HC Deb 04 November 1908 vol 195 cc1201-2
MR. HUNT (Shropshire, Ludlow)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in spite of the regulation laid down by the Admiralty that only two battleships of the active Channel Fleet should be absent at one time, in September last the Channel Fleet was at Scarborough with only six battleships, whilst the Home Fleet at the same time was hundreds of miles away, in the North of Scotland, with only ten battleships, and these of three or four different types; and whether, about the same time, the German High Sea Fleet of sixteen if not eighteen battleships was at or near Heligoland.


Six battleships of the Channel Fleet arrived at Scarborough on 25th September last. At that date the other eight battleships of the Channel Fleet were at the home ports—three at Chatham, three at Portsmouth, and two at Devonport; four of these were ready for sea and four were refitting. At the same date, of the Home Fleet, nine battleships were at Cromarty, two were in the neighbourhood of the Nore engaged in gunlayers' tests, and one was at Devonport available for service. I cannot undertake to give information with regard to the movements of foreign Fleets.


asked whether, in view of, our late experience, showing how very quickly war clouds might appear on the political horizon, and also judging by the fact that some of our neighbours were not quite so fond of us as we had believed they were, the right hon. Gentleman thought that the position was safe at that time and was the same state of things likely to happen again.


If I might use the phrase I would say "overwhelmingly safe."

MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)

For what purpose were the ships at Scarborough—for training or for the entertainment of the inhabitants?


asked for notice.


With regard to the right hon. Gentleman's inability to give the information asked for in the last part of the Question, will he say is it due to lack of information or does he consider it would not be wise to give it?


My reply is: "I cannot undertake to give the information."