§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair.]
§ (IN THE COMMITTEE.)
§ Motion made, and Question again pro posed, "That 136,000 officers, seamen, and boys be employed for the Sea and Coast guard Services for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1913, including 17,200 Royal Marines."
§ Mr. ALAN BURGOYNE
I do not think any Member will envy me the task of re opening a Navy Debate after an afternoon such as we have just concluded. Never the less the opportunity presents itself, and those who have made a study of the subject must take such opportunities as occur and make the best of them. A change in the First Lord of the Admiralty is at all times a matter of very great importance to the country, and of considerable interest to the people. The present holder of the office would not be the last to admit that we should have to search far back in history to find a parallel for the comment that was caused by his appointment. This House has always done its best to keep the Navy, in broad principles, as far as possible out of party politics, and I think it has been comparatively successful. It would ill-befit a service of the nature of the Navy, or, for that matter, of the Army, to drag it into the arena of our domestic politics. The new First Lord, who I regret is not in his place, has been one of our most strenuous opponents in regard to the ordinary domestic problems of the day, and naturally, when we found him transferred to a position of very high dignity and great trust, such as that of First Lord of the Admiralty, the first Estimates he was to present were looked forward to with considerable anxiety and not a little curiosity. Of public professions of faith 1798 we have had several from him already, and we had some right to anticipate that his professions would be carried into effect when we saw the comments upon his Glasgow speech. The curtain is drawn up, and we are now able to see whether the display is equal to the anticipations created by the advance agents. I have been told that statesmanship may largely be judged by the manner in which it is prepared to court criticism. If that is so, the right hon. Gentleman, and those associated with him, will go down to history as being amongst the greatest statesmen of their day in that they have not been frightened at the possibility of criticism being raised by the Estimates they have presented. I wish the right hon. Gentleman were here, but I daresay the Civil Lord will convey to him the humble congratulations of one who has endeavoured to be a student of naval defence, that he should have had sufficient courage to accept, at least in principle, the standard which Navy Leaguers throughout the Empire have advocated for many years past, namely, two keels to one. I noticed, nevertheless, in the right hon. Gentleman's speech—as in that of the Financial Secretary—that he seemed at times to hesitate a little, but we have to remember that he has had bad associates for the last six or seven years, and one still hopes that we shall find him a brand plucked from the burning.
The most striking feature of the First Lord's speech was undoubtedly his references to Germany. Beading as one naturally did, the comments upon the address on the following morning, it was surprising to find with what unanimity it was accepted that this was the best way of facing an obvious international difficulty. We recognise where the danger comes from, and the real and possible opponent with whom we shall always be glad to be on the most friendly terms. I cannot but think that a nation such as Germany must at all times be glad to have this straight speaking rather than listen to a type of lip-service to the cause of peace which many would mistake merely for cowardice. Interest in the Estimates is always centred in two features: first, the programme of new construction, and, secondly, the items of policy which are not directly or definitely dealt with in the Estimates. Indeed, they are the things that the First Lord has left out. It has become the fashion to take particular months in particular years, and to parallel the battleship strength of various Powers at those periods. I myself 1799 have fallen a victim to this fetish. I note that the right hon. Gentleman also has taken up the principle of comparing the number of battleships that we shall have with those of Germany at various dates. As the result of his calculation he has managed to convince himself that his provision of four ships is adequate for our needs in the immediate future. The question is one that has been discussed many times, and, I am afraid, will be discussed every time the Estimates come up. We can never reach finality, because delays and advances in construction are always taking place during the twelve months. Nevertheless, it is essential, in order that we may get a proper under standing of the situation, to distinguish between the present and the future strength. I recognise very clearly that we have made many mistakes in calculation in the past—that is to say, the Estimates upon which we have based our calculations for the future, but made three or four years previously, have been falsified by a large number of reasons, one or two of which I propose to put before the Committee.
To-day undoubtedly we are in a very favourable position. Some think that that is not so, but a careful study of the facts will probably show that, as last year, we are quite as favourably placed in regard to our armoured strength as compared with any possible combination as we have ever been. The first thing is that up to the present we have been building faster than the next strongest Power. We have complete at sea, of the "Dreadnought" type, sixteen ships, including the "Monarch," which is practically ready for the pennant. These ships have taken twenty-five and three-quarter months, as against thirty-five months for the nine ships possessed by Germany, of the same type at present complete. German ships are authorised about the present time— March or April; they are ordered about July, but laid down six months later. Our ships are authorised when Vote 8 is discussed, usually in June or July; they are ordered about November or December, and laid down a couple of months later than that; in the result that though the German ships are authorised six months before, their keels are laid about the same time. We obtained, too, a certain lead by reason of the fact that we started building this type of vessel considerably earlier than any other Power.
1800 We laid down the first "Dreadnought" in 1905. In 1907 we found ourselves in the position of having ten completed or under construction to five for Germany, but this ratio of superiority which we have held is decreasing every year. I would point out that whereas in 1910 in ships of the "Dreadnought" type we had a ratio of eight to two, we have not now more than sixteen to nine. Obviously that ratio of superiority must go down unless the strongest efforts are made to maintain it. I am not going to pretend that the provision of the present year is so inadequate that we cannot, with the delays that are taking place at the present in Germany, carry on very well for another programme or two. Nevertheless the matter has to be very carefully considered, since in 1915 we shall find ourselves with no more than thirty-five vessels of the "Dreadnought" type in Home waters to twenty-three for the German Empire. I do not propose to take the various vessels of the Triple Alliance as did the hon. Gentleman the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee). I am not so sure to what extent the "Dreadnoughts" at present under construction by Italy and Austria are being built against one another. Nevertheless whether they are being built against one another or not, this curious paradox arises that both these two Powers are included in the Triple Alliance, and we have to take it into consideration as a possible combination against us.
We are often told this—it is an annual repetition every time these Estimates are discussed—that we have to consider the pre-"Dreadnoughts." Of course we have to consider them. We cannot count only in "Dreadnoughts" any more than we can ignore cruisers and destroyers. Yet we have to remember that though in the event of "Dreadnoughts" being crippled, the pre-"Dreadnoughts" will be the arbiters of the battle, that year by year these vessels are growing obsolescent. What we want to know is how many of these pre-"Dreadnoughts" are going to count when we reach that period at which the "Dreadnoughts" now being ordered are reaching completion. In 1915, the period for which we are preparing under the present Estimates, I do not sup pose that the hon. Gentleman representing the Admiralty will be prepared to admit that we shall have more than ten pre-"Dreadnoughts" that count—these including the "Lord Nelson," the "Agamemnon," and eight "King Edwards." It 1801 will be quite possible that none of the German pre-"Dreadnoughts" will count in those days. In the meantime we will have lost our naval superiority; our preponderating strength will have gone to the scrapheap in bunches. And what about the outlook for 1916 and 1917? I know that the reply we shall probably get is the statement that the margin that is now pro vided for us is sufficient. We have the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman—and I, as an opponent of him politically, am glad to believe that he is really honest in his desire to maintain our naval strength —we have his assurance that the time must come when his present assertion of a superiority of 60 per cent, must very probably be increased. A still better assurance is given that if any increases are made in foreign programmes, particularly if any additions are made under the Navy Law of Germany, that we will build against these extra ships in the proportion of two keels to one—the only sensible and wise formula that we can possibly undertake.
There are three things that may happen between now and 1916–17. We may be called upon to strengthen the Mediterranean command. Under the new ideal the battle fleet of the Mediterranean is to be withdrawn from those seas and based on Gibraltar. Its strength is to be brought up from six to eight. The time will come very shortly when these eight ships will be vessels of the "Dreadnought" type, but these eight cannot be expected to be of sufficient strength to face the possible squadrons now being built by Austria and Italy. Consequently it is quite on the cards that if we have a disaster like the loss of the "Victoria" or the "Montagu" off Lundy Island, the margin that has been laid down by the First Lord in his present proposals would largely go, and we should find our selves placed in considerable difficulty were that disaster to take place at a time of battle. I put forward in all humility a suggestion that the Financial Secretary may convey to his chief. In the French Navy Law they have an arrangement whereby if a vessel is lost by accident or otherwise it is immediately replaced in the programme of the forth coming year. It would not affect the Estimates in the slightest if that arrangement were introduced here. The next feature to which attention should be called is the possibility of our requiring to strengthen our Fleet in far Eastern waters. I approach this question with very great 1802 diffidence, because at the present time we have the advantage of an alliance, until 1920 at least, with a great Power in the East. Nevertheless one can conceive a situation arising in which it will be necessary to strengthen that which at the present time is only nominally an armoured squadron by several battleships of the first class.
There is one point in extenuation of the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman which I think does help him somewhat in his argument, and it is that by 1914 we shall have sixteen ships carrying what has been described as the 13.5-in. gun, whereas Germany, our possible and probable opponent, will not have a single vessel in which the gun is bigger than 12.0-in. afloat and in commission at that particular period. After all we should not forget that we do not want more strength than is really necessary. Obviously one must take into consideration the effective strength of each unit, and the effective strength of our units to-day is as great as ever it was. Numbers, however, have to be considered, and I should have liked to see these ships put immediately on the stocks, instead of, as is obviously going to be the case, delayed until the end of the financial year. Referring to delays, let me say that in 1909, largely as the result of an agitation introduced by our party, we got eight ships. In addition we were provided by Colonial Governments with two, one by New Zealand, and one by Australia. Of these ten ships only one, the "Hercules," has been built up to her contract time. The "Colossus" was a month late. The "Orion" was a month late in being commissioned, and now has to be two months having new bilge keels fitted. The "Lion," which ought to have been completed in November last—a matter of very great importance—in the first place did not have her turbines delivered up to time, which delayed her a matter of three months. Now it is necessary to alter the situation of her fire control with the result that she will be delayed another six months. Similar criticisms can be brought forward in relation to the delay of the other four vessels of the programme. But in the case of the Australian and New Zealand vessels there is something like a scandal attaching to their delay. Armour of a specific type was tendered for by a very well known firm. They were unable, however, to secure the patent for this particular armour, and 1803 attempted the manufacture of it for themselves with the result that the Admiralty were forced to condemn the whole of it, and the ships are now laid up on the Clyde practically complete, with the exception of their armour. The Financial Secretary to the Admiralty might well reply to that. I put it as a charge of incompetence and as a lack of care in seeing that the tenders that were accepted could not be carried into effect by those who put them forward.
Turning to the Estimates, every year we usually see the names of the ships to be built in the course of the financial year. On May 3rd last I asked the predecessor of the present First Lord when the "Audacious" and the "Ajax" would be completed. He told me 16th January, 1913. Yet I find on turning to the page in reference to shipbuilding repairs and maintenance, no mention is made of the "Audacious" at all, and I ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether I am right in saying she will not be concluded by the end of the financial year. Why is there this de lay in these ships, as also the ships just laid down to which I am now going to refer? Coming to the 1911 programme, the programme of the present year, I find that in that year four battleships were provided, and of these ships two only have been laid down. The "Iron Duke" was laid down on 15th January at Portsmouth and the "Marlborough" was laid down at Devonport, on 25th January. The money for these two ships will not be expended by a very considerable sum, and what is much more important the other two ships ordered could have been laid down, but they also are to be delayed, with the result that when we shall be specially wanting these vessels we shall not have them, and the present Administration, which if it did not wish to accept the responsibility could throw it on its predecessor, is now itself carrying on these delays which are a disgrace to the nation. I come to the present programme. It is a matter of comment that for the first time in living memory, in sending out these Estimates, the programme of shipbuilding, repairs, and maintenance was not circulated with the ordinary Votes.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Dr. Macnamara)
It is not the first time.
§ Mr. BURGOYNE
Even if there is a precedent, it is an extraordinary bad one to follow. We were told when the com- 1804 plaint was made that the chances were that we should not get them until, I believe, to-day, the net result of which would have been that this important Debate upon the Naval Estimates would have taken place without our having an opportunity of referring to the fact that one of the ships to be laid down is to have no more expended upon it than just to over £2,800. I do not want to be hypercritical upon this point, but it is our business to find the flies in the ointment, and although it is a possibility that the Department of the right hon. Gentleman has before created such a precedent, it is, if I may say so, a rotten precedent in regard to the issuing of these Votes. But I venture to say that he cannot point to a time when his Department created a precedent to expend only £2,800 in one year on an armoured ship of the current programme. Passing from that, I come to the question of cruisers. Every year we have a considerable amount of talk upon the subject of commerce protection. I am a complete heretic on this point and entirely opposed to my Noble Friend the Member for Portsmouth. I do not believe the Fleet exists for the protection of commerce. I believe it exists for two main reasons.
It exists, in the first place, for the purpose of searching out and destroying the enemy's fleet, and it exists, secondly, to keep open the lines of communication; and whatever fleet is sufficiently strong effectively to carry out those two purposes, then of its own accord commerce must be protected. I want to know whether the probable circumstance of commerce attack warrants the construction of cruisers of £400,000 per unit, or where sums so large will be found? There is surely some other solution of this problem. There are, as far as study can bring it home to me, three reasons for which cruisers exist. It is no use going back to the pages of history and shoving from it what cruisers should do to-day. Modern invention has altered the whole position of the cruiser question. Cruisers carry out three important works. The first is, showing the Flag, and for that purpose I say we have enough cruisers, and that it would be ridiculous to spend money on high speed vessels for police duties. Their second duty, and this is much more important, is as Fleet handmaids, leaders of destroyers and submarine divisions and look-out duties for the main battle Fleet. For these purposes there was 1805 developed some time ago what was known as the Town class of cruisers. They developed extraordinary speed for their size, and we have fifteen of them built or building. Is it enough? If not, we always have our preponderance in armoured cruisers to fall back on. We have thirty-four to Germany's nine, but many of these are falling into obsolescence, and so what has the Admiralty done? They have pro vided, and this is a feature of the Estimates deserving all possible praise, and I do not see why a critical opponent should not, when the opportunity occurs, give praise where it is due—they have provided eight cruisers of a very high speed for no other purpose than to accompany the Fleet and do the Fleet work. Two are to be built at Pembroke and Chatham, and they are to be laid down early in the year. From such knowledge as one gathered from the statement made by the First Lord, one can only judge that this type of ship is one the Navy is very much in need of; and again I say I think the Admiralty are greatly to be congratulated on having taken a novel step in naval construction in providing us with a squadron of no less than eight of these vessels. But none of these are intended for commerce protection, which is an entirely different matter.
But I ask, what is going to atack our commerce? Are big armoured cruisers of the "Von der Tann" type? If these ships are to get out from the North Sea and come into the Atlantic, then I say so much the better, for they will thereby weaken the battleship strength of the nation to which they belong. Certainly no one suggests one of these huge vessels is to be dispatched for any other purpose than of picking up colliers. Are they going to send out protected cruisers? Possibly if they had got the ships, but I do not know a single country to-day which has got cruisers fit to go into the Atlantic or one that is building them. The biggest Germany has building is 5,000 tons and no more. Such ships have not the coal capacity to go into the Atlantic and chase British vessels. The only others built or building are small scouts of 3,000 to 4,000 tons. It is something else that is going to attack our commerce. It is possibly for this the vast merchant liners of hostile Powers are intended. I suggest in this case we do not want to send a ship costing £400,000 or more to chase merchant-ships which could be sunk by a single shell. Why cannot we fight like with like. We have a superiority in fast merchant ships, which is infinitely greater 1806 than that possessed by any other country. The best way for us to get out of the difficulty if certain foreign countries, as sup posed, have guns stored in the holds of their merchant vessels is for us to revert to the subsidy system. If one liner armed with a six-inch gun meets another liner armed with a similar gun, they are not going to fight, but they will sheer off.
I want to leave that question altogether and turn to one which in our naval Debates has seldom been touched upon in this House. We often talk about the construction of ships, but I want to talk about their destruction when they have got to the end of their lives. I have an indictment against the Admiralty of such importance that I have dared to bring it before the Committee. We all know perfectly well that when a vessel has reached the end of its days, it is necessary to sell it for breaking up. Naturally these sales are made under certain conditions. I want to draw the attention of the Committee to the state of affairs existing now. I do not know whether the Financial Secretary has any of this matter at all in mind, but I have here a list of all the ships which have been sold since 1908. I am only concerning my self with two of them, one of which was sold under the old and the other under the new conditions. Under the old conditions it was necessary that the ships when sold should be broken up in this country within a specified time, and they were not allowed to go outside this country. I want to point out to the Committee that these ships are sold at from £20,000 to £30,000 each, and the cost of breaking up a vessel of say 12,000 tons, in wages amounts to £l per ton. That is to say for a 12,000 ton ship, £12,000 goes absolutely into the pockets of the working men in wages when the vessel is broken up in this country. Until this present administration, and for some considerable number of years during it, the conditions of sale were issued under Form A and Rule 9, as follows:—The ship will be sold subject to the express condition that she shall not be removed out of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and that she shall be broken up in some place in such kingdom, within a period of two years from the date of the delivery of possession to the purchaser.9.0 P.M.
I daresay some hon. Members are wondering whether this matter is sufficiently important to bring forward, but it is all-important for two reasons. Firstly, that the conditions were altered in such a manner that now these ships can be bought 1807 by foreigners, and can be broken up outside this country, with the result that the wages spent on the breaking up of these vessels goes into the pockets of the foreigner. In the second place, under the open competition which now exists in this matter, foreigners can come over to this country and roam about our dockyards at will merely by stating that they are the agents of a foreign firm. The vessels are now being sold subject to being broken up within one year, but not necessarily in the United Kingdom. Up to the time I have mentioned but one of our battleships had been purchased by foregners. This old vessel was bought by a Rotterdam firm, and they did not even employ Britons to break her up, because had they done so they would have had to pay trade union wages at the rate of from 6½d. to 7d. per hour. This foreign firm found it cheaper to charter a steam ship and bring the foreign workmen over here, keeping and feeding them on board, with the result that not a penny was spent in wages in this country. Consequently these Dutchmen can afford to pay more for these ships, because by bringing foreign workmen over in this way they are able to break them up at half the cost in wages per hour. It is also unwise to allow these foreigners to roam at will over our dockyards.
The reason put forward by the Admiralty for altering this system is that a ring was formed in this country, and that as a result they were not able to get the prices they could otherwise get without foreign competition, but that is entirely untrue. In the first place, the Admiralty always put a reserve on these ships, and that prevented the formation of a ring. In the second place, there are no less than eleven shipbreaking yards in this country, and therefore open competition among them is sufficiently great to prevent any ring being formed. These firms do not desire to have competition prevented, and all they demand is that it should be clearly laid down that the ships should be broken up in this country by British working men. The Admiralty wrote to one of these firms and told them that they could retort by tendering for old German battleships. One of these firms did write to the German Admiralty and tender, and they received a reply to the effect that no Englishmen were allowed in the German dockyards, and no tender from English firms would be 1808 considered. I would like the First Lord of the Admiralty to keep that point before him. The firms I have alluded to do not want protection, all they want is fair play. I want to turn for a moment to the personnel of the Navy. I think every Member of this Committee will agree that the ultimate hope of our safety at sea is vested in our long service men. The House is always ready to interest itself in the construction of ships, and it is always ready to listen to speeches upon the pay of postmen, policemen, or to discuss a minimum wage for miners, but we always find it hard to get a decent Committee to listen to a discussion upon increasing the pay in the naval service. Hon. Members receive from time to time circulars from various people and from various ratings in the Navy. I do not want any Member of the Committee to imagine that in bringing this matter up I would foster for one second anything that might be considered subversive of discipline, but I do, not think there is any reason why we should not discuss the state of the men in the Navy in order to see if we can bring about a betterment. The bluejacket, especially the married bluejacket, feels at the pre sent time very much the pinch in the rise of prices. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that during the last hundred years we have only added a matter of a penny per day to the pay of the bluejackets.
§ Mr. BURGOYNE
Well, in any event, I can put this to the Committee. At the present time the ordinary seaman gets 1s. 3d. a day; the able seaman, 1s. 8d.; the leading seaman, under three years, 2s. 10d., and over three years. 2s.; the petty officer, under three years, 2s. 8d., over three years, 2s. 10d.; and over six years, 3s; and the chief petty officer, according to the period of his service, 3s. 4d., 3s. 8d., and 4s. In addition to that, they have various things that can be added, according to the particular line they take up. The need for an increase is not badly felt until a man reaches the rating of a leading seaman. He has then reached an age in his life when naturally he has a right to marry if he so desires, and this is the time he is really getting about the minimum wage that that age represents, and 1809 the pleasure he might achieve toy having a home on shore. Ordinarily, it is a wage of 14s. a week and allowances, which amount possibly to 7s., and rations, which I think are about 8s. a week. It is, at all events, well under 30s., and for a man who has attained that specific position to have no more than 30s., 8s. of which he cannot touch, but has to use in the ordinary ser vice of his work, to live upon is wholly in sufficient for the maintenance of his home. Very little betterment has taken place during the last thirty years. The only amelioration has come through administrative acts of the Admiralty itself, and these have been due to the late First Sea Lord (Lord Fisher), and they are in the messing arrangements, in the canteens, and in granting leave on full pay.
I want to deal with the system of discipline in the Navy, and I want to do so gingerly, because a Committee has been appointed to look into it, and hon. Members will agree that from the composition of that Committee it deserves the fullest confidence of everyone in this country. The punishments and the routine in the Navy to-day are those founded upon the days when the Navy was a sailing Navy, and when the sails were the preponderating part in the life of the ship. And, as for punishment and discipline, they have come down largely from the days when the Navy was recruited from the Press Gang. With the exception of flogging and keel-hauling many of those punishments exist at the present time. I understand these questions are going to be dealt with by the First Lord of the Admiralty, and I do not think it would be expedient or wise to refer to them at length and mention exactly what those punishments are at the present time. No allowances are made at the present time for wives and families, and no allowances are given to widows of men who die on service. The immediate result of that is that a very serious state of affairs has arisen in the fact that the petty officer ratings have formed their own societies, which are little more than trades unions, and a suggestion is on foot that the inferior ratings should do the same. Since 1900 the number of punishments given in the Navy has been considerably more than the men borne on the Fleet in active service. Take the Marines, the punishments are more frequent at sea than on shore, so that it will be seen punishment is much more frequent than it need be. I have detained 1810 the House long enough. It is a very difficult thing, in discussing the Naval Estimates, to cover the whole field, but, nevertheless, it is a satisfaction to have had an opportunity of raising the points I desired to put before the First Lord of the Admiralty, and I only wish the right hon. Gentleman had been able to be here a little earlier to listen to them. I would only ask the Committee to realise that in matters of this sort it is wise not to bring up vexatious criticism, but rather to endeavour to aid the progress of the Fleet by putting be fore the Committee such criticisms as occur to the mind. I would hope the Committee recognises that there is no question in this-House which receives more unanimous support and that there is a universal desire to see the Fleet maintained at a high pitch of efficiency, and, however long the right hon. Gentleman may be in office, so long as speeches such as that we had from him yesterday represent his policy, he will have the support of all sides of the House
§ Mr. BARNES
I shall not endeavour to follow the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in his interesting and well-informed speech in regard to the ships or the placing of those ships, nor shall I have anything to say of the rival theory of the Noble Lord (Lord C. Beresford), as to whether the Navy exists for the purpose of searching out and fighting the enemy or for protecting our commerce. I want to say a few words with regard to the breaking up of old ships. I, like the hon. Gentleman, have seen no record of that matter having been discussed in previous Debates, and yet I think it is a matter entitled to a little consideration. After all, a good deal of money is spent. Not only so, but there are opportunities for those who are entrusted with that work of getting to know things which, I suppose, we had best keep to ourselves. Therefore I think the matter is well worthy of attention, and I, for my part, am glad the hon. Gentleman has raised it. He suggested that the work should be done by firms at home, and I understood him to say there were eleven firms who competed for this work.
§ Mr. BARNES
That would meet my point better. It is not a very difficult thing for an arrangement to be arrived at between eleven firms, but it is a still easier thing for an arrangement to be arrived at 1811 between seven firms. Therefore, unless there were some other safeguards introduced, if the Admiralty were simply to determine that a ship should be broken up at home, nothing would be easier for these firms to arrange between themselves what should be paid. Although I think there is something in the evil, the hon. Gentleman's remedy is not altogether a conclusive one. For my part, I should like to Bee the Admiralty adopt the system of breaking up these ships by their own workmen. It seems to me that would be the simplest and best thing to do. They should put a price on the ship, and, in the event of outside firms not agreeing to that price the Admiralty should, instead of bringing in foreign competitors with the home breakers, introduce a system of employing their own workmen and destroying these ships themselves. I think the object aimed at by the hon. Gentleman would be as well secured in that way, And we should reserve for ourselves an amount of wages which now goes out of the country for the breaking up of these ships abroad.
I rise rather for the purpose of dealing with the question of the personnel of the Navy. I agree it is regret table that the House should be concerned almost exclusively, as it has been during the last two or three years, in discussing the numbers of ships and the policy surrounding those numbers, and should have given very little attention, speaking generally, to the personnel of the Navy. It is true we have speeches from hon. Gentlemen opposite who represent dockyard constituencies in regard to the conditions of labour in those dock yards. There are plenty to speak for the men in the dockyards, there are too few who speak—and here I may except the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord Charles Beresford)—with regard to the condition of the men afloat, the simple explanation being that the men in dock yards have votes, while those afloat, even if they had votes, have little opportunity of using them. I want to direct the attention of the First Lord and his colleagues to a matter which I have often raised before, but which I have not yet had the pleasure of putting before the present First Lord. Yesterday the right hon. Gentleman made use of a phrase to the effect that the Navy ought to be brought more under the control of the country— that it should be more democratised.
§ Mr. BARNES
I am putting my own construction on the right hon. Gentleman's words. I think he suggested it should be more open to the people of the country. I think he has not gone far enough in that direction. The policy of the Admiralty has been to go on the lines of reserving the control of the Navy to a very small section of the people of the country. There is a plan under which large fees have to be paid in respect of boys going to Osborne and Dartmouth. These fees have always been payable in respect of executive rank, but, in recent years, in consequence of the scheme of training brought into operation, engineering is now lumped in with the executive rank, and fees have to be paid in respect of those who are to become engineering officers, as well as those who are to go on to the bridge. That means you are getting in a larger number—because you have added to the executive rank—from a very small section of the community. I will not enter into the question what that section is. The Parliamentary Secretary has the matter well in hand, and I hope to get some declaration that these fees will be reduced and that, in accordance with the declarations made by the First Lord yesterday, we shall draw people for the executive rank and for engineering officers from a very much larger section of the community than we do at present, and put it within the reach of persons of comparatively humble means to send their boys to Osborne and Dartmouth. At present there is a payment of something like £120 or £130 per year involved. I want to get that payment reduced.
As I have said, the engineering officer is now practically lumped in with the executive officer, and by that, means you have taken out of the Navy altogether the old practical engineer, who has had an exclusively practical training in a work shop outside, or in the Admiralty work shops at Keyham, used for that purpose. It has, therefore, become increasingly important, having taken the democratic step of lumping the engineer officers along with the executive officers, for the efficiency of the men that you should have better men doing the practical work of the Service. I am going to submit to the House that, instead of having more competent men, you are going to have less competent men, because you have set up a system of training altogether contrary to the experience 1813 in the mercantile marine, a system which, I believe, cannot possibly give as good men as you get in the mercantile marine. At present the mercantile marine carries engineers who have been trained in the ordinary workshops of the country—men who have served an apprenticeship and have been at least four years in an engineering shop. The Board of Trade, for the purposes of safety of those going to sea, as well as for the efficient working of the ship, has laid it down that no man shall have charge of engines unless he has worked four years in an engineering workshop in the formative period of his life, and has been at sea at least two years after that. Certain tests are imposed, and he has to pass certain examinations which are set by the Board of Trade. Yet you are carrying out now in the Navy an entirely opposite sys tem. You have done away entirely with the system of apprenticeship. You are going to take men from the stoker ratings on the one hand and boys from the elementary secondary schools on the other. You are going to take the stoker from the stoker ratings about twenty-eight or twenty-nine years of age, and try to make an. engineer of him. Having had some knowledge of engineering, and having spent twenty years of my life in an engineer's shop, I have no hesitation in saying that you cannot possibly make engineers in that way. It requires a training of the eye as well as of the hand in the formative period of a man's life to make an engineer, and, therefore, that system must break down. One plea put forward in support of this scheme is that the artificer is a man who ought to be able to use his tools. He should be able to use his tools as well as keep watch on the engines, and he ought to be relieved from the duty of watching the engines and put on simple repairs.
The underlying idea in the mind of the Admiralty authorities as to the artificer is that he is a man who simply exists for knocking things about—pulling them to pieces and putting them together again. That is a dangerous delusion, and it is contrary to the expert advice given to the Admiralty by a Committee set up Borne years ago to look into this matter. That Committee—I refer to the Douglas Committee—were advised by the engineering officer witnesses who were examined that one of the most important duties of the artificer at sea was watch-keeping, because, while the man was on watch, he 1814 could detect by certain sounds what was going on with the engines, or the auxiliary engines, and that when the ship was brought into port, or the engines were standing still, he would know what was required; and that when it was necessary for repair work to be done the artificer and his colleagues could go about that work without any unnecessary delay or costly supervision, and could do it expeditiously and much more cheaply through having the experience of watch-keeping than under any other system. Therefore we object to it because it is not a system which can possibly give you efficient men for the Navy engine rooms. I object to it for another reason, and that is because the Admiralty are breaking faith with the artificer class who have been taken into the Navy on the expectation of certain promotion, and that promotion cannot possibly come so quickly under the present system as they have been led to believe. As a matter of fact—I stand to be corrected if I am making too sweeping a statement—I think I am right in saying that, for the most part, promotion comes, not from the men who are working with their tools in doing repairs, but from the men who are doing watch-keeping duties, inasmuch as these new men are being trained to take the watch-keeping, the artificers being reserved for actual repairing work. Therefore the avenue for promotion which these men have been led to expect is now, at all events, partially closed to them. I submit that is altogether unfair.
There are many other phases of this subject which might be dealt with, but I only want to refer to one other, and that is the rate of pay of these men. That pay was settled in 1882, when the system of the artificers in the Navy and all appertaining to it was regularised, and a certain system of watch-keeping duties set up. That included a scale of pay which, I think, was 5s. 6d. per day. There is a very slow rise from that of not more than 1s. for the first three years of service, and then there is a very slow rise until the man has been at sea and in service, and bears a very good character indeed, when he can rise to 8s. a day. During the thirty years which have intervened since 1882 the rate of pay outside has been considerably increased. If you go to the engineering centres of this country, take for instance Newcastle, which is one of the marine centres, in 1882 the rate of pay at New castle was 29s. per week. To-day it is 37s.
1815 In Glasgow the pay was about 29s. or 30s. in 1382, and there again the rate of pay to-day is 37s. In many parts of the country the rate of pay has increased more than that. As everbody knows, the cost of living has very considerably increased during the last fifteen years, so that it is unfair to leave these men with the same rate of pay that was fixed thirty years ago and not to give them a rise corresponding to those rises which have taken place outside.
I know that probably the answer will be that there have been opportunities opened up for those at the top of the class to rise to superior positions than were open to them in 1882, but the same might be said of anybody of men outside. Owing to the extension of the engineering industry during the last thirty years their positions are much superior now than they were thirty years ago. So that all that may be said on that point may be countered by experience outside. Although promotions are said to be more numerous in the Navy now than they were thirty years ago, that is altogether, or largely, illusory, for the reason I have given, that you are now taking men for these promotions from a new class of men which has been set up, instead of from those men who were induced to join the Navy on certain promises made to them. To my certain knowledge there is in the Navy a great deal of what I think is unnecessary discontent in regard to this matter, and I believe a very great deal of dangerous discontent. I do not yield to anyone on the other side or anywhere else in the desire to see the men of the Navy well paid and contented with their position. I followed the First Lord's speech in Glasgow a week or two ago, in which he said there were now opportunities in the Navy for careers to be made in many branches, and that there was no difficulty in getting men. I know that is not a fact. I know that even when that speech was made advertisements were appearing in the engineering centres throughout the length and breadth of the country for engineers to join the Navy, and so great was the difficulty of getting recruits for the engineering rank that actually an Order was issued—I believe it was last November—offering a reward of 10s. to anyone now in the engineering ranks of the Navy who would bring in a competent fitter or a joiner to join the engineering rank. These things do not 1816 square with the statements made at Glasgow by the First Lord.
You are not likely to get a competent man in the artificer class of the Navy until you have considerably increased his position in regard to pay, and until you have made some provision whereby promotion shall not be illusory, as it is now. I noticed that the First Lord said that there was a large number of warrant rank officers promoted to commission rank. I should like in any reply that may be made to-night to have a statement as to the number of these promotions that have come from the artificer rank. I should like to know how many, it any, of them are to be in this particular rank. In conclusion, I would also hope that instead of the merely pious expressions of sympathy with the oft-repeated demand that the higher ranks should be open to a larger number of the people of the country, something will be said of a definite character as to the reduction of the fees for the boys who go to Osborne and Dartmouth. As the right hon. Gentleman well knows, the officers who are to be known as engineering officers are drawn from the class of people who can pay from £120 to £130 a year in respect of their boys. That number is not more than 4 per cent, or 5 per cent, of the community. It is absolutely wrong and undemocratic that you should draw those who are going to control the Navy from such a small class of the community. It is undemocratic, and you are not likely to get so efficient an officer as you could get if you were to bring these fees down to the reach of the ordinary workman, who ought to be in a position to aspire to getting his son in the Navy, not as a mere fetcher and carrier, but, if he has brains and ability, to a position either on the bridge or in the new engineering officer class.
§ Sir FORTESCUE FLANNERY
I think the whole question of naval preparation and naval sufficiency might engage the attention of the Committee. I wish to associate myself in the fullest manner with what has already been said on both sides of the House as to the declaration of policy of the First Lord of the Admiralty. It is very satisfactory, I am sure, to the nation at large to find the right hon. Gentleman making such declarations as he has made, both inside and outside the House. He has done much within the last few days to raise naval questions above the sphere of mere party politics. We have on both sides of 1817 the House been making pious declarations that preparation for naval defence was above and beyond all questions of party, and it is by such declarations as the right hon. Gentleman made at Glasgow that practical effect is given to these pious aspirations. But the right hon. Gentle man might perhaps have used a little more tact in the declaration which he has made. It was, for instance, not entirely necessary to say in the hearing of Germany that a Navy to her was a luxury, whilst to us was a necessity. It may have been perfectly true, and it may be equally true to preface the Navy Estimates and the First Lord's Memorandum by a statement that the present Estimates are based upon the assumption that other Powers would not increase their programmes, but I hold an entirely different view from this policy of the Government of setting forth contingent possibilities. It is two years since the late First Lord of the Admiralty made the declaration that it was the intention of the Government to build four "Dreadnoughts" and four to follow in certain contingencies. They were called contingent "Dreadnoughts." Now we have that method repeated by the present First Lord stating that the present Estimates are upon the assumption that the other Powers will not increase theirs. The wise and the right policy for this country is not to wait upon the preparations of any other Power but to make our own preparations so complete as to prevent the possibility of competition by other Powers. That would be cheaper in the end.
When New Zealand and Australia sent telegrams, I think four years ago, that they would give to the Motherland each a "Dreadnought" at their own cost, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour), at the Guildhall, recommended the Government to build, as the Colonies had set the example, and, if that advice had been followed, Germany and any other Power would have realised that we were not waiting upon their preparations, but that we made our own preparations so complete that they could not hope to compete with us, and so, at the least cost of preparation, we should have, ensured our superiority rather than by the policy of waiting upon them and increasing our preparation if they increased theirs. Giving the fullest weight to the very clear and conclusive explanation of the right hon. Gentleman yesterday—an explanation which I listened to with profound admiration— 1818 upon the question of the advance of science and the progress of design, the difficulty of building ships which might become obsolete in the process of building, because of the rapid advance of science, the policy of the Naval Defence Act twenty years ago, which was to set forth our programme and to say it was irreducible, was better for the nation, better for economy of naval preparation in the end, better for the objects of all naval preparation, to ensure peace by our undoubted preponderance, than the policy of the present Government of waiting upon the advance of foreign countries and increasing our advance to correspond with theirs and to be superior to theirs.
It is very important to remember that the great naval power of Germany is altering in relation to the other naval Powers of the world. Until very recently Germany was one of the minor naval Powers. I can remember thirty years ago when the small ironclads, the "Deutschland" and the "Kaiser," were built upon the Thames, and they were the first that Germany possessed. I myself had something to do with their construction. Gradually Germany has improved her position. At this moment she is behind the United States in her naval position, but when the vessels which Germany is building are completed, Germany will be the second naval Power in the world, Great Britain being, of course, still the first. If you make a comparison upon the effective armoured tonnage, you find that the Fleet of Great Britain is not only equal to the United States and Germany combined, not only amounts to the two-Power standard, but there is a margin over the two-Power standard to-day of 25 per cent. That is a very large, and, from some points of view, satisfactory margin, but when the tonnage which is at present authorised is finished that margin will have de creased to 10 or 12 per cent., and the policy which this country has to determine is whether our present Estimates are sufficient to restore us to the position of 25 per cent, which exists at the present moment, but which will disappear when the present programme of construction in the three countries has been completed. I do not think that in these Debates, or the Press, or the country sufficient importance has been attached to the very startling fact that nearly £2,000,000 voted by this House for naval preparation last year has not been spent. The £1,250,000 which it is 1819 proposed to add in regard to that is not sufficient to compensate, and I hope that the Under-Secretary or the Secretary to the Admiralty, or whoever may reply, will give us an indication of how many ships have been delayed in completion, and to what extent in point of time they have been delayed by the labour difficulties, which have prevented the expenditure of the £1,600,000 or £l,700,000, which, I suppose, will now be given to the Sinking Fund. I do not know exactly what is intended in these Estimates. Although I am, like other hon. Members on this side of the House, an ardent supporter of the Sinking Fund and do not want anything taken from it, yet I think hon. Members on all sides of the House would desire that, from whatever expenditure economy is to be drawn, the money voted for the Navy should be the very last which should suffer by that particular form of helping the national funds. Therefore I would ask for some more definite explanation in the hope that the Government are still reconsidering the question of having some special legislation which will save the £1,750,000, or so, to the Navy, and withdraw it from the Sinking Fund.
I wish to refer to the question of oil fuel. I have myself had some experience of oil fuel, and I am delighted to notice that the Admiralty are realising its very great importance. I think all who love the Navy desire to see adequate naval preparation, and I was particularly pleased to find that the First Lord of the Admiralty should show so much earnestness in his work as to attend at the West India Docks a few days ago for the purpose of seeing the "Selandia." I would say to the Secretary to the Admiralty with great respect that if on the occasion of the trial trips of a sister vessel on the Clyde in the near future he would arrange to be there, he would find an illustration very well worth while to witness as to the future of oil as a means of propulsion. Oil, as compared with coal, will enormously increase the range of operations of our ships. If you burn oil under boilers for the purpose of raising steam, you increase the efficiency of the range of vessels by some 50 per cent., but if you use oil in internal combustion engines —I understand that is to be done in the Navy, for there is one of these vessels under construction—you increase the range of operations not by 50 per cent., but by 1820 400 per cent, as compared with coal—that is to say, for every ton of fuel you carry you increase the range by four times with oil as compared with coal. The right hon. Gentleman, in his statement, made very definite reference to the dangers connected with the storage of oil. I venture to put to him that these dangers can be overcome, and having regard to the enormous advantage to a warship of being able to increase her range of operations, not to mention other advantages, the greatest efforts of the Admiralty should be made to bring about this change, and to make it as generally applicable to the vessels of the Fleet as is at all practicable. This is only one of the definite improvements which the Admiralty are, I am glad to find, giving their attention to. Knowing something from practical experience myself of oil fuel, I have thought that possibly it might be useful to emphasise the subject, and to put it forward as fully as its importance de serves. After all, the great question which is before the country is that of naval preparation, and I am sorry that it should be obscured for the time being. It is coming along for discussion in this House, for it is an all-absorbing question. I feel certain there is no matter more important which the House could bring up for discussion, or put before the country, than the matter of ample naval preparation.
One word about the First Lord's fore cast for the future. He spoke of certain preparations which might come in the sixth, ninth, or twelfth month of a war. Sir, there will be no sixth, ninth, or twelfth month of any naval war. I doubt if there will be a third or a second month. Naval war will be sudden and decisive in all probability, just as it was when war broke out between China and Japan. When the right hon. Gentleman in his statement talked about Germany, confining herself to two "Dreadnoughts" a year for six years, and England building four and three "Dreadnoughts" alternately I felt that he was entirely on the wrong track, and that if he wished to prevent Germany from increasing her programme of I hose two "Dreadnoughts" he would build his seven "Dreadnoughts" right away the first year, and so show that the policy of two keels to one was not to be a contingent policy, but an absolute and definite policy. The Admiralty, I am glad to say seem to have taken a leaf out of the German book with regard to ordering vessels in advance. Tenders for the twenty destroyers have been obtained in advance 1821 of the sanction of this House. That was the right policy. We know from the speech of the First Lord, two years ago, that the policy of Germany was to design and order the construction of the ships first, and then to go to the Reichstag and ask for sanction for them. Our policy has been to get sanction from this House and then, after an interval of many months, to get tenders and order the ships to be constructed. I am glad to acknowledge that time has been taken by the forelock by the Admiralty, who have, before making any public announcement about those twenty destroyers, obtained tenders, and are now ready to proceed with their construction. If they would deal in the same way with the eight small cruisers, I believe that the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord C. Beresford), as well as many others on both sides of the House, would be very glad to support them. Eight cruisers! I say there ought to be twenty-eight cruisers to deal properly with our sea-routes and protect our food supplies. I hope that better counsels in that regard will prevail, and that later on it may be that the voices below the Gangway on that side of the House, which at. present embarrass the declared intentions of the right hon. Gentleman, may have less influence with the Government, than at present seems to be the case, and that the naval preparation, good as it is, may be increased for the protection of the country and the securing of our national safety.
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
I am very glad that we are all agreed that there is now ample provision for the strength of the British Navy. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. D. MASON
Well, with one exception, as has been just stated, on general lines I think we are all agreed that ample provision has been made in the statement by the First Lord. In his very clear and lucid statement, on which I would like to congratulate him, the First. Lord said very little with regard to the policy which must govern our expenditure. I think it was Lord Beaconsfield who stated on one occasion that policy must govern expenditure. While we are all in agreement with the 1822 First Lord in his statement, we would have been very glad if he could have given us some information with regard to the negotiations which I understand have been, carried on with Germany, and which must naturally have some effect upon the future expenditure on the Navy. I hope that the First Lord may see his way to give the House some information on this matter, as from it we should get some idea as to what ought, or ought not, to be the expenditure on naval armaments. A mere academic formula seems to me to be not a business-like proposition. I am sure that the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth will agree that there might be occasions when expenditure in excess of the margin of 60 per cent, might be necessary, and there might also be other occasions when the margin might go very much be low that; and that to issue a formula or state an arithmetical proposition to this House as the governing factor in deciding the amount to be expended is hardly in accordance with either sound sense or high statesmanship. My hon. Friend the Member for Montrose Burghs (Mr. R. Harcourt) referred to the resignation of the Secretary of State for the Imperial Treasury in Germany as a result of his inability to finance the expenditure which is required for the navy in Germany. We are all in agreement with the First Lord that finance is a very important element in preparations for war. It may be within the recollection of the House that I drew attention a year ago in this same Debate to the fact that the German Finance Minister had then admitted that he was unable to place any more loans on behalf of Germany, and I would ask the House what would be the position in this country Lf our Chancellor of the Exchequer were to come down here and tell us that he was unable to sell any more Consols. I do not for a moment suggest that our finances-are in the same position as those of Germany, but I do submit to this House the advisability of, along with your armaments getting a financial reserve, and' instead of having a definite formula that you are going to lay down so many ships because Germany lays down so many ships I submit that we should also have regard to our position financially. If we were involved, for example, in war, and the Admiralty had suddenly to ask for £100 000,000 Consols, surely the Noble-Lord the Member for Portsmouth will agree with me that it would be a great advantage to this country if we could readily raise that money, and that it would 1823 be a source of strength should we unhappily be drawn into war with any other Power. I think there is no division between this and the other side of the House as to the necessity of a strong Navy. I think we are all agreed on that point. But surely, while having regard to our commitments all over the world and to the necessity of protecting our trade routes, we should avoid these unfortunate comparisons as to the proportion of vessels laid down by this, that, or the other Power. Reference has been made to the unrest in the industrial world, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I think, used an argument in reference to an ever increasing expenditure on our part. I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman ever thought that this very unrest to which he referred may be largely traced to the excessive expenditure which exists throughout. Europe.
This House is well aware that there is a variety of causes for this unrest and for the increased cost of living; but there can be no doubt that excessive expenditure on armaments in Europe is very largely responsible for both the increased cost of living and the unrest. I should like to remind the House that during recent times Europe has spent altogether on armaments something like a thousand millions sterling. A thousand millions sterling withdrawn from productive purposes is a fact which is bound to have an effect on the cost of living. If the House will follow me, they will readily see that if a quarter of that thousand millions had been available for productive purposes, for the development of new countries, for opening up new territories, for increasing wheat areas and therefore the supply of wheat, the result would have been to reduce the price of bread, very materially reduce the cost of living, and consequently to avoid unrest. I wish the House would really follow that point. There is no question that the effect of this enormous and excessive expenditure of a thousand millions sterling upon armaments, upon that which is unproductive and wasteful, and which, as Members well know, disappears in a few years altogether, has been the cause of it he increased cost of living and the unrest to which reference has been made. Loss in the mercantile world and excessive in crease in the cost of living are un questionably very important factors in bringing about unrest and these great strikes. It may well be asked what policy have you to offer as a means of 1824 checking this expenditure? I will be perfectly frank and readily admit that it is a very difficult problem we are faced with. I do not think that this is a party question. I think we are all agreed as to the necessity, in the present conditions of the world, of maintaining a strong Navy, but I do hope that I am expressing the feelings of both sides of the House when I urge that there should be some means whereby we can reduce existing hardens and still maintain our safety—sonif international arrangement, something that will relieve this country and Europe generally of the enormous burdens which are pressing upon the peoples. Such a policy, I believe, would command the support not only of my friends around me, but of hon. Members on the other side of the House as well.
I believe that is a premiss which will find universal acceptance among hon. Members. I should like very much indeed if the First Lord of the Admiralty would give us his view as to the possibility of this suggestion finding acceptance with His Majesty's Government. I think I am right in stating that America, in recent negotiations with this country, received very favourable answers from France and Germany, who were equally prepared with us to enter into an international treaty of arbitration. The House is well aware that owing to an unfortunate mischance, some thing like two votes, the treaty between America and ourselves did not go through, but if France, and I hope Germany, were prepared to enter into such a treaty with the United States, is it not possible for them to enter into a treaty with ourselves? If France desired, and I believe there is also a desire in Germany, to do something to relieve these burdens upon the people something might be effected. When we find the Finance Minister of Germany resigning his office, when we know that by an enormous increase of the Socialist vote there has been a great increase of Socialist Members returned in the recent Reichstag election, when we know that the High and Agrarian Conservative party in Germany are actually joining forces with the Socialist party—a most extraordinary combination—for no other reason than to bring about a reduction of taxes, when we are feeling the increase of taxes here, when we resent the fact that in time of peace we have an Income Tax of 1s. 2d. in the £, and that, further, there is the depreciation of Consols through a variety of causes—then I think there is hope of some arrangement such as I 1825 suggest. If the Noble Lord opposite, who cheers, is anxious to improve our national credit, then let him join forces with those who advocate coming to some understanding with Germany and other Powers, and let him submit some proposal to the House by which His Majesty's Government could endeavour to come to a tangible understanding in the shape of some practical solution such as would be afforded by an international treaty with Germany and France.
If we could agree upon that I believe it would be a great step forward. If we create a state of affairs between this country and Germany and the other Powers of Europe that will make these enormous armaments less necessary, then I think we shall accomplish a great work. I am sure that all Members are perfectly agreed that if we could create an atmosphere, or some machinery, that will make this flow of expenditure less urgent than it is at the present time, then. I am sure all Members will agree to that course—and, for God's sake, let us try to do it! I do appeal to hon. Members not to be consumed with this idea of a purely arithmetical formula of trying to go one better than our neighbour, but that they will try to create a condition of affairs which will bring us closer to those people—create a tribunal where subjects of dispute may be considered, whilst maintaining the necessary Navy for the protection of our trade and Colonies, and stopping this continual talk of the comparative merits of the British, German, or French Navy. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will give us some intimation to-night, or at the end of this Debate as to what are the possibilities of coming to an understanding with this particular Power. Therefore I make an appeal to the right hon. Gentle man to give us the information if he is in a position to do so, because I believe with a better understanding here and on the other side and in the country we could still maintain what is necessary as Far as an adequate Navy is concerned. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will hold out some hope that we may be able to put an end to this awful folly.
§ Mr. CHARLES CRAIG
With a great deal of what has fallen from the lips of the hon. Member who has just spoken we agree on this side or, at least, I do. If we could come to any arrangement with foreign Powers by which we could do away with our Navy altogether I have no hesitation in saying that there would be nobody 1826 more pleased than hon. Members who sit on this side. The hon. Member told us there was no difference of opinion as to the necessity for a strong Navy. That is only a half-truth. The theory is, that he and his friends are in favour of a strong Navy, but when we come to discuss and settle what is meant by a strong Navy, I notice there is the very greatest difference of opinion between us. We have discussed this matter since 1906, and on every occasion since that date there has been the most clear and acute divergence of opinion between a large section, at any rate, of hon. Members opposite and hon. Members on this side as to what an adequate Navy means. We, on this side, insist, and I insist even with regard to this years's Estimates, that the provision that has been made during the last six years has been altogether in adequate for the necessities of the situation. The hon. Member, whose speech I listened to with great interest, seems to forget the fundamental fact which was mentioned more than once by the First Lord of the Admiralty, namely, that we are in an absolutely unique position, that we depend first and last on our Navy for our national safety. We are in a totally different position from any other nation in that respect. I submit that our first consideration, absolutely our first thought, before we attempt any other legislation should be to see that under all circumstances our Navy is of such strength that there can be no question whatever of any other nation ever being able to attack us with even a remote chance of success. I do not know whether to be sorry or glad that in the few remarks I propose to address to the Committee I have to strike a somewhat new note because I noticed both this evening and during the Debate yesterday that almost, with the exception of my Noble Friend the Member for Ports mouth (Lord C. Beresford), each successive speaker began his speech by lauding to the skies the oration of the First Lord of the Admiralty. I regret, though I do not know that I regret, that I can not follow in that line. I cannot under stand, I must say, why there was the excessive chorus of praise even from Members on my own side of the House. In deed I notice sitting quite close to me the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir G. Parker), who I think was the greatest offender in that respect. He ended up his speech, referring to the opening speech of 1827 the First Lord of the Admiralty, by saying:—But I do say, if what the Government believe is true, and if the logic of facts is as they represent it, then this clear exposition of policy, vigorous as it has been, sweeping and illuminating as it was in every paragraph, was necessary for the people of this country to understand the necessities of this nation."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March, l912, cols. 1603–4.]
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
I may be mistaken, but I thought he was referring to the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty. Of course, the hon. Member with the white hat probably knows the mind of the First Lord of the Admiralty better than I can hope to do. As the hon. Member has mentioned Belfast I should mention to the House that my opinion of the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman in Belfast had no influence or bearing whatever on anything I may say about him to-night. Why did the speech of the right hon. Gentleman receive such a chorus of praise, not only from his own friends but from hon. Members on this side? I have been cudgel ling my brains to understand it, and I can only come to the conclusion that it was on the same principle that the person in the Bible killed the fatted calf on the return of the prodigal son. That is to say, the Radical party, having shamefully neglected the needs of the Navy during the last five or six years, when they showed some slight disposition to do their simple and plain duty by the Navy, received a great deal more credit from this side than I think they are entitled to. The right hon. Gentleman's speech, when carefully examined, is simply a réchauffé of what has been said on this side every year for the last six years. The right hon. Gentleman said:—The second reason why we should have an ample margin is that the consequences of defeat at sea are so much greater to us than they would be to Germany or France. There is no similarity between our naval needs and those of the two countries I have mentioned. There is no parity of risk. Our position is highly artificial. We are fed from the sea; we are an armed people; we possess a very small Army; we are the only Power in Europe which does not possess a large army. We cannot menace the independence or the vital interest of any great continental State; we cannot invade any continental State. We do not wish to do so, but even if we had the wish we have not got the power … When we consider our naval strength we are not thinking of our commerce, but of our freedom. We are not thinking of our trade, but our lives." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March, 1912. col. 1553.]If the right hon. Gentleman examines the speeches of hon. Members on this side he 1828 will find almost those identical statements, made more than once in every Debate on naval affairs during the last five or six years. How is it that hon. Members opposite have suddenly awakened to this state of patriotic anxiety and to the position which the Navy ought to occupy in the economy of the nation? It is really grotesque for the right hon. Gentleman to make such a speech and to pretend by the way he read it that the Government are not only doing their duty by the Navy this year, but have done all that was necessary to guard the interests of the country during the years they have been in office. The party in power have shamefully neglected the interests or the Navy from the moment they came into office until when? Until the last few months, when they were brought to their senses by the very serious crisis through which the country passed last summer. It is no secret, and we all know that last summer we were within a very short distance of being at war with a foreign Power. Nobody denies that. It is an open secret, so open that I state it and risk the contradiction of hon. Gentlemen opposite, that we, so far as the Navy are concerned, found ourselves in a very unprepared condition. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] I await contradiction from the Front Bench—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member, but I give the statement the flattest and most unequivocal contradiction in my power.
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
I am glad I have got that contradiction. Now I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if that is so why, first of all, did a change in the position of the First Lord of the Admiralty come almost immediately after. Why, secondly, was a War Staff suddenly brought into existence? This is a change that my Noble Friend and many of us on this side have been working at for years. Why was the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made yesterday made at all if it was not made for the purpose of trying to reassure the country that whatever may have been the bad condition of affairs last summer, that now, at any rate, the Government, having recognised that through their own negligence and want of patriot ism they had failed to keep the Navy up to the pitch at which it ought to have been kept, were now doing their best to make up for lost time and to put the Navy into a proper state of efficiency? I should like to have a fuller reply later to the 1829 statement I have made. Whether true or not, it is commonly believed by nine-tenths of the people.
What are these Estimates that many hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side seem to think are so satisfactory? They pro vide for the very smallest number of big ships that we can do with. I say we ought to put down thee or four more vessels in this programme. We are promised, it is true, some new cruisers whose duties we do not quite understand. There is a new 'batch of twenty destroyers. Does anyone who looks upon the duties that the Navy has to perform all over the world, and not merely from the point of view of one Power, really think that adequate provision for the year has been made? Year after year it has been stated that the cruisers are in a perilous condition. We have not half enough of them. We ought to have three times as many. Our foreign stations have been denuded both of battle ships and cruisers: our trade routes are practically unprotected. The right hon. Gentleman says that the whole object of his policy is concentration at home. Well, some of us discuss these matters with men qualified to judge, and they tell me— and I believe them—that our trade routes require protection just as much as they did ten years ago. Yet the policy of the Government has been for the last six or seven years to take the war vessels from these trade routes; and if war suddently broke out we should find that the necessity for the protection of our trade routes by cruisers was as great now as ten, fifteen, or one hundred years' ago. In that Department I submit the Admiralty have not made proper provision, and in fact I believe they are obsessed with this idea of our defences at home. Primarily, I admit, of course, we ought to provide for defence at home. We must have adequate ships to meet the country that is running us closest in the matter of naval construction at the present time. But we have also to guard our trade routes, and incidentally and for the purpose of feeding those ships that guard our trade routes, we have to keep our foreign stations in a proper state of efficiency. We all know the majority of our foreign stations have been allowed to go temporarily to waste. Gibraltar, Malta, Hong Kong. Vancouver, have been allowed to go to waste. Money has been spent there, but it has been wasted. Another matter not mentioned in the course of these Debates is this. One 1830 would have thought any Board of Admiralty would long before this have taken into consideration the subject of a strategic base in the Mexican Gulf, looking for ward to the time when the Panama Canal is to be opened. We had a naval base at Port Royal. I do not know in what condition it is now, because it has been neglected for a long time, but I am led to believe that with the expenditure of very little money it could be turned into a very-good naval base.
Anyone who takes any interest in strategy must know it is an absolute necessity for a country which has by far the greatest shipping trade in the world, to have some naval base in close proximity to the Panama Canal. It has been discussed in the newspapers and in the magazines, and one would imagine it is a subject the Admiralty would long ago have made a statement about, or made some beginning in bringing Port Royal into use again. The whole policy of the Government in neglecting naval bases and trade routes may have the most serious consequences. It is all due to a mistaken sense of economy, which is a mistaken policy in every way. It would be far better to spend twice the amount actually necessary for the defence of the country, rather than allow the Navy for one single year to get below the proper standard. There are other matters, particularly those dealing with the Shipbuilding Vote, which can be discussed later on, and, therefore, I will not deal with them at the present time. I conclude by saying I totally disagree with hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who appear to be so satisfied with the provisions made this year for the Navy. I do not see that the provisions made this year are one whit better than the provisions made last year or the year before. I am quite certain that these yearly panics and these yearly controversies as to the way Germany is getting the better of us in the matter of shipbuilding, and whether we are keeping up to the proper standard so as to defend ourselves against her, or anyone else, will continue, so long as we allow the margin of naval strength in the two countries to be so close as it in at the present time. It has been shown, and it has not been disputed, that by January, 1915, for a few months there is a strong possibility of our being only two ships ahead of Germany and Austria.
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
"Dreadnoughts." My point is that in that year there is a possibility if international complications arose or the feeling between this country and Germany should be strained again—I have no hesitation in speaking about our relations with Ger many because I know that my voice will never reach as far as Germany—of our being only two ships ahead of our most formidable opponent, and that is a state of affairs which this Committee ought to consider with the gravest anxiety. It is the duty of those Members of the Government to whom the affairs of the Admiralty are entrusted, to see to it that the possibility of our having such a small margin of superiority should never arise. This Committee ought to rise up and insist that that condition of affairs should not be allowed to continue for one moment longer than is necessary.
§ Sir EDWARD BEAUCHAMP
I am one of those hon. Members on this side of the Committee who is satisfied, generally speaking, with the programme of ship building which was adumbrated yesterday by the First Lord of the Admiralty. I think every hon. Member who listened to that speech must admire its lucidity, and I feel satisfied with the programme which was placed before us. I was particularly interested in the part dealing with the personnel of the Navy. There has been a good deal of misgiving in the country as to whether we were making sufficient provision for the men who would be required in the event of war. After listening to the First Lord's statement yester day, I formed the opinion that there was no ground for any such misgivings, especially with regard to the Royal Naval Reserve, and I was very glad to hear that it was the intention of the Admiralty to improve that branch of the Service. I agree with the measures taken to meet the possibility of a shortage of well-trained men in the event of this country being engaged in war. I was also glad to see on looking through the Estimates that the old Royal Naval Reserve had also been somewhat increased. I notice the numbers chiefly are those required for the Trawler Division, but I can not help thinking we ought to make the most we possibly can of the old Royal Naval Reserves, drawn, as they are and have been chiefly, from the sea-going population of this country. These people are brought up to the sea and trained on it; they are inured to hardship; their 1832 daily occupation keeps them in touch with sea-life, and they would be, I am sure, most valuable persons if we were suddenly called upon to engage in war. The Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord C. Beresford) yesterday gave a lecture to the Government with regard to continually comparing this country's naval programme with that of Germany. He used the expression that the Government had made a bugbear of Germany:—They made them in the faith that the people would believe that Germany was the bugbear. I object altogether to that … We are perfectly well able to make out what is necessary for our Empire, and we need not trouble and mess about these other countries." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March. 1912, col. 1587.]I do not think the Noble Lord himself is absolutely free from blame. I do not know what he may have said or have abstained from saying in this House with regard to Germany, but when he was speaking yesterday I could not help calling to mind something which occurred not very long ago when the Noble Lord came down and made a speech on the eve of an election in North Suffolk. I think I may say the German scare formed some portion, at any rate, of the interesting speech which I had not the opportunity of hearing, but which I know had a very considerable effect upon the result of that election. I looked at the file of the "Times" yesterday after he had spoken, and I found he used these words, speaking at Lowestoft. The people of Lowestoft are rather susceptible on this matter, because Lowestoft is the most eastern point of this country, and is nearest to the German empire:—Germany's annually increasing navy estimates had gradually risen from £5,300,000 in 1906 until last year her estimate was £10,700,000, while England's estimate for the same year was £500,000 less.I assume that was the new shipbuilding programme of that year.We ought to keep up our two-Power Standard How could the Government say we were secure? Germany would never believe we were in earnest until we had made out a bigger and a better programme than they had.I rose particularly to draw the attention of the Committee to what I consider to be the mistaken policy which the Board of Admiralty has pursued in recent years, and that is with regard to the building of battleships and battle-cruisers in which excessive speed is gained by the sacrifice of defensive armaments and defensive armour. I am not going into the general question of the speed of battleships. I believe there are on both sides of the House advocates of high speed, as well as those who believe no great advantage is to be gained from it. I fancy, however, the 1833 balance of opinion is that certain strategical and tactical advantages lie with the vessel which is superior in speed. I want to call attention to what I call the excessive speed in the battle-cruisers, and I propose to compare an ordinary battleship of twenty one knots with one of these battle-cruisers. There is the "Monarch" battle ship and the "Princess Royal" battle-cruiser One was laid down in April and the other in May, 1910. I will com pare the horse-power, speed, armaments, and cost of the two vessels. The "Monarch" is of 27,000 horse-power, she has a speed of 21 knots, she has ten 13.5 guns, and the estimated cost was £1,886,912. The "Princess Royal" battle-cruiser is of 70,000 horse-power, her speed is 28 knots, she has eight 13.5 guns, and cost £2,013,886. The reduction in offensive power of the cruiser is 20 per cent., and in defensive power it is very considerable. It is difficult to ascertain exactly what the armour of these vessels is, but the armour belt of the "Princess Royal" is 9 inches, and the thickness above the belt 6 inches, while in the case of the "Monarch" the belt is 12 inches and above belt 9 inches, and in the gun position it is 9 inches and 10 inches respectively. The cost of the cruiser is £126,974 more than that of the battleship. I want to know what advantage is obtained for the sacrifice made in gun and defensive power. There is a gain in speed of 7 knots, but is that commensurate with the sacrifice. Commander Duveliny, a French naval officer, writing on the subject of speed, says:—Supernatural qualities should not be attributed to speed; it is not power but the means of employing power, and no one has the right to sacrifice a single gun to it.Similar expressions have been used by naval officers, who declare that speed is not a weapon, but only the means of employing the weapon. Therefore I think it is desirable to know under what conditions we are going to make use of this increased speed, which has been purchased at a high cost. As units these ships are so powerful that it may be they are intended to be used in the line of battle. In the line of battle that extra speed will be of no use to them, for they will have to conform to the general speed of the other battleships. The defensive armour is considerably less, while the gun power is about 20 per cent, less. I believe that the question of armour is not nearly so important as the question of gun-fire. The main object to be arrived at is superior gun-fire, rather than defensive armour. What you have to do is to 1834 beat down the fire of the enemy, or, in the words of an able writer:—The best defence is the offensive blow which strikes down the enemy.These ships, with their very great speed, could not have been designed simply for the purpose of fighting in the line of battle. There must be some other reason. What is that reason? What are you going to use them for1? It has been suggested that they could be sent off at a moment's notice at high speed. Are you going to use them in squadrons in that way? Then I would ask, what great advantage are you going to gain, even under these conditions, out of these battle cruisers? Say that you are going to send a squadron of these ships to Gibraltar. Gibraltar is 1,100 miles from this country, and under these circumstances these ships will probably be able to steam that distance at twenty-two knots; therefore they would do it in fifty hours. Then you have another squadron of battleships that will be able to go at perhaps seventeen knots, which will arrive at Gibraltar in sixty-five hours. The difference in time occupied would be fifteen hours. When you get them there you have lost fifteen hours, but that loss would be fully compensated for by the fact that the battleships would carry 25 per cent, more guns than the cruisers, and would be more effectively protected by armour. I should like to ask the First Lord if it is right to reduce the defensive armour in these battle cruisers which you will have in the fighting line—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid the hon. Member is going into a little too much detail in the matter of armour, which comes up on Vote 8, the Vote for Construction. Of course he is entitled to raise the broad question and debate the policy, but I trust he will not go into detail on a point which comes more appropriately on a Vote which is always discussed.
§ Sir E. BEAUCHAMP
It is not a question of detail but rather a question of policy, whether we should go on building these battle cruisers, which cost more than a battleship and do not carry so many guns. I should like the First Lord of the Admiralty to give attention to the subject. He has just established a War Staff which I trust may fulfil his hopes, and I hope they themselves will not be content to accept the last word of what is to be done in the matter of battle cruisers, but that the whole policy of their introduction and construction will be reviewed.
§ 11.0 P.M.
Mr. MARK SYKES
I do not wish in any way to criticise the armaments, the disposition, or even the money of the Navy this year, because the Glasgow speech and the first paragraph of the Memorandum, and the right hon. Gentleman's speech yesterday must satisfy the aspirations and desires of at least 80 per cent, of the male inhabitants of these islands. There are some who think these Estimates are excessive. I know that is the official view of one section in the House, but I should imagine that 80 per cent, of those who are responsible for the presence of those Members will be perfectly well satisfied in their heart of hearts. I do not wish to suggest that there is anything wrong in the disposition of the Fleet, but the great majority of the public think more of the dominion of the North Sea than they think of the command of the sea as a whole. I am not saying that the First Lord does that, but in the public mind, reading the newspapers and watching the developments of the last few years, the general public do not consider so closely the command of the sea as a whole as the necessity of the dominion of the North Sea. In saying that I am not criticising the strategy which has led to the concentration of the great mass of the Fleet here in the North Sea, but it is a question of importance to consider whether we are now building with a sufficient margin to guarantee the Mediterranean in the future. At present our position in the North Sea is all right, and for the next two or three years, but whether our present building is on a sufficient scale to guarantee our position in the Mediterranean actually in the near future I am not so sure. I can- not think of any point in the world which is more intensely important to this Empire than the position of the Mediterranean. In the first place it is the high road to India. In the second place, it is practically our only communication with Egypt and the Soudan. I think even hon. Members below the Gangway will admit that Egypt has benefited by our presence, and, if we left, would be exploited by financiers, and the Soudan will sink back into the barbarism from which it has just emerged. I think, on the score of humanity alone, it is essential that our naval dispositions should be such that our position in Egypt should be absolutely secure. Another point is that we have certain garrisons in the Mediterranean. These garrisons are very small and relatively weak. It is far from my intention to criticise the small- 1836 ness of the garrisons, but so long as they are there they are there on the hypothesis that we have a Fleet adequate for the defence of the garrisons if necessary.
There are certain possibilities always to be borne in mind in regard to the command of the Mediterranean. In the first place, India may be threatened by internal troubles. A country like India, which is just entering on industrialism and which is just beginning to get education, must certainly be in danger eventually of internal troubles. Similarly, India having land frontiers, is in danger of external aggression. Another point in regard to India is that the Baghdad Railway is being built, and other communications are going across Persia. It is enormously more important therefore that we should be able to guarantee our sea defences when we consider that there might be land lines leading towards India. We have also to consider that there are certain strategic points in the Mediterranean which it is essentially important for us should not change hands. I refer to such points as the Dardanelles. It is most important for us that such important geographical points as that should not change hands without our sanction and approval. Only can these things be secured, only can the prosperity of Egypt be secured, only can the loyalty and integrity of India be made certain if our command—I do not say our dominion—is maintained on a proper defensive policy in the Mediterranean. That is necessary if we are to hold our place in the world. If I may I would suggest one point which should be kept in view. Troubles in India and Egypt and a change of hands of the geographical points to which I have referred may all coincide, and they may coincide when we are engaged very seriously in the North Sea. We cannot rely upon fortifications. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman realises that fortifications are only good for time. They only delay. Moreover the fortifications at Gibraltar and Malta are not to be measured by the troops that hold them but by the number of people who will have to be fed during a siege of the people. Therefore time is to a certain extent limited. Another point is that the international morality in the Mediterranean even since the time of Pompey has never been of a high level. Lands have changed hands in a very drastic and sudden way. Bosnia and Herzegovina changed hands a little time ago, and that has been followed by the invasion of 1837 Tripoli. Even if the guns had ceased firing in that region they might continue to be fired elsewhere. There is a thunder cloud in the Balkans which may burst at any moment, and until the Powers come to an understanding the situation there must be strained. With the neglect of power, prestige sometimes slips away from those who hold it. Supposing there was any thought that the power of England is weakening in the Mediterranean, I am sure that would be detrimental to the peace of Europe, because those who advocate policies of adventure, such as taking pieces of land here and there, will no doubt be encouraged, and more trouble may be expected in that particular quarter if they consider that England, who stands for peace, commerce, a mercantile marine, and a non-adventurous policy, is weakening. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is fully alive to this, but I would ask him to say a word in his reply which will give the world to know, what I feel certain is the case, that our position in the Mediterranean is as strong is it was before the concentration policy began.
§ Mr. LEE
When it was decided to suspend the Eleven o'clock Rule to-night the conditions were somewhat different, and it was considered necessary to comply with the law that certain Votes should be got to-night. I do not suppose that in the altered circumstances the right hon. Gentleman desires to sit very late to-night. He desires to get money for certain Votes within the next few days, in order to comply with the law. In view of the very special circumstances of the time, we do not wish to obstruct that desire on the part of the Government, but if the right hon. Gentleman took advantage of the suspension of the Eleven o'clock Rule to-night in order to try to finish the Committee stage of necessary Votes, so as to take the Report stage to-morrow, it would be impossible to continue a general discussion on the Navy Votes to-morrow on the Report stage. A great number of hon. Members on this side of the House are very anxious to take part in the discussion, not on details, but on broad questions of naval policy. Therefore I think that it would be to the advantage of the Committee as a whole if we could come to some agreement to continue to keep the discussion open tomorrow. If that was agreed to we should not raise any objection to the Government getting both the Committee and Report stages some time to-morrow. I understand 1838 that that is possible. My only object is to keep the general discussion open. There fore I would like first of all to know from the right hon. Gentleman what it is exactly he proposes to do as to sitting to-night, and what Votes are to be taken? The Financial Secretary to the Treasury suggested a number of Votes. I think he will see that we could not agree to the taking of Votes like 8, Shipbuilding; 9, Armaments; and 10, Works, all of which raise very important discussions which we hope to have later on. Therefore I hope that the First Lord will state what Votes are absolutely necessary, and agree to the proposition that we should have a general discussion to-morrow.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
My right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary has actually closed his mouth to the extent of £4,000,000, in giving up Vote 9. We have abandoned our request for that in deference to the views which have been expressed from the Opposition Benches. The Votes which are now set down, A, 1, 2, 13, 14, and 15, are a convenient and necessary grouping of Votes to enable us to carry on the Navy Supply in the ordinary manner of conducting a Session. In ordinary circumstances we should have liked to obtain Votes A, 1, and 2 to-night, but it is no doubt true that if we were to get into Report the discussion would be narrowed, and it would not be possible perhaps for Members to make their speeches on general Questions of naval policy with the freedom that they are enjoying in the present circumstances, if at all. We have had a Debate which, though discursive, has been full of valuable and instructive speeches, and I feel that it would be, not only for the convenience of the House generally, but for the benefit of the discussion of the Navy Votes, if the Debate were to be resumed to-morrow in the freest and most untrammelled manner. Therefore we will, on behalf of the Government, forego any particular advantage we might have by pressing for a determination of the Committee stage to-night. We shall do so in the full expectation that the House will find it agreeable to let us have the Committee and Report stages either to-morrow night, when the Eleven o'clock Rule is suspended, without our sitting, I hope, to a very unreasonable hour (the Debate can be resumed when Private Business is over), or, if by any chance, the Report stage was not finished, then it would be practically formal on the Thursday. On that under- 1839 standing we should not press the House to sit any later to-night, and I should be quite prepared to move to report Progress.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think I should explain that the Committee stage and the Report stage cannot be taken in one day. If the Committee stage was prolonged over to-morrow the Report stage could be taken pro forma on Thursday, and that would enable the Consolidated Fund Bill to be introduced.
§ Mr. LEE
I was not aware of the technical difficulty with regard to to-morrow. The Report stage will be purely formal on Thursday. This does not interfere in any way with the extra day promised by the Prime Minister for the Navy discussion. The day was promised in respect of time that was taken from us for other purposes.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
I would like to remind the right hon. Gentleman that, if we agree to the suggestion, Votes A, 1 and 2 have not been spoken on at all, and they have always been open to a general discussion. These two Votes are very important.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The greater includes the less. The Committee will hear with great pleasure the Noble Lord discuss Votes A, 1 and 2, and anything he has to say on either of these Votes, or anything else he chooses to say in addition. With regard to the extra day, the hon. Member must deal with the Prime Minister, whose statements were perfectly clear, and who always carries out any undertaking he gives to the House in the spirit in which it was given.
§ Mr. J. WARD
Would the right hon. Gentleman give any indication when Votes 8 and 10 will be taken, especially Vote 10.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
It is always customary, I believe, to keep Vote 8 until a later period in the Session, when the situation with regard to shipbuilding and armoured ships is more fully disclosed than it is at this time of the year. It rests entirely with the House to choose, and the House nearly always does choose Vote 8 probably in June or July. I understand that the Prime Minister spoke of some time being given in addition.
§ Committee report Progress, to sit again to-morrow (Wednesday).