§ 20. Mr. DENMAN
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state with what object the Houses of Parliament are invited to visit the Fleet at the public expense, and what is the estimated cost of the visit?
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Churchill)
It is desirable that Members of both Houses of Parliament should have opportunities from time to time of visiting the Fleets, over whose interests they watch, and for whose maintenance they provide. There are numerous precedents in the past for such visits, and since they are made for public purposes, and are in the nature of public duty, it is fitting that the ordinary expenses should be defrayed by the State, and the convenience of Members of both Houses properly attended to. The cost will not be excessive, but a final estimate cannot be framed till the acceptances are received.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
Admitting the desirability of the visit, why should we not pay our own railway fares?
§ Sir EDWIN CORNWALL
As this is to be an official visit, will it be confined to Members of both Houses of Parliament?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am afraid that might somewhat interfere with the business of the House of Commons. Although it is important the House should visit the Fleet, it has other duties to attend to here. I do not quite comprehend the point of my hon. Friend's question. No doubt a great many people will take advantage of the spectacle of the ships, but it is not proposed that any public expenditure should be incurred except for some persons connected with the Admiralty and a limited number of officials of the two Houses.
§ Sir E. CORNWALL
I mean upon the vessel provided for Members of both Houses. If this is to be a public official visit, I want to know whether it is to be confined to Members of both Houses? My acceptance one way or another depends upon the answer.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
It certainly will be regarded as an official visit. I should not like to give an answer which would deprive us of the pleasure of the hon. Gentleman's company.