HC Deb 29 October 1919 vol 120 c748

I turn to the Navy, in which, equally, we have had the advice and help of my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty., As a result of our discussion five battleships of the Home Fleet have gone from special complement to Reserve; two battle cruisers from full complement have gone, one to reserve and one for sale. Drastic reductions are being made in smaller craft. Very large reductions have been made by way of cancellation of ships under construction, and the savings com7 pared with Admiralty plans of last July are estimated at from £16,000,000 to 1.:21,000,000. As regards personnel, DV 31st December all except the permanent Royal Navy will have been demobilised, the present number of temporary and reserve ratings being estimated at about 10,000. The Admiralty expect that the permanent Royal Navy, now numbering 157,000 men, will be reduced by the ordinary processes of discharge and wastage to 146,000 by the end of the financial year, quite apart from any particular and extraordinary measures which we may take. The House will see from what I have said that we are leading the way in disarmament among the nations of the world. At this moment the cry on all hands here is for further reduction I shall be surprised i within six months the same critics who are now blaming us are not complaining that we have reduced too fast and too far. The results of the measures thus taken are immediate as shown in the improved prospects of the present year over what they were in August last. They are still greater, and will be still more effective in securing further reductions in expenditure in the year to come. So much for the current year.