HC Deb 16 November 1908 vol 196 cc860-1

I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether, having regard to the strong opinion recently expressed by the late Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, Mr. Deakin, by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and by representative men throughout Australasia in favour of the strengthening of the Australian squadron, and also having regard to to the alleged need for impressing the inhabitants of the various Pacific Islands with the greatness of English sea-power, he will consider the advisability of either permanently strengthening the present Australian squadron or else sending a strong fleet to visit Australian waters next year.


It is not known to what recent expression of opinion the noble Lord refers, but the attitude of Mr. Deakin and Sir J. Ward was clearly explained at the time of the Colonial Conference last year, and Mr. Deakin's statements at the time were applicable more to the establishment of a local naval defence force than to an increase in the strength of the Australian squadron. There is no intention to send a large fleet to visit Australian waters next year, though it is probable that some of His Majesty's ships may be detailed to visit the Pacific Islands.


Is it not a fact that the Commonwealth Government has formulated plans for the establishment of a local Navy, and have those plans met generally with the approval of the Admiralty at home?


If the hon. Member refers to Mr. Deakin's scheme, I have already stated in the House that the Admiralty have advised on that scheme, and have done their best to turn it into a practical working arrangement.