§ Lord C. BERESFORD
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether extra rates were paid for the railway carriage of coal for the Fleet during the late crisis; whether he will consider, in the interest of the public service, the desirability of having large floating depots that could be towed to any position necessary; and whether he can see his way to order depots similar to the 12,000-ton depot at Portsmouth to be included in next Naval Estimates?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The cost of transit by rail is of course higher than by sea. But the rates paid to the railway companies were according to schedule, and were not higher than rates paid for railway transit under ordinary circumstances. The transaction to which the Noble Lord refers was simply part of routine Admiralty procedure designed for the purpose of testing from time to time railway facilities for the transit of coal, and had no reference whatever to any crisis, real or imaginary. The advantages of providing large floating depots to be towed from place to place as necessity demanded, as opposed to storage on shore, are not considered sufficient to justify the serious expenditure that would be involved.