HC Deb 13 April 1910 vol 16 cc1218-9

asked whether the Germans have upwards of eighty high freeboard destroyers, counting from destroyer S90 onwards; whether these destroyers were capable of working efficiently in the North Sea; and would he say how many similar destroyers Great Briain has?

I stated in reply to a question by the hon. Gentleman on the 30th March that the figures for completed high freeboard destroyers were:—

 United Kingdom 46 Germany 45

Counting from destroyer S90 onwards, the Germans have forty-two more destroyers completed and they have nine building; but it is not considered that these forty-two can be classed as coming within the hon. Gentleman's definition, or as capable of being used in the North Sea in a similar manner to the British destroyers mentioned. Besides the forty-six completed British destroyers, there are thirty-seven building.

Is it not a fact that the Germans have fifty-two of 12 feet high freeboards, forty-two of 8½ feet, all of which can work in the North Sea, and only eight of 6 feet, which cannot work in the North Sea?

I must have notice of any question which involves so many figures.

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that the forty-two destroyers Germany is about to build are not suitable for the North Sea?

Oh, no, Sir. I am referring to the forty-two which were not included in my answer last month, the forty-two already built.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how many British and how many German destroyers over 400 tons were completed?

The figures are:

 United Kingdom 52 Germany 63

I must, however, point out the futility of statistics based on the arbitrary selection of a particular figure of tonnage. For instance, the hon. Gentleman's use of the words "over 400 tons" excludes seven British destroyers which are exactly 400 tons. If he had taken an "over 300 tons" basis, the figures would have been:

 United Kingdom 137 Germany 87 Or on an "over 500 tons" basis: United Kingdom 46 Germany 40 Or on an "over 800 tons" basis: United Kingdom 12 Germany None.