HC Deb 30 June 1920 vol 131 cc420-1

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state when the cruiser "Effingham" was first laid down in Portsmouth Dockyard, her tonnage, estimated cost, and when was it expected at that time that she would be completed; what is her present state; how many men are now engaged in her construction and is it intended to finish her, and by what date; what is the value of the work already done upon her and will the delay in her construction render her obsolescent; in view of the Admiralty's intention to allow merchant ships to be constructed when will the slip now occupied by the "Effingham" be vacant so that a new mercantile keel can be put down?


The "Effingham" was first laid down on 2nd April, 1917. Her tonnage is 9,750 tons. The estimated cost cannot at present be given, as this matter is still under consideration. She was originally laid down as part of the War programme without definite date for completion, but to be accelerated as required. So far as the dockyard work is concerned, the condition is about 35 per cent. complete. The machinery, however, which is being obtained by contract, is about 97 per cent. complete, and the gun mountings are ready. The average number of men engaged in her construction during the last four weeks is about 890. It is the intention to finish her, but the date cannot at present be given. The value of the work already done is £953,249. Any delay in her construction will not render her obsolescent. So far as can be foreseen at present, with the men available and the work in prospect, the slip now occupied by the "Effingham" will be vacant about May, 1921.


Do I understand that it is now the intention of the Admiralty to proceed with the completion of this ship, and is it not a fact that it is occupying the principal slip in the dockyard where mercantile ships could be put down?


There are great difficulties at the moment. It is not intended to proceed with it as rapidly as possible, but as rapidly as the circumstances permit.


Is it not an uneconomical proceeding to lay down a ship three years ago and only have reached this stage of completion?


As my right hon. Friend knows, a good deal has happened in the last three years.