HC Deb 27 November 1914 vol 68 cc1600-16

Message to attend the Lords Commissioners.

The House went, and, having returned.


reported the Royal Assent to:—

  1. 1. Consolidated Fund (No. 1) Act, 1914 (Session 2).
  2. 2. Finance Act, 1914 (Session 2).
  3. 3. Anglo-Portuguese Commercial Treaty Act, 1914.
  4. 4. Customs (Exportation Restriction) Act, 1914.
  5. 5. House of Commons (Commissions in His Majesty's Forces) Act, 1914.
  6. 6. Land Drainage Act, 1914.
  7. 7. Sheriff Courts (Scotland) Amendment Act, 1914.
  8. 8. Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914.
  9. 9. Criminal Justice Administration (Postponement) Bill, 1914.
  10. 10. Local Authorities (Disqualification Relief) Act, 1914.
  11. 11. Government War Obligations Act. 1914.
  12. 1601
  13. 12. Trading with the Enemy Amendment Act, 1914.
  14. 13. Execution of Trusts (War Facilities) Act, 1914.
  15. 14. Poor Relief (Ireland) Act, 1914.
  16. 15. National Insurance (Navy and Army) Act, 1914 (Session 2).
  17. 16. Royal Marines Act, 1914.
  18. 17. Navy and Marines (Wills) Act, 1914.
  19. 18. Injuries in War (Compensation) Act, 1914 (Session 2).
  20. 19. Courts (Emergency Powers) (Ireland) Act, 1914.
  21. 20. Law Agents Apprenticeship (War Service) (Scotland) Act, 1914.
  22. 21. Pack-Beresford Divorce Act, 1914.

Question again proposed, "That this House, at its rising this day, do adjourn until Tuesday the 2nd day of February."

Mr. CHURCHILL (continuing)

I was observing that the Prime Minister in times like these is the servant of the Crown directly and personally responsible that the withholding of information in the public interest shall not be abused by the Departments of State and Ministers specially affected. It is also the desire of the Admiralty to give as much information as is possible on all these matters without prejudice to the interests to which I have referred, and I think we have done so. I think we have done it, and we shall continue to do so whenever the opportunity offers and the season presents itself. Once information has been given about any action or incident I am of opinion that comment upon it should be perfectly free. Criticism is always advantageous. I have derived continued benefit from criticism at all periods of my life, and I do not remember any time when I was ever short of it. But there is a salutary rule about criticism which applies in time of peace as well as in time of war, in private as well as in public things, and that is that criticism should be very restrained when the party criticised is not able to reply, and it is especially so when he is not able to reply without disclosing facts which would do harm to the critic as well as the party criticised if they were disclosed.

But I recognise the great difficulties of the Press during the present War, and I sympathise very keenly with them in the prohibitions and limitations which fence them about on every side, and which from, day to day deny them the opportunity of publishing quantities of information which reach them—information which is most interesting and which may have been collected in many cases with great trouble and expense. There is often a tendency to underrate the acute discomfort under which our great newspapers are living at the present time, and speaking as one of the heads of one of the combatant Departments I feel bound to say that we owe the Press a very great debt, so far as this War has proceeded, for the way in which it has helped, with inconsiderable exceptions and with only momentary lapses, the course of the military operations, and has upheld the interests of the country. I would like to say that I greatly appreciate the kindness and confidence with which the House during this Session has treated the Admiralty and its representatives in not pressing for information on many matters in which the keenest interest is taken, and upon which there is a natural desire to arrive at conclusions and to pronounce judgment.

Ultimately, and as soon as possible, all the facts connected with past operations, and with the administration of the Navy, now and immediately before the War, will be made public in a form in which they can be studied and weighed by the nation. For my part I look forward hopefully to that day. There is, however, one other reason why I think it is not desirable to dwell too much on particular incidents at the present time. The incidents which are seen are a very small proportion of the work which is going forward all over the world, and it would be a great pity if the mind of the public were disproportionately concerned with particular incidents, and if the departments concerned were occupied in defending themselves or in justifying themselves in regard to these incidents. We are waging this War, on which from day to day our vital safety depends, and no one who is concerned with military departments ought to have his attention drawn away from the immediate needs of the military and naval operations for the purpose of going at undue length into matters which lie in the past. I am going in a few words, if the House will permit me, to draw the attention of the House, and through the House the attention of the country, to some of the larger aspects of the naval situation at the present time.

The British Navy was confronted with four main perils. There was first the peril of being surprised at the outbreak of War before we were ready and in our war stations. That was the greatest peril of all. Once the Fleet was mobilised and in its war station the greatest danger by which it could be assailed had been surmounted. Then there was the danger, which we had apprehended, from the escape on to the High Seas of very large numbers of fast liners of the enemy, equipped with guns for the purpose of commerce destruction. During the last two years the sittings of the Committee of Imperial Defence have been almost unbroken, and we have been concerned almost exclusively with the study of the problems of a great European War, and I have always, on behalf of the Admiralty, pointed out the great danger which we should run if, at the outset of the War, before our cruisers were on their stations, before our means of dealing with such a menace had been fully developed, we had been confronted with a great excursion on to our trade routes of large numbers of armed liners for the purpose of commerce destruction.

That danger has for the present been successfully surmounted. Our estimate before the War of losses in the first two or three months was at least 5 per cent. of our mercantile marine. I am glad to say that the percentage is only 1.9, and the risks have been fully covered under a system of insurance which was brought into force, the premiums on which it has been found possible to steadily and regularly reduce. The third great danger was due to mines. Our enemy have allowed themselves to pursue methods in regard to the scattering of mines on the highways of peaceful commerce that, until the outbreak of this War, we should not have thought would be practised by any civilised Power. And the risks and difficulties which we have had to face from that cause cannot be underrated. But I am glad to tell the House that, although we have suffered losses, and may, no doubt will, suffer more losses, yet I think the danger from mining, even the unscrupulous and indiscriminate mining of the open seas, is one the limits of which can now be discerned, and which can be and is being further restricted and controlled by the measures, the very extensive measures, which have been taken, and are being taken.

Fourthly, there is the danger from submarines. The submarine introduces entirely novel conditions into naval warfare. The old freedom of movement which belongs to the stronger power is affected and restricted in narrow waters by the development of this new and formidable arm. There is a difference between military and naval anxiety, which the House will appreciate. A division of soldiers cannot be annihilated by a Cavalry patrol. But at any moment a great ship, equal in war power, and a war unit, to a division or an army, may be destroyed without a single opportunity of its fighting strength being realised, or a man on board having a chance to strike a blow in self-defence. Yet it is necessary for the safety of this country, it is necessary for the supply of its vital materials, that our ships should move with freedom and with hardihood through the seas on their duties, and no one can pretend that anxiety must not always be present to the minds of those who have the responsibility for their direction. It is satisfactory, however, to reflect that our power in submarines is much greater than that of our enemies, and that the only reason why we are not able to produce results on a large scale in regard to them, is that we so seldom are afforded any target to attack.

Those are the four dangers. I do not include among them what some people would perhaps wish to include as a fifth, the danger of oversea invasion, although that is an enterprise full of danger for those who might attempt it. The economic pressure upon Germany continues to develop in a healthy and satisfactory manner. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade published some remarkable figures yesterday upon the relative condition of British and German trade since the War. Out of 20,500,000 tons of British shipping, 20,122,000 tons are plying, or 97 per cent. of the whole, whereas out of five millions of German tonnage only 549,000 tons remain plying or unaccounted for, and of those plying it is estimated that only ten ships are at present carrying on German commerce on the sea. On the average very nearly 100 ships per day of over 300 tons burden arrive and leave the ports of the United Kingdom, and we are not only carrying on our own business effectively but we are applying special restrictions to certain vital commodities required for military purposes by the German and Austro-Hungarian Empire. The German Army depends primarily on its military materiel. The enormous supplies of all kinds of explosives and of all kinds of scientific apparatus directed to warlike purposes which they have prepared in times of peace gave them then, and gives them to-day, an advantage most marked in both theatres of War. But that advantage will no longer, as time passes, be wholly theirs. Gradually that advantage will change sides. We are able to draw, in virtue of sea-power from all over the world, for the cause of the Allies everything that is needed to procure the most abundant flow of munitions of war which can possibly be required, and, on the other hand, the deficiencies in essential commodities necessary for the waging of war is already beginning to show itself clearly marked, as far as we can discern, in our enemy's military organisation.

I see no reason at all for any discontent in regard to the protection of British commerce or the restriction which is being placed on the enemy's supplies. Risks, of course, have to be run. The great number of troops which we have had to move to and fro freely across the world and their convoying, have involved serious risks; and although one's eye is fixed on the mischances which have occurred in this War, knowing as I do all the circumstances and all the incidents which have occurred, I am bound to say that I think we have had a very fair share of the luck. If our enemies did not attack on the high seas on the outbreak of war or just before it, we must presume that it was because they did not consider themselves strong enough to do so; because then would have been the moment of greatest advantage, when the dispatch of an Army to the Continent might have been prevented or delayed. If that moment was not used, it could only be because they were counting upon reducing the British Fleet, by a process of attrition, to a condition of greater equality with their own. We have been at war for four months. I should like to consider how that process of attrition is working. The losses of submarines have been equal, as far as we know; but, of course, the proportion of loss has been much greater to the Germans than to ourselves, because we have more than double the number of submarines in constant employment. With regard to torpedo-boat destroyers, our boats have shown their enormous superiority in gun power, which, of course, was not unknown before the war. No loss has been experienced by us, while eight or ten of the enemy's vessels have been destroyed. Of the older armoured cruisers we have lost, I think, six, and Germany has lost two. But there again the number of vessels of this class which we have disposed was three or four times as great as that of our opponents, and, of course, we have of necessity to expose them more frequently and more openly to possible attacks.

6.0 P.M.

But the most important class of minor vessels is that of fast modern light cruisers. The modern light cruisers which have been built from the year 1903 onwards by Great Britain and Germany, which are of good speed, fast vessels, are a most important factor in the course of the War. At the outset of the War the Germans disposed of twenty-five of these vessels, and we disposed of thirty-six. Since the War begun we have lost two out of our thirty-six, or one-eighteenth of the number. The Germans have lost, or have got shut up—and I am including the "Breslau" in this calculation—practically a quarter of their modern light cruiser strength. These have been joined since the War broke out by a number of new cruisers greater than those which our opponents have lost, so that our strength to-day is vastly greater—beyond all comparison greater—in this important arm than it was at the outset of the War. The prospects for the future are even more satisfactory, because we have an enormous delivery of cruisers rapidly approaching completion, and the possible cruisers which the enemy can get from all sources during the next twelve months cannot exceed half of those on which we can count.

The relative strength in "Dreadnoughts" has been so often discussed in this House before the War that it may be interesting to review it at the present time, and see how far our arguments of peace time relate to the actual facts which are now disclosed. I may say that, of course, I am giving no information which is not readily accessible to anybody who studied the published Returns of peace times. When the War broke out we mobilised thirty-one "Dreadnoughts" and "Lord Nelsons," and Germany could have had, and I presume did have—if her latest ships were ready—twenty-one "Dreadnoughts"—battleships and battle-cruisers—so we were just a little under the 60 per cent. which we had always kept before ourselves. I cannot say how many ships have joined the Fleet since. It is a matter of great importance to keep secret the number of vessels which at any one moment are available with the Flag of the Commander-in-Chief, and it is the duty of every Englishman, every British subject, and every friend of our country, to do his utmost to wrap that fact in secrecy and mystery. Although, however, I cannot tell the number of ships which have joined the flag since the declaration of War, I can say, firstly, that the relative strength of the Fleet is substantially greater now than it was at the outbreak of the War; and, secondly, I can indicate the reinforcement which both countries will receive between now and the end of 1915. The maximum reinforcement which Germany can receive—it is not possible by any human agency to add to these numbers in the period—is three ships on the figures I have given—the "Lützow," the "Kronprinz," the "Salamis," which is a Greek ship which has presumably been taken over.

Two years ago I set up a Committee of the Admiralty to go into the whole question of the acceleration of new construction immediately after the outbreak of war so that the greatest possible number of deliveries could be made in the shortest possible time and very elaborate reports were furnished, and a complete system was worked out in every detail. In carrying out this system we have been aided by the patriotism and energy of the workmen in all the yards, who have strained their physical strength to the utmost, and have, by so doing, made themselves, in fact, the comrades of their fellow citizens who are fighting in the trenches at the front. During this period—between the beginning of the War and the end of 1915—while the Germans will be receiving an accession of three ships we shall receive the following ships: the "Agincourt" and the "Erin," acquired from Turkey, the "Tiger," the "Benbow," the "Emperor of India," the "Queen Elizabeth," the "Warspite," the "Valiant," the "Barham," the "Resolution," the "Ramilies," the "Revenge," the "Royal Sovereign," and the "Malaya" and the "Ammirente Latorre," renamed the "Canada," that we acquired from Chili—fifteen ships in all. All these ships are, of course, of the greatest power of any vessels that have ever been constructed in naval history, and it is no exaggeration to say that we could afford to lose a super-"Dreadnought" every month for twelve months without any loss occurring to the enemy and yet be in approximately as good a position of superiority as we were at the declaration of the War.

I hope that these facts will be of comfort to nervous people during the months that lie before us. They prove that so far as any policy of attrition is concerned the results so far, and the forecast so far as we may judge it, are not unsatisfactory to us: nor is there any attrition by wear and tear. The refits of the Fleet and flotillas are being regularly conducted. The health of the sailors is nearly twice as good as in time of peace. Six hundred thousand pounds has been spent by the Admiralty on warm clothing, and I have every reason to believe that the arrangements are thoroughly satisfactory, though, of course, if friends like to send additional comforts, arrangements are made for their reception and distribution. The sailors have received with warm gratitude the separation allowance which the Navy had, always hitherto, been completely denied. The conduct of the Fleet is exemplary, and any crime there is arises mainly among men who have been a long time in civil life, and who have not fully remembered the excellent precepts of their naval training. In the Grand Fleet the conduct of the men is almost perfect. The whole personnel of the Navy consists of a most intelligent class of skilled workmen and mechanicians. They have studied fully the conditions of the War, and they follow with the closest interest the heroic struggles of our soldiers in the field, and the zeal and enthusiasm with which they are discharging their duties inspires those who lead them with the utmost confidence.

I have thought it right to offer these few remarks of a general character to the House because despondent views are prejudicial to the public interest, and ought not to be tolerated by persons in the responsible position of Members of Parliament while they are in any public situation. There is absolutely no reason whatever for nervousness, anxiety, or alarm. We are now separating for an adjournment of some weeks, which will probably be very important weeks in the history of this War. There is every reason for complete confidence in the power of the Navy to give effect to the wishes and the purposes of the State and the Empire. We have powerful Allies on the seas. The Russian Navy is developing in strength; the French Navy has complete command of the Mediterranean, and the Japanese Navy has effective command of the Pacific, and the utmost cordiality characterises the working of the Admiralties of the four countries. But even if we were single-handed, as we were in the days of the Napoleonic wars, we should have no reason to despair of our capacity—no doubt we should suffer discomfort and privation and loss—but we should have no reason to despair of our capacity to go on indefinitely, drawing our supplies from wherever we needed them, and transporting our troops wherever we required them, and to continue this process with a strength which would grow stronger with each month the War continued until, in the end, and perhaps not at any very distant date, the purposes for which we are fighting are achieved.


As I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman I had no intention of rising to address the House after he had spoken, but I feel that the statement he has made is so important that it might be misunderstood if some words were not spoken on behalf of the Opposition. I agree with every word the right hon. Gentleman said at the outset about criticism, and what is more important, I think we have shown by our attitude that we realise the importance of the situation. I agree also thoroughly with what the right hon. Gentleman said about the duty of a Prime Minister, on whom the responsibility nominally rests to allow no consideration of friendship or anything else to influence him in a situation so vital as this. We all know that in the time of the French Revolutionary wars, where public sentiment was effective in creating one of the greatest and most efficient armies that ever existed, a very simple rule was laid down. It was, in effect, that any general who failed lost his head without any further consideration. That was pretty drastic, but I think it was fairly effective, and it was certainly not found that the penalty prevented ambition from finding plenty of others willing to take his place. I do not suggest that a course so drastic as that should be taken in any case, but I do say, if anyone conducting this War, whether soldier or sailor, creates an impression that he is not successful, that in itself is half the battle, and no consideration of a personal kind should apply in regard to any general or admiral.


I think in regard to an admiral or a general it should not be a question of creating an impression, but of whether, in fact, he is doing right or wrong.


I am not sure that I quite agree. I would rather do an injustice to an individual than feel that his power was weakened by a lack of confidence in him on the part of those who are obeying him—sodiers or sailors. That is my point. I consider this statement of the right hon. Gentleman is as necessary and perhaps almost as important as the statement made by Lord Kitchener in regard to the conduct of the War in the House of Lords yesterday. There has undoubtedly grown up a feeling, for which I think there is no justification and never has been, that accidents have happened in the Navy which we might not have expected. There is no justification for that feeling, but I am not sure that it has not partly been created by too optimistic utterances in the country. There is no ground for it whatever. The right hon. Gentleman said that before the War the anticipation was that there would be a much greater loss of commerce than has actually taken place. I made the same statement, I think, at the beginning of this Session. That was the view of everyone, and I think there is every reason for gratification that, taking the work of the Admiralty as a whole, we have every reason to rejoice at what has happened and to feel that, in spite of these accidents, good fortune as well as good management has been on our side. The right hon. Gentleman has called our attention to the tremendous increase in the strength of our Fleet which is coming forward. It is in the highest degree desirable that information should have been given in this formal way—though, of course, it was available to anybody who had studied it—to the whole of the people of this country, for, after all, in such a war as we are engaged in now, the moral influence tells enormously, and nothing could be worse on the whole than that any feeling should grow up that there was any danger of the Navy not being able to carry out the work which we expected from it. It is not so with our Army, but once the impression is created that we cannot rely on the Navy protecting these shores one would feel that everything almost had gone. For that reason it is in the highest degree desirable the country should realise what I have always myself believed to be the fact, that, come what may, whatever may happen, bad luck or good luck, we can rely on the Navy protecting our commerce and our shores from the enemy.


I want to speak on the question of recruiting in the vacation which is now about to commence. We cannot help but feel very keenly on this question. I have been engaged on it. I was mobilised immediately after the declaration of war, and there is a great responsibility, particularly on the House of Commons, because the majority of that House has championed the voluntary system on which our Army is based, and if that system fails us it is because of the neglect of the House of Commons in the past, and the neglect of Members of the House at the present time. As I understand it there are only two duties incumbent on every Member of the House at this moment. One is to vote, and vote generously, for the support of our soldiers and sailors who are fighting, and of their dependants. The second is the point I wish to deal with, and it is that each Member should advocate, in his own constitutency particularly and everywhere where he can, the just cause of the War, and that he should endeavour, to the best of his ability, to draw to the Colours all eligible men to reinforce our Army at home and abroad. Many Members of this House have done sterling work in this direction. I regret to say that many other Members, however, have done scant justice to the righteous cause of this War, and, in some constituencies, the returns of the reruiting are almost negligible. On the whole, of course, as Lord Kitchener pointed out, the return has been satisfactory. I am speaking in no sense officially. I am speaking as a private Member making an appeal to his colleagues on all sides of the House. I feel very keenly the responsibility that falls on every Member of the House which was responsible up to the time of the War for the preparations for that war, for the number of men with the Colours, and for the number expected to be needed for the Colours. But since the declaration of war they are still more vitally and personally responsible for the growth and aggrandisement of the recruits we already have and the recruits to come. I therefore make an appeal to every Member of Parliament to consider it his duty to himself, to his Parliamentary record, and to the voluntary system which the majority of the Members of this House have always adhered to, to go to his constituency and associate himself with the military commander at the nearest depot and assist him in making a very bold attempt to secure as large a return of recruits as possible.


I am not going to range over the wide class of subjects open to us on this Motion, but I wish to state my very serious misgivings with regard to the Motion itself. I am informed it has been put forward by arrangement between the two Front Benches. I am not one of those who stand for the personal assertion of my own independent opinion. I am obedient, as a rule, to the leaders of my party, but in this case I am bound to say, and I am certain the feeling I am expressing is shared by many in this House, and what is more important by many outside, that, in agreeing to this Adjournment Motion, my leaders have committed an error of judgment and have made themselves partners in a proposal which is certain to be very strongly resented in this House and in the country generally. What is the reason for this long adjournment? If any reason stronger than another could have been put forward against it, it is the enormously interesting, important and reassuring statement which has just been made by the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the statement made by Lord Kitchener last night in the House of Lords. We are depriving ourselves for more than two months of the possibility of receiving such statements again. It is all very well to say that statements may be volunteered and put forward in the public Press, but we want the personal element and the direct contact with the men representing the Army and the Fleet who are responsible for the conduct of the operations, and nothing in the mind of Members of this House, and still more in the minds of those outside this House, can compensate for the loss for so long a period of this opportunity.

What reason can be alleged for this course? I am quite sure it is not the personal convenience of Members. There is not a single Member of the House who would allow his personal convenience to count as the weight of a straw against any advantage to the country at this moment. We all sympathise with the officials and various attendants of the House, but that also cannot be a reason for an adjournment at this time. Is it the public interest? No man would deprecate more strongly than I any discussion of a sort likely to hamper the hands of the Government. Has this occurred in the past? Is that the experience of the Government with regard to discussions in the past? Is it possible that any such discussions hampering the Government in their action or confusing the issue or likely to do harm would be permitted? Have they been permitted in the past, and are they likely to be permitted in the future by the spirit of the House and by those who guide its discussions? I am convinced that nothing is more unlikely. The First Lord of the Admiralty himself admitted only a few moments ago that he saw the benefit of criticism—helpful and sympathetic criticism which is not intended to interfere with the operations, but to bring forward new aspects of the struggle, and help to bring light upon questions which may be asked by our constituents. That chance has not been abused in the past, and we need not expect it to be abused in the future.

It is easy for men outside, and sometimes inside this House to make a joke about the uselessness of Parliament, and to say that it would be better if the House were shut up altogether and the doors locked. That is a very old, a very stale and a very feeble joke after all. If we are to do without Parliament let us abolish it as part of the constitutional government of this country. So long as Parliament exists, Parliament ought to be taken into the confidence of the Government. It does not exist for the knowledge which comes to us or for the opportunity we may have of uttering our opinions, which are probably worthless in the majority of cases. But you prevent those outside from learning much, and silence by this means the inquiries of our constituents scattered all over the country. Has it not been the experience of other Members, as well as myself, that letters have recently reached us in far larger numbers than usual, letters raising questions of importance which can only be discussed by coming into contact with the Minister or by raising the points by question and answer in the ordinary way? It is all very well to say we may write to the offices. I have thirty-five years' experience as a Civil servant, and I am not likely to say anything against the Civil Service, but it is human and has the faults of its qualities, and when I knew that if the matter was not promptly answered there would be a question in Parliament it stimulated the rapidity of my answer. The sense that the whole question may be brought up in Parliament assuredly serves as a stimulant. It is my experience, and I think the experience of a good many other Members, that when we have put questions on the part of our constituents to public departments it takes a very long time, however reasonable those questions may be, before we get an answer, and I think the answer is stimulated by the fact that the matter may be brought promptly before a Minister in the precincts of the House.

I am told that if anything rendered it necessary the House would be immediately summoned. We all know that perfectly well, but is it a really wise, prudent or desirable course to follow? Some ordinary matter of machinery, some not very important subject may demand legislation or may have to be dealt with by the House. If you summon Parliament suddenly you will create the very worst impression throughout the country, and very likely stimulate a feeling of panic. Why not avoid that necessity by adjourning Parliament to a much earlier date. I would much rather have it on Tuesday, 22nd December, and if it was then found not to be necessary, postpone it to a later date. That is, surely much better than giving rise to a possible contingency of having suddenly to summon Parliament on an emergency which may not be a very important one, but which would certainly be deemed to be something about which the alarm of the country might very likely be aroused. There is one subject alone which makes it sufficient, to my mind, to have an earlier sitting of Parliament. We are all interested in the Report of the Committee upon allowances and pensions to the soldiers and sailors. There is no subject that has gone home more to the heart of the country and in which the country is more interested and more anxious to get an answer.

I had not the slightest doubt that the Committee would have brought forward its Report before Christmas, and that before the year was out those anxious ones who are waiting for it would have had some announcement. I presume now that it will not be until the middle of February or later, before any Report can be laid before the House. If the Committee cannot come to a decision earlier than that, and cannot bring it before Parliament at an earlier hour, it is a matter which will be greatly regretted in the country generally. I know that when there is a settlement beween the two Front Benches it is idle for a private Member to offer any remark, or I would gladly have taken the House to a Division, if possible. But I am glad to have this opportunity of saying, on behalf of my Constituents and many others outside the House, that this long delay is disappointing, and will very likely give rise to much more hurtful discussion outside, discussion, which cannot be so well informed and to questions which cannot be promptly answered. I regret that the Government have made this proposal of an unduly long adjournment, and I regret also that the Leaders of the Front Opposition Bench have made themselves party to such a proposal.


When the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Churchill) was describing the various navies which were assisting our own in the present war, he mentioned the Japanese and the French, but he entirely forgot to mention the Royal Australian Navy. No doubt when he said the British Navy he meant to include the Australian Navy, but it may be that our friends in Australia may be under the impression that there was an omission. I should like to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact, and I am sure the House would like, before parting, to have an opportunity of expressing its thanks to the Royal Australian Navy.

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-five minutes before Seven o'clock, until Tuesday, 2nd February, 1915.