HC Deb 23 November 1908 vol 196 cc1764-6
MR. HUNT (Shropshire, Ludlow)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty what is the difference in price between a 27 and 33-knot destroyer.

The following Questions on the same subject also appeared on the Paper:—

MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)

To ask the First Lord of the Admiralty if he can state approximately the financial saving that will be effected by reducing the speed of the sixteen destroyers of this year's programme from the 33 knots promised by the late First Lord of the Admiralty, on 18th March, to the 27 knots now considered sufficient by the present Board of Admiralty.

MR. FELL (Great Yarmouth)

To ask the First Lord of the Admiralty if the money which will be saved by the building of the sixteen torpedo boats of 27-knot speed instead of 33-knot speed as proposed, will be devoted to the building of further torpedo boats, so as to make up by increased numbers for the decreased speed of the torpedo fleet.


My predecessor, in his speech of 18th March, was, I believe, referring to the destroyers of the 1907–8 programme which, although ordered in January and February, were not actually laid down till May and June. The design for the destroyers of this year's programme was not considered by the Board till June of this year. A speed of 33 knots was never contemplated. There will be no saving on the cost of this year's destroyers as there has been no reduction in the estimated cost of these vessels. Had the destroyers been designed for a speed of 32 knots and to burn coal, it is calculated that they would have cost an additional £80,000 each.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Lord Tweedmouth's statement in regard to these destroyers mentioned sixteen new destroyers? He could not, therefore, have been referring to last year's programme, which included only five destroyers.


In speaking of the type of destroyer I believe Lord Tweedmouth to have had in his mind the type of destroyer to be laid down in that year. I cannot understand that he referred to the sixteen new destroyers in the current year's programme, as these destroyers had not been discussed by the Board at all.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Lord Tweedmouth's words were that we were going to lay down sixteen new destroyers, and can he say what reason, if any, there is for reducing the speed from that considered necessary last year to 27 knots, or three knots less than other Powers are adopting?


It would be most undesirable in the course of Answers to Questions to explain the whole Admiralty policy with regard to destroyers.