§ 54. Mr. HUNT
asked whether, in view of the fact that Germany carried out her full programme of having nine "Dreadnoughts" in commission on the 31st of March last, whilst we had only fifteen in commission on that date instead of twenty, he can say what was the cause of the delay of the five "Dreadnoughts"; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent delay in the future?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Germany had nine "Dreadnoughts" and "Dreadnought" cruisers on 31st March. We had fifteen, a sixteenth—His Majesty's Ship "Monarch"—having commissioned on 6th April. As regards the remaining four, the "Thunderer" is due for immediate despatch from the contractors, and will be commissioned within the present month in time for the manœuvres. The "Conqueror" has completed her steam trials, and it is expected that she will complete her other trials within the next few days, and will be ready for commission by the middle of September. The "Princess Royal" will probably be ready for her trials about the end of August, and for commission very shortly afterwards. The completion of the "Lion" has been delayed partly by late delivery on the part of the machinery contractors, and partly by alterations which experience showed that it was desirable to make. She is already in commission. As the hon. Member is aware, every effort is made to adhere to programme dates, though delay is always liable to arise owing to unforseen contingencies.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
Has the right hon. Gentleman arrived at any decision as to penalties for contractors when there has been substantial delay?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No, Sir; I have not. Each particular case would be a matter for special consideration.