HC Deb 16 December 1912 vol 45 cc1087-8

asked the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to lay upon the Table of the House the information given to Mr. Borden during his recent visit to this country, and by which he was induced to fall in with the suggestion of the Admiralty to offer to provide the British Navy with the loan of three battleships, the cost of building which is to be borne by the Dominion of Canada?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

Full information of Admiralty policy is contained in the published Memorandum. The decision was left entirely to the unfettered judgment of the Canadian Government and Parliament. It is impossible to disclose the confidential communications which passed between Mr. Borden and the Members of His Majesty's Government.


Why is the House of Commons to be committed to a policy of which it is ignorant?


The House of Commons is not committed to the policy.


asked the Prime Minister whether the acceptance by the Government of the proposal of the Government of Canada to provide the British Navy with the conditional use of three battleships would entail an addition to the Navy Estimates for their manning and maintenance; whether one of the conditions attaching to the loan of the ships is that Canada shall have a seat on the Committee of Defence; and whether, having regard to these facts, he will give the House of Commons an opportunity of deciding whether it is prepared to assent to the conditions attached to the Canadian offer before the Dominion Parliament comes to any final decision on the matter?


I should deprecate a discussion of these matters until the Debates in the Dominion Parliament have been concluded. I may repeat that the offer of representation on the Committee of Imperial Defence was made to the Dominions last year by His Majesty's Government before any question had arisen as to the present proposals of the Canadian Government.