§ 51. Mr. LAMBERT
asked the Prime Minister whether, as the British Government in June, 1921, decided to construct a naval base at Singapore, such decision was communicated to the conference at Washington, which resulted in a treaty for the limitation of armaments and naval bases, which was signed by the representatives of the United States, France, Japan, and the British Empire on the 6th February, 1922?
§ 57. Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
asked the Prime Minister at what date the proposal for a naval base at Singapore was first approved by the Cabinet; and whether the intentions of the British Government in this matter were made known to the other nations represented at the Washington Conference?
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Amery)
I have been asked to reply to these questions. It was clearly understood by all the delegations at Washington that we were retaining full freedom of action as regards Singapore. There was no discussion of the particular arrangements we, or any of the other Powers concerned, had in contemplation at naval bases or stations outside the zone explicitly defined in the Agreement. As the right hon. Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) was informed by the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the 12th June, the proposal for the Singapore naval base was first approved by the Cabinet in June, 1921.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
As the Government in June, 1921, decided to construct this base, was this decision conveyed to our Allies and friends with whom we were making a Treaty at Washington in 1922?
§ Captain BENN
Would it be correct to say that while we were putting our hand 1871 to a document which purported to maintain the status quo, we were keeping a card up our sleeve?
§ Sir A. SHIRLEY BENN
Is it not a fact that the Americans and the other people at that Conference were just as fully posted regarding our intentions in connection with Singapore as any Englishman?
§ Major Sir BERTRAM FALLE
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, may I ask what is the object of making trouble between ourselves and the United States?
§ Mr. AMERY
The position is perfectly clear. The Agreement at Washington was for the limitation of the number of capital ships, and the maintenance of the status quo as regards bases within a very carefully defined area. There was no kind of limitation of any of the Powers concerned as to the building of other types of ships or dockyards in the Pacific or other waters, and no communication was made with each other in respect of those matters.