§ Motion made, and Question proposed, a "That an additional number of men and boys, not exceeding 1,500, be employed for the Sea and Coastguard Services for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1913."
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do now report Progress, and ask leave to sit again"; and of the reason for my doing that hon. Members will be quite well aware.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I am surely perfectly entitled to do that. It is a matter for this House to report Progress. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order! order."] "Order!" what for? As a matter of fact, it is far more important than the Navy Estimates. When are we going to consider the case of the 400,000 people who are starving in the East End while you are talking about navies?
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I protest against any business being done until the Government takes steps, as they can, to bring this dispute to an end. We have heard a state- 836 ment to-day from the Prime Minister to the effect that they do not intend to take steps. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order, order."]
§ Mr. O'GRADY
On a point of Order. You have not answered my point of Order, whether a Member is entitled to move that you Report progress, and ask leave to sit again?
§ The CHAIRMAN
He is entitled to ask to make that Motion when I call upon him, but whether I accept it is another question. I have called upon the First Lord of the Admiralty.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
Yes; I understand that the Rules of the House permit an hon. Member to move to Report progress, and that that Motion takes precedence over every other point. I have seen it done repeatedly before.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is mistaken. It does not take precedence over other questions. If an hon. Member catches my eye, he is entitled to ask for leave to move to Report progress.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I am not going to sit here and allow this question to be discussed when there are 400,000 people starving in the East End. For present practical purposes a Debate on a question of that kind is far more important than even an important Debate on the Navy, though I do not want to question the importance of that Debate, but I do want to say this—
§ The CHAIRMAN rose—
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I am not going to sit here while the people are being starved, and while a wretched creature like Lord Devonport is carrying on his murderous practices to keep the people starved down there and keeping the Port of London Authority under his thumb. That is my point. I want to discuss that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order, order."]
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I want to say, and tell you very frankly, that I cannot sit here and hear this thing going on. I am going to insist that there shall be no business done until this question is discussed. I want to appeal to the House to consider this question as far more important than even the Navy Estimates. I repeat again that people are being done to death in the East End of London, and lives of children are being blotted out as if they were no more importance in God's creation than flies. That is being done while the House is sitting here doing nothing.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have allowed the hon. Member to submit his point of Order, but I would point out again that he is not entitled to raise this question in Committee, where we are met for a specific purpose. I call on the First Lord of the Admiralty.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] For eight weeks I have been negotiating. I have been persuading and working in favour of conciliation while nothing whatever is done and nothing will be done until this House says it will be done. I want to point out that this House be Resolution—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member will understand it is not in my power to allow him to proceed. I am here with the authority of the House in Committee, which is met to consider specific business. The hon. Member will quite understand it is not within my power to allow him to make a speech on another subject. He should take his opportunity in the House and not in Committee of Supply.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
You allowed the hon. Baronet the Member for the City to move to report Progress when we were in Committee of Ways and Means, I think one day last week.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have frequently allowed hon. Members who have caught my eye and been called upon to move to report Progress, and in no case except when they have been called upon.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The direct cause of the Supplementary Estimates which I am now going to submit to the House is to be found in the new German Navy Law. The scope and character of this law has not yet been explained by anyone from this 838 Bench, nor has it yet been appreciated by the public—
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
On a point of Order, and simply for the convenience of the Committee, as the right hon. Gentleman has, I think, already gone outside the limited scope of the Vote, may I ask whether we will be allowed to have a general discussion on any point which he raises in the course of this Debate?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Whatever the right, hon. Gentleman raises may be followed by other hon. Members. I have considered the position of this Supplementary Vote, which is rather an unusual one, and I have to say, in the first place, that the Supplementary Vote for Vote A will, of course, be governed by the same rule as the original Vote A—that is to say, the discussion of it may travel over other items in the Supplementary Vote. In the second place, the Supplementary Vote is of such magnitude that it seems to me inevitably to raise the question of the adequacy of the original Vote, and therefore the discussion must be a wide one. I think hon. Members ought, however, to avoid in the discussion of the Supplementary Vote questions which are properly pertinent to the original Vote itself.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee if first of all this afternoon I proceed to examine in detail the scope and character of the new German Navy Law. The main feature of that law is not the increase in the new construction of capital ships, though that is an important feature. The main feature is the increase in the striking force of ships of all classes which will be available, immediately available, at all seasons of the year. A Third Squadron of eight battleships will be created and maintained in full commission as part of the active battle fleet. Whereas, according to the un-amended law, the active battle fleet consisted of seventeen battleships, four battle or large armoured cruisers, and twelve small cruisers, in the near future that active fleet will consist of twenty-five battleships, eight battle or large armoured cruisers, and eighteen small cruisers; and whereas at present, owing to the system of recruitment which prevails in Germany, the German fleet is less fully mobile during the winter than during the summer months, it will, through the operation of this law, not only be increased in, strength, but rendered much more readily 839 available. Ninety-nine destroyers, torpedo-boat destroyers—or torpedo-boats, as they are called in Germany—instead of sixty-six, will be maintained in full commission out of the total of 144. Three-quarters of a million pounds had already been taken in the general estimate for the year for the building of submarines. The new law adds a quarter of a million to this, and that is a provision which, so far as we can judge from a study of the finances, would appear to be repeated in subsequent years. Seventy-two new submarines will be built within the currency of the law, and of those it is apparently proposed to maintain fifty-four with full permanent crews.
Taking a general view, the effect of the law will be that nearly four-fifths of the entire German navy will be maintained in full permanent commission—that is to say, instantly and constantly ready for war. Such a proportion is remarkable, and, so far as I am aware, finds no example in the previous practice of modern naval Powers. So great a change and development in the German fleet involves, of course, important additions to their personnel. In 1898 the officers and men of the German navy amounted to 25,000. To-day that figure has reached 66,000. Under the previous Navy Laws, and various amendments which have preceded this one, the Germans have been working up to a total in 1920, according to our calculations, of 86,500 officers and men, and they have been approaching that total by increments of, approximately, an addition of 3,500 a year. The new law adds a total of 15,000 officers and men, and makes the total in 1920 of 101,500. The new average annual addition is calculated to be 1,680 of all ranks, but for the next three years by special provision 500 extra are to be added. From 1912 to 1914, 500 are to be added, and in the last three years of the currency of the law 500 less will be taken. This makes a total rate of increase of the German Navy personnel about 5,700 men a year. The new construction under the law prescribes for the building of three additional battleships—one to be begun next year, one in 1916, and two small cruisers of which the date has not yet been fixed. The date of the third battleship has not been fixed. It has been presumed to be later than the six years which we have in view. The cost of these increases in men and in material during the next six years is estimated as £10,500,000 above the previous 840 estimates spread over that period. I should like to point out to the Committee that this is a cumulative increase which follows upon other increases of a very important character. The law of 1898 was practically doubled by the law of 1900, and if the expenditure contemplated by the law of 1900 had been followed the German estimates of to-day would be about £11,000,000. But owing to the amendments of 1906 and 1908, and now of 1912, that expenditure is very nearly £23,000,000. The actual figures of the expenditure have been given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a recent occasion in Committee of Supply. But the fact that personnel plays such a large part in this new amendment and that personnel is more cheaply obtained in Germany than in this country makes the money go further there than it would do over here.
The ultimate scale of the new German fleet, as contemplated by the latest Navy Law, will be forty-one battleships, twenty battle or large armoured cruisers, and forty small cruisers, besides a proper proportion—an ample proportion—of flotillas of torpedo-boat destroyers and submarines. [An HON. MEMBER: "By what year?"] By 1920. That is not on paper a great advance on the figures prescribed by the previous law, which gave thirty-eight battleships, twenty battle or large armoured cruisers, and thirty-eight small cruisers. That is not a great advance on the total scale. In fact, however, there is a remarkable expansion of strength and efficiency, and particularly of strength and efficiency as they contribute to striking power. The number of battleships and large armoured cruisers alone which will be kept constantly ready and in full commission will be raised by the law from twenty-one, the present figure, to thirty-three—tliat is to say, an addition of twelve, or an increase of about 57 per cent. The new fleet will in the beginning include about twenty battleships and large cruisers of the older type, but, gradually as new-vessels are built, the fighting power of the fleet will rise until in the end it will consist completely of modern vessels. This new scale of the German fleet—organised in five battle squadrons, each attended by a battle or armoured cruiser squadron, complete with small cruisers and auxiliaries of all kinds, and accompanied by numerous flotillas of destrovers and submarines, more than three-fourths, 841 nearly four-fifths, maintained in full permanent commission—the aspect and scale of this fleet is, I say, extremely formidable. Such a fleet will be about as numerous to look at as the fleet which was gathered at Spithead for the recent Parliamentary visit, but, of course, when completed it will be far superior in actual strength. This full development will only be realised step by step. But already in 1914 two squadrons will, so far as we can ascertain, be entirely composed of "Dreadnoughts," or what are called "Dreadnoughts," and the third will be made up of good ships like the "Deutschlands" and the "Braunschweigs," together with five "Dreadnought" battle-cruisers. It remains to be noted that this new law is the fifth in fourteen years of the large successive increases made in German naval strength, that it encountered no effective opposition in its passage through the Reichstag, and that, though it has been severely criticised in Germany since its passage, the criticisms have been directed towards its inadequacy.
Before I come to the measures which will be necessary on our part, perhaps the Committee will permit me to make a general observation. There are two points with regard to navies and naval war which differentiate them from armies and land war. The first is the awful suddenness with which naval warfare can reach its decisive phase. We see on the continent of Europe immense military establishments possessed by nations dwelling on opposite sides of political frontier lines; yet they dwell and have dwelt for a whole generation in peace and tranquillity. But between those armies and any decisive collision there intervenes an inevitable period of delay that acts as a great buffer, a cushion of security. I mean the vast process of mobilisation, the very first signs of which must be noticed, and which, once it begins, lays idle the industry of both countries and dominates the whole course of national life. So it is that through all these years nations are able to dwell side by side with their tremendous military establishments without being a prey to undue anxiety as to immediate attack. But none of these considerations apply to fleets. The Fleet which was assembled for the manœuvres the other day was fully capable of going into action as soon as the ammunition could be brought up and put by the side of the guns. And that is true of all the great highly efficient navies of the world.
842 I am bound to say, looking far ahead, and farther than the purposes of this Vote, at the aspect which Europe and the world will present when the power of States, which has been hitherto estimated in terms of armies, will be estimated very largely in naval strength, and when we have a number of Great Powers all possessed of very powerful navies, the state of Europe and of the world would seem to contain many more germs of danger than the period through which we have been passing in our lifetime.
The second general point to which I would direct the attention of the Committee is the extreme slowness with which naval preparations can be made. Small ships take eighteen to twenty months to build; large ships take from two to three years, sometimes four years. Docks take more than four years to build. Seamen take from two to three years to train; artificers take much longer; officers take between six and seven years. The efficiency which, comes from the harmonious combination of these elements is a plant of very slow growth indeed. Cool, steady, methodical preparation, prolonged over a succession of years, can alone raise the margin of naval power. It is no use flinging millions of money about on the impulse of the moment, by a gesture of impatience, or in a mood of panic. Such a course only reveals your weakness and impotence. Those who clamour for sensational expenditure, who think that the kind of danger with which we are faced needs to be warded off or can be warded off in that way, are either ignorant themselves of naval conditions or take advantage of the ignorance of others. The strain we have to bear will be long and slow, and no relief will be obtained by impulsive or erratic action. We ought to learn from our German neighbours, whose policy marches unswervingly towards its goal across the lifetime of a whole generation. The two general principles which I would deduce from these observations, and which will guide my remarks this afternoon, are, first, that we must have an ample margin of strength instantly ready; and, secondly, that there must be a steady and systematic development of our naval forces untiringly pursued over a number of years.
Now I come to the finance of the Supplementary Estimate. The sum of £990,000 is asked for, in addition to the annual Vote granted by the House. I have seen this criticism in the organs of public opinion which I studied. It is said that less than 843 a million is taken back by the Admiralty out of the £1,500,000 to be surrendered to the Exchequer through the underspending of last year. That, if I may say so, rests on an entire misconception both of the financial facts and of the financial processes. The figures which I gave the Committee on 18th March were made up earlier in the month, and before the end of the financial year the coal strike intervened. The effect of the coal strike was to increase the underspending in the year 1911–12 by £600,000 and to throw the whole of that burden on to the year 1913–14. [An HON. MEMBER: "1912–13."] No; the effect of underspending is hardly ever manifested in the next year, but always in the next year but one. It is quite easy to see why. These ships for the most part lap over into three financial years. The middle year is practically always a year of full construction for each particular ship, and any delay which occurs affects not the middle year of construction, but the last year of its completion. That is why we are not much affected this year by the underspending of 1911–12. But that will fall on 1913–14. The effect of the coal strike is that I shall hand back to my right hon. Friend, not £1,400,000 or £1,500,000, but something like £2,000,000 when the accounts are finally completed. The whole of this liability is transferred to future years. A little falls on this year, and was provided for in the Estimates of the year; some falls on 1914–15; but the great bulk, over £1,600,000, will fall on the Estimates of next year, and will artificially increase those Estimates by that amount. Every penny of the underspending which will be surrendered to the Exchequer will have to be revoted by the House in order to discharge liabilities which Parliament has already authorised, but which will not mature until a later period than was expected.
The Supplementary Estimate before us this afternoon has nothing whatever to do with that underspending. It is for specific purposes quite apart from the objects on which the underspending occurred, and is additional to them. A sum of £990,000 is asked for, because the items in the Estimate are needed now, ought to be begun now, and because it is believed that the money can be usefully spent within the currency of the year. Therefore I hope that the Committee will not be led into confusing in any way two quite different and separate matters. I now turn to the 844 steps which will be necessary on our part. The Supplementary Estimate is, of course, only the first and smallest instalment of extra expenditure which the new law will entail upon us. So far as new construction is concerned, the number of ships we shall have to build in the next five years to maintain the 60 per cent, standard will have to be raised from the figures at which we had hoped it might stand, namely, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3 to 5, 4, 4, 4, 4. That does not affect us this afternoon. It will affect us next year. The new construction in the Supplementary Estimate is not extensive. There is a small increase in submarines of £160,000. That is all we can expect to spend within the currency of the year. The Germans are spending about one million this year and in future years on submarines, and we cannot allow our lead to be diminished in this class of vessel. Sixty thousand pounds is taken in the Supplementary Estimate for aircraft. Under the new German law £100,000 is provided.
Our £60,000 for aircraft is only the forerunner of other and larger instalments in future years. We also find it convenient to accelerate the construction of eight light armoured cruisers, which form an important part of our minor programme of the year and which are urgently needed for attendance on the main Fleets. We propose to make a somewhat earlier provision of the full totals of the reserves of armaments and ammunition under Vote 9 than has been proposed. These two items of £230,000 and of £200,000, respectively, will relieve the 1914–15 Estimate to some extent, and tend to increase the permanent liabilities to which the Committee is asked to assent on account of the Admiralty. There is only one item in the Supplementary Estimates which has nothing to do with naval developments at all. The sum of £35,000 has been inserted to provide for certain improvements in the wages which are paid to the workmen in the dockyards. My right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary has devoted an immense amount of time, sympathy, and special knowledge to hearing the petitions of dockyard workmen and studying the questions which concern them. The Admiralty has always been anxious to maintain, and has generally been successful in maintaining good relations with their employés. We think that the new rates of wages which have been considered justified after very careful examination and discussion ought to come 845 into operation with the least possible delay. The details are very complicated, and I myself certainly am not prepared to deal with them, but my right hon. Friend who has the figures will, if desired, give any explanation in detail during the course of discussion.
As I stated, the main feature of the new German law is the increased fighting power which their fleet will possess. That involves a considerable reorganisation of the British Fleet in order that we may maintain the necessary margin of safety in full-commissioned ships. I outlined to some extent this new organisation when I last addressed the House on the subject. Before the law was passed the disposition of the British Fleets was as follows:—We had in home waters sixteen battleships in full commission, six more were in the Atlantic Fleet at Gibraltar, about 3½ days' distant, and one day's coaling. We are shortly to be confronted with twenty-five German battleships in the active battle fleet in full commission, the whole of which will often be concentrated within a few hours' steaming of our shores. It therefore became imperatively necessary to increase largely and swiftly the numbers of full-commissioned battleships constantly available. I speak of battleships, because it is complicated enough dealing with naval strategy in terms of battle squadrons. Of course these arguments apply also to the other classes of vessels which go to make up the strength and the military efficiency of a sea-going fleet. The following measures have been, are being, and will be taken:—The six battleships of the Atlantic Fleet at Gibraltar and two battleships from the Mediterranean have been brought home and placed in reserve. With the crews of these vessels, eight "King Edwards," which are much more powerful ships, have been brought from or prevented from going into the reserve, and placed in full commission constituting the Third Battle Squadron. This squadron is all ready in every respect, except that it requires a fleet of repairing ships to execute minor repairs. For that we have taken £160,000 in the Supplementary Estimates now before the Committee. The four remaining Mediterranean battleships have been stationed at Gibraltar to take the place of the old Atlantic Fleet.
This Fourth Squadron which is stationed at Gibraltar will be raised to a total of eight ships during the next two years, and will receive early next year the accession 846 of two powerful vessels. It will be provided with a subsidiary base at Malta to enable it to operate in the Mediterranean, if necessary. But as I told the Committee when I last addressed them, the movements of the Gibraltar Squadron will be regulated by the main situation. Its existence and position, however, must not be overlooked when I come to deal, as I shall later, with our arrangements in the Mediterranean. We have by this disposition raised the force of full - commissioned battleships available in home waters from sixteen to twenty-four, or, including the Gibraltar ships in both cases from twenty-two to twenty-eight. But the gain, however, in war power is greater than the gain in numbers, because, instead of having two ships like the "Swiftsure" and the "Triumph" which are more like slow, heavily - armoured cruisers than battleships, and six "Formidables" at Gibraltar, we now have eight much stronger "King Edwards" in our first line. So much for what has actually been done. That is clearly not sufficient, and we propose, as quickly as our manning resources render possible, to raise the number of battleships in full commission from twenty-eight to thirty-three, thus constituting as our first line four battle squadrons and a Fleet flagship of full commission ships. This increase will be practically completed—all but completed—during 1913; it will be fully completed in 1914, before which time the third German squadron is not—so far as our information goes—expected to be fully ready. In addition to battleships in full commission there are those which are kept in what is called full nucleus crews. Of these we have eight "Formidables," six from Gibraltar and two others, formed into the Fifth Battle Squadron, a homogeneous squadron, maintained on a Second Fleet basis. I hope the Committee appreciates the status on which the ships in the Second Fleet are maintained, because it is essential to a proper comprehension of the whole of this problem.
These ships have rather more than half of their crews on board, including a high proportion of specialist ratings. That is quite enough to enable them to go for short cruises, to sea, and to carry out their gunnery and sea training during the year. The rest of the crews are living in barracks on shore at Chatham, Portsmouth and Devonport, and are going through qualifying and requalifying courses in gunnery, torpedo work, signalling and other important matters which 847 are essential to the efficient training of the Navy. Of course, this organisation is an indispensable part of our naval system, because it not only enables the men to be properly trained in the schools in succession, but it gives a certain relief of shore service to the incessant strain of life in the full-commission squadrons of the Home Fleet. This system of full-nucleus crews is not adopted for the purpose of economy, or because of any scarcity of men. It costs just as much money and it requires just as many men as if the ships were kept in full commission. When these ships are required for manœuvres or for any other special service no mobilisation of reserves in civil life is necessary. They are completely manned with active-service ratings of trained seamen and stokers, and they do not require the addition of a single officer or man not in regular and permanent service. The use of the expression "mobilisation" about the ships of the Second Fleet tends to create a confusion, people thinking that this process of putting them on a war footing may be compared to the mobilising process by which armies are raised to war conditions, and which, of course, is a process we ourselves have adopted in the First Fleet; that is to say, to summon large reserves who have left the Service and are living in civil life to return to the Navy under the pressure of a Royal Proclamation in a serious emergency. The Second Fleet of ships can be placed on war service without any calling out of reserves, and can proceed to sea as soon as steam is raised in their boilers—with one exception: there is only one respect in which these ships are at a disadvantage compared with the fully commissioned ships, and that is that if a sudden call were made upon them when they were away cruising with their half-crews from home ports, where the rest of the complements are living, there might be a few days', or at any rate some hours', delay in raising them to full war strength. But that is their one defect, but we consider that the squadrons of the Second Fleet are a most valuable and vital factor in our naval organisation. To underrate them is to be ignorant of the Navy; to depreciate them is to render it an ill service. We have upon this basis at present eight battleships apart from cruisers, and this number will be increased as new and better ships come down from squadrons above, until it has been raised, 848 and of course men become available until it has been raised, to a total of sixteen. That, however, will not be possible for some years to come, and I speak this afternoon of the Second Fleet as if it only contained eight battleships. Thus we shall have available during 1914 and onwards five battle squadrons comprising forty-one battleships of which four squadrons will be in full commission, and one on the basis I have described and all of which will be manned by trained active service ratings without calling upon the Reserves, and we shall endeavour to arrange matters so that four out of these five will always be available at short notice.
Very often in the ordinary course of events, and at any time when there is anxiety, the whole five will be available. It is necessary, however, to notice that that besides her twenty-five battleships in full commission the Germans have four parent ships of their reserve division which are fully manned with active service ratings, and on an emergency these might conceivably be employed. Thus we shall have at the end of 1914 a minimum of thirty-three and a maximum of forty-one battleships fully manned and in full commission against which the comparable German figure is twenty-nine. Thirty-three to twenty-nine does not perhaps sound a very satisfactory proportion, and it certainly is not an excessive proportion, but it is impossible to settle this question merely on numbers. The quality of the ships and of the squadrons must be measured, and it is after a full and minute examination of the qualities of the ships and the squadrons that the Admiralty are able to announce that they are satisfied with the margins proposed so-far as the next two or two and a half years are concerned. I hope I shall not be pressed to enter into any process of comparison of the individual ships and squadrons of this country with those of any foreign Power. Such comparison would be irritating and invidious to others, and it is very likely that by revealing our own views they might prove injurious to us; nor do I wish, unless I am compelled to do so, to justify the Government to the House of Commons, nor do I wish even to dwell in detail upon the character and quality of our ships in the various squadrons as they will be in the years 1914 and 1915. I hope it will be sufficient for me to say that the arrangements proposed will, in the opinion of the Admiralty, be adequate for the needs of 1914 and 1915. I ought to 849 mention before I leave the Fleet organisation and come to personnel, that in addition to the five battle squadrons described, we have two battle squadrons of eight ships, each in reserve in the Third Fleet. These are the Seventh and Eighth Battle Squadrons. They consist entirely of ships mounting four 12-inch guns at least, and we believe them to be fully equal to, if not superior to, any serve squadrons in any other country.
The first of these, the Seventh Battle Squadron, is manned partly by active service ratings and partly by men of the new immediate Reserve. This formation, I announced earlier in the year, and it has developed very well. Already 2,000 immediate Reserve men have responded, including a large part of the flower of the Royal Fleet Reserve, and the Seventh Battle Squadron is a complete tactical unit, and has played a useful and important, and I might also say heroic, part in the manœuvres which have just closed. We expect during next year this new class of Reserve will rise to 5,000 men, and as they have to undergo twenty-eight days' sea training in each year, instead of coining up for a week to be trained in the depot, and as they are liable to be called out independently of a general mobilisation at any time when the Admiralty consider that there is an emergency, it may be hoped that this Seventh Squadron will attain the much higher efficiency and still more a higher degree of readiness than has hitherto been possessed by any of our Reserve formations. The increases in the Fleet which will be accommodated in home ports make it necessary to take full advantage of all existing berthing facilities, and we propose, therefore, to base one cruiser squadron on the Third Fleet upon Haulbowline and probably another at Pembroke.
I now come to the manning of the Fleet. There have been a great many ill-informed statements during the last few weeks about the shortage of men. I have seen it asserted that it was not possible to man the manœuvre Fleet without resorting to all sorts of expedients. Statements have been made which would appear to indicate that we would not be in a position to man all our Fleets on the outbreak of war. The manœuvre Fleet contained a large number of vessels which depend for their complements in war upon a regular compulsory mobilisation of the Naval Reserve, and in war such a mobilisation would bring to the naval forces many thousand more men than there would be room for 850 on all the ships of all classes fit to put to sea; but in peace, when we are not drawing to any real extent upon our Reserves, and when, nevertheless, we are mobilising, a large number of ships dependent upon Reserve, the Admiralty were confronted with a task quite different from, and much more difficult than the regular war mobilisation. In the whole of the manœuvre Fleet only 3,000 Reservists and Volunteers of all kinds were employed, and less than half the Coastguards, but if we were mobilising for war we could have claimed the services of 20,000 men of the Royal Fleet Reserve, 19,000 of the Royal Naval Reserve, 7,000 of the Pensionable Reserves, 4,000 men of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, about 4,000 recruits, seamen, stokers and Marines under training, who would have passed the emergency test, the whole of the Coastguards, amounting to 3,000, of whom only 1,400 were employed in the manœuvre Fleet, a total of nearly 60,000 men, less than 4,000 of whom were required to complete the manning of the manœuvre Fleet now at sea.
The problem we have to face is not the supply of men for the mobilisation of the Fleet when war is imminent or has actually broken out. The problem is to increase the numbers of actual service ratings permanently employed in maintaining the margin of fully-commissioned ships necessary for security in what we hope will be the long years of peace. We have to develop a new and large organisation of the Fleet; we have further to provide for the two extra destroyer flotillas in full commission, one this year and one the year after next, and to do this and to man the increasing fully-commissioned Fleets of 1915, 1916, and 1917 it is necessary to add steadily and continuously to the active service numbers of the Navy. The House has already agreed to increase Vote (A) this year by 2,000 men, that is an average figure. It is an average maintained during the year, and, as you begin from below the level, it means that we can makeup any shortage which exists and then rise by 3,000 more. That has already been assented to by the House. We are now asking a Supplementary Estimate for increase of 1,500 additional to Vote (A), which means that we shall be able to add rather over 5,000 men in this year to the strength of the Navy, besides making up the shortage which existed at the beginning of the year. No time has been lost since the German Navy Law was published in increasing our recruiting service, because I thought it proper to recruit up to 851 the full limit allowed me by the House during the first period of the year, and to come and ask for a Supplementary Vote in time to cover the latter portion of the year. We have therefore been practically recruiting as for an increase of 5,000 men ever since April. We started, however, 2,000 short, And it would take us all our time, and probably involve special measures to reach the necessary figure at the end of the year. It will be necessary to make a further large addition to the personnel of the Navy every year for the next four years in order to reach by 1920 the total of officers and men required to man the war Fleets which we shall possess at that date. I do not think it necessary—I would do so if I were pressed—to state the actual figure up to which we are working, but an increase at least as large as we are proposing this year will have to be made next year, and one slightly smaller the year after. There is another aspect of the manning problem to which I must refer. There is no lack of good and healthy boys and youths in these islands to man the Navy. The excellent training and education which the Navy provides, which enables them to earn good wages and secure regular employment when they leave the Service, with varying and extensive prospects which the Navy offers to intelligence and industry, and the larger portion of pensions which are earned by regular long-service men, must never be underrated by the House, and are not underrated, as our recruiting returns show, among the people of the country.
At the same time we must not forget that the strain of the Naval Service is steadily increasing, and we are demanding year by year a higher order of service and intelligence from our seamen and stokers. We must remember also that the cost of living has risen greatly in the last ten years, and that has inflicted a real hardship on married men, of whom there are a large proportion, and of whom there, ought to be a large proportion, because they are the most healthy men our race produces at the present time. We must also remember that the increase in the proportion of home service renders the life of the sailor more expensive than when a large proportion of his time was passed in foreign countries; and, lastly, we must remember that the wages and conditions of soldiers, postmen, policemen, firemen, dockyard employés, and 852 other State servants have been sensibly improved in recent years. It is our duty to see that the seamen and stokers and others, on whose courage and conduct in peace and war the whole fortunes' of the State depend, are not left behind, or overlooked, or neglected. It would ill become this House to vote year after year unexampled millions for the grim machinery of modern Naval war, and then to grudge the officers and men of the Fleet—without whose devotion these prodigious engines would only be worthless metal—the rewards which are their due, and which are necessary for their comfort and their contentment. This is not a question which should be the subject of a long and dilatory inquiry, because all the facts necessary for a decision are already well known at the Admiralty. It only remains to choose the method of applying the means at our disposal so as to give the greatest amount of relief and satisfaction therefrom. I am not yet ready with definite proposals, but I hope to be so, and to bring them before the House when we meet again in the autumn. That is all I have to say on that point at the present moment.
There are two other matters which affect the personnel. There is a scheme of giving a proportion of commissions to the lower deck, and this has been completed, and the first batch of future officers is now being selected and will be published shortly. In the second place, the Committee which has been sitting under the Presidency of Rear-Admiral Brock on the system of punishment prevailing in the Fleet has sent in its report. I have read the report and the minutes of evidence, and though very voluminous they are deeply interesting. All ranks and men of all ratings have been freely consulted, and as witnesses they have expressed their views with a great deal of sagacity and thought, and with a proper recognition even of men actually undergoing punishment on the needs of Naval discipline. Action will be taken shortly to improve the system of punishment which exists in the Navy, and also to regulate the conditions of petty officers with regard to disciplinary matters. There are three other Committees I may be permitted to refer to with regard to the personnel and the manning of the Fleet, and other points I have touched upon which have been set up. First of all there is Sir George Murray's Committee on the organisation of the Comptroller's Depart- 853 ment. This Committee has already reported. I have considered the report and decided upon the action to be taken. The new Table of the distribution of Admiralty business has been prepared and will be published in a few days. All the interior arrangements have been settled, and the new system will come into force immediately. Secondly, there is Admiral distance s Committee on the education and training of young officers, which has issued two interim reports on which action has already been taken, and the final report will not be long delayed. The object which is being pursued is to make the chain in the education of these young men less ambitious, more simple, more practical, more thorough, and more directly centred on their fitness for specific duties as naval officers. Thirdly, a Royal Commission is about to be appointed to inquire into the question of liquid fuel and its application to warships. There is nothing sensational about this. The inquiry will be a very long business, but it will not obstruct Admiralty action in the meanwhile, and it portends no sudden or extensive changes in the methods of Navy construction. But the subject is one of very high importance and requires comprehensive and exhaustive study. Lord Fisher has, at my request, consented to take charge of this inquiry.
I turn now from these Naval domestic topics further abroad to the waters of the Mediterranean. What is the present position in the Mediterranean? We have to provide a force in that sea capable of maintaining in peace or, if necessary, in war, the great and enduring interests we have so long established there. The naval position in the Mediterranean is about to undergo a series of very important changes. At present neither Austria nor Italy have any "Dreadnought" vessels actually commissioned, but in a few weeks, and possibly sooner, the first Italian "Dreadnought" will be ready, and thereafter both Powers at short intervals will continue to be reinforced by powerful modern units, until towards the end of 1915 Austria will be able to dispose of four, and Italy of five, perhaps six, "Dreadnought" vessels. Sir, we demur altogether to the assumption that these two Powers, whose past history has not been free from differences with each other, and who have never had any quarrel with us, and with whom we have long been, and are, upon the most cordial and most friendly terms, are likely to combine together in making an unprovoked 854 attack upon British ships and British Possessions. We demur also to the suggestion which is put forward in certain quarters that we ought to maintain, apart from our general sea supremacy, apart from our superior margin in the home waters, a local superiority in the Mediterranean over the combined fleets of those two Powers. To do that would be to set up not a two-Power standard nor even a three-Power standard, nor even a three and a-half-Power standard, but it would be a three-Power standard with 60 per cent, preponderance additional over the strongest naval Power. Such a policy would impose extravagant burdens on our people.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Yes, I am assuming 60 per cent, preponderance. It would be a three-and-a-half-Power standard on the general margin I have outlined. Such a policy would impose extravagant burdens upon our people which would not be justified by any of the vital and fundamental needs of the State. It rests further, we venture to think, upon an entire misconception of sea power, and upon an ignorance of the principles by which it is animated and governed. The command of the Mediterranean cannot be treated as if it were something isolated or wholly separated from the general command of the sea, and any attempt to confine our naval supremacy to particular waters and particular seas is actuated not only by false strategy but by bad politics. We have to provide for the Mediterranean a force adequate to maintain our interest there in time of peace, and a force which is well suited to the special duties which it would have to perform in time of war. I decline altogether on behalf of the Admiralty to be led into a narrow discussion of the relative strengths of the various Mediterranean Powers or into minute comparisons such as I have indulged in in regard to Home waters between such Powers and the British force which may be assigned to the Mediterranean station,, nor do I propose to give any indication of the Naval dispositions we should adopt to meet the various contingencies which might arise. Every hon. Member, wherever he sits in this House, and everybody in this country or out of it, is at liberty to form his own opinion on that. It is clear, however, that the force least well suited to warlike service in the Mediterranean would be a squadron of comparatively old battleships, 855 slow enough to be brought to action by newer vessels, and not strong enough to maintain themselves in the line of battle. Such a squadron would expose us to the maximum of expense in time of peace, and it would lead us into the waste of using full complements upon vessels whose inferior quality should relegate them to the reserve, and would prevent our bringing into full commission vessels whose superior quality justified their being placed in our First Line; and in time of war such a force would only prove a cheap and easy prey to the navy of any Power which possessed a few powerful modern ships. In fact, we should have been preparing what may be called a naval Nicholson's Nek if we had allowed the four "Duncans" and the two "Swiftsures," which have in recent years constituted the Mediterranean Fleet, to remain at Malta after their usefulness had, owing to the development I have indicated, become completely exhausted.
The right way to maintain interests in the Mediterranean is to employ the smallest possible number of modern ships which are good enough for the work they will have to do. We have, therefore, determined to withdraw the six old battleships from Malta and to replace them with four battle cruisers of the "Invincible" type. These vessels will go out in the winter, and in the interval there will be a powerful battle squadron available which will be able to cruise in the Mediterranean, filling in the gap before these vessels can be fitted for service there and the arrangements made for their reception by the Fleet. We intend further to strengthen the quality of the armoured cruiser squadron based on Malta by substituting four much more powerfully armed vessels for the four ships that are now there. All these vessels will be based on Malta. These two squadrons are, of course, enormously superior in gun power to the vessels they have replaced. They are by themselves and in themselves a most formidable naval force even without the aid of the Gibraltar battle squadron. The battle cruiser squadron, which alone will command a broadside of thirty-two 12-inch guns, will in speed be unapproachable by any vessels of equal power built, building, or projected in the Mediterranean, and a combination of speed and gun power offers us, I am informed, tactical advantages of the very highest quality. Such a force is specially 856 adapted to trade protection. In conjunction with the Navy of France, it would, of course, make a combined force superior to all possible combinations, and these vessels can be spared from our force at home because of our great strength and preponderance in powerful armoured cruisers over the next stongest naval Power. I should like also on this point to tell the House that we have since I have been responsible for the Admiralty practically added two battle cruisers to our available resources, because the New Zealand Government have, with their usual patriotism and public spirit, placed their fine cruiser at our disposal for the general Imperial Service, and the "Indomitable," which was to have gone to China, has been retained for service at home. Therefore, we are not of opinion there will be any difficulty in sparing these vessels at the present time.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
There will be the "Shannon," two "Duke of Edinburghs," I am not sure what the fourth will be, and they are amongst the most powerful cruisers we possess. It will also be necessary for us to add to the submarine and destroyer flotillas at Malta and to establish a new torpedo station at Alexandria. All these measures, which do not require to be elaborated in too great detail, will be taken promptly. I do not propose to deal now, or at any time during the Debate, with the tactical arguments by which these dispositions can be justified. That would make it necessary to scrutinise narrowly the strategical and political conditions of the various naval Powers in the Mediterranean; to scrutinise the character and quality of the ships which they possess, and the kind of enterprises they might be anxious to undertake in war. The discussion of such topics could not fail to do harm both to our diplomatic and military interests, and I am content to say, basing myself, as I must do, in these matters upon the advice and opinion of the naval authorities on whom the Government rely, that we consider the arrangements described, not only the best possible in the circumstances, but satisfactory in themselves so far as the next two or two and a half years are concerned. The time has not yet come to provide for the latter part of the financial year 1915–16. It is not unlikely that the Mediterranean. 857 Squadron will require to be reinforced towards the end of that year, and, if so, the proper steps, whether by acceleration or by increase, which it would now be premature to settle, will be taken in due time. I am bound to add, however, the information which has reached the Admiralty seems to indicate that one of the Mediterranean Powers I have mentioned is contemplating another considerable naval programme. We do not need in these matters to act on surmise or by anticipation. It will be sufficient for me to say, if this information should prove to be correct, it would constitute a new fact requiring prompt attention, and not included in any of the forecasts I have given of future naval construction.
I have one thing more to say before I sit down. I have endeavoured to place, as frankly and as fully as I can, the naval situation before the Committee, and it has been, I can assure the Committee, a source of comfort and of encouragement during these last weeks to have had by our side the Prime Minister and other Ministers of the Dominion of Canada. It has been like the touch of the hand of a strong friend when serious business has to be done. The task of maintaining the naval power of the Empire under existing conditions is a heavy one. All the world is arming as it has never armed before. We have to face the simultaneous building by many nations of great modern ships of war. We have to protect from all danger or alarms Dominions and territories scattered over every Continent and across every ocean. Well do we understand the truth of Mr. Borden's words—The day of peril is too late for preparation.There is an earnest disposition on the part of the self-governing Dominions to assist in the common defence of the Empire. The time has now come to make that disposition effective. Apart altogether from material aid, the moral effect of the arrival upon blue water of these new nations of the British Empire cannot be measured. The unity of the British Empire carries with it the safety of its component parts, and the safety of the British Empire probably carries with it the peace of the world. If we are told that the beginnings of co-operation in defence must carry with them the beginnings of association in policy, then I say that both in measures of defence and in the direction of policy the co-operation of the Dominions with the United Kingdom will be of estimable benefit to the strength 858 of the Empire and to the general cause of peace. It is our duty to acknowledge the important aid already given. The progress of the Australian Fleet unit is continuous, and as it develops it facilitates the new Fleet organisation by releasing the numbers of men whom we have hitherto maintained in those waters for service nearer home. I have already referred to the action of the Government of New Zealand. Now Canada has come forward. We have had repeated conferences at the Admiralty and a conference of the Committee of Imperial Defence with Mr. Borden and his colleagues. They are now in possession of all the facts, and we have discussed, with the utmost freedom and confidence, the action which should be taken and the way of surmounting the difficulties which obstruct such action. So far as the Admiralty are concerned, I can assure the Committee there will be no difficulties which shall not be surmounted. There is, however, a strong distinction between measures which deal with the requirements of the immediate future and the elaboration of a permanent naval policy. The latter will require longer consideration and much fuller discussion than have been possible during the short time our visitors have been amongus. Mr. Borden and his colleagues authorise me to say they share this view, and that any special action which the immediate future may require of them will not be delayed pending the settlement of a final and permanent naval arrangement. They wish that the aid of Canada shall be an addition to the existing British programme, and that any step which Canada may take may directly strengthen the naval forces of the Empire and the margin available for its security. And they tell me that the action of the Dominion will not be unworthy of the dignity and power of Canada. More than this I do not propose, and I am not entitled to say. The decision of the Canadian Government will not, of course, be announced until the Ministers now in London have returned to Canada and have had an opportunity of laying before their colleagues the results of their conferences with us. Meanwhile, I will venture respectfully to suggest the less the question is speculated on the greater the public convenience will be.
I have now finished—I am afraid I have trespassed a great deal upon the indulgence of the Committee—the statement with which I desire to commend this Supplementary Estimate to their attention. 859 It always happens that these occasions of naval discussions are preceded by a crop of lively rumours and contradictory forecasts, and some of those who appear to have specially close and detailed information of Cabinet and Admiralty secrets delight to depict from day to day the varying fortunes of the Imperialist and economist sections of the Cabinet, who are represented as waging a savage and perpetual warfare, only suspended from time to time by unsatisfactory and unnatural compromises. These ingenious speculations indeed, if I may say so with respect, betray a great lack of understanding, The kind of questions with which we have been dealing this afternoon are not matters into which compromise can easily enter. They are not suitable subjects for hagglings and bargainings. The Minister who for the time being is responsible for Admiralty business to the House is brought directly face to face with very serious and very definite facts. It is quite easy for the House to change a Minister; it is quite easy for a party to change a spokesman; but changing a Minister or changing a spokesman docs not change the facts. There they are, and they march towards you, and some one or other, somehow or other, has got to deal with them, however unpleasant they may be and however unpleasant their consequences may be. The policy which I have submitted to the Committee this afternoon is the policy of the Admiralty, which we ourselves have steadily developed and pursued, and in which we have confidence. On behalf of the Admiralty I shall ask for nothing that is not necessary, and I have asked for nothing that I have not got.
The Vote now before us is, in appearance, a comparatively unimportant one. The sum involved, by comparison with the colossal expenditure which we are compelled in ever increasing measure to undertake, is a small one, but I think all will agree with me that never has an issue so great as this raised to-day been raised upon, as it were, so small a foundation. The right hon. Gentleman is asking for some 1,500 men and some relatively small increase in construction, but he has taken the occasion, and for my own part I am glad he has done so, to make a survey of our general situation, which touched not merely the issues of peace and war as they are commonly raised on our Naval and Military Estimates, but which brings before the 860 House, in almost menacing guise, the increasing difficulties of the European situation, the ever darkening clouds threatening us from the European side, but balanced, may I say even more than balanced, by what he stated at the end of his speech, namely, that our great Dominions, especially Canada, are realising to the full, as Now Zealand and other Dominions have already realised, the changing situation of the Empire and the responsibilities that a changing situation inevitably throw upon every component element of the Empire. If we have, as we have undoubtedly after the speech of the right hon. Gentlemen, to contemplate a situation of the utmost gravity in Europe, if we have to look forward, as we must look forward, to no relief in the burden of armaments and no diminution in the number of men we draw from the general population in order to defend the country; if, on the contrary, in all these respects we can look forward to nothing but an increase, an annual increase on a very large scale, en the other hand we feel that the resources of the Empire are more and more becoming available to the needs of the Empire, and we, who I hope and believe, have ever stood for the world's peace, will not stand alone in these two Islands, but shall have behind us the whole strength of the Empire of which we are part.
The right hon. Gentleman showed, I think, a wise reticence in all that he said on the subject. Evidently he and his Government, and I should gather the same thing from the public utterances of eminent Canadian statesmen, contemplate that with the increasing support which the Dominions are giving to this country there will come, as in my opinion there ought to come, and must come, some increasing share in the responsibility for guiding the destinies of that Empire. I do not know whether it can be found in the very elastic constitution of the Defence Committee, but there will, at all events, be machinery for an interim, I will not say a permanent, an interim arrangement on the subject. I at all events have always hoped, and in some of my many speeches, have indicated my hope that it would prove to supply machinery which would help us in this particular kind of difficulty. I rejoice that the Prime Minister has summoned, certainly not for the first time—I rejoice that he has summoned in the last few weeks, the representatives of the Canadian Government now in London; 861 and has taken them into the full confidence of the Government on all these great problems in which the interests of Canada are as closely bound up as the interests of this country. I could not help, when the right hon. Gentleman was explaining, which he did with a brevity and conciseness that greatly added to its force when he was explaining the German Navy Law, I could not help feeling how prodigiously the whole situation has altered even since the present Government came into office.
The right hon. Gentleman said that spasmodic efforts wore not the kind of effort required at this time. The Germans were moving steadily and remorselessly, they were adding year by year to the number of men, to the number of ships, and to the readiness of those ships and those men for instantaneous action, and he said, and he said rightly, in my opinion, there is one way and but one way to meet a menace of that kind, and that is to imitate the policy of your neighbour, and neither to lapse into panic nor what is even more important not to relax for one instant your efforts for the augmentation of your strength, so that no possible revolution of fortune will ever put you at the mercy of some naval or military accident. That, general maxim—whether the Government are carrying it out adequately I cannot say—I, for one, heartily agree with, and I am glad the Government have come round to that opinion. I do not propose, indeed it would not be dignified to indulge in recriminations or reminiscences, but I must honestly say there were some years in which the present Government were in power in which they did not realise the true value of the maxim which the right hon. Gentleman has laid down as the basis of their present policy, and it may be that had they been wise a few years earlier, as they are wise now, we might have been spared some of the cost and some of the anxiety which it is impossible now, as far as I can see, to wholly avoid. I did not get up, on an occasion like this, to survey in detail, or indeed to survey at all, the particular proposals laid before us by the right hon. Gentleman. I should like to have time to consider them. I suppose this may be taken as only the first of what will be in reality a two nights Debate. Unless I am mistaken, the Government desire to devote Thursday to the Defence Committee. But as I understood the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, it was based upon 862 broad issues which the Defence Committee has more particularly to deal with and which cannot be excluded, and ought not to be excluded, from Thursday's Debate. When Thursday comes we shall have had time to discuss among ourselves the special points which the right hon. Gentleman has laid before us.
I may, however, perhaps be permitted to remind the House how great the change is in the naval problem, as compared with the naval problem which used to confront our fathers at the time of the wars of the eighteenth century and of those of the early part of the nineteenth century. We have heard in the public Press and from right hon. Gentlemen, we have heard from supporters and critics of the Government, a great deal, for example, about the Mediterranean problem. We sometimes, allow ourselves to think that the Mediterranean problem in 1912 has some resemblance to the Mediterranean problem at the time of, let us say, the Seven Years' War. But it has no resemblance. It is totally distinct. In the eighteenth century there was no naval Power worth counting in the Mediterranean east of Toulon; practically our one great naval opponent was France; that was our one great naval opponent both on the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean. France sometimes had an alliance with Spain and sometimes had not, but, broadly speaking, France was that opponent, and the very fact that our opponent in those days was geographically situated where France is situated, made the whole difference in the problem, because we had only to consider practically the fleet of France. It might be in the Mediterranean at Toulon, or it might be at Brest, but wherever it was it was our business to be there also—to be within reach also—in case of war. If they increased their power in the Mediterranean by hypothesis they diminished their power in the Atlantic and the Channel, and you could diminish your power in the Atlantic and Channel, and so leave the balance perfectly unaffected. You cannot do that any more. The power that menaces your Fleet in the North Sea is not a Mediterranean power, and she is not going to keep a single ship in the Mediterranean whatever your necessity may be. Moreover there are two naval Powers in the Mediterranean now, in addition to Spain, France, and ourselves, which did not exist as naval Powers till quite recent years. Austria, with only 300 miles of coast, and with no oversea possessions, is now in process of becoming one of the fore- 863 most Naval Powers of the world. I know not exactly under what inspiration. It is a fact, an easy and simple fact, which is open to us all, that in dealing with the Mediterranean it is not open to us, and cannot be open to us. The right hon. Gentleman deprecated, and I think he rightly did so, any minute examination of the tactical problem here or elsewhere. Such minute examination could do nothing but instruct your possible or conceivable opponents; it certainly cannot aid your friends; it certainly cannot aid international amity at all; it cannot help that upon which I still hope and believe the peace of the world may, under circumstances which I will discuss presently, be more or less dependent. Therefore I follow the example set by the right hon. Gentleman, and I do not touch upon the details of those problems. I understand from him that at all events up to the time when the present Austrian and Italian programme will be completed his official advisers are content with the new increase and the reorganised force in the Mediterranean. I understand that the Government have greatly added to their Mediterranean force.
And that irrespective of the Atlantic Squadron, which has to do the double duty of helping in the North Sea or in the Mediterranean, I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that the ships based on Malta are a far more formidable force than we have for many years, or, perhaps ever, based upon that military port, and in the opinion of his naval advisers that is sufficient for the present. I think I inferred from something which fell from him in his speech that he quite admits that he cannot look beyond the next two years or two years and a half.
And that there may be developments which will require a great change even in his Mediterranean arrangements?
I gather also that the right hon. Gentleman thinks he is safe in not making up his mind as to what new construction he will make until next year.
Is he not running it rather fine? He has already told us how the coal strike has thrown expenditure, I think, over two years. I do not unduly press the point, but I ask him whether he does not think that he may not be losing precious months, and that it may not be well to announce even now, or at all events in the course of the next few weeks or months to make up his mind as to what additional construction will be necessary. But I presume that must have been under the consideration of the Government, and before the Debate closes the right hon. Gentleman, or one of his Friends, will be able to explain why it is that he comes down in the middle of July and makes a speech which I think causes more grave thought on the situation of this country than any speech delivered in this House—not excluding the famous speech made by the Foreign Secretary three years ago—and which has caused probably more grave anxiety than any speech delivered in this House. He has made that speech. He has told us of our dangers. I think he will admit he has told us very little of how he means to meet the dangers. He may be right. It may be enough for the Government to show, as undoubtedly the right hon. Gentleman has done, that he knows how serious is the menace, that he knows that that menace can only be met by unwearied exertions and unceasing sacrifices until this insanity of foreign construction is brought to an end. He told us in solemn accents of these perils, mentioning even their dates, and then he says, "You must give me a few months—six months, I suppose—to consider what is being done in foreign dockyards, and how we should arrange our construction best to meet it."
If that is his view, I, at all events, do not feel myself in a position to severely criticise him. If the Government cannot be trusted to deal sufficiently, honestly, and fairly by the House when they make clear how great is the peril in which we stand, if they cannot be trusted to bring forward Estimates for the construction which they think may be necessary at the right time, they are certainly not fit for their office, and the right hon. Gentleman and his naval advisers are not fit for their places; and the sooner other naval experts 865 are chosen in their places the better. But I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman has dealt honestly in this matter. He has been so absolutely candid as to the magnitude of the crisis that has to be dealt with, that it would be folly and a petty and ineffectual meanness to defer until next February—it would be unduly and improperly deferring—what ought to be done in this July. I think everybody will own that the prospect before Europe is not an agreeable one. We perhaps on this side of the Committee have been better prophets than hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. But however that may be, I take it that all who have listened to the speech just delivered by the First Lord must now be of one opinion, that there is no use haggling over details, that there is no use talking about dropping your shipbuilding because if you go on with it it may provoke this or that Power. The days for that—if those days ever existed—must, in the opinion of every sane man who listens to me, be long past. I hope and believe that if this country does its duty we shall maintain peace. Though I cannot disguise from myself that modern peace is almost as expensive as ancient war, yet it is much cheaper than a modern war, and my hope of maintaining it is based upon the fact that modern war, especially an all embracing war, would be so horrible and appalling a calamity, it would not be merely so frightfully destructive of accumulated wealth and of human life, but it would so profoundly disorganise the industries upon which, in an increasing measure, every great and civilised country is more and more dependent, that even the most reckless statesman, when he sees it before him, will shrink back horrified at the prospect. I, therefore, though it may seem strange, attach value and importance to the way in which the great Powers of Europe are now, as it were, crystallising. I do not see why that should increase, in any respect, international bitterness of feeling. I rather think it may produce ultimately a different result; but this result, at all events, I think we may hope it will produce. I cannot conceive—I do not know the details, and I do not even know whether the Foreign Secretary knows them—that the Powers of Europe, or that any Power of Europe, is so insane as to make alliances involving itself in an offensive war in a cause in which it has no quarrel at all. I assume that sufficient sanity is still left among mankind to 866 ensure that this organisation of Powers is on a defensive basis. If that is so, and if it works out in practice—we all know there is sometimes a difference between the theory and the practice in these matters—what will be the result? The result will be that any single Power indulging in reckless and offensive acts of aggression will find itself isolated from its friends, but in conflict with an overwhelming enemy—in conflict, I mean, with the other organisations which, by hypothesis, are the subject of this gratuitous attack. On the other hand, if the central Powers of Europe and the other Powers of Europe are organised in one sense against one another, yet, as I hope, not necessarily against one another, if the war spreads at all it will involve the whole of Europe, broadly speaking, and in nearly all the great countries every able-bodied man may have to come out. The prodigious and appalling cost of mobilisation, direct and indirect, is one which will have to be endured by France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Russia, and we shall have to endure something, not precisely of the same kind, but certainly only a little less onerous in its character. That alone is surely a guarantee of peace, even if it be a costly peace, which you could not have if there was no organisation at all in these two camps. At any rate, in my sanguine moments, I believe that the very fact that the organisation will make war impossible unless it is universal is a reason why war cannot take place. It is too appalling.
If we are to contemplate the horrible, and, as I hope, the impossible—if there is to be this universal Armageddon, then, looking at it from a naval point of view, it seems to me that the fleets of the Triple entente are not inadequate now, and are not going to be inadequate, to any strain that is going to be placed upon them. If we can conceive, if we are driven to conceive, if we are obliged to conceive this condition of universal warfare, then I do not say that the fleets with which our interests are concerned can be regarded is inadequate, in any theatre of operations, to the strain which will be thrown upon them. I decline to believe it possible that we alone should be concerned with all the navies of the world except those, let us say, of France and Russia, who remain neutral in their ports. I hope and believe we should not be unequal even to that strain, but it is a strain which is surely not probable. Surely, if we are to draw these dreadful pictures of international 867 disaster, and if that is a necessity forced upon us, we need hardly suppose that our evil fate, or even the most imbecile diplomacy, would force us into conflict with three nations with whom we have no cause of quarrel, with whom we have been—at all events as regards the Mediterranean Powers—on the most friendly terms within the memory of man, and who, I can hardly believe, will be driven to attack us, and attack us alone in anybody else's quarrel. We must prepare even for that danger, but I think it most improbable. In any case, if I understand the policy of the Government aright, it will be the most perilous adventure that any State could in future engage in to drag Europe into war. It would be perilous for itself, it would be perilous for the world, it would be perilous for its commercial interests, for its military interests, for its social order, for everything that makes civilised life desirable or bearable. Therefore, though we may groan under the magnitude of this expenditure, though the Chancellor of the Exchequer of this Government and of future Governments must look forward with little less than dismay to a burden which has increased by how many millions since we left office?
I will not quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman over a few hundreds of thousands, or even millions of pounds. The eleven or twelve millions by which the Estimates now exceed the Estimates of 1905 are going largely to increase, whatever Government is in power, and must increase as long as the insane competition in shipbuilding goes on elsewhere. We, at all events, have this consolation. We do not build for ambition, we build for peace and security, and so long as we build for peace and security, so long shall we have behind us the opinion of those great Dominions to which I referred earlier in my speech, and so long shall we have behind us the opinion of all the smaller States in Europe, and so long shall we have behind us the enlightened approval of mankind. If we can secure peace, even at this sacrifice, 868 we shall have done great things in our generation; and I am perfectly positive, that short of the sacrifices which the Government are asking from us, and which their successors or themselves will have to ask in even greater measure, you will never secure that peace which nothing but this sort of preparation will ensure. If war occurs, and finds you unprepared—if it finds the defensive Powers of Europe without your support, and your adequate, instantaneous and immediate support—you and all of us who are dragged into your responsibilities will be guilty of the gravest crime against peace and humanity of which this country or any country has ever yet been guilty.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I do not rise, I need hardly say, in any polemical spirit, nor do I propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman in the very interesting observations he made towards the close of his speech in regard to the effect of what I would call the present international grouping of Powers, except to say, which I do with full conviction and with some considerable experience of the actual working of the situation, that I entirely share his views that it makes for peace. We shall have a further opportunity on Thursday, when I shall hope to make a statement reviewing in a more general way that part of our policy which falls within the scope of the Committee of Defence. For the moment I should like to reiterate in the most emphatic way, speaking on behalf of the Government, and, I believe, of all parties in the House, the general principle which the right hon. Gentleman laid down, at the close of his speech. We are most reluctant competitors in this naval rivalry. It has not been provoked by us. We have entered into it, so far as we have entered into it, at enormous cost to the taxpayers of this country, not as free agents, but under the compulsion of circumstances. The Estimates have increased enormously, and I cannot, I am sorry to say—I wish I could—dissent from the right hon. Gentleman's prediction as to their possible further increase in the future. We justify that expenditure, much as we regret it, heavy as are the burdens which it imposes on the country, for two reasons and for two reasons only—the increase in the number of our ships and the personnel of our Fleet, and its superior equipment, and the expenditure which all these needs entail—in the first place to maintain the security of our shores, our Dominions, and our commerce; and in the next place to 869 insure the peace of the world. These are the two governing and guiding objects of British naval policy, and I speak the sentiment, I am certain, of the whole House when I say they are objects which we shall always pursue whatever party may be in power, and whatever may be the change in the grouping of Powers.
I would only say two or three words in regard to the Vote now under discussion, and the right hon. Gentleman's criticisms upon it. My right hon. Friend, as he has acknowledged, has spoken to the House with the utmost frankness in regard both to the present and the future. I deprecate anything in the nature of panic or scare. I do not think there is the least occasion for it—but it is of the utmost importance that we should see clearly what is likely to happen, and that we should provide in time for our own part in the discharge of our own responsibilities. The right hon. Gentleman rather suggested that there had been, or at any rate there might have been, a time in the history of the present administration when that duty was not adequately performed. I do not agree with him, and if this were a fit occasion for doing so, which I do not think it is, because it relates now to a past and an almost past, I should be quite prepared to justify it. There never has been a moment, and there is not now, when we have not been overwhelmingly superior in naval force against any combination which could reasonably be anticipated. But I entirely agree. We must maintain that position and maintain it to the full. As far as the Mediterranean is concerned, there has been no change of policy, but there has been a change, that has been going on now for many years, in what I may call the strategical equilibrium. It began when the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues were in office. In old days we used to maintain our much largest and our most powerful fleet in the Mediterranean, but the centre of naval gravity has shifted, and it became necessary for us to alter, as that centre shifted, the distribution of our force, and when we came into office the process was already in full operation, and instead of the Mediterranean being, as it had been for a generation past, the principal seat and centre of our preponderating naval force, home waters have taken its place. That does not mean that in the opinion of our predecessors, any more than in our own, there were not and are not vital British interests to safeguard in the Mediterranean. Anyone who knows the 870 course of our trade, the sources from which it proceeds and the lines which it follows, knows perfectly well that we cannot under any conditions treat the Mediterranean as if it were a theatre in which we had no direct interests of our own, or which we could leave to be safeguarded and looked after by someone else. That is an inconceivable position for any British statesman to take up. Then it becomes a question when you have to estimate what is the actual force that you shall maintain there, and it becomes a question what are the conditions.
The conditions, I agree, are in many respects new by which the size of that force ought to be determined. I certainly shall not not make the assumption which I think would be politically, and from every other point of view, an absurd assumption, that we are likely to have to meet the combined forces of Austria and Italy in the Mediterranean. That is an assumption that is totally unnecessary. But we must be in a position in the Mediterranean to maintain our interests, and to make those interests secure against all the hazards which they may reasonably be expected to be exposed to. At this moment I believe that is the case. But there is a great change going on. The Government do not think we should be honestly discharging our duty to the country if we were not to alter the character and composition of our Mediterranean force. We have for many years past had what used to be called the Atlantic Fleet based upon Gibraltar—what is called a Pivotal Fleet, able to turn its attention either to home waters or to the Mediterranean, as the case may be. We have maintained at Malta a comparatively small force of battleships, not, according to modern ideas, of the first class. Now we propose, in view of the new situation which is about to be created, without forecasting in the least degree enmity from this quarter or from that, to substitute for what, under the existing conditions, we believe to be a force not adequate for possible emergencies and dangers, a force much stronger in its character and composition—four battle cruisers with double the gun power of any force that has been in the Mediterranean for many years past, and to supplement it by armoured cruisers of a very superior type to those of the "County" class and others which are at present to be found based on Malta. That new force will be based on Malta, and it is the opinion of 871 our naval advisers—an opinion arrived at after the most careful investigation of all the facts of the case—that during the time for which it is our business in this Session to provide, looking forward from now to the next three years, a force so constituted and composed and based will be amply sufficient to safeguard all British interests in that possible theatre of operations.
The right hon. Gentleman said, Are you not, in regard to the future, running it rather fine? I do not think we are. If we thought we were, we should be taking a grave responsibility, and one which I certainly would never for a moment dream of taking. For three years from now, in the opinion of our advisers, that is an amply sufficient force. We do not know—we shall be in a much better position to know six months hence than we are now—what events are likely to bring forth. Programmes, as everyone acquainted with the history of naval shipbuilding is aware, exist on paper which are often not performed in fact. They are, moreover, constantly modified from their original shape into a different shape, and I have always held, and I have maintained the opinion in this House and elsewhere, that it is a very great mistake in such a shifting art as naval shipbuilding—and no one has had a more conspicuous illustration than we have of the extent to which that art of shipbuilding has developed in the course of the last ten years—to make your provisions too far in advance, or you may find you are left with ships which are obsolete, out of date, and which are not really fit for the growing requirements and exigencies of naval warfare, in which case you will have lost your money and will have to spend it over again in having to provide substitutes. There are many illustrations of that in our past naval history, and I should be sorry that we should repeat that experiment. But the House may feel assured that when we produce our Estimates next year, with the added knowledge and fresh light acquired in the interval, and with the prospective requirements of the situation in our outlook, we shall not fall short of anything our advisers think necessary to fully and adequately safeguard British interests in the Mediterranean and elsewhere.
I would like to add one word with reference to the visit of our Canadian colleagues and the co-operation which has already begun in council, and which I believe will before long fructify in action. I desire on behalf of His Majesty's Govern- 872 ment to tender our most grateful acknowledgments to Mr. Borden and his colleagues, not only for the spirit in which they have entered into these deliberations, but the contribution they have already made to our knowledge of the matter. I am sure the House will agree with them that their first duty is to their own constituents and colleagues in Canada, and that any announcement they may be in a position to make after our conferences are completed will be more appropriately made there than here, but whatever it may be, and I am perfectly certain it will be adequate to the dignity and the patriotic spirit of the great Canadian community, we shall receive it here with the utmost gratitude as an acknowledgment that we are true co-partners in this great Empire, that its burdens and responsibilities are shared by the Mother-country and the Dominions, and that we cannot in peace or war isolate ourselves from one another. I will add—although I will not make any detailed statement upon that point at this moment—that side by side with this growing participation in the active burdens of the Empire, on the part of our Dominions there rests with us undoubtedly the duty of making such response as we can to their obviously reasonable appeal that they should be entitled to be heard in the determination of the policy and in the direction of Imperial affairs. I do not say it would be wrong to state—of course Mr. Borden and his colleagues would be the first to disclaim any desire for any such declaration—but I do not say in what shape or by what machinery that great purpose is to be obtained. Arrangements like that cannot be made in a day. They must be the result of mature deliberation and thought; they will probably have to develop from time to time; but without committing ourselves in any degree to particular forms in the matter, we share, with our great Dominions the feeling which has become more and more conscious and articulate as years have gone on throughout the Empire, that we have a common heritage and interests, and that in the enjoyment of that heritage, and in the discharge of the duties which those interests involve, we ought more and more to be conscious partners with one another.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
The Vote now proposed is, comparatively speaking, small, but the speech in which the First Lord of the Admiralty moved it is one of the most portentous this House has ever 873 listened to. I am not going to criticise the details of the programme, or the details of the speech itself: I am not in a position to do so. Very few Members of the House can have followed in detail the various statements the First Lord has made, and very few are in a position to say whether his conclusions are justified or not. All that this House can do is to put itself in the hands of experts, and it can only judge whether these experts at the present moment are advising us wisely or otherwise by what these experts have said in years gone by. If we have found these experts coming before us year after year, and, speaking through the mouths of First Lords, giving us doleful tales of menace, and telling us of the enormous shipbuilding programmes which other countries were embarking upon—if we have heard the Prime Minister himself in the most doleful accents tell us, as he did, a few years ago, that certain things which were most portentous were about to happen—and if we find that neither the forecasts of the experts nor of the Prime Minister occurred, then I think we are entitled to regard the statement we have heard this afternoon with a good deal of suspicion, and we should not be asked to put ourselves into the hands of Admiralty experts in this matter. There is one thing we cannot forget. The events of last summer and autumn undoubtedly had their influence upon the shipbuilding programmes of European countries. It is all very well to come before this House and say that we are building for peace. I believe that is the intention, but our diplomacy has not always been peace diplomacy. There is not a single Member of this House who has been accustomed to go to Germany, and who knows German public opinion in the last twelve months, and more particularly since last September, who does not know perfectly well that the events of last summer have coloured public opinion there, and that the temperament of the Germain mind has been altered on account of these events. These things must be taken into account as well as the German shipbuilding programmes. I think we would all feel far more secure in the hands of the First Lord and his permanent advisers if our diplomacy and the speeches made outside and inside the House were less provocative than they have been in the last twelve months. If the First Lord goes to a great commercial centre and says that while we build from necessity the German navy is to them in the nature of 874 a luxury, I say that is not the sort of speech to induce Germans to believe in the pious opinions expressed in this House when we ask new Votes for naval building. The First Lord has told us quite truly that we can change Ministers and parties, but that we cannot change facts. Beyond the events of last summer and autumn are facts which cannot be changed now by any pious expressions of the part of the right hon. Gentlemen who are largely responsible for their creation.
As to points raised of a more general nature, I should be the very last to say anything or do anything that would seem to detract from the generous statement of opinion made this afternoon as to what our Dominions who have come to our assistance have done. But, after all, we must remember that in taking these steps the Dominions are only doing their duty. The Dominions have inherited with us common dangers and common interests, and it would have been preposterous for them—they would never have thought of it—to have assumed that the Mother-country was going to go on for ever bearing the whole cost of naval and Imperial defence. We must also remember that it has been foreshadowed that the moment the Dominions take their fair share in Imperial defence, then they are going to insist upon getting a fair share in the shaping of Imperial policy. Representation on the Defence Committee will not satisfy Canada or Australia. If those Dominions are going to put their iiects—fleets created and maintained by them—at our disposal in the event of a European war, then these Dominions will have to have something to say in regard to the events leading up to war. The sooner we begin to understand that this enormous shipbuilding programme, which is compelling us to call on the Dominions for aid for the purpose of Imperial defence, is a revolution in the government of the Empire, and in the determination of Imperial policy, the better it will be for us. That is what is happening to-day. This country will be no longer able to have the sole and decisive voice on all the great questions of Imperial policy—not only as to the policy that affects the whole world, but as to the policy which is going to affect our relations with European countries.
One of the most melancholy and doleful parts of the First Lord's speech was his reference to the Mediterranean. What did that reference amount to? To-day we will say that it was impossible to conceive of Italy and Austria as our joint enemies, but 875 hon. Members must have noticed while that declaration was being made it was dissented from by certain hon. Gentlemen opposite who are the nucleus of a dissent that is going to grow into a majority. In these things there is no half-way house. We have an essential line of communication beginning at the northern end of the Suez Canal and ending at the Straits of Gibraltar. Everybody who has been to India or Australia knows the importance of that line of communication. On its path is Malta, a naval base, and the theory is that we have got to put ships in Malta of sufficient importance, strength, and menace, to meet our requirements. We can say today that there is no chance of raising a scare against Italy and Austria, although there was a chance a year or two ago of raising a scare against Austria when it was referred to as a reason for submitting inflated shipbuilding programmes. To-day we may say—although the newspapers have not worked it up, some have been doing their best—that Italy and Austria will never unite against us. But it does not require much of the gift of prophecy to say that the assumption of Italy and Austria uniting against us is going to be made the basis of our naval strength in the Mediterranean. That is one of the most doleful and terrible prospects with respect to our armaments during peace. As a beginning, we are told to-day that Alexandria is going to be made a sort of base for smaller craft—torpedo-boat destroyers, and, I suppose, submarines, and so on. That means that we are going to have another naval base m the Mediterranean. From the strategical point of view, I dare say one can see its necessity, always on the assumption that we are going to equip the Mediterranean in precisely the same way as we are now going to equip the North Sea.
All these beginnings evolve themselves in accordance with a law of their own being. It is not the Admiralty experts who are going to settle that; it is not the Front Bench, Liberal or Tory; it is the state of mind into which we are led by going on this way year after year that is going to work itself out. I do not care who is in office or who is at the Admiralty, or what sort of expert you are going to have there; you are going to build in panic; you are going to assume the worst, and by assuming the worst you are creating precisely those suspicions which make the worst become still worse as the years go on and as the shipbuilding programme 876 gets larger and larger and its cost to the country more and more oppressive. The statement about Germany is a case in point. As I have said already, we have had so many stories about German shipbuilding; we have had the Admiralty experts frightening us so frequently—first of all as to the navy shipbuilding law. Even there we are asked to be a bit cautious and not to jump straightaway. It would have been still more important not to have jumped to-day, and arouse once more all the old suspicions, enmity, and what is much more important and dangerous, all the old German conviction that this country is not building for peace, but building for war. My hon. Friend (Mr. Chiozza Money) has recently become a very considerable naval expert in these matters. He will not deny that the events of September completely changed the state of the public mind in Germany. If my hon. Friend has got the least acquaintance with German opinion, as I know he has—
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
Does my hon. Friend suggest that the events of last September called into existence the Naval Law of 1900, or the Amendment of 1906, or the further Amendment of 1908?
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Surely my hon. Friend knows perfectly well that he is on quite safe ground when he suggests that the events of September, 1911, did not create the events of 1900. I should have assumed that he would put a higher value on the intelligence of his colleagues in this House than to have even suggested that; but apparently he and I disagree on that particular point. What I do assert is that the events of September did call into existence the naval law that followed those events. I do assert that if you are going back to a time when the previous naval laws and the amendments of the laws in existence were promulgated you will find reason after reason why Germany should be suspicious of our building; and suspicion and shipbuilding, shipbuilding and suspicion, and suspicion and shipbuilding again—it has simply been a series of psychological states in political programmes and policies during the last ten or twelve years, as far as Germany is concerned. I simply want to make my protest. The German situation has always been created by speeches such as we have had to-night, and then made worse by shipbuilding, and then made still worse by speeches following the shipbuilding programme. I do not want to blame Ministers 877 or individuals, but what I do say—and I am sure that this House will agree with me—is that this system is a system of progress down and down in obedience to a momentum that somebody must stop somehow, and at some time. Otherwise we are going to have war whether we like it or not. It is no use talking about arming ourselves for peace and saying that the cost of peace arms to-day is worse than the cost of war in old days, but that the only thing we can say in excuse for our policy is that the cost of peace arms is less than the cost and the deplorable character of modern war. As a matter of fact, we are not avoiding modern war by what we are doing. It is bound to come; we are not going to go on year after year, and Germany is not going to go on year after year building, building, building, increasing our Estimates by millions and millions every year. Neither Germany nor ourselves can stand this sort of thing, and whilst we are dragged in this vicious circle we are bound at some period and at some time to make our protest.
It is perfectly true that the First Lord has come up to-day with his statement about Germany building, and then he says that we have got to build likewise. Our building likewise is going to be read tomorrow in Germany, and all our policies and all our intentions are going to be twisted and twined in precisely the same way that we twist and twine the policy of Germany. From one point of view we are bound to agree with the First Lord. I am not going to do anything or to say anything which would deliberately at any given moment, in 1912 say, so diminish our power of self-defence that we would be unequal to any struggle which might be put upon us. I am not going to say that; I have never said it and I never will say it. But these policies are not policies that are limited by one year's naval programme. They are policies that are fulfilling themselves, that are carrying out, as I expressed it a minute ago, a law of their own being, and these policies are the things that must be stopped. So far as we are concerned, we are going to try to stop them on every conceivable occasion, as we are going to do on this occasion. We co-operate in this respect with colleagues who sit in those foreign Parliaments who never voted for the increase in their own naval laws, who have never supported them, who have not supported in Germany, for instance, the increase of 1911. And the peace of Europe depends far more upon demonstrations such as these 878 international demonstrations undertaken by sections in the various nations' Parliaments. Your shipbuilding Votes will be reduced, and your peaceful diplomacy will be encouraged far more by our Labour party in this House joining in the demontrations with its German Socialist friends, and declaring that so far as we are concerned we shall not aid Governments to get those Votes, and we shall not enable Governments to go on in this happy-go-lucky way of competition in armaments, which is always grievious and grievously heavy, but which ultimately must bring the countries concerned in it to war. We will not accept any responsibility whatever for making it easy for Admiralties to go on increasing our naval forces. We believe that the diplomacy of the Government is largely responsible for what has taken place, and we shall take our stand with the men in Germany who are opposed to increases in the Navy there, and we shall do so to-night.
§ Lord CHARLES BERESFORD
I do not quite understand what the hon. Member who has just spoken would like to have done with regard to our Navy this year. Does he wish to have a Navy at all? If he does, he must have a Navy that is equal to its needs, and should be big enough to preserve what everybody wants in this House—the peace of the world. The Navy is not to declare war; it is to preserve peace. The hon. Gentleman complained of the continual competition between us and Germany. I agree with him in that; but that competition could have been stopped in the year 1909 if we had laid down in that year a sufficient programme to show Germany that competition was impossible. Are we going to keep command of the sea or are we not? According to the hon. Gentleman opposite, he does not want us to keep command of the sea. I can perfectly understand any hon. Member who says he does not want to have a Navy at all, but I cannot understand an hon. Member that will vote for a Naval Estimate that does not provide a Navy strong enough to support the Empire. I have been in this House on and off since the year 1874, and never in my life have I heard such an extraordinary Debate as that of to-night. Everyone who has spoken has realised the immense gravity of the position. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, in a very clear speech, showed how grave the position was, but he has not told us in any way whatever how he is 879 going to meet it. If the position is as grave as he says, immediate action ought to be taken, not with regard to talking about Germany, but talking about Europe and the fleets of Europe, and what we should have to meet in those fleets if war were declared. I do not suppose that there is anyone in this House who thinks that we are going to have strained relations with Germany and not strained relations with Austria and Italy. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Balfour) below me, in a speech at which I was amazed, as good as told the Government that they were doing everything that was right, and that there would be no possibility of war because of groups. The possibility of war on account of groups depends entirely on which is the strongest, and although I agree entirely with him about the horrors of war, and as to how any war between us and Germany, or between the entente and the Triple Alliance would put back the whole civilisation of the world by centuries, I do not agree with him at all that such a combination is not possible as Austria and Germany and Italy.
I did not say that. I will not repeat my argument. My Noble Friend completely misunderstood the whole position. I never said anything of the sort.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
I certainly understood my right hon. Friend to say that the question of groups makes more for peace than for war.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
That is all I stated. I cannot agree with that at all. What is to prevent the almighty power of Germany, although Italy and Austria are our friends, putting such compulsion upon them that they would attack our flag in the Mediterranean?
I never denied that. My Noble Friend has quite mistaken my point. What I said was that it was extremely improbable that we as a solitary Power should be engaged against the Triple Alliance. If Europe is organised as it is now, a war is a general war, and in a general war I believe that the fleets of the entente would be equal to the occasion.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
In that I most entirely disagree with my right hon. Friend. I quite see his point. I would not be bold enough to try to upset him on great questions of policy, but on the 880 strength of the Fleet I might be bold enough. The Russian fleet cannot possibly be ready for several years. Our immediate danger is in the next two or three years. The right hon. Gentleman opposite gave it as three and a half years. I make it much less. I think it is two years. With all our affection for the French nation, their navy would not be a very great support to us. It has never got over its morale being destroyed by M. Pelletan. Therefore, to some extent, to a very large extent, if a disturbance did occur within the next two years, it would be certainly upon our shoulders that the brunt would fall. That is my point, and that is why I was astonished to hear the right hon. Gentleman's speech, because my Friends all around were all equally astonished. What he did recognise was the gravity, but he did not say that it would be taken up immediately. He rather praised the First Lord of the Admiralty for saying that he has not told us what he was going to do.
If the Noble Lord wishes to reply to me he should understand me. He said that the date was coming in 1914. No new building there will help.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
No building would help? But a different allocation of the Fleet would help. I wish to turn to the question of the men. If it is so serious a matter as the First Lord of the Admiralty says, then we are, by his own showing, in a more serious position than I even had suggested. There is a great number of things we could do. We could build a great number more torpedo vessels. We could construct a great number more mines, and we could build a number more submarines-though I do not count on them too much—but the right hon. Gentleman is not doing this at all. He is doing nothing whatever to meet the gravity of the situation. He is an exceedingly clever Minister, and he makes out what he calls, a Supplementary Estimate which has nothing to do with the £1,600,000 we spent last year. We should have been in a very much better position now if we had spent that money. If it were necessary to spend £1,600,000 last year before there was anything said about the new German Naval Law, why is it only necessary to spend £990,000 now? I cannot follow that; there may be something beguiling in it.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The objects for this £1,400,000 expenditure are being carried out as fast as they can be carried out.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
We are working as hard as possible to earn the money allocated for the objects during this year, and next year we shall have to ask an extra sum in order to complete them. We are working at those objects, and they will be finished to a larger extent in another financial year than they would otherwise be.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
You put it off till next year, and hon. Members will have the right to complain why you do not do it now.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
We are doing it now. We are building the ships and carrying out the different works with the greatest possible rapidity.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
The right hon. Gentleman said in this House that this Estimate was to meet the new German Navy Law. It is nothing of the sort. It is to meet our deficiencies now, and he has not told us anything about what he intends to do with regard to the meeting of the new German Navy Law. It is going on the principle of the Front Bench opposite, that we are to wait and see whether something happens. That is what I object to in Navy policy. We ought to look ahead and see what other nations are doing, and be prepared to be better than they are long before they finish their ships. That you have not done up to to-day. You should have had a Supplementary Estimate in 1906; you should have had another Supplementary Estimate in 1908; and you ought to have done something in 1909, in order to meet the crisis which you were told would happen in 1912–13. The right hon. Gentleman on the Opposition Front Bench pointed out that there would be a crisis in 1912–13. He was held up to ridicule by hon. Members opposite and by the whole Radical Press; they said he knew nothing about the matter. The crisis is here, or else the right hon. Gentleman has not meant what he said. He could not have been more plain; I defy anybody to have been more plain with respect to what he told us to-night in regard to the future naval defence of this country. He told us about the comparison of British and German vessels. I always deplore bringing 882 in the name of Germany at all. We can perfectly well arrange our own Imperial Navy without bringing in any other country. There was one very bright spot in the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and that was his reference to our great Dominions coming to our aid. I believe that help will be substantial; I believe it is possible that it may help to pull us through.
But I regard the question in a more serious manner than does the right hon. Gentleman. I imagine the right hon. Gentleman had to wait until the Prime Ministers went back to their own countries, from what he says. I think the help, which our cousins and relations beyond the seas are going to give us comes at a very grave and critical crisis, and, if they do-render that help, I agree with my right hon. Friend (Mr. Balfour) that they certainly should have something to say in regard to the policy that dictates peace or war. The First Lord of the Admiralty is extremely clever. I wish I had half his ability. He has dealt upon those grave questions, but he skidded over them very lightly, like an aeroplane. Let me ask him how it is we have got into our present position? What is our present position in the Mediterranean? He is just as well aware as I am that our exports and imports over our trade routes are £326,000,000 a year. He is perfectly aware that 60 per cent, of our food supplies come through the Mediterranean. He knows the importance of the road to India, to the East, to Australia, and all those great Dominions beyond the seas. He also knows that at this moment there are warlike operations in the Meditteranean. Yet he told us that he has left at this moment one single cruiser, "The Good Hope," with the Admiral's flag flying, as the only British warship in the Mediterranean. The "Lanchester" is in dock; the "Suffolk" and "Hampshire" have been brought home, and I want to ask any commonsense and business person whether it was right to leave the Mediterranean with only one single cruiser, particularly at a time when warlike operations are going on there? The right hon. Gentleman, I suppose influenced by the Foreign Secretary, has made a right about face.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon, but what he said on the 8th March was that he was going to abandon the Mediterranean.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
The right hon. Gentleman did not say it in words, but he has performed the act, which is very much more to the point; he did abandon the Mediterranean. Is not the Mediterranean abandoned now, when we have only one cruiser there?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The Noble Lord knows perfectly well that very frequently vessels have been brought from the Mediterranean to take part in the manœuvres here. It is nothing new.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
That is a very clever remark. But there were no warlike operations going on in those days which might threaten the food supply, and our food supply was threatened in the present warlike operations going on in the Mediterranean. Will the right hon. Gentleman acknowledge that British prestige in the East is of some value? Does he think that he is going to maintain our prestige in the East by leaving the Mediterranean with one single ship, as at the present moment? The point really is this—I suppose it was the War Staff which had something to do with bringing the vessels to home waters. The real point is this, that on the First Lord's own showing we cannot have the force necessary in the Mediterranean without weakening our home defence. Why did they bring those ships home? It was all very well to say that the Mediterranean was not abandoned, and that we do bring out ships occasionally, but we have never brought them home; we have brought them as close as the Straits of Gibraltar to take part in the manœuvres when our other ships got there, but we have never brought them home.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
I should like the right hon. Gentleman to go and get a copy of the book. We certainly have never left the Mediterranean as it is now, and I am 884 certainly right in saying that it would have been most unusual, and I do not believe that it would ever have occurred to the Admiralty then to bring the Mediterranean Fleet home when warlike operations were going on there. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of Austria and Italy as being our friends, and that they will not attack us. Austria and Italy will have considerable fleets of "Dreadnoughts" in the Mediterranean directly, and the right hon. Gentleman gave us an intimation as to what he is going to lay down almost immediately. But why is he going to wait? This side has always been pointed out as scaremongers. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] The hon. Gentleman says, "Hear, hear." He had better wait. Who created the scare in 1909? Was it this side of the House? It is of no use pointing to these benches. It was done by the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, and the present Home Secretary. Now we have another scare. Who is making it? The right hon. Gentleman is going to have an enormous naval Estimate next year—probably over £50,000,000. Will he get it by holding up Germany again, by making another scare, in order to get the support of his followers behind him? Another point on which I wish to ask a question is whether the right hon. Gentleman is going to increase the garrisons in the naval bases? When I was commander-in-chief there was a Committee, called the Owen Committee, composed of some very young officers and one old general. They went out to decrease the garrison and to dismount certain of the guns at Malta. Sir Mansfield Clarke, Commander-in-Chief; the Commander-in-Chief at Gibraltar (Sir G. Forestier-Walker), and myself, Commander-in-Chief, expressed the hope that these garrisons would not be reduced. All we got from the Admiralty was, "Oh, yes; they are going to be reduced for economy, but the naval support we consider will be quite enough for their strength." Now they have taken the naval support away. I had eight battleships at that time and several cruisers. Before that there were fourteen battleships and several cruisers. And even then the commander-in-chief thought that these garrisons were not strong enough. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will tell us by and by if he is going to increase the garrisons. It is a very important point. There is another very important point that has been called attention to by those papers that support 885 the right hon. Gentleman. I say it is a complete reversal of policy. He may not have meant it when he said it, but we understood him to say that he was going to leave the Mediterranean. The Foreign Secretary made a speech the other day in which he spoke of a respectable Fleet. I am a, very old seaman, and I never heard the term respectable Fleet, and I do not know what a respectable Fleet means. What I would suggest is that the Fleet which he suggests, whether it be respectable or not, is not the Fleet that he ought to send out, but that he ought to send out a Fleet. With regard to the change of policy, a paper called "The Nation," which I do not often read, says: "With regard to the change of policy, if we were safe last March under Churchill strategy we do not court death and damnation by adhering to it in July." I agree with the editor of "The Nation" that there has been a change. I am not going to recriminate, but I think you were wrong to leave the Admiralty with only one ship under circumstances which are occurring in those seas. If you abandon the sovereignty of the Mediterranean, it is the main link in the defence of the Empire. I do not say for one moment that it is not wise strategy for the right hon. Gentleman to have the Fleet in home waters, but I do say that the Government ought to see to it that we have a building programme. You may say anything you like on that bench, but so far as naval policy is concerned, I would never believe anything you say. You will have to build a new Fleet for the Mediterranean. Why do you not come out like men and tell the truth instead of going round and round prevaricating? I think that is in order. I could say much stronger things, but they would not be Parliamentary. Why do not you do that instead of prevaricating as you have done, and saying for so many years, "The Navy is efficient, and sufficient, and we have got plenty of men." None of those things were true; they have been proved not to be true by your subsequent action. Next year you will have to set to work to build a Fleet for the Mediterranean. May you not be too late. Supposing you had war come suddenly on you last September, you stood a very good chance of being beaten last September if there had been a sudden war. The Prime Minister knows perfectly well that the Fleet was divided and that they were not equal to the German High Fleet at Sea.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
The Prime Minister does not agree to that; I cannot help that; but it is a positive fact, for our Fleet was divided—he will acknowledge that some at Cromarty, some at Berehaven, some at Portland; and there were other little things, serious things, which I do not think it wise to mention in public. I wrote myself to the Prime Minister a letter in which I pointed out a number of little things, that there were no sentries for the magazines and no sentries for the dock gates, and the Fleet was divided, and if we had been suddenly attacked we should have been at such a tremendous disadvantage that we should probably have been beaten. It was all very well to scoff. It did not occur, but had it occurred, and it might have occurred, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman would have been on that bench. He would probably have been hanging on a tree in Hyde Park. I hope the right hon. Gentleman is not going to be taken in by the value of submarines. They are entirely theoretical. It has been put about that submarines can do the work of battleships and cruisers. They cannot. They are entirely theoretical. What beats a, seaman at any time is when he is in a fog. The submarine is always in a fog, though I quite agree with them for defence: for offence I am sure they are a mistake. I saw some mention of submarines being used to convoy merchant ships. It was certainly in the Radical Press. I desire now to speak about the question of men. I must point out Admiralty methods, and it does not matter much which Admiralty is in power; they have always got those deplorable methods. Here is a case. On 2nd June I asked for two Returns showing the officers and men to be issued on the 25th of every month. The First Lord of the Admiralty replied that it was not in the public interest to give it. Does he still think so as to the Return I asked for with regard to the men?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I do not think it would be in the public interest to publish that information every single month of the year.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
It is a very curious thing. I put exactly the same question in a different way and I got all the information I wanted. That is the Admiralty method. In the case of the First 887 Lord I was not to get it, as it was not in the public interest; but in the case of the Second I did.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Dr. Macnamara)
Not every month.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
I got what I asked for. I want to point out to the Committee the mistakes that are often made with regard to statements made in the Admiralty. The First Lord of the Admiralty told us he was 240 men short last year. I knew he was a great deal more, and by this Return he was 1,205 short. I say he had no right to tell the House one thing that is not a fact. He ought to find out exactly how many men he is short. Why should not the House know exactly the condition of the manning of those ships that were turned out for inspection? I asked for a Return to know where the men came from, and who filled nucleus and skeleton crews. That is in the public interest. The First Lord of the Admiralty, to my astonishment, got up a short time ago and said that the whole of the ships that the Members of the House saw were in fighting action. That is absolutely incorrect. It may be a civilian's point of view, but you cannot fight an action properly with those ships under two months, no matter what your advisers tell you, and we do not know always what the advisers tell them. Whenever they get into a hole they say their advisers told them.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
It has been done very often. It was done in my day; I would not accept it, and I resigned my seat at the Admiralty.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
To have a fighting ship in these days you require the greatest discipline and confidence of the men in the officers and the knowledge of the men by the officers. You do not know these men or where they came from, and they never worked together. I said in this House in 1876 that if I had to fight an action in a battleship I would march a battery of garrison Artillery on board to fire the guns rather than take men who had never been together before, because the men in the battery would know each 888 other and their officers, and it is knowledge of that that helps you when you are fighting an action. Do not ever go to the country and tell them you can fight with any men. You cannot fight a ship filled with a nucleus and skeleton crew with credit or safety to the officers and men under two months. That is my deliberate statement, and you have no right to make a great show and say that you can fight an action when you could not do it. Take the question, for instance, of turning circles. The captain does not even know the quartermaster, and you might have the ships two cables apart and they might ram, the quartermaster may put about too much in one direction, and he does not know the lieutenants' names.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
All the ships of the Second Fleet and the ships of the Third Fleet have been manœuvring at full speed during the last week.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
I was talking of the 233 vessels. Your Third Fleet is only eight and the Second Fleet seven, I think.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The whole of the ships have been manœuvring under war conditions with lights out at night during the last week.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
That is a statement. I saw that there were very nearly some very serious collisions. But supposing they had been manœuvring like that?
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
It is not fighting an action. That is my point. It is perfectly right to have the manœuvring like that, but on the face of it is it likely that ships, suddenly manned with officers and men raked from every portion of the country, can be as efficient as ships that have been together eight months. The right hon. Gentleman is very clever to get up and make that sort of statement. The right hon. Gentleman says they are not short of men. The whole of the policy of the Admiralty for some years was to reduce the men. In 1904 there were 4,100, and in 1905 the Manning Committee stated they would like from 8,000 to 10,000 men join for future requirements. In 1905 they were reduced by 2,500 men, and in 1906 the men were so short that 25 per cent, of the fighting force of the fleet was put under nucleus crews because there were not men to man them. The scrapping policy was not done because of the ships being too old. They were not too old. It 889 was all done to reduce the personnel. We are short of men now, and the right hon. Gentleman's statement that he is going to join 3,500 is incorrect. Twelve hundred of those are to fill up the men who did not join last year because you did not get them.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
The right hon. Gentleman say, "No"; I say, Yes. Was he twelve hundred short last year or not?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I hope the Noble Lord will not doubt my remark. I have already stated that we had to make up a shortage of 2,000 men. The manning question is very complicated, and I will explain it at a later stage. But I have not prevaricated. I have stated the facts of the case. We are endeavouring to deal with it as rapidly as possible.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
I do not think I have said anything discourteous. If I have I am very sorry. I do not adopt that method of argument as a rule. I merely say that we were over 1,200 men short, and that the men who are joined extra are to fill up the shortage of last year. What the right hon. Gentleman ought to do, and what I understood him to say he would do, is to join 5,000 over and above the wastage. I do not think he can join more than that. I should be glad if he could join 10,000, but he cannot. If he will join 5,000 right up as far as he can, I shall be satisfied. I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that at last they are going to look into the question of pay and kit. That is a very different reply from the one I got from his predecessor. The Secretary to the Admiralty will always get my warmest thanks for the way he has looked into the question of the men and their comforts and necessities. I have received nothing but courtesy from him. I am afraid I have bothered him very often, but he has always been most courteous about it.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
I am not paying you any compliments; I am only giving you your due. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that if he had been rude to me, I should have been much ruder to him; otherwise I should not be an Irishman and a seaman. Without joking, the right hon. Gentleman has always been very courteous. But there was a time when I wrote a letter about the pay and kit, and the Admiralty said they could not think of adding such a large sum to the public expenditure. The first necessity of any Fleet or Army is to have the officers and men happy, comfortable and justly treated. I maintain that for years the pay in the Navy has not been what it should be, looking to the fact that the whole of the other employés of the Government, including the Army, have obtained extra pay. I do not find fault with the Army. I do not think they are paid enough yet; certainly the officers are not. But the Navy is not paid in proportion to what other people receive, or in proportion to the high price that provisions have reached, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will let us know as soon as possible what he intends to do on this question. I am perfectly certain that the House will pay whatever they are asked for by authority, in order to put the men on a proper footing. You may have your engines and your guns and all the rest of it, but without the human element you cannot win. It is your business to see that those who serve you and fight your battles in your ships are properly treated. With regard to the Fleet which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to send out to Malta, I understood him to say that he has four "Invincibles" and six of the "Natal" class.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
Eight altogether, and for a year or two you are to have four battleships based on Gibraltar.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
They are to be based there, as the light hon. Gentleman expressed it on the 18th March, to proceed to the East if there is a combination—and there can be only one combination—or to proceed to the North if they are wanted as reinforcements. If that is the case, they ought to be at home. Why do I object to these heavy battleships going to the Mediterranean? A great point was made of speed. What is the use of 891 speed for the Mediterranean? By the time they got up speed, if they went North or South they would be ashore. Anyway, their speed is of no use in the Mediterranean except to clear out. Then there would be the immense difficulty of berthing at Malta. Another point is that they are so big and powerful. Where would you be if one or two were laid up or even under repair? It would make an enormous difference to your force if you had one out of three or four laid up—far greater than if you had two out of eight battleships. I am not at all sure that they could refit well at Malta. Moreover, the Mediterranean is a narrow sea. These ships are of immense length and have an immense area under water.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
Yes, but that is not my point. My point is that, owing to their length and the area under water, they are particularly liable to be hit by mines or torpedoes. These ships represent more than an army corps to an army. The Mediterranean is not a suitable place for them to go. The idea that a ship by its speed can choose its range is very silly. It does not matter what your speed is. If the enemy is armed with the same gun as you are, no matter what your speed is, when you can hit them they can hit you. The speed has nothing to do with it. But the reason why more than anything else I object to their going there is that their practical use with a big fleet is something immense. It is a great mistake, looking at the narrow margin you have, to send these ships to the Mediterranean. They would be invaluable to an admiral if he was fighting another fleet. He could fight another fleet with a smaller number of battleships if he had these cruisers than he could without them. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider his idea. I do not suppose he will at all; but anyway he is making a great mistake in sending these cruisers out. From six to eight battleships sent out into the Mediterranean would be infinitely more useful for fighting purposes than sending these four cruisers. They are a great loss to the fleet at home.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
I would rather send out three of the "Dreadnoughts" than these. But the right hon. Gentleman 892 appears to have made up his mind, and I suppose he will adhere to what he says. I am very disappointed at what the right hon. Gentleman has told us he is going to do about this grave crisis. He ought to carry out the policy of keeping us as near supreme at sea as he can. We shall never be supreme again as we were, because the Government missed their chance in 1909. If they had had a big programme then, do you suppose there would have been any German increase? Not at all. The Leader of the Labour party is perfectly right when he says that we shall go on adding a little as against Germany—not enough, but just enough to make her go on, year after year until we come to war, as sure as we are in this House. The right hon. Gentleman's idea of a programme is very useful in argument, but it is no good in fact. You can make a programme perfectly. The pre-"Dreadnought" ships are excellent; they have done their turn very well; they are very useful now, and will be for some years to come. But what you want is a big programme, to show the world that we are going to keep supreme at sea, and keep the peace. If you go on as you are doing now you are sure to come to war. The right hon. Gentleman on 18th March said that Germany's menace through making our Fleet come home would impair the mobility of the Fleet. One point which we held supreme, and which gave us such power, was the mobility of our Fleet. I want to see the Fleet once more mobile, and though it can never be supreme again under the new circumstances, which I maintain is the fault of the Government, still we must do the best we can to keep supreme in those seas where it is necessary for us to be supreme. The one bright spot in the right hon. Gentleman's speech was where he inferred that the great Dominions were coming together, so that we shall make one great Imperial Navy, not only to defend the Empire, but to maintain the peace of the world, which is the object of our building a Fleet at all.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I think the Noble Lord has displayed unnecessary heat in regard to a crisis which does not exist. I have been puzzling all the time to know why he should refer so constantly to "this crisis," and I think, through listening patiently, I can give the answer. The Noble Lord evidently believes that the description of what might happen in 1912, given in the doleful story told by his Leader, the senior Member for the City of London, in 1909, has really happened in fact.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I suggest it has not happened. I will refer to it in detail in a moment, when I think I shall be able to satisfy the Noble Lord that none of the facts on which the panic of 1909 was based have occurred. We occupy to-day the strongest position relatively that this country has ever occupied, and so the Noble Lord may go home and rest in peace. The only feature of our naval policy during the last three years that has thoroughly satisfied me is the arrangement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that our naval matters should be treated as non-party. It must be, or ought to be, accepted in the House that Members on both sides are deeply interested in the safety of the country. Therefore if some of us think that in a time of profound peace we should husband our resources to build up our credit and make preparations unostentatiously for any crisis likely to arise, we should not be ostracised in this House. The task may be a difficult one, but we ought to get, I think, the sympathy of those who may not agree with us entirely in trying to put forward a case of this kind. The production of these Supplementary Estimates raises one of the gravest and most momentous issues that we have ever discussed in connection with our Navy. I will best serve the House and consult the convenience of Members if I say in the fewest words possible why I am of that opinion. I have always followed these Naval Estimates with great interest. We have been in power six years, and for the first three years our finances were managed by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I think his management was characterised by distinguished ability. He protected the interests of the country well. It has been said that he reduced the Navy Estimates; but he did not reduce them any more than the Conservatives had reduced them in 1905. This was during the first three years.
In 1909 we, as I think, took a most disastrous turn in regard to these affairs. On 16th March of that year we had a crisis raised by hon. Gentlemen who sit on the opposite side of the House; for if this is, as it is, a non-political subject, it is absolutely necessary that we should pay attention to what hon. Members on the other side say. My views, perhaps, are not the views of everyone; but I ought to be allowed freedom to express them, and any hon. Member, if he disagrees, can reply. 894 I want to call attention to the statement made by the then Leader of the Opposition, who spoke with all the support of the Opposition, and with all the force of the high authority which he has in this House. His words have sometimes been referred to, but never just precisely as it seems to me they ought to have been. The right hon. Gentleman said that in December, 1910, the Germans would have thirteen "Dreadnoughts" to our ten. They had nothing of the kind; they had not five at that time. On 1st April, 1911, he said the Germans would have thirteen to our twelve. "There is no doubt," he added, "they will have thirteen." That day has passed. They did not have the number stated. Then the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Leader of the Opposition came to 1911, and said:—We have to count on the possibility of the Germans having seventeen in July, 1911.They had only eight. He came again to 1912. He said:—On April 1st. 1912, the Germans will have a possible-twenty-one 'Dreadnoughts'; we have twenty-five.That is how the scare was created. I say on this day it is hardly worth the dignity of a great Assembly like this that we should not pay some attention to the fact that none of these alarmist statements made in this House which led us to incur great expense have been fulfilled in reality. Then my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, was led to say that the estimate was that the Germans would have seventeen "Dreadnoughts" in March, 1912, which, was the crucial date. The lesson we learn is that these estimates were wrong. We have passed the crucial date. Germany has only ten ships. She has not built as we were told she was going to build. The whole thing was a tissue of fabrication, made to cast a slur on a great and friendly people. What are the facts? Germany to-day has ten "Dreadnoughts" and we have twenty. We have built up to the full measure of our protection against panic; we have twenty.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I am coming to that point. The difference between myself and others is that I deal with realities. [HON MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Yes, with realities; and I say that on this day Germany have only ten "Dreadnoughts," and we have twenty ready for them. We have fulfilled the whole of our programme, and Germany has not carried hers out. Therefore 895 I was extremely sorry to hear that the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the City of London, again almost repeated—although he did not go into figures—the libel which he cast upon Germany three years ago. He said this afternoon that Germany "is building steadily and remorselessly." Germany is doing nothing of the kind. She has not built more than two-fifths of what was said here she would build. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I am stating the facts and quoting from publications issued by the Naval League, and that ought to be good enough.
§ Mr. LOUGH
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the years in which the Liberal Government neglected building. The charges have not been substantiated, and the scare was raised on a foundation which has never been made good. I mean that in the first place, so far as we are concerned, Germany did not build with the rapidity we thought. We expended practically all our money. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] I take no account of this million; we increased our naval Estimates by £12,000,000 in three years to meet an eventuality which did not arise, as I venture to suggest.
§ Mr. LOUGH
My hon. Friend behind me, who has changed his opinion in this matter, will have his opportunity. We are spending now at the rate of an added £12,000,000 in three years. We incurred an extra expenditure of £25,000,000 to meet a situation which was not half so serious as we were told it would be. Secondly, we cast aspersions, as I have said, upon a friendly Power, and our own finances were greatly disturbed in finding the money. Liberal policy was entirely reversed owing to these alarmist suggestions. Worse still, my right hon. Friend comes forward to-day and asks us to accept certain Estimates as to the future. Why should we accept Admiralty Estimates? The Admiralty were entirely wrong in 1909; why should they be right in 1912?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I have not referred at all merely to "Dreadnoughts." I have only stated the number of ships which it was desirable to keep in full condition. We are basing the Estimates on the express words of the German Act of Parliament.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No, I never said anything of the sort. I said that the number of battleships that would shortly be in full commission was twenty-five. The whole of them will not be "Dreadnoughts."
§ Mr. LOUGH
It is very difficult to make a speech under the circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Germans would have 101,000 men in their Navy in 1920. That is an estimate. How does he know what will happen in 1920? If during the three years of which we know the facts the Germans did not do what we have said, how can we know about the future?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
That does not apply at all to "Dreadnoughts." I was not dealing at all with "Dreadnoughts." I was dealing with ships in full commission.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I hope I will get figures that we will agree upon. My right hon. Friend said that by 1915 Austria would have four and Italy five "Dreadnoughts." what certainty is there of this? The argument I wish to present is that this country has already, at an immense cost, provided for a state of things three years in advance, which as a matter of fact, has not occurred at all. The right hon. Gentleman might have done well, having 897 regard to the experience of the last three years, to have been content with less immense provision. I would like to allude to another aspect of this matter. So far as I am concerned, I have, never entered into Debate with the First Lord, so far, about naval policy; but I would like to tell him that I have not been at all satisfied with his speeches. Speeches which Ministers of the Crown had made on policy, have had a great deal to do with this matter. I am very sorry indeed that the right hon. Gentleman's speech at Glasgow laid down principles of which few can approve. He spoke of the Navy being absolutely essential to us; he said we could not live without it. That is a very common statement. It is no more true of us than it is true of Germany. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] With great respect I repeat that, it is no more true of this country than of Germany. The theory is that we want our Navy because of our food; we import such a vast quantity of foodstuffs because our men and our industries can be employed much more profitably than growing a larger proportion of the food we need. But does not Germany want her navy to bring in her food just as well as we? If it is said that we want more bread the production of these Islands would be immense if we devoted our attention to production. Whatever merits we claim for ourselves we should allow the same for Germany. We should not seek to blacken a country with which we hope to be on friendly terms. In respect to the Glasgow speech, I cannot help saying that the occasion was most unfortunate, for on the day that the right hon. Gentleman was speaking in Glasgow, Lord Haldane was in Berlin trying to improve the relations between this country and Germany.
§ Mr. LOUGH
It seems to me to have been bad management that on the very day that the Noble Lord went to Germany to try and improve the relations between this country and that, my right hon. Friend should have gone to Glasgow to make a speech of this sort about Germany. He did not think there was any harm in it. I think there was considerable harm. I think the whole policy which the country pursued is greatly influenced by the speeches made by a Gentleman in the position of the First Lord, and if we avoided all this mention of Germany it would do something to promote better relations. 898 This afternoon I was amazed to hear my right hon. Friend start with the name of Germany. His whole speech was about Germany. Why cannot we make the necessary preparations without drawing in the name of a Power like this, with whom we should always maintain friendly relations? Ministers drag in words about friendly relations at the end of their speeches. I suggest if the subject could be avoided it would do a great deal more good. My right hon. Friend coupled Austria and Italy with Germany. Not one of the three countries has any quarrel with us. I think it is a very deplorable thing that their names should be mentioned. We are in perfect peace with them, and we have nothing to complain of in their conduct, and we should not drag in their names in this manner. My right hon. Friend mentioned one other point. He said the German navy was for the purposes of expansion. Why not? Is not our Navy for the purposes of expansion? [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] To what else do we owe this great Empire? We expanded by means of our Navy. There is plenty of room for Germany to expand. There are plenty of unoccupied places, and we ought not to make it a matter of argument against Germany for doing anything which we did ourselves in the past. We ought to measure out the same judgment to the Germans as we would like them to mete out to us. That would be the way to promote good relations, and I hope that my right hon. Friend and those who sit beside him on the Front Bench will consider whether everything we say about Germany should be said as we would have things said of ourselves. If we adopted that policy we would do something to promote better relations.
There is a great deal in the circumstances to-day that tend to create another panic. I see all the machinery of the panic. My right hon. Friend says "No"; but why did he speak about these Powers, and about the urgency of the occasion? He used the expression "already in 1914," but we are not in 1914. We know nothing about that. We may provide for every effort we see at the present moment and with that we should rest satisfied. We never hear our old Liberal policy of peace and retrenchment from the Front Bench. There is something to be said surely for peace and retrenchment after all? There may be a time when that policy cannot be pursued, but we are in times of peace now; and arguments might be got up in favour 899 of this most excellent order. A few days ago the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was telling us about the fall in Consols. That is due more to heavy expenditure than to anything else, and heavy expenditure arises more from your gigantic Navy Estimates than from anything else. There are many aspects of the question from a Liberal point of view that might be considered by Ministers, and especially by Liberal Ministers. I think we might hear more upon this old policy, which was not only the policy of the Liberal Government, but which was the policy of a great many Ministers during certain periods of our history who were ready to fight a war to an end and to make any sacrifices to bring their efforts to a successful conclusion, but who in time of peace always carefully husbanded our resources. We do not want to place heavy burdens upon the people in times of peace. To put on burdens in time of peace that should only exist in time of war is very bad policy. Here we are always spending. We are now spending £45,000,000 on the Navy. When I came into this House first we were spending £15,000,000. At the present time the crisis is greater, the panic is greater. We could hardly go to bed at night in peace if we took things seriously, so that instead of commonsense security great expenditure makes us feel more and more unsafe. The sum of £44,100,000 is the naval expenditure of the current year; it is £12,000,000 more than it was four years ago, yet my right hon. Friend is not satisfied. As a means of recording the opinions I hold I desire to move the reduction which stands in my name.
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
It is somewhat difficult to understand the purpose or the logical conclusion of the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Islington who has moved this reduction. The right hon. Gentleman made a promise to me in the course of his speech which he has not fulfilled. He was stating that mistakes were made by those who prophesied a few years ago as to what would be the naval strength of Germany and other Powers, and I asked him if he was referring to the number of ships in commission at the present time, and I asked him how many Germany and others were building. He promised to give me that information, and I confess he has not done so.
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
The right hon. Gentleman was founding his argument on ships built. He ignored altogether ships that are nearly built, and that are so far built that they could be brought into war service in a few weeks. That was the fallacy that underlie the right hon. Gentleman's argument. He said that Italy and Austria had no battleships at all of the first-class, although it is a fact that six such vessels are launched and are afloat and are in course of completion. Some of them are so far complete that if a war was to break out to-morrow they could be put into commission, and arguments in favour of the reduction of naval armaments founded upon fallacies and information of that kind cannot commend itself to the House of Commons. I do not know that I can follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London in the whole of the speech he made this afternoon. I am sorry to say there was one argument in his speech which I do not believe will commend itself to the bulk of the Members upon this side of the House, or to the country generally. If I understood my right hon. Friend aright, he said that the formation or existence of groups of nations might be taken as in some degree as a reason for reducing naval preparation by this country. I hope I did not misunderstand what the right hon. Gentleman intended to convey, but if that was his contention, I, for one, humbly and respectfully entirely dissent from it.
To me it seems, if the position of naval affairs in this country is to be maintained, it can only be maintained by assuming that the command of the sea is to remain to Great Britain. I do not know of any diplomatic relations or diplomatic and international agreement that you could take account of except so far as it lies in your favour; but if you are to reduce your preparations on any step such as that which I think my right hon. Friend intended to convey, and which I am sure would not be accepted, rather would I prefer to hark back to the speech made by my right hon. Friend, as Leader of the Opposition, when Australia and New Zealand had given their promise of assistance to the Mother land to build ironclads and when New Zealand said she would build you a second ironclad if that were necessary. Then my right hon. Friend, advising the Government, told them that the only safe policy is "To 901 build, to build, to build;" so that you may have such supremacy and superiority that you will prevent the competition of all other Powers which might otherwise arise. I agree if that was carried out in 1909 things would be different. It would have been carried out by the Liberal Government, but for the undermining of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen like the Member for Islington, in the spirit that peace may be obtained by a comparative cessation of preparation, although I believe the country did not recognise that, but does recognise that the only way to preserve peace is to be prepared for war. I agree respectfully, if I may say so, with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington, in his criticism as to the First Lord's provocative methods which underlie some of his speeches. We all remember that the First Lord in his speech as Glasgow referred to our Navy as a necessity, while he described Germany's navy as an unnecessary luxury. I venture to think to-day he made an almost equally maladroit and provocative comparison. He made the comparison between the Navies of Germany and Great Britain in 1914, and he pointed out that there will very probably be thirty-three battleships in Great Britain as against twenty-nine German battleships—a margin of four.
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
In 1914, according to the right hon. Gentleman there will be thirty-three British battleships as against twenty-nine German battleships.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
No, there was a misunderstanding about what the right hon. Gentleman said. The right hon. Gentleman said he would not enter into naval comparisons of the ships between the two countries because that was not necessary. Then he went on to state that in the following year, 1915, Austria would have four "Dreadnoughts," and Italy five. In other words, he added:—I do not propose to compare the preparations of Austria and Italy with those of Great Britain, because the chances of international complication in the Mediterranean between Great Britain and Austria and Italy are very small.Did the right hon. Gentleman not see that whilst it seemed to him necessary to compare, ship by ship, the preparations of Great Britain with the preparations of Germany, it was declaredly his opinion that 902 it was unnecessary to make similar comparisons between Great Britain and Austria and Italy. I could imagine nothing more provocative as between those two countries than a statement of that kind. One-half of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was occupied with a comparison of the naval power of Great Britain with Germany, and at the end of his speech he said that a similar comparison was not necessary as regards Austria and Italy with Great Britain. I regret this because it seems as necessary to make comparisons between Great Britain on the one hand and Austria and Italy on the other as to make comparisons between Great Britain and any other country. I wish to protest with all the emphasis which I can command against the views already expressed in this Debate, and which will be further expressed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, in regard to a reduction of our naval preparations. In my humble judgment the contrast between the critical state of affairs indicated by the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty and the preparation which he is supposed to be making by this Supplementary Estimate is painful and dangerous, and provocative of the very state of things the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington (Mr. Lough) has complained of, because the only way to make sure of our safety and the only way to stop the preparations of those Continental countries is to make ourselves at this moment such preparations as will show that we intend to maintain the naval supremacy we possess at the present time, which will very soon slip from our grasp if larger Estimates than those we are now considering are not put forward.
It is easy for the Prime Minister to state, as he has stated over and over again, that the two-Power standard as a minimum should be maintained. That is a phrase full of promise to those who desire safety, but which, when it comes to be compared in figures, is very much different from, the Estimates as put forward to-day. Here we have what the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last has called a crisis, and how is it met? By a Supplementary Estimate of less than £1,000,000, which still leaves a balance of £600,000 as compared with what was spent in the last financial year. There is a danger looming ahead in regard to our preparations, to which reference has not been made, and it is that the spending on shipbuilding which is going to ensue in the course of the present year will be, in the opinion of those engaged in the shipbuilding trade, in all 903 probability interfered with and hampered by still further labour troubles. The miners' strike is said to have been largely the cause of the non-spending of £1,500,000 in the last financial year. Supposing that the shipbuilding trade is racked, as many of those engaged in it expect it will be, by labour disputes in the trade itself. You would have a further retrogression in regard to your comparative progress in shipbuilding. If that be so, how futile, how inadequate, and how thoroughly insufficient for the purpose is this estimate of less than £1,000,000 in comparison with the necessity which the First Lord of the Admiralty has so clearly set forth based upon the new German Estimates, which he has so very definitely described. There is, in my humble judgment, an absolute need for a very much larger shipbuilding programme to be put in hand at once.
My Noble Friend beside me has prophesied Navy Estimates next year amounting to £50,000,000, but I do not believe it. I do not believe the Government is capable, having regard to some of those who sit on the back benches, of bringing forward such an estimate as that for the Navy, because they would not obtain the support which they must have if they wish to carry a proposal of that kind through. [An HON. MEMBER: "They would get support from us."] Yes, I know they would, but their difficulty would be still existent in regard to their peace-at-any-price supporters, of whom we have had a sample in the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last. So far as I can I wish to place upon record that there is a strong definite opinion on this side of the House and in the country that, having regard to the critical nature of the comparison between Germany and ourselves and our naval preparations, and having regard to the evident determination of Germany to go ahead consistently and persistently with her naval preparations, there is a necessity for an immediate increased programme as regards our own shipbuilding in this country. It may be said that that is difficult, and I grant it. The yards are full, but I think with the influence of the Government much could be done. Instead of a Supplementary Estimate, poor, inadequate, futile by comparison, of less than £1,000,000 distributed over all the various needs of the Navy, it should be the policy of the Admiralty to start at once a new and enlarged programme of shipbuilding, and to lay down as many vessels as will give us in 1914 a supremacy 904 not of thirty-three to twenty-nine, but of at least forty to twenty-nine. That is one-third more than Germany possesses, having regard to the necessity also that we have to protect the Mediterranean in view of the progress which Austria and Italy are making.
Just a word as to what perhaps after all is the keynote of this Debate. The new element in naval affairs introduced by the references of the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Prime Minister to the conferences with Canada and with the Canadian Premier and several other of Canada's ministers. In my humble judgment this is the most important event not only in regard to the Navy but in regard to the federation of the whole Empire that has occurred in the present generation. We on this side of the House have been advocating with more or less vigour now for some years the great policy of Imperial federation, and we have sought to bring it about by reforms in trade, which have been opposed by the Government and by those who support the Government. Is it not strange that unexpectedly the same great object is being approached through another channel, and that in the necessity for mutual defence for combining together the Motherland and the Colonies, there may be found the machinery for federation, for combined conferences, for combined arrangements for settling the policy of combination closer between the Motherland and the Colonies than has ever been anticipated from this question of mutual defence, and of combining ourselves together for that purpose. I believe every hon. Member of this House on both sides, not even excluding the peace-at-any-price Members, agrees that this policy initiated, or expressed, at all events, for the first time by Mr. Borden, the Premier of Canada, is a policy which will commend itself to all parties, and one which will be supported by the united voice of the people in the Motherland. That that should be so is a matter for congratulation to every Englishman who loves his country, and if, as a result of this Debate—whatever be the differences of opinion as to whether our naval preparations should be great or small—a unanimous feeling is expressed and carried across the sea to Canada, it will raise and accentuate a corresponding feeling in our other Colonies to the same effect, and good will have arisen from this Debate which those who squabble about the details of naval preparations do not 905 realise, and which will be greater than they ever supposed.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
I am exceedingly sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington should have reiterated the charge made by the Leader of the Labour party that provocation can be justly charged against Great Britain in the matter of recent naval building and the increase in naval expenditure, which has been such a marked feature of recent years. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman and the Leader of the Labour party that the first personal reference that was exchanged on naval matters between the two parties began in the year 1900 officially in the German Naval Law. May I remind the Committee that the all-important Preamble to the German Naval Law set forth:—In order to protect Germany's sea trade and colonies there is one means only, namely, that Germany must have a fleet of such strength that even for the mightiest naval power a war with her would involve such rinks as would jeopardise her supremacy.That reference to this country was the first of these personal references in this particular matter. We certainly did not begin them. Let me remind those hon. Members who disagree with me in this matter of the experience of recent years. The present Government came into office at the end of 1905. It was as well known in the Chancellories of Europe as in this country that a Government had taken office which was pledged to the policy of peace and retrenchment, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington (Mr. Lough) referred in his speech. When we came into office, did we honestly carry out our policy and pledge to reduce naval expenditure? Did we merely go on talking about reduction or actually make a reduction? What happened was this. The Cawdor Programme had laid down a prospective building of four capital ships per annum. We reduced those four capital ships to three in the first Naval Estimates presented by us to the House, and on 9th May, 1906, on the Motion of one of my hon. Friends, the House of Commons consented unanimously to a Resolution in favour of the reduction of armaments. That Motion was supported by speeches from every side of the House. I remember hearing the right hon. Gentleman the late Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Balfour) speak on its behalf, and on that occasion the Foreign Secretary used these remarkable words, of which I will ask anybody who intends to make, if I may say so without offence, 906 another Little Navy speech to take note. In the course of the discussion he used these words:—And just as in the time of the late Government Lord Goschen issued a public invitation on behalf of the Government to other countries to respond to the feeling of this country for a reduction in naval armaments, so I trust tills Resolution may be taken as being an invitation from the British House of Commons to respond to their feeling in favour of a reduction of armaments.That Resolution was carried nemine contradicente in the House of Commons on May 9th, 1906. It was accompanied by an actual reduction. We not only talked reductions, but we made reductions. What was the result? In the following month Germany amended her Naval Law and raised her battleship programme from two to three for a period of four years. That was the response made by Germany. In the following year we reduced it again. We had already reduced it from four to three, and we then reduced it from three to two. How did Germany treat that reduction? She passed a further amendment of her Naval Law, so reducing the period of replacement of battleships that her building of three ships became four ships per annum for a period of four years. So, as we reduced four, three, two, Germany increased two three, four. That is about the plainest indication I have ever known in what is sometimes called high politics of a certain direction, and I cannot understand any man of soberness who would give his mind to this question drawing from that series of events any conclusion but one. I am not ashamed to say they led me to revise my opinion on this subject. Since I have been charged with changing my opinions, I should like to say that from my writings twelve years ago, long before I became a Member of Parliament, it will be found I was a big Navy man then, as I am to-day. When I entered this House in 1906, I believed, and I thought I had reason to believe, we had exceeded the two Power standard. I believed that then, and I believe it now, but that is not the case to-day. In 1907 the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman made that noble appeal to Europe in the first issue of the "Nation." which he carried into effect, as naturally he would, as first Minister of the Crown.
I think we cannot afford, in view of our peculiar economic position in the world, to risk for one moment the naval supremacy of this country. I say that with all earnestness and conviction, and I ask my right hon. Friend below me to reflect 907 before he charges the Prime Minister with having in effect deceived the House of Commons or of having made false prophecies. He reminded us that the Prime Minister speaking, not after the event—it is easy enough to be wise after the event—but on such information as he had at his command and speaking in soberness and gravity, said that in the present year Germany would have seventeen of what are commonly called "Dreadnoughts." What are the facts at the present moment? Germany has building at the present moment twenty-one "Dreadnoughts." Of those twenty-one fifteen are actually launched, ten are actually in commission, and seven are nearly ready for commission. When the Prime Minister indulged in what my right hon. Friend called undue prophecy he was so near to the truth that we may congratulate the country upon having a Prime Minister who could foresee so well. Germany possesses a very small coast line, has very few colonies, possesses the mightiest army in the world, and is not dependent as we are for about half her food and, what is more important still, for fully three-fourths of the materials which supply the work of her population; and, if Germany occupying so different an economic position from ourselves is entitled to build on a two-Power standard against France and the United States, and on a three-Power standard if we take the three Powers, France, Italy, and Austria, then I repeat again my expression of wonderment that any Member of this House can think the provision of the present Estimates an undue provision in view of the extraordinary economic position which we occupy! Germany defeated on the sea is still Germany, but what is Britain defeated on the sea? I will tell the Committee in a moment the big perils that face us. What is the use of disguising the fact when we have in existence the German Naval Law with all its provisions before our eyes? What is the use of indulging in roundabout phrases to disguise our meaning? In this competition with Germany there is something entirely new from an economic point of view. I beg the Members of the Labour party, and I am sorry to see so few of them present, to take note of what I am going to say.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
That is not my meaning. It is only that I should desire 908 they in particular should hear the argument I am going to address to the Committee. The hon. Member for the Black-friars Division of Glasgow (Mr. Barnes) asks me not to lecture him. I hope he will not take anything I have said in that sense. But I feel, very earnestly indeed, that a false lead has been given to the working classes of this country by the Labour party.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
It does not become a Tory sentiment simply because the hon. Member says so. I was speaking from the economic point of view in relation to Germany. Battleship building concerns great departments of the iron and steel trade. There are only three countries in the world which are able to sustain out of their own resources a fleet of considerable dimensions. Those three countries are ourselves, Germany, and the United States of America. France is not one of them. Compare in this regard the iron and steel industries of Great Britain and Germany. We have been faced with an extraordinary development of recent years, which, I think, is not yet sufficiently appreciated in this country. Take the facts as regards the iron and steel production of the two countries. In 1900 the iron output of Germany was less than that of the United Kingdom, but after an interval of twelve years only we find the German output to be 14.6 million tons against the ten million tons of the United Kingdom. Then in regard to steel. In 1910 the German output of steel was more than twice that of the United Kingdom. This immense competition in iron and steel shipbuilding for war purposes with Germany is quite a different thing altogether to the old competition with France and Russia. It is a competition of an entirely different character. Some of my hon. Friends may have been justified in pointing the finger of scorn at the Russian navy, divided as it was partly in the North Sea, partly in the Black Sea, and partly in the East. They were justified, perhaps, in asking why need we build against that? But they are not justified in using the same argument when we are in competition with a country of an entirely different character indeed.
The question of the increasing naval expenditure has been very much exaggerated. As a matter of fact, the naval expenditure of this country has not increased to the extent which is commonly supposed, because the naval expenditure under the 909 late Government was £41,000,000 and at the present time it is only £45,000,000. The £41,000,000 was expended in 1904–5, and in 1912–13 we are spending only £4,000,000 more. It is true that the late Unionist Government reduced its naval expenditure the last year it was in power, and we also reduced it in several succeeding years; but, even as compared with those years, the increased expenditure has not been of the exaggerated character which has been assumed in some of the speeches made to-day. And I make bold to say that we can well afford that increased expenditure. There are certain old traditions in this House with regard to expenditure that are difficult to get rid of. In connection with armaments, that may be a fortunate thing. In connection with social reforms, I often think it is very unfortunate. But there is a great tendency to exaggerate the evil effects of increased expenditure. May I remind the Committee of what has taken place in the world in recent years? Every country has been increasing its expenditure hand over hand. We find the United States has increased its expenditure by 61 per cent, in ten years; Belgium by 73 per cent.; Italy by 53 per cent.; Denmark by 75 per cent.; and Russia by 66 per cent., as against our 45 per cent.
I may remind the Committee, too, in that connection, that these figures have a very important bearing on a discussion which took place in this House last week. They have a bearing on the question of the effect of expenditure in general, which is very considerable when you remember the tremendous expansion of trade that has occurred in the last ten or twelve years. If every thing be true that is said about the increased national expenditure, how is it that in the last ten years the world as a whole, which has been simultaneously increasing its expenditure, has experienced a prosperity and increase of trade such as it never experienced before? I have in my hand figures showing the increase in exports of the countries of the world during this period, when the national expenditure has thus been increasing. The United Kingdom has increased its exports by 47 per cent.; Germany by 61 per cent.; France by 51 per cent.; Belgium by 76 per cent.; Italy by 58 per cent.; Japan by 124 per cent, and Austria by 20 per cent. Does not this disprove the common assertion that increased expenditure means ruin to the countries involved? So far from spelling ruin, it means the strengthening 910 of the country, and if that expenditure means the protection of the trade of the country, as it does in our case, it cannot be called unfruitful expenditure. Let me compare recent naval expenditure. I have shown that the increased expenditure in our case is not so large as is commonly supposed. But what has a been in the case of Germany? I will com pare similar years 1904–5 and 1912–13. During that period our expenditure has increased by only £4,000,000; whereas the German expenditure has gone up from £10,000,000 to £22,000,000, and that £22,000,000 cannot be justly compared with our figures, because many of the charges attaching to the present rapid expansion of the German army will not be encountered for some time to come. It would, I think, be fair to take the £22,000,000 as equivalent to £30,000,000 or £32,000,000 when drawing a comparison with the United Kingdom, and the charge of provocation therefore entirely falls to the ground.
I think it necessary to say a word with regard to the peculiar dangers which confront the United Kingdom. I have said that the trade of the world has recently increased very greatly, and simultaneously the scale of trade, the scale of expenditure, and the scale of most of the various branches of the activities of mankind have enormously increased in the present century. So much larger is the commerce of the 20th century, as compared with the commerce of the 19th century, that it is not true to say that the expenditure on armaments in the present century is really larger in proportion to the interests which those armaments are supposed to protect. Of course, our position is an extraordinary one if we merely regard the United Kingdom as an isolated unit, which fortunately it is not. We are an island in such a degree dependent upon foreign commerce as no other country in the world is, or has ever been, or is ever likely to be.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
The position would be exactly the same, whatever our fiscal policy. No fiscal policy could ever put copper in the mines of the United Kingdom, or enable cotton to be grown upon our shores
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
Of what good would wheat be if people had not the 911 wages to earn the bread, and how would they get wages if we were shut off from those materials which climate and nature prevent us being able to get in this country? Our dependence upon seaborne trade cannot depend upon our fiscal policy. We have not only to remember our own insular position. We are the head and front of a great Empire, which is undergoing remarkable developments in the 20th century. This remarkable thing is happening. The Colonies are advertising for our people, and they are getting them. I ask hon. Members of the Committee who are interested in these sober affairs to look at the new emigration returns published last month. What will they find? They will find we lost on balance 88,000 people, a greater number of people than were added to the population of the United Kingdom by the natural increase. That has a very great bearing upon the naval position, and upon the subject which is engrossing the attention of the Committee. The drawing of these units of population from the heart of the Empire to its extremities raises issues of profound importance to the United Kingdom, especially from the point of view of naval expenditure. Although, in my opinion, we can afford our present naval expenditure, I very much doubt if we shall be able to afford the naval expenditure which will be called for in two or three years' time. That being the case, I think we may congratulate ourselves upon the visit of Mr. Borden and his colleagues to this country. It is perfectly true that we cannot hope for ever to sustain the sea defences which are essential to the Empire. Therefore the recognition and the fulfilment of their duty by the Colonies is absolutely essential to the welfare, not only of our own country, but of the Empire at large.
It is, of course, in our peculiar position, a very easy thing to take for granted things which have been regular for a great number of years. Here we are, an island people, who have become so accustomed to the regular and secured supplies of the economic means for the existence of our people that we come almost to look upon them as commonplace. That is the great danger which lies before the British people at this time, who forget, even as the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hunt) forgot in his interruption, the essential conditions of our existence as a nation and as a civilised people. Those essential 912 conditions demand the absolute security of our sea frontiers. They will exist even if we are not the head and front of a great Empire. If we remember also the peculiar conditions of that Empire and the thinness of the threads which bind it together, it is impossible for any hon. Member of this Committee to support the Amendment made by my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. GEORGE FABER
Many of us on this side of the Committee were much interested in the speech of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire (Mr. Chiozza Money). I am not surprised that his speech caused some disquietude and even anxiety amongst his own Friends. The hon. Member told us that he formerly belonged to the "Little Navy" party. Time brings its strange changes—I will not say revenges. Men who only a few years ago conscientiously believed in what was called the "Little Navy" policy have been driven by the stress of circumstances, as the hon. Gentleman has been driven this evening, to adopt another policy. There is not much good in adopting the argument "I told you so," but hon. Members on this side of the Committee would not be human if we did not remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that they and their party are responsible in a very large measure for the perilous position in which we stand in regard to our Navy to-day. When the Radical Government came back in their great flush of authority and power in 1906 they thought they were going to redeem and reconstitute the world, and that if the great Radical Government, with its then Prime Minister (Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman), cried out "Peace" the other nations would follow meekly in their wake and adopt their cry. But they did not. The Radical party were reckoning without their host, and their host was the rest of Europe. The hon. Gentleman pointed out that the first act of a Radical Government in 1906 was to knock down the Cawdor Programme by a "Dreadnought," in the next year by two "Dreadnoughts," and in the following year by one, making four in all. The hon. Gentleman has also pointed out that Germany, acting to the full upon her naval programme, not only did not follow in our wake, but remorselessly followed up her original plan. I should like to remind the Committee, not for the sake of scoring off hon. Members opposite, of what the present Prime Minister, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, said in March, 1908, on a Motion for the reduction of armaments 913 which was brought forward by an hon. Member opposite. The right hon. Gentleman said:—I quite agree that one of the heaviest counts in the indictment which many of us preferred against the late Administration was that during their term of office the expenditure on the Army and Navy had enormously and unnecessarily increased.He went on to point out that the expenditure in 1904–5—which was our last term of office—was £41,400,000; in 1905–6, £38,300,000; in 1906–7, £36,000,000; in 1907–8, £34,760,000, and in 1908–9, £34,000,000. He made this comment upon that naval table which is contained in his speech:—We have made a very solid, substantial and successful effort to reduce expenditure.Then came 1909, and the panic. Their policy of naval retrenchment was calculated to produce a panic, and did produce a panic on their own side. Since then they have been trying to retrace their steps, but it is very difficult, when you have once taken a wrong path, and have gone backward instead of forward in your naval position in the world. In 1908–9 the expenditure on the Navy was £34,000,000. To-day it is £44,000,000. It is £44,000,000 as against £41,400,000 in the last year of our administration. Therefore there has only been an increase of £2,600,000 upon our last naval programme. I agree that when you look the facts in the face it is absurd for any man who is not saturated with party politics or little navyism to say that the policy put forward by the First Lord on the Navy Estimates and again today is too high. The only question, speaking as a Briton, is whether it is high enough to preserve that predominance upon the sea that is necessary to us as a nation. I frankly own that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought for discussion before this House the question of what ought to be done with the surplus of £6,500,000, I took the view that first and foremost it ought to go to the Old Sinking Fund, but I said, the first time I had the chance, that if it were to be applied to the Navy, speaking for my own part, I condoned any irregularity there might have been in the disposition of the matter for the sake of the great naval programme which seems to me so essential to the safety of our position.
But the Chancellor of the Exchequer then certainly led a great many Members to believe that a great deal more than £1,000,000 of that surplus would be applied to naval purposes. We expected that with these millions to dispose of, and with the 914 naval position in front of him, when the Supplementary Estimates were brought before the House it would be more than £1,000,000. There is no new construction at all in the Supplementary Estimate. Nine-tenths, or almost ten-tenths, is made up of an addition to personnel. Every consideration is left for next year. There is a great tendency with the Radical party, where naval or military expenditure is concerned, to say to-morrow, to-morrow, tomorrow, and never to-day. We have to wait another six months before the next Naval Estimates are brought forward, and many things may happen before then. I had far sooner, considering the position in which we stand, that the First Lord had taken time by the forelock, because the money was there. If the House had been asked to sanction the application of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 out of the Old Sinking Fund towards the strengthening of the Navy the House would have granted the money. We have asked for too little. I do not of course mean that the £1,000,000 is not wanted for personnel, but that a certain substantial sum ought to have been set aside for laying down fresh ships.
I should like to say a word from the financial point of view upon what will before long become a necessity for this country. Our Estimate next year, if the First Lord of the Admiralty does his duty by the country, may come very nearly up to £50,000,000. There comes a point in the history of every nation—it has come in the case of Germany—where you have to say, "I can no longer meet this out of expenditure, I must meet it out of capital." To meet your naval expenditure out of the Budget of the year is a fine thing to do. I believe in paying your way out of your annual Budget, if and so long as you can, but there may easily come a point when you have to say. "Posterity has to bear part of this burden; we are fighting for ourselves and for posterity, and part of this tremendously growing expenditure on the Navy must be met out of capital." When the matter was being discussed in this House in 1909, I said the proper course was to have a naval loan of £50,000,000, and to have a regular naval programme so un-shifting and steadfast that Europe, and the world, might have known where they were as regards ourselves, and we might have known where we were also. But the Radical party committed themselves in 1906, and before that, to the theory that loans were vicious. Loans are vicious in 915 the ordinary sense, I agree, but there may easily come a point when you must have a loan, because you cannot stop your shipbuilding unless you mean to drop your position in the world. Away goes the people, away goes social reform, away goes everything, if, when the day of trial comes, as a naval Power, you are found wanting. Next year, or the year after, I wish it was now, we may be forced as a House, independently of party politics, to say the time for a naval loan has come.
Germany is a great country, not so rich as we are, but with a great population, growing riches and growing power. She has not been able to build up her great and growing navy out of income. She had to do it largely out of capital. This would be a most unfortunate time for a loan from the point of view of finance. Our national credit has been greatly shaken from one cause and another. If we try to raise £50,000,000 we should find the national credit was much worse than some of us think it to be at present. But still there is a bigger question even than that, and that is, What is the best way of convincing Europe and the world that in the matter of the Navy there shall be no deflection and no going back? And it may well be that the best means of convincing the world of that would be by laying down a great Navy programme, calling in aid for that purpose a Navy loan. However that may be, there is no doubt we stand to-day as a nation in the matter of the Navy in a very difficult and dangerous position. I cannot understand anyone, I do not care what his politics are, being a Little Navy man to-day. Even if he is a Socialist, social reform depends upon our position in the world. You cannot have social reform unless you remain in the forefront of the great Powers. It seems to be shutting your eyes to the patent facts of the case to cry out, "Less shipbuilding, and the deterioration of our position as a great naval Power." We must go on. The Radical party by their policy of little navalism is largely responsible for putting us in the position we are in to-day.
§ Mr. GEORGE FABER
The hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity of replying directly. If Germany had been convinced three, four, or five years ago that we meant business it is not only quite possible, but probable, that she would not have made the augmentations to her fleet 916 programmes by the variations which we have seen. If the party opposite are responsible for the position we stand in, I would, at any rate, say to them, do not make it worse by saying that we should not increase our programme.
§ 9.0 P.M.
The hon. Gentleman (Mr. George Faber) has attacked the Government for not having taken more active measures in regard to the Navy. I think this Government cannot be accused of having neglected to fulfil their duties to the nation or the Empire from their point of view. The hon. Member also advocated that we should lay down a large number of ships and start a definite programme by means of a naval loan. I think that would be not only a mistake, from the point of view of the naval forces, but also very bad financial policy not to pay in the year for these services, but rather leave to posterity some debt which they will have to honour when their time came, while they themselves might, for all we know at present, have to further increase the Navy. I listened to the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord C. BERESFORD), and although it was an interesting speech, it was very hard indeed to ascertain what were the criticisms he had against the Government. He was full of detail, but so far as criticism was concerned, I think there was only one that stood out. He complained that the Fleet to be sent to Malta was inadequate to the needs of the Mediterranean. He also said that in future we might have to meet the combined forces of Austria and Italy. It is very hard to make forecasts of what the political situation may be in the Mediterranean at a future date. I see no reason to suppose that we as a nation alone should have to meet Germany, Austria and Italy at the same time. If there is going to be a triple alliance fighting against this country, it seems hard to believe that we should not have our alliances too, which would help to neutralise the position. As regards the sending of ships of the "Dreadnought" cruiser class to the Mediterranean, I think the Government have met the difficulty in which they certainly were placed with not only skill but credit to our national honour. The "Dreadnought" cruisers seem to me to be more applicable than any other vessels to the duties they would have to perform. We certainly cannot ignore our responsibility in the Mediterranean, although from the 917 strategic point of view our primary duty is in the North Sea. In fact, on the superiority we may possess in the North Sea depends the whole existence of this Empire. If we had not got command of the North Sea, we should not be able to exist in this country without definite and regular conscription such as Continental nations have, and even with conscription, unless we had that superiority, we could not send a single man of that force out of the country.
Whatever way one examines the problem one sees that the whole fate of our Empire is based on the principle of naval defence, and more particularly naval superiority in the North Sea. I fully admit that the importance of the secondary theatre in the Mediterranean is very great. In fact the Mediterranean at the present time is perhaps the storm centre of any political unrest there is in Europe, and we have got to maintain a force there sufficiently strong to safeguard the many interests which this country has in Mediterranean waters. There is, firstly, the food supply on which this country depends, of which 40 per cent, passes through the Mediterranean. Another point is this. At some future date, for all we can tell, we may be vitally dependent on the supply of oil coming from the Black Sea or the Persian Gulf. Our needs demand that we should maintain a force adequate to the future construction by naval Powers in the Mediterranean. Austria and Italy are forming a new factor in the Mediterranean situation, just as the increased programme of Germany is causing a new factor in the North Sea. We could not expect this or any Government could maintain both superiority in the North Sea, which is by far the most important theatre, and superiority over all comers in the Mediterranean. You must in the disposition of your forces, whether naval or military, consider what are the probable factors with which you have to deal. Personally I cannot see reason to believe that a situation would arise in which we should have Italy and Austria combined against us in the Mediterranean.
As to the distribution of Fleets, figures were given us of various proportions of strength between opposing fleets in the North Sea. We can judge from certain reports which have been issued and certain questions answered in this House as to the proportion of strength of various nations in the Mediterranean. Under the 918 new scheme of the Government it is proposed to send four "Dreadnought" cruisers and four armoured cruisers, and base them at Malta. In addition to that, it is proposed that, the Fourth Battle Squadron shall be placed at Gibraltar. The First Lord says it takes three and a half days for the Fleet to come from Malta into the British Channel, and that one further day would be required for coaling. Therefore it would be four and a half days before the vessels would be available for service in the North Sea. In the same way the main centre of naval strategy in the Mediterranean is assuredly the centre around Malta. I think there is great fear that if a naval war broke out we might find that we should be at neither of the strategic centres when required. I am sure the Admiralty must have perfectly studied this question; but I should have liked to hear some statement which would assure the country that the Admiralty did not believe that war could possibly break out in the North Sea without the fleet in Gibraltar being available. Personally I would far prefer to have the Gibraltar fleet centred in home water rather than to have a doubt as to whether that fleet would be in position at the time the struggle commenced.
The statement made with regard to the Dominions entering with this country in its naval necessities have been very welcome to the House to-day. I have felt all along that the day must come, at the present rate of increasing armaments, when this country could not alone maintain the burden, and that we would have to look to our Dominions to assist us in maintaining our Imperial responsibilities. Most of our Dominions are already doing, some of them much, and some of them what they can, to assist us, and we are glad to learn of the further help that is likely to be given. But I do not think it is possible for this country to accept the assistance of those Dominions without giving them some definite interest in the policy and the council which control our Empire. The hon. member for Leicester said he did not think that those Dominions would be content with simply having a position on the Committee of Imperial Defence. I would not like to say that, nor would I like to say how far at the present time it would be right to go, but I do believe that it would be a step in advance if a responsible Minister for a great Dominion had the right to be heard on the Committee of Imperial Defence, which, after 919 all, is increasing in importance every day with regard to our strategical position. Every question that affects the political distribution of the naval or military preparations of the armed forces of the Empire comes up for discussion before the Committee of Imperial Defence, and in future, for instance when the Panama Canal may be opened, and we shall find the interests of Canada very closely connected with any strategical disposition that this country may like to have in a case like that, I think most certainly that to have her included upon such a Committee which is at present only an advisory committee, would be of real Imperial military value if we can push forward in that direction. I think it is a matter which must come some day, and if we all recognised, as I think many of us do, the advisability of including our Dominions in our Imperial and military operations, I think we shall be accelerating the coming of that day.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
As we listened to the three momentous speeches with which this Debate opened, and as we knew of the presence in the Gallery of the Prime Minister of Canada, I think there must be three ideas that went through the mind of almost every Member of this House, no matter to what party he may belong. In the first place, I take it the gravity of the situation brings home to us a feeling that our country, right or wrong, must be adequate to meet the immediate crisis that is upon us. Secondly, there is a feeling of thankfulness that one of those practical difficulties which alone appeal to the British race had arisen to bring together into working harmony the various portions of our Empire. But there was a third point, which I am quite sure was present in the minds of many hon. Members, though the answers which they might give to the questions that it prompted would be very different. That is as to the causes and the blame attaching to the present tragic competition in fleet building and fleet equipment in Europe. I cannot help feeling that unless we realise the causes which are in action at the present time and prompting this apparent height of folly on the part of the greatest nations on the face of this earth, it would be difficult, at any rate for a democracy, to steer a steady course in competition with the great bureaucracy in Germany. The Leader of the Labour party referred to what occurred last 920 autumn, and talked of similar things that occurred before, and said that you had an alternation between suspicion and fleet building and fleet building and suspicion. The causes lie far deeper than that, and we are blinding ourselves if we think that the present competition, between this country and Germany arises in any serious degree from what is uttered in speeches in regard to your Navy. It is what your Fleet does, and not what you say in regard to it, that compels other nations of the world to equip themselves; and unless we realise that, neither shall we do justice to our neighbours nor shall we realise the compulsions that are upon them; nor yet shall we realise the stern facts that are in front of us. During the last score of years Germany and other nations have been noting our use of our Fleet, and it is the use which we have made of that Fleet that has led to the present condition of affairs.
There are five distinct occasions when by using our Fleet, by throwing it into the balance, we have achieved silently the consequences of a great naval victory. Nations are not blind to it. We allied ourselves to Japan; we kept the ring for Japan in her war with Russia; we were deeply interested in the result. In the markets of Japan and in the markets of China the wages of Lancashire were at stake. At Manila what was at stake? The Monroe doctrine. South America was at stake. There was competition between German and American fleets, and we threw our weight silently and without firing a shot and practically secured our markets in South America. In South Africa we fought for a time with success and failure; but there was one standing success—the success of our Fleet: the silent success of our Fleet in South Africa. What was at stake? The markets of India; untold millions in wages in Lancashire and in the rest of the country. At Fashoda we threw the Fleet into the balance. What was at stake there? The markets and the possibilities of Northern Africa, and, more than that, the friendship ultimately of France herself. It was the very fact that we had this silent power which gave weight and value to our alliance in the entente cordiale. When Germany suffered her silent defeat last autumn, Morocco was at stake. We won a victory for our ally; we maintained peace in Europe and the balance of power. We must go deeper than utterances even of important Ministers, 921 and wordy warfare between newspapers on both sides. What is involved is what the First Lord of the Admiralty-described as "the facts marching towards us." What other nations are realising in the march of facts are the results won by our Fleet, and what our working class have got to realise is the fact of the millions in wages which that Fleet has secured to them during the past generation. The strategical position fixes it. Germany cannot appear anywhere in the world without running the gauntlet of our Fleet. It is quite true that if she seeks more than the defence of her own shores, the expansion of her trade or the protection of her position elsewhere, she has always to have regard to the position of this country's Fleet, whether it be in Scotland, in the Shetlands, or in the Channel. I firmly believe without any sense of panic that the German nation is forced to contemplate the invasion of this country, because in no other way is it possible for her to remove the threat which would throttle her on her way to the oceans of the world.
These are facts which, I believe, will be recognised. If you ask me how they are to be met, it is only by our strongly maintaining the balance of power. I believe that what we have failed to recognise is that in our traditional policy, two reasons, and mainly two reasons, have forced us to use our Fleet relentlessly in determining the balance of power, when diplomacy is under discussion; and those two reasons are, in the first place, that we refuse to bargain in our trade, and that, under our Free Trade system, we maintain our markets by the use of our Fleet instead of bargaining. The second is that we are determined to defend these Islands by the use of our Fleet instead of training our manhood sufficiently to render it impossible practically for any raid made upon these shores to succeed. Did you do that, it were practically impossible to invade these shores. Your Fleet could be away to the Mediterranean; it need not be on the North Sea, or tied to our coasts, because there is no defence inside our coasts. The plain facts are that we are under the old Liberal traditions of Free Trade and of a voluntary Army, and I believe that the result of Free Trade and of a voluntary Army is that in the world you find yourselves in the present condition, namely, that you have to use your Fleet in places in which the manhood of the nation ought to be ready to defend itself, and that you have to use your Fleet in diplomacy in place of bar- 922 gaining, with the result that other nations, knowing that it is impossible to get round you seek to beat you. Therefore there is this competition of Fleets, which this House calls out about, but which this nation, by its very policy and traditions, has brought upon itself.
§ Mr. WILKIE
We have been told in the course of this discussion that things are changing, especially in regard to moving the power from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, but the point I desire to emphasise is that there is no change so far as the men of the Navy and the dockyards workers are concerned. We have always had these scares. I remember as a youngster we had the Russian scare. Then, later, we had the French scare of Fashoda. Then we even had a scare with America over the Cleveland incident, and the talk that went on of what was to be done between us and America, and the things we read, were something terrible to contemplate. And now we have the German scare. In regard to what may be thought by hon. Members on this side, I want to say that I have never changed my opinion either on the platform or anywhere else, for I have always been in favour of an efficient Navy and efficient defence. But when I say that, I mean something very different from what some right hon. and hon. Members on the Front Bench mean. How long is this policy of scare to continue as a reason for increasing the burdens of the people? Is there no other way, no other methods of reason by which we can attain our object? Surely the best methods in the work have not been insisted upon, and we might follow some of the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Surely other means might be found? We have our Colonies and the United States of America, and surely it ought to be possible to have United States in Europe working together for peace, working to assist each other, and not working to drain each other's blood in regard to some supposed conquest which some have always in their mind. One of the Members for Portsmouth remarked that the human element ought always to be considered. I agree that we ought to supply the most efficient structure upon which to mount the most efficient weapons of destruction; but, nevertheless, as the Member for Portsmouth remarked, without the men behind these structures would be mere metal. All who have read our naval history know that no matter of what material our vessels may be composed, it is the human element which decides the 923 victory. I understand, to come to the Estimates, that there is no provision made for an increase of the remuneration for the men in the Navy or for the dockyard workers. I understood from the First Lord to-day that there is some provision being made. I hope I may be allowed to say a few words as to the human element. I think we are all proud of the stand the dockers of London are making for what they consider their own interests, and the history of our country has shown a spirit such as they have shown that we never know when we are beaten; which is the spirit which will carry us right through against all who may oppose us. The men in the dockyards have petitioned year by year, and to mention one merely as representative of the other we had fourteen requests last year, all, or nearly all, of which were disregarded. That goes on year by year. I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, who, like myself, comes from the workers and has every sympathy with them, whether there is not some other way instead of petitioning and getting the dead stone wall of an answer that the request cannot be acceded to. I am perfectly aware that recently they have gone the further length of meeting the representatives of different classes of workmen in the dockyard. That is something for which we are thankful, but when the men go year by year in a respectful manner and get no redress, they become sour and disconcontented and dissatisfied. In reference to the men in His Majesty's dockyard we have pointed out since 1906—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I understand that Vote 8 will be debated in Committee on Wednesday next. I hope the hon. Member is not now going into details with regard to that Vote. I know that the Debate has ranged over a very wide area for the general convenience of the Members of the Committee, but I trust that the hon. Member will not in his remarks anticipate the Debate which will probably arise on Vote 8 on Wednesday.
§ Mr. WILKIE
I am quite in your hands. I would like to have your ruling on this point of Order. This Supplementary Estimate gives an advance of wages to dockyard men which the other Estimate did not give. That being so, I thought I was in order in referring to it.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
We have to take this Supplementary Vote item by item. The item we are now dealing with is 924 Item A, numbers, officers and men, and has no relation at all to the question of dockyards. For the general convenience of the Committee the Debate has ranged wider than that item, and I have simply expressed the hope that the hon. Member will not anticipate the Debate which properly falls on Wednesday next, by going into details in regard to the wages of workers at the dockyards.
§ Mr. WILKIE
I bow to your suggestion if you can guarantee that I will have the opportunity on Vote 8 of dealing with those questions to which I desired to refer to-night. I wish, however, to say a word as to men who do not come under Vote 8 but under this Vote. We have repeatedly put before the House the case of certain workers on the lower deck, namely, ships' carpenters, and the carpenters' crew, who have not had any change in pay or position for over thirty years. We have heard today from various quarters of the House as to the increased cost of living, so that those men, instead of having an advance, have actually suffered a decrease. I understand that there is some sort of committee to deal with the case. If so, perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary in his reply, will tell us. I do not wish to occupy the Committee by referring to the general question of policy, and I reserve what I have got to say further, for my Motion which is on the Paper on Vote 8.
§ Mr. LEE
I hope therefore he will forgive me if I confine the greater portion of my remarks to replying to the speech of the senior Member for the same constituency. Perhaps I may be permitted to deal in the first place with the question which was so very frequently dealt with by the First Lord, and that is the question of the Mediterranean. With regard to this question of the Mediterranean, I do not wish to go behind his statement that there has been no change of policy and no difference of opinion in the Cabinet. The matter is much too serious to attempt to make any point of that description, but we have before us the statement he made last March, and there is no doubt that the Admiralty has 925 slightly modified its policy since then. I cannot help thinking that those second thoughts are best, because after all the previous scheme, which the First Lord of the Admiralty outlined in March, and which maintained the presence at Gibraltar of a weak British squadron of battleships, was a policy which could not be defended either on strategic or diplomatic grounds. The Prime Minister this afternoon spoke of a force established at Gibraltar like our Atlantic Fleet as being a pivotal force, and as being available either for the purpose of controlling the Mediterranean or alternately for reinforcing the Home Fleet in the North Sea. I venture to say that it is an absolute impossibility to propose to occupy that position. In the first place, at the very first suggestion of war in home waters, that fleet would be brought home as a matter of course. But assume that it was retained at Gibraltar. I wish the Committee would follow the late Lord Salisbury's advice, and study these questions on a large map. Let them consider the distances involved. Let them consider, for example, that a fleet based on Gibraltar is further from Alexandria than from Rosyth, and that a fleet based on Gibraltar is further from the North Sea than a fleet based on Newfoundland would be from the British Isles. Therefore a fleet based on that position would be unable either to reinforce in time our fleet in the North Sea or to exercise any practical influence over the course of events in the most important portion of the Mediterranean.
Let us remember also that time is the very essence of the contract in these matters of naval strategy. The First Lord explained this afternoon the great difference between armies and navies in this respect. Indeed, we have had a lesson, a very striking lesson, in the course of the last week or so in our own naval manœuvres. Those manœuvres, which were of an extremely important character, were all over in a week from the time war was declared until the final result was determined; and yet the First Lord or the Prime Minister has admitted that it would take four and a half days for a squadron based on Gibraltar to be back ready for any effective purpose in the North Sea. Apart from that, the force which, under the original scheme in March, was detailed for Gibraltar was too weak in its composition to have any hope of coping with any hostile force that it would be likely to meet in the Mediterranean. I 926 need hardly add that a weak fleet is worse than no fleet. It is simply a present to the first adversary that happens to engage it. Therefore on these grounds I regard the policy which has been adopted by the Admiralty as the-lesser of two evils, and as a temporary expedient only I am inclined to support it. I refer to the policy of detaching four "Invincibles" and four other powerful armoured cruisers for strictly Mediterranean services. As I understand it, they are to be based on Malta and not on Gibraltar, and for the time being they are to be considered as permanently detailed for service in the Mediterranean. On these grounds, if that is the understanding, I am disposed to support the suggestion of the Admiralty. At the same time, I should like to put in this reservation. These ships must not be counted twice. They cannot be made available for defence in home waters as well as for the control of the Mediterranean, and they will have to remain there until such time as a more effective Fleet is substituted for them.
In saying this, I feel very strongly that it is absolutely essential that we should maintain an adequate Fleet in the Mediterranean for the sole purpose of safeguarding our interests there. We have had quoted more than once the words of the Foreign Secretary, who, speaking from the Foreign Office point of view, said that it is imperative that we should maintain what he called a respectable force in the Mediterranean. He added these words, which have not been quoted, I think, that it should be available for use at any time, thereby clearly showing that he intended that that force must be permanently in the Mediterranean. Whilst I am not prepared—I have not the technical knowledge—to dogmatise as to the exact strength that our permanent Fleet in the Mediterranean should attain, in calculating that strength we must take into consideration what are the probabilities in regard to warfare in that sea. My right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) made some extremely interesting remarks in regard to the present grouping of Powers in Europe. I am prepared to go as far as this. I find it difficult to contemplate a situation in which this country alone would be faced with the problem of fighting a combination of Italy and Austria single-handed. I only say so because I believe that in the event of a great European war such as between, say, England and Germany, 927 there is at least an equal chance that we should receive help from France as compared with the possibility of Italy and Austria being combined against us. That, of course, is looking into the future. In the meantime we have to consider the situation in time of peace. I do not think sufficient attention has been paid to the importance of our holding the Mediterranean in time of peace. Besides the strategic question, there is involved the question of our national prestige in these waters. I hope no one will attempt to underestimate that vast, intangible, but at the same time vital asset of our prestige amongst the Mahomedan peoples and other dwellers on the shores of the Mediterranean. I hope it will not be forgotten that it is recorded by historians that one of the principal causes leading to the Indian Mutiny was the weakness that Great Britain had shown in the Crimea. News of that sort travels almost instantaneously all over the Eastern world, and the barometer of national prestige is extraordinarily sensitive.
It has been gravely suggested to us by some of the "Little Navy" party and by a great Liberal newspaper, the "Daily News," that the only essential function of the British Fleet is to defend these Islands. I believe that to be one of the most profound and fatal fallacies ever propounded. If it had been followed in the past the British Empire would never have grown up at all. On no account would it be safe for this country to abandon the control of the Mediterranean to the allies of Germany and the Triple Alliance. Yet it is true that great efforts on our part will be needed to prevent it. In this connection, I cannot help quoting a remark made by the chairman of the Naval Budget Committee in the Italian Parliament, who, speaking recently on the questions which arose out of the Malta Conference, said:—That conference emphasises the importance of prompt action with Germany's allies, with a view to maintaining the strategical importance of the Triple Alliance in the Mediterranean.That shows we have got to consider the Triple Alliance as a great factor in this Mediterranean situation. We have been told by the First Lord that we had to consider the possibility that by, I think he said, 1915, of Italy and Austria between them having ten ships of the "Dreadnought" class commissioned in the Mediterranean. Therefore we have to consider the size of the force that we have to maintain in those quarters. Here let 928 me say that whilst on purely strategical grounds the policy of complete concentration in home waters is defensible—because it is said that, after all, if we defeat our main enemy our Fleet will then be free to go anywhere to deal with others afterwards—let me ask those who hold that opinion not to forget that there is a strategy of peace as well as a strategy of war to consider.
§ Mr. LEE
I am not proceeding on the assumption that we have any main enemy. I am proceeding on the facts as disclosed by the programmes of foreign Powers. There is a strategy of peace as well as a strategy of war. If we assume that we can afford for the purposes of the strategy of war to concentrate the whole of our forces in home waters, I would ask those who hold that view to remember that tension of this kind may last for years, may indeed last to an indefinite length of time, and as a result of that complete concentration our prestige in the outer seas may have completely disappeared. We may have our Fleet in home waters ready for a war which never comes, and we may wrongly comfort ourselves with what is after all a strategic platitude. It is not that that makes any impression whatever on the mind of an Egyptian, a Turk, or a tribesman who dwells on the Mediterranean littoral. The only thing which impresses these are the funnels of warships, and plenty of them. I believe some resourceful naval officers on the West Coast of Africa and other places have gone to the length of rigging up extra canvas funnels in their ships in order to impress the native mind. And there is no doubt whatever as to what would be the effect if the Mahomedan world saw that British warships had disappeared from the Mediterranean and their place had been taken by French, Italian, or Austrian ships. They would draw the inference that this country had thrown up the sponge. On that ground mainly I deprecate what I understand to be the intention of the Admiralty; that is to postpone the sending of this new squadron into the Mediterranean until the winter.
Great events are now proceeding in the Mediterranean. It is highly important that our flag should be adequately represented there without delay. I hope the despatch of these vessels may therefore be 929 anticipated. In this connection I must rewind the Committee that in the Preamble of the German Navy Bill it is distinctly laid down that in the opinion of the German Government the mightiest naval Power should not be in a position to concentrate all its forces in home waters. It is surely unfortunate that even for a few months we should be brought into a position where we have practically concentrated the whole of our forces in home waters, thereby enabling Germany to count a diplomatic and moral victory over us in this matter, without firing a shot, and without having to sacrifice either a ship or a man. The position in the Mediterranean has got to be retrieved. I hope the Admiralty will not suggest that they are retrieving it by means of this Supplementary Estimate! The Supplementary Estimate has nothing whatever to do with the situation in the Mediterranean. Personally I regard the Estimate as Dually inadequate. The First Lord has told us that such as it is it has been necessitated by the new developments of the German Navy Act. I think, of course, it has some connection with it. I go further. The production of this Supplementary Estimate has a certain diplomatic value, as showing that if Germany increases the programme which she has already announced, by means of new Navy Bills, we on our part shall insist upon providing for at least an equal if not greater increase in this country. Let no one suppose, however, that this Supplementary Estimate is any sort of adequate reply to the new German Navy Bill. It scarcely touches the fringe of our liabilities created by this new measure.
Whilst the First Lord explained the scope of that measure very clearly this afternoon, I doubt even now if the new situation which has been created is clearly understood. Let us recall it for a moment. In future, as a result of this New Navy Act, nearly the whole—four-fifths I think is the figure given by the First Lord—of the entire German effective fleet will be kept mobilised for war, winter and summer alike, within one day's steaming of our East Coast. Whilst it is not for us to speculate as to what is the object and motive of that new standard, at the same time we have to face the fact that it creates a new factor of vital importance to this country, and an entirely new situation. Because we have to remember that behind this ever mobilised German fleet there exists the greatest military force that the world has ever produced. For the first time we have the greatest 930 military power in the world openly challenging that sea supremacy upon which alone we have relied in the past for our defence against invasion. And it must not be forgotten that if that challenge should ever be successful, an unlimited range is conferred upon the greatest army in the world, and we no longer have that absolute protection that we have always counted our supremacy upon the sea conferred upon us. This new move on the part of Germany looked at from a purely practical point of view does, at any rate, create the possibility of that bolt from the blue which has been hitherto derided, but which the Japanese employed with such disastrous results against the Russians at Port Arthur. If there is no mobilisation necessary in order to place a Fleet upon a war footing, then the possibilities of our receiving warning of attack are very greatly diminished, if they do not disappear altogether. Whilst I do not for a moment suggest that the German people, or rather the German Government, has any intention of making an unprovoked attack upon us, or upon anyone else, at the same time we cannot afford to be in a position where we have to depend for our safety upon the good will of any foreign Power, and in considering this matter it is impossible to ignore the warnings which have been published in a very interesting book recently published, notably the very striking work of General Von Bernhardis, a great German authority, well known to hon. Gentlemen opposite, in which he states—Instead of waiting passively the attack we should support the idea of anticipating the enemy by making a sudden onslaught, commencing the war in a style similar to that adopted by the Japanese at Port Arthur, whereby serious injury might he inflicted on the British Fleet at the very beginning of hostilities, reducing, in some degree, its superiority, and putting off for a period any effective blockade. It is not inconceivable that some such course of action as this may be adopted.10.0 P.M.
I do not say for a moment that that represents the view of the German Government. I am sure it does not. But it does represent the views of a very large number of people in Germany who are very powerful, and who are agitating for a further extension of the German naval programme. The more likely explanation is that the German Government does not want war, no sane Government and no sane individual does want war, but they would very much like to gain the fruits of victory without fighting, and I am afraid if they succeed in forcing us to withdraw our outer patrols, first from New Zealand waters; then from Chinese waters, and from the 931 Mediterranean and so forth, they are achieving a great victory without any approach to actual hostilities. But whatever the motive may be, this fact absolutely stands out from what we have been told by the First Lord to-day, and that is that the new German navy will be out of all proportion to the German mercantile marine, the German overseas trade, or to the German Colonial Empire; and we have got to face that, and I only repeat what other speakers have stated, that the only redeeming feature so far as I can say in this situation is, that this increasing pressure from without, this new peril to which we are exposed has had the effect of promoting the solidarity of the Empire, and the fact that the majority of the Canadian Cabinet are here at this moment taking part in the Councils of the Imperial Defence Committee is a portend and a very good omen, and I only venture to say this in regard to what is contemplated behind the scenes. I venture to hope that in the discussions of these questions the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, will be told to the sister nations of the Empire. I think we have been inclined formerly only to tell them what we believed would please them. I think we have got beyond that now, and I should like to emphasise the point that local Colonial navies however useful they may be would be absolutely useless in the event of a great war in European waters. The supreme clash after all has got to come in European waters. We believe that a war of that kind and a clash of that kind would be over in a few days, and the small Colonial flotillas or local navies would have no more influence upon the result of that conflict than if they never existed. These little navies would be mopped up one by one by the victors of that fight. And I would ask the Dominions to realise this, that behind these great navies of Europe are the greatest military forces ever maintained in the world. The German army on a war footing numbers twice as many men as the whole adult population of Canada, and three times as many as the whole adult population of Australia, and if we were to lose control of the seas an unlimited range would be conferred upon these armies to go where they liked and to do what they liked.
I come now to a question more of detail connected with the Estimates, and dealt with by the First Lord of the 932 Admiralty, and that is the question of personnel. This is the particular obligation forced upon us by the new German Navy Act to increase our personnel, because it has become necessary for us to maintain mobilised for all times the greater portion of our fleet. I am very glad the Admiralty showed itself alive to this fact, because we must never again make the mistake that we made in 1889 when we passed the Naval Defence Act authorising the building of a large number of ships, but we quite forgot the necessity to man them. We realise the Admiralty is hard put to it to find men at the present time. The various expedients with regard to Reserves are all to the good as far as they go, but a steady increase in enlistment is necessary for the work. In this connection I wish to say that I was delighted to hear the announcement made by the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the conditions of service. Rightly or wrongly there has grown up the impression that in the great increase of wages which has taken place among workers on shore the men in the Navy have been overlooked. I am quite prepared to wait until the First Lord has made the announcement he has promised soon after the meeting of the House in the Autumn Session, but I would press this point upon him. He is very anxious about the possibility of recruiting full numbers each year. He may well be, but I venture to say that it is of the first importance if he is going to recruit his men that he should make his announcement with regard to the conditions of service as soon as possible. It would be perfectly futile to make a huge demand upon the labour market for men who are for whatever reason, justly or unjustly, disparaging the conditions of service. The inducement must be sufficient to attract the number of men that will be required, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will make his announcement at the earliest possible moment. In connection with the question of recruiting, which is going to be one of increasing difficulty in the next few years, I would like to ask whether it would not be possible to further develop the recruiting agencies. Looking at the map in the last Report on Naval Recruiting. I was amazed to find that out of 12,862 men enlisted last year only 208 enlisted in Wales, 353 in the whole of Scotland, and 360 in Ireland, leaving 11,000 to be recruited in England alone. The whole of the counties of Scotland off the coast of which the Fleet has often assembled has produced no recruits whatever for the Navy in 933 twelve months. That suggests some defect in the recruiting organisation, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will do what he can to "comb the Celtic fringe" and extract for the purposes of the British Navy some of the finest material in the United Kingdom. I hope he will take fuller advantage of the opportunities of recruiting for the Royal Marines. This is an absolutely unique case of a corps which is largely hereditary, and which men will join who will join no other service under the Crown, and I believe it would be possible to make a great expansion in that corps if any attempt was made to do so. The policy of the Admiralty pursued persistently has been to reduce the Royal Marines, and that is an absolutely mistaken policy, and one which I hope will be reversed by the right hon. Gentleman.
I must say a word about the shipbuilding programme which, so far as I can judge, has been absolutely ignored by the Supplementary Estimates now before us except as regards small armoured cruisers. There is no provision whatever in the Supplementary Estimates for any increase in the shipbuilding programme which the right hon. Gentleman announced last March. There is no suggestion of any increased programme to deal with what I call the Mediterranean situation. In dealing with this point I am confronted with this dilemma. I have heard it stated—and I ask whether there is any truth in the statement or not—that even if the right hon. Gentleman recognised that there is a real need for a further extension of our shipbuilding programme at this time it is a fact that owng to congestion of the shipbuilding yards the right hon. Gentleman would be unable to place orders if he were disposed so to do. It has been suggested that our yards are congested and that it would be impossible to execute more orders at the present time. We are told that there are twenty-three "Dreadnoughts" under construction in this country at the present time, and that it would be impossible to add to their number.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
This would not be the period for making good the building programme, and it should not be assumed that it is impossible at the present time to build extra battleships.
§ Mr. LEE
Then that disposes of the point that it would be impossible. I believe, however, that it is a fact that owing to the great volume of work of this kind now going on there is a great shortage of skilled labour, and the question is, what is the reason for that? It is partly due to strikes, but I think it is still more due to the arrears of work which have accumulated during the last few years as the result of the vacillating policy of shipbuilding in the years which are passed, a policy which made us lay down one battleship one year and eight the next. Such a policy is bound to lead to congestion in our shipbuilding yards at the later date. We warned the Government in 1909, and I wish to say now, in 1912, that I hope the Admiralty and the Government are looking far enough ahead not only in the matter of hulls and machinery, but also in gun-mounting and armour as well. We have had the usual programme, this afternoon from the so-called economists and the Little Navy men with regard to any expansion whatever in our Fleet.
The Leader of the Labour party, in the closing passages of his speech, said he was going to co-operate with his friends in Germany who were opposed to any increase in armaments. That is all very interesting, but are the hon. Member's friends in Germany in a position to influence the situation by the weight of a single hair. They may or may not have voted against increased armaments, but I understand all these increases in the Navy have gone through almost without discussion, and whether they vote for or against them it does not make a single hair's breadth of difference, because the German Government pursues its way quite regardless of the hon. Gentleman's friends. I protest most earnestly against the suggestion made by hon. Gentlemen who have spoken on the opposite side that it is our fault that this expansion of the Navy has taken place in Germany and that our nation has been provocative. If you apply any reasonable test in this matter you will find that that is not the case. Take the test of new construction, which is, after all, the best. Since the year 1900 Germany has increased her new construction by 260 per cent, as compared with our increase of 40 per cent. If you take personnel, Germany has increased at the same ratio, 260 per cent, as compared with our 20 per cent, for the same period. We have seen this fixed, immutable law of 935 Germany, which was to have provided seventeen battleships by the year 1898, and now by the same law Germany provides sixty-one. I know it is the generally accepted view, often quoted in these Debates, that Germany has a perfect right to take this action, and I quite agree that she has. The corollary, however, is that we have no cause to complain; but I am not quite sure that I am prepared to agree altogether with that suggestion, because the position on the two sides is in no sense comparable. The dangers which the two countries are exposed to are in no sense the same. I think the situation was as clearly explained as it could be by my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London in a recent article which he published, in which he said:There are two ways in which a hostile country can be crushed—it can be conquered or it can be starved. If Germany were master in our home waters she could apply both methods to Britain, but were Britain ten times master in the North Sea she could apply neither method to Germany. Without a superior fleet Britain could no longer count as a Power, but without any fleet at all Germany would remain the greatest military power in Europe.That shows the absolute difference in the situation, and we have reason to complain that this cut-throat, relentless competition is forced upon us by a neighbour who is admittedly friendly. We are assured by the Foreign Office that our relations are cordial. Yet we are in the position described by Lord Rosebery in 1909, in these words:—We are living in the midst of a silent warfare in which not a drop of blood is shed in anger, but in which the very last drop is extracted from the body.This being the situation, it is a little difficult to reconcile this friendly relationship and this none the less silent and relentless hostility. Our conscience in the matter is clear. We have not aggressive designs. For over a hundred years we have maintained our supremacy on the seas, but we have never attempted either to oppress our neighbours or to injure their trade to maintain that supremacy is absolutely vital to our existence, and I think it cannot be too often repeated that we are determined to retain it whatever happens; that in this country, when this question is forced upon us, there are really no parties, or, at any rate, that all political parties are as one, and that we are determined as a nation to maintain that supremacy, even although it costs us our last shilling and our last man to do it.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I am sure the Committee will not think it presumptuous on my part if I venture to congratulate it on 936 the general character of the discussion which has been raised on these Supplementary Estimates. There have been some things said with which, naturally enough, I do not agree; but so far as I have been able to gather it could not be said that a party spirit had obtruded itself to any extent, if at all, in dealing with these Supplementary Estimates. That is all to the good. Naturally and as usual, the Admiralty have been subjected to a cross-fire. There are hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who say the provision we are making is not enough to guarantee national safety. Then there is another set of critics who say our provision is wantonly lavish. I may very well set off one view against the other. I say this, at any rate, in all honesty: If I thought either of those views was correct, my name would not be at the foot of this Vote. The members of the Admiralty have exercised all the care that was humanly possible in framing these Supplementary Estimates. They are "penny wise" without being "pound foolish." They are sufficient. That is our deliberate view. They are not in any sense estimates of provocation; they are estimates of self-preservation. These Estimates—let me say this quite clearly—convey no menace to any people of the world.
We wish all peoples of the world well. We know their prosperity is reflected in our prosperity. Our great friendly neighbour, Germany, are our greatest customers on the Continent of Europe, and I think we are almost their greatest customers, and I hope to live to see the day when international disputes may be settled by peaceful arbitration. Certainly these Estimates are not inspired in any sense by any spirit of aggression. They simply provide that vital protection behind which we can quietly and soberly go on our way perfecting our institutions, curing our social evils. That is all. Though we are all inspired by a common purpose in this matter, I suppose the controversy will continue over the question of the adequacy or inadequacy of the means we are taking to achieve our object, and there at present I must leave the matter. I will only add this. As a Canadian-born Minister of the Crown—I believe I am the only Colonial-born Minister on this bench—I am very proud of the splendid recognition on the part of our brothers in the Oversea Dominions of their vital stake in the integrity of the Empire. I agree very cordially that that recognition is one of 937 the most significant assurances for the future of this Empire that we have seen in our time. Let me turn to another aspect of this provision concerning which I am sure I shall find members of all parties in agreement. I refer to the conditions of employment of the men associated with this great Service. I do not think I need add very much to the statement made earlier in the day by the First Lord. The subject has been a matter of constant consultation between him, myself, and other members of the Board of Admiralty since he has been First Lord. It is the fact, as he said, that the strain of naval service has increased in recent times, and that year by year we are making greater demands—we are demanding a higher order of service, and greater intelligence in our seamen and stokers. There is another fact which affects, at any rate, the married sailor—it does not so much concern the single man—and that is the increased cost of living. We have discussed these matters informally a good many times. We know the facts. I quite agree that a long and dilatory inquiry is not needed. All we have to do is to choose the best method of applying the means at our disposal, and we certainly shall do that before the autumn. It is quite impossible, of course, to announce—
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
We shall go into the matter carefully. We can make no definite announcement now, but we shall state what we think is legitimate and fair when we meet again in the autumn. I should also like, with regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee) to say that the question of recruiting is a matter which will receive out-attention. I agree it would be well to recruit if we can from a wider field, and indeed we have extended our operations in recent years. I now turn to the question of the Civil employés, and I hope I may have your indulgence—
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
On a point of Order. While you were out of the House just now the Deputy-Chairman ruled that Vote 8 should not be taken to-night, and when an hon. Member got up to submit a question on that Vote he was told to sit down. But now the right hon. Gentleman is proceeding to address the House with regard to it. I want to know is he in order in doing so?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I understand that what the right hon. Gentleman is going to do is to explain the purposes to which this £35,000 is going to be applied.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I think the hon. Member had better wait to hear what I have to say before he interrupts. I turn to the Civil employés, of whom the men in the dockyards form the great majority. We have in one naval establishment or another well on towards 50,000 men who are in Civil employment, apart from the men in the Fleet. Apart from the Post Office, I dare say we are the largest employers of labour in the country, and it would certainly be the desire of the Committee, and of the taxpayers whom we represent, that the Admiralty should merit the title of a good employer. Before I come to the £35,000 I should explain to the Committee that these 50,000 hands are divided into two classes: they are established and non-established or hired. Roughly speaking, 8,000 of them are established, and 42,000 non-established. Practically all these men work the forty-eight hours' week, and, although this is a privilege which, I am glad to say, they share with the employés of many private firms, they get four public holidays with pay. With regard to the 8,000 established men, they are assured, subject to good conduct, of permanent employment.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
At sixty, or if we grant an extension, at sixty-five years of age, they get a superannuation allowance; and I admit, before the hon. Gentleman tells me of it, that they help to pay towards that themselves. I knew the hon. Gentleman was bursting to tell me that.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must protest against these interruptions. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman expects to be allowed to make his speech if he continually interrupts.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
These 8,000 men are assured of permanent employment, and get a pension for which they help to pay. Under the Superannuation Act, 1859, when the pension day came they got one-sixtieth of their wages for every year of service, which gives them from £26 to 939 £80 a year pension; but under the Superannuation Act, 1909, they have the alterntive, instead o£ taking the proportion of one-sixtieth, of accepting one-eightieth, which gives them a pension of from £20 to £60. If they accept the latter, they get a gratuity ranging from £50 to £150, and, what is of great value to their representatives, if they die before the pensionable age, having been five years established, their representatives get a gratuity equal to one year's pay. The great bulk of the men have accepted that. The 42,000 hired men are on a different footing. These men are not pensionable. They have no claim to permanent employment, but, in fact, the great bulk of them, say 75 per cent., are fairly certain to be continuously employed, and, although they are not established and not pensionable, if they are stood off on reduction after seven years' service, they get a gratuity, which is a week's pay for every year of service. And if they are stood off after fifteen years for any reason except misconduct they get a gratuity equal to a week's pay for every year's service.
With regard to the pay of these men—I refer to time rates throughout, but most of them occasionally get an opportunity of adding to their time rates by piecework—during the past six years, from the advent to the office of First Lord of the Admiralty of the late Lord Tweedmouth, there have been considerable concessions made in response to the pleas which the men put forward year by year at the annual hearing of petitions. I should like to take one or two of the more important as bearing upon the purpose to which we propose to put this £35,000. In 1906 the Admiralty gave both labourers and skilled labourers 1s. a week increase. That represented, on the present numbers, an increase in the wage-sheet of nearly £36,000. In 1906 the Admiralty gave the shipwrights 1s. That represented on the present numbers an increase of over £19,000 a year. In 1908 the Admiralty conceded an increase to the smiths on the average of 1s. 6d. a week, and they gave the joiners 1s., and these two increases, on the present numbers, cost well over £5,000 a year. In 1910 and 1911 the Admiralty made a special rate for skilled labourers, bringing men beyond 28s. to 30s. in certain cases. On the present numbers the value of that concession is £12,000 a year. These concessions since 1906 on the present numbers represent an addition to the wage 940 sheet of nearly £100,000. To the petitions which were presented to us by workmen in the fall of last year and the early part of this year we have given most painstaking examination, and we have endeavoured to estimate the effect of the increased cost of living. I have here a document which was handed to me at Portsmouth. It is the weekly budget of a man who gets 22s. a week. He is a skilled labourer with an occasional opportunity for piecework beyond 22s., and there are three in his family. It is a very interesting document. Rent 5s. 9d.—that is over a fourth of his weekly wage—meat 3s. 6d.—that is 2d. a day for each member of the family—butter Is. 5½d.—that is 1¼lbs.—bread 1s. 8d., sugar 5½d.—that is 2lbs.—milk 7d., tea 8d.—that is ½1b., flour 3d., lard 3d., cheese 4½., soap 3d., soda 1d., matches 1d., vegetables 1s., coal 1s. 5d.—that is a hundredweight—oil 8d., wood 3d., sick club and insurance 1s., and sundries 1s. That is £1 0s. 8½. This man adds at the bottom of his little budget:This leaves about. 1s. 3½d.. which has to cover the cost of clothing, boots, medical attendance, etc., and all other incidental expenses which may arise.Let the Committee note that there is no beer or tobacco, and no entertainment in this, and I rather fancy that the purchase of a pair of new boots is something in the nature of a domestic crisis. I have listened to these men rehearse and explain how they and their wives make ends meet. I am glad to have the privilege of stating that we have come to the conclusion that it is our duty to grant concessions on a scale more considerable than any which have been granted since those granted by the late Lord Tweedmouth in 1906. To begin with we propose to give unskilled labourers another shilling. That will bring the flat rate for unskilled labourers in England and Wales up to 22s., and at Haulbowline to 21s. I may say that the labourer at Haulbowline has invariably been paid a shilling less than the labourer in the home dockyards. That is due to the fact that even at that rate our wages compare favourably with outside rates. The cost of that award on present numbers will be £14,710 a year. Then we propose to raise the minimum of the skilled labourer from 22s. to 23s., and at Haulbowline to 22s. The cost of that concession on present numbers will be £6,740. I am only giving the main concessions. There are a number of personal and minor concessions into which I will not go. We propose to raise the maximum of the special rates for skilled labourers from 941 28s. 6d. to 29s. 6d. for established men, and from 30s. to 31s. for hired men. That will cost £3,940. These concessions will cost over £25,000 a year for the men at the lowest rungs of the ladder, the labourer and the skilled labourer.
I am quite sure we shall not satisfy my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee (Mr. Wilkie). No doubt he will have an opportunity of telling me what he thinks of me on Wednesday. We propose to raise the wages of the shipwrights by 6d., bringing the established men to 34s. 6d. and the hired men to 36s. That will cost us over £9,000. I admit at once that the rates for shipwrights on the Tyne, Clyde, and Mersey, and at Barrow are now 40s. 6d. They have gone up considerably since October, 1910, as a result of the splendid prosperity of the shipbuilding trade during the last two years. There were fluctuations before that, and the rate in all these districts went down. They came down on the Tyne from 39s. to 37s. 6d. between 1906 and 1909, but now they are 40s. 6d., and so far as I am concerned they have my very best wishes for their continued prosperity. But I shall be asked, no doubt, how, in view of the figure in these places, I can justify the addition of 6d. for the shipwrights. I would like, in the first place, to say that it is our settled policy us an Admiralty that the rates we pay shall compare favourably with the rates for similar work in the locality in which the dockyards are. If hon. Gentlemen will look into it they will find that these concessions have regard to the fact that our men work only forty-eight hours a week, and to the privileges they get as compared with outside workers, to the fair assurance of continuous employment even for most of the hired men, the pensions for the establishment men and their security of tenure, and the gratuities for the hired men after seven or fifteen years When all these things are taken into consideration, I am quite sure I can challenge any hon. Member to deny that our rates compare favourably with those for similar work in the locality.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
There are very few navvies, but if the hon. Gentleman will give me any case where any unskilled labourer is employed by the Works Department of the Admiralty at a lower wage than men doing corresponding work outside in the locality I will look into it. 942 Since we agreed to this 6d. addition to the shipwrights I have received a very influential deputation, introduced by my hon. Friends the Members for Dundee and Devonport. I will give every consideration to the views put before me by the deputation, and will submit them to the First Lord, but I cannot make any promise of any concession beyond the 6d. announced. The naval shipwrights' case is being considered by a committee. What its report will be I cannot say, but they are outside this altogether, and we have made no decision there. Then we are making concessions to yard craft men, stokers and seamen s ratings, and to stokers and deck hands of dredgers costing us £2,390 a year. We are also doing something for chargemen of trades. Besides the shipwrights we are also doing something for sailmakers, bricklayers, leather hose makers, painters, messengers, and chart office attendants, and the grand total of these concessions amounts to £41,500 a year. We have in this estimate £35,000, and these concessions will take effect as from the 1st August, and that is why, amongst other reasons, we have not put the full amount value of these increases, £41,500. It gives me very great personal satisfaction to make this announcement. I know these men, and I respect them. It is part of my class prejudice to be rather proud of the fact that I come from the same class myself. I have sat hour after hour listening to their pleas, hearing their weekly budget, and having them explained to me. I am genuinely glad of the opportunity of lending a hand in some small way with the strictest regard to the interests of the public purse—I shall be told in some quarters of the House, too great a regard. I have been very glad to do something by way of ameliorating in a small degree these men's daily lives. I do not suppose for a moment that we have satisfied everybody. Far from it. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee will be eager to have another word for the shipwrights, and I shall be very much surprised if the dockyard Members do not fall upon me with horse, foot, and artillery. But at any rate, with an increase of £41,500 a year for these men, it can no longer be said that they have been met with a stereotyped reply, or with what my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee calls a blank refusal all round. That charge cannot be made against the reply I have made today.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The hon. and gallant Gentleman was not here. I began with the bluejackets, and I said that we have carefully considered the case of the bluejacket. We recognise that naval life puts a greater strain upon him; we look to have intelligence of a higher order; the cost of living has increased; we have all the facts before us; we do not want a dilatory inquiry, and the question now is how best to apply the means at our disposal. I take it that during the Recess, and before Parliament meets again, it will be our business to consider this matter very carefully, and we hope, when Parliament does meet, to be in a position, although I do not make a definite announcement, to submit some proposal which will improve the condition of the bluejackets. We make these concessions with the greatest pleasure, and I am confident that to-morrow, in the dockyards, the anvils will ring louder and clearer because of the endeavour we have made to meet the claims of the men.
§ Mr. GRETTON
With regard to the seamen, it is commonly reported by the junior officers who serve on board many of the ships of the Fleet that the ship's complements of cruisers and battleships are thirty to forty men short of the numbers required to carry on those ships—that the crews are harassed and overworked; that the duties press unduly and heavily on them, and that an increase in numbers would, to a very great extent, allay discontent, which is unfortunately very wide in our naval Service at present. The time is now too short to develop all the defects, but I should like to call attention to the case of nucleus crews. There is no doubt that the conditions of service on board the ships which have nucleus crews are very unduly harassing, that the men are always very hard worked and are always being moved from one ship to another. They are constantly coaling, which is one of the most harassing and laborious duties, and they are changed frequently to other ships with new officers. There are many cases in the Service where there have been four or five captains in one ship during a period of three years, and in the same period you will find men serving on six or seven different ships. Those conditions make for discontent, both with officers and men. I would ask the Admiralty very seriously to consider whether that system of nucleus crews makes for 944 the efficiency of the Fleet, officers and men, and whether it would not be better to revert to the old system of placing one ship in full commission with a group in the steam reserve. Ships under those conditions would be brought forward rapidly for Service. The First Lord to-day spoke of those nucleus crews going to sea and exercising at sea. Has he ever seen the conditions under which they do go to sea with the nucleus crews for exercise? Those ships are not sufficiently manned to go to sea. They cannot keep watch properly at night, and therefore they have to choose their opportunity and have regard to the weather. He spoke also about those ships exercising the guns under war conditions. A ship was brought to my notice the other day which went through practice under war conditions. Her scoring was unduly low. The ship immediately went through the practice again but not under war conditions and she went from near the bottom to a high place. All these matters lead to great difficulty and trouble, and do not make for efficiency. Earlier in the Debate the senior Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) and the Prime Minister expressed themselves as agreeing that the grouping of Powers made for the peace of the world. That may be so. But neither of those right hon. Gentlemen, nor anyone else, has pointed out that the groupings of the Powers in Europe—the Triple entente and the Triple Alliance depend upon the factor we are discussing to-night. The Triple entente is an impossibility as a grouping of the Powers unless based on the undoubted supremacy of the British Fleet. We have no Army to throw into the scale. The Triple entente is based on the fact that the British Fleet has been supreme, and it is expected that this nation will keep supreme upon the sea. Therefore, if there is any value in the grouping of the Powers for the purpose of peace, it depends upon the supremacy of our Fleet. The First Lord of the Admiralty stated that in 1914 the German Navy would have 29 battleships permanently upon a war footing, while this country would have 33 under the same conditions. How are those thirty-three ships going to be maintained always ready if the right hon. Gentleman adheres to the principle laid down on 18th March last, that we must take our average strength, which will be 25 per cent, or 30 per cent, below the paper strength, allowing for ships under repair and so forth? I do not wish to talk the question out, 945 therefore I will simply ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the points I have brought forward.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 291; Noes, 42.947
|Division No. 154.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Duffy, William G.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Duke, Henry Edward||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Lee, Arthur H.|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Anson, Rt. Hon, Sir William R.||Essex, Richard Walter||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Esslemont, George Birnie||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Lundon, Thomas|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Falle, Bertram Godfray||Lynch, A. A.|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Col. J.||Farrell, James Patrick||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Baird, Lawrence||Fell, Arthur||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Ffrench, peter||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Flavin, Michael Joseph||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)|
|Banner, John s. Harmood-||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Furness, Stephen||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Malcolm, Ian|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Gilmour, Captain John||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Greene, Walter Raymond||Meagher, Michael|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Benn, Ian Hamilton (Greenwich)||Gretton, John||Molloy, Michael|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Mond, Sir Alfred M.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Griffith, Ellis J.||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Mooney, John J.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset,E.)||Morgan, George Hay|
|Boland, John Plus||Guinness, Hon. W.E. (Bury S.Edmunds)||Morison, Hector|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Boyton, James||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Muldoon, John|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Hackett, J.||Munro, Robert|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Hamilton, Lord C. (Kensington, S.)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.|
|Bull, Sir James James||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Neilson, Francis|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S C. (Poplar)||Harris, Henry Percy||Nolan, Joseph|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Harwood, George||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Norton, Captain Cecil W.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Hay ward, Evan||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Hazleton, Richard (Galway, N.)||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hemmerde, Edward George||O'Dowd, John|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Henry, Sir Charles||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., South)||O'Malley, William|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Hewins, William Herbert Samuel||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E,||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Higham, John Sharp||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Homer, Andrew Long||Pease, Rt Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Crooks, William||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Crumley, Patrick||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Cullinan, John||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir D.Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Dawes, J. A.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Delany, William||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Joyce, Michael||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S.||Keating, Matthew||Pringle, Wm. M. R.|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||Kellaway, Frederick George||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Kelly, Edward||Radford, G. H.|
|Doris, William||Kilbride, Denis||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Reddy, Michael||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. sir Albert||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Webb, H.|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Stewart, Gershom||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Summers, James Woolley||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Sutherland, J. E.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Ronaldshay, Earl of||Talbot, Lord Edmund||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Rose, Sir Charles Day||Tennant, Harold John||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Rowlands, James||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell||Touche, George Alexander||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Toulmin, Sir George||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Sanders, Robert Arthur||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Sandy, G. J.||Tullibardine, Marquess of||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Scanlan, Thomas||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Younger, Sir George|
|Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.||Valentia, viscount||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Seely, Rt. Hon. Col. J. E. B.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Sheeny, David||Wadsworth, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Shortt, Edward||Walters, Sir John Tudor||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Adamson, William||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hogge, James Myles||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Holt, Richard Durning||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Barnes, George N.||Hudson, Walter||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||John, Edward Thomas||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Brace, William||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Jowett, Frederick William||Wardle, George J.|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Lansbury, George||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Clough, William||Lawson, sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Winfrey, Richard|
|De Forest, Baron||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.— James Parker and Mr. Goldstone.|
|Glanville, Harold James||McCallum, sir John M.|
|Hancock, John George||Martin, Joseph|
§ And, it being after Eleven o'clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported to-morrow (Tuesday); Committee to sit again Tomorrow.