HC Deb 13 August 1919 vol 119 cc1273-4
12. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how-many merchant ships and how many ships-of-war are repairing in the naval dockyards in this country; how many merchant ships and how many ships-of-war are repairing in our naval dockyards abroad; how many ships-of-war are repairing in private yards at home and abroad, respectively; and whether, in view of the grave shortage of Merchant shipping and consequent high freights, and in view of our strength and prestige at sea, he will consider cutting down all repairs to our warships, save those required for actual safety, for twelve months or other suitable period?


One merchant ship is being repaired in one of the home dockyards, in addition to twenty-two trawlers and drifters, which are being reconditioned for return to their owners. One hundred and seventeen warships of various kinds are at the present time being repaired in the naval dockyards at home. In addition, fifty-one auxiliary craft—oilers, tugs, and so on, which, though not actually ships-of-war, are necessary for Fleet purposes—are also being repaired. As regards naval dockyards abroad, the latest information is that eleven merchant ships are in hand, of which one is undergoing very large repairs due to explosion damage, and forty-four warships and vessels used for miscellaneous naval purposes.

As regards private yards at home, twenty destroyers and submarines are being repaired in various yards, in addition to which thirty-five auxiliary craft are undergoing repair in the vicinity of their duties No ships-of-war are being repaired in private yards abroad. The suggestion contained in the last part of the question, and indeed the policy of allowing certain classes of new construction work to stand by for the time being, is before us at this moment. A Committee of the Board, of which I have the honour to be president, has been appointed to examine the whole question of naval expenditure, including the question of the work of the Royal dockyards and manufacturing establishments. Wherever consistent with national security, we can economise effort and divert effort to commercial ends, we shall certainly strongly recommend the policy to the Board.