HC Deb 26 May 1909 vol 5 cc1277-325

Captain CRAIG rose "to call attention to the divergent and contradictory opinions expressed by various Members of His Majesty's Government on the subject of Naval Defence," and formally moved: "That this House would view with alarm any modification of the two-power standard as defined by the Prime Minister on the 12th and 23rd November, 1908, viz., a preponderance of 10 per cent. over the combined strengths in capital ships of the two next strongest Powers, whatever those Powers may be and wherever they may be situated."


I think I should explain to the House the reason why my hon. Friend formally moved the Resolu tion this evening. The House may remember that earlier in the Session I had actually given notice of a Resolution in practically the same terms as the one. which my hon. Friend has now moved, and when, a few days later, he was fortunate enough to get first place in the ballot he thought this was the most important matter which could be brought before the House, and, having put it on the Paper, he has been good enough to ask me to present it to the House. I bring forward the Motion to-night in the confident hope that the Prime Minister, or whatever Minister may reply on this Debate, will be able to reassure us, and to give the House of Commons a specific and definite statement on the question of the two-Power standard, as the Prime Minister did on so many occasions last Session. I has e read and re-read all the speeches made by the Prime Minister last Session, and all the answers to the numerous questions put to him on this specific point, and I am bound to say, and, indeed, I am glad to say that I can find nothing in any of all those speeches which the most sceptical and suspicious member of the school which holds that we should maintain the two-Power standard without any qualification could find fault with. I say that with all the greatest pleasure, because it has been our lot on this side of the House earlier in the Session to express our disapproval of the Government's action, or rather want of action, in another branch of naval policy by bringing, forward a vote of censure. We had to do that because under our Parliamentary system there was no other way in which we could show our disapproval of their action in that particular matter. We knew that when we did so we would be met with the taunt of dragging the Navy into party politics. We rebutted that taunt then, and we do so now, and we do not regret having taken the course we did. Having said that, I am glad to say to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that nothing will give the Opposition to-night greater pleasure, and nothing will give, I believe, to millions of cur fellow country men outside the House greater pleasure than to hear to-night from whoever replies on behalf of the Government that the Prime Minister and the Government have made up their minds, if they ever departed from the position taken up last Session, to adhere absolutely and fearlessly to the declaration they made on this point last Session.

In the few quotations I desire to lay before the House I propose to go only so far back as the beginning of last Session. The House will remember that the hen. Member for the Falkirk Burghs (Mr. J. A. M. Macdonald) moved an Amendment to the Address, asking for a reduction in the expenditure on armaments, and the House will remember that he urged that Resolution on a variety of grounds. These grounds did not find favour with the House as a whole, but they had the result of detaching some 70, or perhaps 75, Members into the opposite Lobby in favour of a reduction of our armaments, and inferentially in favour of the abandonment of the two-Power standard. That Debate was a very interesting Debate. To my mind, by far the most interesting feature in the Debate was the statement made by the Prime Minister with reference to our requirements in the way of national defence. I shall have several quotations to read to the House, but none of them will take very long, and therefore I will not apologise for reading them more or less in full. The Prime Minister on that occasion made use, among others, of these words. He said:— The command of the sea, however important and however desirable it may be to other Powers, is to us a matter of life and death. We joust safeguard it not against imaginary dangers, not against bogies, spectres, and ghosts, bin we must safeguard it against all contingencies that can reasonably enter into the calculations of statesmen. For that impose we believe it to. be our duty to maintain our standard of relative naval strength. Both my hon. friends (referring to the hon. Members for Falkirk Burghs and Northwich) have said something as to the historical origin of what is called the two-Power standard. and I daresay they are correct in their statements which they made on that point, but I do not think that the historical origin of the standard matters very Much. The combinations of Powers and the relations between Powers necessarily shift from time to time The standard which is necessary for this country you may express it by any formula you please, though I believe it to be a convenient and practical formula - the standard it hid, we have to maintain is one which would give us complete and absolute command of the sea against any reasonable-possible combination of Powers. And then he goes on to say it is undesirable to speculate as to what these combinations may be.

That seemed to me to be a perfectly plain straightforward declaration of the Government conception of the meaning of the expression, "two-Power standard," and I think I may speak for my Friends on these Benches when I say that we were quite satisfied with that description of it, and we thought that, having given that very straightforward interpretation of the phrase, we had probably heard the last of it Bat that was not the view of the 73 Members opposite who went into the Lobby on that Division, and whom, for want of a better name, I am going to call to-night—without meaning any disrespect to them--the "Little Navy party." It soon appeared to us that these Gentlemen did not take our view that this was a description of the two-Power standard at which, once for all, cleared away all difficulty. They professed to find in the statement which I have just read by no means the negative of their proposal for a reduction of armament, which we thought it was. They found salvetion in two sentences of the extracts which I have just read. First of all in the sentence: "We roust safeguard it "— that is, our command of the sea—" not against imaginary dangers, but against all contingencies that can reasonably enter into the calcu- lations of Statesmen," and also in the other phrase which occurs later in the quotation:— The standard which we have to maintain is one which would give us complete and absolute command of the sea against any reasonably possible combination of Powers. I understand, so far as I have been able to follow what I have seen in the papers and what I have heard, that it was on those two sentences of the extracts from the Prime Minister's speech that I have read that hon. Members opposite in the Small Navy party relied.

These hon. Members, and the newspapers which support their views, argue that the words which I have just read put a completely different complexion on the meaning of the two-Power standard from anything they had ever heard before. Under the reservations contained in these words they maintained, I understand, 'that such powers, for instance, as Japan might be quite easily left out of our calculation in deciding what Powers we will have to take into account in making up cur two-Power standard. They said:— We are bound to Japan by a defensive and offensive alliance, and to use the words of the Prime Minister, it is not a contingency which can reasonably enter into the calculations of Statesmen that we should go to war with a Power which is hound to us by a solemn Treaty. In the same way with the United States of America, they have always maintained that it is beyond the bounds of probability, and they even go so far as to say that it is even beyond the bounds of probability that this country should ever be at war with the United States of America, and that on those grounds it would be manifestly absurd that we should take that Fewer into consideration in calculating our two-Power standard. I am not sure but that by a somewhat similar method of reasoning they have not ruled out France from their calculations, because they say that owing to the agreement, which happily has been come to between the two countries within the last few years, and the cordial relations which exists between the two countries, there is practically no possibility or no probability of war between us. I can only say, with reference to those three nations, that I have the very highest respect for the Japanese Alliance and also for the Japanese, and that I look to a very great advantage accruing both to this country and to Japan for that alliance; I also agree with them to a certain extent, in fact I go long way with them in the matter of the improbability of our ever being at war with the United States, but I do not go as far as they appear to go in stating that such a war is impossible.


Nothing is impossible.


Yes It is highly improbable but not impossible that we should go to war with the United States. With regard to France no one rejoices more than I do that, after all these years, I might also say centuries, of misunderstanding, we should at last, very much too late in my judgment, have settled all these minor differences, and that we now enjoy cordial relations with them. I sincerely trust that those relations may last for all time, but having said that I do not mean to say for one moment that these facts have any bearing on the two-Power standard. The way I look at it, and the way, I believe my hon. Friends around me, and also I hope the right hon. Gentleman sitting opposite to me, look at it is, that if any one of these three Powers was under some unfortunate set of circumstances which it is impossible for us to foresee at some future time to be drawn into a war against us—and I am prepared to admit, of course, that such a contingency is very remote, and in the case of the United States extremely remote — each of these three nations have a navy, and so long as that navy is capable of being used against U3 for offensive purposes we must take that navy into consideration, and we must treat that navy or that nation as a potential enemy. It may be a very, remotely potential enemy; but, still, it is a potential enemy, and if we are always to feel safe in command of the sea, no matter how closely you may be bound to any one of these Powers by treaties or by ties of blood or by other means, I would say that we must treat the navies of each of these countries as our potential enemies, and must make our disposition accordingly. The second extract from the Prime Minister's speech—a speech which he made last Session—seems to have been specially designed by the right hon. Gentleman to dispel what I am sure he realised at that time, and I hope still realises, were idle hopes on the part of the Little Navy party. I would commend this extract very strongly to the attention of the House. It was made on 10th March. last on the Naval Estimates in reply to the Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister on that occasion said I proceed to answer the right hon. Gentleman, and let me repeat what I said more than a week ago, that I do not think there is the faintest difference between-us on the two points, one of which may be said to involve the other. The first is that we must maintain the unassailable supremacy of this country on the sea. and for that purpose the two-Power standard, as it is the only one, whether an unscientific formula or not, is a good, practicable and workable one. There is no difference of opinion between successive Administrations on this point. I think anyone on this side of the House will regard that statement as absolutely unexceptionable, and as distinct and as clear as anyone could wish for. It came at a very opportune moment from our point of view, at any rate, and it damped down the joy of the Little Navy party. What I now propose to lay down to the House is this, that you should have a power in naval strength—I will not say in naval ships, but in naval strength generally—greater than that of any two other Powers in the world, no matter where those Powers may be, and no matter whether one or two of those Powers be either Japan, the United States of America, or France. I desire to emphasise those three nations. Hon. Members opposite will not deny that this has always been the view which we on this side, at any rate, have held in regard to the two-Power standard. I will draw the attention of the House particularly to the fact that the Prime Minister, in the extract which I have just read from his speech, emphasises the fact that there is not the faintest difference between his conception of the two-Power standard and ours, which is that which I have just laid down. After that very clear statement on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, I should have thought it probable that we had heard the last about the policy of the two-Power standard. Indeed, for some time we did not hear anything more about it, and I think it was not until the resumption of the House in the Autumn Session that the matter was again brought up. It was brought up on that occasion by my hon. Friend (Mr. Arthur Lee). He asked a question which was the outcome of reports and rumours of which everybody had heard, that an attempt was being made by hon. Members, who desire a reduction of our armaments, to obtain a declaration from the Prime Minister, or from the Government, that at any rate the United States could be left out of the calculation in working out the two-Power standard. They did not, however, get very much satisfaction on that occasion from the Prime Minister, who simply reasserted the principle that all we had to do in deciding on the two-Power standard was to find out the two next strongest Powers in the world and make our Navy 30 per cent. stronger. The question put on 12th November is the question on which, with the answer, my hon. Friend has framed the Resolution on the Paper. The hon. Member (Mr. Arthur Lee) asked the Prime Minister:— Whether the Government accepts the two-Power statulard of naval strength;is meaning a preponderance of 10 per cent. over the combined strengths in capital ships of the nest strongest Powers; and if not, can he state the definition of the two-power standard accepted by the Government. The right hon Gentleman's answer was: The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. Again I say nothing can be more clear and more satisfactory than that, though it might not be so to those Gentlemen who belong to the Little Navy party. In using that description I do not wish to give offence to hon. Gentlemen opposite.


Call it the "Sufficient. Navy party."


I have no desire to hurt the feelings of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I will call it the Smaller Naval party. These gentlemen, quite contrary to expectation, were apparently quite undismayed by the series of excellent specific' and clear answers to questions made front this side of the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk asked whether the. definition given by the Prime Minister earlier, and to which I referred by reading the first extract, meant the maintenance of the command of the sea against any reasonable and possible combination of Powers. The Prime Minister very properly said:— The statement in my hon. Friend's question, and the-statement in ray own Speech were identical. There is not the slightest doubt on the subject. My hon. Friend below me (Mr. Arthur Lee) put a supplementary question to the Prime Minister whether by the next two strongest Powers he meant the two, strongest Powers wherever they might be situated and whoever they might be. It was perfectly well known at the time—at any rate, I certainly took it to be the object of the question—that the desire was to elicit the fact categorically from the Prime Minister that America was not to left out of our calculations in this matter. After that answer, I think it will require an extraordinary amount of jugglery, either on the part of the Smaller Navy Party or the President of the Board of Trade, who may take the task in hand, to prove that last year it was the policy of the Government to eliminate any Power whatever from their calculations when making up our two-Power standard. I will read one more abstract, and that chiefly to show the pertinacity of hon. Members opposite in following up this matter and endeavouring to get the modification which they desired; and also to show, as late as 17th December of last year, the position of the Government was, from our point of view, absolutely correct on this matter. This a question which was addressed by my hon. Friend (Mr. Arthur Lee) to the Prime Minister, and was prompted by the fact that reports appeared in some newspapers and reports were current that the Smaller Navy Party were still endeavouring to get modifications of the two-Power standard from the Prime Minister. He (Mr. Arthur Lee) asked this question:— I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the report of a resolution, recently passed by the signatories to the Memorial on Reduction of Armaments, in which, apparently as the result of private communications with the Prime Minister, the signatories profess to have obtained justification for the hope that he will shortly make a public announcement modifying the statements which he recently made in this House on the subject of the two-Power Standard; to ask him, further, whether the report in question has been published with his authority, and whether there is any justification for the suggestion that the views of the Government have undergone a change since his public announcements on 13th and 23rd November. The Prime Minister replied to that:— The views of the Government have not undergone any change, nor have I any intention of modifiying the statements which I have made. My answer to which the hon. Gentleman refers did not announce any change of policy, but the intention of the Government to continue to pursue a policy which has now been followed for a number of years. I indicated to some of my hon. Friends my unwillingness to make a fuller statement on the whole subject than is possible within the limits of an answer to a question, and I rather deprecate these important matters being discussed in the form of question and answer. When the proper opportunity comes I shall hope to make a fuller statement. No opportunity could come because that question was asked and answered two days before the House rose. Therefore, so far as 1908 is concerned, no longer or more definite statement came, and the approach of the end of last year left us in a position which I and hon. Friends around me agree was, so far as our wishes with regard to a. two-Power standard were concerned, of an eminently satisfactory character. The Prime Minister had made statement after statement, and, if I may say so, each statement was more explicit and more satisfactory than the one which had preceded it, and showing that there was no difference between his conception of the expression "two-Power standard "and ours, and showing further that he would not permit of any weakening of the standard or suggestion that any Power might. under any circumstances be left out in case that Power happened to be one of the two strongest Powers.

We come to this year, and we all remember that during the early months of the year the whole controversy that raged —perhaps that is too strong a word—was swamped by a very much greater controversy which raged around what we considered an inadequate naval programme for this year. I do not want to go into that question to-night, because it is a totally different question. I desire tonight to avoid as far as possible anything of a controversial nature. Owing to the fact that the House and the country has its attention, so far as naval matters were concerned, entirely given up to what I admit is a much greater question than the one we are discussing, namely, the ships necessary for our position in the near future, owing to that the question of the two-Power standard was not heard of until the middle of the Easter holidays, when it was revived as the House will remember in the sudden dramatic way so clear to the heart of the President of the Board of Trade. We were all in the middle of holidays, trying, most of us, not to think of the Navy, not to think of wha'6 the Chancellor of the Exchequer was going to do to us in the Budget which was then impending, trying to enjoy our very short holiday, when one morning, on taking up the paper, we found a letter, a column and a half in length, from the President of the Board of Trade. This letter consisted of an effusion on the Navy, and this dissertation dealt with many branches of the Navy. He proved to his own satisfaction, no doubt, that the view that we held of the Navy was fallacious from almost every point of view. The greater portion of the letter I do not propose to deal with tonight, and only with that portion which deals with the two-Power standard. I will read the paragraph in the letter headed "Two-Power Standard ":— The third fallacy to which I should refer is concerned with the two-Power standard. The two-Power standard is not a standard of numbers; it is a standard of strength, and only, as the Prime Minister has stated, of strength available for agressive purposes against this Island. It is not a natural principle.- it is a rule-of-thumb formula which sometimes has a meaning. It has had in the past, it may have again in the future, a very precise and definite meaning. At the present moment it has no meaning. and for this reason that no reasonably probable combination against this country of any two existing naval powers can be discerned. That happy state of things may not continue, and it would be the duty of any British Government —not in the name of a formula, but of national security— to maintain an effective superiority over any reasonable probable combination of European Powers, the probability of the combination rather than the number of the Powers being the test. Meanwhile, however, in point of fact the Admiralty are prepared to prove that the British Fleet is now and will be in 1912 effectively superior not only to any reasonably probable combination of two Powers, but to the two next strongest Powers in Europe without regard to the probability of their combination. But you will observe that I say European Powers. It would be absurd for us to build ships against the United States. It may be true that ships built for European contingencies possess no doubt incidentally a universal protective power. These are the words to which I particularly desire to draw the attention of the House:— But it is not the policy of his Majesty's Government to take the navy of the United States into consideration when framing their naval Estimates, because we do not believe that there is any `reasonably probable '—nay, humanly conceivable—combination against the peace and freedom of the British people which would include the navy of the United States. The House will observe that that letter contains at least three novel and unorthodox theories or ideas; but the most striking point in the part of the letter which I have read is that it absolutely contradicts and nullifies the Prime Minister's statements. As I have said, the combined effect of the Prime Minister's statements, mostly made in answer to questions designed to draw an answer on this particular point, was to convince everybody that in calculating the two-Power standard the United States of America, if they happened to be one of the two next strongest Powers, would be included in our calculation in precisely the same way as Germany, Austria, Italy, or any other country. I think that that statement is incontestable after the statement of the Prime Minister, and if any doubts were expressed I would reread the answer which the right hon. Gentleman gave to the supplementary question of the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Arthur Lee). I say that it is absurd, or worse than absurd, it is almost an insult to the Prime Minister to say that he meant to leave out the United States from his calculation. When he knew, as he knew perfectly well, that these questions were being asked for the purpose of drawing from him a direct statement on that subject, if he had intended to leave the United States out of his calculation he would have stated so, but he did not do so. Without actually mentioning that country by name, he said as explicitly and as firmly as anybody could expect that the United States was in this respect to be the same as all other countries. I may say further that you may search the Prime Minister's speeches and contributions to naval debates, but you will not find a single passage to lend colour to the statement, if such a statement is made, that he was in favour of the proposition that the United States should be left out of account. The statement which I have read from the letter of the President of the Board of Trade is at direct variance with the statements made by the Prime-Minister. They are utterly irreconcilable, and I shall refuse to believe that the President of the Board of Trade was speaking with the authority of the Government, unless and until I hear distinctly from the Prime Minister or some other right hon. Gentleman opposite that that is so. But I confidently believe that I shall hear nothing of the sort.

That is really the most important point in the right hon. Gentleman's letter, but there are two other points upon which I should like to address the House. The right hon. Gentleman said the two-Power standard is not a standard of numbers. That is perfectly true. It is a standard of strength. and only, as the Prime Minister stated, of strength available for aggressive purposes against this island. These words are at first sight a little obscure. The President of the Board of Trade said that the Prime Minister himself had stated that the two-Power standard is only one of strength available for aggressive purposes against this island. I do not know to what speech the President of the Board of Trade referred when he made that statement, but I am led to believe that he was referring to a statement made by the Prime Minister on the Navy Estimates on 16th March of this year. The only part of the speech, however, in which I can find even the most remote resemblance -.4§0 anything of the sort is this passage. The Prime Minister said:— Before I pass from that I will only say that, in dealing with the two-Power standard, with the question whether or not we in this country have a naval force which is adequate to satisfy that requirement, you must. of course, not take into account merely what the right hon. Gentleman did, namely, the number of your ' Dreadnorights ' and Invincibles,' but you must take the total effective strength for defensive purposes as compared with the combined effective strength of any two other fleets for aggressive piurposes. I think that is perfectly right. I cannot find any fault with that statement myself, but I think that is a totally different thing from what the President of the Board of Trade says. He says:— As the Prime Minister stated. of strength available for aggressive purposes against this island. Possibly he meant the strength available for defensive purposes in connection with these islands. According to him, if Germany has a number of battleships located in the China Sea, for example, we are not to take those battleships into our calculation in making up our two-Power standard. In the same way, if America has ships cruising off Australia, and if by an unfortunate set of circumstances we should find ourselves at war with her, because those ships are at the far end of the world at the moment, and for some time are not actually available for aggressive purposes against this island, we are therefore to leave them out of account. The right hon. Gentleman might be able to give some other explanation of what he meant, but that is the only explanation I can put upon his words, and if it is the correct one I say that it is a ridiculous contention.

The President of the Board of Trade goes even further than that, because in connection with the third point, to which I wish to draw the attention of the House, he shows himself in the light of an apt pupil of the hon. Member for Falkirk (Mr. J. Murray Macdonald). He is prepared not only to exclude America, but he is ready in normal times to give up the two-Power standard altogether. That seems a large statement to make, but I think the House will agree that it is not far from the truth when I read the following extract from his letter. The right hon. Gentleman says:— It is not a natural principle; it is a rule-of-thumb formula which sometimes has a meaning; it has had in the past, and may have again in the future, a very precise and definite meaning. At the present moment it has no meaning, and for this reason, that no reasonably probable combination against this country of any two existing naval Powers can be discerned. That happy state of things may not continue— This is what I desire particularly to bring to the attention of the House. He means that at some time or other there may be in view or on the horizon a reasonably probable combination of other countries against this country, and in that case he says:— It would be the duty of any British Government to maintain an effective superiority over any reasonably probable combination of European Powers. I ask, then, is he going to wait until he sees that reasonably probable combination of European powers? That seems to me to be the whole crux of the question, the whole difference between the Member for Falkirk and his followers, and us. They apparently ask us to wait until we are on the outbreak of war before we do anything to get our Navy into a proper state of efficiency, whereas we say that it is absolutely necessary that even in the piping times of peace we should always have our fleet in such a state of readiness that if, as often happens, war came upon us with much greater suddenness than anybody anticipated, we should be ready to meet it. But, as i say, the right hon. Gentleman is in favour of no standard at all. I say that that letter, which has been read all over the country, must have given great grounds for uneasiness to anyone who studies the naval position, and who is mindful and anxious of our supremacy at sea.

But what we want to-night is a perfectly clear statement from the Prime Minister, that once and for all will show that he adheres—and I am perfectly sure he will give us that statement—to his statement made last year. We should like to have a specific clearing up of this particular point about America. It seems to us that it is impossible to take one country and treat it differently to the others, though there is the possibility—I do not say probability —and I hope not—that we may at some time or another find ourselves at war with the United States of America. Foreign complications might lead us in that position whether we like it or not.

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

The hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. Craig) has made a very temperate and reasonable speech, and I have certainly nothing to complain of in his reference to myself. I could have wished, if for a moment I may be critical, that in framing his Motion and in attributing to me and basing his Motion upon an alleged definition of the two-Power standard given by me, he had chosen by preference the definition given in my own language, and not in the language of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Fareham (Mr. A. Lee). The hon. Gentleman has done me perfect justice in the matter, because he has read to the House, although they do not appear in the forefront of his Motion, I think the two expositions, if I may so call them, that I have in the course of the last twelve or thirteen months attempted to give of this matter. I should like, if I may once more, just to read the salient sentences of these two definitions.

The first was in a speech which I delivered on the Motion for the Reduction of Armaments in March of last year. I said then:— But I do not think the historical origin of the two-Power standard matters very much. The combinations of Powers and the relations between Powers necessarily shift from time to time. The standard which is necessary for this country—though you may express it by say formula you please, though I believe it to be a convenient and practical formula— That is the two-Power standard— The standard which we have to maintain is one which would give us complete and absolute command of the sea against any reasonably-possible combination of Powers. That was my first definition. The other definition, which I gave two or three weeks ago in the course of a Debate on the Navy Estimates to which the hon. Gentleman has referred, and which I venture to think is perhaps more complete than the former definition is:— In dealing with the two-Power standard and the question as to whether or not we in this country have a naval force which is adequate to satisfy that requirement, yon must of course not merely take into account the number of Dreadnonghts' and 'Invincibles,' but you must take the total effective strength for defensive purposes as compared with the combined effective strength of any two other fleets for aggressive purposes. I believe that represents clearly and fairly the two-Power standard as it has been understood and acted upon by successive Administrations in this country.

Let me say at once—for I do not want to detain the House—I have very little to add to what I have previously said on the subject—but let me say at once, so far as the Government is concerned, we have made no new departure. We have not in any way changed the policy which was followed by Administrations that preceded whether Conservative or Liberal. There has been no change of any sort whatever. We have continued strictly on the lines laid down for us, not by one party or the other, hut by the common consent of administrators belonging to both parties in the State. Let me add—the hon. Member will, I think, agree with me—that at the moment, for the purposes of the moment, the Question is an academic one. [Cries of dissent, and an Hex. MEMBER "It is important."] I am not saying it is not important,. I am pointing out that for the practical purposes of the moment it is an academic Question. Because anyone who looks at the Dilke Return will see that whatever two Powers you like to take, in any part of the world, that their combined effective strength for aggressive purposes against this country is very far below the defensive strength of this country. I think no one will doubt that.

I should like, without any intention of disparaging this formula of the two-Power standard, to which homage has been done by so many eminent statesmen in the past, to add that I think there has been a great deal of nonsense talked about it. It is spoken of sometimes as if it were like the law of gravitation or the precepts of the Decalogue—a sort of immutable truth dictated to us by Nature or Providence, which it is absolutely profane to criticise, and which under no circumstances can be questioned. It is nothing of the kind. As I have pointed out over and over again — as I am sure the hon. Member will agree—the two-Power standard is nothing more than a purely empirical generalisation; it is a convenient working rule of thumb under existing conditions—conditions which have prevailed for a considerable number of years. We do not know how much longer they are going to prevail. for my part, would be very sorry—speaking with a full sense of responsibility—to dive with a full sense and to predict that the formula of the two-Power standard will necessarily be an adequate or a satisfactory one some years hence. I do not think it will. I think it would be a very hazardous thing to pin your future—I am not speaking of the immediate future, but of the remoter future—to a belief in that or any other formula. All these rules ought to be servants and not masters; they are means to an end, and it is that end we should keep in view, and that end I believe is one on which there is absolutely no difference of opinion between both sides of the House, and that end is to ensure for this country, in any conceivable condition, and against all possible hazards. unassailable naval superiority which will give us complete command of the sea, and make, I will not say invasion of these islands, but make any attempt to interfere with any part of our Empire, or sea-borne commerce, an impossibility. I much prefer to state our purpose and our naval policy in terms of means, and I say you must adapt your means from time to time, having regard to the ever-shifting exigencies of the shipbuilding policies and ambitions of other countries; those shifting exigencies you must ever keep in view; you must never lose sight of them, and you must always be prepared to make any sacrifice for its attainment. Having said so much without, I think, any disparagement of the two-Power formula, let me say one or two words in regard to this Motion. I am going to quote from two or three of our most, eminent statesmen, language in which in days gone by they have described this formula and its purpose. I will take first Lord Salisbury. Speaking as far back as 1889, he says:— It has been laid down as a sort of general rule or maxim for the guidance of this country as a. great maritime nation that we ought always to have at our command a fleet which would he equal to a combination of any two great Powers that may be brought against us Then, again, the Leader of the Opposition, some years later, in March, 1896, I think, speaking in this House, used langauge which I shall also quote, as it seems to me to be very pertinent. He said:— You must not examine or contemplate an extreme case. If every country tried to base its armaments on extreme cases no country in the world could possibly be safe. I think, therefore, with all deference, we must content ourselves with a general standard which has been quite sufficient in the past, and without taking vast though not absolutely impossible combinations simply to bring up our fleet to a strength which would enable us to contend on satisfactory terms with the two largest fleets that could be brought against us. That was said on 10th March, 1896. The right hon. Gentleman again—I am not quoting these passages polemically, because I quite agree with him, and I am quite sure he would repeat them if he was here to-night—said on 2nd August, 1906:— The two-Power standard of naval strength as I understand it is that we ought to have a. Navy to deal effectively with any two Powers that can he brought against us. The House will observe in both these authoritative statements the same phrase occurs. That is what I am contending, and that is what I mean when in slightly expanded language in the spring of this year, only a month ago, I said we must take our total effective strength for defensive purposes, as compared with the combined effective strength of any other two fleets. Let us see how that works out in practice. In the first place, it was pointed out years ago by Mr. Goschen, and I think it has been repeated by almost every distinguished naval administrator, when you are measuring the combined effective strength of two hostile fleets you must have regard to the fact that the two fleets are not the same; that they are not equally effective for aggressive or, indeed, for defensive purposes as one homogeneous fleet belonging to the same nation, and under the same command. That is a consideration you must always have in view, the practical consideration, when you are applying this rule for practical purposes. Further, it has been established—not very clearly, I think, at first—what this rule was originally intended to apply, and was deemed to apply—it used to be stated to battleships. The phrase has recently crept in--I think it was on a question of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Mr. Arthur Lee) put to me the phrase crept in of "capital ships." I do not know what a "capital ship" is, or I do not think anybody else knows, but I think we mean the same thing, and so long as we mean the same thing I do riot think it matters much. At any rate, it was used in regard to ships to be put in the line of battle. In other words, it does not include the great bulk of your cruisers and other vessels engaged in the protection of commerce and looking after the outlying parts of the Empire. It applies to battleships who, as the lawyers would say, were ejusdeni ye neris. That is a further qualification which has to be-regarded when you are considering the practical application of the rule. Then there is another point, and here comes in a question which the hon. Member raised with regard to the United States. I think I was right in saying—although I rather deprecated supplementary questions put on matters as grave and delicate as these, because, however one answers, however guarded they are, they are often liable to misconception—that under existing conditions, or conditions that we cannot at present foresee, you ought not to limit your vision when you are contemplating the two-Power standard to Europe alone. It was said three or four years ago by Earl Cawdor that the standard only applied to European Powers. [An HON. MEMBER: "He explained that."] We all have to explain our speeches sometimes. Blessed is the Parliamentary speaker who has least to explain—I myself am engaged in the task of explaining, though I do not think it needed explanation, but it required some further exposition than I was able to give it in the course of an answer to a question—I agree that you ought not to limit the range of your vision simply to what is going on in Europe. On the other hand, when you are considering the combined effective strength of any other two Powers in the world, for aggressive purposes against this country, you must have regard to geographical conditions. Let me give an illustration, to make the point clear, leaving the United States out of the case. Take the case of China. Suppose China built a fleet of "Dreadnoughts "—say, six, eight, or ten—that would become part of the navies of the world. No rational man or Minister would treat those six or eight Chinese "Dreadnoughts" as standing on the same footing for the purposes of the two-Power standard and the potentialities of combined aggression against this country as if they belonged to Germany or France, because China is a country whose base might be 6,000, 8,000, or 10,000 miles away. I am not saying that your attack will always be in home waters, but that is the first thing we have got to look after. That is the far most important thing we have to look after—to maintain the integrity of these shores—and when you are dealing with a naval power whose base is 3,000, 6,000, or 10,000 miles away, who has no intervening coaling stations, which would have to transport their vessels the whole of that disrance before they became effective in our home waters, it seems to be elementary common-sense that you should not treat that fleet in accordance with the ordinary rules of business, that you should not treat it as if, for the purposes of this standard, it had the same effective value as a fleet which has its base 300 or 400 males away. Certainly no person practically cognisant with naval administration will quarrel with that statement. Therefore, it is perfectly true, as my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty said the other day, that as regards the United States they would not count under existing conditions as one of the two Powers which you have to take into account. It is true for the reason that I have given. The United States bas a powerful fleet, and if you count vessels by noses, and noses alone, no doubt she would at present come second amongst the navies of the world, our own fleet would come first. She would come second, because she has actually more battleships at this moment than Germany, though we ourselves have a great deal more than the two combined. You cannot, in my view, and I think in the view of every responable authority, treat for effective aggressive purposes those ships as if they were in the same category as the ships of Germany, France, or Austria, if Austria were to take to building "Dreadnoughts." I do not think there is anything novel in that proposition, and I believe it will be found that the Board of Admiralty has always acted upon it in framing their programme. and it seems to me to be a proposition based upon the most elementary, rules of common-sense. That is really all I have to say. I have withdrawn absolutely nothing from any of the statements I have made either in the speeches to which the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Craig) referred, or in the answers given to the questions put to me, because those answers were most carefully drafted. I agree with the Mover that the two-Power standard, as I have defined it and as he has defined it to-night. I have nothing to quarrel with in anything he has said on the subject, but the two-Power standard does afford under existing conditions a rational interpretation and a useful practical formula for the naval policy of this country. I should deprecate very strongly the two-Power standard being treated here or hereafter as though it had a sort of sacred sacro-sanctity and immutable authority which sheltered it from all possible criticism. I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman opposite would claim for it any such authority as that, and that being so, I do not think that any serious or substantial difference exists between the two sides of the House on this matter. and it would be a very great satisfaction to all of us if this part at any rate of the area of naval administration could be removed altogether from the domain of conflict. I do not believe there is any real difference of opinion between us, and I hope the House will be of that opinion.


I hope the right hon. Gentleman realises that owing to the unavoidable absence of the Leader of the Opposition he is not able to reply to his speech, and I hope he will not think it any slight upon him if I attempt to reply. Under ordinary circumstances, and if we had only the right hon. Gentleman himself to consider, the general statement. which he has made in support of our naval position would, I think, satisfy hon. Gentlemen who sit on this side of the House_ But I am sorry to say that, taking his remarks altogether to-night, I do not now understand how he stands with regard to. this Question of the two-Power standard. The right hon. Gentleman has told us just now that he withdraws nothing of what he has said before on this subject. He said it is true that he preferred his own definition and his own language to the language contained in the questions which I put to him last autumn. But he accepted that language as stated in those questions on three different occasions, and he now tells us that he withdraws nothing. It is really the fact, if we consider the speech to which we have just listened, that the Prime Minister withdraws nothing.

He told us last November that the two-Power standard applied to the two next strongest Powers, whatever they might be and wherever they might be situated. Those words were very carefully chosen when the question was framed, and they were intended to elicit from the right hon. Gentleman that plain question whether he did or did not make any exception in regard to any Power whatsoever in the whole world in his definition of the two-Power standard. His answer was that he did not except any Power whatever. I think his words were, "under existing or any foreseeable circumstances." Listening to his remarks I gather now that he does except the United States. That is the effect of the speech he has just delivered. It really is very difficult for us to know where we stand, and it seems to me by introducing an exception—I do not care what Power he refers to as the exception --of any sort of kind he is knocking the bottom and justification out of the two-Power standard. Sooner than accept that it seems to me the two-Power standard should be abandoned altogether, and we should have sonic other standard. As T gather that is not altogether satisfactory, at any rate the Prime Minister says he is not enamoured of it as a formula, and therefore I think it is better we should abandon the whole thing and have something which is more precise in its place en which the nation can rely.

It seems to me that the formula of the Government is really useless as a national standard, and is, indeed, a dangerous sham, because it presumes a sense of security when in fact no security exists. If the Government intend to interfere with that rule which has hitherto been our national bulwark, it is better that it should be razed to the ground altogether in order that we should no longer cherish the dangerous illusion that it is of any value. The right lion. Gentleman said the language in his previous speeches before his answers were given to my questions was really more precise, and that he would prefer to base his definition of the two-Power standard upon them. Surely he must be aware that it was that very language which was so misunderstood by hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side, and it was owing to misrepresentations of that language that the hon. Member for Falkirk and his Friends challenged the meaning Of the right hon. Gentleman's definition.


I did not challenge the language of the Prime Minister either before or after the hon. Member put his question.


It is quite true the hon. Member did not challenge it publicly, but he gave his own interpretation, and he. also gave it to the Press.


That was after the hon. Member had put his question.


My question was put to elucidate the position which was brought about as the result of statements made by the hon. Member opposite and his Friends. We have regarded the two-Power standard hitherto as being a fixed standard on which the nation could rely, but the Prime Minister tells us to-night something which is inconsistent with that idea. We want a standard which is applicable at all times, and under all conditions, and' not one which is dependent on the political considerations of the moment. I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman wishes in any way to modify the answers which he gave last autumn, although he remembers the answers were. not received altogether with rapture by some of his hon. Friends, but he was overwhelmed with praise by others for the strong and determined stand which he had taken, and he accepted that almost universal interpretation of his language without protest. He gave no suggestion that he would withdraw from the position which. he had taken up. That is, I am afraid, what he has done to-night. Let us consider for a moment the actual terms of the assurances which he gave to the country last November and December. I do not think it is possible to find language more. precise, or more plain, or more comprehensible than that which he used. I do not think there were any doubts as-to the obvious meaning of the language he used except those expressed by some hon. Gentlemen opposite, who tried to twist a new meaning into a plain statement. But what I wish to refer to is the last portion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I do not believe in any attempt to exclude any particular Power or Powers from the operation of a formula which has hitherto been considered of universal application. It seems to me that a formula in which you introduce an exception has no virtue at all. It may become actually vicious. If it is assumed that America is excluded because—thank Heaven !—we may never have to fight her, then we make the formula a sham. But the right hon. Gentleman said that America under the present circumstances was to be excluded. May I ask the Prime Minister this plain question—does he in-elude America in the two-Power standard, or does he exclude it?


The hon. Gentleman does not appear to have listened to what I said. I thought that I had made my meaning clear. I said it is not applicable to America more than to any other remote Power. I instanced China. I said that every Power which, when you come to a practical application of this standard, requires geographical consideration.


It is exceedingly difficult to understand what the Prime Minister really means. It only shows that we are on a slippery slope when any question of exception is taken into account. The two-Power standard is a perfectly plain and straightforward rule. As to geographical considerations, I do not want to go at any length into the strategetical possibilities with a Power like America, because I believe that this country will never be led or goaded into a war with America. Therefore, from a purely military point of view, it is unprofitable to discuss the strategetical possibilities of such a conflict. But as he has raised the question we can, only as an academic problem, hardly exclude America from our consideration. It must he remembered that America sent 16 first-class battleships and maintained them as a fighting entity throughout a voyage of 40,000 miles, in the course of which they circumnavigated the globe and visited many parts of the British Empire. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to pin himself down to geographical remoteness surely the question of the Russian Navy should have come in when Russia was at war with Japan. I only refer to that point because I was drawn into it by the Prime Minister, but my whole argument is that it shows the highest unwisdom and folly on international and political grounds to introduce an exception to a rule which, if it possesses any virtue at all, lies in the fact of its being of universal application. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman only excluded America on account of geographical considerations.


I did not use the word exclude, and it does not accurately represent ray meaning.

Mr. A. LEE

To include America is a proof of the unobjectionable character of the two-Power standard. It shows that we have no arrière pensáe. We define it as a general rule on the very ground put forward by the Prime Minister, as being a convenient rule of thumb which shall at all times be deemed capable of insuring to us that supremacy at sea upon which the continued existence of the British Empire and the safety of our homes depends. I do not wish to take up time, but I must refer to the wording of the reply given by the First Lord of the Admiralty. I do not know whether it was on behalf of the Prime Minister—in which he laid great stress on the use of the two words "defensive" and "aggressive" ! Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that we should exclude the United States as an aggressive force, while we are to include Powers which are also extremely friendly to us and absolutely allied to us—such as France and Japan? When the Prime Minister uses the word "aggressive" as being of such great importance, I would ask: Does he accept the words of the President of the Board of Trade, who said we only had to consider navies which might be used for aggressive purposes against it?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Churchill)


Mr. A. LEE

Oh, yes. I have the right lion. Gentleman's speech here, if he will allow me to read it.


I never said we only had to consider the navies from the point of view of aggression, but I said the two-Power standard must be regarded from the point of view of aggressive effectiveness.

Mr. A. LEE

"Against this island." That was the phrase the right hon. Gentleman used. Are we only considering the defence of this island? Are we inviting the British Colonies to send representatives here next month in order to discuss, not the defence of the British Empire, but only the defence of this island? I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman's sojourn at the Colonial Office did not give him a somewhat wider horizon. What we have to consider in all these questions are not the intentions of this or that Power, but their capabilities, and we can never allow our supremacy at sea, and with it our national security, to rest upon the goodwill, present or future, of this, that, or any Power, wheresoever that Power may be. I began by saying I really do not now know, after the Prime Minister's speech, how we stand with regard to this question of the two- Power standard. I do not believe anyone in this House understands whether it is to be considered as of universal application or not, or whether there are, at the will of the Government, to be certain exceptions introduced into it for geographical or other reasons. There is one other point with which I may deal which is even more important than the Prime Minister's or the Government's adherence—verbal adherence—to the two-Power standard, and that is the question whether they are or are not maintaining it at the present time. The right hon. Gentleman said he felt sure I should not challenge or even raise that question, but I am afraid that, in spite of his statement, I am bound to do so, because it does not follow in the least that because the two-Power standard may exist at the present moment, therefore the Government are maintaining it. I believe the Government have stated—I think the President of the Board of Trade stated only a short time ago—that, as a matter of fact, we have a three-Power standard.


No, I never said-that; it may be true, but I never said it.

Mr. A. LEE

No doubt the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten some of the passages in the letter which he addressed to his constituents. I attach the less importance to his obiter dicta, because I recognise. that it is merely an incident of that vendetta, which he continues to wage against all reasonable expenditure on our national defences. But the real question is whether the future of the two-Power standard is safeguarded and insured by the action of the Government to-day. That is, after all, the only reasonable test of their professions of devotion to the two-Power standard. It is obvious to everyone that this year's naval programme cannot have any effect whatsoever, for the purposes of war, until at least two years from the present time, and as by universal admission it is the period which commences about two years from now about which we have most reason to feel anxiety, it is necessary we should examine into what the Government is doing in order to find out whether the two - Power standard, for which they will still be responsible, will be maintained in the year 1911–12. It is very difficult, of course, to make an accurate forecast, and I do not wish on this occasion to weary the House with details, but I think the indications are by no means encouraging. I will give two illustrations. To-day we have, ac- cepting the Government's own Return—and I do not think the First Lord of the Admiralty will challenge the figures, although they do not precisely agree with the Dilke Return—we have to-day 46 modern battleships completed, as compared with 41 of the two next strongest Powers—Germany and the United States. That is just over the two-Power standard, plus 10 per cent. But if we include ships under construction—and the Prime Minister stated on 25th March we must take them into account—then we have only 52 modern ships built and under construction, as compared with 60 of the two next strongest Powers combined. That is 14 ships under the two-Power standard. Then I come to the question of money. I do not want to go into extraneous matters, but I will take the money for new construction alone. Approximately the amount being spent in this country and in each of the two next strongest Powers is the same at the present time, or, putting it in a slightly different way, in the present. year, 1910, on new construction and armaments we are proposing to spend 111 millions sterling, as compared with nearly 21 millions of the two next strongest Powers —Germany and the United States. I do not say that these facts are absolutely conclusive, but they are highly symptomatic, and, coupled with the fact admitted by the Government that there is one foreign Power at least which can build as quickly as we can, these figures go to show that the Government, as regards their own responsibility for the future, are not maintaining the two-Power standard. If that is the case, what value are we to place upon these vague verbal endorsements of the national formula? One definition of a formula is a confession of faith. This is a case of preaching without practising, as it seems to me, in the matter of naval armaments. There is only one last point to which I will refer before I sit down, and that is as to the statement—I do not think it was used by the right hon. Gentleman himself, but it is used freely by his friends—that we cannot afford to continue the maintenance of the two-Power standard if the two strongest Powers set a pace, as some may think, we cannot follow.


I did not say so.

Mr. A. LEE

No, the right hon. Gentleman did not say so; but then he introduced an explanation of the two-Power standard which deprived it, as far as we are concerned of nearly its whole value. I think it is rather premature for us to say we cannot afford to maintain what after all has been our main security up to now, for although we may be hard pressed in this country, the resources of the Empire as a whole in connection with naval defence have been scarcely tapped. I rejoice that the Prime Minister has called a Conference of the Colonies to consider this great Question, and I certainly hope that that Conference will not separate without arriving at some solution of what has been considered hitherto an almost insoluble problem. Meanwhile the whole of the responsibility rests upon us at the present time, whatever the Colonies may do, and the country does look to the Government to discharge that responsibility, and to discharge it without hesitation and without shrinking from any sacrifices which may be necessary, and I venture to say when the right hon. Gentleman's speech is read to-morrow in the country, and it is found that he has introduced now, after six months, this new element of uncertainty, of indefiniteness, and of not knowing where we are, of not knowing whether one Power is or is not excluded from the two-Power standard, there will be a general feeling—I will not say of consternation, but, at any rate, of extremely strong desire, that the Government shall state plainly what is the standard upon which the country can rely in future, because it is not sufficient for this country to have to rely upon large, vague and comfortable assurances with regard to such a matter as this, and I think the country is entitled to have in the future, as it has had up to now, a plain arithmetical formula. I think it was the First Lord of the Admiralty who stated in his speech at the Guildhall that all the country had to do in order to understand the two-Power standard was to make some small arithmetical calculation.

The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. McKenna)


Mr. A. LEE

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity of explaining what he did say, but at any rate, in the mind of the average man of this country, he has understood the two-Power standard as meaning the standard of the two next strongest Powers, with a margin of decent safety. What is the plain arithmetical formula which the Government is going to substitute for that? The right hon. Gentleman has not told us. I think we are entitled to have something definite to go upon and something which cannot be misunderstood in this country, and which cannot be misunderstood or misrepresented abroad. I frankly say that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, and the weakening which it shows from his previous statement, came not only as a great surprise, but as a great disappointment to those who sat on these Benches, and I hope that before this Debate closes we may receive from some other Member of the Government a statement on this subject. We have had statements with regard to the two-Power standard from many Members of the Government, and I hope we may, on this occasion, have a statement from the First Lord of the Admiralty of that plain, simple formula which the country will be able to understand.


I do not think any impartial critic who has heard the speech of the Prime Minister, or who reads it tomorrow morning, can come to any other conclusion than that it is a complete abandonment of the two-Power standard. That standard has been the Monro doctrine of the British Empire, and it is undoubtedly abandoned and surrendered in deference to the agitation carried on by the President of the Board of Trade. At any rate, the President of the Board of Trade has attempted to justify one of his past speeches, in which he said, at Plymouth, when he belonged to the party opposite, that the Liberal party could not be trusted to maintain the fighting forces of this country. We have now adopted what was never heard of in the past definition of the two-Power standard, a geographical standard. We have got clown to the world as bounded by European waters, and we have practically got down, if we adopt the definition of the President of the Board of Trade's letter, to Little England at last. I think it was Frederick the Great who said that but for the cursed science of geography he might have been an honest man, and it seems to me, with reference to the definition we have had of this two-Power standard, last autumn and now, that but for this two-Power standard the Government might have been an honest broker. We are told by the right hon. Gentleman that the Question is academic, because of our strength to-day. Do we ever consider in shipbuilding our strength to-day? We have to consider our strength in 1912. Nobody supposes that this Question is academic in regard to the strength of Germany and the United States in 1912. The two-Power standard has never been anything else but a minimum standard. I can give quotation after quotation from every great statesman in the past since 1889 showing that they meant the two next strongest Powers in the world, and showing that they regarded the standard as a minimum one. It has been the load- line of the ship of State, and now, when the captain of the ship of State, in the person of the Prime Minister, claims the right to adjust it just as he likes, perhaps the First Lord of the Admiralty will tell us, if we have a two-Power standard, what are the two Powers we build against. In former days we kept up a two to one standard against France, and it would be in- finitely better than having a two-Power standard, which the Government possess and do not explain to the House, to revert to a two-Power standard against Germany. When the Prime Minister talks of a reason- able probable combination of Powers I would refer him back to the definition given by Lord Tweedmouth when he wrote to Lord Cawdor and said he regarded a reasonable probable combination of Powers as an extension of the two-Power 'standard. He wrote on March 19th, 1908:— In view of what you said in your reply to-night, and the line of criticism taken in some of the news- papers this morning, I wish to say that my words. `any reasonable combination of foreigh Powers,' were intended as an extension and not a restriction of the definition of the two-Power standard. If, then, the Government mean the same thing, why should they object to the two- Power standard as meaning the two next strongest Powers in the world—Germany and the United States'? The Prime Minister gave us sundry quotations, but there is not one of them which conflicts with the definition of the two next strongest Powers in the world, and, if challenged, I have quotations from every single one of the First Lords of the Admiralty, of the past Prime Ministers, and many great states- men, and nearly all of them use the words "the two next strongest Powers in the world." As matters stand now, we appear to be dependent on forecasts. The Government arrogate to themselves the position of prophets. They know what is a reasonable probable combination, say, three, four, or five years hence. Nothing in the history of forecasts is more clear than this—that statesmen have been wrong in attempting to forecast the grouping of the Powers in the future. To take a single instance, I do not think there is a single hon. Member in the House who in 1894 could have forecasted that France, Russia, and Germany would join forces together in order to coerce Japan, and it is for that very reason that it is impossible to forecast the future that Parliament in its wisdom has always adopted the two-Power standard as a minimum standard.

In connection with this attempt at a geographical standard, I should like to take an instance in the year 1796. It is pertinent to the point, and I think history has a distinct bearing on this question. During all that period we always had two to one at least against France, and very often much more, right away from 1788 to 1870. We had then nominally 160 battleships to 136 for France, Holland, and Spain. That was exactly a proportion of 20 to 17. Thirty-four of our ships were unavailable, leaving us 126 to 136. Although we had a less number, we did not think it necessary to abandon the Colonies. We had no fewer than 38 ships in Colonial waters, apart from the Mediterranean, to 25 of the three allies. That left us in Home waters 88 to 111. The result was this, that we had to abandon the Mediterranean, with 31 battleships taken away, in order to save the situation in Home waters, and a most disastrous financial crisis broke out in London—such a financial crisis as would undoubtedly spell absolute ruin to this country if it occurred to-day. In addition the French invaded Egypt in the absence of the British Fleet, and Nelson was sent out afterwards to fight the battle of the Nile. That was simply due to the standard being insufficient in those days, and all I can say is that if we propose to leave the United States to roam over the whole Pacific, and to interfere with our trade as she likes on the ground that New York is 3,000 miles from London, there will be a very much worse financial crisis in this country when the war comes.

I believe this new definition of a two-Power standard is the outcome of those many Cabinet councils of which we have heard so much when the whole world was let into the secrets of the Cabinet and we all heard about the various dissensions. It is a surrender to the President of the Board of Trade and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, neither of whom during all this naval alarm in the country has ventured to address a single audience on the question of the Navy. It has been a case of the speeches all on one side. You might as well be fighting with cotton wool. Their chief employment has been to describe my opinion as belonging to the blue funk school.


I have never referred to the hon. Gentleman in any speech I ever made.


I never for a moment said the right hon. Gentleman had so honoured me. I said "people who belonged to the school of opinion to which I belong," as being of the blue funk school, and talking about mythical armadas. That phrase I believe belongs to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and when he talks about mythical armadas I would remind him that the word "mythical" was precisely the word used by the French Prime Minister in 1869 when he talked of the mythical battalions of Germany. When phrases like that are used, and such phrases as "Navies to resist nightmares," I feel inclined to become superstitious and to touch wood, having regard to the precedent of the French Prime Minister in 1869. What is at the back of the minds of the President of the Board of Trade and the Chancellor of the Exchequer? It is simply that the ruling consideration, as was stated by the hon. Member for the Fareham Division (Mr. Arthur Lee) is finance. The President of the Board of Trade has a standing vendetta on the question of cutting down the expenditure of the country, and, looking at the arguments by which they justify this abandonment of the two-Power standard, I remember that in his speech the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that whenever you build a "Dreadnought" you put a penny on the Income Tax. I do not think he can know what a "Dreadnought" costs or what a penny on the Income Tax produces. A penny on the Income Tax produces £2,900,000. A "Dreadnought" costs, if you take into consideration the interest on the first cost, depreciation over a life of 20 years, the cost of the crew, stores, repairs, and every single consideration, such as the provision of docks, not more than a quarter of a million a year. Therefore a penny on the Income Tax represents an addition of 11 "Dreadnoughts to the strength of the country. I do not think the First Lord of the Admiralty will attempt to deny my figures—that the cost of a "Dreadnought" is £250,000 a year, and if you borrow a sum of money representing that interest it will work out right. Therefore a penny on the Income Tax represents an addition of 11 "Dreadnoughts" to the strength of the country and not one as the Chancellor of the Exchequer says. Perhaps, therefore, he will revise his opinion to our definition of a two-Power standard.

I am perfectly certain that the country will never tolerate a state of affairs in which it is absolutely in the dark as to what standard the Government are building to. The country will demand that the standard shall be clear, so that the man in the street can do that simple sum in arithmetic which the First Lord invited us to do the other day, and personally, now that the two-Power standard is abandoned, for it is abandoned, I strongly advocate that we should carry out a campaign throughout the country to revert to the old standard of two to one—two "Dreadnoughts" whenever Germany lays down one.


I desire to move, as an Amendment, to leave out from the word "House," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "accepts with confidence the statement with regard to the two-Power standard made by the Prime Minister." [An HON. MEMBER: "Which statement? "] I listened with great attention to the very able opening speech made by the hon. Member who seconded the Motion, and I have sat through the whole of this De-.bate listening to the speeches of the hon. Member for Fareham and of the Prime Minister. I have taken an interest, though a silent interest, in the great question of the two-Power standard, and I well remember the Debate which was initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for the Falkirk Burghs on an Amendment moved to the Address last Session. At that time an Amendment was moved to his Motion by the Prime Minister. I was unable to follow my hon. Friend the Member for the Falkirk Burghs into the Lobby on that occasion, and I accepted the view then put forward by the Prime Minister, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, as expressed in the Amendment which he moved, that the House "will support His Majesty's Ministers in such economies of naval and military expenditure as are consistent with the adequate defence of His Majesty's Dominions." I am bound to say that I was apprehensive and perturbed by the answers given across the floor of the House in reply to questions put by the hon. Member for Fareham, and I felt that something was to be desired in the shape of a fuller statement by the Prime Minister in regard to his interpretation of the two-Power standard which he had ex- pressed on more than one occasion. At the close of last year I understood it was fully the intention of the Prime Minister on some subsequent occasion more fully to explain his meaning than was possible by question and answer across the floor of the House. I could not detect any verbal inconsistency, although I thought that the reply to the hon. Member for Fareham left something to be desired. I venture to say that the reply given by the Prime Minister to-night has put his original view in a somewhat clearer form, and while cordially agreeing with the Prime Minister's view that it is the end rather than any formula as to the means that this House ought to hold in view—that is to say, the maintenance of the unassailable supremacy of this country in the matter of naval defence—I feel that the interpretation given by the Prime Minister to-night is one that will command the unanimous confidence, or the almost unanimous confidence, of those who sit on this side of the House. It has considerably cleared up some. doubts and difficulties which were felt by some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House in regard to previous Debates, and it has also somewhat elucidated the condensed reply given by the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Fareham last year. In those circumstances, for my own part, I feel that the Debate to-night has certainly not been in vain. It has served to elucidate and to clarify the statements formerly made by the Prime Minister, and I have every pleasure in moving the Amendment I have read.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I am sorry that I have to speak in a Debate in which I have not heard the principal speech; but the House will understand that it never occurred to me that at nine o'clock in the evening of a day on which the House has been hard at work the Prime. Minister would give a statement which, I gather, befogged and beclouded a perfectly clear and unmistakable utterance which, on more than one occasion, he has already made to the House. The hon. Gentleman (Sir William Collins) in the Amendment which he has just moved asked this House to express its confidence in the statement which I understand has been made by the Prime Minister. Confidence has a technical meaning in this Chamber. Confidence means that followers of the Government are prepared to support it without committing themselves individually and severally to the policy of the Government, whose general lines of policy they are, in a general way,' prepared to act upon. Of course, with this majority in the House., I presume that it will always be proper for a Member to receive the statement of a Prime Minister with confidence. Let us put aside "confidence "and use words of rather less technical signification. Does the hon. Gentleman mean that he perfectly understands the Prime Minister now, though he did not understand him before Does confidence mean perfect comprehension? Does it mean a clear view of the various statements of the Government at various times with regard to what is, after all, the vital interest of this country? For-instance, take a concrete case. I think I heard the lion. Gentleman observe that in the speech of the Prime Minister to-night the Prime Minister had given a much clearer view of his policy than could be gathered from the condensed replies which he had given in answer to questions. It is perfectly true that the answers to questions are condensed, but they are also considered. In this House, where we often have to speak without preparation or premeditation, phrases may escape us occasionally which do not fully and adequately express the meaning we desire to convey; but a written answer to a question is a considered answer, and if the language of the answer is perfectly unmistakable and explicit it is absurd to tell us that the Prime Minister, who is. himself a master of condensed, clear expression is under the smallest misapprehension as to the meaning of the words he used. Let me remind the House once more of what the. hon. Gentleman called the condensed replies of the Prime Minister on this all-important topic. He was asked by my hon. Friend near me (Mr. Arthur Lee) last November "whether the Government accepts the two-Power standard as meaning a preponderance of 10 per cent. over the combined strength in battleships of the two next strongest Powers." "Mr. Asquith:- The reply is in the affirmative." Is that precisely the statement made by the Prime Minister to-night? I mean, does anybody on that side of the House maintain that it is precisely the same? On November 23rd, ten days afterwards, my hon. Friend repeated his question, in consequence of certain organs in the Press having taken precisely the view of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, and argued that because the Prime Minister's statement was very condensed it was therefore required to make it clear. Let us therefore make clear what the answer was. That, mind you, was after a discussion had been going on in the country and the Press, in which a large number of Gentlemen opposite tried to read into the Prime Minister's speech on 12th November something which no human being could find there. Therefore it was with a full consciousness of the exact controversy, the exact point in the controversy with which he had to deal, that the Prime Minister answered the question which I am now going to read. It was as follows:—

Mr. Lee

"May I ask, in order to dispel any doubts, whether by the worth `the two next strongest Powers' the right hon. Gentleman means the two next strongest Powers whatever they may be and wherever they may be situated?"

Mr. Asquith

"Under existing conditions, and under all foreseeable circumstances I think that is so."


That was a supplementary question that was asked. I do not wish to make a point of it,. The right hon. Gentleman stated those are written answers given" by a master of language;" it was in fact a spoken answer.


I think the interruption is legitimate, but it requires me to press the matter a little further. When the Prime Minister considered in cold blood the answer which I have just read out, and which he gave as a supplementary answer to a question by my right hon. Friend, did he see anything in it to correct? Remember that this was no trifling and insignificant subject which might be passed over, and, if passed over, would be forgotten within a week. This was a matter on which the whole interest of the country was profoundly concentrated. It was a subject on which the Government must have been acting at the very moment, and must have had under its consideration, because it was at that very moment apparently that it first realised that the Germans had advanced their programme in 1909, and it was also the moment at which the Government were considering the Navy Estimates. Therefore it is evident that if the Prime Minister was of opinion that in his answer to the supplementary question by my hon. Friend he had varied from his perfectly accurate and explicit statement, either to the right hand or to the left. I am quite confident—I am sorry the Prime Minister is not here—I am absolutely confident that he would have felt it his duty to come down next day and tell us that the answer which he gave on the spur of the moment to my hon. Friend did not exactly and precisely represent his thoughts, but that the policy of the Government differed by some shade of meaning from that which he had with such admirable lucidity laid before the House.


The right hon. Gentleman will excuse my interrupting. I think he is making a false point. The Prime Minister, in his speech this evening, said he considered that in that brief reply he had accurately defined his meaning on the subject, and withdrew nothing from those words.


I entirely agree; and I am afraid I have expended five or six minutes of Parliamentary time on a false point, but the House will recognise that if I did make a false point it was due to the earlier interruption of the right hon. Gentleman.


I will not interrupt again.


I like interruptions.


I was only correcting an error in the statement of fact by the right hon. Gentleman. I wished to do no more. He had stated it was a written answer, and I merely interrupted to say it was a verbal answer. I did not wish to draw any inference.


I am obliged for correction of any errors in the statements I make. Now that it is admitted that the error was quite irrelevant to the argument I was developing before the House, I may perhaps proceed with the argument. At all events we now have it, and it is not disputed by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. McKenna) or by that Bench, any more than they could dispute it in any quarter of the House. In November last the opinion of the Prime Minister was quite explicit that the naval power of this country should be equal to the next two Powers with 10 per cent. over, no matter where those Powers were situated or whom they might be. I gather from my hon. and right hon. Friends, to whom I am indebted for my information, that unless they have strangely mistaken the speech of the Prime Minister, I understand to-night he has made a speech which really does not bear out that explicit statement which I have quoted in the House and the meaning of which is not disputed by the First Lord of the Admiralty. The right hon. Gentleman's (the Prime Minister) original statement was that the two-Power standard was to be maintained, no matter what the country or where situate. I understand now that at least two, and I think three, great modifications are, for the first time, introduced into that statement. In the first place, it is not every country which is to be included. I understand that any country which is not likely to be able to bring a fleet for offensive purposes into British waters is excluded. Is that the new statement? [HoN. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Then let me put it rather differently. The House will forgive me; I agree it is a very great inconveniencz' to reply to a speech you have not heard. It is no fault of mine that I was not here any more than I presume it is any fault of the Prime Minister he is not here. Am I not right that the Prime Minister dwelt on the fact that geographical position of countries ought to be taken into account That is quite an explicit statement. Then does the Government think geographical position should be taken into account?




Then they have altered their opinion?




Then I am bound to reread the question put by my hon. Friend (Mr. Arthur Lee):— May I ask," said my hon. Friend (Mr. Arthur Lee) "whether by the words the two next strongest Powers' the right bon. Gentleman means the two next. strongest Powers, whatever they may be and wherever they may be situated?


Would the right hon. Gentleman read the question which preceded that question?


I am afraid it is not on this Paper. It would greatly help me if you would read it.


I will explain—[HON. MEMBERS: "Read, read," and "Divide "]


The right hon. Gentleman apparently wants me to read it, and is afraid to read it himself. At all events he prefers to read it, if he reads it at all, when I am not in a position to reply to any gloss he chooses to put upon it, which may be a wise policy. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read."] I can honestly say I wish to take no advantage, I am too heartily anxious about this question to take any advantage. At all events, as far as the question and answer which I have read are concerned, they are quite unmistakable in their terms. No ingenuity can put upon them any interpretation, except that which everybody put at the time, and which I put now. I say that that answer distinctly excluded the geographical considerations which we are now told qualify it.

Then, as I understand the matter, the Prime Minister is not content in qualifying his answer in regard to the two-Power standard merely as far as geographical considerations are concerned; he introduced another qualification. He said or implied that all that was required was that there should be a two-Power standard in home waters for defensive purposes of these islands. That certainly is the impression conveyed to my hon. Friends near rue, and I believe it is the impression conveyed to the House at large. If that was so, it is the most dangerous qualification that could well be conceived. Do let us remember that this country is a naval base not merely for the defence of these shores, but for the defence of the Empire, and that it must be powerful enough to defend the Empire not merely in the North Sea, or in the English Channel, or in the Bay of Biscay; it must be prepared to defend the Empire wherever it is attacked. Are we really to be told that we are to be content with a two-Power standard which may be, from the nature of the ships, restricted in its action to the North Sea, and that we are to abandon the two-Power standard where the Mediterranean is concerned, where our distant Colonies are concerned, where the West Indies are concerned? Are we really to he told that? If so, it is an entire change of policy. It is a new policy. If the Prime Minister had come down and said that in the changing circumstances of this changing world this old formula was, in his opinion, inapt; if he had told us quite frankly and candidly to-night that he had altered the opinion which he expressed in these unambiguous terms no farther back than six or seven months ago, then, for my part, I should have been glad to give a perfectly impartial hearing to any new formula which he had to present in its place. I can imagine a new formula. I can imagine its being proper to say that this country should be twice as strong as the next Power. I think that that might be a very good formula. But to abandon the old formula without adopting a new one, to leave the whole question of our naval position obscure in outline, blurred in contents, obscure and vague, is to do the greatest possible disservice you can do to the defence of this country.

There was one other point which I understand the Prime Minister made, one other qualification which he introduced of this time-honoured formula, and that was that we have to consider purposes of defence and not purposes of aggression. Nobody in this country ever considered the British fleet as an instrument of aggression; it is always an instrument for defence—not for the defence of these islands alone, but for the defence of the very farthest elements in the British Empire, the most distant of our Colonies. Very well. Then I am afraid the only conclusion I can draw from all this is that the Prime Minister has withdrawn the old formula. He has so commented upon it, glossed over it, and obscured it, that the old formula has vanished, and he has given us no new formula in its place. That is the greatest disservice you can do to the defence of this country. We have heard a great many accusations from hon. Members opposite that we have tried to turn the Navy to party purposes. The statement is both unamiable and untrue. But may I ask if there could be a better way of keeping the Navy out of party politics than by having some formula on which both sides were agreed; some ideal to which both sides could work up to; some general formula accepted by the party in power, and accepted by the party not in power, to secure continuity in our naval policy, and make it certain that all would strive together—at whatever sacrifice—to keep the Navy up to its necessary strength. That was the enormous advantage of the two-Power standard, so long as it was loyally accepted by both sides of the House. I understand the Government have abandoned it. [Cries of "No, no."' They have abandoned it at all events in the sense in which the Prime Minister used the words six months ago.


He said lie withdrew nothing.


He said a great many things that qualified their meaning. Really does the hon. Gentleman say that the Prime Minister now holds—now holds—that the two-Power standard means "the two next strongest Powers whatever they may be, or wherever they may be situated." [Cries of " Yes" and "No."] Well, then, it is quite evident that the Prime Minister, whom everybody thought they understood, nobody thinks they understand. We do not understand him on this side of the House. That is our stupidity. They do not understand him on the other. There is no agreement as to what he did mean. He was not content with expressing the explicit formula, which he did twice in November and once in December, but he makes a new formula—a more obscure and a more vague formula.

My appeal to the Government is this, and really I am most anxious if possible that the matter should be kept out of controversy—that having abandoned the old formula they should have a new policy that is absolutely clear and explicit, which we can discuss as meaning something quite unmistakable, and that will satisfy the country. If they will not have the old two-Power standard with a margin, let us have a new standard, twice—let us say--the naval strength of any other large, or the next largest Power. Let us have something quite clear, because so long as we wander in these rhetorical mists and shadows; so long as we are required to accept the policy of the Government, who were perfectly lucid in their statements in November and December, and now obscure and qualify, "withdraw nothing" and explain everything—then, Sir, I confess that the anxiety of the country, already great, whatever their views may be about "Dreadnoughts," will be greatly aggravated. And I think that the Prime Minister could not have done a worse service if he wishes to allay what the hon. Gentlemen opposite call "panics," than he has done, by setting himself, in a thin House at a difficult hour of the evening, to explain away a statement which he so clearly and so publicly made six or seven months ago.


The Leader of the Opposition began his observations by observing that he gathered that the Prime Minister had befogged and beclouded a subject which he had left perfectly clear by his answers to questions. I do net complain of the right hon. Gentleman having made that observation about the Prime Minister, for the simple reason that the right hon. Gentleman had not heard the Prime Minister, and only received a report of what he said from the hon. Gentleman sitting near him, and I am bound to say from the speech which that hon. Gentleman made to the House I understood him to have completely misapprehended both the main substance and the details of the Prime Minister's speech. I will explain as fully as I can, certainly not in as excellent language as the Prime Minister used, what the Prime Minister said and his precise meanings At any rate, I will Make it perfectly clear to the right hon. Gentleman that there is some one person in this House who thoroughly understood the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said that the two-Power standard contained, and still at this moment was, a useful rule-of-thumb measure. He explained that in calculating the combined strengths of any two Powers for the purposes of the two-Power standard you have got to take certain qualifications into account. It was not a question with him to select:is between Powers. You might take any two Powers, whether the Powers were European Powers like Germany or France., or an American Power like the United States, or an Asiatic Power like China. It was not a question of the Powers, but you have to take three qualifications into account. The first was that the two-Power standard—I 'am not putting it in the same order—applied only to ships which lie in the line—he did not use the words "capital ships" or" battleships," he used the words "ships which could lie in the line." That is a qualification everyone will agree with. The second qualification was in measuring the strength of the two Powers you are going to combine for the two-Power standard, and the third was you have to take into account the condition of the single Power, its homogeneity of construction and unity of command. That is no new principle. It was the doctrine laid down long ago by a First Lord of the Admiralty in a Government when the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was Leader of this House. Lord Goschen, who was then First Lord of the Admiralty, observed with perfect truth:— One Power having an equal number of ships as two allied Powers has got that margin of advantage to which I have alluded. I think history has shown over and over again that the fleets of two allies have never been considered equal to one homogeneous fleet of a single Power, provided the single fleet was relatively as large as the allied fleets. I stand by the principle we have followed and intend to follow, that we must be equal in numbers to the combined strength of two other Powers This margin of strength over the two Powers lay in the advantage obtained from homogeneity of construction and unity of command. That was the second consideration which the Prime Minister said had to be borne in mind rather than the consideration which has been laid down by a First Lord of the Admiralty sitting in this House when the Leader of the Opposition was leading the House.


Does the right hon. Gentleman make me responsible for that'? What Lord Goschen apparently said was that the margin of strength for the two-Power standard was given by homogeneity, but since then the formula has been 10 per cent. for the strength. That has nothing to do with the unity of command, but it has got to do with numbers, and it is that amended formula that the Prime Minister gave us this evening.


The right hon. Gentleman has explained away one First Lord of the Admiralty, and he shall now have an opportunity of explaining away another. The third calculation the Prime Minister gave was that you must also take into account the fact that distance handicaps any fleet which has to combine with another fleet. Supposing you are going to combine a European fleet and an American or Asiatic fleet, one or the other has to travel a great distance before it can combine with the other, and consequently when you are speaking of the combined strength of any two fleets you must mean such a strength as those two fleets could combine in. He referred to this particular modification in relation to the United States, because it is in regard to the United States that it has a direct bearing. With regard to any two European Powers, such a consideration has no similar bearing at all, because two European Powers would both have their base within a reasonable distance. But if you have two remotely situated Powers they could not combine except at a direct sacrifice of power by one or the other. I promised the Leader of the Opposition that he should have an opportunity of explaining away another First Lord of the Admiralty. In August, 1904, when the Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister, Lord Selborne explained the two-Power standard, and, speaking in the House of Lords, he said:— What Lord George Hamilton really meant, and what. the House of Commons meant, was that we should be prepared to face any two naval Powers with a reasonable probability of success. Will the House mark those words? That was what the standard meant 1111d what followed. In those days the next two Powers were France and Italy, twit as Italy was very friendly disposed towards us no one was anxious about the naval programme of Italy. I do not emphasise that point because the Prime Minister did not agree with that modification of the two-Power standard which Lord Selborne laid upon it, but I will go to the next passage:— The standard was defined so far as battleships meant, and it was possible to work to it, always bearing in mind that the strength should offer a reasonable probability of victory, and that it should not be a mere arithmetical figure. We had that laid down in a nutshell, and in a form which the Admiralty of 1904 approved and which the Admiralty of 1909 approved. Any Admiralty will tell the right hon. Gentleman that it is a very different task if you had to meet two European Powers with contiguous naval bases and if you had to meet an Asiatic and a European Power. They could not combine with anything like the strength which two

European Powers would possess. Although the right hon. Gentleman may laugh in the year 1909, he was a party to this statement by Lord Selborne in the year 1904, when the mere arithmetical comparison was excluded in the most explicit manner. If we adopt the two-Power standard we adopt it for some warlike purpose, in order to win a victory. We estimated what the two-Power standard would mean under varying circumstances. We have to look to a naval strength which will secure us victory under any possible combination of any two Powers. That is the policy which we have to do, and the present Government mean to maintain it.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 114; Noes, 270.

Division No. 142.] AYES. [10.58 p.m.
Anson, Sir William Reynell Fletcher, J. S. Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Ashley, W. W. Foster, P. S. Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Balcarres, Lord Gardner, Ernest Peel, Hon. W. R. W.
Baldwin, Stanley Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham) Pretyman, E. G.
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond) Gordon, J. Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Goulding, Edward Alfred Ratcliff, Major R. F.
Banner, John S. Harmood- Gretten, John Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Baring, Capt, Hon. G. (Winchester) Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston) Remnant, James Farquharson
Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.) Hamilton, Marquess of Renwick, George
Beck, A. Cecil Harrison-Broadley. H. B. Ridsdale, E. A.
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Helmsley, Viscount Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Bellairs, Carlyon Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T. Ronaldshay, Earl of
Bignold, Sir Arthur Hill, Sir Clement Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert
Bowles, G. Stewart Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Bridgeman, W. Clive. Houston, Robert Paterson Salter, Arthur Clavell
Brotherton, Edward Allen Hunt, Rowland Sandys, Col. Thos. Myles
Bull, Sir William James Joynson-Hicks, William Sheffield. Sir Berkeley George D.
Burdett-Coutts, W Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H. Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Butcher, Samuel Henry Kerry, Earl of Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Carlile, E. Hildred Keswick, William Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Lane-Fox, G. R Starkey, John R.
Castlereagh, Viscount Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham) Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R. Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.) Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham) Talbot, Rt. Hon. J. G. (Oxford Univ.).
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.) Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Thornton, Percy M.
Clark, George Smith MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh Tuke, Sir John Batty
Clive, Percy Archer M'Calmont, Colonel James Valentia, Viscount
Clyde, J. Avon Magnus, Sir Philip Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)
Coates, Major E F. (Lewisham) Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry) Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)
Cochrane, Hon Thomas H. A. E. Mason, James F. (Windsor) Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Cowan, W. H. Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Middlemore, John Throgmorton Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)
Craik, Sir Henry Mildmay, Francis Bingham Winterton, Earl
Dalrymple, Viscount Morpeth, Viscount Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott Morrison-Bell, Captain Younger, George
Dixon-Hartland. Sir Fred. Dixon Napier, T. B. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir
Doughty, Sir George Newdegate, F. A. Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr.
Douglas, Rt. Hen. A. Akers- Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield) H. W. Forster.
Faber, George Denison (York) Oddy, John James
Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Astbury, John Meir Beale, W. P.
Acland, Francis Dyke Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Beaumont, Hon. Hubert
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Bell, Richard
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset) Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Bennett, E. N.
Armitage. R. Barnes, G. N. Berridge, T. H. D.
Armstrong, W. C. Heaton Barran, Rowland Hirst Bertram, Julius
Ashton, Thomas Gair Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.) Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford)
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Hooper, A. G. Richards, Thomas (W. Monmouth)
Bowerman, C. W. Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.) Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)
Bramsdon, T. A. Horridge, Thomas Gardner Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Branch, James Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Brooke, Stopford Hudson, Walter Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Hutton, Alfred Eddison Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire) Hyde, Clarendon G. Robinson, S.
Bryce, J. Annan Illingworth, Percy H. Robson, Sir William Snowdon
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Roch, Waiter F. (Pembroke)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Jardine, Sir J. Roe, Sir Thomas
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Jenkins, J. Rogers, F. E. Newman
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles Johnson, John (Gateshead) Rowlands, J.
Byles, William Pollard Jones, Leif (Appleby) Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Cameron, Robert Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.
Cawley, Sir Frederick Jowett, F. W. Rutherford, V. H. (Brantford)
Chance, Frederick William Kekewich, Sir George Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Channing, Sir Francis Allston Laidlaw, Robert Scarisbrick, T. T. L.
Cheetham, John Frederick Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster) Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Lamb, Ernest H (Rochester) Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyre)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Lambert, George Sears, J. E.
Cleland, J. W. Lamont, Norman Seaverns, J. H.
Clough, William Layland-Barrett, Sir Francis Seely, Colonel
Clynes, J. R. Lehmann, R. C. Shaw, Sir Charles E. (Stafford)
Cobbold, Felix Thorniey Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich) Shipman, Dr. John G.
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Levy, Sir Maurice Silcock, Thomas Ball
Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.) Lewis, John Herbert Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Compton-Rickett, Sir J. Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Snowden, P.
Cooper, G. J. Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Cornett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) Lupton, Arnold Spicer, Sir Albert
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Stanley, Hon. A. Lyulph (Cheshire)
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Lyell, Charles Henry Steadman, W. C.
Crooks, William Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Crossley, William J. Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Curran, Peter Francis Maclean, Donald Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Dalziel, Sir James Henry Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Summerbell, T.
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Macpherson, J. T. Sutherland, J. E.
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) M'Callum, John M. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Davies, Timothy (Fulham) McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester) Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)
Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.) M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.) Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) M'Micking, Major G. Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Maddison, Frederick Thomasson, Franklin
Dobson, Thomas W. Mallet, Charles E. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Duckworth, Sir James Manfield, Harry (Northants) Tomkinson, James
Durcan, C. (Barrow-in-Fulness) Marnham, F. J. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Massie, J. Ure, Rt Hon. Alexander
Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall) Masterman, C. F. G. Verney, F. W.
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Menzies, Walter Villiers, Ernest Amherst
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) Micklem, Nathaniel Vivian, Henry
Essex, R. W. Molteno, Percy Alport Walters, John Tudor
Essiement, George Birnie Mond, A. Walton, Joseph
Evans, Sir S. T. Money, L. G. Chiozza Ward, John(Stoke-upon-Trent)
Everett, R. Lacey Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Wardle, George J.
Falconer, J. Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Waring, Waiter
Fenwick, Charles Morse, L. L. Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Ferens, T. R. Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Findlay, Alexander Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.) Waterlow, D. S.
Gibb, James (Harrow) Myer, Horatio Watt, Henry A.
Gill, A. H. Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw) Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.) Nicholls, George Weir, James Galloway
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster) White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Gooch, George Peabody (Bath) Norman, Sir Henry White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)
Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) Norton, Capt. Cecil William Whitehead, Rowland
Greenwood, Hamar (York) Hussey, Thomas Willans Witley. John Henry (Halifax)
Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Nuttall, Harry Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth) Wilkie, Alexander
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) O'Grady, J. Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Parker, James (Halifax) Williams, W. Llewelyn (Car'th'n)
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.) Partington, Oswald Williamson, A
Harwood, Georga Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek) Wills, Arthur Walters
Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Pearce, William (Limehouse) Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Haworth, Arthur A. Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke) Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)
Hedges, A. Paget Pickersgill, Edward Hare Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Helme, Norval Watson Pointer, J. Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)
Hemmerde, Edward George Pollard, Dr. G. H. Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras. S.)
Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Henderson, J McD. (Aberdeen. W.) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Winfrey, R.
Henry, Charles S. Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Higham, John Sharp Priestley, Arthur (Grantham) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
Hobart, Sir Robert Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.) Joseph Pease and the Master of Ellbank.
Hobhouse, Charles E. H. Radford, G. H.
Hodge, John Raphael, Herbert H.
Holland, Sir William Henry Rea, Waiter Russell (Scarborough)
Holt, Richard Durning Rendall, Atheistan

Resolved, "That this House accepts with confidence the statement with regard to the two-Power standard made by the Prime Minister."

Main Question put as amended.

The House divided: Ayes, 272; Noes. 106.

Division No. 143.] AYES. [11.10 p.m.
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Essex, R. W. M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)
Acland, Francis Dyke Esslemont, George Birnie M'Micking, Major G.
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Evans, Sir S. T. Maddison, Frederick
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Everett, R. Lacey Mallet, Charles E.
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Falconer, J. Manfield, Harry (Northants)
Armitage, R. Fenwick, Charles Marnham, F. J.
Armstrong, W. C. Heaton Ferens, T. R. Massie, J.
Ashton, Thomas Gair Findlay, Alexander Masterman, C. F. G.
Astbury, John Meir Gibb, James (Harrow) Menzies, Walter
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Gill, A. H. Micklem, Nathaniel
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.) Molteno, Percy Alport
Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset) Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Mond, A.
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Gooch, George Peabody (Bath) Money, L. G. Chiozza
Barnard, E. B. Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)
Barran, Rowland Hirst Greenwood, Hamar (York) Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.) Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Morse, L. L.
Beale, W. P. Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas
Beaumont, Hon. Hubert Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)
Bell, Richard Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Myer, Horatio
Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.) Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.) Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)
Bennett, E. N. Harwood, George Nicholls, George
Berridge, T. H. D. Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)
Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford) Haworth, Arthur A. Norman, Sir Henry
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Hedges, A. Paget Norton, Captain Cecil William
Bowerman, C. W. Helme, Norval Watson Nussey, Thomas Willans
Bramsdon, T. A. Hemmerde, Edward George Nuttall, Harry
Brooke, Stanford Henderson, Arthur (Durham) O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Henderson, J. McD. (Ab'deen, W.) Parker, James (Halifax)
Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire) Henry, Charles S. Partington, Oswald
Bryce, J. Annan Higham, John Sharp Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Hobart, Sir Robert Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Hobhouse, Charles E. H. Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Hodge, John Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles Holland, Sir William Henry Pointer, J.
Byles, William Pollard Holt, Richard Durning Pollard, Dr. G. H.
Cameron, Robert Hooper, A. G. Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Cawley, Sir Frederick Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Chance, Frederick W. Horridge, Thomas Gardner Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)
Chaining, Sir Francis Allston Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)
Cheetham, John Frederick Hudson, Walter Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R Hutton, Alfred Eddison Radford, G. H.
Churchill, Rt Hon. Winston S. Hyde, Clarendon G. Raphael, Herbert H.
Cleland, J. W. Illingworth, Percy H. Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Clough, William Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Rees, J. D.
Clynes, J. R. Jardine, Sir J. Rendall, Athelstan
Cobbold, Felix Thornley Jenkins, J. Richards, Thomas (W. Monmouth)
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Johnson, John (Gateshead) Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.).
Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.) Jones, Leif (Appleby) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Compton-Rickett, Sir J. Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Cooper, G. J. Jowett, F. W. Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) Kekewich, Sir George Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Laldlaw, Robert Robinson, S.
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster) Robson, Sir William Snowdon
Crooks, William Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Crossley, William J. Lambert, George Roe, Sir Thomas
Curran, Peter Francis Lament, Norman Rogers, F. E. Newman
Dalziel, Sir James Henry Layland-Barrett, Sir Francis Rowlands, J.
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Lehmann, R. C. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich) Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.
Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Levy, Sir Maurice Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.) Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Scarisbrick, T. T. L.
Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) Lupton, Arnold Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Dobson, Thomas W. Lyell, Charles Henry Sears, J. E.
Duckworth, Sir James Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Seaverns, J. H.
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Seely, Colonel
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Mackarness, Frederic C. Shaw, Sir Charles E. (Stafford)
Dunn, A. Edward (Cambarne) Maclean, Donald Sherwell, Arthur Jones
Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall) Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Shipman, Dr. John G.
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Macpherson, J. T. Silcock, Thomas Ball
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) M'Callum, John M. Simon, John Allesbrook
Elibank, Master of McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Erskine, David C. M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester) Snowden, P.
Soames, Arthur Wellesley Verney, F. W. Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Spicer, Sir Albert Villiers, Ernest Amherst Wilkie, Alexander
Stanley, Hon. A. Lyulph (Cheshire) Vivian, Henry Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Steadman, W. C. Walters, John Tudor Williams, W. Llewelyn (Car'th'n)
Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal) Walton, Joseph Williamson, A.
Straus, B. S. (Mile End) Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent) Wills, Arthur Walters
Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon) Wardle, George J. Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Summerbell, T. Waring, Walter Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)
Sutherland, J. E. Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Taylor, John W. (Durham) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney) Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)
Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury) Waterlow, D. S. Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire) Watt, Henry A. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.) Wedgwood, Josiah C. Winfrey, R.
Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.) Weir, James Galloway Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Thomasson, Franklin White, Sir George (Norfolk) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton) White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire) Joseph Pease and Mr. J. H. Lewis.
Tomkinson, James Whitehead, Rowland
Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Anson, Sir William Reynell Faber, George Denison (York) Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Ashley, W. W. Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Balcarres, Lord Foster, P. S. Peel, Hon. W. Robert Wellesley
Baldwin, Stanley Gardner, Ernest Pretyman, E. G.
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.) Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckam) Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Gordon, J. Ratcliffe, Major R. F.
Banner, John S. Harmood- Goulding, Edward Alfred Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Baring, Capt. Hon. G. (Winchester) Gretton, John Remnant, James Farquharson
Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.) Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston) Renwick, George
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Hamilton, Marquess of Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Eccleshall)
Bellairs, Canyon Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Ronaldshay, Earl of
Bignold, Sir Arthur Helmsley, Viscount Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert
Bowles, G. Stewart Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Bridgeman, W. Clive Hill, Sir Clement Salter, Arthur Clavell
Brotherton, Edward Allen Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Sandys, Col. Thos. Myles
Bull, Sir William James Houston, Robert Paterson Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.
Burdett-Coutts, W. Hunt, Rowland Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Butcher, Samuel Henry Joynson-Hicks, William Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)
Carlile, E. Mildred Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H. Starkey, John R.
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Kerry, Earl of Staveley-H ill, Henry (Staffordshire)
Castlereagh, Viscount Keswick, William Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Lane-Fox, G. R. Talbot, Rt. Hon. J. G. (Oxford Univ.)
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.) Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham) Thornton, Percy M.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon, J. A. (Worc'r.) Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R. Tuke, Sir John Batty
Clark, George Smith Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham) Valentia, Viscount
Clive, Percy Archer Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)
Clyde, J. Avon MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh Warde, Col. C. E (Kent, Mid)
Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham) M'Calmont, Col. James Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Cochrane, Hon. Thomas H. A. E. Mason, James F. (Windsor) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)
Craik, Sir Henry Mildmay, Francis Bingham Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Dalrymple, Viscount Morpeth, Viscount Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Dickson. Rt. Hon C Scott- Morrison-Bell, Captain Younger, George
Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon Newdegate, F. A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir
Doughty, Sir George Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield) A. Acland-Hood and Mr. H. W. Forster.
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Oddy, John James

Resolution agreed to.