§ 1. Mr. MIDDLEMORE
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty at what date it was decided that it might be necessary to increase the Fourth Battle Squadron to a strength of eight battleships; when the personnel necessary for such increase was recruited; and, having in view the fact that the Fourth Battle Squadron consists now of only four battleships, upon what services is the surplus personnel employed?
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Churchill)
The eventual increase of the numerical strength of the Fourth Battle Squadron to eight ships was adumbrated when the new organisation of the Home Fleets was first announced in the spring of 1912. The personnel of the Navy is not allocated to specific ships or squadrons. Entries are calculated on estimated future requirements as a whole, and actual numbers borne at any given moment are appropriated as may be from time to time thought best.
§ Mr. MIDDLEMORE
Why has the Fourth Battle Squadron been reduced from six to four, seeing that the right hon. Gentleman announced in 1912 that he proposed to increase it from six to eight?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Exactly at that point in the development of the Navy when such an increase is rendered necessary—neither before nor after. With regard to the question why was it reduced from six to four, it was because we were proceeding with the development of the Sixth Battle Squadron more rapidly than even we had intended.