HC Deb 20 November 1912 vol 44 cc262-3

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that of the eight battle squadrons of which the Home Fleet should consist only seven are now in existence; that these seven squadrons are short by three ships of their nominal strength, and that only four new battleships will be completed by the end of 1913; and whether he will state the source from which the necessary vessels will be drawn for the constitution in 1913 of the sixth battle squadron, which is at present non-existent?


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in view of his promise that the sixth battle squadron will be brought into existence next year, fully manned on mobilisation with active-service ratings, he will state in what manner this squadron will be constituted; whether the first and second squadrons are each one unit short of its establishment; whether the fourth squadron is three ships short of completion of its number; and whether, in the present condition of the Fleet, effect can be given to his intention without an extension of existing building programmes?

The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Churchill)

I propose to explain fully to the House the nature of the measures which will be taken, when the proper time comes for the Estimates of the financial year 1913–14 to be laid before Parliament.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that with the ships that we build next year we shall be seven short of completing the sixth squadron.


Yes. When I explained to the House the scope of the new organisation I was well aware of the vessels that we should have at our disposal for the next four or five years.


Supposing the ships are available, will the men be forthcoming to man them?


From the statement which I made, when I explained to the House the means by which the squadrons were to be constituted next year, it will be seen that there will be sufficient men to make a more rapid advance towards the completion of the scheme than was at one time thought possible.