HC Deb 19 March 1913 vol 50 cc1013-4

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether he is aware that the number of completed British destroyers not more than 12 years launched is 116, as compared with a corresponding German total of 106, representing a British superiority of 9.4 per cent.; whether the Board of Admiralty adheres to the principle laid down on 18th March last that our superiority over Germany in this class of vessel should be more than 60 per cent.; and, if so, what special measures are proposed to be taken in order to raise our superiority to that ratio which the Admiralty regard as necessary?


The figures are approximately correct; but I do not wish to anticipate the full statement I propose to make when I introduce the Navy Estimates.


Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with this point when introducing the Estimates?


If there is a desire to examine the relative destroyer strength of the two countries, I should be prepared to do so, but I am not very anxious to enter into great detail in the matter. I shall be prepared to give the main features of the relative strength of the destroyer fleets.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that the House was informed on 24th July last that the destroyers of the 1912 programme had been laid down at the very beginning of the year; and, seeing that none of these vessels were laid down until June and some not until last December, whether he will state the explanation of the discrepancy?


All the destroyers of the 1912–13 programme were ordered early in the current financial year, sixteen of them in March and the remaining four in May. The date of ordering, which determines the date of completion, is prescribed by the Admiralty. Within these limits the date on which the keel plate may be laid down is left entirely to the discretion of the building firm. I find, on reference to the OFFICIAL REPORT, that in my speech I appear to have loosely used the phrase "laid down" instead of "ordered."


Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that the reduction of the destroyer programme from twenty to sixteen is fulfilling the statement made in July last?


Obviously it would be better to leave a question of that kind until the Estimates are before the House.

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