HC Deb 21 April 1913 vol 52 cc35-6 P

asked whether the First Lord of the Admiralty's attention has been called to statements made on the 21st January last by Senator Pearce, Minister of Defence for the Commonwealth of Australia, to the effect that at the Imperial Defence Conference of 1909 a programme of naval co-operation between the Australian, Canadian, and Imperial Governments was agreed to based on the provision by Australia and Canada of fleet units; that the policy as regards Australia originated with the Admiralty; that Australia had provided a fleet unit and was awaiting the like action of Canada; and that in consequence his Government had not accepted an in- vitation to send a representative to the Defence Committee; and will he state why the Admiralty has departed from the policy of the 1909 Conference and has expressed the view that it would be more effectual for the overseas dominions to contribute additions to the Imperial Navy than to provide local navies.


I have seen the speech to which my hon. Friend refers, but I do not feel able, within the limits which are proper to question time, to deal satisfactorily with the important subjects to which he refers.


asked what is the total expenditure to which the Commonwealth of Australia is committed as regards the provision of a navy in conformity with the Report of Admiral Henderson; and the amount contributed in naval subsidy to the Imperial Government during the last ten years?


I do not understand that the Commonwealth Government are in any sense committed to the details of the development of the Australian Navy as sketched out by Admiral Henderson. The expenditure entailed by that scheme as estimated for the next few years would be about 2½ millions a year, apart from works; but it is impossible for me to say how nearly the actual expenditure is likely to approximate to this figure. The naval subsidy paid by the Commonwealth of Australia during the last ten years amounted in the aggregate to £1,883,116.


asked whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware of any endeavours being made by the Government of Australia to induce the Government of New Zealand to co-operate in local naval defence when, as set out in his statement explanatory of the Naval Estimates, the Admiralty requested the Government of New Zealand to allow the battle cruiser "New Zealand" to be added to the first battle cruiser squadron; and whether it is the policy of the Admiralty to isolate the Commonwealth of Australia in its endeavours to safeguard Imperial interests in the Pacific?


No, Sir. But I have since had the advantage of long discussions with the New Zealand Minister of Defence, and the Admiralty is fully apprised of the situation in Australasia. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.