HC Deb 01 April 1914 vol 60 c1162

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether in the Navy Estimates for 1911–12 the sum of £19,272 was taken as a first instalment towards the construction of two river gunboats; that the further sum of £61,936 was taken in the following year for the continuation of this work, and that the order for the vessels, then named "Kingfisher" and "Rail," was reported to have been placed with Messrs. Yarrow and Company; that in 1913–14 the sum of £2,438 was taken as the first instalment towards the construction of two river gunboats, referred to as No. 1 and No. 2; and that in the current Navy List there is no mention of any vessel named "Kingfisher" or "Rail," while the Estimates for the coming financial year contain no specified provision for work on river gunboats; how many vessels of this type have been ordered since 1st April, 1911; how much has been spent on them; and when it is expected that they will be completed?

The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Churchill)

It was decided not to proceed for the present with the construction of these river gunboats, and therefore no money has been spent on them.


Why has £80,000 appeared on the Estimates during three successive years without any of it having been spent?


It was in consequence of the delay in the commencement of these vessels. They will undoubtedly have to be commenced. The actual date depends upon the requirements of the rivers on the China station. It has been found possible to delay the construction of these boats.


Why was a second allocation of money made in two successive years?


I think the expenditure is always divided over the years.


Has piracy been so effectively dealt with in the Canton Delta that the construction of these gunboats can be delayed?