HC Deb 16 October 1912 vol 42 cc1200-2

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty (8) whether His Majesty's ship "Torch" was sent to sea in May, 1911, in unseaworthy condition after being in dockyard at Sydney for about six weeks; whether, in November, 1911, her screw dropped off, and in January, 1912, she was again taken into dockyard at Sydney; whether, in or about June, 1912, it was found necessary, while undocking her, to redock her to stop leaks; and whether she is now limited to three-fifths of her power in consequence of having a screw shaft of wrought iron fitted to her instead of one of steel; and (9) what is the total amount which has been expended upon repairs to His Majesty's ship "Torch" in 1911–12; what was the original cost of the ship; what is her age; who was responsible for her having been sent to sea in May, 1911, in unseaworthy condition; and what steps, if any, have been taken to bring home to the party concerned the responsibility for such action?

The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Churchill)

The "Torch" was launched nearly eighteen years ago, and her original cost was £60,368. The amount spent upon repairs during the last financial year was £6,175. In November, 1911, the ship lost her propeller owing to the breaking of the shaft, and was docked at Sydney for refit in January, 1912. Until the new steel shaft on order has been fitted, the vessel is limited to three-fifths of her power. The information available is not sufficiently complete to enable me to give all the particulars asked for, but the whole question of the recent condition of the ship is a matter under close investigation at the present time.


May I send the right hon. Gentleman a piece of the bottom of the "Torch" and also a piece of the upper deck taken from the ship when she was in dock in March, 1912? May I also send him some larger pieces which I have in my possession in case he would like to have them fitted in the "Enchantress"?


If it can serve any useful purpose, I shall be glad to ask the Admiralty to consider them; but I hope they may not be addressed to me personally.


May I ask how the hon. Gentleman came into possession of pieces of these battleships?


It rests with the hon. Gentleman to say how he comes to be in possession of Government property.


Might I explain? This is a very serious matter, and I have a further question of some importance.


The hon. Member will kindly put it on the Paper.