HC Deb 25 November 1908 vol 197 cc388-9
MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the Admiralty adheres to the official statement that the sixteen destroyers of this year's programme will be completed next year.


The only statement which I can find to which my hon. friend can refer, is an uncorrected report of a speech of mine on the 13th July last. If this is in fact what the hon. Member refers to, it should be corrected, as would indeed appear obvious from the context, by saying that the destroyers of this year's programme will be completed in the calendar year 1910.


Could not the right hon. Gentleman in future revise his speeches of this nature, because it is a great inconvenience, and the meaning is not at all obvious by the context?


I must differ from my hon. friend with regard to that.

MR. HUNT (Shropshire, Ludlow)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty in view of the fact that the new British destroyers will be slower than the new destroyers of other great foreign Powers, what steps are being taken to secure that they shall be able to gain the necessary intelligence about hostile fleets, and guard our own battleships and big cruisers, without being cut off and captured or destroyed by the greater speed of hostile destroyers.


It is not possible within the limits of a Parliamentary Question and Answer to discuss the various requirements and contingencies for which the new destroyers are designed, even if it were in the public interest to do so, but the hon. Member may rest assured that they have been designed with a complete appreciation of the purposes for which they would be required in war, as dictated by recent experience in exercises at sea.


May I ask will not these destroyers be at a permanent disadvantage either in scouting, forcing a fight, or trying to escape when attacked by superior numbers; and is it not the fact that Germany will have about the same number of destroyers in March, 1911, under eleven years of age?


No, Sir; I cannot agree with any of the statements of the hon. Member.