under Vote 8, Section II, and were evidently abstracted from the stock statement printed in the Estimates at the end of the shipbuilding programme. But he had nothing sensational to say in explanation of them. The simple explanation was that a change had been made in the form of the Estimates. Since 1905–1906 the provision for armour for dockyard built ships had been made under Vote 8, Section III. Sub-head D., and that accounted for the difference of £1,000,000.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It would be a great convenience to be able to compare one item in the year with the same item in another year; but if the plan is now wholly different that would be impossible.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
Yes, but the note ought to have been inserted at the time the change was made. If there was anything wrong about the change it was made in October, 1905, by the then Board of Admiralty, of which 1148 the hon. Member for Fareham was a member, and communicated to the Treasury in November. Whether or not a note was made in the Estimates at the time he could not say. Abating' the amounts taken for such armour in Vote 8, Section II., for the years of 1903 to 1904–1905 the average for those years become, payments £2,644,206 and issues £2,560,578, as against £2,358,467 payments and £2,630,037 issues for the three years 1906–1907 to 1908–1909. The fact that during the three years ending 31st March, 1909, the issues would exceed the payments was due to the utilisation without replacement of surplus stores returned from closed establishments and ineffective ships. The Government were living on a redundancy of stores which had accumulated owing to the concentration of the Fleet and the closing of certain naval establishments abroad, these accumulations being due to their predecessors. If allowance was made for this from 1905–1906 inclusive by adding to the payments the value of stores available for issue without replacement the comparison would be as follows: 1903–1904 to 1905–1906 payments, etc. £2,723,637, issues £2,560,578; and 1906–1907, to 1908–1909 payments £2,789,134, and issues £2,630,037. It had also been said that the Estimates involved a new construction Vote of £8,000,000 without a single new ship being laid down. That was a speculative calculation. He had had the enact figure worked out and the result showed that if no new ship was laid down the Vote would only be £7,182,000.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire Fareham)
said the right hon. Gentleman had prefaced his remarks by delivering a carefully prepared attack upon himself for the remarks which he had made in the course of the debate on Tuesday last, and was kind enough to couple with that some advice as to his Parliamentary-deportment, contrasting it with the manner in which his late colleague Mr. Prety-man had discharged his duties when he was in the House. He entirely shared the right hon. Gentleman's enthusiastic opinion of the abilities of his late colleague, but there was one point of difference between the position in which Mr. Prety-man used to find himself and the position 1149 in which he now found himself, and that was that when his late colleague was last in this House he was in office and the right hon. Gentleman was in opposition. If Mr. Pretyman had been in opposition while the right hon. Gentleman was in office he thought he would have found occasion to criticise the right hon. Gentleman and the naval policy of the Government perhaps in a more graceful manner, but with equal strength to that in which he had felt it necessary to indulge. The right hon. Gentleman had tried to confuse the issue and to arouse the sympathy of the House in a wrong direction by treating his speech as an attack on the officers and men who were now serving in the Home Fleet. If the right hon. Gentleman would take the trouble to read the remarks which he had made on Tuesday, he would see that he had gone out of his way to say that the state of affairs he had described in the Home Fleet, however the Admiralty might be to blame for it, reflected the utmost credit on the officers and men of the Home Fleet. Judging from communications he had received, he did not believe for a moment that the officers of the Fleet resented in any way, as far as they were concerned, the remarks which he had felt it his duty to make. But after all, the only serious point was the right hon. Gentleman's attempt to refute what he had pat forward. What did the right hon. Gentleman's answer amount to? It amounted to an absolute endorsement of his statement with regard to the composition and condition of the Home Fleet. The right hon. Gentleman, going into much greater detail than he had ventured to do, had explained the matter quite clearly. He himself had particularly excluded the Nore Division; and the right hon. Gentleman had just explained that the other divisions of the Home Fleet did in fact consist, partially, at any rate, of ships sent home from other fleets, because they were about due for a large refit. If the refit took a period exceeding five or six months, the right hon. Gentleman said that they were taken off the strength of the Home Fleet, but if the refit occupied a period of less than five or six months they remained on the strength of the Home Fleet during that time. That was exactly the statement 1150 he himself had made. The further statement which he had made was that on the completion of the refit, if it lasted less than five or six months, those vessels went back to the sea-going fleets. That also had been corroborated by the right hon. Gentleman. He really did not know why the right hon. Gentleman should call his statement of the fact an "allegation"; it was a plain fact, and one which the right hon. Gentleman had admitted and explained most clearly to the House. He had also said that he had no objection to the policy of the Admiralty in dealing with those ships that came back from foreign fleets; but what he did object to was the showing of these ships in the Navy List as forming part of the strength of the Home Fleet, and, therefore, naturally supposed by the taxpayers of this country to be ready for war. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the ships not undergoing refit could be ready in twenty-four hours, but in the case of the Portsmouth Division, the ships which were thus undergoing refit were, at the time of his visit in January, two-thirds of the battleship strength, and they could not possibly be ready in less than two or three months. His objection was to the inclusion of these ships in the strength of the Home Fleet, as shown in the Navy List. Really, when the right hon. Gentleman saw fit to lecture him upon the propriety of his language in that House he would like to say that there were some things, particularly in the mouths of officials of the Admiralty, which were more important even than choice of language, and one of these was accuracy of statement. The Civil Lord of the Admiralty had denied the statement which he had made with regard to the situation and readiness of the battleships of the Nore Division. He had asserted that of the six ships which formed the battleship division at the Nore, there were on the occasion of his visit there, on 27th December, only three battleships, while the other three were in the dockyard hands at Chatham. He had also stated that when the Nore Division proceeded to sea on 9th March, only three battleships would be ready to go out with the Fleet. A fourth was, indeed, to be brought round from Devonport, but the other three were to be left behind. 1151 The hon. Gentleman had denied his statement and said there were no less than five of these battleships at the Nore on 3rd March, and gave their names.
§ THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. LAMBERT,) South Molton
I gave the names of the ships that were at the Nore at the time I spoke. I had the information from officials of the Admiralty, and I gave it in reply to the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
said he was unfortunately not able to accept the hon. Gentleman's information as accurate. He had taken steps to ascertain whether It was accurate or not, and he found that, two days after the hon. Gentleman had spoken, the ships which he had mentioned were in Chatham Dockyard, and he presumed it was not suggested that they had gone to the Nore in the interval and come back again. At any rate on the 5th, the ships he had mentioned, the "London," the "Magnificent" and the "Victorious," were still in the dockyard, and would be unable to go with the Nore Division on 9th March.
§ MR. LAMBERT
I said there were at the Nore five battleships, eight cruisers, and twenty-four torpedo destroyers, ready for instant emergency. That is a fact.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
said the hon. Gentleman had certainly given him the names of the ships, but he had ascertained that they were not at the Nore but in Chatham Dockyard two days after the hon. Gentleman had spoken. After all, the point was not one of supreme importance; but when the right hon. Gentleman undertook to lecture him upon the remarks he had made in that House, and upon Parliamentary decorum, perhaps he would allow him to suggest that accuracy in the mouths of officials was even more important than urbanity. He wished now to deal with one or two points which the light hon. Gentleman had raised that afternoon. One point had regard to the reserve of ammunition and guns. He was aware that these were confidential matters, and he did not wish to press for details. He wished, however, to ask whether the standard of reserve of guns 1152 and ammunition in existence during the period of the late Administration was still in existence to-day. He was glad to gather from the right hon. Gentleman's assent that that was so. The right hon. Gentleman had said a good deal about the new programme of construction, and had given figures which went to show that the amount of money provided for new shipbuilding was about the average. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman was aware that the First Lord in his statement had pointed out that it was the smallest for the last ten years.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said the total provision for new construction, meaning thereby for new building, which was begun last year, the year before, and the year before that, was the lowest on record for ten years. That was true. The demand which would be laid upon next year in respect of the total cost of the building programme would be rather above than below the average.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
said the point he wished to make was this. The Secretary to the Admiralty spoke of the average but the Leader of the Opposition had pointed out that the circumstances were exceptional. But in addition to that there was the pledge which the right hon. Gentleman had given, he thought it was last year, when he pointed out that the shipbuilding programme was being put off unusually late as an inducement to the Hague Conference.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
said he had the right hon. Gentleman's speech with him, and in it he said—The amount to be taken for new vessels laid down in 1907–1908 is to be limited to a small sum, and they are not to be commenced until a late period of the year in order to emphasise to the Hague Conference the good faith of the British Government in its desire for a reduction of armaments.He thought it might be inferred from this that as far as this year's programme was concerned the Government were bound to forestall rather than to postpone their programme, as they had done in the present Estimates. He might also 1153 observe that although the total of £770,000 which they had provided was possibly the average, £100,000 of it was taken up by the construction of tugs and lighters, which did not materially add to the fighting strength of the Navy. In addition, the amounts provided for two classes of small ships, of which he believed we were particularly short—small cruisers and destroyers—were certainly abnormally low. Those vessels would practically be postponed out of the next financial year altogether. The right hon. Gentleman had not explained that point. As regarded the gunnery of the Fleet, there had been recently a number of attacks made in the Press against the methods of gunnery now practised in the Navy. He could pot but feel that these attacks had been captious and to some extent unfair, and that they ignored the undeniable and enormous improvement that had been made in recent years in the gunnery of the Fleet. He thought it would be a good thing if the right hon. Gentleman would give some assurances and explanations under that head, in view of the fact that there appeared to be a widespread feeling that something was wrong, though personally he believed that excellent progress had been made. Of course, no one suggested that the Navy in this matter had reached perfection. They must learn to walk before they could run; but he thought when the critics said that the results were illusory because the actual conditions of warfare were not reproduced, they were asking a little more than human nature could possibly perform in times of peace. No doubt it would be very interesting if ships could be shot back at during practice, and he saw that one critic said the Navy should have night practice at rapidly moving and indistinct objects such as torpedo destroyers. He had served as a range officer during artillery practice, and he could fully sympathise with the view of the Admiralty that it was hot possible to reproduce these conditions of warfare without incurring the greatest risk to officers and men of the Fleet. It occurred to some of them that there had been a little too much advertisement of the results of the gunnery of the Fleet. Whilst it was necessary to have a certain 1154 amount of advertisement in order to excite emulation, they might excite emulation to such a point that there would be a disinclination to reproduce, even as far as possible, war conditions when carrying out these practices.
Some years ago he remembered there was a very distinguished officer in command of one of our fleets who was attacked hotly in the Press because the ships of his fleet had not achieved quite such high results as some others, whereas the facts were that he had carried out his practice under more like service conditions, using the guns in a heavy seaway, and yet under the system, by which the results were so extensively advertised, he incurred at any rate a popular censure which he did not deserve. Moreover, by this advertising the results of our shooting, we excited the emulation of foreign navies as well as our own, and he did not think that necessary or desirable. The question of oil fuel was very important in view of the increasing dependence of the new types of ship upon this variety of fuel. There were negotiations pending before he left the Admiralty, and he wished to ask whether everything possible was being done to ensure the securing of a sufficient supply of oil fuel within the British Empire, to which he attached the greatest importance. He hoped the negotiations in this matter were now nearing a successful issue. It was stated in the First Lord's Memorandum that the Cunard subsidies had now been earned. Could the Secretary to the Admiralty tell the n if the "Mauritania" and "Lusitania" had yet come up to the full conditions of sea speed, and so forth, upon which alone that subsidy was to be paid? There had been no record of it as far as he was aware. He was glad to see that there was an increased provision for repairs this year. He noticed that certain ships, particularly the "Terrible," "Niobe," and "Diadem" were put down for large repairs. Had it been fully considered whether these ships were worth the large amounts which it was proposed to spend upon them, they being largely unprotected and having very little offensive capacity? The right hon. Gentleman had made some interesting speculations with regard to foreign shipbuilding programmes, and had said that if certain accelerations took place there 1155 would be an increased number of battleships in commission in Germany at the end of 1910. Had he reliable information with regard to the question of comparative speed of building in different countries? There had been many statements and counter-statements in the Press. They had seen statements by the Prussian Minister of Marine to the effect that they were now able to build as quickly in Germany as in this country. They had seen in the last few days the first German "Dreadnought" launched, and due to be completed in much less time than was anticipated. Had the right hon. Gentleman any reason to believe that now, and in the future, German ships of this class could not be completed within the two years which was now set down as the normal period for the construction of our ships of the "Dreadnought" class? If the German period of construction was not greater than two years the right hon. Gentleman must revise his figures with regard to the programme of 1908–1909, because German ships were as a rule laid down in June or July, and, therefore, if the period of building did not exceed two years, the four great armoured ships which were to be laid down in Germany in 1908–09 would be ready before the end of 1911. In that event the Germans would actually have thirteen "Dreadnoughts" and "Invincibles" to our twelve in the autumn of 1911—a sufficiently alarming contingency. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give them some assurance that they would not have to face the increased strength on the date he had mentioned.
§ MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)
said he would like to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty why, seeing that £200,000 had been spent on refrigerating machinery, a Supplementary Vote had not been introduced? Last year an additional £200,000 had been spent on armour, and the Government brought in Supplementary Estimates for it. The right hon. Gentleman had said that this new item could not possibly have been foreseen, but seeing that the Dutch Navy had had refrigerating machinery for magazines for over ten years, and that Germany had had it for all magazines for all ships for seven years, the Admiralty might 1156 very well have foreseen the necessity of it. There was another point which had arisen in the debate last week. The Leader of the Opposition had once asked a question in reference to a statement he (Mr. Bellairs) had made that, at a particular period of December 1906, the Germans had ready in full commission in the North Sea more destroyers than this country. That statement, in spite of what the Admiralty had to say, he maintained was accurate. The Admiralty had never met the matter on the floor of the House, but had sent paragraphs to certain newspapers, stating that there were forty-five British and thirty-three German destroyers in full commission in that period. Fifteen of the British destroyers were at Devon-port and if they had entered the North Sea would have had to coal again. Nine were instructional craft attached to the torpedo and gunnery ships, notoriously unfit for blockade work in the North Sea. Finally, the Admiralty included in the forty-five, nine destroyers which were under repair—in full commission, but not available. We had., therefore, a less number than the Germans. It was a small point and only affected the accuracy of answers given in that House. He had been told by many officers that at the time the Admiralty stated that all the destroyers were ready in July last year, there were no fewer, according to the list compiled in the Home Fleet, than 45 per cent. awaiting repairs, and that the Admiralty now recognised the necessity of carrying out repairs promptly could be seen by the First Lord's Memorandum. He found that in 1905 the Admiralty only put two destroyers down for repair. In 1906 they only put one down. In 1907 the number shot up to fourteen and this year it had gove up to twenty-four, showing that the Admiralty now acknowledged that their contentions in regard to the necessity for carrying out repairs to these small craft were right. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had not dealt with the central point of their contentions. We were now building destroyers against a different nation altogether from that against which we built a few years ago. We built our destroyers then for war with France. We now built them for the possibility of war with Germany, 1157 and the two things were not at all on the same footing. In the case of a blockade of French Channel ports, we had the Channel Islands as a convenient base close to the French coast. In the case of a blockade of the Elbe, our destroyers had to steam the whole distance, and with these sixteen destroyers we were laying down this year there were only sixty-three available for that sort of work as against eighty-four for Germany. The forty 27-knot destroyers were acknowledged to be obsolete. Then there were sixty-eight 30-knot destroyers which it had been proved by actual trials could in fine weather steam to the mouth of the Elbe, would have enough coal to remain there for one day, and then would have to steam back to coal again, there being no island in the vicinity belonging to us available for coaling. We had therefore sixty-three, including the sixteen we were going to lay down, and Germany had eighty-four, including the twelve she was going to lay down. He excluded one destroyer that we captured from the Chinese and one that the Germans captured from the Chinese. Two days would be consumed in conflict, two days in going backwards and forwards and two days resting of crews and necessary repairs. This country had only sixty-three destroyers to oppose eighty-four possessed by Germany, and it was quite clear that the British Navy had not the necessary number of destroyers. He noticed that this year the building of the destroyers was being deferred until the end of the year. During the last seven years the British Admiralty only laid down fifty-three destroyers to Germany's sixty, when they ought to be building at the rate of two to one. Our destroyers, it should be remembered, were not in the same position as German destroyers which would be waiting to strike with crews on board whilst our destroyers would have to maintain themselves outside the German ports. They all knew what happened in the South African War, when it was estimated that if we provided an equal number of soldiers to the Boers it would be ample; but that calculation turned out fallacious. The same applied to destroyers, of which we wanted a large margin. This year the Admiralty were taking 1158 £835,000 for repairs which was the largest amount since 1903–1904. They brought the Fleet to an efficient state by the year 1903–1904 but since then they had been living on those repairs. Even on 6th December Lord Tweedmouth said the ships were kept constantly in repair. If so, what was the necessity for this huge increase? On a former occasion he contended that the Admiralty were not building enough cruisers and that they were wrong. Now they were going to build six. He also asked the right hon. Gentleman what type of armoured cruiser was going to be laid down. The Secretary to the Admiralty knew what was going to be spent upon them and surely he must be aware of the type of vessel. He might add that a newspaper correspondent, who was very much favoured by the Admiralty and connected with the Daily Telegraph, told them on 5th February the exact type of the new cruiser. He said that she was to be a good deal smaller than the "Invincible" and would therefore cost much less to maintain. That was written by a favoured journalist to whom the Admiralty habitually handed over their information. They now knew through this favoured journalist that the new cruiser was not to be of the "Invincible" type, and would not be fit to lie in the line of battle. The British Admiralty were building only one large armoured ship in the year, if this gentleman was right as he had been hitherto, whilst Germany was laying down four. The right, hon. Gentleman, a few days ago, stated that there was not one single armoured ship of the 1904 programme yet in commission. In the autumn of 1903, when the late Government formed their 1904 programme, they had therefore to consider the situation which would arise at the middle of 1908, and in their 1903 programme, framed in the autumn of 1902, they had had actually to safeguard the country right up to the present moment, when some of the ships of the 1904 programme were about to be commissioned. Now they had a plan of building two years from the date they were laid down. It should not be overlooked that the 1908 programme would have to safeguard the position of this country until 1159 they completed the 1909 programme. If we followed our hitherto invariable practice, the 1909 programme would be laid down in the period November, 1909, to March, 1910, and would, therefore, at our very best estimates of building, not be available until November, 1911, to March, 1912. Adopting the same speed of building which the Secretary to the Admiralty adopted in his calculations to the end of 1910, it was perfectly certain that Germany would have nine ships of the "Dreadnought" and "Invincible" class in commission by 1911, and she might have thirteen. To meet this certain nine or this possible thirteen which Germany would have on the completion of her 1908 programme this country would have eleven if the Daily Telegraph was right as to the armoured cruiser, or twelve if she turned out to be an improved "Invincible." Those figures were incontrovertible. It was absolutely certain they would either have to introduce a large supplementary programme this year or else arrange a large early programme for 1909. Large programmes disarranged the finances and industries, and they had generally to be put out at high prices. He knew the Admiralty were getting their "Dreadnoughts" cheaper this year and the "Vanguard" had just been contracted for at the Vickers establishment 10 per cent. cheaper. Supposing next year that prices rose 10 per cent. which might easily be the case seeing how much bigger the new "Dreadnoughts" were. The effect of that would be that in each ship of the "Dreadnought" type, they would have to pay one-fifth more than if they had ordered an extra "Dreadnought" or two this year. That was why he urged the Government to go in for regular programmes instead of these great jumps. The Secretary to the Admiralty had told them that this programme was settled in substance six months ago, or, in other words, before the German Navy Bill and before the German Estimates revealed more rapid building, and showed that the "Nassau" laid down on 22nd July 1907 was launched on the 7th of the following March without resorting to any overtime. Therefore we had no advantage whatever over Germany in rapidity of building. The figures given in the German Navy Bill 1160 for the average since 1900 showed that we had a slight advantage of one-tenth of a month over Germany in battleships, but in armoured cruisers, we were 5.8 months to the bad. The Government gave them an assurance last May that they would maintain our relative naval strength, but he had not been able to discover that they had done so. What had they done up to now? Between 1886 and 1895 Great Britain launched twenty-five battleships to Germany's four, or a proportion of six to one. Between 1896 and 1900 Great Britain launched sixteen battleships and Germany six, or three to one. Then came the great change made by the German Navy Bill of 1900, and during the late Government's term of office Great Britain launched twenty-four battleships and Germany fourteen, or two to one. The present Government since taking office had provided seven battleships of the "Dreadnought" and the "Invincible" class to Germany's nine. That constituted an enormous change, and the relative position of this country must go back under those circumstances, The special reason given for reconstructing the British Fleet before 1900 was the muzzle - loading gun ship and there was a special reason for building armoured ships now. They would not find a single ship in the French or German Navy which had unarmoured ends or ships with no armour at the water line at the bow or stern. These ships with unarmoured ends even built at a time when telescopic sights were not used and shell fire was not nearly so destructive, and thus it came about that, in Lord Tweedmouth's list issued last year, of thirty-nine of the most efficient British battleships there were fifteen with half their water line unarmoured. Everything was different now, and at 6,000 yards it was quite easy to riddle the unarmoured ends of British ships, and there were no less than fifteen battleships in the British Navy of this type. The effect of a big shell on the unarmoured end of one of these vessels was to tear a hole about 10 feet square. Probably the Admiralty would eventually take one of these ships and as an experiment fire at her with 6-inch guns and she would sink, and then they would probably accept that as a reason for striking the lot out. They had got their inefficient 12-inch 1161 guns which could not go half-way through an action. If they were good ships we should immediately re-arm them, but it was not worth while to reconstruct any ship that had unarmoured ends; that was to say "soft ends." The Cawdor Memorandum issued by the late Government referred to the unarmoured ends of battleships as vulnerable to second class cruisers. He had noticed that in the comparison of battleships there had been a great number of classifications based on tonnage. Lord Eversley classed as first class every ship of 14,000 tons, and in that way he proved that our position was overwhelming. If that were to be taken as the test, he could go back a few years and prove that there was only one navy in the world and that was the British. In 1900, for example, Great Britain possessed thirty battleships built and building of over 14,000 tons, and no other Power possessed one. But ships could not be classified in that way, for it should be remembered that our ships carried more stores and more coal, and these were included in the 14,000. tons He desired the right hon. Gentleman to direct his attention particularly to the continual comparisons which were being made between the "Dreadnought" and the ships of foreign nations. The truth of the matter was that we were the only nation in the world which had been building "Dreadnoughts. "Dreadnought" was the name applied to ships which carried big guns only. There was not another nation in the world building ships to carry big guns only. The Germans equipped these big ships with a quick-firing battery of 6.7 guns in addition to the heavy guns and those small guns could be fired very much faster than 12-inch guns. He noticed that the Secretary to the Admiralty classed the "Lord Nelsons" as "Dreadnoughts," but he would point out that they were not of the same type. The "Lord Nelsons" were equipped with ten 9.2 guns in addition to four 12-inch guns, whereas the "Dreadnought" had ten 12-inch guns and nothing else. In looking over the Report of the annual practice of the Fleet he found that the 9.2-inch guns poured in five times as many hits as the 12-inch guns. That was an immense advantage. He shared the views of the hon. members 1162 who had criticised the policy of building "Dreadnoughts." He believed it was the view of the Leader of the Opposition in 1906 that it was a, mistake to have commenced them. We had great superiority in the previous type of battleships. The "Lord Nelson" was superior, and it attracted no attention whatever. When we built the "Dreadnought" we said that it made the battleships of all the other Fleets of the world obsolete; we advertised it for all it was worth, and we so alarmed all the other nations of the world that there had been a deplorable race of armaments ever since. As to dock accommodation, there were few docks that would take in the "Dreadnought," but there were seven additional docks in the United Kingdom which would take in ships of the "Lord Nelson" type. The "Dreadnought" was largely an untried ship. She had been tried as to the capacity of her engines by being sent to the West Indies and the Mediterranean, but she had never been manœuvred with battleships of her class. He wished to emphasise a point with respect to the utility of small guns in certain circumstances as compared with big guns. At the battle of Tsushima, which was won by the Japanese, they had a superiority of smaller guns while the Russians had a decided advantage in big guns. He did not say that the result would not in any case have been the same owing to the superiority of the Japanese personnel, but the fact remained that the victors had a preponderance of small guns. It had been stated in the Press, and the statement had been confirmed to him by an important official, that the German 11-inch gun was superior in ballistics to our 12-inch gun. He knew that was so in respect of muzzle velocity. The Germans had had the advantage of considering our designs and they had gone one better. Taking the eleven "Dreadnoughts" and "Invincibles," which we had so far provided, it would be found that the British ships carried 106 heavy guns, while the nine German ships carried 104. If the new cruiser was an "Invincible" we must add eight to the British total, but he assumed she was not. That was a heavy gain of armament in the nine German ships built, or about to be built. But the 1163 Germans, as was generally known, had twice the heavy gun reserve we had, so that after a naval action their ships could go into port and be re-armed with better effect than ours. The Germans, in addition, had over 106 6.7 guns which could be fired with great rapidity, and these would be disconcerting to the men on the British ships on which we had no small guns to reply to them. They would be able to rain a hail of projectiles on our ships, and probably to disarm some of our heavy guns by hits on the muzzle, while disorganizing their fire-control arrangements. He thought the idea of having big guns only was wholly wrong. The "Dreadnought" with her large guns was not capable of stopping the attack of torpedo craft. As to cruisers, which were for the purpose of defending our commerce against the attacks of small craft, they were also used as scouts and acting as the eyes of the Fleet. They fulfilled that office when acting as links between battleships and destroyers. We must have a superiority of cruisers in order to back up the destroyers. The right hon. Gentleman had given the House certain statistics as to the 18-knot cruisers. Everybody knew that speed efficiency in modern cruisers was not a matter of 18 knots but of 24 and 25 knots. The Germans had nineteen fast cruisers, with a speed of 22 to 25 knots, whereas we had only six of older date. These were un-armoured cruisers, and now we were about to add one "Boadicea" and to lay down six more. He understood that the armament of the "Boadicea" was only six 4-inch guns. If so, our cruisers would be unfit to stand against the German armoured cruisers, which were being built at the rate of two a year, and which had ten 4.1 guns. Even in the scare years of 1884, 1889, and 1893, we had had a great preponderance of fast unarmoured cruisers. In 1906 the Admiralty organised manœuvres for the defence of trade, and gave the British preponderance as nearly four to one in unarmoured cruisers, and, in saying so, they said they were putting conditions at their worst. He left it to the Admiralty to reconcile that statement with the facts of the case. No Admiral would in time of 1164 war be willing to spare armoured cruisers to do the work of unarmoured cruisers. In the manœuvres last year the Admiral of one Fleet not having unarmoured cruisers detached armoured cruisers to do scouting work, and they were captured by the enemy. The contention of the Admiralty was that wireless telegraphy had lessened the necessity for a large supply of cruisers, but he did not think that was true. The only thing that wireless telegraphy did was to enable them to keep the Fleet further off, but it did not lessen the number of eyes required. Their eyes only covered a given distance and they were in exactly the same position now in regard to sighting the enemy as they were before the invention of wireless telegraphy.
§ MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON (Lanarkshire, N.W.)
said there had been for some time a serious complaint as to the position and prospects of the Navy medical service. He urged that there should be some revision of the pay of the members of that service with the view of attracting the higher graduates of the medical schools of the country. Another more immediate point was the necessity for giving Navy medical officers when on leave encouragement and help to study and take courses in hospitals on shore in surgery and public health. We were rather lacking in that respect, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give the Committee some assurance in regard to meeting this growing want. Then, as regarded the coastguard, he was glad to think that wiser counsels had prevailed and that the question of the proposed abolition of that body was at any rate in abeyance. But there was some lingering doubt in regard to the matter from the statement of the Secretary to the Admiralty that there was to be a still further reduction of what were called redundant stations. He did not see that there were many redundant stations, and he would like to get at what the right hon. Gentleman meant by that phrase. Last July six to eight stations had been abolished, and they were led to believe that since then three more stations had been closed. He wanted to know what further reductions was actually contemplated and were any of them rocket-stations? If so, what 1165 provision was to be made for working the rocket apparatus? On the general question he agreed broadly with the position which the right hon. Gentleman had stated, subject to certain reservations. He referred to the pre-"Dreadnought" period. In the first place it was hardly fair from the point of view of experts and cost that the "Lord Nelson" and "Agamemnon" should be placed on all-fours with battleships. In the second place, they could not count the "Invincible" class in two ways—sometimes as equivalent to battleships and sometimes as first-class cruisers. In the third place, the right hon. Gentleman had said in regard to the Home Fleet—he did not refer to the Nore Fleet—that it was in instant readiness for sea service. The excuse the right hon. Gentleman made was, no doubt, very accurate—viz., that when ships came in for refit, nucleus crews would be kept on board while refitting was going on, if they were in commission. But if the ships were in commission, they had to be attached to some fleet and that was the Reserve Fleet. Therefore, when those ships were refitting it could not be said that they were in readiness for war. The same thing applied in a lesser degree, but still applied, to the case of ships with nucleus crews. It was all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to say that these vessels would be ready to go to sea within twenty-four hours, but it could not be alleged seriously that a ship with a nucleus crew could go to sea as an effective fighting force ready for war in relation to other vessels which were in continuous commission. As to battleships and cruisers, it was not only in regard to readiness in time of war that cruisers were required. The Committee should remember—as had been pointed out by the hon. Member for King's Lynn —that no Admiral would risk the employment of those large and valuable cruisers on ordinary cruiser service, not only in time of war, but in time of peace, in the outer parts of the Empire. He urged the point as to the importance of showing the flag in our distant possessions, because he did not know whether there was any likelihood of an immediate fulfilment of half hopes held out last year in regard to the matter. Members who had lived 1166 in the outer dominions of His Majesty beyond the seas, as he had, or had visited them, knew the deep feeling, not wholly sentimental, which existed; therefore some such provision as this should be made. He fully recognised that it was more difficult, as the result of the policy of concentration, than it used to be for diplomatic and other reasons to show the flag. From the point of view of the Admiralty in case of emergency or the outbreak of war, they could not afford to have large ships of fighting force in widely extended parts of the Empire. Another objection was that they could not afford to have on the fighting list ships, which in case of emergency or war, would not form an effective fighting force. These propositions were true, but they pointed the moral that the Admiralty should seriously consider the expediency and necessity of arranging for a new type of ship or a reversion to the old type of ship with a comparatively light armament and provision for carrying a considerable complement of marines. He maintained that these patrol services were necessary; and if considerations of expense and strategy forbade the employment for that purpose of highly valuable and efficient fighting ships which might be wanted in the area of concentration, the only way to carry out these services was by a new type of ship. He asked the right hon. Gentleman if when he replied, he would be able to give an assurance that some steps would be taken in that direction, or that the problem would be seriously considered. In regard to new construction, he could not add usefully to the speeches already made further than to say that the Secretary to the Admiralty and his advisers were relying largely, and were entitled to rely, upon the relative superior quickness in construction which we p assessed compared with other Powers. But he thought it was possible to over-emphasise—as was shown in the case of the "Nassau"—the superior advantages which we were alleged to possess. Moreover, it was impossible to minimise the disturbance, both financial and industrial, which would be caused by having a construction programme carried out by a series of jumps—slow in one year and at an alarming rate in another year. Subject to that general proposition he would 1167 point out very earnestly that a similar remark did not hold good in regard to the construction of Naval bases. In that regard we had no superior advantage; we were rather at a disadvantage because owing, he ventured to think, to the financial prudery or financial righteousness of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the cost of these works had now to be borne as a charge on the Estimates and was, therefore, subject, or might be subject, in any given year to the pressure of political partisans. German charges of that kind were not borne on the Navy Estimates. For instance, the charges for the widening of Kiel Canal amounting last year to £754,000 and this year to £978,000, were not borne on the German Navy Estimates at all. That fact was often omitted in estimating the comparative naval expenditure of Germany and this country. He wished to express great satisfaction that the Government had now decided to proceed with the works at Rosyth, although he regretted that it had not been found possible to proceed at a faster rate, as the Admiralty were only spending this year £35,000. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent had raised a suggestion that there were serious engineering difficulties in the way, but he had been unable to get any substantial confirmation of the hon. Member's statement. He thought that the Committee would be glad if they could get some assurance from the Civil Lord that progress would be made as rapidly as was possible. While it was true, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean had said, that the change in centres of strategy, and the terror which was added to naval warfare by floating mines, had made a base in the North Sea absolutely necessary, it was possible that there might be changes of centres of strategy in years to come, and that in the near future, say in ten or twelve years, with the completion of the Panama Canal, we might have to consider whether we should not require, not a place of arms, but a point d'appui or a jumping off place in the Carribean. He thought that these points were likely to be overshadowed by questions of shipbuilding, and yet they were even of more importance, because they required more prudence in laying down and 1168 initiating, and more foresight, in order that the work might be begun in a sufficient margin of time to allow of its completion in case of necessity. The hon. Member who represented the Admiralty, was understood to say that "sufficient for the day was the programme thereof." That was not an old doctrine, but it was a very pernicious one, and one which if it was worked out to its ultimate fulfilment meant not only possible danger in the immediate future, but, as the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had pointed out, the absolute certainty of more expenditure in the long run. And when the Civil Lord attacked his hon. friend the Member for Fareham for his use of the phrase "disastrous cheeseparings," he would remind the Committee that if these cheeseparings, which were not denied, were going to be continued, and next year, and in the years to come made up by corresponding outpourings, then the possibility of disaster might be brought home to them, and in a manner which they must all recognise it would be exceedingly unpleasant to contemplate.
§ MR. NUTTALL (Lancashire, Stretford)
said that he had to ask for the indulgence usually accorded to Members speaking within those walls for the first time. According to the remarks which had been made by the hon. Member for King's Lynn the Navy was in a very sad state indeed, and he should go away from the House very much depressed if he did not know that other competent persons held opinions of an entirely opposite character. They all desired to maintain a strong and efficient Navy, but he thought they were entitled to ask the Government for a more clear and definite statement of the nation's requirements and the contingencies they were likely to have to meet than they had yet had. In past times it was the custom to reduce the number of men on the conclusion of peace, and he trusted that this might be done, coupled with keeping a very firm hand on new construction, which, as the Secretary to the Admiralty had informed them, was where retrenchment must begin. Alarmists in their periodic panics, he might almost say their chronic panics, seemed to forget that the Powers of Europe were too much engaged with 1169 Continental affairs to be at liberty to trouble us very much, and that, he held, had been our safeguard in the past, ever since we had withdrawn from armed intervention in the affairs of Europe. Ten years ago this country was third on the list in total expenditure on armaments, but in 1907 our expenditure was larger than that of any other Power, and this was exclusive of £20,000,000 spent on the Indian Army. Various analyses showed that we possessed a naval strength equal at least to any three Powers of Europe put together, and in one direction it was asserted that we had a strength of four to one. It had been shown in great detail by various experts who had studied the question that in regard to the number and tonnage of ships, the age of ships, and in various other ways, we possessed that superiority. That was confirmed he thought by the statement of the First Sea Lord, who said that the fleet assembled in the North Sea last year was the most powerful one in the world. Lord Brassey in his statement prepared for the London Chamber of Commerce confirmed this by stating that we had more warships in commission in 1906 than the whole of Europe put together, and no attempt had been made to disprove those calculations or to analyse them. On introducing the Navy Estimates last year the Secretary to the Admiralty told them that in the spring of 1909 we should have six battleships and three cruisers of the new type afloat, and at that time neither France nor Germany would have a single ship to meet them. In 1910, he said, we should have nine battleships and three cruisers of the new type, against a total of France and Germany of six battleships and two cruisers. That would be eight against twelve, which would be equal to a three-Power standard. The Secretary to the Admiralty told them this year that in 1910 France and Germany might possibly have twelve, which would make us equal to a two-Power standard. It must be remembered that the German programme was at present a paper one, and he thought a study of past history would lead to the conclusion that in view of the complications which were arising in various parts of the world the tendency of events was more likely to be in our favour than against us. 1170 Who, two years ago, would have believed that differences would arise between Japan and the United States? Capital was said to be timid, but surely—if we had not become enfeebled by our enormous accumulations of wealth—we might feel safe with a smaller preponderance than three or four to one. This country had been continually accelerating the pace, but there was no evidence that we should have to meet three or even two Powers. What crimes had we committed that we should anticipate such a combination against us? Our relations with all the Powers of the world were never so satisfactory as they were to-day, and there were no outstanding differences with any nation. He submitted that here was an opportunity which should not be lost of taking an important lead in checking the competition in armaments. The Naval Estimates, however, showed an increase of 19,400 men since 1899 and provision was made in Vote 8, for six new protected cruisers. According to the Dilke Return for 1907 England had twenty-one first-class protected cruisers while Germany, France, and Russia had only fourteen; of second-class protected cruisers England had forty-five, while France, Germany, and Russia had only thirty, which equalled a three-Power standard in those ships. The hon. Member for Gravesend in the course of a recent debate had spoken of our building against Germany and the United States, but we must remember that they had a population of 150,000,000 against our 42,000,000, and if we endeavoured to compete with them we should soon come to ruin. It would be far more sensible, instead of setting the pace in new construction, to agree to a convention exempting private property from, capture at sea in time of war, and to cultivate amity with our English-speaking cousins in the United States. It was not surprising that foreign Powers desired to strengthen their fleets while we opposed such a convention and built commerce destroyers. It had been said that such a convention might be broken, but he thought England and America together could guarantee its maintenance. Such a convention was supported at the Hague Conference in 1889 and again last year by all the Governments of the world except those of England and France, and it had the support of 164 Members of that House, 1171 who presented a memorial to several Cabinet Ministers, urging that reform before the Conference was held. This was not generally known at the time, because they did not wish to embarrass the Government. The peoples of the world, he believed, were in advance of the Cabinets of the different countries, and he held the opinion that if an international plebiscite of all the manufacturers, merchants, shipowners and workmen in the world were taken there would be an overwhelming majority in favour of such a convention. The economic bearing of this question of armaments on our general prosperity was most serious, and the would only be fully realised when we reached the next periodic depression of trade. There would be a smaller revenue, and any foreign complications might carry the present income-tax of 1s. to 2s. In its particular application the question was most important to the more prosperous classes. Old-age pensions had been promised, and the cost of them would extend and grow. How would the money be raised?
§ MR. NUTTALL
said he wished to show on what class the large extension of expenditure was likely to fall.
said they could not deal with questions of taxation now, but only with questions of expenditure.
§ MR. NUTTALL
said the people were awaking to greater interest in public affairs of which there was evidence in the establishment of the new party on the Benches opposite, below the gangway. He thought the House would find that interest would grow and make itself felt more in the future than it had done in the past, both in regard to expenditure on armaments and on other questions. Reasons could always be found for piling up combustible material to the danger of the peace of the world. He trusted the Government would reduce the number of men and hold new construction severely in check as they safely could do for a year, and then reconsider the position.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
In all his aspirations for diminished expenditure and continued peace the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has the hearty sympathy of every Member of the House. But I listened in vain throughout his interesting remarks for any of that close calculation of the dangers that we may conceivably have in future, and of the ways of meeting them, which would seem to be the only relevant argument in the debate at the present moment. I cannot derive consolation like the hon. Gentleman from the reflection that the Continental Powers, have so much to do, are so concerned in quarrelling with each other that they have not time to quarrel with us. At all events, they have time to spend vast sums of money on ships of the most recent form of construction, and they have the time and money to frame their Budgets upon calculations, which certainly do not omit the future of the British Fleet from their purview; and I think the House will require from the Government some more explicit calculation of the dangers we have to deal with than that which is supplied by any number of generalisations, however amiable in intention or unexceptionable in statement. I rise to deal very briefly with such points as were touched upon in the debate with the Speaker in the Chair, and which have been raised again in more elaborate form by the right hon. Gentleman who represents the Admiralty in the House, and by other gentlemen who have spoken. The first point is one of nomenclature—I refer to the constitution of the Home Fleet. The right hon. Gentleman who represents the Admiralty has told the House that the Home Fleet consists of three divisions—the Fleet at the Nore which is fully manned, the Fleet at Portsmouth and elsewhere which has nucleus crews, and the Reserve Squadron, with which I have nothing to do to-day. What I wish most to refer to is that portion of the Home Fleet which is at Portsmouth and other Channel ports. The right hon. Gentleman claimed for this portion of the Home Fleet that it could be ready for sea in twenty-four hours or not much more. If that is his view he ought not to count in the Fleet the ships which come home from foreign 1173 stations, and which are kept undergoing repair, though with nucleus crews, for some months, because manifestly, even with a nucleus crew, if a ship requires to be under repair for some months, you cannot count it as being potentially ready for sea in twenty-four hours.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Did not the right hon. Gentleman say that all the ships of the Home Fleet had nucleus crews and that they would be ready for sea in twenty-four hours?
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he had distinctly stated that each of the ships in the Home Fleet that had nucleus crews must be counted as in commission. There must be some misapprehension altogether. Ships in repair were no more fit for the Home Fleet than they were for the Channel Fleet or for any other Fleet. The fact whether a ship under repair was to be one of the Home Fleet was determined by this consideration, namely, was it desirable to have a nucleus crew on board. As to nucleus crews it was a mere matter of administrative convenience. The nucleus crew was a real crew, and must be in commission, it must be under orders, and must be under the commander-in-chief. Therefore, for purposes of convenience, ships which were under repair, but which had nucleus or skeleton crews, were regarded as belonging to the Home Fleet. He had never pretended that ships in the Home Fleet, or any other fleet, which were under repair could be counted as ready for war or ready for sea in twenty-four hours. They would not be counted as ready until the repairs were completed.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Take that, and how does the matter stand? I am dealing with that portion of the Home Fleet which has nucleus crews. When 1174 the right hon. Gentleman on certain occasions deals with them he describes them as an effective part of the Reserve Fleet. He now tells us that those ships which have nucleus crews are, in accordance with one of the mysteries of the Lords of the Admiralty, counted as in commission, although not fit to go to sea.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Very well. Observe that by that method all the ships which come home from foreign stations for repairs, or a certain proportion of them at all events, may be within this category, and the result of that is that there is a very much larger proportion of ships in commission in the Home Fleet which cannot go to sea, than there is in any other Fleet. In other words, two out of every three battleships at Portsmouth at this moment, which have nucleus crews and count as part of the Home Fleet, are ships which cannot go to sea, and cannot be counted, therefore, as part of our available strength. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not think that I am charging the Admiralty with erroneous administration in this matter. I have not the least doubt that that is the best way of dealing with ships. They have to be brought home to repair, and it may be right that they should have nucleus crews upon them, and, therefore, it may be quite proper that they should be regarded as ships in commission. But are we to be in the habit of describing this Home Fleet, with nucleus crews, as being a part of our actual available resources? If it be true, as my hon. friend the Member for Fareham says it is true, that two out of three of the Portsmouth battleships are under repair, does not that require us to qualify the sanguine statements for which I think the right hon. Gentleman is in part responsible, but which I quite admit do not at all reflect on the Admiralty though it might reflect on the Admiralty exposition of the facts? Although I think that this is relatively an unimportant matter, yet it may deceive hasty naval critics. But we come to a question of much greater importance when we deal with the general amount 1175 of the Estimates for this year, taken in relation to the general liabilities of the country in naval matters, not only in this year but in the years to come. Broadly speaking, what are our naval liabilities, what is the magnitude of our naval responsibilities? They fall into two classes broadly—the construction of new works and the construction of new ships. These are the two items upon which I am going to touch. The construction of new works, in the main, is the construction of docks for new vessels of the "Dreadnought" type at Portsmouth, and still more, and of incomparably greater importance in my opinion, the construction at Rosyth of a naval base for the North Sea. The Government have done very little since they came into office in dealing with Rosyth. I think the right hon. Gentleman thought it worth while to criticise the late Government in regard to this before they went out of office. The right hon. Gentleman did not treat these matters controversially, and I do not wish to treat them controversially. But let me observe that the necessity for Rosyth increases year by year. The mere fact that the magnitude and strategical importance of floating mines has been recognised lately, and that foreign governments have refused to forbid them, are naval circumstances which add immensely to the importance of ports like Rosyth, which cannot be blockaded with the same facility as the Channel or Spithead. The immense naval construction which has gone on in other parts of the North Sea, and places adjacent to the North Sea, is also a new and pressing reason why we should not hesitate to spend large sums in hurrying on Rosyth, so as to make it adequate for the naval necessities of the country. And, therefore, not only do I regret that the Government have lost time in dealing with this great problem, but it seems to me that the importance of the problem itself, its imminence, and its insistence have greatly increased during the years in which the present Government have held office. That would have been a reason, as I think, why the First Lord of the Admiralty and his colleagues should have asked the Government whether they could not in this present year's Estimates put down a large sum for 1176 dealing with Rosyth. To which the reply might have been: "Fresh naval construction is so great and so pressing at the present moment that you do better to put off Rosyth for a year and press on with your naval programme." But that is not what the Government have done. They find themselves, rightly or wrongly, in this year 1908–1909, relieved from the obligation of indulging in any very ambitious programme for the construction of new ships. They think, rightly or wrongly, that the possible peril from foreign nations does not require expenditure upon the new construction of ships this year, whatever may be required next year or the year after. If that is the case, and for the moment I do not dispute it, I ask was-it not the part of wise and prudent men to take the opportunity this year, in which you have a slackness in new construction which will not be repeated— which nobody thinks can ever be repeated in the official lifetime of this Chancellor of the Exchequer, or of his immediate successbrs— to take this opportunity of getting on with those permanent works-for which it will be very difficult to get the House to vote the necessary money if they are met with a gigantic shipbuilding programme in 1909–10, 1910–11, and succeeding years? The Government have refused to follow this plainly prudent course, and they have done so, I cannot doubt, for political reasons. That is not, I think, an unkind suggestion to make after the debate we had this day week. They find themselves face to face with a very formidable body of their own friends who are apparently content with the statement of the Government that we were safe for the present as far as shipbuilding is concerned, and they have reduced the Naval Estimates this year by £1,250,000, I think it was, compared with two years ago; although the Chancellor of the Exchequer forgot to say what I think he must have known, that the £1,250,000 was going to be swallowed up by automatic increases, next year, and that, in addition to the automatic increases, it will be absolutely necessary for this Government—I do not care what their financial position will be—to lay down new ships and new construction on the largest scale if foreign nations carry out the programmes which 1177 they have announced. That is my first complaint, that the Government, having the prospect both of naval construction and of works construction to deal with in this and immediately succeeding years, in spite of the fact that they think themselves justified in being slack about construction in 1908–9, have refused to take that fortunate opportunity for meeting some of their obligations in permanent works. I pass to the other branch of the programme—namely, the necessities for new construction with which the taxpayers of this country are most unhappily faced in future. That new construction is required, and has partly been recognised in the present building programme of the Admiralty to be required, in order to meet what I cannot help regarding as our present deficiencies in the matter of fast vessels, fast cruisers and torpedo-boat destroyers. I need not dwell on this branch of the subject, which is very complicated, but I will ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he was not using an argument very perilous in its general character when he contented himself with a mere enumeration of the torpedo-boat destroyers of which we are possessed which are less than eleven years old. It is quite true that the Admiralty have laid down the life of a torpedo-boat destroyer as eleven years or thereabouts, and it is quite legitimate, therefore, for them to take credit for the possession of torpedo boat destroyers which are less than that critical age. But when you compare the number of torpedo-boat destroyers which we possess with those possessed by other Powers, you must not simply content yourselt with enumerating the destroyers which are less than eleven years old; you must ask how the age of our destroyers compares with the age of the destroyers of those countries with whom there might be some possibility, we hope infinitely remote, of conflict. The torpedo-boat destroyer resembles a living organism in this, that while its life may be only eleven years, its efficiency does not go on unimpaired until the clock strikes at the eleventh year; it is a rapidly diminishing quantity, and every year which brings it nearer to the fatal term, makes it more necessary to send it for longer periods into dock for repair, 1178 makes it more costly to repair it, and gives the country a fewer number of months out of the twelve in which to count on its efficient use. I believe the Admiralty are perfectly aware that no mere enumeration of the number of torpedo-boat destroyers under eleven years which we have, as compared with that of other Powers, gives us any sense of the relative strength of the parties. If we with old destroyers have got to contend against a Power with new destroyers, you cannot count them as being equal one to one; and you must get a great margin of superiority over the bare numerical enumeration of that Power which has been fortunate enough to begin its construction late and has, therefore, the largest number of the most recent and powerful types, and the types least needing repair, at its hand for any naval purpose. I will not go into the question, dealt with with conspicuous ability by the hon. and gallant Member for King's Lynn, of whether we who have got to operate at a great distance from our base ought to content ourselves with anything comparable with mere numerical equality in dealing with a Power which would not have to make any counter efforts, and would not be required to use its torpedo craft at any very great distance from its base. I am not sure that the Committee of this House is a very good arena in which to discuss these delicate tactical problems; but the point is one which I am sure the Admiralty must have considered, but on which they have not so far given us any information. I come to the more anxious question, or at all events that on which the majority of this Committee are likely to be more anxious—namely, the balance of battleships of the newest, most powerful, and effective types. The hon. and gallant Member for King's Lynn quoted some statement which he thinks I made, or which I did make, in 1906, regarding the construction of the "Dreadnought. I do not remember the statement. I fully accept the responsibility of having been a member of the Government which was responsible for the "Dreadnought" type, and from that responsibility I in no way shrink or recede. But the naval Lords, when they devised this type, told us, and I am sure they 1179 told our successors, that the "Dreadnought" type was one which made it very difficult to compare the strength of two fleets, one of which possessed "Dreadnoughts" and the other did not. We were told, in fact, that the country which possessed "Dreadnoughts" and the allied type of armoured cruisers might almost ignore the country which did not. Well, let us eliminate from our calculations for the future all battleships which are not of the "Dreadnought" and the allied armoured cruiser type, and consider how we are going to stand in regard to these, the most powerful, but unfortunately, the most costly instruments of war ever devised by man. The Government seems to be quite serene as to the number of ships which will be available when the programme of the coming year is completed, both in this country and in Germany. But have they reason for that content? I entirely agree with them when they say that at the present moment our strength in battleships is amply adequate to any conceivable strain that may be put upon it. But let us cast our eyes forward from the year 1908–9, when new ships are due to be laid down, to the year 1911, when those ships will be completed. As I understand the matter, we shall have, when the present programme of the Admiralty is completed, twelve ships of this superior type in existence in January, 1911.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said the right hon. Gentleman was not including the "Lord Nelson" and "Agamemnon" types.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not include them. On what principle am I to include them? I am surely justified by everything we said on the advice of our naval experts when we were in office, and by everything the right hon. Gentleman has said up to this year on the same advice, in considering the "Dreadnought" and the "Invincible" type as on one side of a dividing line, and even the best of every previous type of battleship as on the other side. I take that classification, and I am justified in taking it.
§ MR. BELLAIRS
said the right hon. Gentleman was including two for this 1180 year, but they were not certain of that. As far as they knew it was only one.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman on that point did less than justice to the Admiralty. It is quite true that the right hon. Gentleman did not say what the type of vessel was to be. I certainly have understood from rumour, and, I think, from some previous utterances of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that these two ships are to be of this new and finest type. At all events, I will assume that we are to have two of this type laid down this year, or, as I think more probable, one "Dreadnought," and one "Invincible." We shall have in January, 1911, twelve ships altogether of this new type— eight "Dreadnoughts" and four "Invincibles." The Germans, on the same date, January, 1911, at the same rate of construction, will have nine. But now carry your thoughts a few months later, and you will find that by the autumn of the same year, 1911, the Germans will have four additional ships of the new type; in other words, they will have thirteen, while we shall only have twelve. That difference arises from the fact that we begin our construction in December of each year, and the Germans begin their construction in June. Therefore, if the Germans build at the same rate as we do, there is evidently a dangerous margin in the last six months of each year which you will have very carefully to weigh to compare the results of the building programmes of the two nations. It may be said that the Germans do not build as fast; and I earnestly hope it is true, for a reason which will meet with the sympathy of the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, and of everybody who desires to see, as we all must, the Navy Estimates kept as low as is consistent with the national safety. If we find that we can build as fast as our neighbours, of course, we ran wait until we see the sort of ships our neighbours start before we start any of our own. But if by organisation and industrial improvement—in which some foreign nations are showing as great an aptitude as ourselves—they begin to have a power of turning out ships as fast as we can turn them out, then the immense advantage we have had—an advantage 1181 which has made for economy and peace —vanishes; and we have to face the fact that other great Naval Powers build ships as fast as we do, and build apparently with the consistent determination rapidly to augment the number of first-class ships which they have at their command. The Germans have announced that they mean to build four big ships—three "Dreadnoughts" and one "Invincible"—every year. We propose only to lay down two such ships. Manifestly, unless this programme of ours is rapidly augmented, is changed immensely and immediately, the Germans would be building twice as many ships of this capital type as we are; and consequently the time is not only not far distant, but imminent, when in regard to that particular type of vessel they will be, not our equal, but our superior. I should like to put this plain question to the right hon. Gentleman; and it is a question easy to answer. If the Germans can build as fast as we can, will they not have, in the autumn of 1911, thirteen ships of the "Dreadnought" and "Invincible" type; and can the right hon. Gentleman show us any possible means by which we, in the autumn of 1911, should also have thirteen "Dreadnoughts" and "Invincibles." I understand that we cannot have more than twelve in January, 1911, and that we cannot have another—unless we alter the date at which we begin our shipbuilding programme—until the January of the following year. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman—and I think he will admit it—that the last thing I want to do is to embarrass him or the Board of Admiralty. I have no wish to treat either of the great Departments of the Army or the Navy in a party spirit; and I do not think I have ever said a word in this House which would lead any one to hold a contrary view. But I think the right hon. Gentleman will see from the statement I have made that I feel the Government are open to criticism upon one point, and that there is real ground for anxiety upon another. The point upon which they are open to criticism is that in this year, when they have elected not to construct on a large scale, they are not spending money on necessary works; and my ground for alarm, which I honestly say has not been re- 1182 moved by anything I have heard in this debate, is that if German shipbuilding is now, or is going to be in the immediate future, as fast as our shipbuilding, whatever we may do next year, Germany will be superior to us during the later months of 1911 in ships of capital importance. I may say that if the Government can reasure us on this plain issue of policy they will not only have few difficulties in Committee on the Navy Estimates, but they will have set the mind of the country at rest in regard to the most vital interest of national security.
§ MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)
said he thought that the debate the other night would have been sufficient to reassure the right hon. Gentleman to some degree that at any rate with regard to ships of the "Dreadnought" type we were at the present moment, with ships actually launched in the water and ships on the stocks, in a position of unquestionable superiority.
§ MR. LAMBERT
asked whether it did not follow that if this country was in a position of unquestionable superiority now, it could not, with its unequalled capacity for shipbuilding, build at any rate, as fast as any foreign Power. The Admiralty could not consent to rule out the "Lord Nelson" and the "Agamemnon." These ships would not be commissioned until April.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said he was not a naval expert, but, in the opinion of the Admiralty, these ships had good fighting qualities.
§ MR. LAMBERT
thought they would be able to give a good account of themselves. He might point out to the Leader of the Opposition that the hon. Member for King's Lynn had spoken very highly of these ships. The right hon. Gentleman was quite ready to quote the hon. Member for King's Lynn when it 1183 suited his purpose, but he did not quote the same hon. Member's opinion in regard to ships of the "Lord Nelson" and "Agamemnon" type as compared with "Dreadnought." It was said the other day that Germany had six of these big ships on the stocks. This country had seven in the water and three on the stocks. Surely that showed that at the present moment we were in a position of unquestionable superiority; and, being in that position, did it not follow that if it were required we could at least compete in building with any of our foreign neighbours? The right hon. Gentleman calculated that Germany, with only six ships now on the stocks, would have thirteen ships fully commissioned by the end of 1911, if certain contingencies happened. He could not give the opinion of the Admiralty on such a point. It could only be a hypothetical opinion. But even supposing the right hon. Gentleman's estimate of the strength of the German Navy at the end of 1911 were accepted, it would mean that Germany would complete thirteen armoured ships within three years and four months. He thought that was a complete reply to the alarm of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. BELLAIRS
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the figures of the Leader of the Opposition are really the figures of the Secretary to the Admiralty?
§ MR. LAMBERT
said he would deal with his hon. friend later. The right hon. Gentleman had also attacked the Admiralty on the question of destroyers. He could only repeat what had already been said, that, in the opinion of their expert advisers at the Admiralty, the number of destroyers to be laid down the year was ample for the country's needs. The right hon. Gentleman had said that they ought to have foreseen the slackness in construction. But he was not sure there had been any slackness this year. The Secretary to the Admiralty had shown they were spending this year a very large sum, greater in proportion to other years, on new construction.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)
said that the Secretary to 1184 the Admiralty drew a distinction between the new construction and the new programme. On new construction less was being spent this year than in any past year. It was in regard to the new programme that the Secretary to the Admiralty gave figures to show that a little more was being spent.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said he had the figures showing the amount we were spending on the new programme, but surely if he said that we were spending as much as the advisers of the Admiralty considered it advisable to spend that ought to be enough. There were really so many naval experts in the House, there were so many ways of manipulating figures, that he regarded it as very difficult indeed to reply to the different calculations and combinations of calculations that were made from the benches opposite. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had said that the Government ought to go on faster with Rosyth, but he must know that a great engineering work involving an expenditure of £3,000,000 must take a certain amount of time in connection with the placing of contracts, getting the particulars of the borings and the information which was necessarily incidental before the work could be economically and profitably started. He wished to say a word about the right hon. Gentleman's criticism of the Home Fleet. The right hon. Gentleman had said that of the battleships at Portsmouth two out of three were not fit to be instantly sent to sea. That was a mistake. The "Canopus" would be completed at the end of April, the "Jupiter" and the "Prince George" were completed. The hon. Member for the Fareham Division had attacked the Admiralty rather severely on the question of repairs of the Home Fleet. If hon. Members wanted accurate information he would ask them to give notice of the exact points they wished to know about in regard to the disposition of the ships. There was hardly a man he believed in the Admiralty who could tell off-hand where the ships were and what they were doing.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
I made a statement as to the position of certain ships, and the hon. Gentleman went out of his way to deny the truth of my statement. I pointed out that the figures he gave were not accurate.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said he had to get the information on the spur of the moment from the advisers of the Admiralty as to the battleships instantly ready at the Nore, and he gave the hon. Gentleman the information given to him by those officials. He left the House to judge whether these officials would be right or the hon. Gentleman. He thought the officials were right.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
The hon. Gentleman questions my veracity in the matter. I took steps personally to verify the position of the ships the day after the hon. Gentleman made the statement, and I found that my statement was correct and his was wrong.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said he made the statement on the authority of the Admiralty officials, and he could not do better than that. The extraordinary fact which seemed to come out of these debates was that British ships required repairs. Did not the ships of foreign navies require repairs? It was the case because our ships were often in the dock that they were in such a state of good repair. As naval efficiency was a relative matter, surely if we kept our ships in repair foreign ships to be equal to ours must be kept in repair and therefore must be docked also. The criticism of the hon. Member for King's Lynn was that a large spasmodic programme deranged industry and upset finance. What about the building of ships which were not wanted? That would derange industry and upset finance more. The hon. Member said that we were getting a "Dreadnought" cheap this year. But supposing we put out five more, would we get them cheap?
§ MR. LAMBERT
said that surely after all the "Dreadnought" was not the last word to be said in shipbuilding? There were improvements going on, and when the hon. Gentleman pressed for details in regard to the new cruiser to be laid down under this year's programme he would say that after all the Admiralty might be allowed to get all the possible experience they could from the Admiralty experts, so that when the ship was laid down it 1186 would be the very best that could be laid down.
§ MR. BELLAIRS
I did not ask details. I asked whether the ship would be of the large armoured type or not.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said that of course the ship would be of the large armoured type. The Germans launched the first of the "Dreadnought" series on Saturday last. That ship was in the German naval programme of 1906. What was the position of the ships in our 1906 programme? The "Bellerophon" was launched in July, 1907, the "Temeraire" in August, 1907, and the "Superb" in September, 1907. The Admiralty was attacked by the hon. Member for King's Lynn on the subject of repairs. He quoted the figures relating to 1903–4, and that was most misleading. In that year the repairs were put out to contract and that proved expensive. Then it was before the policy came in of scrapping ships. If they had not so many ships to maintain, there were not so many repairs. Of course, the policy of scrapping ships led to an enormous diminution in repairs, and it was absolutely unfair to compare the present year with 1903–4. The hon. Gentleman had said that there was a large amount in the Estimates for repairs. His right hon. friend the Secretary to the Admiralty was insistent in putting in a large sum for repairs. Last year he put in more than his official adviser asked him to put in, and at the end of last session the Government were bitterly attacked for allowing the Home Fleet to get out of repair. He himself had to come down to the House, with a list of ships which were alleged in the Press to be unfit for fighting purposes, in order to show that they were absolutely ready. The hon. Member for the Fareham Division had criticised them for spending £60,000 for the repair of the "Terrible." Last year the charge was brought against them that the "Terrible" was in dock at Portsmouth, and that she was not being repaired. It was suggested in the Press which supported the hon. Gentleman that we must not have so much advertisement of the gunnery of the fleet. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that, that suggestion would be borne in mind, but after all was said and done, the policy pursued by the Board of Admiralty had improved the gunnery of the 1187 Fleet enormously. The hon. Gentleman had asked about oil fuel, and the getting of stores as much as possible within British territory. He could not divulge all the negotiations that were going on in these matters. It was only ten days ago that they were engaged in consulting the India Office on that very subject. He hoped that he would not be pressed further on that point. He had been asked whether the "Lusitania" and the "Mauretania" had completed their tests The contract conditions had been fulfilled in long trial; round our own coasts, and whilst awaiting confirmation of these results in actual ocean passage, the Admiralty had felt fully justified in making the necessary provision in the Estimate. The hon. Member for North-West Lancashire had asked questions in regard to the coastguard and the Navy Medical Service. He understood that an hon. Gentleman would raise the question of the coastguard later on, and he would, therefore, postpone his reply on that subject. As to the Navy Medical Service he assured the hon. Gentleman that the Admiralty were always ready to receive criticisms with the view to the improvement of the Navy.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I rise particularly in order to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty to the fact that we have had no answer whatever to the very grave point which was raised by my right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition. The Civil Lord said he deprecated these references to foreign Powers, but after all, it is by reference to the strength of the navies of foreign Powers, as the Secretary to the Admiralty informed us the other day, that this House and the Government must judge of the efforts which are required on our own behalf. We cannot avoid these references, but we hope we make them in a tone which will cause no legitimate offence in other nations. What is the answer which the hon. Gentleman attempted to make to my right hon. friend who asked the very simple question: If the Germans build as quickly as we do, will they not have by the period of 1911 thirteen of the "Invincible" and "Dreadnought" class 1188 of ships to our twelve? What is the answer which the hon. Gentleman attempted to make to that question? He said that our present position in regard to this class of ships is perfectly satisfactory. No one has ever challenged that. He seems to think that at some stage or another we had challenged our present security. We have never done anything of the kind. But we must look forward as wise and prudent men would look forward. You cannot build a battleship in a day; you cannot improvise a battleship; and, therefore, what should be considered now is our position, not at this moment, but two or three years hence; that is, at the time when the ships we are laying down and other Powers are laying down will be ready for effective use. Let the Government, therefore, disabuse their minds of the idea that it is part of our contention that at the present moment we are deficient in ships of the "Dreadnought" and "Invincible" class. But, the hon. Gentleman said, "Let the right hon. Gentleman remember that we have a superiority now, and as we can build as fast as any other Power, shall we not always be able to maintain our superiority?" Yes, but that has to be demonstrated. The question, however, is whether you are taking the steps to do so now? If we lay down as many ships as other nations do, we shall have at the end of any period you like to name as great a margin of security over them as at the present time. But are you laying down as many ships as this foreign Power? Of course we are not. The German Government, not by annual Vote, but under legislation, are contemplating a programme to extend over a period of years, of laying down four ships a year, and you are only laying down two this year and you are not going to lay down four next year.
§ MR. LAMBERT
The reason is that our Naval programme is larger than the German Naval programme of 1906.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Gentleman's answer is quite irrelevant. We are not concerned with the German 1906 programme. I am concerned with what will be the position of affairs at the beginning of 1910 and 1189 the beginning of 1911, and particularly the middle of 1911. What will be the German position in the middle of 1911? The hon. Gentleman says that that is a hypothetical question, and that he is quite certain the Committee will not expect him to answer it. But the figures given by my right hon. friend as to the position at that time, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for King's Lynn, were practically the figures given by the Secretary to the Admiralty. The Secretary to the Admiralty admits that if the Germans accelerate their programme, as they can, there will be twelve German ships of this capital type against twelve of ours, at the beginning of 1911. Now, we want to know, and this is a simple question which the hon. Gentleman or his colleague can easily answer: "Will there not be on 1st August in the same year another of those ships launched, on the same hypothesis, without a counterbalancing ship having been launched on our side?" Will there not be, therefore, if the Admiralty pursues the normal course of their programme, a period in 1911 when Germany will be superior to this country in capital ships? That is a fair question, germane to the questions already dealt with. We are only asking the hon. Gentleman to cast his eye six months further forward than he has done; and we are entitled to know from the Admiralty if that is a correct anticipation; and if so, what steps they are going to take to meet it. The hon. Gentleman attempted to prove that we need have no fear of German acceleration. I do not think that is the view taken by his right hon. colleague. But at any rate, the case which the right hon. Gentleman adduced is wholly illusory. It is that a ship, contemplated in the 1906 programme, had only been launched the other day. The real question is, how fast the German Government can build? When was that ship laid down? It was laid down eight months ago and it was brought to that condition without any resort to overtime whatever. [An HON. MEMBER: What about the preparation beforehand?] We do just the same thing. The Committee is familiar with the fact that when our Government talk of launching a ship so many months 1190 after it has been laid down, they have been collecting materials for it beforehand. It is certain that the Germans have been accelerating the building of ships very much. It is certain that they will pay more and more attention to this matter. It is not likely that a nation so effective in organisation, industrial and military alike, is going to be content to lag far behind this country in that respect. I have seen somewhere, that the Germans have, as a matter of fact, caught us up in the rate of battleship construction. If our superiority in construction has given out, as is to be feared, we cannot afford to wait until they have laid down ships before we lay down our ships. This is a question of national safety; it is one of such gravity that I hope before this discussion closes we shall have some definite answer from the Admiralty representative, and not merely a rather shuffling evasion like that given by the hon. Gentleman. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh."] Well, I will not use so strong an expression; but I maintain that the answer of the hon. Gentleman is wholly illusory. There was no answer in the statement which the hon. Gentleman made. As I have intervened at this stage of the debate I want to say a word in regard to the finance of the Government programme. I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for correcting the figure which I gave a week ago on my own authority, but I ask, What is the position from a financial point of view? The right hon. Gentleman has told us that there will be automatic increases in the Navy Vote of £750,000; that an additional sum of £500,000 will be transferred from Loan to Vote, that we shall have to provide on the Annual Estimates, for the works at Rosyth and the great new lock at Portsmouth. Whatever may be the excuse for not making greater progress with them this year they must be proceeded with as rapidly as possible the moment they are began. And next year £500,000 will be required in addition to the small sum on this year's Estimates. We have there an addition of £1,250,000 to the amount mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. You are entitled to subtract from that amount £700,000 for refrigerating apparatus which will not 1191 be needed to be repeated next year. If not a single new ship were laid down next year, you will have also £360,000 to provide for new construction. But we all know you have got to lay down a very serious naval programme next year. I do not think it will be disputed in any quarter that the new programme of new construction will be much heavier than in the Estimates we are now considering. But supposing you proceed next year on exactly the same lines as you proceed this year in the Estimates, you will have in addition £1,750,000 as a minimum which must fall on the Estimates next year—that is using the figures supplied to me by the right hon. Gentleman, except the £500,000 for Rosyth and Portsmouth. You have to face that increase instead of that stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day in order to meet the requests of his friends below the gangway and in order to present a favourable Budget and bring forward social reforms. With these enormous liabilities in front of you, with these great additional burdens next year and the succeeding year, you must provide new ships and new construction. Therefore, I say that apart from the question of naval safety and the sufficiency of this year's programme, there is here a financial position which is unsound, unthrifty, and is overburdening succeeding years for the purpose of getting a temporary advantage this year.
§ MR. J. M. MACDONALD (Falkirk Burghs)
in moving to reduce the Vote by 8,000 men, said that he hoped to carry the discussion into narrower lines than those on which it had so far been conducted. Last year in the discussion of these Estimates, much had been said in favour of the view that the governing factor in determining the amount of naval expenditure was the Shipbuilding Vote. He took leave to question the view. He would take the Vote for new construction eleven years ago, and this year. Eleven years ago the amount was £7,166,000, and this year it was £7,545,000, an increase of nearly £400,000; but against this increase there was in the same period, in the Votes 1, 2, and 3, an increase of no less than £3,500,000, or considerably more than one half of the three Votes taken 1192 together in 1897–8. These figures seemed to him to justify the contention of the editor of the Naval Annual, when he said that "the steady and continuous increase for many years in the permanent forces of the Navy, had been largely responsible for the increase in Naval Votes." The total number of men which the Committee was asked to sanction this year under Vote A. was 128,000, the same number as that asked for last year. The number voted for the German Navy last year was 46,936, and for the French Navy 56,800. Thus our numbers exceeded the numbers of the German Navy by 81,000, of the French Navy by 71,000, and of the two navies combined by 24,000. He asked his right hon. friend how it was that he justified the maintenance of a force so enormously above the two Power standard which, they had been told, the Government accepted as the measure of its requirements. He thought they had a right to some explanation upon this point from his right hon. friend. Then, again, Vote I., which war the Vote for wages, showed an increase this year of £260,000. But the number of men was exactly the same as last year. The increase of the money Vote was, therefore, automatic in character and was due to the fact that there were more men and officers in the more highly paid classes of the service than there were last year. But last year they also had an increase in this Vote of £138,700 due to the same cause. He made no complaint with the form of this increase, but he should like to know when the e automatic increases would cease and the new scale of expenditure would come into full operation He asked this question in connection with two items in Vote 1, of which he should like to have some explanation. They were asked this year to vote fifteen more naval cadets than last year, and 144 more than they were asked to vote in 1905–06. They were also asked to vote 430 more boys under training of the seaman class. Now these additions to the strength of the Navy, small though they were, meant inevitable increases in Vote 1 and the cognate Votes in future years. Why were they made? He wished to put another question resting upon Lord Brassey's statement in a letter to 1193 The Times of 10th February, that we had more men than we required to man our up-to-date ships. Was it, or was it not, true that we could man all our combatant vessels with the same number of men that we had in 1898–9? He had made out a calculation based upon the Dilke Return. He took every vessel in that Return credited to our fleet except the torpedo boats and the submarines. He had given to each vessel a crew, he believed, considerably above the real average. He had credited all the first class battleships with average crews of 800, the armed cruisers with crews of 700, the first-class protected cruisers with crews of 500, the second-class protected cruisers with crews of 200, the third-class protected cruisers with crews of 150, the scouts with 150, the torpedo vessels with sixty, and the torpedo destroyers with sixty. He had on that basis come to the conclusion that we could man everyone of the ships included in the Dilke Return, with 101,880 men, and that bore out Lord Brassey's contention that we could man our combatant vessels with the same number of men that we had in 1898–9, or ten years ago. If that calculation was even approximately accurate, what became of the 26,000 not afloat? There was only one argument which could be advanced as far as he knew, for keeping oar Fleet on full war footing, as undoubtedly it had been kept during recent years, and that was that our crews must be more perfectly trained than they formerly were. That was a quite unanswerable argument so far as certain classes of men employed in our ships were concerned. It was a good argument for example in the case of the gunners, but 20 to 25 per cent. of the total of our crews were employed for the purpose of conveying ammunition to the guns. The long training of this class of men could not be really essential to the welfare of the Fleet. They could in time of peace be reduced enormously and passed more rapidly into the reserve than they were at the present moment, very much to the economy of our finances, and he believed with no detriment at all to the fighting character of our Fleet. He summed up by stating that he wanted to know (1) Why we maintained a per- 1194 manent force of men which exceeded the German Navy by 81,000, and the French Navy by 71,000, and both those navies combined by 24,000; (2) When the new scale of expenditure under Vote 1 would come into full operation.; (3) Why they were asking for 144 naval cadets more this year than was asked for three years ago, and why they wanted 430 more boys under training of the seaman class than were asked for last year and lastly, whether it was or was not true that the whole fleet could be well manned with the numbers voted in 1898–9? He begged to move.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That 120,000 officers, seamen, and boys be employed for the said Services."— (Mr. J. M. Macdonald.)
§ MR. SMEATON (Stirlingshire)
said he was surprised that his hon. friend had raised this discussion again in Parliament after the very remarkable vote that was given a week ago. As a Scottish Member of the same political faith as the hon. Gentleman, he rose to oppose the Motion. The reduction of the vote by 8,000 men might be taken roughly to mean, judging by the standard number for each battleship estimated by his hon. friend a reduction of ten battleships. The hon. Member asked why keep up this mighty fleet? He could give him one momentous fact—one vital reason not only why the two-Power standard should be maintained, but why we should have the substantial margin to which his hon. friend took exception. Apart from the defence of our shores and our Colonies, and the protection of our vast over-sea trade, there was one momentous fact which had not been mentioned in these debates — he referred to our Conventions and agreements with foreign States. He had listened to all the speeches in this debate, but they were concerned solely with the contrast between our naval strength and that of a rival Power, the defence of this country and the Colonies, and the protection of our commerce. The point of view in all those speeches was the insurance given by the Navy against aggression; they never 1195 touched upon our agreements with foreign countries. Perhaps the most important of these was the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. The obligations under that alliance were practically world wide, and the e obligations were, under the alliance, to remain in force for the next eight, or nine and possibly ten or eleven years, during which we, in co-operation with Japan, would be responsible for the defence of the integrity of China by armed force, naval and military, and also for the defence in every part of the globe of the interests and rights of our ally Japan. Article I. of the instrument provided that if in the opinion of either our own country or in the opinion— right or wrong—of Japan any of those rights or interests were threatened, we should use our naval and military force to defend those interests of Japan which were menaced. That was perhaps the most important and vital Article of the whole Convention. This was to run until 1915, or, under certain conditions, until 1916; but there was this startling proviso — that if Japan was at war when the period of the alliance expired —the obligations which we had undertaken were to continue until peace was concluded. The terms of that instrument were extremely onerous; and when it was remembered that certain Powers were only awaiting the disruption of the loose, ill-assorted units of the Chinese Empire in order to appropriate a part of the wreckage, it could be conjectured what was the responsibility lying upon this country in view of the fact that in addition to the defence of Japanese rights and interests—which might not always be consistent with the independence of China—it had contracted for the next eleven, twelve, or thirteen years to defend the integrity of the Chinese Empire. That was surely a reason, if there was rone other, why we should maintain a sufficient reserve over the strength necessary for our own insurance. It was unfortunate, perhaps, that this necessity had been forced upon us. But there it was—there was no use blinking the fact. He did not wish to question the wisdom of that alliance. It was very easy to be wise after the event. He admitted freely that at the time it was made in August, 1905, the Liberal 1196 Party to which he belonged gave at least a conditional consent to its terms; but in any case the Government and the nation were bound by it. It was a great contract, and they were bound to abide by it. Some hon. Members said it was all nonsense— Japan would never need aid, that she was too exhausted by the tremendous waste and loss of the great war through which she had passed to be likely to again, try the arbitrament of war; that was all very well, but as the hon. Member for Fareham had observed the other day, our relations with foreign Powers were for ever shifting —nothing was truer than that—and the hon. Gentleman added that our friends of to-day might become our enemies tomorrow. What was truer than that? Surely, that helped to demonstrate the need of strengthening and maintaining the Reserve to which his hon. friend took exception. In surveying the possibilities for us under this Treaty with Japan, it was incumbent upon them to consider her present condition and aspirations. Japan had fought and won a great fight. She became a first class Power at the end of the war. The treaties which she made with us in 1902 and 1905 had enormously increased her prestige, and she was now capable of borrowing money on the security of those alliances. And what was she doing with it? They knew that she was preparing large naval and military armaments, while she was becoming a very powerful figure in the commercial and industrial world. Her military history was, they might say, the contemporary history of the world. She had a redundant population of thrifty and industrious people, but they found themselves cribbed cabined, and confined within their island domain, and the inevitable result was an intense longing for territorial expansion. They were left in the front rank by the war, and they considered themselves entitled to the international rights and privileges of a first rate Power. And here was the crux of the situation. Japan found her aspirations thwarted and barred by the invincible prejudice against the colour of her people. There lay the crux of the situation, and that would be the crux until some very remarkable event 1197 took place which would place Japan in a position where she could assume the rights and authority to which she now aspired. She was sensitive; her political temper was rising; she believed herself to be ungenerously treated, and she thought her only hope now lay in having sufficient force to compel acquiescence in her demands when the occasion arose to make them. They knew that America had not been altogether on the most friendly terms with Japan. There had been considerable friction. The reason of the recent growth and formidable programme of the American Navy and of the demonstration of naval force which she was making in the Pacific was no secret; they all knew it. The fact of that demonstration and the growth of the American Navy were due to the impression produced on the American people by the ambitions and advance of Japan, intensified by the British alliance. What was the obvious course? We must prepare for eventualities which might possibly arise. It would be simple madness to proceed in the way his hon. friend suggested, and reduce that margin by which alone we could hope to meet, in addition to protecting our shores and commerce, any contingency which might arise with regard to the Japanese and the United States. The truth was that the political atmosphere in which Japan was moving was very highly charged with the elements of danger, and at any moment trouble might arise. For these reasons he opposed the Motion. Some of his hon. friends on that side of the House grudgingly accepted the two-Power standard if it were to be the absolute maximum for all time irrespective of sudden needs which might arise; they would not hear of any margin or reserve. But surely in business a very different rule was followed. A prudent banker maintained a margin of reserve for possible bad debts. We were the political bankers of Japan and had constituted ourselves so by the alliance, and Japan was our political client, and a margin of naval strength was a necessity of our condition, and therefore, as a Liberal and on Liberal principles, believing that having made a solemn promise we were bound to carry it out, and to show that 1198 we were able to carry it out, he opposed the Motion for the reduction.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said the hon. Member for Falkirk had broached perhaps the most difficult of all the technical difficulties connected with the Navy, the problem of manning. There was nothing he recoiled from with more horror than the prospect of having to explain the system of manning which now obtained. If he had given him notice of his questions he should possibly have been able to give him a more adequate answer than he could now, but he would do his best to get him the information. His first question was when these automatic increases in the pay of the Navy might be expected to come to an end. He had resorted to the only means of information open to him at that time, and he was told that no estimate could at this moment be made. If he could he would make a better answer on further inquiry. The second question was how he could justify or explain the increase asked for in the number of boys and cadets. That was a matter of mechanical measurement. Increases of that sort were based upon technical calculations of wastage made by officials of the Admiralty.
§ MR. J. M. MACDONALD
May I ask if the technical calculation alters from year to year, and, if so, on what principle it alters?
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he could not at that moment explain. He believed it was calculated on averages. These, however, were quite subsidiary questions. The important question was as to how he justified asking for 128,000 men for the Navy, and the suggestion was based on some writings of Lord Brassey's which he had not seen, but which appeared to be to this effect, that fewer men might do provided they fell back on the Reserves.
§ MR. J. M. MACDONALD
No, that is not his point. He contends that the whole of the combatant vessels of the Fleet could be manned for the purpose of war by the number of men that were voted in 1898–1899, and that for the 1199 wastage of war you ought to fall back on your Reserves.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he did not know what the number was in 1898–1899, but the numbers voted in any one year were determined by what were considered to be the war requirements of the British Navy. The first of these was that all the more modern warships, the initial war fleet, should be ready. The initial war fleet consisted of all ships except special service ships, which were a kind of reserve, and auxiliary ships. The second requirement was that the initial war fleet must be manned by active service men, who alone could be ready at once. He had never heard of any alternative scheme which I did not involve or imply the use of reserves and that involved the following disadvantages. It would take time to call them out—days must elapse before they could get to their rendezvous, and, the Reserves not being equal to active service men it took time even for the best of them to rise to active service efficiency. In the third place it would require some time for them to settle down into their places.
§ MR. J. M. MACDONALD
Is our policy with reference to the Naval Reserves like the policy of Germany and France or different?
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he could not answer for the policy of France and Germany. He had enough to do to answer for his own policy. Any alternative to the system he had described would be to cut down the initial war fleet and to rely upon the Reserves, which would impair our readiness for war. He believed our system was a good one. At all events it was one on which the Admiralty had organised the Navy for some years past. He hoped the Committee would pardon him if he did not go into the figures which he had in his hand, but he would hand them over to any Member who would like to see them. First of all, he struck out the ineffectives, 4,500 cadets aid boys. The next was that a certain number would be required to provide nucleus crews for special service vessels, which would be filled with Reserves after 1200 mobilisation, and to supply wastage. The balance of the active service list, after these two elements had been deducted, was just sufficient and no more than sufficient to man the initial war fleet. The distribution in peace was, of course, a very different thing, and might be taken to be something like the following. He would enumerate the elements in the items and ask the House not to press him for the figures. There would first be a number required for ships in commission, including the war fleet. Then there would be those required for the keeping up of the special service vessels. The third item was surveying ships, which would absorb a considerable number. The fourth item was the number required to provide complements for harbour establishments and tenders connected with harbour establishments. Then there were the men on leave and those employed in home ports. The item which would interest his hon. friend more than any other was that of the men waiting draft, on leave and employed in home ports — those, in other words, who were borne on barracks. The number borne on barracks, to use the technical term, was 11,607, as compared with 20,647 three years ago. He considered that a great reduction. Of the number borne on barracks there were only about half actually in barracks. He would be glad if he could give the hon. Member any further satisfaction as to the validity of the system.
§ MR. J. M. MACDONALD
said that although he was grateful for the statement which had been made on behalf of the Government he could not say that he was altogether satisfied. There were points upon which he thought the Committee was entitled to further information, and which would have to be pressed upon some other occasion. But for the moment he accepted his right hon. friend's statement and asked leave to withdraw his Motion. [Cries of "No."]
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said he did not think the hon. Member should be allowed to go away from his position in that way. He thought they ought to take the judgment of the House in order to see which hon. Members on 1201 both sides of the House were desirous of having a good and an efficient Navy. He congratulated the hon. Member for Stirlingshire upon having made one of the most statesmanlike and well-reasoned speeches which it had been his privilege to listen to in the House of Commons for some years. He was sorry the House was so empty when the hon. Member delivered his speech, more especially on the Ministerial Benches. [An HON. MEMBER: What about the Opposition Benches?] It was a lesson which hon. Gentlemen opposite might well have learned had they been present, but which the Members on the Opposition were well up in, and upon which they did not require any teaching. Something had been said about the sanctity of contract, and that the contract with Japan was a sacred one and must be enforced. He would like to say a few words upon the alliance with Japan, but before doing so he would deal with the reasons which had been brought forward by the hon. Member for Falkirk. He had intended to move an Amendment, because he thought the number of men was too small, but the hon. Member had moved in the opposite sense, and if he pressed his Motion to a division he should vote with the Government. The hon. Member for Stretford had argued that it was not necessary to have such a large number of men in the Fleet, because of the Anglo-Russian Convention and because we were at peace with the world, and he urged that the working classes would benefit if they were not taken into the Fleet. He thought that the working classes were benefited by being found employment in the Navy. The argument had been advanced that in 1899 the number of men was quite sufficient to man the Navy, he presumed he meant of that day. That was a very extraordinary argument, because the Fleet was larger to-day than in 1899 and the Fleets of other nations also were much larger. The hon. Member opposite had quoted the figures for France and Germany, but he had forgotten to mention that in those countries they had conscription. If the hon. Member for Falkirk was prepared to vote for conscription in this country, then he might reasonably argue that our Naval policy should be put on the same footing as other countries, but so long as we 1202 had not conscription in this country it was idle to draw such a parallel. The hon. Member had said it was a very bad thing that they should have to maintain ships to give training to sailors and that a large number of men were kept in barracks, which also was a bad policy. They could not, in his opinion, train seamen in barracks. The Secretary to the Admiralty had said there were fewer men in barracks now than there had been for a long time, whilst the hon. Member for Falkirk had argued that all these men were not required and that it was a bad thing to train them on vessels at sea. His opinion was that was the best thing they could possibly do. He had always understood that one of the reasons for our success at Trafalgar was that the French and the Spanish sailors who manned the warships had not had sufficient training at sea, because they had been kept in harbours and barracks and many of them were sick when they went into action. [Laughter]. Hon. Members laughed, but if they would read history they would find that his statement was quite correct. It had been overlooked altogether that it was necessary to have a trained Reserve. In the old days of sea fights the captain and officers knew their men, and the men knew their officers. In these circumstances they would be more likely to make a good fight than if they did not know each other, and if the officers were pitchforked on board ship at short notice. He would be curious to hear what the hon. Member for Bradford had to say on this subject. The proposition to reduce the number of men in the Navy would not be popular. The hon. Member opposite had pointed out that while the 128,000 men asked for this year was the same number as last year, there was an increase in the cost of £260,000. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board stated the other day in the country that his Party had put the different public offices on a business' footing. Was it putting the Admiralty on a business footing to pay more for the same number of men? It was absolutely the reverse. His own idea would be to get more efficiency with less cost. Earlier in the evening they had been told that Germany was building four vessels of 1203 the "Dreadnought" or "Invincible" type, as against two which we were building. He asked the hon. Member for the Falkirk Burghs what he would do in the event of the Admiralty coming down next year and proposing to build four vessels of this type? The men must be got to man them. Did the hon. Member think that he could train seamen in the short space of a year or two years? Seamen must be brought up to the work, and the best were those who from boyhood had imbibed a liking for the great service in which they acquitted themselves so well. He did not know the cost of a "Dreadnought." Was it £1,000,000?
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said it would be sheer waste of money to spend £8,000,000 on the building of four "Dreadnoughts" if we had not men to man them. The possession of an adequate Fleet put us in the position of being able to maintain the agreements and treaties we entered into with foreign nations, and also of maintaining the great Empire of which we were so justly proud, except perhaps the hon. Member for Bradford. He hoped the hon. Member for the Falkirk Burghs would have the courage of his convictions, and that he would go to a division on the Amendment. He himself had often been in small minorities in the division Lobby, and he generally found in the long run that the cause for which he voted was right. He did not say that that would be so in this case, but he mentioned his own experience as an encouragement to the hon. Gentleman not to be afraid of his own opinions. The Civil Lord said the other day: "Sufficient for the day is the programme thereof." His idea was to have enough vessels and men to sooth hon. Members for the moment, and that next year might take care of itself. Most Members of the House were, he thought, desirous of maintaining an efficient Navy, and, of course, that could not be done unless they had a proper number of men. The hon. Member for Stirlingshire had alluded to the treaty with Japan as one of the most valuable ever made, and he quite agreed with him. But it was useless to 1204 expect foreign nations to make treaties with us unless we observed them in a just spirit and maintained them, if necessary, by power, and in order to do that, we must have a sufficient number of ships and men. It was a great mistake to suppose that anything would be saved by reducing the number of men in the Navy. We were more likely to save money by having an efficient Fleet kept up to the two-Power standard. He was not sure he would not rather have it at a three-Power standard. The Fleet was the very best protection against war we could have and he did not think the country would grudge the cost of a powerful and efficient Fleet. He would, therefore, vote against the Amendment.
§ MR. BELLAIRS
said that the two-Power standard had never applied to anything but battleships, and had nothing to do with the manning of the Fleet. One reason for the increase of the vote was that the seamen were being increased while the Marines were being reduced, though the Marines were more efficient and cheaper. No one understood why this policy of hostility to the Marines was being pursued. The increase in the number of cadets was. due to the new system of training. It was unnecessary to take engineers for the Navy at thirteen years of age. Then there had been a great increase in the boy artificers, who were trained at great expense to the country. We had formerly a system by which we got first rate artificers into the service, and their training cost the country nothing. The men were doing a great deal of dockyard work, and the moment the personnel of the Navy was cut down the number of men employed in the dockyards would have to be increased. That ought to be brought into account. It was also to be remembered that we had a number of ships doing merely police work, which was not the case with the French and German Navies. For the suppression of piracy and the slave trade, and gun-running in the Persian Gulf, China, and elsewhere, the world Powers practically relied on the police efforts of the British Navy. That, too, ought to be brought into account. He thought that the system of entering men as boys in the 1205 Royal Navy should be altered. He confessed that, he had changed his mind in regard to the question of the Reserve. A certain number of short-service men was desirable undoubtedly, but the number should not exceed 5,000. It was quite true that 20 per cent. of work done on board ship was performed by unskilled men, but it bad been found from experience that when these short-service men were discharged to the shore, they did not pick up civil employment again with the same facility as the ten years' service men. Another point was that the American Navy had great difficulty in getting men, while, after our being at the expense of training up men who passed into the Reserve, these men went abroad and joined the American Navy. In his opinion the American Navy would never expand as some people imagined so long as they had this manning difficulty. If we were to go on in a wholesale scale for short service in the Navy, the result would be that large numbers of these men would be attracted to the United States by the superior pay and comforts which they had on board American warships.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG (Antrim, S.)
said he considered the arguments of the hon. Member for Falkirk Burghs almost a fallacy. The hon. Member complained of the excess of men we had engaged in the naval services, chiefly because a large percentage of them were during the greater part of the year to be found ashore and not afloat. No doubt the Admiralty would keep a very large number of the 128,000 men in the Navy on shore if they could afford to do so. But they had to make up their minds year by year what was the minimum number of ships required for the proper defence of the country, and having done that to determine upon an adequate number of men to man them. It was then the duty of the Admiralty to see how they could keep these ships in an efficient and seaworthy condition and ready at a moment's notice for war in the cheapest possible way. If ships did not cost more in commission than in reserve everyone would say that every ship should, be in commission and ready for war, but owing to the extreme expense the Admiralty adopted a variety 1206 of expedients by which they could keep the ships efficient and ready at a reasonable time to meet the enemy. It was clear that those ships which were occasionally taken for tactical exercises did not cost as much as those in full commission. The hon. Member seemed to assume that because these men were kept ashore they were unnecessary. The proper way to look at the matter was to recognise that our Navy required a certain number of men, and until such time as they were required for warlike purposes it was our duty to keep them on duty that would reduce the cost of maintenance as much as possible. The object of the hon. Member was to reduce not only the number of men but the number of ships, and he understood he would be willing to reduce the power of the Navy below the two-Power standard. If that were so they were in this position. They must either admit the desirability of keeping the Navy up to the two-Power standard, which carried with it a little over that standard or rely upon diplomacy and treaties with Japan and the entente cordiale with France.
§ MR. MADDISON (Burnley)
on a point of order asked whether the hon. Member was in order in discussing the general policy on the Vote for men.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said that the question of reduction of men was intimately bound up with that of the number of ships.
said that he had suggested that the reduction moved should be withdrawn and the main Question put up again if hon. Members wished to resume the discussion on the general policy; but the hon. Member for South Antrim objected to this course, and had insisted on speaking on this question of the reduction of men. His remarks must be confined to the Vote under discussion.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said that accepting the Deputy-Chairman's ruling, he would reserve his remarks to another occasion.
§ MR. JOHN WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)
said he wished to refer to a very interesting point which had not yet been sufficiently dealt with. The hon. Member for Falkirk Burghs had made a suggestion that it might be possible to dispense with a great number of what might be called the standing Army of the Navy, and that that might be done by the introduction of a short-service system in the Navy on the same principle as that in the Army. That was, he thought, a very dangerous suggestion for a man who was opposed to militarism to make. He maintained that the short-service system in the Army was not a benefit in any way from the labour point of view. The tendency of all those in favour of conscription for the Army and Navy was that there should be a great reserve of men produced by short service. He disagreed with that principle altogether, because in his opinion the short service system destroyed civil habits and at the same time gave no very definite substitute for them. When a man had served three or four years in the Army and was then thrown back again into civil life, he was almost entirely divorced from ordinary occupations, and the most disastrous thing at the present moment, in connection with unemployment, was the inability of soldiers who had been engaged on the short-service system to get ordinary work again. In addition to that the two services were entirely different. He did not suppose that even the most extreme militarist would require the soldier to be trained for more than a year, but it could not be argued that because it was satisfactory in the Army it would necessarily be satisfactory in regard to the men of the Navy. He had heard it suggested that it took at least twelve years to make a good sailor, and if they were going to man the Navy voluntarily and with no conscription it was necessary that they should retain in it men who required so much training. In the Navy, moreover, the way of doing the work was constantly changing, and a sailor of five or six years ago would have to go through a fresh training of from six to eight months to do his work to-day. He thought the Admiralty would be very ill-advised in present conditions if they were to reduce the period of service 1208 in the Navy, and rely upon the conditions which applied in the Army. They must admit that the great difficulty in getting men for the Army to-day was the fact that the man only came for a very short time, and he knew that he would have to go back again into civil life with all its difficulties. They did not get such good men as they would if a man knew that he had a career before him which would give him something to do for the best part of his life, with a prospect of a pension or superannuation or some kind of employment at the end of his period of service. He did not think that one could divorce a professional Army or a professional Navy from the long-service principle. He did not think, however, they could rely upon manning the Navy by a Reserve which had been trained six or seven years ago, and then been scattered all over the population and had reintroduced itself into civil life and civil habits. Under those circumstances he hoped that not the slightest attention would be paid to the suggestion to reduce the period of service so far as the Navy was concerned. They could easily teach a man the goose step, and a few trots up and down the parade ground that he never used when he went to battle. He supposed it was done in the Army for the purpose of maintaining discipline or for the purposes of show on a regal occasion, as it enabled them to make a very smart appearance, but as a battle arrangement or for purposes of moving under fire no officer would tell his men to form up as they did on occasions of that description. One would think that it would be quite easy to take the ordinary civil population if they had the slightest elementary knowledge of fire-arms and make an army of them in a short period, but it was not possible in case of an emergency to do that with regard to seamen, and if the Navy was to be kept in a position of preparedness, ready for any emergency, they must have a long-service system maintained, and have the men always ready. He did not think any other system would be satisfactory in any degree. The ships and the Navy-cost quite as much money as was desirable as it was, but they ought to be ready for any emergency, and he hoped they should not introduce that wretched 1209 short-service system which had turned adrift so many thousands of men who had lost the ordinary inclinations of civilian life. As they saw it to-day in the Army under the short-service system, after men had been used they were got rid of. After they had been trained and used as so many tools and nothing else, they were discharged without any consideration as to their position in the future or as to any consequences whatever. He thought it would be a great mistake, having a professional Navy and a volunteer Navy, if they did not offer the boys a career where they could keep themselves for the best part of their lives and have some security, provided they performed their duties and maintained a good standard of conduct, of being provided for. That seemed to be the best system and there was no reason why they should alter it.
§ MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
said he was unwilling to allow the hon. Member for Falkirk to run away from his Motion to-day, after taking up the position which he had done, and he wished to add his voice to the protest made by his hon. friend the Member for Stirlingshire. The hon. Member for Falkirk Burghs came up smiling after his defeat the other day, and tried to make out that he was voicing the opinion of the Liberal Party. He protested against that. The duty of the Liberal Party were to follow the Government into the division Lobby and not to try to urge them to take steps which were dangerous to the safety of the country and disastrous to the Navy. On last Monday there were some eighty odd Members of the House who were unwilling to wait to vote, and they signed a document denouncing the action of the hon. Member for Falkirk, root and branch, and it seemed to him that expression should be given to the views, not of a small party or a miserable minority, but to the views of the Government as to the maintenance of the two-Power standard in the Navy. He objected to these haphazard suggestions of reductions of 8,000 or 18,000 men or any other number at the instance of private Members, and he entered as strongly as possible his protest against the hon. Member and 1210 his friends being described as the party of economy. He appealed to hon. Members to say whether then was anything so wasteful or so expensive as haphazard reductions, to be followed, as they must be wherever there was a continuous policy, by hasty increases in a subsequent year. The only way to deal with this great problem with any regard to elementary economy was to keep every year the construction programme and the men up to the standard which the Government had laid down, which the Liberal Party had laid down, and which differed altogether from the ideals of the hon. Member for Falkirk, who had again tried to force his views on the Liberal Party, and put them forward as if those who held them were the Liberal Party, and those who opposed them were not the Liberal Party. He protested against the whole assumption of the hon. Gentleman and his friends, and joined with his hon. friend the Member for Stirlingshire in condemning it. Such views as those of the hon. Member for Falkirk were not economy, and embodied, in fact, the falsest economy. It might or might not be good electioneering. That remained to be seen, but that it was good economy he most emphatically denied. The hon. Member for Falkirk seemed greatly distressed because our Navy had 80,000 men more than the German Navy; he did not suppose it had ever entered the hon. Member's head that the German Army was to ours 4,000,000 to something less than a tenth of that figure, and that our Navy was to us what her Army was to Germany. To descend to such trivialities on such a question as this, on which depended the very existence of this country, with all its trade and prosperity, was certainly not to express the views which animated the great Liberal Party. The hon. Member for Falkirk was by no means justified in claiming the authority of Lord. Brassey for his views, as any one would see who read the whole of Lord Brassey's letter. It was easy enough to wrest a particular phrase from its context, but if Lord Brassey was an adherent of the party of the hon. Member, all he could say was that he did not understand what Lord Brassey wrote. He would ask hon. Members to read 1211 Lord Brassey's letter through. His hon. friend the Member for Stirlingshire had dealt with a great many questions in regard to the Navy, to which he would not refer, but there was one he left out and that was the necessity of keeping open communications with India and maintaining the safety of the Empire there and of our fellow-countrymen and of British capital, and he thought that when the people of that country read of a proposal for an off-hand reduction of 8,000 men in the Navy, they would be inclined to say that they would regret the disappearance of the blue-jackets, more than that of all the Members of Parliament. It was true that we were put to great expense at present to maintain the Fleet at a two-Power standard, but if we gave in the whole object of those who were pushing us to that expenditure would be achieved. He would give an illustration from the realm of industry which he thought applied particularly well. They had seen how Germany had pushed forward her aniline dyes until they had crushed out of competition the natural indigo. Nobody knew what it had cost them to do it, but they had done it until indigo had been almost beaten out of the market, no one knew at what cost, or at what loss. The same thing might happen in regard to ships, and when they had beaten us the balance of power would be permanently disturbed, and it was not for us who were not the poorest Power in the world to give way in the game of beggar my neighbour, which was being played. The hon. Member on Monday said that what he desired to see was a diminution in the effective fighting strength of the Fleet. How could anybody actually desire that in the interests of the British nation? Our actual existence depended upon the effective fighting power of our Fleet. The hon. Member for Tyneside had urged that it was not necessary in any case that the Fleet should be maintained at such strength as to be able to act on the offensive. He said that the sole requirement of the Navy was that it should be able to act on the defensive. If it had not been for the erudition and eloquence of the hon. Member, he would have been inclined to ask if he had ever been at 1212 school, because, even in one's schooldays, it was clear enough that anyone who acted on the defensive, without being able to act on the offensive, was soon knocked down. Another hon. Member had said that the cost of the Navy was so great that it must be reduced, but the expenditure on the Army and Navy had not increased in anything like the same proportion as population, wealth, trade and area of the Empire. It was absolutely impossible to keep our insurance at the original figure when the value of the properly insured had multiplied exceedingly. Ten years ago the cost of our insurance was 5.45 per cent. of our trade; to-day it was 5.08. The insurance of the Empire as a whole cost 3 per cent. of the annual income and 4 per cent. of the capital. The hon. Member for Stoke, who was so sound upon the Navy, had made an admirable speech, and he was sure he would realise that the matter must be looked at in a comparative spirit. It was trifling to say we could cut down our Navy by so many ships and men. We had to consider our treaty and diplomatic obligations and the volume of our trade and our responsibilities all over the world. The hon. Member was, however, one of those who held that all expenditure on the Navy was unproductive. He did not know whether the hon. Members for Chatham and Woolwich and Plymouth would agree with that. He did not think the hon. Member for Stoke would in fact agree with it. He had a Question on the Paper for to-morrow which seemed to show that the expenditure was productive and that he was anxious that it should continue to go into the pockets into which it had gone before. It had to be borne in mind that the whole of the period in which there had been an increase in the cost of the Navy had not been a period in which this country had been driven to the verge of ruin, but had been one in which wages had doubled, and in which the prosperity of the country had increased by leaps and bounds. He could not understand how it was that hon. Members who on Friday were prepared to coerce every country which did not adopt our habits and customs, to treat Macedonia as if it was as much ours as Monmouthshire, and to put the whole world right, could 1213 not realise that they would not be able even to make such speeches unless we had a strong Navy.
§ MR. MADDISON
asked whether the hon. Member was in order in discussing the whole question of naval policy on a specific Vote for men.
The hon. Member must not go into the general question. The reduction, as I have pointed out, is for a reduction of 8,000 men.
§ MR. REES
said he was coming back to that. If there had not been a great many men and ships there would not have been much talk about Macedonia or the Congo. He apologised for having digressed, but he particularly protested against the manner in which the hon. Member and his friends came forward as the chosen friends of economy. There was no economy in haphazard reductions. They must lead to spasmodic and increased expenditure. When hon. Members got up and said that the true Liberal principles were those they professed, he asked what was the test of being a true Liberal? Was it supporting a Liberal Government or supporting a minority which opposed the Liberal Government in the Division Lobby?
§ MR. BARNES (Glasgow, Blackfriars)
said he rose to join in the appeal of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London to the hon. Member for Falkirk to go to a division, but, if a division took place, he would, he thought, be found, in one lobby and the hon. Baronet in another. As one returned to Parliament two years ago pledged to a policy of retrenchment in order to get reform he was going to vote for the Amendment as he had hitherto voted for every Amendment of a like character. The hon. Baronet had said that the Vote for the money would be a good thing for the working classes because they would be employed. He was, therefore, in favour of 8,000 men wasting their lives in simply manning ships apart altogether from the question whether they were necessary. That argument, 1214 if argument it could be called, was based upon an economic fallacy. There could be no increase of employment or of prosperity by simply increasing naval or public expenditure, which impoverished the taxpayers. He agreed that the Navy should be maintained up to its proper requirements, but he denied that employment in the Navy necessarily increased the sum total of employment in the country. If the taxpayers were called upon to pay the wages of these 8,000 men, they would have less to spend otherwise. Their effective purchasing power in the way of providing boots, shoes, clothing, etc., for their wives and families would be diminished, and therefore, so far from these 8,000 men in the Navy increasing the number of men employed on the whole, it simply meant that 8,000 were employed in that way who might be employed in another, and he ventured to say a far better way in developing our home resources. They might be found wages in productive employment instead of in the unproductive manner suggested by the hon. Member for the City of London.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
I would like to ask the hon. Member whether they would not join the ranks of the unemployed.
§ MR. BARNES
said he contended they would not. He assumed, of course, that the money was to be saved and not wasted in another manner. The taxpayers would be relieved and would have the money to spend in more productive forms of employment. The second argument of the hon. Gentleman was even weaker than his first. He told them that they must maintain this number of men and go on maintaining the Navy at least at its present strength, because the Germans were adding to their Navy. He did not profess to be an expert; but he did not think it was a matter for experts. The House was the custodian of the purse of the country, and he hoped it would continue to discharge its duty without reference to experts. He had gone into the matter so far as he could in the light of common sense, and he had come to the lamentable conclusion that the statesmen of this country were very largely responsible for increasing these 1215 grievous burdens upon the backs of the peoples of the world. He thought he could show, even from the point of view of tonnage of ships launched, that during the twelve years prior to the advent of the Liberal Government, this country was responsible for a great deal more than was necessary to maintain the two-Power standard. The Secretary of the Admiralty was quite within the mark when he told them that the present condition of the Navy was at all events ample to maintain the two-Power standard. He believed there was a considerable margin. He would just give a figure or two in regard to the men. Going back to 1889 he found there were in the Navy 65,400 men, and in seventeen years the number had grown to 128,000. That seemed to be a matter for congratulation and satisfaction to hon. Members. He hoped they would be able to satisfy their constituents. He thought it was a needless and wicked waste of men's activities and he was going to vote for every single Amendment having for its object a diminution of the number. He believed the programme of Germany which had been mentioned so much in the last few days was a very natural answer to this increased expenditure of our own during the last twelve or fourteen years, and he hoped the House would be brave enough and sympathetic enough, having regard to the conditions of our own people and to the need there was for lifting them out of the sordid condition in which they were, to give the German nation a lead in the other direction, which all the indications went to prove they would be glad to have. Now he came to the extraordinarily jingoistic speech of the hon. Member who had preceded him, and who claimed to speak for the Liberal Party. He could not congratulate the Liberal Party upon its spokesman. It seemed to him that the Liberal Party was at the parting of the ways. It would have to do one of two things, either to use the resources of the nation in a policy of social reform or to adopt the policy of wasting them in chasing the myths of the naval and military experts. He hoped it would do the first, but if it did not, it appeared clear that it was a long farewell for Liberalism in the 1216 government of this country. A great, deal had been said in the last few days about our Empire. What he was concerned about more than Empire in the sense in which it was meant was the protection of the homes of the people of this country from the devastating effects of poverty. He was concerned about seeing that the children were fed and were likely to be brought up as proper trustees to carry on the burden of Empire, which could not be done as long as we spent the money in the way that had been indicated in that debate. The Member for Stoke spoke the other day in a despairing sort of note on the two-Power standard, and seemed to have swallowed the experts holus bolus and opened his mouth and shut his eyes to see what they were going to send him. Reforms hid never been won in that sort of spirit, and although he was going to give all the consideration due to experts when talking on matters that came within their province, he would not accept their advice as to how much was to be spent on ships and how many men they were to have. This country, with possibly Prance thrown in, was more responsible than any other country for the great burden that they were bearing in Navy expenditure, and for the prevention of the carrying out of that principle of the immunity of merchant ships which would do a great deal not only to limit our expenditure, but to limit that of other countries. The arguments for maintaining the status quo seemed to him very weak. They were told the war might go on for an indefinite period if merchant ships were immune from seizure. If it went on for some time with the loss of seizure, at all events people would have a little time to think and the war might be brought to a conclusion. Then they were told that the mercantile marines of other countries were expanding, that they were getting more vulnerable, and therefore it was necessary that we should maintain this principle of the destruction of ships at sea, because, if we did, other countries would be less liable to go to war with us. But that might be carried a bit further. If the two-Power standard was to be applied all round, Germany and France had as 1217 much right as we had to maintain as many men as they liked and must protect their commerce. What was that going to take us to? Other countries were increasing their mercantile marines, therefore Germany and France must increase their navies in order to protect them, and if we were going to follow up our traditional policy of the two-Power standard with a large margin, the prospect was really a frightful one. He hoped the House would look upon the matter in a much more serious light than had been exhibited by the Member for the City of London and others, and would welcome anything that might come from the German Emperor or anybody else with a view to lessening the men who were wasting their lives in this way and the expenditure which pressed so hardly on the people and especially the class for whom he spoke.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
thought the Committee would be disposed to congratulate the Member for the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow, on the courage with which he was prepared to face a division. There was a disposition on the other side to run away from a division, but hon. Members opposite would now be compelled in consequence of his brave words to go to a division. The speech of the hon. Member for Montgomery had been met by a great deal of interruption on the part of hon. Members below the gangway, because that speech was animated throughout by a patriotic spirit. Unionists had no desire for a monopoly of patriotism. The patriotic spirit of the hon. Member's speech aid not commend itself to hon. Members opposite, whose one desire apparently was to do everything they possibly could against their own country. The hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division had expressed the opinion that the 8,000 men whom he wanted to displace from the Navy would find remunerative employment elsewhere if they were discharged to-morrow from the Navy.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT
I quite understood the hon. Member to say he believed 1218 these men would find more remunerative employment if they left the Navy tomorrow, and that the taxpayers would not suffer by this reduction.
§ MR. BARNES
What I said was that employment as a whole is not increased by the employment of these 8,000 men in the Navy, and if the taxpayers were relieved of the cost of their maintenance other men, not these necessarily, might be employed in a productive way.
§ MR. T.L. CORBETT
said he could not profess to follow these subtleties. The hon. Member now reasserted that there would not be fewer men employed if these 8,000 men were discharged. he would like very much to know where these 8,000 men were going to find employment if they were driven out of the Navy tomorrow and how they could possibly add to the employment of the great mass of the unemployed which was constantly being most pathetically put to the House by the hon. Member and his colleagues, who condemned the President of the Local Government Board for his want of sympathy in dealing with the unemployed question. But he was glad, the hon. Member was going to show the courage of his convictions and take a division which the mover of the Amendment was afraid to take.
§ MR. HUNT (Shropshire, Ludlow)
said the Government claimed that they were maintaining the two-Power standard. The Civil Lord did not deny that we had far less second-class cruisers than Germany and far less torpedo boats.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said the hon. Member for Glasgow had accused him of not approaching this subject in a serious 1219 vein. He denied that, for there was no question more serious or deserving greater consideration at the hands of the Committee. The dismissal of those 8,000 men from the Navy would not only add to the general lack of employment throughout the country, but it would add to the number of men who would be thrown out of employment in the dockyards. Did the hon. Member know the effect of the dismissal of the men from the Woolwich Dockyard?
§ MR. BARNES
said he happened to know that during the very time those men were being discharged from Woolwich, employment in that particular trade was more full and complete than it had ever been before in his time.
§ MR. BARNES
said he did not know, and it would be impossible for anyone to answer that question in a simple and short way. The reply would involve a great many considerations which could not be dealt with properly in a simple answer to a question. It was, however, an economical fallacy to say that the employment of men irrespective of the character of their employment was going to add to the benefits of employment as a whole, and to that statement he adhered. It ought to be obvious to the hon. Baronet that that was a sound argument.
§ MR. BARNES
said it was true that a few went to Germany and Canada, and if they bettered their position good luck to them. That had been going on for years, and the number of men who went to Germany and Canada was not any greater during the dismissals from the Woolwich Arsenal than in any previous time.
§ MR. NIELD (Middlesex, Ealing)
said it had been stated publicly that the skilled artisans of Woolwich had been 1220 sought after to work in the German arsenals.
I understand that the mover of this Amendment has asked leave to withdraw, but that leave was refused. I would suggest that it would be for the general convenience to come to a decision on the Amendment.
§ CAPTAIN J. CRAIG (Down, E.)
said that so far in the debate nothing had been said on behalf of that valuable branch of the Army service, the Royal Marines. He asked the Committee to consider seriously whether it was advisable to make any further reductions in this force. This question appeared to have been altogether overlooked in the debate. According to an answer given by the Secretary to the Admiralty, the number of officers in the Royal Marines had been reduced since 1905 from 3,331 to 3,228. The number of men in the same force on the 1st of October, 1905 was 18,640, but on the 1st of February, 1908 the number had been reduced to 17,403. In view of that drastic reduction in this valuable arm of the service he asked hon. Members seriously to consider this question. The Royal Marines promoted a spirit of friendly rivalry in the Navy on board ship and they were very popular amongst all classes in the Fleet. The cost of training a recruit for this particular branch of the service was less than that of an ordinary seaman. The presence of Royal Marine officers on board ship enabled the Naval officers to take a wider view of the many problems which constantly arise in connection with Naval affairs, because those who were navigating and managing the engineering department and looking after the gunnery were apt to take a more or less narrow view owing to the concentration of their minds upon their immediate duty, and that to a certain extent was obviated by having with them on board those who had been trained from an Army point of view. That was an effective check to any narrow-mindedness in that portion of His Majesty's service. Influence was brought to bear by officers in the Royal Marines who possessed a certain amount of barrack knowledge, and that was of 1221 considerable assistance to the officers on board ship. The Marines were very valuable men when it came to landing parties on active service, and in all ceremonial matters abroad they were very serviceable in the direction of impressing foreign countries with the character of the men of the British Navy. History showed that on many occasions the Royal Marines had proved to be extremely useful in quelling unfortunate disturbances when they occurred on board ship. He did not think hon. Members opposite knew what they were doing when they went into the lobby to vote for a reduction of the number of men in the Navy. He knew that the country prized the Royal Marines very dearly. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it was not a fact that along with the serious reduction of the Royal Marines there had also been an indirect reduction of the Force. Was it not a fact that there had been a transfer of a number of bandsmen and band boys, and that consequently even the figure given by the right hon. Gentleman at Question time was incorrect? He considered that this was a very serious matter. There had been rumours in the country that it was the intention of the Government to do away with the Royal Marines altogether. Was there any truth in these rumours? If the right hon. Gentleman would deny that there was any intention on the part of the Government to interfere further with the Royal Marines, he would allay serious apprehension in the country. At the same time he might tell the Committee whether the 17,403 who were on the strength on 1st February this year represented Royal Marines and not boys and bandsmen who had been transferred in order to make up that number. A service for which the Royal Marines had always been particularly suitable was that of guarding consulates and other British representative places abroad where it might not be convenient to get any branch of the Army speedily on the spot. If the number of men in the Navy was to be reduced in the way proposed by the mover of the Amendment, he would like to ask the hon. Member and his supporters if they had considered what was to become of the men discharged. It was all very well 1222 for hon. Gentlemen below the gangway to talk in the way they were doing, but if their demand for a reduction in the number of men in the Navy were granted, they would before many days be crying out about the unemployed. If 1,000 men were suddenly told that they must be discharged next week or next month, it would be a crying shame, for the men would not only be thrown out of employment, but they would be prevented from pursuing a calling which they had followed for years with credit both to themselves and to the country.
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER (Gravesend)
said that this discussion appeared to him to be absolutely illogical. Surely the first question which ought to be settled was whether a two-Power standard was necessary. If that was necessary, a certain number of ships were necessary. The House had decided to support the Government concerning the preservation. of the Navy in a high state of efficiency. The Government had decided on a certain shipbuilding scheme as necessary to keep our Navy in a position of predominance. If that were so, it must be illogical to attempt to reduce the number of men. If a certain number of ships were built, there must be men to man them. The centre of the whole thing was that the number of men demanded by the Admiralty was a number absolutely necessary to man the ships of the British Navy when these were ready. Last year when, on the initiative of the hon. Member for Liverpool, they had a long discussion on the Home Fleet, it was pointed out that that Fleet was insufficiently manned, and that nucleus crews did not represent the highest form of efficiency which those responsible for the Navy would like to see. But as finance governed, after all, the number of ships built and the number of men employed, the Government had decided to run the risk of having the Home Fleet not ready to proceed to sea on the immediate outbreak of war. To that extent therefore, they were deficient in the number of men required. He was within the bounds of reason and logic in saying that not one single man ought to be reduced from the Navy if they kept the shipbuilding programme of the Government as it stood. They 1223 might reduce the number of ships and cut down the naval programme, but they ought not to cut down the number of men. They had been told that the Japanese had made a soldier in six months, and the Secretary for War thought that he could make a Briton a soldier in six months, but anyone who knew anything about the Navy must be aware that an able-bodied seaman could not be made on board a man-of-war in anything like six months, or even a year. For anyone who accepted the policy of the Government, or believed in the efficiency of the Navy, to propose to reduce the number of men in the Navy was absolutely illogical. An hon. Member below the gangway had talked of unproductive employment, but on that basis if employment in the Navy was unproductive, then the whole carrying trade and mercantile marine of this country was unproductive, because, if our Navy was needed at all it was needed as an insurance and to protect our mercantile ships, and those industries in which so many Members of the House were interested, and upon which they depended on their success in life. The hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow had said that if the men were discharged from the Navy, they would find employment elsewhere, and he wondered why it was that the Secretary for War had advised men discharged from Woolwich to go to Canada. He had stated in January, 1907, that the conditions of unemployment were worse during 1906 than in the whole ten years previous to that date; yet the hon. Gentleman opposite had the courage to say to the Committee that the 8,000 men reduced from the Navy and sent out to an over-stocked market would be no injury to those men now employed and those men unemployed! Hon. Gentlemen below the gangway who represented Labour ought to realise that all that stood between the working men and conscription was the 128,000 men in the Navy. If they moved those 128,000 men they would naturally destroy the Navy, and every working man in the country would be obliged to shoulder his rifle, go into barracks, and lose his position in the scheme of national life. If the Committee had any pretence to reason and logic, as he believed it had 1224 every claim to both, the hon. Member who moved the Amendment would find when he went into the lobby that he and those who agreed with him would receive little support from the Jingoes on their own side of the House. It would surprise him if there were not Jingoes on that side of the House, although it was generally imagined that that title applied only to the Opposition side.
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER
asked if the hon. Member meant the channel between one side of the House and the other? When the Civil Lord of the Admiralty waved his hand to those behind him, he supposed that the right hon. Gentleman meant that his strong Navy would be supported by Liberal Imperialists, as represented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had made his point that the Amendment was absurd and illogical, and he had every faith that the House as it had done in the past would once more proclaim its devotion to a strong naval policy and the preservation of 128,000 men, which was the absolute minimum necessary for the manning of our Navy at its present standard of efficiency.
§ MR. JENKINS (Chatham)
said he had sat for three days in the House listening to the discussion between the two front benches. He had been greatly interested in the speeches which had been delivered, but he trusted by this time that the Opposition were agreed with the Government as to the number of ships, as to how they should be built, as to the style of ships, and also as to the policy on which they were to be built and other matters connected with the building programme. He could not entirely associate himself with his hon. friends who sat near him, and he would not care to give a silent vote in this matter, not because like some of his hon. friends opposite he represented a naval constituency, but because he had made up his mind that he would never vote for a reduction of men and displace 1225 labour until this Government tad seen its way to cater for the unemployed. He would like to draw the attention of the House to a most important question raised by the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty in his Memorandum. He ventured to say that his action last year in dividing upon the question that there should be at every naval base a dry dock sufficiently large to dock the "Dreadnought" had been justified. For what did they find in the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty when he spoke of the work connected with Rosyth? The noble Lord said that the necessity of this work was apparent when it was remembered that there was no naval dockyard capable of docking ships of the "Dreadnought" class along the whole of the east coast of Great Britain. That he repeated, and he was sure the country would agree, was a very serious statement. When the present Government came into office the Secretary to the Admiralty made a statement to the effect that they were going to observe continuity of policy, and that they had practically taken up the whole of the programme of their predecessors. He thought that that programme was carried out in 1906–7. He had there a Blue-book which gave an account of the Government's predecessors in office. In 1900 a Committee was appointed called the Naval Accommodation Committee, and on that Committee he noticed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Worcestershire, together with four experts, were appointed to inquire into the naval bases of this country. They reported very fully, and in 1902 their report was signed and submitted to the Admiralty. They found in 1905 the hon. Member for Fareham, when the Naval Works Bill was before the House, dealing with the question of Rosyth and Chatham, which the Committee had recommended to be taken up.
§ MR. VIVIAN (Birkenhead)
rose to a point of order. He wished to know whether a Motion for reduction having been moved on a particular point this question could be referred to.
said that he did not think that the question of reduction being 1226 moved, really affected the questions that could be discussed. He did not consider that the question of reduction having been moved affected the questions of general policy which could be discussed upon this Vote.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
reminded the Chairman that he was called to order, and made to resume his seat for straying away from the question.
said he assented previously to the suggestion that they had better get rid of this Motion for reduction, but now he was appealed to on a point of order and he was bound to say that this reduction on the whole Vote did not restrict the general consideration of the subject of the Vote.
§ MR. JENKINS,
continuing his speech, read an extract from a speech made by the hon. Member for Fareham in July 1905, in which he said that the two most interesting items were the Chatham Dockyard extension and the Rosyth item. The broad result, he said, of the Admiralty deliberations in connection with these two services had been to push on the large expenditure foreshadowed at Rosyth and not to proceed with the Chatham Dockyard extension. This, he said, would perhaps be a surprise to some hon. Gentlemen in the House. Further, he said, that in view of the scheme outlined in 1903 for the expenditure of £4,500,000 in addition to the large expenditure foreshadowed for Rosyth, the Admiralty did consider that the expenditure for Chatham should be dispensed with at any rate for the present. In the latter part of his speech the hon. Gentleman said that there was a want of such accommodation on the East coast which it was necessary to provide at Rosyth or Chatham, but not at both. At that time the then Government knew perfectly well that there was no provision for ships of the larger type, and during their term of office the "Dreadnought" 1227 was designed, yet while this Committee was appointed in 1900 and the late Government went out of office in 1906, it being now 1908, nothing was done, and, therefore, the late Government must take a great share of the responsibility for this provision not being made for the larger vessels. He urged the House and the Secretary to the Admiralty to consider this important question. They had these vessels which cost the country £2,000,000. They might have vessels operating at the Nore, a vessel might be rammed, and where were they to take that ship? The nearest dock was 250 miles distant, and before the vessel could be got round there she would have foundered. For the sake of efficiency and economy it was absolutely necessary that these docks should be built. In the tea room hon. Members would find a skeleton model of the great Rosyth, which was going to cost this country at least £7,000,000. There was no foreman in any private yard in this country who would submit to his manager a model of such description as the one in the Tea Room. He desired to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty to allow the matter to stand over. It was a serious item. They were voting £5,000,000 for a new base which might cost £10,000,000 in the long run. The hon. Member for Stoke told them last week that they had gone 120 feet in the clay without coming to the rock bed. That was a very serious item. There was a great basin of 52½ acres with a depth of water of 38 feet 8 inches. The channel leading to it was to be dredged to a depth of 36 feet below high water mark. What was the depth at low water mark there already, and how far had they to dredge to get to the bed? The channel of the basin for submarines was to be dredged to 15 feet below low water. What was the depth of low water at Rosyth? These were pertinent questions which ought to be answered before the Admiralty laid out any more money. The outer channel was to be dredged to 1228 a depth of 36 feet below low water mark. He asked for some explanation from the Secretary to the Admiralty as to the position at Rosyth before the country was pledged to a scheme which might involve an outlay exceeding £10,000,000. He hoped the House, in considering reductions of armaments and how it could economise, would remember that we had existing naval bases which, at least, in his opinion, were equal to the proposed Rosyth base, according to the reports. If those reports were of no value, then the sooner the House appointed a Committee of laymen with the experts to see whether some definite conclusions could not be come to which would be thoroughly consistent the better.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fifeshire, E.
May I appeal to the House to come to a decision now and to bring to a close the general discussion on Vote A?
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Is that all that is to be taken to-night? We are discussing an Amendment moved from that side of the House. It has occupied some three hours of our time, and it has confined us within particular limits, no doubt wide enough for the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, but too narrow to permit of the discussion of some of the questions in which we are more interested. As between the hon. Member for Falkirk and the Government, we are on the side of the Government, and, if he goes to a division, I shall vote with the Government against the reduction. But before we got on to this Amendment we were, discussing, wider questions, questions of grave national and naval importance, and my right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition had in particular put a specific question to the representatives of the Admiralty, to which the Civil Lord's speech was no reply whatever. We are anxious on 1229 our side of the House to have an opportunity of resuming that discussion, and we cannot consent to leave Vote A. without having discussed it, unless we have a clear understanding with the Government, sanctioned by you, Sir, that we shall have an opportunity on Vote 1 to resume the general discussion which we were conducting before this Amendment was moved. If that is what is in the mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, then I think that makes the basis of an agreement between this bench and him; but if the idea is that we are to part with all opportunity of general discussion on the constructive policy or on the policy of the Admiralty generally, then certainly we could not consent to that at all. May I say one word more which is of importance? When we are discussing these matters of arrangement, it is essential that there should be no ground for possible misunderstanding. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Committee will look at the notices upon the Paper, they will see there are eight notices of reduction of Vote 1, and of those eight, seven are from the Government side of the House. I think it is essential, if we are to have any effective continuation of the general discussion, that it should take place before those Amendments are called upon. If it is postponed till after those Amendments are called upon, the accidents of debate may prevent it ever taking place at all. Therefore, before we assent in any way to abandoning our remaining opportunities on Vote A., we should like to know that the Government is willing that our discussion to-morrow should begin by a general discussion on naval policy on Vote 1, and, if I may ask you, Sir, for an expression of your opinion, that, under such circumstances, you would be prepared to sanction that course being taken.
§ MR. BRAMSDON (Portsmouth)
said he had an Amendment down to Vote A., and he had been patiently waiting to 1230 move it. He wanted to move it before Mr. Speaker left the Chair, but in deference to the general desire, he refrained on its being represented that he could move it on Vote A. He had serious doubts now whether he would be able to move it at all, because the general discussion between the two Front Benches monopolised nearly the whole time, and minor men could not get a chance. He did not often trouble the House, but he had looked forward to addressing the House on naval matters, being the senior Member for the senior naval port.
§ MR. ASQUITH
As regards what the right hon. Gentleman says, if Vote A is taken now, we quite agree that the general discussion should proceed on Vote 1 before the Amendments are put, subject to the assent of the Chair. As regards my hon. friend's point, I think he can raise it quite as well on Vote 1 as on Vote A.
§ MAJOR SEELY
referred to a Motion to reduce the Vote by £50 in order to discuss the question of the coastguards, which had been left in a position which they did not quite understand and as to which all parts of the House, wished to have a more definite statement. He asked that it should be borne in mind in any arrangement that might be made that there were Members he believed on both sides who wished to have a brief discussion on the subject.
§ MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said the, hon. Member, for Gravesend had accused the hon. Member for Falkirk of having moved a Resolution which was not quite, logical, because if we had so many ships, we must have so many men. The hon. Member for Falkirk, however, took his stand on the two-nation standard, but when it came to the number of men his opponents said that the two-nation standard was not to be adopted. He assured them that the 1231 number of men in the Navy was much more than the two-nation standard, and hon. Members opposite said the two-nation standard was not to guide them with reference to the number of men. It was said that we must have men enough in time of peace to man all our ships, but he did not think that followed. What was the reason for starting now to build great vessels which would only be used in four or five years time? The reason, he took it, was that they could not build and arm a huge ship of 18,000 or 20,000 tons in a year, and therefore they must begin along time beforehand to build. But it was not necessary to have a large force of men in each one of these vessels always. He fancied that men could be got much more quickly than big ships and guns. There were trained men in the mercantile navy who could be easily got. They had been got in former wars. We had laid a great many countries in former wars under requisition for sailors to fight our battles, and we should be able to do so in the future, if we offered high wages. Another great advantage of not commissioning these ships would be that they would not become damaged. If the ships were put in commission and taken out to sea, the boilers and engines were soon worn out, and if the great guns were fired they were soon seriously injured. We had so many ships in commission that they were frequently in collision or run upon rocks. Therefore it would be wise to keep some of these ships carefully so that they would be as good as new, and it was by no means illogical to say they should reduce the number of men even though the number of ships was not reduced. Moreover, he could see no reason in building a great number of ships before we had docks to put them in. It was quite possible to effect great economies in the Navy without making great reductions in the number of men or ships. The wages and pensions for officers in the Navy amounted to £2,400,000 a year. Who 1232 could say it was necessary to have 175 admirals? A million was paid annually to officers on half or retired pay. What advantage was got from them? There were three commanders-in-chief, each getting £3,967 a year. What was the use of spending £3,967 on any officer? We did not advertise for officers. They had grown up in the Navy and gradually risen, stage by stage, and they would rise just the same, and be quite as efficient if the maximum salary was £1,000. His experience was that if a man was paid too much money he took a lot of time to spend it, while a man who had just enough to enable him to live devoted the whole of his time to his work. Then there were three commanders at £3,467, three more at £3,102, and two at £2,000 a year. That was a survival of the old-fashioned time when the Navy was looked upon to find a comfortable living for younger sons and relatives of the aristocracy. That day had gone by, but the salaries had not. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would use his influence with his colleagues to put an end to the existence of these exorbitant salaries. The amount of money we spent on the officers came to £515 a year each for pay and pension the whole time they were in the Navy. He wanted to be ready against attack. He had pointed out last year that every night when our fleet was at anchor no means were taken to prevent its destruction by an enemy. They took no precautions whatever to protect the Fleet in time of peace. No foreign foe would ever dream of attacking our Fleet up less it was done unawares. A part of the Russian Fleet was destroyed before the Russian admiral thought there was any danger. If they had to have a great Navy, then let them protect it and not wait until there was a prospect of war. No general, in charge of a fort would leave it to be rushed by the enemy. The great art of military and naval tactics 1233 was to deceive the enemy and lead him into a false sense of security; if anyone ever dared to attack our Fleet it would be unexpectedly in a time of peace. No precautions were taken to protect the Fleet from attack at night, and if they did not think any foe was likely to attack them, why should they spend all this money? The fact that the Admiralty took no precautions proved that they did not believe that anyone ever would attack us; they felt no anxiety; all they wanted was the nation's money. They were elected on the cry of economy and they were pledged to put down extravagant expenditure, but immediately the Liberal leaders became Ministers they got into the hands of permanent officials and one after another succumbed to those officials. The country was now being governed by a lot of permanent clerks who were past masters at their work of managing the Ministers, and until that state of things was altered they would not be able to check this extravagant expenditure upon armaments. He con-
§ sidered that it was his duty to vote for a reduction of Naval armaments upon every occasion, and he hoped his hon. friends would support him.
§ MR. BRAMSDON
moved the adjournment of the debate. He did so because there were still a number of questions which had not been discussed. He had been trying to introduce an important subject but he had not been successful. There were other Members interested in other questions which they wished to raise, and he did not think it was fair that they should be deprived of an opportunity for further discussion.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 189; Noes, 43. (Division List No. 33.)1235
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn Sir Alex. F||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Elibank, Master of|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W.||Evans, Sir Samuel T.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Cawley, Sir Frederick||Fenwick, Charles|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn J. A (Were.||Ferens, T. R.|
|Baker, Joseph A.(Finsbury, E.)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Cleland, J. W.||Forster, Henry William|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Clough, William||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Fuller, John Michael F.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)|
|Barry, Redmond J.(Tyrone, N.)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gill, A. H.|
|Beale, W. P.||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John|
|Beauchamp, E.||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Glen-Coats, Sir T.(Renfrew, W.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Cooper, G. J.||Glendinning, R. G.|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Glover, Thomas|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Corbett, C H(Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Greenwood, Hamar (York)|
|Bethell, Sir J.H(Essex, Romf'rd||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Gulland, John W.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Cox, Harold||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Crossley, William J.||Hall, Frederick|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Dalmeny, Lord||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Branch, James||Davies, David(Montgomery Co.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Brunner, J.F.L. (Lanes., Leigh)||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Dobson, Thomas W.||Henderson, J.M.(Aberdeen, W.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Duckworth, James||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon.,S.)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Higham, John Sharp|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Dunne, Major E. Martin(Walsall||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Byles, William Pollard||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Hudson, Walter|
|Hutton, Alfred Eddison||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Hyde, Clarendon||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Myer, Horatio||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph(Chesh.)|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Jones, William(Carnarvonshire)||Nicholls, George||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Nicholson, Charles N(Doncast'r||Summerbell, T.|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Nuttall, Harry||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Partington, Oswald||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Pearson, W.H.M. (Suffolk, Eye||Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr|
|Lambert, George||Pease, Herbert Pike(Darlington||Toulmin, George|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Philippe, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lee, Arthur H.(Hants, Fareham||Pickersgill, Edward-Hare||Valentia, Viscount|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Radford, G. H.||Verney, F. W.|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Raphael, Herbert H.||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Vivian, Henry|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Ward, John(Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Rees, J. D.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Richards, Thomas(W. Monm'th||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Lough, Thomas||Richards, T. F.(Wolverh'mpt'n||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E.(Dundee)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Macdonald, J. M.(Falkirk B'ghs||Robertson, Sir G. Scott(Bradf'rd||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Maclean, Donald||Robinson, S.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Rose, Charles Day||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|M'Crae, George||Rowlands, J.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Runciman, Walter|
|Maddison, Frederick||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry.)||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Menzies, Walter||Seely, Colonel|
|Mond, A.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Helmsley, Viscount||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hill, Sir Clement||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hills, J. W.||Seddon, J.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Holt, Richard Durning||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Houston, Robert Paterson||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark|
|Clark, George Smith(Belfast, N||Hunt, Rowland||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Corbett, T.L. (Down, North)||Jenkins, J.||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire|
|Courthope, G. Lloyd||Jowett, F. W.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Graig, Charles Curtis(Antrim, S.)||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H||Winterton, Earl|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Younger, George|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Moore, William|
|Fell, Arthur||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Gordon, J.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Mr. Claude Hay and Mr. Bramsdon.|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Gretton, John||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall|
Original Question put accordingly and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow;
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.1236
§ MR. WHITELEY
gave notice that the suspension of the Eleven o'clock rule would be moved for to-morrow.
§ Adjourned at fourteen minutes after Eleven o'clock.