Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £1,280,400, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of the Admiralty Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1924.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
Rarely, I imagine, has any great public Department, such as the Admiralty, which has great and vital interests to defend, been made the victim of the vagaries of politicians to such a degree as has happened during the last nine years when we have had a procession of First Lords of the Admiralty. The First Lord is responsible for the Navy to the country. During the War there were four First Lords in four years and four months, and there have been three since the War, so that there has been seven First Lords of the Admiralty in less than nine years. Consequently, the Admiralty has degenerated into a very extravagant and demoralised Department. Take first the Admiralty itself. In 1914 there were 2,000 officials in the Admiralty and 146,000 officers and fighting men. On the 1st June the figures for which are the latest that I have been able to get, the number of officials at the Admiralty was 3,555, whereas the personnel has been reduced to about 99,000 men. The proportions are rather striking. In 1914, there was one official to 70 fighters, and to-day there is one official to 28 fighting sailors. That shows to me a good deal of demoralization in the Admiralty. I need not go into the dockyards. We have one more dockyard than we had before the War, and the same number of employés for about 46,000 less fighting men. I have often said from this box during the last three or four years that the Admiralty have been laying broad and deep the foundations for future expendi- 2540 ture. They have established stations all over the world, every one of which must require defence in time of war. The strategy of the Admiralty has been scattered, whereas the strategy which I was taught under that very distinguished Admiral, Lord Fisher, was concentration. We have got a similar instance of scattered strategy in the establishment of a new naval base at Singapore, to which I shall ask the attention of the Committee more particularly this afternoon. Last year we had great hopes of the Washington Conference. The victorious Powers in the late War joined together at Washington to complete the Pact of Peace, and we were all proud that The British Empire took a leading part in those discussions, because peace is the policy of the British Empire. Before all things, in such a Conference frankness and goodwill were absolutely essential. We were discussing matters of grave moment with our friends and with our Allies, friends and Allies with whom we had fought a common foe and won a common victory for civilisation. This new Treaty especially dealt with the question of the Pacific, and it was stated very clearly in the Treaty thatno new fortifications or naval bases shall be established east of the meridian of 110 East longitude.That expressly excluded Hong Kong. On the 6th February, 1922, there was affixed to this document the signatures of the United States, not only of Great Britain, but of the British Empire, of France, of Italy, and of Japan. The British Government, in June, 1921, had come to a decision to establish a naval base at Singapore. My right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, whom I congratulate, told us that it was intended to establish that base before the War. All that I can say is that I was there, and that I never heard of it, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), who was Prime Minister, never heard of it. It is curious that we should not have heard of it. It was decided by the Coalition Government in 1921 to establish this new great fortified naval base. We went into the Conference at Washington, which resulted, as I have said, in the Treaty signed on 6th February, 1922, and we never said a word to that Conference that we proposed to establish a naval base 2541 within 355 miles of that longitude which was mentioned in the Treaty. I cannot understand why, if you were dealing with this matter with that frankness and goodwill which were so essential, you should not have communicated your intention to that Conference and have let them know exactly what you were doing. Not only was that information not communicated, but the Government, despite that Treaty signed by all these nations, have never modified their policy. It seems to me that the very basis of such Treaties must be confidence, trust and goodwill, and concealment in such matters is inconsistent with the best traditions of British statesmanship. True it was that there was no obligation to communicate the information, but, when you are negotiating on such a delicate matter with friends, it is well to treat them openly and to put all your cards on the table and not keep the ace of Singapore up your sleeve. Let us take Article 21 of this Treaty:The United States shall arrange for a Conference eight years after the Treaty to consider what changes may be necessary to meet possible technical, naval, and scientific developments.That was provided for. Article 23 says:The Treaty between these Powers shall remain in force until the 31st December, 1936, and shall continue in force until two years' notice of termination has been given by one of the contracting Powers.Apparently, neither the Admiralty nor the Government set any store at all by that Treaty. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty says:We are helpless in the Pacific and reliant on the good will of a friendly and lately allied Power.I can only say that I heard those words with pained amazement. Are we really to understand that in this year of Grace, 1923, a Treaty, solemnly entered into to last until 1936 between great Powers who are friends, is to be treated as a scrap of paper? I imagined, after the recent experience of Germany, that there would have been sanctity with regard to treaties and pledges between the nations of the world. If we are to have no sanctity for treaties and no regard for treaties, what sort of a world are we going to live in? A world bristling with armed men and stocked with weapons of war, with Great Britain, I am sorry to say, if she establishes a naval base at Singapore, leading the race in armaments? I do not know whether that is the conception of 2542 the Admiralty of the future. I have said that we shall have a race in armaments. Does anybody believe for a moment that Japan has not taken cognisance of this new naval base? Does anybody believe that there will not be new naval armaments in the Pacific. And so this ruinous race will go on.
I propose to deal with this matter quite frankly, because this is not the moment for anything but plain speaking. The idea of a base at Singapore contemplates the possibility—I will not say the probability—of a war with Japan. There can be no other reason for it. If you do contemplate the possibility of a war with Japan, why did you sign the Washington Treaty—that is my first point—because, in contemplating such a possibility, you hamper yourselves in defence in the Pacific. The First Lord says that we are helpless and reliant on the good will of Japan. Why fetter yourselves, why fetter your freedom? You can neither enlarge nor improve the base at Hong Kong. I am going to ask about this posesssion and the establishment of a new naval base for battleships at Singapore. How do you propose to defend Hong Kong, in the case of a war with Japan, from Singapore? It is 1,444 miles away from Hong Kong. Does anybody believe, if battleships were taken to Singapore, which I very much doubt, that they would be sent 1,444 miles up to Hong Kong, with all the risks from submarines and mines and with no base whatsoever there for them to take shelter?
I cannot help thinking that in this matter the Admiralty have been over-clever, and over cleverness does not really answer in these great international matters. I assume that Singapore, when it is established at a cost of anything from £10,000,000 to any number of million pounds, will be a base possibly like Rosyth or Portsmouth in this highly industrial land, with coal and iron and willing, skilled artisans at the disposal of the admiral in command. I remember very well the expedition to Mesopotamia. I remember some friends coming home. I have not the slightest doubt that the wiseacres who ordered the expedition to Basra imagined Basra to be a second kind of Southampton, but, instead of that, the Arabs had to take them on their shoulders from the ship to the shore. We had the other day an address from a very 2543 distinguished naval officer. It was a new development. I welcomed it, but one did not like to get into a wrangle with, or ask questions of, a distinguished naval officer. I remember Lord Carson once saying that it was a great disadvantage to naval officers when they were called into the War Council, because they were cross-examined by men who were accustomed to talking, whereas they belonged to the silent Service. Besides, it is not the business of a naval officer to give answers. It is the business of the First Lord, and I propose to ask him one or two questions now about this new naval base at Singapore. Have they considered the climate of Singapore? [Laughter.] I do not know why that should excite the hilarity of the hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth (Sir B. Falle), but all sorts of things excite his hilarity. Lord Northcliffe, in that very remarkable book published since his death, says that he was at Singapore in December, 1921, and this is what he says about it:I do admire how the people tackle their jobs in this infernal climate, for such it is. Everything is damp. As I dictate, I am eating Huntley and Palmer's biscuits which are like putty. The men and women are wonderfully vigorous with their golf, lawn tennis, and riding.Will you be able to provide all these amenities for your garrison, your artisans, and your flying men at Singapore? Will submarines be able to lie at Singapore? I should like an answer to that question, because Singapore is a very hot place, and submarines cannot well lie in these very hot climates.
I ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, on what scale do you propose to establish the base at Singapore and its fortifications? There must be a permanent garrison, there must be guns, there must be British soldiers there to guard the base. How many British soldiers do you propose to keep there? There is to be, we were told by the Civil Lord of the Admiralty in another place, a flying ground there. How many members of the Air Force do you propose to keep there? What is the annual cost to be? Is it be £1,000,000, £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 a year? How many millions a year will you have to spend in maintaining this new naval base? This base must, if it is to be of service, as has been adumbrated 2544 by the First Lord of the Admiralty, be an immense base, always ready—because war breaks out in unexpected moments—with a vast establishment. Let us assume that this base is there, complete with all its paraphernalia—with its docks, booms, workshops, magazines, fortifications, artisans' dwellings, garrisons, and flying corps. I have had some experience of this, because I was at the Admiralty when Rosyth was constructed; therefore I know something of what happened.
Assume you have a war with Japan, by the new Washington Treaty we are to have 15 battleships, of 35,000 tons each, while Japan is to have nine. Does anybody for a moment believe that those 15 battleships could be sent to Singapore, which is 40 days' steam from this country, if war with Japan broke out? Does anyone believe we should send those valuable battleships, costing £7,000,000 a piece, to Singapore? I take the liberty of doubting the wisdom of such a policy. The First Lord of the Admiralty gave us his idea of the future of Singapore, and quoting from the Selborne Memorandum of 20 years ago he said:Our policy must be to seek out the ships of the enemy, wherever they are to be found, and destroy them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st May, 1923; col. 1267, Vol. 163.]That is the policy, and we have the Civil Lord of the Admiralty in another place contemplating a general action in the Pacific. Let us keep our minds clear. There is the risk of the submarine, the mine, and the aerial torpedo. In the late War, whatever may have been the freedom of movement of the Grand Fleet, the Grand Fleet did not seek out the ships of the enemy, wherever they were, and destroy them. The Grand Fleet did not go near the German ports, though its strength was two to one that of the German Navy.
Therefore let us clear our minds as to what we can do by seeking out the enemy ships, wherever they are to be found, and destroying them. If the Grand Fleet could not go across 300 miles of sea to the German ports, how is our Fleet to go some 10,000 miles away to seek out and destroy the Japanese Fleet? The whole thing is a piece of woolly strategy. The right hon. Gentleman says:The decisive sea battles of our history have been fought at great distances from our shores.2545 I am afraid that such a battle as I suggest, fought by the British Fleet at such a distance, might be a decisive battle, but not in the British favour. I remember what happened to the Russian Fleet when they attacked the Japanese Fleet.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman understand what this base is? I suppose it is about 2,000 or 3,000 miles from Japan. How are you going to hunt out enemy ships in enemy ports in Japan, which are 3,000 miles away from your base? It is ludicrous. Every one of these decisive battles—the Spanish Armada, Trafalgar—were fought with nations close to our shores, such as Spain and France, and not with a nation some 10,000 miles away. There is no man who has a higher opinion of the British Navy than I. I think they accomplished the impossible twice during the late War. They landed the troops at the Dardanelles—an impossible exploit, I believe, to any other fleet in the world. They also blocked the passage at Zeebrugge; but you must give them a chance. What was the result of landing the troops at the Dardanelles? It was disastrous and led to enormous losses in the East. This strategy of scattering, as I call it, led to those great armies in the East—in Salonika, Mesopotamia, and Palestine—which strained even the British Navy.
§ Captain Viscount CURZON
Has the right hon. Gentleman forgotten the battle of the Falkland Islands?
§ Mr. LAMBERT
No. When that great naval genius, Lord Fisher, who was derided on those benches just now, took charge, within 10 days he transformed the whole position. The "Invincible" and the "Inflexible" went out, to the Falkland Islands, and there they met Admiral von Spee's squadron and sunk it. How does that bear on the problem I am discussing of searching out the enemy fleet in their submarined and mined harbours? I do not understand it.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
But the Germans were a very long distance from their shores and bases. Japan will be close to her base. 2546 Great Britain lay like a great breakwater across the German ports, and the Germans could not get back. The Japanese Navy—assuming such a thing, I hate to think about it, but this base at Singapore makes me talk about it. You cannot help it, it is no use hiding your head in the sand, ostrich-like, and thinking that because we do not talk about it in this House, the Japanese are not thinking about it—will be in quite a different position from that in which Admiral Sturdee and Admiral von Spee were at the Falkland Islands.
The right hon. Gentleman made a most astonishing statement during the discussion on the Navy Estimates on 1st May. He said:The submarine has never interfered in the least with the free movement of battleships in battle fleets."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st May, 1923; col. 1271, Vol. 163.]That is a staggering statement. I remember the "Formidable" being sunk in the early part of the War, and that was part of the Battle Fleet.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
There you are! You must have all the paraphernalia if you are going to send out a battleship. You must have destroyers, flying machines and everything else, as a protection. That makes the difficulty so much greater, because you have to have all this mixed craft to defend the battleship from the submarines which the right hon. Gentleman says have never interfered in the least with the free movement of the battleships. Where would the battleship be without its attendant ships and its cruisers? It can do nothing without its destroyers, and aeroplanes, and protective craft. I will not characterise the right hon. Gentleman's statement myself, but I will quote a gentleman of the same name as myself, who was a shipmate with me at the Board of Admiralty, when I was there in 1915—he is no relation of mine, at all—and who afterwards commanded some squadron in the North Sea. I refer to Admiral Sir Cecil Lambert. He served in the War, and was at the Board of Admiralty when war was declared. He describes the First Lord's statement as:The greatest contradiction of all positive fact that a Cabinet Minister has ever been responsible for.2547 Not only that, but he says, and more emphatically:There was not a movement, there was not an order, there was not a single act of the Navy that was not affected by consideration of the submarine menace.What is the good, then, of saying that the submarine has never interfered in the least with the free movement of battleships? If I wanted to give any other authority I could give that of the late First Sea Lord, Lord Wester Wemyss. He said:Had any submarines been present off Gallipoli, in April, 1915, the landing of troops would have been impossible.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
That is the point. If you are going to send a battle fleet to Singapore, you must send destroyers, submarines, and all other things—[HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"]—Now we have got something. Let us assume what is the principal object of the British Navy, to defend our trade. May I give the opinion of some very distinguished admirals? Sir Percy Scott is one—[Laughter]—Yes, I know his name is received with laughter, but he was a genius at gunnery. I remember the late Lord Fisher saying about him:They talk all sorts of things about Percy Scott. I do not care, he hits the target, and that is enough for me.You may laugh at Sir Percy Scott, but let me take Rear-Admiral S. Hall. Perhaps hon. Members will laugh at him, too. This is from the point of view of trade protection in the late War. He said:We had a Grand Fleet with a preponderance of nearly two to one over Germany alone, and an auxiliary Navy of 5,000 vessels. We had the assistance of the American, French, Italian, and Japanese navies. We held the most favourable geographical positions for a naval war that the atlas can furnish, and yet our main purpose—the protection of our trade—could not be carried out.We had a great battle fleet, two to one in strength of the enemy, at Scapa Flow—I will not give my own words again, but I will quote another distinguished authority, who, I dare say, may not be received with that hilarity from the benches opposite which the other names I have quoted have occasioned. I will take the view of Admiral Sims, of the 2548 American Navy. If hon. Members will read this month's "Fortnightly Review," they will find there a statement of the opinion of Admiral Sims on the question of the protection of trade by battleships—and, remember, I am discussing the question of sending battleships to Singapore, because this base is to be a base for battleships and all the other attendant craft. Admiral Sims, writing in April, 1917, said:Yet a few days spent in London clearly showed that all this confidence in the defeat of the Germans rested upon a misapprehension. The Germans, it appeared, were not losing the War—they were winning it. The British Admiralty"—this is very important, because we were never allowed to know the truth. I was here then, and asked questions, but we were never allowed to know the truth—now placed before the American representative facts and figures which it had not given to the British Press. These documents disclosed the astounding fact that, unless the appalling destruction of merchant tonnage which was then taking place could be materially checked, the unconditional surrender of the British Empire would inevitably take place within a few months.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
I believe Admiral Sims. I do not know whether the hon. Baronet has any knowledge of what was going on then, but I remember full well that there were 800,000 tons of shipping put down by German submarines in the early part of 1917, and the British Empire had the nearest escape it has ever had in its history.
§ Sir B. FALLE
Before unconditional surrender took place, surely some attack would have been made on those bases which then were impregnable?
§ Mr. LAMBERT
Then why had it not been made? The War had been going on for three years. It was indicated that the losses were three or four times as large as those which were then being published in the Press. We were deliberately misled. Again I quote the views of Admiral Sims from the article in this month's "Fortnightly Review":I expressed my consternation to Admiral Jellicoe. 'Yes,' he said, 'it is impossible for us to go on with the War if losses like this continue.'I only want to draw the moral to show that a great fleet of battleships cannot protect trade. You cannot hunt down 2549 submarines with battleships; you cannot attack flying machines with battleships; and the very raison d'être of this base is that it shall be a battleship base for the protection of our trade in the East. I think I have said enough to show that while the Grand Fleet was at Scapa, two to one in strength, the British Empire was nearing defeat on the West Coast of Ireland, despite that Grand Fleet of battleships and its attendant 5,000 auxiliary ships. At the Washington Conference the French delegates were asked questions about defence, and the French, as we know, are a very logical people. The French delegates said—and this applies to our position in the Pacific, where we almost always must be short of battleships, because we cannot afford to send them there—the French delegates said:France believes that the submarine is the only weapon which at present permits a nation scantily supplied with capital ships to defend itself at sea.If you want defence in these seas, and if you will not rely upon the Washington Conference, submarines are the vessels for your purpose. Admiral Sims again, writing in the July "Fortnightly Review," said:Both the offensive and defensive properties of this vessel, used in strict compliance with international law, are more remarkable than those of any other type. Particularly for a nation whose policies are not aggressive"—and, surely, that applies to the British nation—it is the most valuable of naval weapons. A coast adequately defended by it is immune from successful attack by a maritime Power situated at a considerable distance, no matter how great its naval forces.That fits our case. I could quote other authorities. I could quote Lord Wester Wemyss, and I will do so if the Committee wishes. I have the quotation here in which he speaks of the instructions given by the Admiralty—indeed, I think I had better read it—to Mr. Balfour, now the Earl of Balfour, at the Washington Conference. Lord Wester Wemyss preceded the present First Sea Lord in that office, and he was selected by that superman, Sir Eric Geddes, from among all the officers of the Navy, to be First Sea Lord. Writing in March of last year, he said:Mr. Balfour, with that persuasive eloquence for which he is so justly famed, laid it down that the submarine as a weapon 2550 of offence against its legitimate target, the warship, had proved itself of negligible value;"—that is the conception of the strategy of the Admiralty of to-day, as adumbrated by the First Sea Lord—that as one of defence it was useless; and that it was only as a commerce destroyer that it had proved successful. This, he said, he stated on authority"—that is to say, the authority of the Admiralty. Upon that Lord Wester Wemyss went on to say:It is difficult to believe that it was that of the Naval Staff, for, however ill-informed the public was, and to this day is, on the subject of the naval war, naval officers at all events must know that such statements are in direct contradiction to experience.I apologise to the Committee for quoting these naval authorities, but I know I shall be brought up against the Naval Staff, and I quote them because I wish to show that there are others who take a different view from the present Naval Staff of the Admiralty.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
In March, 1922. A very true word was once said by Mr. Churchill at that Box. He said that, when you are at the Admiralty, it is not a question of expert advice; the difficulty is to select which expert advice you shall choose, because experts differ. In this matter I confess I prefer to go back to the opinions and strategic conceptions of my old chief, Lord Fisher, rather than adopt the newer conceptions of the present Board of Admiralty. Let me give one more illustration. The Americans have the Philippines close to Singapore, but the Americans are not establishing a naval base there.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
Why did they contract themselves out of it? I do not suppose they would have done so if it was going to be a disadvantage. [Interruption.] I am glad I am touching up hon. Members on the other side. I assume that the Americans are not establishing a base in the Philippine Islands because they have some belief in the sanctity of Treaties. We signed the Washington Treaty on the 6th February last year, and are now proposing to establish a naval base.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
The hon. and gallant Gentleman can give us information as to that later. Another very distinguished American Admiral, Admiral W. F. Fullam, has reviewed the position, and I commend his review to the attention of the House, for it, sums up the position very briefly and tersely. He says that a battle fleet cannot carry on an attack across the seas, that a great army cannot be sent overseas, that a base 5,000 miles from home, surrounded by enemy bases, is no base at all—Singapore is 7,000 miles away—and that submarines, mines and torpedoes will suffice to defend a coast. For these reasons I ask the Government to pause, and, if they will not, I ask the House of Commons to compel them to pause in this policy. I ask them not to launch out on these vast new projects of doubtful defensive utility, which will be provocative, for certain, of further sterilising war expenditure. I ask the House to remember the effects of the late race in armaments, and how it launched millions of the young manhood of Europe into eternity and reduced our world civilisation to a chaos and confusion the end of which no man can foresee. I ask the Admiralty and the House of Commons to give the Washington Treaty a chance, and to give a breathing space to the Angel of Peace.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I think the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) can be divided into three main phases. Firstly, is Britain violating either the spirit or the letter of the Washington Conference? Secondly, if a base is required in the Far East, is Singapore a suitable place? And, thirdly, do submarines and aircraft tend to reduce the necessity for having a battle fleet as our major naval force? I think those are the real points made by the right hon. Gentleman. With regard to the first, there is no doubt whatever as regards the letter of the Washington Conference. The right hon. Gentleman himself admitted that Singapore is 350 miles outside the zone laid down at Washington, and, therefore, I think all parties are agreed that in establishing a base at Singapore we are not violating the letter 2552 of the Washington Conference. As regards the spirit, I should like to quote this from the "New York Herald" of the 3rd May:There is no intimation in any quarter that Great Britain is violating either the spirit or the letter of the Washington Treaty. There is no likelihood of any protest over the decision. It is admitted that Britain is within her rights, and it was understood durng the Washington Conference that British naval experts had planned to develop Singapore as a first-class naval station as soon as it was decided to give up further fortification at Hong Kong under the Treaty.If that be the case, and it is quoted from an American paper, and if it was present to the minds of the other parties at the Washington Conference that the British Government intended to fortify Singapore, I do not think that the charge which the right hon. Gentleman made against the Admiralty of trying to be too clever is a valid charge. I think there is no more reason to suggest that the Washington Conference has any bearing upon whether we fortify Singapore or not than if we were to expand Chatham or Portsmouth.
In regard to the second point, as to whether Singapore is a suitable base or not, when, in the last Debate, hon. Members went into the question of the foundations and so forth, it was quite obvious that not only had they not taken the trouble to employ their own experts in order to obtain a report, but that they had not taken the trouble to go into the reports of the Admiralty, and I suggest that to discuss a technical question like the foundations for harbour works without first of all studying the expert reports is really a waste of time. The question as to whether the base, if established in the Far East, should be at Singapore or not surely should be left to the technical advisers of the Admiralty. The First Lord is advised by the best technical staff he can get, and, after all, the First Lord is just as aware as the right hon. Member of the expressions of opinion by Sir Percy Scott, Lord Wester Wemyss, and others, but he has also the opinions of the newer and more modern naval officers, who have the responsibility of carrying out the recommendations which are eventually approved. With regard, therefore, to the question of the actual position of Singapore, I do not think that that is really a vital point in this discussion, and we can 2553 pass on to the vital point, which is: Do the mine, submarine and aircraft render the battleship useless?
That is really, to my mind, what this Committee should consider. If this Committee like to take the responsibility of going against the advice of their expert advisers, because, after all, the Naval Staff, through the First Lord, have advised that battleships are required, I think not only Members of this Committee, but also the public outside, should be fully aware as to why this Committee is taking that responsibility away from the First Lord. Therefore, the vital point to consider is whether the mine, the submarine, and aircraft have rendered the battleship useless, and if the Committee considers that that is the vital point, I will address myself to that point. Let me take the mine, to start with. At the beginning of the War the mine was certainly a very vital factor. We lost many battleships, cruisers, and destroyers by mines. My own vessel was blown up by a mine a week after I had given up command of it, and we were losing merchant ships at the rate of one every other day. But what happened? Due to the development of counter-measures which were adopted, once those measures were completed, no vessel was lost by a mine. No merchant vessel or warship was actually sunk. They may have been damaged, but they were not sunk, and the total tonnage of the Royal Navy itself which was protected from mines, of ships which actually ran into mines, was something like 560,000 tons, or one-third of the British Navy. Therefore, I think it is obvious that we can eliminate the mine as a reason why the capital ship is of no value.
Now take the submarine. That is a very much more developed weapon of offence than the mine. The right hon. Member for South Molton was not right when he Said we were losing merchant vessels in April. 1917, at the rate of 800,000 tons per month. We were losing them at 1,000,000 tons per month, and there was no doubt that the British Empire was in a most frightfully serious position at that time. That is an undoubted fact, but what were the reasons? The reasons were, first of all, that the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), who has gone to sleep—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order!" and "Withdraw!"]—was responsible, in a 2554 sense, for not establishing a proper War Staff at the Admiralty. He sent there Mr. Winston Churchill, who, as soon as he got there, found that if he had a War Staff he could not do what he wanted himself, therefore he never had one. That is one of the main reasons why we had no methods for attacking submarines when war broke out.
With regard to the submarine menace in the early part of the War, the submarine operated so successfully against merchant shipping for the reason that it could operate, not as a submarine, but as an above-water craft. The submarine has one great advantage and one great defect. Its great advantage is its invisibility; its great defect is its very slow speed when submerged. Therefore, unless the submarine can get into almost its exact position before making an attack, it is practically useless against above-water shipping. But what happened during the War was this, that owing to the fact that the Ministry over which the right hon. Member for Paisley presided had not seen to it that we had sufficient guns immediately to arm our merchant shipping, and had not seen to it that arrangements were made to protect merchant shipping from above-water craft, any submarine with a three-pounder gun, operating as a surface vessel, could do what it liked with our merchant shipping; and if the statistics are studied it will be found that the majority of our losses were brought about by submarines operating as surface ships.
As soon as the War Staff was developed at the Admiralty, when Lord Jellicoe came down to the Admiralty, very strong measures were taken against the submarine. The convoy system was developed, and as a result of those measures the losses through the submarines fell at a very rapid rate, and for the last two months of the War, I think the right hon. Member for South Molton will agree, the submarine menace was well in hand, and very little damage was being done to merchant shipping. It was not only the introduction of the convoy system, but what happened was that many devices were developed for dealing with the submarine. In the first part of the War none of these were in existence, and in the second part of the War the majority of those measures were under manufacture. It was only after the end of the 2555 War, really, that those devices had been provided throughout the Fleet, and it was only in the last year of the War that it was possible for fully-trained men to be provided to use those devices. I think it will be found, if the statistics as to what actually happened in the last month or two of the War are studied, that the submarine menace was well in hand on account of these anti-submarine measures. I will go further than that, and say that to-day the position is very much better for an above-water navy than it was at the end of the War. We have now the fruits and the results of the labours which were carried out during the War for anti-submarine devices which were not used at all. I do not want to go into the details of those devices, because they are no doubt confidential, but I think the First Lord will, in a general sense, bear out that what I am saying is true.
With regard to the other question, the free movement of a battle fleet, the right hon. Member for South Molton was wrong. I have no doubt the Admiralty would allow him to verify their records, and if he did so he would find that there is no doubt that a battle fleet—and a battle fleet necessarily must be a fleet with its cruisers, its destroyers, its aircrafts, and flotillas; that is what a fleet is—a battle fleet, with its attendant flotillas, had absolutely free movement throughout the War; and not only that, but both the German Fleet and the British Fleet had their submarines at the Battle of Jutland. They were not used in that fleet action at all. Many torpedoes were fired at the Battle of Jutland, but they were all fired from above-water craft, for the very reason that when a submarine is submerged its speed is so slow that it is useless. That is why the submarine is of no real value at present, in a fleet action. It cannot keep up to the fleet. I think it may be that it will be developed. Experiments which were carried out show that with a certain shape of under-water body and at certain high speeds you can get a higher speed under water than above water.
The hon. and gallant Member has made a surprising statement. Can he give any figures to support it?
§ Lieut. - Commander BURNEY
Certainly. What happened was this. I happened to be responsible for a, 40-knot 2556 design of submarine, i.e., with a speed of 40 knots under water, and in conjunction with Professor Froude, at the experimental tank at Haslar, I carried out certain experiments, and it was proved that at the higher speeds we only wanted two-thirds horse-power for the same speed, so long as the submarine was submerged, as compared with the surface speed. For this result the submarine had to be submerged more than two diameters. The reason is clear. I do not want to go into the details now, but if the hon. and gallant Member opposite will take that from me, I will explain it to him later.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
Not at all. How soon could we expect to get a submarine of that, character? There is very little doubt that if we got a submarine of that character, many of the conclusions put forward by the right hon. Member for South Molton would be found to be correct.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
The hon. and gallant Member is dealing now with the North Sea, which is contiguous to this island. I am asking the Committee to negative the idea of a base at Singapore, which is 7,000 miles away.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I appreciate the point made by the right hon. Member, but I was dividing my remarks, and speaking, first of all, in regard to merchant shipping; secondly, in regard to the free movement of the battle fleet; and then with regard to Singapore. I am not going to run away from the question of Singapore. The point I was trying to make was this, that if a submarine of that type was eventually developed, many of the arguments brought forward by the right hon. Member for South Molten would be correct, but there are many difficulties to face. You have first to provide an engine that does not use oxygen. You have to provide an entirely new type of engine, the first stages of which are not even in sight, from a technical point of view; and it may be 20 or 30 years before that is likely to eventuate. Therefore, if we can say that the submarine as a weapon will not militate against the battle fleet in the way that Sir Percy Scott and perhaps other experts say, I think it is obvious from a study of the records—I am merely 2557 quoting from a study of the War records—that we can eliminate both the mine and the submarine as the reason why we should not build Singapore.
We then come to the question of aircraft. With regard to aircraft, a somewhat extraordinary situation again arises. We found that the submarine was limited because it could not go fast under water, but it has a great radius of action. The aeroplane is in exactly the reverse position. It has great speed, but no great radius of action. Therefore the aeroplane, however much it may be developed upon its present lines—and personally I can see no technical reason why there should be any vast development in the near future—will be contained and confined by a limited radius of action. This means that it must be carried to its point of attack, and that is a very important question. It can only be carried in two ways, either in a floating ship or by an airship. I will assume it is carried on a floating ship. That floating ship would have to suffer all the difficulties that any other floating craft would meet.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
Yes, that is just the point; and you come back again to this, that you must depend upon your battleships. So long as your aeroplanes are carried in floating carriers, you cannot get away from the battleship. I think no less an authority than Sir George Thurston, who is well known as a naval designer, agrees with me that the modern battleship may eventually be an aeroplane carrier. Your new battleship, which will be eventually developed, will be probably a battleship carrying not guns and torpedoes, but carrying aircraft, as their modern development of the gun or torpedo. I do not say that that is certain to happen, but I throw it out as a suggestion of what is likely to happen, and it goes to show that we have not got away from the battleship.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
It is the same thing. There is not so much difference, after all, between the battleship as we know it and Nelson's three-deckers. It is merely a development of 2558 the science of shipbuilding. If we take the submarine and the aircraft as we know them, we find that each one is limited to a certain radius. What about the future? Is that likely to remain, or will it be altered in the future? I have been rather advocating the lighter-than-air ship policy lately. I do believe that the combination of an airship and an aeroplane will provide a mechanical device which will eventually eliminate your floating battleship, for these reasons, that, first of all, you will have got over the question of the range of action. The airship will give your aeroplane a range of action. Secondly, you will have your high speed of 80 to 90 miles an hour, and, thirdly, you will not have to pass through your floating ships: you can pass over and avoid them. Therefore you will have a device, if this development takes place, which may eventually eliminate the floating battleship. All you will have done is to change from one mechanical type of craft, which is the embodiment of power, to another type of mechanical device. Therefore, I think, in conclusion, that the point is, how soon is that likely to arise? I do not think it can arise for another 20 or 30 years, because there is an enormous amount of technical work to be done before this device can be provided in sufficient numbers and developed to the requisite degree of efficiency. Are the hon. Members who are opposing the establishment of Singapore to gamble with the future of our Empire for the next 20 or 30 years? That is what their Motion comes to.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I think it is. I will not go into that point now, but I believe Singapore will be vital to the Empire.
§ Lieut. - Commander BURNEY
Yes, London is vital, and so is our Eastern trade. You cannot separate the component parts of your Empire. We cannot afford, as a nation, not to look towards our Empire for stability, and if we lose our trade we lose everything. I do not think, therefore, that I can take that interruption very seriously. If the 2559 Movers of this Resolution are prepared to gamble with the fate of the Empire, and are prepared to hold it on sufferance from Japan for the next 30 years, in the face of technical expert advice tendered in this House by the naval staff through the First Lord of the Admiralty, then I think they will have to explain it very fully and very carefully to the public outside, and I do not envy them their reception in their constituencies.
Anyone who has listened to the last speech must feel that he is passing through the valley of humiliation. It has been a surprising speech we have listened to, in many ways. In the first place, we had the statement that we on this side are gambling with the existence of the Empire. I think it is quite open to Members on this side to say that it is the Government who are proceeding to gamble with the fate of the Empire. Let us look at Singapore. If we look at the map we will find that it comes within almost a degree of the Equator, and that we have to reckon with this matter of climate. Once we put a naval base there, it means that that base will have to be protected from the land. During the Great War the Grand Fleet, which lay at Rosyth, was protected by many ancillary services. We had the Forth defences. We had the Forth outer defences. We had both sides of the Forth lined with artillery and infantry. Once we make a great base at Singapore it means, as far as I can see, that we will have no less than 2,000 artillery surrounding and guarding that base. We will have a corresponding number of infantry. Above all, I think the Admiralty are losing sight of the fact that Singapore is liable to be attacked from the land. In looking at Singapore, it seems to me that the experts are forgetting that, while Singapore is technically on British soil, it will be liable to be attacked from the land, that in the event of war in the Far East—and fortifying Singapore means that there is to be a war of some description—while it may be possible to defend this base from the sea, there is always the possibility that our enemy or enemies will attack Singapore from the land.
If we keep the map in our minds, we will see that in the event of Japan being our enemy it will be possible for the Japanese to put a large land force, not on 2560 Singapore, but on the peninsula, and to work down from the north so that they could sap the defences. I would like to ask if our naval experts looked at this side of the question. In the event of their having looked at this side of the question, what infantry forces do they regard as able to hold Singapore against such an enemy? No. It is not we who are gambling with the Empire, it is the Government of to-day who are gambling with the Empire, for they are throwing out a challenge of such a character that, when the day of trial comes, they will not be able to rise to the occasion. Again, looking at the map, we will see that Singapore can be invested from the western side by the sea. There are within one hundred, two hundred and three hundred miles innumerable creeks and bays in which all kinds of enemy craft could lie. This means that, whether we have a battle fleet in Singapore or not, the fleet could not hold the seas to the westward, though they might have some chance of holding the seas to the eastward. If the seas to the west could not be held, then the holding of the seas to the east would be useless to us. It sems to me that this question is a far bigger one than the experts have thought it to be. I say again that Singapore can be invested from the land, that it can be invested from the sea, that there is an equatorial climate there, which means that we will always have a drain upon our forces, that we will always have at least a hospital filled with men suffering from the effects of the heat and the damp.
There is another point. We have just had a speech which shows us that the experts are more or less, as it seems to me, great big children. They are like the children of rich parents who are going along a street where shops are filled with toys and they go in for the most expensive kind of motor toys which they do not really understand. Just as children can get more fun out of a rag doll than they can get out of some expensive creation, so this Empire would get more safety if our front benchers were not affected with this terrible megalomania. How foolish it all is, after single men and married men were called a few years ago to the War on the assurance that that was to be the last war, that it was a war to end war, and that in 20 or 30 years the children of 1914–1918, grown up in a period of no war, 2561 would be saying to their fathers, "What did you do in the great War, daddy," That, of course, was for wartime consumption. That time has passed away. Now we are looking into the future; we are putting these prospects away, and we are making all kinds of preparation for the next war. This is discussed without shame and without fear. We are looking forward definitely to a war within some definite period. I stand up here to-day as a Labour Member to protest against all this and to say that if we are looking forward to a new war it means that we are looking forward to end of the white man in Europe.
There are only two potential enemies against whom you need to fortify Singapore. One is America, the other is Japan. No matter how dull and gross many of the people of this country may be, I believe there is one thing they will not stand, and that is a war with America. The ties of blood and of relationship are too close between the people here and the people across the ocean for us to look forward to such a contingency. Therefore, we are counting upon a war with Japan. A war with Japan is going to be something greater than the war between ourselves and Germany, or the war between Germany and France. It is going to be a race war. It is not going to be one body of white men against another body of white men. It is going to be the white man against the yellow, and at such a time I can see that the yellow is going to be reinforced by the black, and that we are going to be faced by all the elements which are anti-white. I do not say that when the time comes that we will not be able to hold the sea around Singapore, but even although we may hold Singapore from the side of the sea we could not hold it from the side of the land. I view all this with the greatest trepidation. I have no trust in the experts. I remember towards the end of 1915 I was in one of the biggest garrisons on the south coast. I was in the garrison which was working with the Dover Patrol. There in 1915 we had two heavy drills per week. They were based on the supposition that the Germans had landed in St. Margaret's Bay, and were now half-way between St. Margaret's Bay and London.
Part of the scheme was that we should take those guns which had been built for defence from the sea, turn them 2562 round and use them for offence on land. Two of those guns to which I refer, of the six inch group, had been built to sweep 108 degrees towards the sea. To the gun there were two nice cement curtains which would deflect any shell, so that in the land attack when we swung this gun 180 degrees we brought the breech of the gun up against the cement curtain, and within 9 inches from that cement curtain. The gun had a recoil of a foot and a half. We were drilling bravely twice a week, knowing full well that if ever we had to fire those guns facing inland that at the first discharge we would dismount the gun and kill half the detachment. This was represented to the War Office. The experts were told that if it was needed to use the guns in that position we should smash away that curtain and make room for the recoil. We were told that we would not be allowed to put a scratch upon the gun. The curtain was there, and there it would remain! No, I have no trust in the experts.
When hon. Gentlemen opposite stand up and tell me that in some of the experiments which have been, or are being, made it is possible to push something under water at a quicker speed than you can push it on the water or in the air, frankly I do not believe them. If we like to spend the money we could send a shot right round the world. Whether the gun would stand a second shot or not would remain to be seen. I suppose it would be possible to push a model through the water at anything up to 60 miles an hour, but when the experts stand up on those benches opposite and tell the House that experiments are being done, and that some day they hope to make a submarine which will go quicker under water than you can make it go on the surface, I say frankly that I pour contempt upon the experts. We know what the experts did for us during the War. We know what terrible casualty lists we ran up, due to the experts! Surely the sane position is this: that this country and this House should look definitely to the point that the next war is going to be the end of the white man. We are still dominated by that vile old Latin phrase, Si vis pacem, para bellum. If you want peace prepare for war. We were told during the War that when peace came that motto must go. But surely if we start the fortification of Singapore, it 2563 means that the Dutch are going to spend millions fortifying their adjacent territories. It means that the Japanese will also get ready. It means that once again we may expect the terrible drain of blood in spite of our protestations, our tears, and our fears, and in spite of the fact that in November, 1917, as we know now, our rulers in this country thought there might be a finish to the British Empire!
In spite of all that, once more we have entered upon this giddy slope. We are going in for this race of armaments because we believe that as a rich Empire we can out-distance all the others. It will not do. We can see at the present time what is likely to be the trend of politics and arms in the future. It would be a far wiser thing to have a real Washington Conference; if we did not send people there with their tongues in their cheeks to come back and to tell us: "Well, it is not nice to be killed with something weighing 100 lbs. flying over 20 miles of space; it is far better to be killed with something weighing 10 lbs. going across 50 miles." That is what happened at Washington. It is for this House to study this matter. I admit that many Members in this House never wish to see what I state, but there are people in this country, the ordinary working people and the man in the street, who, when they read this Debate as to the foolishness of the experts as shown in some of the results of the War, will know, as they possibly in some cases did know, that the experts sometimes are fools.
We were asked to do the impossible during war time. It was said that in war time you do the impossible. But I never yet knew a man who with 100 lb. shell on his back could swim across 9 feet of mud. It simply cannot be done. There is a limit to the possibilities, and the impossibilities of the case, and it is sometimes shown that our generals and admirals knew nothing. I think there is time yet, if I may take any hope from the first speech delivered from this side, that the people of this country will ask that everyone of us should really know that about which we are talking.
§ Sir GUY GAUNT
I shall occupy the time of the House for only a very few minutes; but I should like to sympathise with the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken. He has had bad luck 2564 with the experts. He must have struck a bad bunch of them. The experts can be terrible in any blessed thing, whether it be peace or war. Surely, however, the whole of this matter depends upon the word "Empire." The whole argument is either you are going to have your Empire composed of what I believe are called Little Englanders, or an Empire peopled as you have it at the present time. You must either abandon your people who stood up for you in the time of war, or, if need be, stand up for them, and with them later. This may not be a very nice simile, but it about hits off the situation, I think. There was once published in Russia before the War the picture of an octupus with its body in England and its tentacles going all over the world. Put it the other way about. I think it is not at all a bad thing if we have here the whole of the works and the machinery lying in this little island of ours, and the tentacles, so to speak, going right throughout the Empire. If you are going to keep all these things exclusively here then good-bye to your country and goodbye to the Empire! I do not think there is any doubt about that at all.
As an Australian, standing up here in this House, I stand up as a man of the Empire and also on behalf of the Colonies, and I do urge that we ought to fairly face this issue. We have heard a lot about the distance between places and about fighting as far away as Singapore. Surely, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) said what he did on that point, he never thought of America. A very few years ago it was five weeks away from this country; now it is five days. So with other distances. It seems unnecessary to hear a good deal of what we do here simply because we are going to establish ourselves where we have hitherto been, only a little more strongly than we have been. It is simply for that purpose that you are spending money over Singapore. We know very well that the English nation is a nation of shopkeepers. No one questions that, but when you are running a big shop you must have a shop window, so that the people with whom you are dealing may see what you have; and this especially applies to the Asiatics and the Orientals. They, perhaps, look at a map of the world, and see a little red spot far away, and they do not think very much about it. But I remember an inci- 2565 dent that happened on the River Yangtsekiang which gives point here to my observation. A Russian cruiser was sent up that river some years ago—she had five funnels—for the purpose of impressing the Viceroy. We followed with a four-funnelled cruiser, and the Viceroy saw which was the bigger boat, and, presumably, which represented the bigger nation! I put it to the House that it is absolutely necessary that we should, for peace purposes, take the action which is now proposed, and then war will be unnecessary, for if we would have peace it is necessary to be prepared for war. I live in London and I do not expect burglars, but I keep a bull-dog, and I know that if a burglar breaks into the house, the bull-dog will get him; consequently I sleep in peace. It is not a question of a race of armaments, but if you do not keep abreast of the times you are coming to an end. There is no question about that. It is all very well to talk about the League of Nations. I agree with the League of Nations. I hope it will work; but I do not see any prospect of it functioning for a great many years and, therefore, you must be ready for contingencies. [An HON. MEMBER: "You are not helping to make it work!"] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton referred to our Fleet failing to seek out and destroy the enemy's fleet behind a screen of submarines, forts, mines, and all the rest of it. These two fleets had only one thing to do. That is for one of the fleets to keep the sea and for that fleet to keep the other off it. The German Fleet was a most excellent fleet, but it could do nothing but keep in the Kiel Canal, and was of little use when it was wanted. Referring to Singapore and its healthiness or unhealthiness, the hon. Member for Kingston-on-Thames (Mr. Penny) lived there 20 years ago, and he does not look as though it had hurt him. I lived there, too, for a year, and it does not seem to have hurt me. I think, therefore, you can wash out the idea of the unhealthiness of the place.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
You would be settled there in the quarters of an admiral, and things would be meted out to you as a commander.
§ Sir G. GAUNT
No, no, my mon! I was there as a junior lieutenant on a cruiser and under the hardest possible 2566 conditions. I may say the ship was not manned by men only, and the others bit. It is absolutely necessary to consider it from one point of view or the other. Either you are going to wash out all your foreign posesssions and live in this island on your own, or you will have to keep up the old traditions. To do that you must have one or two places, and particularly Singapore. I do not think you hurt anybody's feelings by that policy, because there is no other nation on the same parallel as we are with three parts of our Empire and our Colonies overseas far away from us.
We are not running counter to any other nation at all. America, I am sure, would be with us in this matter. I am a strong friend of America, and I believe America and this country should form a great League of Nations. We have heard a good deal of criticism about fleet work as against submarines, and how the submarines ran the whole thing. As a matter of fact they did nothing of the sort. What happened in the cases which have been alluded is that we were caught napping, as we shall be caught napping again in the bigger game if we are not prepared with accommodation at Singapore and other places. During the War I came across from America with 16 of the biggest ships you could get, and they were crammed chock-full of American troops, and we had only three vessels to defend them, and yet we got all those troops over quite well. We did this simply because we had trained our men, and if we had been in the same position when we first started war we should not have had those tremendous losses through the submarines.
If you are going to run your Empire you must have somewhere on the other side of the world where you can put in, and you cannot steam right round the world without having harbours to run into. Give us Singapore, and then I think you will be fairly safe, because it is on the direct line to Australia from the Far East. In my view you never had a better Admiralty than you have at the present time, because they are men who have been highly tried in the fire. They are all young men and keen, and they are in to do their job for all they are jolly well worth. It is a very great mistake for this House or anyone else to "keep a dog and bark yourself."
§ Mr. DARBISHIRE
With regard to this controversy about Singapore there has been a suggestion that I am an expert on this matter. There is one thing that I have had a horror of all my life, and it is the expert. I have met many of them in my time, and they have generally left me much poorer in pocket than before I met them. Apparently the reason why this charge has been made against me is that, having been a number of years in Singapore, I ventured to give my views in regard to certain big dock works which have been undertaken there. I did not set myself up as an expert, but I simply stated the facts of the case. Since I spoke a month or two ago I have met one of the directors of the great causeway being erected at Singapore, and I asked him how he was going on with that work, and he told me that it was going to cost considerably more than the original estimate.
I do not set myself up as an expert upon the construction of docks or anything else. My objection is not so much to the expense of this naval base at Singapore. If that base is essential for the safety of the Empire it does not matter so much what it costs. My objection to this base is against the whole policy which it involves. It is an aggressive policy. We are told that this base at Singapore is going to be constructed merely as a matter of defence, but I do not look upon it in that way. We are told that it is intended to ensure the safety of the Empire. I look upon it as a step which will make war inevitable at some future date.
Another objection to it is, that it is contrary to the spirit of the Washington Treaty. I know we have been told that that is not so, because, when we were at Washington, it was well known by the other Powers that we reserved the right to develop Singapore. That, I think, is admitted, although I confess that I cannot find anything about it in the Report of the proceedings which resulted in the Washington Treaty. But granted that that is so, was there any reason why the other Powers at Washington should imagine that we were going to develop Singapore to the extent which it is going to be developed? I put a question the other day to the First Lord of the Admiralty as to the capital expenditure at Hong Kong up to date, and I was informed that, during the 81 years which we had occupied Hong Kong, we had 2568 spent £2,636,000 there. That is the sum we spent in 81 years on our naval base there. I do not think the other Powers assembled at Washington ever had it suggested to them that we were going to spend £9,000,000 or £11,000,000 in the next 10 years on a naval base at Singapore. I am sure that they never contemplated such an extraordinary increased outburst of expenditure on this new naval base.
What, I think, this House should address itself to is what will be the effect of this aggressive step. We are told that it is not a menace to other nations, but I would like to ask those hon. Members who make that statement and declare that Japan does not care what we are going to do in this respect, if they have made inquiries from Japanese people. It seems to be assumed that on this subject Japan is complacent, and regards our action at Singapore as something which does not concern them very much. On this point I should like to give one or two quotations from the Japanese Press, which I never like quoting from because it is such dreary work, but I think it is necessary that we should make ourselves acquainted with the opinion of other Powers who are interested, and must be interested, in this question. Here is a quotation from a correspondent in Tokyo, and he starts by saying:That the Singapore Naval Base which Great Britain intends to construct is as much a menace and a challenge to Japan as if a base were constructed at Hong Kong, and that the project is a flagrant violation of the spirit underlying the Washington Naval Agreements, are the conclusions to which that section of the Japanese Press which has hitherto discussed the proposal of the British Admiralty, have arrived. There is not so much discussion of the project as the foreigner anticipated, but such comment as has appeared in the Press of the Far Eastern island Empire is especially noteworthy for a suppressed vein of intense bitterness that can be read between the lines.That is from a Singapore paper.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
On a point of Order. I would like to ask you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, if it is in order for an hon. Member to read extracts from foreign newspapers in this Committee. I ask the question because on one occasion I ventured to do that in the case of an Australian newspaper. I was called to order by Mr. Speaker, and I had to sit down.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Fitzroy)
The hon. Member is not out of order in quoting from this newspaper.
§ Mr. DARBISHIRE
Another Japanese newspaper, the "Yomiyuri," says:Japan cannot but view with misgivings an action that infringes on the fundamental spirit of friendship between nations and is calculated to lead to serious practical consequences, because it will tend to shake and ultimately destroy the foundations on which good will between Japan and Great Britain can continue to be maintained. … It it easy to see that the actions of our old Ally will confront the nations of the Far East with a serious problem. … By taking that step, knowing full well that it is not to Japan's liking, Great Britain is positively ignoring Japan's good will.Here is another quotation from the same paper, the "Yomiyuri," of the 5th May, 1923:The new Singapore naval base scheme of Great Britain only serves to give moral support to militarists in Japan and Great Britain. We take it that the plan has been laid out through the fear that Japan has a territorial ambition in India and Australia.If that be so, why cannot this question be discussed at a conference? Japan is not an intrinsically rich nation, but she has a teeming population which must expand, and I appeal to hon. Members to support the calling of a conference on this subject, as provided under the Washington Treaty, at which this important question may be discussed and considered. Another Japanese newspaper, the "Tokio Asahi," of the 23rd May, 1923, says:The British scheme to enlarge the naval base at Singapore is one of the factors which casts shadows on the future of the Washington Treaty. Of course, this scheme is not a violation of the Treaty as Singapore, by deliberate precaution of the British delegates at Washington, was put outside the area within which the Treaty precludes the parties from establishing a fresh naval base. However, to build a big naval base on the Pacific only one year after the Treaty was drawn up, cannot be regarded as respecting the spirit of the Agreement. If the world's peace can be maintained, as the Treaty aims at, it will be achieved only by sincere endeavours of the parties to keep up the Agreement, and so we regret very much this British policy, which is apparently to provide for the future time in view of the expiration of the Treaty.Here is a quotation from another newspaper, the "Tokio Nichinichi" of the 18th July, 1923:We fear that this policy may create trouble, and eventually may give chance for the second world war.2570 Then the "Jiji Shimpo" says:We regret that all British politicians regard Japan as a warlike nation.So much for opinion in Japan, but what about Holland? Will they be encouraged to follow our example? Will they be assured that if Japan is going to attack us that their Dutch possessions in the East Indies are not liable to be taken from them? Of course they are, and they have already taken steps, for in November a Royal Commission was appointed in Holland and established by a Royal Resolution on 21st November, 1922, and installed on 29th November, a Royal Commission on the naval question and it has now issued its Report. That Commission consisted of a chairman, Dr. R. J. H. Patyn (a leading diplomatist), seven members, all men of high positions, naval and military, finance, Dutch East Indian Civil Service and members of the Dutch Privy Council. They issued their Report on 7th April, 1923, and I should like to draw attention to that Report. There were also two minority Reports which only differ on unimportant questions. On page 8 of the Report of this Royal Commission there is a reference to Article 19 of the Washington Treaty, which is quoted in full and commented on as follows:None of the Treaty Powers with the exception of Great Britain (Singapore) shall establish naval bases for their fleets in the neighbourhood of the waters of the Dutch Archipelago. Therefore the Tanjong Priok base which the Commission considers indispensable for our Fleet will have a special significance. … Violation of the neutrality of the Dutch East India possessions would provide the enemy of the offending Power with a valuable base.Of course, if by establishing a base at Singapore we are going to encourage the Dutch to do the same thing at Tanjong Priok the first thing that will happen at the outbreak of war will be that the Japanese will "Copenhagen" it before we can get anywhere near it. They are only six days away. The Government of the Netherland Indies and the naval authorities are strongly in favour of the new base, but I notice in one of the papers this morning that the Minister of Finance has resigned as a protest against the expenditure. Such a contingency is not, I suppose, likely to arise in connection with the British Government. What is all this going to cost Holland? The estimated expenditure is £25,000,000. 2571 The Dutch are doing it in style; they are not going to have merely one base. They are going to have a base at Tanjong Priok and two subsidiary bases at Sourabaya and Rhio, and Rhio is only 10 or 12 miles from Singapore and almost opposite it. Incidentally it is of historical interest to recall that it is the place from which Dutch trade used to be distributed before Sir Stanford Raffles captured Singapore. These recommendations involve a cost of £5,000,000 for Tanjong Priok and £1,500,000 for Sourabaya, and the amount for Rhio is not mentioned, and they have got to have a protective fleet for submarines and planes, and the report goes on to say:Holland will preserve the peace of the world by these means.The cost of the whole scheme is £25,000,000, £17,000,000 on the fleet and £8,000,000 on these naval bases. Holland is not one of the signatories to the Four Power Treaty. Are we to put the spark to all this combustible material that we see lying about in the East? Apparently we are, to judge from the speeches to which we have listened from the other side and in another place. I refer especially to the speech of Lord Linlithgow the other day which makes it quite evident that we are preparing—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
That would not be in order. The hon. Member may refer to a speech made in another place, but he may not read it.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
Is it not in order to refer to declarations of policy made by responsible Ministers in another place?
§ Mr. DARBISHIRE
I will not read what the Noble Lord actually said, but in effect it was that we could not engage on hostilities on a grand scale in the Pacific without this base at Singapore. He proceeded to refer to the Washington Treaty and said the central idea of that Treaty—the peaceful idea—might hold good for the next 10 years, but that when it came to an end, unchecked construction would at once begin again. It is all in keeping with the policy of this Govern- 2572 ment. They have the war mind, and one sees it at work right through their policy—dyestuffs, in order to provide explosives and poison gas for the next war, and millions of pounds spent on aircraft—against whom? Against France. We see it, not only in this House, but, I regret very much to say, we see it outside this House. I read a speech by Lord Haig the other day in which he quoted a text which, curiously enough, comes from the parable of the soul possessed by an evil spirit. He only quoted half the text:When a strong man armed keepeth his palace his goods are in peace.He did not quote the succeeding verse, which is as follows:But when a stronger than he shall come upon him and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusteth and divideth his spoils.Christ, when He was pointing the moral, said:Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the Word of God, and keep it.
§ Mr. DARBISHIRE
I think all we can say about it is that the little red books do not mix well with the good old Book. What about the United States of America? We have heard from hon. Members opposite quotations from speeches in America, by which it is sought to lead us to believe that this proposal of ours is accepted and agreed to with complacency by the American people. That is by no means the case, as I propose to show by what will be my final quotation. It is a quotation from Senator Capper of Kansas—The hope of the world to-day is the abolition of war. Either civilisation must destroy war or war will destroy civilisation. The next war, if there be permitted to be a next war will be a war of extermination. … The best sentiment of America always has looked forward to a time when differences between nations and peoples might be adjudicated without war.In their signature to the Washington Treaty we have already had a gesture from America. In putting their signature to that treaty, they denied themselves the right to have a base from which they could operate against Japan in the East, and, as I understand it, that hits the American people very hard. We are told we must have this base as a defence of our Eastern trade. Have the Americans no Eastern trade? Why should they think 2573 it unnecessary to have a base to defend their Eastern trade?
§ Mr. DARBISHIRE
What has that to do with it? [HON. MEMBERS: "Everything."] They have got the Philippines, and do you suppose that, if there were an outbreak of war, Japan would seize upon India and take over that great responsibility while engaged in fighting us? I never heard a more ridiculous suggestion in my life. We should reply to this gesture—I accept it as such—and we should also hold our hand and not take this aggressive course at Singapore. In any case, we should have more opportunity to discuss it. We were told by the First Lord, at another stage of the discussions on this question, that it was not in a great hurry and that we were going to proceed in a leisurely fashion with this base. One naturally assumes, if we are going to take 10 years about it, proceeding in a leisurely fashion, that it can be built in a much shorter time if we proceed expeditiously, and there is no reason why we should plunge into this expenditure now. I assume that the work could be done in seven or eight years, and the subject might be left open for discussion for another two years before we embark upon this expenditure. We are told that no self-respecting nation should be dependent on the good will of another nation. We are told that it is intolerable that we should exist on sufferance and that we should be existing on sufferance if this base is not proceeded with. I say there is something much more intolerable and it is that, in this year of our Lord, 1923, there should be British men and women upholding the un-Christian doctrine that peace can only prevail on this earth through the medium of preparation for the butchery of millions of God's creatures in different parts of the world. I say there is a better way, and I pray God that the Prime Minister and the Government may have the strength and the determination and the vision to choose that better way, for where there is no vision the people perish.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir A. SHIRLEY BENN
There is one aspect of this problem which should be considered very fully before we come to a decision. We are absolutely dependent on our overseas trade. We have to im- 2574 port annually over £300,000,000 worth of meat, wheat, cheese, and butter, and we have to send our goods with which to pay for them all over the world. Our shipping and our commerce must be proof against attack. Many of us hope that the day is not far off when the League of Nations will settle disputes, and will be able to enforce its decisions either by moral suasion or by combined effort, but, until that time comes, I do not believe any of us are prepared to say that we should not be in a position to protect the commerce on which we live. I was in Washington as a visitor when the Conference took place, and when I came back to England I was aware of the fact that, although we had given up the development of Hong Kong, we were going to develop Singapore. I am perfectly certain that the bulk of the American people desired us to do so. They know that in the Pacific our duty is to act as police, and that we have no aggressive intentions. If we had any aggressive feeling, if we thought that we should fight with our late Allies and friends, the Japanese, I do not imagine that Lord Balfour and our people in Washington would ever have agreed to discontinue the work of putting Hong Kong into the position of a base from which to attack. It seems ridiculous to assume that because we are going to establish a base 3,000 miles away from Japan the Japanese should think we intend it for the purpose of fighting them. One might as well say that if we were to develop Plymouth, America should get nervous lest we were establishing a great base from which to launch attacks against her. I believe the Japanese have far too much sense to take up that attitude unless they are put into the position of thinking that this is our intention by some of the speeches which we hear delivered in opposition to this proposal. We are going to protect our commerce and to protect our Empire, and I believe it is absolutely necessary we should do so. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) referred to Admiral Mahan. May I refer to Admiral Mahan's criticism upon the handling of the Russian Fleet at Port Arthur? He said, in criticising it:These water fortresses exist chiefly for the purpose of sheltering a fleet and keeping it fit to act offensively.2575 My right hon. Friend mentioned that it was impossible for battleships to go out without protective craft, but I can recollect when two battleships were sent out to China in the early part of the present century, when Russia was strengthening her fleet. Not being a naval man, I do not believe in talking about naval matters from an expert standpoint, but my right hon. Friend has told us that these protective craft are necessary. I should like to ask him, however, of what use the protective craft would be unless there was a base where they could oil up and get ready for action? According to Admiral Mahan, a base is an absolute necessity for a fleet. I would urge upon the Committee that we are not putting this forward with the idea of going in for fighting, but in order that we may be able to get the fleet out into the Pacific. It is all very well to say that Japan is limited to so many battleships, but we cannot send battleships out there unless we have a base. I hope the Committee will put away all idea that this is an aggressive act on our part. It is for the protection of our Empire and for the protection of our trade.
§ Mr. SHORT
So far as the provision of adequate and essential naval defence is concerned, I think that we on this side are all in favour of such a provision, but it is argued that the provision of a base at Singapore is necessary for our trade and commerce and for the defence of our Colonies. I cannot help asking what this defence is needed for, and against whom? Are we anticipating some attack upon us by America, or Japan, or some other nation? I cannot myself believe that that is likely to occur, and I would further point out that this policy, which is put forward for the defence of our trade and commerce, is the policy which has hitherto been consistently followed by this country and by other great European countries in regard to naval and military matters. What has it led to? It has not eliminated war: it has not dispelled the fears and suspicions and hatreds which have been generated, which have culminated in war, and have flung the peoples of the world into a great cauldron of human desolation and butchery.
All experience goes to prove that, if we are developing these naval and military resources purely upon the basis that they 2576 are necessary to defend our trade here or Colonies there, we have no guarantee that it will not end in a similar great human catastrophe to that which has overtaken the world during the past few years. I am rather more inclined to echo the sentiments of the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Darbishire). I believe that the more we develop good will among the nations of the world, the more we break down suspicion and hatred and fear, the more we try to do everything possible to prevent the generation of those fears and motives which hitherto have animated mankind, the more likely are we to avoid the dangers and the ill results which come from war. Sufficient evidence has not been placed before us to justify the expenditure of so large a sum of money on the fitting out of a base over 3,000 miles from our own country. I think the Government should hesitate, and would be well advised to take the advice of the hon. Member for Westbury before it proceeds to develop so expensively the plan which is now submitted. I would much prefer to depend upon the good will of nations and to develop the spirit of peace among the peoples of the world, than to create a still further great naval base and armaments such as hitherto have not prevented war, but seem to me to have inspired people with fear and hatred, which have culminated in disaster.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
I rise chiefly because of some remarks which were made by the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney). He spoke not so much as a member for the Navy League as almost as a member for the Admiralty, and he put to us the definite question: Are we prepared to go against the First Lord's advice on a question like that of Singapore? I am quite prepared to say that I am, because a question like that of Singapore is a big national question. It is not a technical question for the Admiralty to decide, but is one for them only to give their opinion upon. I think it will be a very sad thing if questions of this character are going to be decided by a Department and recommended in an overriding way by a Department to the House of Commons, to be taken almost as if they were decided before there had been any discussion in the House at all. I was very much struck by the hon. and gallant Member's curious outlook upon 2577 the Admiralty itself. Apparently, when the Admiralty makes any mistake, it is going to be put down to some other person, such, for instance, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith). Of course, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley can look after himself in this House, but really the accusation against him this afternoon is absolutely grotesque. I suppose we shall soon be hearing that the lack of mines at the beginning of the War, the misuse of aircraft, and also the lateness in bringing in the convoy system, were not in any way due to the Admiralty, but will be put down to some politician, probably, on the other side.
I maintain that the hon. and gallant Member should certainly be the First Lord of the Admiralty, because he disposed this afternoon of most of the weapons of offence and defence which are at present used by the Navy. First of all, of course, we all owe the hon. and gallant Member a great debt for his invention of the paravane, which, in a large measure, did away with the damage that mines caused. But we cannot get away altogether from mines, in spite of the invention of the hon. Member. Then, immediately afterwards, he developed the idea that the submarine was of no use because it could not steam fast enough, and immediately after that he assured the Committee that he had invented one that went 40 knots. Later, he disposed of aircraft because of their lack of range, and he ended his remarks by inventing an airship which would carry aircraft, and stated that, if an airship of that character were built, then battleships would be of no use at all. I am not in a position, nor do I intend, to enter into a discussion on the relative merits of battleships and aircraft, but I hope that when the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) speaks later, he will deal with this heresy, held by an advocate of the Admiralty as to the efficiency of the battleship, in the way that he is so well able to do.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is misrepresenting the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge. He said in 20 years' time.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
I am sure it will take 20 years to make an airship of that character. I was rather in favour of the Singapore scheme 2578 until I heard the First Lord of the Admiralty speak upstairs in favour of it. I think he made one of the poorest cases I ever heard for this expenditure of some £30,000,000. One thing however, he did impress upon us, and that was, that there was no immediate hurry for this large expenditure. I feel that this is not a scheme which concerns this country so much as it concerns the Empire as a whole, and, if there is no hurry, and if it affects the Empire more than this country, I do say that we should be justified in delaying committing ourselves to this policy until the Imperial Conference meets. If the Imperial Conference meets in the autumn, and says it is right, I am prepared to vote for it, because it is an Imperial question; but I think we should not be stampeded into this expenditure by a Department before all our Empire can give a voice upon it. Until they say we want Singapore, and have to spend all this money, I shall vote against this Measure, and when they say we do want it, I shall be in favour of it.
§ Mr. THORNTON
As one who lived for a certain number of years in the part of the world with which this discussion is concerned, I venture very briefly to intervene. Although I agree with a good deal of what was said by the hon. And gallant Member for Cathcart (Captain J.P. Hay) on the first occasion when this matter was debated, I think his description on Singapore as a pestilential and immoral cesspool was a little bit overdrawn. It is true, perhaps, that in Singapore—I am afraid this will not meet with the approval of the Nobel Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor)—a few more drinks are consumed than there should be, but taking it by and large, Singapore cannot be fairly described in the scathing terms used by the hon. and gallant Member for Cathcart. Of course, I quite agree that the climate is exceedingly hot. I myself was not living in Singapore, but in Penang, which is about two days' sail from Singapore, and there was always a friendly rivalry as to which of the had the hotter climate. The inhabitants of Penang used to argue that Panang was the very much hotter place, and the inhabitants of Singapore argued that Singapore was the hotter.
During the last Debate, my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston (Mr. Penny) 2579 told us about Singapore. He had the advantage of me, for he lived in those parts for 20 years. My hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Darbishire), who has spoken this afternoon, also lived there for 20 years, and can speak with considerably greater experience than I can. Neither of those two hon. Gentlemen, perhaps, was engaged in quite the strenuous occupation in which I was engaged. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston was a broker, while my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury was a merchant. I was engaged in the strenuous occupation of the law, which, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney), who is sitting behind me, will agree, is a very strenuous occupation. In those parts there is a professional fusion, one practitioner acting in the dual capacity of solicitor and barrister. However, I managed to escape from that exceedingly warm climate in nine years. Not being a naval expert, I would not venture into any discussion on the technical side of this question, but I can say something as to the climatic conditions which obtain out there. Of all places in the world, Singapore seems to me about the most unsatisfactory to build a dock in, because of these climatic conditions. We are told the estimate has now been reduced to £9,500,000. I think it began at £11,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molten told us he was sceptical about this reduction. I am also sceptical. The hon. Member for Westbury, who knows the state of affairs there and was on the harbour board for 10 years, is also sceptical. Before we are done we shall spend probably no less than £20,000,000 on this dock. The whole of the labour you will have to employ in making it is Chinese labour. With our vast numbers of unemployed in this country, if you had some scheme to employ white labour—it would be impossible to employ it at Singapore—I should not feel so opposed to the scheme. I should like the First Lord to explain the extraordinary statement made by the Civil Lord in another place. My attention has been called to the matter by a letter in the "Times" to-day written by Sir Frank Swettenham, a very distinguished ex-Governor of the Straits 2580 Settlements. This is what the Noble Lord in another place said:Parliament and the country would learn with a lively sense of gratitude and pride that the Government of the Federated Malay States had decided to make a free gift of the land required for the naval base, 2,250 acres, and the ground required for the aerodrome, 597 acres.I think that statement must be wrong, because Singapore is a Crown Colony and the Federated Malay States are the hinterland, and the land in Singapore does not belong to the Federated Malay States.
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Amery)
I can explain that at once. It was a pure slip of the tongue. Having previously referred to the Federated Malay States, my Noble Friend used the words again instead of saying the Colony of the Straits Settlements. I believe he corrected it the next day in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and is making a statement in the House of Lords about it.
§ Mr. THORNTON
May we take it that the Crown Colony of the Straits Settlements is giving this land for the purpose of this dock and aerodrome?
§ Mr. THORNTON
I think it was important to get this matter corrected, because this distinguished ex-governor has sent this letter to the paper, and no less a gentleman than Mr. Geoffrey Drage had a letter in the "Times" the day before yesterday calling attention to it.
§ Viscount CURZON
I should like to deal with some remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert). One remark should not be missed. He said battleships were very valuable for defence against battleships. I want to emphasise and underline that, because he is one of those who are quoted by the critics of the Admiralty on the capital ship question. Ever since the end of the War there has been a sort of conspiracy on the part of a number of people to oppose whatever the Admiralty has proposed. First of all, a number of people said, "We must scrap The Navy." Then they watered that down to an attack on the capital ship. The next thing they went for was the Washington Agreement. They received everything that limited British naval power with the greatest possible pleasure, 2581 and yet when the Admiralty came to make proposals to carry out the Clause of the Washington Treaty relating to the building of the two new capital ships they were found in hearty opposition to it. Exactly the same people are employed in attacking the Admiralty because they propose to provide this base at Singapore. I think it is worth while to remember who some of these critics are. The right hon. Gentleman gave us a list of some of them, but it was not a full list. He talked of Admiral Lambert, Admiral Sir Percy Scott, Admiral S. S. Hall, and Admiral Sims. Those were his four authorities. I should like to ask him how many of those four distinguished officers held high command during the War.
§ Viscount CURZON
I quite agree, but he held no command at sea. Admiral Sir Percy Scott was director of the Board of Invention and Research. He held no command at sea. Admiral Lambert held no command at sea, I think, during the War. I am not quite certain about Admiral S. S. Hall.
§ Mr. J. JONES
On a point of Order. May I ask the noble Lord who had to carry out the orders these people gave?
§ Viscount CURZON
While the right hon. Gentleman quotes all these authorities as critics of the Admiralty, it should be remembered that they did not, for the most part, hold high command at sea during the War, whereas the Government's present advisers are all men who held high and distinguished command at sea during the War. All were actually on service, and commanded fleets or portions of fleets. Therefore, if I am invited to listen to authorities on the subject of strategy to-day, I would much rather take a man who held high and successful command during the War, who knows the conditions of war, rather than a gentleman who merely looked upon it 2582 from an office stool, however distinguished a career he may have had before the War. A lot of criticism has been levelled against the capital ship. It has been said Singapore is necesary because you want to have capital ships in the East. The right hon. Gentleman gave it as his opinion that battleships could not go there unless they were escorted by other craft. Has he also criticised the War Office for the composition of their armies? Is not an army constituted, in its own way, like a fleet? The Army is composed of all arms which are going to make it up—infantry, cavalry, artillery, tanks, machine guns, engineers, and so on. An army is not complete unless it has them, nor is a fleet complete unless it has all its arms with it, including destroyers, light cruisers battleships, aircraft carriers, and all the rest. A fleet that is lacking in one of these essentials is not really a fleet, and cannot effectively engage an enemy at sea. These things are only platitudes, but they seem to be completely missed in the criticism of Singapore. I invite anyone who wants to criticise the Admiralty in the matter of Singapore to get a map and look where it is. Singapore is 12 days' steam from Sydney, 28 days' steam from Malta, and 6½ days' steam from Japan. In fact, the distance from Japan to Singapore is about the same as the distance across the Atlantic. Therefore, I really fail to see that there should be any feeling in Japan that this is an aggressive act. They know the history of the British Empire. The British Navy has never been used, as far as I know, for aggressive purposes. It has always been used to police the oceans. It has always been known as the defender of the weak against the strong, and I challenge hon. Members opposite to give an instance where it has been used in any other sense. [HON. MEMBERS: "The Chinese War" and "Egypt!"] It has been said this was done in an underhand way. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney) quoted the "New York Herald," but failed to finish the quotation. It went on:The suggestion that Great Britain has done a very undesirable and rather a clever thing seems to fall to the ground.The fact is, that Article 19 of the Washington Treaty was drawn up to prevent competition in the construction of fortifi- 2583 cations and naval bases in the Pacific in positions which might form a menace to the safety of any one of the contracting parties. I believe that is the correct interpretation of the Article. It was drawn up in view of the geographical considerations and the future intentions of each party. How does the Washington Treaty affect each country? It prevents Great Britain doing anything at Hong Kong. It renders Hong Kong practically useless for a modern fleet. There is no storage for mines, there are no strong fixed defences and I believe there is no aerodrome. Therefore, Hong Kong is ruled out of the question. To the United States it renders the Philippines and the mid-Pacific islands absolutely useless, and unless the United States is able to place supplies of fuel in those places the American fleet cannot possibly cross the Pacific. The only effect the Treaty has on Japan is that she cannot increase the defences of Formosa and the Pescadores Islands in peace time. It becomes necessary, therefore, to examine the Admiralty proposals from that point of view. Singapore is 300 miles west of the western limitation laid down in the Washington Treaty. Another fact should also be borne in mind, that the disposition of the fleet just prior to the War was dependent entirely on the German menace and also upon the existence of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty. The German menace no longer exists. The Anglo-Japanese Treaty no longer exists. Therefore, surely, do we not come back, in our disposition of the fleet, to the state of affairs at the beginning of the century, and the Admiralty have to take stock of the future? The Lord knows we hope we shall never have to go to war again, and those who have been in this War most fervently hope that, because they have seen quite enough of it, but surely you are not justified in neglecting precautions.
Look at it from another point of view. We are apt to look at the idea of providing a base at Singapore entirely from the point of view of the Englishmen. Supposing you were in Australia or in New Zealand, what is going to be your view? The British fleet cannot operate in the East or in Eastern waters unless it has some base from which to operate. The same with regard to air- 2584 craft. Aircraft in that part of the world must operate on the back of the Navy or from a ship used as an aircraft carrier. Those facilities are not in existence there. The distances in that part of the world are terrific. The distance from Singapore to Hong Kong is 1,440 miles. An aeroplane cannot cover that. Therefore, they must work on the back of the Navy or on aircraft carriers. What would be the view of hon. Members if they were in Australia or New Zealand and they were told that the British fleet could not possibly come to their assistance if they were in danger? Surely this country will not turn round on Australia and New Zealand if they appeal to us for help. Considering what our great Dominions did for us during the War, and how ready they have always been to respond whenever we have needed their help, we cannot say to them, "We are very sorry that you are in danger, but we cannot come to your assistance." Here is a case where, I believe, and I have heard it stated by very eminent authorities, that both in Australia and in New Zealand this naval base of Singapore is very ardently desired. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who said that?"] Lord Long stated it the other day.
The duty of the Navy in war is fourfold. It has to keep open the sea, it has to destroy enemy seaborne trade, it has to secure the free movement of our own forces, and it has to prevent the dispatch overseas of enemy forces. That can only be done by the Navy being in the East, and the only possibility of the Navy being in the East is to have a dockyard there. The focal point is Singapore, and yet the idea of Singapore is being attacked. Supposing trouble arises in the Far East, are we simply to fold our arms and do nothing? Supposing a Labour Government was in power, and there was some act of aggression perpetrated, say, by the militarist party of some particular country, unless they were able to send a fleet there, they would have to accept the situation. If you send a fleet to the Far East, the Navy must have a base from which it can work. If you have to send your ships back to Malta for docking and repairs, you will be face to face with a difficulty. Even one ship detached from the fleet and sent back to Malta for docking would mean that during the absence of that ship the fleet might be in the greatest peril because of its 2585 inferiority. Ships have to be docked frequently. If a ship has been out of dock for a year, the efficiency and speed of the ship is reduced by 40 per cent. Therefore, ships are sent away at periodical intervals, whether they require repair or not, in order to be docked, and we must have facilities for that purpose at Singapore.
Singapore is close to the oil fuel regions. Our battle fleet burns nothing but oil fuel. Some hon. Members may say, "Why do you want oil fuel facilities? You have tankers which can follow the fleet about." Have hon. Members any idea of the number of tankers that would be necessary to keep the war fleet going with oil fuel? No fewer than 265 tankers would be needed. Therefore, we must have facilities for storing oil fuel at Sangapore. If you have oil tankers in company with the fleet they will delay the fleet, the fleet will be more vulnerable, and will use a great deal more fuel. Therefore, the Admiralty must have an oil fuel depot at Singapore.
The hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon) says that the cost of Singapore will be £30,000,000. The only figure I have heard is £10,500,000. I hope that when the First Lord of the Admiralty replies he will make it quite clear to the House and the country what the precise cost of Singapore is going to be. The hon. and gallant Member for Chatham believes in aircraft, and he wants to decry the Navy. It is curious to note that the people who oppose the Navy are composed of those who do not like armaments, those who are economists and who say that the Navy costs too much and, thirdly, the enthusiasts for the Air Force who say. "Give us the money that you spend on the Navy, and we will put it into the air." It is a curious combination, and it is curious that the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham who has rendered distinguished service, should ally himself with gentlemen on the other side, whose view is that the idea of the Navy is all wrong, and that it is merely bloated armaments.
I hope that the Committee will support the Admiralty and the Government in their proposals with regard to Singapore. I am convinced that this is the only way in which we can effectively protect the Eastern portions of our Empire. In this 2586 matter we are considering not only Australia and New Zealand, but also India. If a hostile Power ever took Singapore we could do absolutely nothing. We could never get them out, but at their leisure they could do whatever they liked. They could attack India, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand. They would have the time to do it. They could sit down and do it. Let us trust the Admiralty and the able advisers of the Government in this matter. They are men who have been tried, and they have not failed when they were tried. Let us stick to sea power. Let us stick to the advice given by the Naval Staff, and let us support the Admiralty in this proposition to develop Singapore.
§ Brigadier-General SPEARS
This debate so far has been so nautical that it is hard for a landsman who never had any sea legs to keep his bearings. There is a difference of opinion amongst technicians. Some, like the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon), wish to see this money poured into the sea, whereas the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Lieut.-Colonel Moore Brabazon) wishes to see it put into the air.
May I put forward the view and the idea of quite simple people in regard to this matter.
The Government undoubtedly are taking a serious responsibility in asking for this expenditure. It is extremely disappointing that we should be asked to make this large expenditure against our ex-Ally Japan. It is quite true, and of that I am convinced, that the Government have no hostile intentions whatever against Japan. It is simply a question of point of view. It is simply a question of the way in which the Government envisage their responsibilities. The Empire must be safe—we all admit that—but is it the best means of ensuring that safety to adopt the most obvious means of just arming and arming? Is it conducive to safety to pit ourselves against the strongest power in the Far East? Is it in the highest interests of the nation to take upon ourselves a burden which we may not be able to bear? To me it cannot but be a matter for intense regret that after six months of a Government, which I in my humble way endeavour to sun-port, whose motto is "peace and tranquillity," we should instead of as in the-bad old days arming against our enemies 2587 now find ourselves arming with a suspicious eye upon our friends. We may paraphrase Shakespeare and say to them:Derbyshire born and Derbyshire bred,But rather to beget more love in you.But the result is not likely to raise the temperature of friendship but rather, I fear, to develop a bleak, chilly and ever more icy atmosphere in the naturally warm climate of the Pacific. I should like to know what possible combination of circumstances might bring about a conflict between ourselves and Japan in the Far East. If we are told that, we shall then be able to judge whether we are being asked to take a reasonable course or, on the other hand, whether we are being persuaded to take an expensive and dangerous course which we may have every reason to regret, when we might have every reason to hope that sound and fair diplomacy, and honesty of political aim would be an amply sufficient guarantee.
Be this as it may, and supposing that all these considerations have been taken into account, as I assume they have been taken into account by the Government, if the Government still believe that this is a reasonable precaution which ought to be taken, it is not for the protection of the shores of this country that we are being asked to take it. We are being asked to protect Australia, the Malay States, New Zealand and even India. We ought to have some information as to how those dominions envisage the situation. What do they say? What are they prepared to contribute to a scheme which is devised for their safety? I do not deny that it is our duty to help them, but surely they ought to contribute something, and we ought to know how much.
Where, however, if I may say so, I really join issue with the Government is over the way in which this matter has been presented to the House. We are asked to vote £10,000,000 for the creation of a dock at Singapore. The Government must know that this dock is only a very small item in the total expenditure. My conviction is that the Government should have laid before Parliament the whole of these implications down to their furthest consequences. A dockyard of this kind means that a fleet would have to be based on 2588 it. A fleet is no use unless it can hold its own against the strongest Power in those waters. Where is this fleet to come from? What units are to be taken from the Home Fleet to form it? Can we spare them? Under the Washington Treaty we are allowed 15 battleships. We have got nine. If we had a figure approaching nine in those waters, what is there left for home defence? Can we have an absolute assurance that the fleet based on Singapore can be created out of existing resources or will other units have to be created? Even if the ships which are to be based on Singapore are drawn from existing resources, what would the cost of maintaining these ships be? Will they have to be maintained with their full complement instead of remaining half mobilised at home? Would this mean that a ship which would not otherwise be fully manned would have to be fully manned? What will the extra pay and allowances of officers and men in those waters amount to?
Singapore having become an important naval and military base must be able to withstand attack until such time as strong reinforcements can arrive from home. I understand that that would take at least a month. That surely is a very large order. Defences will be required. We all know that defences are expensive. How many guns and batteries will there have to be? There must be a garrison. What is the strength of the garrison to be? Is it going to be found by the Army or the Navy? Is it to be found from existing resources or will new units have to be created? What will the cost of it be? A garrison requires land and barracks. A garrison requires to be relieved even in times of peace. How much will the cost of this represent? An hon. and gallant Member on those benches said, and I am of his opinion, that an attack from the land must be envisaged. Dealing with a problem of this kind when your possible opponent is a strong military Power that has to be taken into account. How is it being envisaged? Then finally you cannot conceive an important base of this kind without an adequate Air Force. We know that we cannot spare anything from our existing resources for Singapore. We also know that the programme which we are considering at the present moment, with an eye on the French, is an entirely 2589 separate item. A new force will have to be created. What is the size of this force to be? How much is it going to cost? We are entitled to know that.
All these matters must be taken into consideration. The naval and military staff must have considered them. They must have worked out a scheme down to its furthest implication. If they have not done that then there is something seriously wrong with them and with the Committee of Imperial Defence. Assuming, as we must assume, that these plans have been worked out, then if after this study of theirs they are of opinion that the dock is sufficient and that no extra fortifications will be required and no expense need be incurred, that we can do it all out of existing resources, then a distinct undertaking by the Government to that effect ought to be given. We have had no such undertaking.
I fear that the House will be constantly called upon, once we have embarked on a scheme of this kind, for further money. Once you have spent your first £10,000,000 you cannot stop for the sake of another million or so. It is quite plain before we take the first step that we must decide whether we can afford also all the others. We may perhaps be able to find £10,000,000 for a very important scheme, although the money is so badly required elsewhere, but even that money ought to be called for only for a most urgent matter. If more is required where is the money to come from? What new taxes are to be levied? What further curtailment in our present expenditure must take place?
All this information ought to be furnished by the Government, and at least I should hope that the whole matter will be postponed until after the meeting of the Imperial Conference, when the matter can be thrashed out by all the Dominions sitting round the table, and when this House could have had a little further information.
My last word is that although fully alive to the magnitude of our Empire and knowing the heavy responsibilities and sacrifices which this entails, we ought not to shoulder so heavy a burden without the fullest investigation, and we ought not to sanction such a scheme, a scheme which will bind future Governments and future Houses of Parliament, without a great deal more investigation. It is impossible to stop or go back once you have started. You 2590 have always got to be prepared to find a million pounds or so more, so let this Committee pause and reflect before it empties these bags of gold into the blue waters of the Pacific, before it fastens this live bait to the end of the long line of our Imperial communication and stations.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Some Members of this House never learn anything at all. The hon. Member for the Westbury Division of Wiltshire (Mr. Darbishire) and other hon. Members have repeated the old arguments which were used in this House before the War. I remember sitting in this House and hearing that Mr. Murray MacDonald and over 100 Liberal Members of Parliament had, in January, 1914, presented a document to the then Government asking them to reduce the Navy on the ground, among others, that to keep the Navy at the strength at which it then was, was a provocation to Germany, from whom we had nothing to fear. Exactly the same argument was repeated by the hon. Member. He said that the Singapore dockyard was going to be provocative to Japan, that if we did this Japan would do something else, and that it would be far better if we put our destinies into the hands of a conference and took no further steps. We had the Hague Conference before the War. We put ourselves into the hands of a conference and signed the agreement about Belgium, and it was treated as a scrap of paper. What is the use of anybody coming to this House and telling us that, instead of taking precautions to protect our Empire, we are to place our reliance upon a conference?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not know what the hon. Member means. After the Boer War, I made a plain speech imploring the electors to learn the lesson of the Boer War, and to have a strong Army and a strong Navy as a preventive of war, and a precaution for peace. Had they listened to that, and listened to Lord Roberts, we should not have had the War, and if we had not had the War we should not have lost the lives which we did lose and not have spent the money which we did spend. The hon. Member for Westbury repeated the old argument that has been used by Members of the Labour party that if there is a riot you should not allow any police to 2591 come because they give provocation to the rioters, but that you should allow everybody to knock everybody else about, and that if you have any police you provoke the riot. The very reverse is the case. We were told during the War that that War was going to end all wars in the world. While that was said by certain people I cannot believe that any sensible person ever believed it. Unfortunately, so long as human nature is what it is we shall have wars and rumours of wars from now to the end of the world whenever that may be, and our best preparation for peace is to prepare for war and let other countries see that we intend to protect our possessions.
I have always stood as an economist, and I support the proposal to have a dockyard at Singapore as an economist. By preparation against war, by being able to put our forces in a proper place, in a proper position, when we are threatened by other countries, we save money, and not only do we save money, but we save lives. The hon. Member opposite said that America would be provoked, and Holland would be provoked. He told us what Holland was going to do and what Holland was going to spend. What on earth have we got to do with Holland? Holland looks after its own affairs. Let us look after ours. I think that my Noble Friend said that it was a well-known fact that the British Navy was not aggressive and never had been aggressive, but had endeavoured to preserve the peace of the world, and had fought quite rightly to preserve our own nation. Therefore I am in favour of the base at Singapore. I listened to Lord Beatty, and though I do not profess to know much about the Navy, I was much struck with what Lord Beatty said, and I certainly understood that the expenses were to be somewhere about £10,000,000.
Even supposing the expenditure was going to be £20,000,000 or £30,000,000, is it not worth that to preserve the Empire? I trust the expenditure will be nothing like that; as far as I can ascertain, the cost will probably not be more than about £10,000,000. The lessons of the past have shown that we ought to make our preparations in time. When we make preparations in peace we can get material and labour at the ordinary prices current in peace time; but if it is put off to the 2592 last moment, and everything has to be done in a hurry, the amount we have to pay is trebled or quadrupled. I had intended to say a few words on the Report of the Estimates Committee, but I felt obliged to say first what I have just said about Singapore, because it is most important for this country to realise that, whatever it costs us, we must keep a strong navy and a strong army, and it is economy to do so.
With regard to the Estimates Report, we say there that the opinion was expressed by the Admiralty representative that economies might be effected in administration if what was the Transport Department of the Admiralty in 1914, and was transferred to the Ministry of Shipping during the War, were handed back to the Admiralty by the Mercantile Marine Department of the Board of Trade. We also dealt with a variety of other matters which I shall not go into on this Vote, except to say that throughout the Report our idea was not to avoid spending money on the Navy, but to avoid spending money unnecessarily. There has been a great increase in expenditure in the Medical Establishment and Services, although there has been a reduction in the number of men in the Fleet. We found that there are now four Surgeon Rear-Admirals, costing £8,431, whereas in 1914 there were three, and the cost was £4,499. The ward masters have been increased from six, costing £1,097, to 12, costing £4,851, though it must be evident that with a reduction in the number of men in the Navy the number of patients is less than in 1914. The educational services in 1913 cost £175,000, with 151,000 men in the fleet: now, when there are 99,500 men, the cost is £353,000. It is remarked that this is partly explained by the great increase in the technical training now necessary for all ranks. I hope that Members who are desirous of having an efficient Navy at as small a cost as possible will study the Report of this Committee, of which I have the honour to be chairman. We believe that by economy you can decrease the expenditure while not reducing the size of the Navy. Concerning the pay of the Navy, we issued an appendix to the Report showing the rates of pay and comparing them with the pay of unskilled labourers and with engineer fitters in civil life, and we also exposed the fallacy 2593 that up to 1919 the pay of the Navy had not been increased since the days of Nelson. It had been increased. In 1918 an able seaman received 1s. 6d. to 1s. 11d. a day, and a leading seaman 2s. to 2s. 4d. In 1806 an able seaman received 1s. 1d. a day, which, as I have shown, was increased to 1s. 11d.; and in 1806 the men paid for their own clothes, whereas in 1914 the clothing was provided.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Does not the right hon. Gentleman know that that is entirely untrue? Seamen get one free issue of kit, but afterwards they have to keep up their kit.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am quite certain that when the hon. and gallant Gentleman said the statement was "untrue" he meant that it was incorrect; but in any case he was wrong, because these figures were put in by the Admiralty. Under these circumstances, and in view of the fact that the Navy has been reduced very considerably, I trust the Admiralty will endeavour to make economies in the matter of pay from the top to the bottom. Where you have got a contract with a man you cannot alter it. I have always said that, and I voted with hon. Members opposite on the question of the school teachers. However improvident the contract may have been, you cannot alter it. That consideration does not apply, however, to people entering the Service in future. They are on a different footing; and I think there ought to be a considerable change. It may be said you have men doing the same work and getting different rates of pay. Probably that will be true; but here is a question which has to be tackled. There are difficulties and they must be tackled. If something of that sort is done at once there will be money to establish a base at Singapore.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
hope the Admiralty will listen to no part of the recommendations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). He pointed out that in 1806 able seamen received 1s. 1d. a day, and that to-day in 1923 they receive 1s. 11d.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
No, that is wrong. In 1918 they received is. 11d. Since then their pay has been very much increased. At the present time they receive after three years' service, when holding the 2594 non-substantive rank of assistant gunner, and one G.C. badge, £2 7s. 7d. I will give a copy of the Report to the hon. and gallant Member.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I think the hon. Baronet has shown by these figures that the rise in pay was long overdue. The figure of £2 7s. 7d. includes, I think, what he is pleased to put down as the value of lodging and food. This, however, is only one of many mischievous recommendations the right hon. Gentleman makes in his Report, and I hope the Admiralty will pay no attention whatever to it, and I hope this Committee will not support the Admiralty if they do listen to the voice of the charmer from the City of London, especially as regards reducing the pay of officers of the Navy. Naval officers are the only officers who have no marriage allowance, and the naval officer's life is absolutely different from that of the officers in the Air Service or the Army. This new policy in the Pacific will mean that the naval officer sent there will have to leave his wife and family at home and make provision for them. He is in a tropical climate, and must be separated from them. I hope the Admiralty will not listen to this economy. The right hon. Baronet talked about a strong Army and a strong Navy, but he simply counts noses and guns; he does not realise that it is necessary to have a contented service as well as a service numerous in personnel and ships.
The rest of his speech was thoroughly honest. I enjoyed every word of it. He preached the old doctrine before the War, and he pours scorn on the idea that the War had anything to do with the prevention of war in the future—a very valuable admission indeed, and I hope it will be noticed in the country. I must make a comment on the very interesting speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney). A lot of what he said was technical. I think we already have a submarine vessel that can go 40 miles an hour under the water, the only difference is that no one lives on board it. It is known as a torpedo. If that is possible with a torpedo, I think it is also possible to make a submarine to go at that speed under water. I take great exception to what he said when he blamed my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) for the 2595 lack of a war staff. He knows as well as anyone that you cannot make a war staff in five or six years, and if the Liberal Government at the outbreak of the War were to blame, as I admit they were, for not creating a war staff, so were the Conservatives to blame, who had been in power some years before them.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
What I blame the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley for was that after he became convinced that he ought to have a war staff he sent Mr. Winston Churchill to the Admiralty to form a war staff, and then had not the courage to make Mr. Churchill have a war staff; because Mr. Churchill found out as soon as he started that a war staff was cramping his Napoleonic activities.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
In other words, he agrees that one of the few mistakes made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley—everyone makes mistakes, after all—was not to send the present Lord Haldane to the Admiralty instead of sending him to the War Office. If we had had Lord Haldane at the Admiralty for the years that he was at the War Office, he would have done as much for the Navy as he did for the Army, and the War would have been over two years sooner. But one could not expect all that to be foreseen at the time. Talking about war staffs, I must draw the attention of the First Lord of the Admiralty to the great necessity—I think it is agreed upon by all thinking officers in all three Services—for either a combined staff college or a combined higher class for war, in which we shall have the officers of all three Services. The principles of war are the same whether you fight with knights on horseback or with the latest machinery of modern war. The principles remain exactly the same as in the time of Cæsar, Napoleon, or Foch. It is most essential that the officers of the three Services should be brought together to exchange ideas. They were forced by the War to come together, but, owing, I am afraid, to lack of enterprise on the part of the Government they are drifting apart to-day, and I do put in a word for some combined war course.
2596 I want to make only one other remark on the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge. He spoke of the great progress made in apparatus for detecting and destroying submarines. I would ask him not to look on this matter from the North Sea point of view. Compared with a war in the Pacific, the late War in the North Sea was a parochial affair. The main theatre was the North Sea, where the distances are nothing compared with the distances in the Pacific. I beg of him not to mislead the Committee into thinking that it is possible in any way by talking to Japan to prevent submarine cruisers from getting into the open sea, unless we are going to seize the islands in the Japanese seas and to fortify thoroughly with mines. If the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London and other speakers on the other side of the Committee are correct—they have all supported the Admiralty, except the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon), who objects to the money being spent at Singapore because he wants to spend it on his own dockyard at Chatham—if they are right, I must confess that the Singapore policy is right on strategical grounds.
If Japan be the enemy, and if you are preparing for another war, and if there is a danger of war against Japan—I admit that in a generation, perhaps, the increase of population in Japan, and the urge to fill the great spaces in Australia may lead to great trouble between the two Empires—then Singapore is the most important strategical point in the world. But let us see where that leads us. We cannot leave the heart of the Empire undefended. There is a greater menace to-day than any that may come in 20 years' time from Japan. There is the menace to the nerve centre of the Empire from the air, and the same policy would lead hon. Members opposite to demand a sufficient expenditure of money on the Air Service to keep the heart of the Empire secure, before we waste money on extravagant—
§ Viscount CURZON
I would ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether he remembers the frequent occasions when he has impressed on the Admiralty the importance of establishing a base at Singapore? I have heard him do so many times.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Yes. That was before the Washington Conference, and I still say it is the most important strategic base in the world. First, of all, however, you have got to be strong eough in the air to keep the capital of the Empire secure. If Singapore is going to be your principal base in the East, you must have naval defences, as well as fortifications on land, and local air defences. You must have a striking force at Singapore, because your main fleet is going to be in the Mediterranean, a very wise move. While it will take a considerable time to reach Singapore, the advanced Japanese base will only be a few days steam, and it will be possible to land troops on the Malay Peninsula. There are no roads or railways there at present, but I suppose we are going to develop that very rich part of the world, and to build roads and railways. Either a landing will be effected there, and long-range guns will blow the dock to smithereens before the fleet arrives, or else they will seize a base on the islands of Java or Sumatra, and there will be great difficulty in turning them out. The only way to prevent that is to have a strong striking force, which will prevent such an expedition being carried oversea until that expedition has been met, and an attempt made to defeat it.
I think I am right so far. That being the case, you are dispersing your forces, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South: Molton (Mr. Lambert) put it. The sound strategy would be to have your main striking force at Singapore. You should have a sufficient naval force at Singapore to be able to meet the immediately mobilisable Japanese fleet, with a chance of success. That means that your main fleet, at any rate, equal to that of Japan, must be kept at Singapore. Are you going to leave the Mediterranean without a fleet also? In other words, we must double the strength of the British Navy if we are going to be safe. If we are going to follow up the doctrine of the right hon. Member for the City of London, combined with the Singapore policy, we shall have, at least, to double the strength of the Navy. I do not think the Admiralty are right in building this graving dock at Singapore. I do not think the position is sufficiently certain as to what will be the utility of a battleship in 10 years time to justify this expenditure. We ought to be content 2598 with a floating dock, but that is only a detail, and I only desire to make it in passing.
It is logical, and I think inevitable, that the policy which the Committee is asked to approve must lead to enormous expenditure. You cannot get away from that. We shall have not only to have this base at Singapore, equipped for submarines, and at present, I am sorry to say, for the succour and support of big ships, but we ought to have subsidiary bases in North Australia and elsewhere. I do not want to go into that matter in detail, for certain reasons. We have to face the fact that if we are going on with the present policy, it will not mean an expenditure of a mere £10,000,000 before we are through with it, but I shall be very much surprised if we get out of it under £50,000,000. It is not contemplated to build a submarine base in the Straits of Malacca, but that will have to come absolutely inevitably, and there will be many other preparations also. If we get out of it under £50,000,000 I shall be surprised. It is no good making this gesture of hostility to Japan unless you do the thing thoroughly, and you have to be so strong that no one dare challenge you. You have therefore to pay for it, and to be prepared to cut down your expenditure on social reform, education, and everything else.
Are we prepared to face that? The end of it all will be that suspicion and rivalry will lead to only one end, namely, war, and nothing else. It will be war in the Pacific; a trade war. It will be a bitter and long-drawn-out war, with no possibility of a vital blow being struck by us against Japan, or by Japan against us. It will be a war of exhaustion, with one maritime country fighting another. It will be a long-drawn-out cruiser war, like some of our wars with the French, which, incidentally, were largely fought in Eastern waters. It will be long-drawn-out, and terribly expensive. It is the Admiralty's business to prepare for war, and I ask the Staff, for Heaven's sake, to face this matter. In a Pacific war, there is one country which can absolutely turn the scale, and that is Russia. You should get rid of your sentiment. It is necessary for us, as a corollary to this policy to be on good terms with Russia in order to have the use of her bases in the Far East, and the pressure she can bring to bear against a possibly hostile China. We 2599 cannot afford a hostile Russia on the Indian frontier if we are engaged in a war with Japan.
The Admiralty War Staff have not only got to think of battleships, torpedoes, and aeroplane carriers, but of political forces. For Heaven's sake, let them face up to facts. In such a Pacific war the country that would turn the scale is Russia, and the ridiculous policy of the Government in the Baltic and the Black Sea recently, and our policy during the last few years, especially in alienating Russia over the Dardanelles, may cost us more than £50,000,000 in the future; it may cost us our Empire. What is the alternative? It is to adopt the proposal of the French delegates at the Peace Conference, which, I am sorry to say, we turned down, namely, all-round disarmament and international police, and that is what we have to come to.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
When a Vote is specially asked for by the Opposition for the purpose of discussing a definite subject, it is always understood that we should keep to that subject, and I therefore propose to discuss solely the question of Singapore. In reference to what has just been said, I agree that the Washington Conference has left the proportion of armaments between this country and Japan, and between America and Japan, with so small a margin that it is impossible for the War Staffs of either country to assure their Governments that they could win a victory. But that is one of the merits of the position, namely, that each country is deterred from going to war because it has not a sufficient margin to ensure victory. I think it is a fact, also, that in the event of Japan returning to an aggressive policy, such as she had against China during the War, the War Staffs of both Great Britain and America will assure their Governments that their Governments must combine if they are to exercise successful coercion on Japan.
Turning to the general Debate, I remember that the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Darbishire), who spoke earlier to-day, also spoke on a former occasion. On that occasion, he twitted the First Lord as having delivered a sermon to the House of Commons. I wonder what we ought to say to the speech to which we listened to-day from the hon. Member for 2600 Westbury? Surely that was a sermon, and a very gloomy and lugubrious one. The hon. Member tried to disclaim the position of an expert, but the Independent Liberal Party are determined that he shall be an expert, because he prophesied that the expense would be twice as great as the Admiralty forecast. Instead of £9,500,000, he said we should be lucky if it cost less than £20,000,000. I have not been able to discover any solid foundation for what he said. While I listened to him, my spirits became gloomier and gloomier, and then I remembered a small couplet which I used to hear when I was a youth,Derbyshire born and Derbyshire bred, Warm in the heart and weak in the head.I could not, as I said, find any solid foundation for his assertions, but I know this, that the Admiralty have carried out surveys, and they have found solid foundations for their wharves and docks; they know where the granite is reached, and are able to form careful estimates. I believe their estimate, which has now been reduced to £9,500,000, will not be exceeded. This subject was introduced by the right hon. Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert). He described himself as a pupil of Lord Fisher, and he proved himself to be a very apt pupil, because he spoke with absolute conviction. He used reiteration as an argument, and Lord Fisher's favourite maxim was—Reiteration is the secret of conviction.The right hon. Gentleman also ventured to prophesy, and we know that Lord Fisher was a past master in the art of prophesying. My right hon. Friend is accustomed to say that Lord Fisher had an uncanny gift of prophecy, but I can remember the day in 1902, when Lord Fisher, with the help of the Navy League, was trying to concentrate the whole British Fleet in the Mediterranean. In his lectures there, which he was indiscreet enough to publish afterwards to the Navy, he said that Armageddon would be fought in the Mediterranean. The right hon. Member for South Molton indulged in a number of prophecies. He said it was quite impossible to send the British Fleet out to the Far East, but the staff of the Admiralty are quite confident that they can send it there. The right hon. Gentleman also said that it would be quite impossible to send the British Fleet 2601 from Singapore to the rescue of Hong Kong. Now, the distance is only 1,440 miles, while the steam radius of ships is in the neighbourhood of 15,000 miles. It is the old story of submarine attack.
The right hon. Gentleman will not be convinced by facts; he himself has seen a chart of the North Sea where the spaces are very black with the tracks of the Grand Fleet, so black, in fact, that one can hardly see the chart itself, because of the tracks all over the North Sea, and that is all, in spite of the submarine menace. If Hong Kong were attacked by the Japanese, with Singapore only four days' steaming from Hong Kong, it would make someone exclaim, as Cromwell did in a certain battle, "The Lord has delivered them into my hands." It would, in my opinion, be a foolhardy thing for the Japanese to attack Hong Kong while we had a great fleet at Singapore, and that is the truth of our position in regard to the whole of our interests in the Far East. In regard to India, in regard to Australia, in regard to all our possessions, in regard to our oilfields, and in regard to our vast trade there, if we have a fleet in the Far East all these interests are safeguarded.
The only real point I have seen made by the Independent Liberal party, who are fighting this question as a united party, is that the Admiralty are going to take 10 years over this undertaking, and they suggest that if it is necessary for us to have this base, it should be finished in a much more speedy time. But what the Admiralty has relied upon is the forecast of the last Government, which was responsible for the Singapore project. They intimated to the War Office, to the Admiralty and to the Air Service that they were to frame their Estimates on the assumption that no great war could come about within 10 years. This Government has endorsed that order to the various fighting Departments. The responsibility, therefore, does not lie with the Admiralty; it lies with the Government of the day, if that forecast turns out to be erroneous. Another argument was used by Lord Haldane, who said you are only spending £200,000 this year, and probably you will not spend much more next year, but the pinch will come in the third year, when you will probably be spending a million or two, and the Noble Lord said that then all over the country people will be denouncing this 2602 expenditure on Singapore as being at the expense of some social reform, and it will be highly unpopular. Does not that prove that the Government are perfectly genuine? We as politicians do not like to do anything unpopular, but having regard to the safety of the country, and having regard to the fact that this expenditure was sanctioned by successive Governments, that it came before the Imperial Conference, that it has come before successive Committees of Imperial Defence, and that they are convinced it is a vital necessity and that without Singapore we might have to abandon the whole of our Empire interests in the Far East, we have reluctantly embarked upon this project.
In addition to that the last Government sent Lord Jellicoe to the Pacific in a battleship to look into this question, and his Report ought not to be lightly set aside. He reported that Singapore was, undoubtedly, the key to the Far East. I am not accustomed to use language about keys to any places, but there is no place more central, more available for defending our trade in the Pacific and Indian Oceans than is this base at Singapore. What would happen to the Independent Liberal party supposing it were called upon to form a Government, or what would happen to the Labour party in like circumstances, should they go against the advice of the War Staff in this matter? This House will not turn down any project of this kind. As a matter of fact, in the long course of history, it is impossible to find a case where the House of Commons has ever refused the Navy what the Admiralty asked for and what the Government of the day has sanctioned. I do not believe there is one single case. Supposing that the succeeding Government were to turn round to the Admiralty and to say, "We are not going to sanction this Singapore project." What would happen? The Admiralty would say, you tell us to carry out a certain policy to defend the Empire and our trade. We are judges of what is required to defend that Empire and that trade. We are not judges of policy. You lay down the policy, but we are the judges of what is required to carry it out. If that were to occur, the House would soon find there would be a resignation of the Sea Lords.
2603 What has happened in previous years when Sea Lords have resigned? When Admiral Berkeley resigned in 1846, the House of Commons backed him up and the Government surrendered. When the Sea Lords resigned in 1867, the then Government had the wisdom to see they had better surrender before the matter came before the House, and they did so, because it was a matter which was vital to the safety of the country. We all know what happened to Sir William Harcourt who had a difference of opinion with the Sea Lords on a vital matter towards the end of last century. The right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) said that this project was never entertained by his Government. I do not wonder at that. In his time we were preparing against Germany, and the position was very different for we were in alliance with Japan. Germany is now out of the way. All during the War, Japan was going ahead with her bases in the Pacific; we made no preparation for any extensions in the Pacific whatever. All our expansion was in the wrong direction. Now we find Japan with a very largely increased Navy and the whole situation is turning to the Pacific which after all is going to become the great trading part of the world. The hon. and gallant Member for Battersea (Viscount Curzon) said that Hong Kong was not equipped in any degree and that we could not under the Washington Agreement extend the defences or resources. The island has no oil fuel stores; it lacks many of the requirements of these modern days, it has no big dock to take our battleship, or even aeroplane carriers, and the natural result is that we have to provide all these at Singapore. In the old days I opposed Rosyth because I wanted expansion at Chatham and Sheerness. If one's wife will not tolerate an old suit, one has to get a new one. In just the same way, if we are not permitted to develop Hong Kong, we must get a new base elsewhere. That is the whole secret. There are those who have said we have been guilty of breaking our agreement because we have developed Singapore outside the prohibited area. Lord Wimborne went so far as to say that it is on the fringe, or rather just over the border. To say that it is just over the border or just on the fringe of the prohibited area is equivalent to saying that Amsterdam is a suburb of London, because there is 2604 about the same distance in longitude between London and Amsterdam as there is between the prohibited area and Singapore. The prohibited area is 110 degrees, while Singapore is 104 degrees. It seems to me it must be obvious to any hon. Member that if the Japanese or American Government wish to prevent the development of Singapore, which they knew to be the sixth port in the world in respect of its shipping trade, they would have tried to draw the line at 104 degrees East longitude instead of 110 degrees East.
To say we have been guilty of sharp practice in not telling them straight away that we were going to develop Singapore is to my mind utterly absurd. It cannot hold water for one moment. It is equivalent to telling the naval experts of America and Japan that they are congenital idiots for not seeing that such a development might take place. It is also said that we have been infringing Article 8 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. That is said by over-conscientious Liberals, but I do not see how it can be maintained for one moment. The whole campaign against Singapore is based on the assumption that we are doing something morally wrong in this matter. Article 8 sought to prevent secret arming by one Power against another, such as the secret preparation of submarines, or the secret preparation of an air force by civil airplanes which could be rapidly adapted to military uses. There has been no secrecy about Singapore. All the information has been disclosed; the exact intentions of the Government have been disclosed. It is obvious that if you do not have Singapore you cannot maintain a fleet out in the Far East. What the Washington Convention did for us was this. It economised on battleships costing seven or eight millions sterling each. It economised on aircraft carriers; it laid down maximum numbers. You have saved on that, but the Washington Convention necessarily entails that if you do not develop Hong Kong you must develop Singapore. Let hon. Members think what they have saved in battleships because of the Washington Convention, to which Singapore is a natural corollary. In addition, Singapore will save us in battleships in another way. If a battleship has a damaged propeller, it can go into Singapore and have that propeller put right in a couple of days. It burns no fuel in travelling long 2605 distances, and so throws no strain on the tanker ships. If there is no dock at Singapore, it has to go to Malta, and at 16 knots, and two days at Malta, it will take 40 days for it to return, and the services of that battleship will be entirely lost for that period. In addition, the battleship will have to have destroyer escorts so as to be protected from submarines, and you will draw all these vessels away from your fleet. At the present moment there is no dock nearer than England, but the Admiralty intend by 1925 to station one of the converted German floating docks at Malta.
The next point with which I wish to deal is this: Supposing a fleet could be maintained on that station and there was no base at Singapore, a fleet at ordinary speed would take 31½ days to reach Malta, and if it fought an action, it would have to go with all its damaged ships to Malta, and it would take much longer than 31½ days, and then there is all the period taken for the return. During that period, if we were at war with Japan, the Japanese fleet and armadas could do what they liked. My Noble Friend the Member for South Battersea referred to the fact that ships had to be docked every six months. If they are not, there is a serious loss of speed. There is also a loss in the steaming capacity, in that a ship that has not been docked for 12 months can go only 600 miles for a certain fuel consumption, whereas, after docking, it can go 1,000 miles, a loss of 40 per cent. That has to be taken into consideration, and the Committee must also remember that the speed of a fleet is the speed of its slowest ship, so that if one ship has been out of dock for over six months, that ship is a drag on the whole of the fleet. I know that hon. Members say we can depend on the good will of Japan, and if the present, Japanese Government were to stay in power, I should agree. There is a Government in power in Japan now with liberal tendencies, but no man can forecast for 10 years hence, when this dockyard at Singapore will have been completed, that there will be a Government with liberal tendencies in Japan. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull referred to the increase of population which is going on in Japan. In 10 years' time there will be an increase of 8,000,000 in that population. That will be 8,000,000 more reasons for 2606 expansion, and the Japanese will not expand into cold climates; they will go only to warm climates. It must be, therefore, that the pressure of population will cause Japanese Governments to look out in order to see where they can find the necessary territory. All we say is that it shall not be done at the expense of the British Empire, and I think that is common ground for nearly all parties.
Anyone who has studied the forecasts of statesmen must see how fallible their judgment is, when in fact, from Pitt and Burke, backwards and forwards, it is always possible to show that their judgment was often erroneous in regard to events which happened within 12 months. There is Pitt's historic forecast that the country was never more assured of peace than it was two or three months before we went into the war of 1793, which lasted, with a small interval, right, up to 1815. We cannot be dependent in these matters on the forecasts of party leaders, so that all the statements made, from the Independent Liberal Benches that we can rely on good will, on conferences, and on Leagues of Nations leave me cold. We are not building up in Singapore anything that can be used for aggression. It will simply enable a fleet to be present in the Pacific which is capable of defending our Empire, and I think that that is the very least that any Government can do.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I cannot pretend to speak on this matter with the amount of expert authority which has been expressed by other Members of the Committee. What I wonder is, what is the real reason for all this preparation in regard to Singapore? Supposing we give to the hon. Members who have spoken all that they have asked for, what does it mean? It means inevitably a war between the two great races of the world, the yellows and the whites. Is it not better for us to get down to economic facts? Japan is the Britain of the East, developing her resources, commercially and industrially, and do you imagine that Japanese statesmen are so narrow minded and so short sighted that they do not understand the meaning of the formation of this base at Singapore? Will it not become a menace to the yellow races, who eventually may amalgamate their powers? There are certain Japanese statesmen 2607 working very hard to bring about an understanding between China and Japan, and I suggest that the £10,000,000 asked for in this Vote is a mere bagatelle as against the expense we shall be put to if we are going to enter into this possibility.
I was one of those who backed this country during the War, as far as I was able. I happened to be a member of an organisation that believes in national defence, but I do not believe in international offence, and the policy that is being pursued by this Vote is simply to me indicating that we are going to enter on the slippery slope, and instead of having fought a war to end war, we are now entering into a war to begin a greater war. The war of 1914 to 1918 is a mere passing phase as compared with the possibilities of the war that is going to be engendered by the policy now adumbrated. The people of the East have a very subtle intelligence. They are not fools. They want to know why European Powers want to fix naval and aerial bases in Eastern waters. You say it is for your trade, but what about their trade? Have they no trade interests? Have the 500,000,000 Asiatics nothing to compare in trade interests with the 400,000,000 European or white races? As compared with trade matters, they would beat us every time. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not in exports!"] No, they were careful. We have exported during the past 10 years on the average £100,000,000 in textile machinery to the Eastern countries, and last year we sent £200,000,000 of textile machinery to the Near East and the Far East. Does not that mean eventually that you are creating competitors where previously you had customers? Does not that create economic antagonisms which eventually may end in war, particularly when you start putting down bases and creating the very feeling which you say you do not like?
Therefore, we say, in regard to the mere suggestion that has been put from the benches opposite that Japan may be our enemy, that it is all very well to pass treaties, but it seems that all treaties are scraps of paper. Statesmen sign their names to treaties, and afterwards they start trying to trick one another. The three card trick is being played by the men who call themselves statesmen, and now, because the circumference is 2608 not quite long enough or broad enough, the number of miles has been reckoned up and the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) has told us the number of miles between the naval base at Singapore and the nearest possibility at Hong Kong and, so far as we are concerned, between Amsterdam and London. He has given us all the mileage. Was it on a mere question of a number of miles that our statesmen entered into a treaty with the statesmen of all those other countries, and signed an agreement to reduce our power of armaments and to try and live happy ever afterwards? Instead of that, we are now asked to prepare for the next great war, a war that will be greater than the last War. We did very well out of the War. At least, we were told we did. In some districts the workers did fairly well out of the War. They were all in work then. There was work for the lame, the halt, and the blind. Now, they are lining up outside the labour exchanges, paying for the War, and some of them cannot even have the dole. But they are in this position now, that the War that we were told was going to end war is simply an indication that we are changing our relationships, and instead of fighting Germany in the next war, we are going to fight one of the two greatest nations, next to ourselves, in the world. It is either a fight against America or a fight against Japan and the yellow races.
God help us if that fight starts! Instead of talking about the possibilities of war, let us try to organise the possibilities of peace, and invite all these countries to meet us. Let us have a real treaty, not based upon geographical possibilities, but based upon the real relationships that ought to unite human people. The men in the East, after all, do not want to be cannon fodder any more than do the men in the West, and surely statesmen have got beyond the stage when they can face the possibility of preparing for the destruction of their fellow human beings in the way that I have seen it described, even in this House. I have read some articles written in the Reviews of what may happen in the next great war, how whole cities can be wiped out in a single night. Not the men who go on the battlefields to fight each other, not the sailors on battleships, but the real victims of the next war will be the men, women, and children who are 2609 not fighters, but who are the industrial workers. Can any man in this Committee get up and, with complacency, talk about preparing for that possibility? What we ought to do is to prepare to prevent it.
§ Mr. JONES
I am glad I have had the argument replied to so successfully by my hon. Friend opposite. I hate the idea of men killing each other. We are asking you to do something different from the policy that is now being pursued. The formation of new bases for war simply means the ultimate development of the war idea, and makes war inevitable. We, as trade unionists, do not believe in war. Some of you talk about class war.
§ Mr. JONES
I very often talk about it, but I have seen some people practice it. We have had experience during the past few years of the way in which you can practice it at the expense of the people whom we happen to represent, and I want to ask you to think twice before you enter into this policy of making the possibility of war still more inevitable. The workers of this country—and I am one of them—have become convinced that the time is ripe when we must make a definite stand against the possibility of war, and let those who make the wars fight them in the future. The workers will not fight them, because we have been fed up with what has happened to us during the past few years. You made us believe that if we beat this great military Empire of Germany, there was no possibility of anything of the same kind occurring again. What is our experience? It is that you are now adumbrating the possibility of a still greater war in the future. You are asking us to make fresh preparations for a war. That war will never take place, so far as we are concerned, and every possible effort we can put forward will be devoted in the direction of preventing it, by every sacrifice that we can make.
§ 8.0 P.M.
I will not attempt to answer the speech of the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones), because it was so illogical. I want to speak a word or two about Singapore. If I thought the policy of this Government, or any Government, was to make war or in any way to encourage war, I as an ordinary woman would vote against it with my whole heart, but I know, being a practical person, that you have got to have police. For a long time to come we will have to have police, and for a long time to come we will have to have some sort of Army and Navy, but not for fighting purposes.
It is logic. Why have we police? They are not there to deal with people who are doing right. They are there to arrest those who are doing wrong. The hon. Member for Silvertown says he hates war. I hate it, too, and I hate a lot of things, but I do not expect to get rid of them all at once. I do not believe that if this nation and other nations disarmed to-morrow that you would have peace, unless they determined in their hearts that there would be peace. This is a much bigger question than the hon. Member for Silvertown seems to think. As far as Singapore goes, I am sorry that the Government could not have waited until after the Imperial Conference, because this is certainly a question for the Imperial Conference. It affects the Empire more than England, because it is an Imperial question. I am quite certain that if the Government had waited till then there would have been no party in England against it. This base is not only to protect our trade, but to protect the trade of the Empire. In regard to what the hon. Member for Silvertown said about other people's trade, I do not know that the British Navy has ever interfered with the trade of any other nation, and I do not see why we have to assume that by going East the Navy is going to interfere with trade. I think we have to make up our minds when we talk about the yellow peril that, if we are to have the progressive civilisation which we are asking for, the Anglo-Saxon race will have to police the world. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] If you travelled I think you would agree with me. It was only last week that an 2611 American missionary said to me, "You will never know what it means to us in the Far East to see the British Navy."
What about those who are thousands of miles away from the British Navy in the Far East? It is absolute nonsense to talk in that way.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must not address an observation of that kind to another hon. Member.
I will forgive a slip like that. I think it is quite natural to say that a thing is nonsense if you think it is nonsense. I have never heard a single missionary in any part of the world—and most missionaries to the East are from America—say one word against the British Navy. I think from the bottom of my heart that one of the best ways of ensuring peace is to have a strong Navy, not for aggressive purposes, but for police purposes. I hope the First Lord will consider waiting for the Imperial Conference. You want the whole country behind you and the whole party opposite behind you in regard to Singapore, but we do not expect to have with us the irreconcilable gentlemen who say, "Peace, peace," when there is no peace within. It is strange and odd that the people who talk most about peace are most willing to fight about the most minute things. If they do not want foreign war they are quite eager to have a class war. I do not want war of any kind. In asking the Government for a strong Navy, I feel I am speaking not only for the British Empire but for the Far East. The Far East is in the most inflammable state of mind at this time. I am getting most of my news from the Far East from missionaries, and they say it makes a great difference to see a great battleship belonging to England with men of peace on it, because the British sailor is a man of peace. I hope that the House will not mind if I take it from Singapore to Plymouth. It seems a far cry, but when you think of the unemployed in the dockyards in Plymouth—
Yes, and Devonport. When you think of the unemployed there and talk of spending money far away in Singapore, when it is so much wanted at home, it makes one think of Kipling's lines. It is like:Wasting Christian kisses on a heathen idol's foot.But we must take a world view of the situation. I welcome the provision of messing and recreation rooms.
I was told by the Chairman of Committees, and by the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), who is supposed to be an expert in such matters, that I could bring it up.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member can make a passing reference to it on this Vote, but she cannot go into details.
§ Colonel MAURICE ALEXANDER
I did not intend to speak, but after I had heard the Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) and the Noble Lady the Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor), I felt that it was my duty to contribute to the Debate in a very brief and humble way. I must say that I hope the Government will have the power of its convictions and go ahead with this scheme irrespective of any opposition they may meet. I hope the Government will also have the power of its convictions to go ahead right now instead of waiting for the discussion of the Imperial Conference. I make this statement, not with any disrespect to the Imperial Conference, fully realising the importance of the persons who comprise the Imperial Conference, but I equally realise that the Government would not have brought in this scheme unless it had in some form or another taken the opinion of the overseas Dominions. In regard to Singapore proper, let me point out to the 2613 hon. Member for Silvertown, who I am sorry is not in his place, that the establishment of a base in Singapore does not mean inconvenience to the United States or Japan. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but perhaps they will think twice when they listen. The establishment of a base at Singapore will only show to the rest of the world that Great Britain at least is awake for the future. It will show to the rest of Europe that Great Britain is ready to protect its interests wherever they are situated, and that the British Empire is a powerful community. The hon. Member for Silvertown says that by the establishment of a base at Singapore we might offend Japan and hurt her trade. The hon. Member for Plymouth well replied that the British sailor is a peaceful man. The British Navy has never interfered with the trade of other people. It is only meant as a policing force, wherever the British flag flies and British trade goes. Let me point out—I am now speaking from memory—that our export trade to our overseas Dominions last year was £267,000,000. Is it a safe insurance to spend £10,000,000 to have something to protect that great trade? What would hon. Members on the Labour Benches say if for one single month the British export trade was paralysed and the number of unemployed rose to two, three or four millions of people? Hon. Members must appreciate that, if the Labour party were in power to-day, it would have the duty just as much as it is the duty of a Conservative or Liberal Government to protect the trade of Great Britain and the overseas Dominions.
§ Colonel ALEXANDER
The hon. Member does get money for his goods, which is still more important, and I hope he will bear it in mind. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) criticised the establishment of a base at Singapore on the sole ground that if we were to make a base it must be a very powerful one, and, unless it were so, it would not be of any use. He pointed out that there are other countries who are stronger than we are in the Air Service and in many other Services. So they are, but it does not necessarily follow that, because other nations are stronger than we are in Air 2614 Forces, we should sit at home and do nothing. It would not help the country to say that, because we are weaker in the air and in the Army, that we should be weak in the Navy also. I say, strengthen the Navy all you can, and take note of all the Services of other nations and keep yours in proportion. There is an old Scottish proverb which says that an ounce of protection is better than a pound of cure. What can better protect the British Empire than the establishment of a base which is able to protect the outskirts of the great Dominions, who are so ready to support the Mother Country? Our trade with Australia runs into something like £30,000,000 in exports. Our exports to New Zealand are colossal. Our exports to India run to almost £94,000,000. What is the nominal insurance of £10,000,000 expended in order to protect this great trade?
If you look at the purely economic point of view. If you look purely from the British Navy point of view, you may see where you are! We have been told by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) that a battleship costs about £7,000,000. If you send your British Navy to fight, wherever it may be, at a distance of something like eight or nine thousand miles, and if one single battleship is sunk, you sink £7,000,000 without any means of recovery or any means of saving life. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why build the ships."] "Why build the ships?" says one hon. Member. You do not build them to sink them. You build them only to protect the British Empire. I would point out to hon. Members on the Labour benches that if you have a base at Singapore, and if anything happens to one of your great battleships, you at least have a port to which it can go for you have a station where the men can be taken care of, and a place where the British sailor can take a rest after the hard struggle to which he may have been subjected. Let me assure this House that I do not preach warfare. I would be the last man to say that we ought to go in for war. The Lord knows, I have been through it and have seen what war means. But let me assure hon. Members of all parties that there is, as a protection against going to war, no sounder insurance for any nation, and against any nation, than to be ready to protect our interests should the time 2615 come. For that reason, and for that reason alone, I hope the Government will stand by its pledge and not give in to the criticism that has been made, and I for my part will support what has been put forward.
§ Mr. PENNY
I think the Noble Lady the Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) spoke a good deal of commonsense in what she said. I do not agree, however, with her that we should wait till the Imperial Conference in this matter. To my mind, what is required should be done at once. I have given my opinion in a previous Debate on this question, and I feel very strongly about it. A great deal of play has been made in regard to the fact that I have lived 20 years in Singapore, and that my health does not seem to have suffered, but I do honestly say, no matter what the heat is there, that if a war is contemplated, the climate will never be considered. The two main points upon which the opponents of the Singapore naval scheme have based their arguments are upon the grounds of economy and the fact that we are going in again for a race in armaments that will eventually culminate in another terrible war. There is no one keener than I or than this Government upon economy at the present time, provided it is consistent with the safety and integrity of this Empire. I am quite convinced that the establishment of this base, whatever it will cost, will prove to be a very cheap insurance, and one of the surest safeguards of peace in the future we could possibly have. The hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Darbishire) said this scheme was going to cost close on £20,000,000, and possibly more, but he did not bring forth one figure in support of his argument. He tried to-day to tell us that he was no expert. He was quite right in saying so. He has no more expert knowledge than I have. I admit that he has lived there for the same number of years that I have, but I do not put myself forward as an expert. I simply give my views to the Committee as a layman. I feel absolutely convinced, however, it is essential that we should have the Singapore Naval Base, even if it were to cost the sum that the hon. Member mentioned, or even more. It would even then be cheap if we could ensure peace throughout the world. The hon. 2616 Member accused Members on this side of the House of having a warlike spirit. Nothing could be further from the truth Recently I attended a gathering in my constituency of ex-service men and women who had been maimed and disfigured and thrown into the backwaters of life through the inventions of men for the destruction of their fellow-creatures, and I made up my mind at that time that I would spare no effort to do anything I could to ensure peace in the future, and in this spirit I urge Members to look at this proposal.
The base is not to be established in any way as an offensive base. It is to be purely defensive, and it is our bounden duty to see that our Dominions and our Dependencies are protected should they be attacked. We must not run any risk, or wait until the danger is upon us. It is not the time to prepare for an enemy when you see him against the skyline. We cannot afford at the present time, or at any time, to shirk our responsibilities. We would be nothing less than traitors to our kindred overseas if we were not ready to provide protection for those who were prepared to make the supreme sacrifice and pour out treasure for us in our hour of need during the last War. I consider that had we faced the realities of the position prior to 1914, had we not closed our eyes to facts, had we not closed our ears to the warnings of that great and far-seeing man, Lord Roberts, that although the Germans really intended to make war, we might possibly have averted it, and saved millions of lives, and we should not have been in the position to-day of having the burden of taxation which we are now enduring.
We are prone to forget far too readily the lessons we have so bitterly learned, and until human nature—this point was made very strongly by several hon. Members—is different from what it is to-day, I do not think that we should leave anything whatever to chance. We should endeavour to preserve the peace of the world, irrespective of the cost. We have to-day in our country a million and a half of men unemployed, purely due to the War. We as Britishers before the War endeavoured to make the best of the situation, and to believe that war would never come. We must not allow that to happen again. There is no hon. Member of this House, I am sure, who would not welcome the day when armaments should 2617 be entirely done away with, but it is absurd for us to imagine that we are going to have that paradise for a long time to come, human nature being what it is. We have, therefore, to realise the situation as it is, and not as we should like it to be. Many hon. Members have argued to the effect that we should trust to the League of Nations. I should like to see the League of Nations more powerful. I think a Federation of the English-speaking peoples would do far more than anything else to ensure the peace of the world.
The question of our future relations with Japan is, I know, an extremely delicate one, but it is doing the Japanese no injustice to declare that the measure of their good will towards the British Empire will vary, as it has always varied in the past, in direct ratio to the strength the Empire is able to maintain and to exert in the Far East. Were the doctrine of dependence on the good will of nations carried to its logical conclusion, we should want no Army, no Navy and no Air Force. Unfortunately, however, history goes all against that, and our past experience shows that international friendships are largely based upon one's potential value as an ally in the hour of need. Moreover, we have to remember that with Japan some 3,000 miles from Singapore they cannot consider this a menace to them, and although the hon. Member for Westbury reads extracts from Japanese newspapers, they are generally only the views of the writers of the articles, and I do not pay much attention to them. We have our own Press, and we hear their views expressed. May I point out that our very existence depends upon our sea-borne trade, and, therefore, our trade routes must be guarded at all costs? Our Dominions and Dependencies must be considered, and surely our vast interests in China, India, and Malaya are well worth insuring. Opinion is practically unanimous that there is no point in our out-flung Empire which is so important geographically and strategically as Singapore is at the present time.
A great number of hon. Members to whom I have spoken seem to know very little about Malaya, and for that reason, if I might burden the House with a few facts, I would like to do so. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull 2618 (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) said there were no roads or railways there, but throughout Malaya there are 1,000 miles of railroads which cost over £20,000,000. Malaya represents 52,000 square miles, and it has 3½ million inhabitants. This Colony contributes 20 per cent. of its gross revenue for defensive purposes, and during the War the Colony contributed in local War Loans, investments in Imperial Loans, and in gifts, roughly, £15,000,000. The Federated Malay States provided, roughly, £13,000,000, and the Sultan of Perak, a most enlightened ruler, initiated steps to present the battleship "Malaya," which took part in the fight of Jutland. The Malay States Guides were lent by the rulers, and went to Aden. The Sultan of Johore lent a contingent of the Johore Forces for garrison duty in Singapore during the War. There are no people in the world more loyal than the Malays at the present time, and I say that we should be traitors to them if we did not provide them with adequate protection. Singapore itself is one of the largest trading and coaling ports in the world, and in 1922 42,000 vessels entered that port, representing a tonnage of over 20,000,000. Amongst her principal imports are cotton goods from this country, machinery, cigarettes, and rice from Rangoon, and these four items total over £15,000,000. That will give some idea as to what are the potentialities of Malay. We have also to consider two other main exports from that colony, tin and rubber, which are very essential articles to us if war should break out. In 1922 the amount of rubber exported was 248,000 tons, representing a value of over £18,500,000. When you compare that figure with the world's total shipment of 355,000 tons, you can imagine what that means. The tin exports amounted to 66,000 tons, representing over £10,000,000; copra, 170,000 tons, valued at £3,500,000.
I have mentioned those figures to give the Committee some little idea of what Malay really is. As regards the base itself, we have to remember that our battleships and the accompanying Fleet which must attach itself to a battleship, must be provided with a base, and they must have places for storage and ample docking facilities. Singapore itself will be a great safeguard for the oil supplies of Burma and Persia. In regard to naval 2619 policy, we have heard of the various experts who differ from our present First Lord, but there are invariably two schools of thought in the Navy. It does not follow, however, that because they hold that view they are correct. The newer school accept the responsibility, and they are unanimous in their opinion that there is no place like Singapore for the establishment of this new naval base. Many people say that the day of the battleship has passed. I am not in a position to say whether that is so or not, because I know nothing at all of that side of naval requirements, although I cannot believe it. But even if we do not have battleships, we shall have to have big aeroplane carriers, and big vessels of that description which will require docking. In these tropical waters it takes no time for vessels to get foul grass growing on them a foot long, and as the hon. and gallant Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) said, this may impede their speed by 30 per cent. through having foul bottoms.
The hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon) said that the First Lord of the Admiralty was acting as an autocrat, and dictating that we should go to Singapore, but there is nothing further from the truth than that statement. The Committee of Imperial Defence and various First Lords of the Admiralty, and the highest technical brains in the land, have considered this scheme in all its aspects, and they consider Singapore to be the key to the Far East as much as Gibraltar is the key to the Mediterranean at the present time. If the First Lord of the Admiralty did not act upon the considered opinion of these authorities, then I say that he would be running a very considerable risk, and hon. Members opposite would be the very first to turn upon him and rend him. We have already experienced the danger accruing from a one-man policy, and I am proud to think that the Government to-day is far too level-headed to make such a mistake in a matter of such vital importance. It is quite an easy thing to criticise, whether you be an individual or a certain section of the Press, provided that you have no responsibility. I have followed this controversy in the Press very closely, and although the criticisms have been hostile, I have never once seen a constructive criticism. Could 2620 they put forward anything better I am sure the First Lord of the Admiralty would be the first man to accept it. If we have to maintain a Fleet at all, I consider its efficiency and mobility are of prime importance, and for this reason a docking base is absolutely essential. Another aspect of the case is that this base, the cost of which is to be spread over ten years, will not be a wasting asset like a battleship. The land is there, the docks will be there, and so will the oil storage, which is being got on with very rapidly.
The argument has been put forward—why is it necessary? Have we not Malta and Hong Kong? We know we cannot go on any further at Hong Kong, and taking Malta as a base, let us suppose what would happen if anything were to occur to bring about war. Heaven forbid that it should, but we must be prepared, and it is no use hon. Members on the other side smiling and shrugging their shoulders; we have got to face the facts. Supposing we had to bring out our Fleet into the Pacific, and get them through the Suez Canal, and supposing one of the big ships such as those which are projected at the present time happened to ground in that canal, it would render the whole Fleet impotent. Certain hon. Members smile, but I fear they do not realise the great distances which have to be traversed. The people on the spot do realise what it means to have this base as a pushing-off place, and I say, for that reason alone, the base is absolutely necessary.
As regards cost, the Government have carefully considered the question, and they feel confident that the estimated amount will amply suffice for their requirements, and I urge upon the Government to do all that is possible to prevent this amount being exceeded. I think the cost may be reduced very considerably, and in that connection I put forward a proposal to the Government. As the base at Hong Kong will not be required, and as we own a great deal of valuable land and buildings there, why not sell some of the land and buildings at Hong Kong and devote the money to the present scheme? New Zealand is prepared to subscribe £100,000 towards it. The Straits Settlements Government is giving the site for the Base, and Canada states that she is wishful at the Imperial Economic Conference to provide the raw materials, which shows 2621 that our Dominions are with us in this matter. I wish I had the power to express myself more strongly on this subject, but I speak with all sincerity when I say that we should deal with this matter on a higher plane than that of actual cost. It is a matter of Empire importance. It is a matter in which we must act thoroughly; I ask hon. Members to look at it in that light, and, I am sure, that, whatever we spend upon the Singapore Base, will be more than justified.
§ Mr. ROSE
I thought my hon. Friend who spoke last would have taken more intelligent advantage of the beneficent tuition which he has been receiving with me on the Estimates Committee under the guidance of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). No argument has been adduced in the Committee this afternoon to convince me as to the advantages of the Singapore base, and I can only see for myself one possible advantage. I am one of those who have adopted the view held perhaps by a minority, but not a particularly small minority of the people who know about these matters, against the building of capital ships. I realise that, as soon as war breaks out, as, of course, it is going to, your one difficulty with your capital ship is to find a safe place in which to keep it until the rumpus is over. You do not let these things go out if you can help it, and probably some provision might be made for safeguarding these precious seven million pounders in the new base at Singapore. Other than that, I cannot see any good purpose which it will serve. I do not wish to keep the Committee up in the high atmosphere of international politics, and of the high morality which we have heard preached this afternoon, and I ought to apologise for bringing the Committee down to a mere sordid matter of pounds, shillings and pence. Most of us on this side of the House think that a great deal of money is being spent upon these things, and that, apart from the fact that the money might be better spent on social service, we are not getting the goods.
There is an Estimate this year of about £10,000,000 to £11,000,000 for the purposes of the base, but I suppose that will be amended and considerably added to later on, and before we get on much further, we shall probably find it nearer £30,000,000 or £40,000,000. I wish the First Lord to 2622 tell us more meticulously than is done in these Estimates what proportion of that money will be spent on the works at Singapore, and how much of it will be spent here on plant, machinery, machine tools and so forth? The amount, if possible, should be divided into those two categories. In all my researches into the ways and wiles of Whitehall, I never could discover whether the Admiralty or any other of the fighting Services or great spending Departments maintained anything in the nature of a costing department. We should know if there is anybody in those Departments who understands the prices of equipment of this kind and the costs of production, after allowing a handsome profit to the contractors. Is there anybody at the Admiralty who follows closely and intelligently—expertly if you like—the rise and fall of markets, and the cost of producing the material required for a base of this kind? I understand there is a Contracts Department, which is under another Vote, but perhaps I would not be out of order if I refer to it in connection with the Vote under discussion. There is a Contracts and Purchase Department, which is very typical and very like the rest of our services, both fighting and civil.
You find that there are fewer people employed, that they have made reductions, but you find pretty generally that the cost of these Departments is very much increased. If ever, in the course of these Estimates, you find that a head of a Department or a high permanent official of some kind has been shifted, you have to look for him in some other Department to which he has been removed, and, when you discover him there, you will find that his services have been dispensed with in his former Department and he has gone to another with his salary doubled. That is the sort of economies that are being effected, and I think nearly all hon. Members who have served on the Estimates Committee realise that that is exactly what happens. I am the last man in the world to attack, and I hope I never shall attack, the principle of people getting proper salaries and wages, but what we do want is some return for the money we spend. It seems to me that this Contracts Department, which costs £68,000, is not doing its work as it should, and I think we are entitled, not only to an explanation from the First Lord, but to an assur- 2623 ance that, at least in the future, private contractors who enter into contracts to do Government work shall be kept rigidly to a reasonable commercial profit on the transactions which they are called upon to carry out. If that is done, we shall get more private enterprise that will be really private enterprise.
I do not think the Government is doing as much work as it might for the country. I think the private enterprisers, or the persons who call themselves private enterprisers, are having more than a finger, they are up to their elbows, in this—I do not want to use an unparliamentary expression. Four of my colleagues have used words in this House that have brought them under the condign displeasure of the Chair, but I am not at all sure whether, in the case of contractors who contract for public work, anything that has been said about other people is in any sense too bad to apply to them. It seems to me that the Government is not utilising Government works and Government workers as it should. In contracts of this kind the whole of the work is, apparently, to be done outside the Government establishments. If we cannot have the work done by the State, at least we should demand of the State that it should have proper costing departments, that it should have a contracts department set up on something like a business basis. All of these people who are doing this kind of work are patriots. In the old days we used to get philanthropy at 5 per cent. Patriotism carries a very much higher rate of interest. You cannot get any real, sound patriotism under about cent. per cent. now. I am certain that contractors for Government work are exploiting the public resources in a shameful and disgraceful way. We want, over the heads of these people, someone who will make them do something in the way of enterprise, about which they are always cackling, but to which they never seem to give any practical effect.
I want to urge the First Lord to look into this matter very much more closely than has been done in the past. I am not going to discuss the policy of this naval base, which has been torn to rags and tatters this afternoon, but I do feel that, in the case of all Government contracts, and especially, perhaps, contracts put out 2624 by the Admiralty, we are paying an extortionate price. I ask the First Lord so to organise his Contracts Department, with proper costing, as to see that we do not pay for work that is never done, and do not pay extortionate profits to people who are rendering no particular service. We realise that this naval base will go on for another two or three years, certainly as long as this Government is in power, but I hope there is a possibility of some other Government being in power that will put a stop to it and reverse, as far as possible, stupidity of this kind. This base is to built and equipped, but we do not know how it will have to be equipped; we do not know what changes there will be. The Secretary of State for Air told us this afternoon, in answer to a question of my own, that types are changing every day. You do not know you will want either in the Navy, the Army or the Air Force. You only know what you have to-day; you cannot tell what you will have to-morrow. It is for that reason that you need to go slowly. There is not the slighest hurry about it. No heat is necessary.
§ Mr. ROSE
I am given to understand that we have no enemies, but I quite understand an interruption of that sort, from that quarter of the Committee. Apart altogether from the political aspects of the matter, we are not getting the goods from these private enterprise contractors. We are paying too much for everything. Were it in order to introduce matters relevant to other Votes I could demonstrate that, and I hope I shall have an opportunity of doing so later. Of this I am sure, that, until the Admiralty take up this question of contracts, and see to it that contracts are given out at fair prices, apart altogether from the question of policy, we shall never get anything in the way of national defence. All our money is going to wild-cat schemes of this character, for which we shall never get any return, and why these people should make extortionate profits out of transactions of this kind passes my comprehension.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I should like to open the few remarks I have to make by referring to an observation which fell from the right hon. baronet, the Mem- 2625 ber for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). He referred, very properly, to the Select Committee on the Estimates for the Navy, and went on to discuss the question of pay as it seemed to him and to those who were on the Committee with him. The last paragraph of the draft Report says:In conclusion, your Committee are of opinion that steps should be taken to review the pay of officers and men in the Royal Navy in 1924, and that the administrative Departments stand in need of reorganisation and reduction.I venture to think that the pay of the officers and men needs no review. I would point out to the Committee that naval officers have no marriage allowance at the present time, and never have had, and that the men in the Navy never had any marriage allowance up to the time of the War. Over and over again in this House have I asked for marriage allowances for the men of the lower deck, but they were never given until after the War had begun.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
This Vote is not confined to a discussion on Singapore. It is the Admiralty Vote, and although I should deprecate a detailed discussion on naval pay, reference can be made to it.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I regret that interruption, because in his own speech the hon. Member was so much out of order that several times I thought of appealing against him, but inasmuch as I knew he was very earnest in the matter and desired to say to the House what he thought, I did not interrupt him, and I regret that he should not give me a fair opportunity of saying what I want to say on the question of the pay of the Navy. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London went on to say the pay of the seaman was far too high, and he went on to say that there had been a rise in the pay of the Navy before the war. I differ from that. Before, and for the period of the war there had been no rise in the pay of the naval seamen, with the exception of a few pence, for the last 50 years, 30 years 2626 ago I can remember boys went into the Navy at 6d. a day, and find their own clothing, and able seamen had to work for 1s. 3d., and find their own clothing. To try, as the right hon. Baronet did, to induce the Committee to agree with him that the pay of these men of the lower deck should be reduced is a most unfortunate thing, and is certain to do very great harm in the Royal Navy, both as regards efficiency and in popularity. It is all very well to say past contracts may stand, but with regard to the future some new arrangement can be made. No new arrangement can be made. The pay of the lower deck must remain as it is to-day, if it does not, the Navy will not last long. Before the war and during the war the men did yeoman service for a pittance, now they have got their deserts let them keep them.
I will now come back to the discussion on Singapore, which has been going on for the last six hours, so that hon. Members will probably know something more about it than they did when they came into the House. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) has not yet returned, but that, unfortunately, is a way he has. He, gets up on every Vote and makes a speech at that Box, and then turns his back on the House and never appears again, especially when he knows that I am likely to appear on the scene, because he is well aware that not only do I differ from him in many other things, but I am altogether opposed to most things he says with regard to the Navy and the dockyards. He began his speech in the usual way about Rosyth. It is due to Lord Fisher that Rosyth was not ready when the War broke out. Had it been ready we should have been in a very different position. I do not say it was entirely due to Lord Fisher, because the Liberal party were opposed to any money being spent on Rosyth. Among them, of course, was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton, because, as he is never tired of telling us, he was the Civil Lord at that time. I was glad to hear from him that Singapore is an ace. I do not know whether any hon. Members play cards. I do sometimes, and I can tell them that the ace is the most important card in the pack, and, therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman talked about Singapore being an ace, he somewhat contradicted the line 2627 of argument which he afterwards used, because he went on to say Singapore was of no good at all as a dockyard or as a port, but he still stuck to the fact that it was an ace. Another hon. Member on the Labour benches seemed to be a little out in his geography. I hope he will not mind if I tell him that Singapore is the gateway of the West into the Pacific Ocean, and not the East.
There are 50 commercial lines of oceangoing steamers which pass Singapore and very often call there. In addition to that Singapore strategically governs the approaches to India. Singapore protects the oil fields of Burma. Singapore flanks the lines of approach to Australia and New Zealand. Then look at our responsibilities in the Far East. Singapore will, to a large extent, enable us to carry out those responsibilities as they should be carried out, and therefore I think, whatever other view hon. Members may take with regard to the choice of Singapore as a dockyard they cannot deny that the position is a very well chosen one. The safety of this country depends on our sea communications, and if these are interrupted we shall get very little food. We shall certainly get no luxuries. We shall get very little merchandise. The safety of all these commodities depends upon the question of Singapore. We must have a naval base in that part of the world. We must have a repairing base and a supply base. It has been suggested that we might have kept Hong Kong, but Hong Kong was ruled out by the Washington Conference, and therefore it is no good as a supply or repairing base. As we have got no Hong Kong, what other possible basis can we have but Singapore, unless, of course, we are prepared to give up all the approaches to Australia and New Zealand and to endanger the entire trade with the Far East. What are the objections to Singapore? The chief objection that has been raised is that of economy. The last speaker went a great deal into the question of economy but, like most economists, he plunged so deeply that no one could understand exactly what he meant. I believe the cost of Singapore is to be £10,500,000. That is a definite sum. A great number of hon. Members apparently wish the 2628 Committee to be under the impression that the whole of that money is to be provided at once. That is not so. For the first two years only £200,000 is to be found. I do not think £200,000 is a very great insurance premium to pay for the safety of our communications in the Far East or for the existence of these Islands, because unless our communications are insured with the Far East the existence of these Islands would be very precarious.
It has been said that we should wait until the Imperial Conference. I know something about Imperial Conferences. I am the only Member of this House who was officially invited to the first Imperial Conference. Therefore, I can speak with a little authority of Imperial Conferences. Imperial Conferences are not called to lay down the exact policy of the Mother Country. They are called for consultative purposes. We may be sure that inasmuch as there is a secretariat of the Imperial Conference, which corresponds continually with the overseas Dominions, this subject has been discussed over and over again with our overseas Dominions, and that the Dominions are quite aware of the course we are taking. It has been suggested that the Dominions would like to contribute. I have no doubt the Dominions will contribute. I believe that New Zealand has already suggested that she should make a substantial contribution towards Singapore, and I am sure that Australia will do the same. No doubt this question will form a subject of discussion at the Imperial Conference, and very properly so, but the policy need not necessarily await that discussion.
We have been told by the right hon. Member for South Molton, who ought to have known better, that we have been very sharp in our practice, and have done something which we ought not to have done. He told us that our naval experts at Washington did not discuss with the naval experts of the United States of America anything about Singapore, but led them to believe that we were not going to do anything in regard to Singapore and the establishment of a naval base. The facts are exactly the opposite. Singapore has always been an important base in our naval strategy. That was very well known at the Conference, both by the experts of America and of other foreign 2629 countries, and our own experts. The right hon. Member for South Molton may be surprised if I tell him that his great friend, Lord Fisher, put his finger upon Singapore as the strategic centre for the assembly of the naval forces which it was intended to put in the Pacific. I think that was 20 years ago. In 1911 we had the Committee of Imperial Defence pointing out that the rallying point of the new Imperial Navy should be Singapore. That was 12 years ago. Therefore, there can be no surprise in the fact that Singapore has been selected as a naval base. If my speech should be telegraphed to the United States of America, I do not think I should be contradicted when I say that it was understood at the Conference by the American experts, and by the American people, that the British naval experts had planned to develop Singapore. Therefore, when we are told that the whole thing is a surprise, and that we have done something mean, that we have hit below the belt, I say it is nothing of the kind. Everyone knew that we were going to develop Singapore, and that particular matter was excluded from the Agreement purposely, and with the full knowledge and consent of all the experts.
§ Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
Has the hon. Member any evidence that at the time of the Washington Conference that was known to our American and Japanese friends?
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I make this statement, which, to the best of my belief, is true. I am not in a Court of Law, where I have to produce my witnesses and my evidence. I make this statement, and if it is incorrect I have no doubt that we shall be told so. I do not make my statement on any official basis, but I say, unofficially, that in the conversations that was the general feeling. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
The word "bluff" is not in my programme. I think it comes in the game of poker. I used to play that when I was younger, but I do not play it now. We have been told that a ship requires to be docked very constantly. If it is not docked often, 2630 the bottom becomes very bad, and the ship will not go so fast, but will get into a very bad state of repair. If a ship is not properly docked, instead of going 1,000 miles, it will drop to 600 miles or 500 miles. Moreover, if one ship is in a bad condition of repair, the whole fleet is put out. It is necessary to keep all the ships properly docked and in a proper state of repair, and this can only be done by having a base like Singapore, with a harbour where the largest ships can go in, and where there are proper arrangements for docking and repairing. It would be impossible to go back to Malta constantly for docking and repairing ships. Going to Malta and returning to Singapore for that purpose would cost so much money and waste so much time that it would be a most foolish thing to do.
One hon. Member opposite told us that the modern battleship, with all its accessories, costs £7,000,000, and it is estimated that the work necessary to make Singapore capable of housing the Fleet will be £10,000,000. This expenditure is another reason why we should make Singapore a naval base, seeing that so very much is at stake. Supposing we lost a ship worth £7,000,000 through its being sunk by a submarine in a few minutes because we had not proper accessories out there. If the proposal for the base at Singapore goes through, we shall find that it is a very good thing for this country and for the Empire. We shall be able to take the largest ship there, and we shall be able to give the greatest assistance to our friends in Australia and New Zealand. They will know that there is safety for them. It is a very long way from Australia and New Zealand to this country, or from Australia and New Zealand to Malta. Singapore will give confidence to our friends in Australia and New Zealand, who fought so well for us in the. War.
I was very much disappointed with the speech of the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Darbishire), who resided at Singapore for some time. He spoke so much against the building of this base at Singapore, and spoke so disparagingly of the British Navy that I was very much pained. I think that he would have been better advised had he said nothing at all because, living as he did in Singapore for so many years, would he have slept 2631 peacefully in his bed if there had been no Navy and no naval base in that part of the world? The Navy, by showing the flag all round the world, does a great deal to popularise trade and the Navy, and to impress upon the different peoples of the world the great security which the Navy always gives. That is one of the reasons why I am so glad to know that we shall have this base, because when they see ships going in and out of the harbour at Singapore, when they see the dock there and our great battleships, then people in the Far East will say, "Great Britain is still a great Power." If we no longer rule the waves at any rate we can set an example to the whole world.
§ Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
The argument of the hon. Member for Devonport (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) would be equally relevant to the fortification of Cape Horn or the North Pole. What particular cogency they had to the demand for a base at Singapore I am unable to understand. The First Lord is himself so uncertain about his capacity to persuade the House of Commons as to the merits of this scheme that he finds it necessary to depart from precedent and to bring the First Sea Lord privately to influence Members of this House. I comment on that because it is a breach of the common procedure of public departments in their relationship to this House that a member of the official staff should be brought in to a private meeting to supply arguments which the First Lord did not feel that he could put himself. It is a breach of tradition, and it means that the First Lord is depriving the First Sea Lord of that immunity from criticism to which, as a member of the naval staff, he is entitled provided that he does not enter into any controversy except through the First Lord himself. It is an innovation which is to be noted and reprobated. It is the immemorial practice of Governments that all policy has to be judged here—not on technical merits: we must accept, with all deference to the strategists who have spoken to-day, the advice of the staff on technical matters—but what we have to decide is the political question which is altogether divorced from the technical question. Therefore the First Lord introduces the most distinguished naval officer 2632 of to-day in order to influence a political question. In my opinion that is an improper procedure.
In May, the Financial Secretary put the cost of this dock at £9,500,000. A month later the Civil Lord put it at £10,500,000, so that there is a growth of £1,000,000 in expenditure in a month. Nobody in this House believes that £10,000,000 is the last word in this expenditure. All experience goes to show the contrary. Neither the First Lord nor the Financial Secretary could give us an undertaking that they will not come to this House and ask for more than £10,000,000 for this base. It will be seen, when the base is made, that new apparatus will be required. The development of the science of fighting will require further expenditure. That is the history of all these places. I asked the Financial Secretary to-day the cost of Rosyth. When it was first mooted it was to cost about £2,000,000. A revised estimate a few years later gave the cost as £3,387,000. Before the work was finished—it was delayed I know—I suppose that all together from £7,000,000 to £9,000,000 was spent on it. It is the almost inevitable tendency of works of this kind to increase in cost as time goes on, and the £10,000,000 to which we are committing ourselves to-night may be £20,000,000 or £30,000,000. We do not know. We only know that for the time being £10,000,000 expenditure is to be incurred. This is done by one of the four parties to the Convention at Washington, a country in which the taxation is £16 per head, while in the United States it is £5 and in France £6. What the taxation is in Japan I do not know, but it cannot be anything like so heavy as ours. We are now asked to be the first to incur this expenditure, which is an infringement of the spirit of that Treaty.
What could be done with the money is a topic which is rather beyond the limits of Order, but it is a tempting one. Some of the heavy taxation of the food of the people might be reduced. The sum represents 10 times what we are spending on the educational welfare of sick and healthy children. It might be spent in relieving the heavy burden which we are asked to bear in connection with the air defence of the centre of the Empire rather than be sunk in the mud of Singapore. The object of this 2633 project is quite simple. It is to alter the existing balance of power in Far Eastern waters. It is in the words of Lord Linlithgow, "To render the British Fleet mobile and effective in Far Eastern waters." The First Lord, who is an astute dialectician, always says when asked against whom this expenditure is projected, "Against nobody. It is an insurance." Other speakers have not been so discreet. We know perfectly well against whom this expenditure is directed. What is the good of people here saying that they do not know the purpose of this expenditure? The Noble Lord who has just spoken said quite plainly that it is against Japan. The Financial Secretary, looking round the realm of history to find some simile, which would at once convince this House and soothe the susceptibilities of the Japanese, said in his first speech that if Rodjestvensky had had a base like this he would have succeeded. What an illustration to give when dealing with an expenditure which will cause the greatest irritation among—I was going to say our past Allies, but among our present Allies!
The financial objection however is not the chief objection to this scheme. The chief objection is the moral objection. The first point to observe is that, at the close of the War, we entered with the Japanese into a written engagement called the Covenant of the League of Nations, not to go to war with them but to arbitrate about any difference that might occur. Both of us were signatories to that undertaking. The second objection is that this expenditure is undertaken not in the light of any existing or prospective danger. The arguments which the First Lord uses for his Singapore plan are the very arguments which the French delegates at Washington used when they were pleading for unlimited permission to build submarines. M. Saurraut, who was one of their representatives, said France desired submarines, not for offensive purposes, but to defend her vessels and colonial possessions. Our representative, Earl Balfour, said, and his words may be taken textually as a criticism of the Admiralty plan:Men will inevitably ask themselves what is the ultimate end underlying all that has been done? Against whom is this being built? What purpose is it to serve? What 2634 danger to France is it intended to guard against. I know no satisfactory answer to these questions.I say the introduction of this project derides the hopes of the Washington Conference and belies the report of the achievements of that Conference given by our representatives. Members on the back benches hinted at the possibilities of conflict in the Far East. That is not what Earl Balfour said when he spoke of it asa Treaty which for all time will lead to peace in the territory where the Treaty breathes,and when he added:The vast area of the Pacific Ocean"—he says nothing about 5 degrees outside the line—would change from an area in which anxiety, preparations for possible wars, competing expenditure, mutual suspicions, threatened a renewal of the horrors we have been going through. That every problem down to the minutest details should have been satisfactorily settled for all time or even for a generation is too much to ask. But it is true.That is the account of the great achievement given by our representative and of the pact to which he had set his name and for which he received the thanks of the House. A further point is, that this building must inevitably stimulate competition, which, in its turn, will be made the excuse for further building on our part. Again I quote that great authority, Earl Balfour:The difficulty about these competing armaments arises from the suspicions which nations have that other nations may be going to attack them. Suspicion lies at the root of much of this craze for armaments. If leaders of thought do what they ought to do in directing public opinion that terrible disease will never be allowed to repeat itself.A further objection is this: Whatever the First Lord may say about the technical propriety of this scheme, he cannot deny that it is in spirit and in effect an infringement of the Washington Treaty. What is the principle of that Treaty? It is, as he stated himself, that in battle strength there should be equality with the United States and a corresponding ratio for Japan. He will admit that is the correct definition of the purpose of that Treaty; but this Singapore base is intended to give us something which is tantamount to an increase in the strength of battleships in these waters. That was 2635 stated quite clearly by Lord Linlithgow in the debate in the other House. He said that if you do not get Singapore, you would have to have more ships, and when the period of restricted building comes to an end, if you have Singapore, you will not need more ships. It is tantamount to saying that instead of building ships we will evade the spirit of the Treaty by building a base to make the ships more mobile and effective.
I will come to the point which caused so much discussion. I want to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty if he can give an answer to this question, whether the Japanese and American delegates at the Conference were told that it was our intention as soon as the Conference closed immediately to present Estimates to Parliament to spend £10,000,000 to make the British battle fleet mobile in these waters? The hon. Member for Devonport (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) said he believed they knew. I asked him in a spirit of real inquiry whether he had any evidence. He said he had no evidence, that he just knew it. If there is any evidence, will the First Lord give it to us. We asked this question and, as a result of a great deal of cross-examination, the First Lord said, petulantly:I have said three times no.I take it he did not inform them. In the Covenant of the League of Nations in Article 8 it says that we will exchange full and frank information as to our intentions in the matter of armaments. I do not know why the Covenant of the League of Nations necessarily excites the risibility of the Financial Secretary. It is a matter of importance to the people of this country. Was the obligation of that Article complied with by our representatives at Washington?
§ Captain BENN
The right hon. Baronet then says that he supports this policy because it is an alternative to the League of Nations. I am not speaking to the Noble Lady (Viscountess Astor), who, by a most unfortunate accident, finds herself on the opposite side of the House. I am speaking to the right hon. Baronet, who says, "I do not believe in the League of Nations. Give us Singapore." That is something more substantial and most 2636 of the people who support Singapore support it because they are not prepared to put their trust or their energy into making the League of Nations a success. When our Plenipotentiaries went to Washington in October and November, 1921, did they tell the representatives of our Allies that it was our intention to do this thing? There was a speech made by Admiral Baron Kato just at the opening of the Conference. His two points were these. First, that whatever fears Japan might have entertained could and would be dissipated by a free and frank interchange of views, and he goes on to point out that the great distance that lies between the conflicting Powers made needless any words that they could pledge. "With fears on both sides obliterated an agreement, so far as Japan and the United States are concerned, cannot fail to come." He did not know that in the pocket of the British representative was a plan to spend £10,000,000 to make the British Fleet mobile and effective. If the speech of the First Lord or the Estimates had been produced before the Washington Conference, that Conference would have been utterly abortive, and the Washington Treaty would never have been made. That is why, having made the plan, the plan was concealed. That promise of success would assuredly have been broken if the subsequent discussions, that went on week by week and month by month, had ever brought to light the smallest trace of action, either on the part of the American or British delegation which could suggest, for an instant, the slightest trace of mistrust. Such a thing was absolutely unthinkable. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), a little later, when Lord Balfour had returned, said:If you remember, there were whispered murmurings in the wind about preparations, about projects, about what might happen here and would certainly happen there. … As a result of that Conference, misunderstandings have been removed. … suspicions have been . … completely cleared away.That was the speech the right hon. Gentleman made when, buttoned up in his pocket was a scheme to spend £10,000,000 to make the British Fleet more mobile and effective. The wisest and greatest naval officers tell us that we shall be stronger for building Singapore. I do not doubt that, but war is too serious 2637 to be left to the military. It has ceased to be the pre-occupation chiefly of the professional soldiers and sailors. War is a nightmare to millions of widows and orphans, and maimed and mutilated men. We are compassed about here with the ghosts of the men who died, and who plead, and clamour, and demand that we shall have a policy of peace. The Noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal (Lord R. Cecil), who is a valiant friend of great causes, and of the cause of peace, is engaged at the present time in striving to induce the nations of Europe to disarm. What do they say in reply? They use the same arguments which have been used from the benches opposite to-day.
They are as we are. They have their hopes, their fears, and their ambitions. How shall we be able, to persuade them when we are engaged in imitating the very cause they are pleading for? We believe in the Washington Agreement, and desire to honour it in the letter, and the spirit. In the exalted language of our plenipotentiary there—this is not a speech by a Labour Member or a Liberal Member, or by some fanatic or dreamer, which I commend to the notice of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London, but by his own colleague, the late right hon. Member for the City of London (Lord Balfour)—this is the ideal for which we are aiming against the difficulties which we have to meet. He said:This Conference makes idealism a practical proposition. It takes hold of the dream which reformers, poets and publicists have put before mankind as the goal to which human endeavour should aspire. What makes this scheme a landmark is that, combined with the profession is the practice. In addition to the eloquent expressions of good intentions in which the speeches of men of all nations have been rich, a way has been found, not merely to say that peace is a very good thing and that war is horrible, but that there is a way by which wars can really be diminished. In doing that they have made this Conference one of the landmarks in human civilisation.
§ Mr. AMERY
The hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn) has, I think, excelled himself to-night in his favourite vein of pained alarm and moral reprobation at the appalling consequences to the brink of which we are brought by the policy of His Majesty's Government. He very often reminds me of a certain creature, described in the "Child's Book 2638 of Beasts," I think it was, as the chamois, whichRevels in spasms on the brink of great chasms,And lives in perpetual fear.So painfully alarmed was he to-night that I half suspected that he thought, among our many concealments connected with this plan of Singapore, might be some dark design against the integrity of the Air Force, or possibly even against the holy cause of Free Trade. Really, what is the charge the hon. and gallant Gentleman has made against us? The charge that he and the right hon. Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) are making against us is that we are violating in spirit, if not in the actual letter, the Agreement of Washington, to which we set our hands 18 months ago; that we are pursuing a policy of menace and aggression toward our ancient allies and good friends, the Japanese; and, incidentally, that we are introducing an entire innovation in our strategy, which means a policy of scattering our forces and strength, instead of husbanding and concentrating them.
Let me take the first charge, as it is the most serious. I venture to think that if this country has reason to be proud of anything it has done in recent years, it has reason to be proud of its part in connection with the Washington Agreement; in what it did before that Agreement; in what it did at Washington; and in what has been done since. By the enormous reductions which we, first of all the nations, made in naval armaments, we gave a lead to foreign countries. By our whole attitude, and by the splendid attitude and wisdom of Lord Balfour at that Conference, we showed that we welcomed to the full every proposal that was made by Mr. Hughes, and by our American friends and colleagues. More than that, the moment the Agreement was signed, though no action under it had to be taken until ratification, and though no one else has taken action pending ratification, we took action at once. We disarmed ourselves, and reduced our strength, because we hoped and believed that by doing so we should ensure the success of that Agreement.
When I introduced these Estimates a few months ago, I ventured to express a belief as well as a hope that that act of faith would be justified by the result. I am glad to know that in the last few days 2639 the Chamber and the Senate of France have shown their good faith and loyalty in this matter by ratifying the Agreement, and that nothing stands in the way of its complete fulfilment by all the parties. What was that Agreement? It was an Agreement which, in the first place, limited the battle strength—not the cruiser strength, or the general naval strength, but the battle fleet strength—of the Powers concerned; and, in the second instance, coupled with that limitation, it established a zone of non-fortification, or, at any rate, of a limitation of fortification, in the Pacific which should be a guarantee to each of the Powers concerned, and not least to Japan, whose naval strength was fixed at a lower standard than ours, or that of America, that a policy of aggression across that zone should be impossible. That was defined admirably in the language of Lord Balfour, which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has quoted. Now, the suggestion he has made, and the right hon. Member for South Molton has made, practically comes to this, in the first instance, that we agreed to the meridian of 110 degrees, knowing what, of course, nobody else knew, that we had the possession of Singapore just west of that meridian, and when the agreement was signed we had got plans up our sleeves by which we could suddenly begin to fortify it. Why was the meridian of 110 chosen? It was chosen for one reason and one reason only, to make it clear that Singapore was not in the zone of non-action. It was put there because it was between Singapore and British North Borneo, and to make it quite clear that Singapore like Hawaii, and, like Japan and the mainland of the United States, was outside the zone. On the other hand, the Philippines and other possessions of the Japanese and the American were east of the meridian. So much for the point of concealment. The other question put by the right hon. Member for South Molton was; Why did you not tell them that you were contemplating this? I can give the right hon. Gentleman the assurance that it was perfectly clear to all the delegates concerned that we took special pains to see that Singapore was outside the zone of non-action, and that we specifically and clearly retained our liberty at Singapore. The right hon. Gentleman says we should have told them in detail exactly what 2640 we contemplated doing. That may have been the thing to do at Geneva. But it was not done by any of the Powers concerned at Washington. The limitation with regard to battleships was quite clear, but no Power concerned gave to the others full details as to what their future cruiser programme might be.
Then I come to the question of fortification outside the Zone. Immediately to the north of this area of tranquillity are the main islands of Japan, and the Japanese are at this moment engaged in carrying out a policy of dockyard and naval base extension. It is something which they contemplated before the Washington Agreement, and they did not think it their business to tell us, nor did we think it our business to ask them what they were doing. In the course of the present year they are spending £2,000,000 on their naval bases. The Americans are also strengthening their fortifications on the other side of the Zone at Pearl Harbour. There is nothing aggressive in any of these measures. As a matter of fact, the very object of the zone of neutrality in the Pacific was to divide the great Powers by such distances that they could not act offensively against each other. Pearl Harbour is just over 3,000 miles from Yokohama, and that distance is a sufficient protection to Japan against any aggression on the part of the United States. Singapore is just under 3,000 miles away from Japan, and if we had any aggressive idea against Japan, we should never have agreed to a scheme which deprived us of the effective use of Hong Kong. There we had a base well suited for our purposes, but we voluntarily and freely, and of our own suggestion denied to ourselves the use of that splendid base at Hong Kong, with all its possibilities, and we agreed to retire 1,500 miles further back because we wanted to make it perfectly clear that nothing was further from our thoughts than aggression towards Japan.
I wish hon. Members who talk about menace and aggression would sometimes look at a large scale map. Does the hon. and gallant Member opposite realise that the distance from Singapore to Yokohama is about the same, within a few miles, as the distance from Gibraltar to Boston? Does anyone suggest that if we built a new dock at Gibraltar we would be guilty of menacing and aggressive designs 2641 against the United States? The hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Darbishire) quoted one or two extracts from the Japanese Press as indicating that our policy has created resentment and indignation in Japan. He quoted from one or two newspapers well-known as expressing what I may call Chauvinist views, but the great mass of the newspapers and all moderate responsible opinion in Japan has realised that this policy of ours has nothing whatever against Japan and is purely concerned with our own defence. Singapore is an ideal strategic position not for offence, but only for defence. It is the gateway of the Pacific on the west just as the Panama Canal is on the east. Whoever holds the gateway makes it impossible for anyone to come into the Indian Ocean for aggressive purposes or to conduct an attack upon Australia and New Zealand. For offensive purposes it is in no way suited, and there is no intention that it should be developed for that purpose. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says our whole object was to alter the balance of power as regards Japan. I should have thought he knew the recent naval history of this country better than that. Until a very short time ago we always maintained one of our three main fleets in the Pacific—in the China Sea. Up to the beginning of the time when the German menace created the necessity for a rearrangement of our whole strategy the China squadron was, next to the Mediterranean and Channel Fleets, the most powerful British Fleet. It included its full quota of capital ships.
Now we come to a later period. The right hon. Member for South Molton is always quoting his guide and mentor in these matters—Lord Fisher. He says Lord Fisher would never have sanctioned anything of this sort. I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that while Lord Fisher was at the Admiralty and responsible for the strategy of the Navy we discussed with the Dominions, both in 1909 and in 1911, the constitution of a joint. Empire Pacific Fleet, whose main strategical centre should be Singapore, and if my right hon. Friend has ever read, as I am sure he has, Lord Fisher's lectures to the Mediterranean Fleet, which he used to give to his friends, he will have found more than one reference 2642 to the immense strategic importance of Singapore. But what I think it is necessary to bring home is that in the years 1909 and 1911, at a time when we were Allies with Japan, when we were, if not Allies, at any rate in the most intimate relations, with Russia, we certainly thought it necessary to keep in Pacific waters a fleet of reasonable dimensions. Now let me come to the most important point: that fleet, it was contemplated, was to include three capital ships, the "Australia," the "New Zealand" and the "Indomitable." Those arrangements were made, and no one, certainly not the right hon. Gentleman opposite, suggested that that was done with any idea of menace either to Russia or to Japan. There was no other great Power in that part of the world at all. We did it because we always felt it necessary for the British Navy to be of a certain strength in every part of the world where we had great interests.
What happened? In the following year, owing to the intensity of the naval competition with Germany, we had to go back upon our agreement with the Dominions. The "New Zealand" was sent out on a tour in the Pacific, and brought back again at the end of the year. The "Indomitable" was never sent. That may have been a necessary policy; but it had disastrous consequences. It left the German cruiser squadron under von Spee free to cross the whole of the Pacific and to destroy Admiral Cradock's lighter fleet off the West Coast of South America, and it was only destroyed in its turn by our detaching from the Grand Fleet two of the capital ships that we might have had in the Pacific to begin with. They met von Spee's squadron at the Falkland Islands, relieved us of the menace to the whole of our sea trade in southern waters, and avenged the death of Cradock. All we are contemplating is to be able to do some 10 years hence what would have been the normal policy of this country before the last two years of concentration against Germany. All we want to do is to be in a position to keep, not only a few light cruisers, but two or three capital ships, if we wish to, in Pacific waters, and the only reason why we have to consider additions and alterations to our bases, whichever they may be, out there is this.
The capital ship of to-day differs from the capital shop of pre-War days in two 2643 important respects. For one thing, it has to be protected against submarine attack by the bulges, and therefore it has a far greater beam than the old capital ship of pre-War days. Consequently, whether we kept Hong Kong, or whether we chose Singapore, or whatever base we might have chosen in the East, we were compelled to put in new graving docks capable of holding these ships. Otherwise, as more than one hon. Member has pointed out in the course of the Debate, it would be impossible to keep these ships efficient, clean, so that they could move at their proper speed, or, without terrible waste of time and money, sending them back long distances to Malta or the home station. The other fact is that the modern capital ship is not coal-burning but oil-burning, and that has also necessitated the establishment of oil depots at Singapore and along the route, because the ordinary commercial stocks, on which we could fall back in pre-War days, when we had coal fuel, are not available to-day, because the merchant service has not yet to any great extent based itself upon oil. All the Fleet that we mean to have in those waters is a Fleet of the kind and size we were contemplating in 1911 or thereabouts, a force, by no means powerful, of cruisers, and with them two or three capital ships. Also at the same time we wish to be able through our possession of an oil station, if by any chance in course of time there were any serious menace to our position in the East or in Australasian waters, to bring our Grand Fleet out to help. As I have said, there was a time when we could afford to keep a powerful Fleet here in the Mediterranean and in the East. Now we cannot do that. The Washington Agreement brought us down to a narrowly limited one-Power standard. If so, we must be able to apply that one-Power standard wherever our interests are threatened, and that means that our Fleet must be mobile. What is the use of keeping a Fleet that cannot move? I remember, years ago, seeing the Turkish Fleet in the Bosphorus, where it had been for 20 years, guarding Constantinople. If that is the ideal of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, why spend any money on oil fuel at all? We could have our ships, perfectly happy, moored off the Terrace here. That is not the view 2644 of the right hon. Gentleman's Leader. The right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), in a previous Debate, said, and said very rightly:What you want, what we have, and what I hope we shall always maintain, is that power of complete mobility, wisely and well directed, which, in my judgment, at any rate, won us the War.Complete mobility! What would the right hon. Gentleman think of the mobility of a motor-car if there were no garages and no supplies of petrol available? You cannot have mobility, above all, with the short range of the modern battleship, unless you have fuel stations and places for repair. The hon. and gallant Member fell so foul of my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for pointing out, on the issue of the uselessness of a Navy that had no base, the fate of the Russian Fleet under Rojdestvensky. He might equally have given an instance from the old wars between ourselves and France without in the least implying that we now entertained any hostile intentions to France. More than that, this is a measure, and an effective measure, of economy. The whole cost of this base is only 50 per cent. more than the cost of one capital ship, and without this base you could bring no capital ship whatever to the East, or, if you did, you would probably lose not one but a great many of them for want of repair facilities.
I know the right hon. Member for South Molton takes the view that you cannot take a fleet out to the East at all. He thinks that, because of submarines and other dangers, the Navy is really only fit to be a coastguard service round the shores. I should like to examine his views on this subject. He quoted Admiral Sims and a good many other authorities in regard to the submarine danger in the year 1917. It may be that if we had thought the matter out more fully earlier we could, at an earlier date, have devised means of coping with the submarine. But the fact remains that we did cope with the submarine. We coped with it so effectively that the submarine crews mutinied in the German harbours sooner than come out and face the dangers with which they were surrounded. I was talking to an officer of our C.M.B. Anti-Submarine Patrols, who told me that they brought it to such a fine art at the end of the War that within three minutes of the first hydrophone signal of a submarine 2645 they got her stone dead. They concentrated and dropped depth charges, and the submarine was destroyed. I ask the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lambert) to put to himself the question, how would it have been possible for our destroyers and patrol boats and drifters to chase submarines and lay down nets and mines but for the fact that the German High Seas Fleet did not venture out for fear of our Fleet? It was only because we had command of the surface of the sea with our battle Fleet, and, through the cruisers and light craft that depended on the battle Fleet, that our anti-submarine operations were able to be effective.
Again he took the view that we never attempted to get at the German High Sea Fleet. I venture to say that every officer who was in our Grand Fleet would be indignant at that suggestion. From the first day of the War to the last our one thought was how to get at it. We went into Heligoland Bight, but we could not get the badger out of his hole. If any navy likes to hide itself in a hole it is undoubtedly safe. But it loses the war, as the Germans did. It took them four years to lose the War because of their relative independence of sources of supply from abroad. But if we were to adopt the policy of the badger, and were not to attempt to defend our territories and our trade, it would not be four years but four weeks before we would lose the war. I was reading the other day, looking back among old quotations, and I found a very interesting prototype of the right hon. Gentleman in a distinguished admiral of the later part of the 18th century who had very strong views about the appalling consequences of our being committed to Gibraltar. He thought Gibraltar was a millstone round the neck of this country and he wrote about:The enormous expense of making new works here, of maintaining the numerous garrison with provisions, pay, clothing, etc.He pointed out, like the right hon. Gentleman, thatthe real danger of our Fleet getting so far away as Gibraltar was that it might never be able to get home again.This admiral died in 1814 and this was written about 1790. He goes on to say that it was a most pressing danger that our Fleet might be shut up in the Mediterranean for two, three or even four 2646 months without wind of such a kind as would enable them to get through to the Western Ocean. Those were the days of the sailing ships, but even in the sailing ship days we ran the risk, and we rightly ran the risk. The distinguished admiral I have quoted concluded by saying:It appears to me that Gibraltar is a heavy burden to this country without the smallest compensating advantage.I should like to come more immediately to the detailed question of the appalling expenses and danger which the right hon. Gentleman has spoken about. The Admiralty Estimates for the cost of these works was £9,500,000 or £10,500,000, if you also include £1,000,000 for the works under Vote 8. That reconciles the two statements of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty and the Civil Lord in another place. We see no reason to believe that these Estimates need be exceeded. An hon. Member talked about the bottomless mud in which our works and our money would be swallowed up, but I am glad to say that the place where we are to make the dockyard has a granite foundation, and there is no fear of our works or money disappearing in that foundation. The hon. Member for Westbury was the first to suggest that the £10,000,000 might become £20,000,000. Other Members have suggested £30,000,000 and it has gone up to £40,000,000 and £50,000,000. There is really no ground whatever for assuming that we are to spend money on that scale. We are not constructing a mighty fortress bristling with troops and with defences on the scale of a Port Arthur or even a Malta. We have had defences in Singapore for the last 40 years. Since 1907 they have been on a scale to deal with armoured cruisers. They may have to be on a somewhat stronger scale to deal with the heavier armour of modern ships, but there is no question of doing anything else on a different kind of scale than we have done before. What are we going to do? We are to create there a base which, together with Hong Kong, will meet the day in and day out needs of a somewhat larger fleet than we have to-day in Eastern waters. We shall have there one floating dock, one supply basin in which the lighters and transports can unload their cargoes and put them in sheds for reloading the ships. We shall naturally have repair sheds and a depot for armament stores 2647 and munitions. That is all we are contemplating in Singapore.
§ Mr. AMERY
There has been a military garrison there for 40 years. Whether it will be necessary to increase that garrison or whether the present garrison, with a strengthening of the Air Force, will be sufficient is a matter that in the course of the next few years can be carefully scrutinised and worked out. There is absolutely no desire on the part either of the Admiralty or of the Committee of Imperial Defence to rush us into a great expenditure in order to build up a powerful fortress there. We want to be in a position to keep an adequate fleet, such as we contemplated before the War, in Eastern waters and to give our main fleet a reasonable measure of mobility if at any time in future years, for defensive purposes, we wish to cover our position in the Indian Ocean and safeguard the position of our great Dominions.
Now I want in conclusion to come to what I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Buckrose is the real kernel of the whole question. You have got to think of this matter from the point of view of the British Empire. This is a question, not of the local defence of this country, but of the defence of the British Empire. The function of the Navy is to-day, as it has always been, not the function of the local defence of the narrow seas, but the function of defending the world-wide trade of Britain and its world-wide territories. In a few months it will be my duty to discuss and to negotiate with the representatives of the great Dominions on the question as to how we can, each of us, co-operate in the common defence of the Empire. I may have to ask for their assistance in connection with this very base at Singapore. But, apart from that, in any case, I can only approach them on the basis of mutual co-operation and mutual help. What answer am I likely to get from them if I were to go to them on the basis of the observations of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and to say to them: "I want you to help in the naval defence of the Empire; I want you to send your ships as in the last War to join the North Sea Fleet; but I 2648 am not prepared to send a single man or ship to help you in the hour of your danger. If you are attacked I propose to sit safely in the Channel." How is it possible to arrive at any policy of Imperial co-operation on that basis? More than one hon. Member to-night has suggested that this is a matter on which we ought to enter on full consultation with the Dominions, and at least one hon. Member said that we ought to wait till a little later in order to consult them. We did consult them in 1921. We put this policy before them then, and its detailed consideration from the point of view of their co-operation in it was deferred until after the Washington Conference.
There is one thing I feel bound to say. While we are bound in an ever-increasing degree to the great Dominions to consult as to the best means of co-operation, for a long time to come the strategy of the Empire in this matter must be formulated by the naval staff at the Admiralty, which is still responsible for nine-tenths of the naval services. That staff, after full discussion, and after bringing the matter before the Dominions—where there was no dissenting voice—after bringing it before the Committee of Imperial Defence and before successive Cabinets, are convinced that this is the soundest and most economical way to ensure the defence of the British Empire. We are not actually committed to the vast expenditure that has been mentioned in the course of the Debate, where it has been put from 10 to 20 millions, or whatever the figure may be. The figure of this year's estimate is £200,000, and a large part of that will not be required, thanks to the generosity of the Government of the Straits Settlement in giving the land for the base and for other purposes. For some years to come there will be only a small expenditure. The Dominions will come to this question absolutely unprejudiced from that point of view.
There is one thing more that I should like to say. Some hon. Members have laid stress upon the idea that only our strength can secure our peace. Others have laid stress upon the point that only by co-operation, conference, and mutual agreement amongst the nations can you secure peace. There is truth in both these ideas. The very essence of the idea of the League of Nations is not a league of mutual helplessness. It is that the 2649 the mutual co-operation of all nations of good will in the world will afford such strength that each of them can lower its individual standard of armaments, relying on the good will and support of the others. If that is true of the League of Nations, it is even more true of that older and deeper-rooted league of nations known as the British Commonwealth. I believe the success of the wider league of the world's nations, or at any rate the permanence of the agreement at which we arrived at Washington, depends in no small measure upon the unity and full co-operation of the partner States of the British Empire. It is by that co-operation, too, as we grow in strength and population, that the individual burden of armaments on each partner will become less.
Some of us may have doubts whether all the nations represented at Geneva will spring to arms in time of danger, but we have no doubts whatever that all the members of our British Commonwealth will spring to arms at once in defence of the British Empire. That, after all, in the long run is not only the surest guarantee of peace, but the best hope that the necessary minimum of defensive armaments will not be such as will crush us. If we are to justify that hope, we must make it clear to all the partner States in the British Empire that we stand behind them to the last man and the last ship. In our policy we are not looking to the narrow seas alone round this island, because that policy, in the long run, would mean costly armaments, war, and disaster. By making it clear to the Great Dominions that we are in a position in which we can, if need should arise, come to their assistance, we are doing the best thing we can for the unity of the Empire and for the peace of the world.
§ Captain BERKELEY
I wish to put one or two specific questions with regard to this proposal for a dock at Singapore. This seems to be necessary in order to arrive at a proper decision as to whether the proposed expenditure is justified. I am bound to say that I have been rather surprised at the somewhat reckless way in which suggestions with regard to the possible intentions of great and friendly Powers towards this nation have been banded about in the course of the Debate, particularly from the other side of the Committee. One point upon which all 2650 the advocates of constructing this dock have been united has been in stating almost passionately that it is not intended for aggression, and I think that may be taken almost as axiomatic, but that it is for protection, as the First Lord informed us in his lucid statement. I ask either the First Lord or the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty to answer specifically a question which has been put more than once, but to which no answer has been forthcoming. Against whom are we protecting ourselves? [Hon. MEMBERS: "Anybody!"] It is not sufficient for hon. Members on the other side to say "anybody." In these days of necessary economy it is no justification for a demand for £10,000,000 to say that the money is required for protection against "anybody." If there is no real reason to anticipate the necessity for being on the defensive against some Power or group of Powers. I submit the Government has not made a good case for asking the Committee to vote this sum. Since the names of friendly Powers have been taken in vain during the Debate, I ask the Parliamentary Secretary or some other representative of the Government to state if they have any reason whatever to anticipate unfriendliness on the part of Japan.
Another point on which I should like some enlightenment is whether the Government has considered the possible, effect of this policy of extensive armament construction on the work of a body sitting in London at this moment—the temporary Mixed Commission on Armaments appointed by the League of Nations. Some hon. Members smile, and I was watching for that smile. This body is meeting under the presidency of the Lord Privy Seal of this country, and, I ask, have the Government considered what effect the policy of naval extension is likely to have upon its work in dealing with the very difficult task with which it is faced—the production of a general plan of limitation of armaments to which the principal Powers of the world can adhere? I put a further question. The Assembly of the League of Nations, at its first two meetings, in 1920 and 1921, unanimously passed certain resolutions on the subject of armaments, which called upon the members of the League in the ensuing two years not to increase their Budget expenditure upon armaments. It was recognised that this was an imperfect method of 2651 achieving limitation of armaments, but it was regarded as a step in that direction. Those two consecutive resolutions were voted for by the representatives of the entire British Empire. I should like to ask the Government how far they consider they are justified in pursuing such a policy, in view of those resolutions, and I should like, on this same question of the dock, because I propose in a moment to pass to another cognate question, to ask this further question. Under Article XI of the Covenant of the League of Nations, it is the friendly right of any Power to call the attention of the Council of the League to the existence of any circumstance which, in its opinion, constitutes a threat to the peace of the world. What is to be the policy of the Government if some Power, which considers that its interests are menaced by the execution of this work, raises this matter in the Council of the League? What justification is the Government going to put forward? I regret that the two right hon. Gentlemen who represent the Government in this matter do not, apparently, consider that these questions are of sufficient importance to justify their giving me their attention.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Commander Eyres-Monsell)
We have been listening to every word.
§ Captain BERKELEY
There is one final question that I should like to put to the Government, dealing with a cognate question, but not the question of the Singapore dock. I should like to ask the Admiralty what is their policy with regard to the proposed conference under the League of Nations for the limitation of naval armaments in those spheres which are not covered by the Washington Agreement? As the First Lord is, of course, aware, proposals to that effect have been circulated by the League of Nations, and I venture to think that they are of considerable, if, perhaps, subsidiary, importance, in view of the fact that the invitation to participate in this conference was sent to Russia, and I think I am right in believing that the Soviet Government is willing to take part in this conference. I should be glad, therefore, if the Government would tell us whether it is their policy to encourage the holding of such a conference, and, if such a conference is 2652 held, then, referring to the question of the Singapore dock, what will be the position with regard to that enterprise if it is in a partly completed condition?
In view of the efforts that are being made at the present moment to bring about a limitation of armaments, and in view of the fact that, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Darbishire), this enterprise is being spread over a term of 10 years, and could, as we understand, be completed in much less time if the work of construction were pushed through quickly, would it not be possible for the Government to defer this project until the bodies of the League of Nations which are working to bring about a reduction of armaments have had some opportunity of showing whether or not they can achieve the purpose which they are setting out to achieve? If it is possible, as it appears to be, to postpone this construction for a period of, let us say, two or three years, might it not be allowed to stand over? Then, in the event of its proving impossible, or too difficult, for the League of Nations to undertake this general limitation of armaments, I would suggest that the Government might approach the House of Commons and ask for sanction for this proposal with a far greater chance of success.
§ Sir BERTRAM FALLE
I have a story to tell, a story which is almost unbelievable, but which I can assure the Committee is absolutely accurate. It is a sad story, and one which will appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I ask for their sympathy and attention. It is the story of the ranker naval officer who was pensioned and called up during the War, and who was deprived, during those years of fighting, of his pension. I am not asking for additional money; I am not asking for waste.
What I am asking for is really a debt that this country owes to these gentlemen. It is one of the terrible thoughts which has come to us now, and it is a fact, that those who stayed at home during the War are the men who for the most part reaped the reward—not all the reward, of course, because if they were able to do their duty they did not do it, they have only the shame, but they have reaped what this world considers the best reward. There were in the old days, and there are still, perhaps, two ways of entering the Navy. One was in 2653 the Admiralty barge and the other was by the hawse hole. The people I am speaking of came into the Navy by way of the hawse hole. If a boy had rich parents and influence he was given a commission in the Navy. A little later, if his parents had money enough to educate him sufficiently and to keep him when he was in the Navy, he passed by examination into the Navy and that system gave us some of the very finest and best officers the world has ever seen. There was another side of the picture and that was the boy, however intelligent he was, whose parents were unable, from lack of money or of influence, to push him into the Service or to teach him sufficiently well to pass the examination for the quarter deck. He had to enter the Navy as a boy. At the age of 18 he became a man. He was an able seaman. He rose to be leading seaman, petty officer, chief petty officer, warrant officer, commissioned warrant officer, and finally he rose if he was fortunate to be a lieutenant. This man, of course, was the very pick of the basket. Only the pick of the basket could hope to rise to that position. That man is the ranker officer of whom I am speaking.
Just think what that man had to go through. He had a 24-hour character—nothing less. He was sent on little ships on long cruises—three years was nothing in those days—and he had only to meet one cross officer—and we are all cross at times—to absolutely settle his chance of ever reaching the quarter deck. He was young, of course. He landed at different ports—high spirits and youth—but nevertheless, he had no scratch against his name, for if he had had he could never have attained the rank he did attain. I had some friends a few years ago who chartered a steamer and went up the Nile. They said they enjoyed themselves immensely, but I noticed on their return to Cairo they all went home by separate ships. That is the effect of living together on a small vessel. It is not a few weeks in the Navy, it is years. Some of these men were not only wise, but fortunate, and they lived long enough to reach commissioned rank and were pensioned. They were not pensioned as they are since the War, on their last rating. They were pensioned on their lowest rating, that is to say, as A.B.'s, and they received 30s. a year for every year they served in that rank. So if they served for 20 years as seamen 2654 they received £30 a year as pension. Then they received pension for the time they were leading seamen,, petty officers, chief petty officers and commissioned rank, and finally they got pension for the time they were lieutenants. I had an old friend who, after serving 39 years, received a pension of £200 a year. Every possible obstacle was put in their way, and every possible meanness in estimating their pension. These men, men of amazing grit, who escaped all these dangers and reached the quarter deck, received a pension of £200 a year, as lieutenants, Royal Navy, after 35 or 40 years' service. Then came the War. The pensioned officers were called up, or volunteered, and were sent for the most part on trawlers and mine-sweepers. Imagine the cuddy of those ships. Hard work, hard tack, constant danger, nerve strain, and never-ending threat to life. That went on for over four years and the reward was that they had their pensions taken from them during the time they were serving. When the War was over these men, who had smoothed the way of the other fighting services, got very little credit for their integrity and unselfish action. They went through difficulties which it is not possible for a landsman to understand, and one would have thought their service would have been rewarded, and they would have received some token of gratitude. But these ranker officers had their pensions taken away from them. They were without pensions, without wealth, without powerful friends. They were the only officers or men in the Navy, the Army or the Indian Marine who were deprived of their pensions by serving. There is no Army officer, no Army N.C.O. or man who if he was entitled to pension did not enjoy his pension during the whole War, and even now if he is employed at the War Office as a clerk, he is drawing his pay and pension.
Not one of these men could have fought for us in France if it had not been for the Navy. The Indian marine also refused to give their men the pensions to which they were entitled, but have since seen how mean that was, and have paid the pensions. In the Navy, men who became entitled to the pension, whilst serving after August, 1914, were refused their pension, while others who were pensioned before August, 1914, got their pay plus pension. We tried 2655 to obtain redress. We have beaten our wings against the Treasury door in vain. For the first year, the second year, and the third year they received pay only. Then we beat our fists against the Treasury door. At last, after the third year, some serious trouble arose. The scales dropped from the eyes of the Treasury, and the Admiralty woke up to the fact that they were playing with fire, and they gave way and paid all pensioned officers and men, not only from the date on which they decided to pay the pensions, but retrospectively from the very moment when they were eligible for pension. The only people to whom they did not give the pensions are the retired officers, who have deserved it more than anyone else. In respect of the Army getting their pensions, I do not wish it otherwise. Any man who has a pension thoroughly deserves it. Pensions are not deferred pay. They are only in the nature of deferred pay. An Order in Council of February, 1870, says of the Navy:These pensions are a just and honourable reward for past services.and yet the Treasury, with that in front of them, say, "You will not have it." If these gentlemen had remained at home you could not have stopped their pensions and they would have slept in their beds every night. These gentlemen, in receipt of pensions for past services, were deprived of their reward, and all the time they kept the seas free and our shores inviolate. When we shot Admiral Byng, a witty Frenchman said that we did it to encourage the others. We deprive the retired officers of the Navy of their pension to encourage the others, to encourage the lower deck to do their best to get to the quarter deck. But we must be fair. Every retired and pensioned Army officer, non-commissioned officer and man, who became pensionable during the War, received pay and pension, but in the Navy, at first, only the already pensioned men received pay plus pension. This will prove with how little wisdom the world is governed. The Treasury will not face their duty until forced. [HON. MEMBERS: "Vote against them!"] I will, with pleasure.
Many if not all of these gentlemen received a step in rank, but not the pay of the rank, during their time of service. By an old Order in Council they received 2656 25 per cent. additional pay, so that their war service should not count for additional pension. Of course, the Order in Council had nothing to do with the pension which they had earned. Then at the end of the fourth year they did receive an increase. A friend of mine whose pension was £200 actually received an increase of £37 for four years, with the proviso that it should drop by 20 per cent. this coming year. Whether it is the £37 which is to drop by 20 per cent. or the £37 nobody knows. If it is the £237, then the man will lose £10 pension by his gallantry during the War, his pension will be £190. In the last Parliament we had 228 Members of this House who signed a petition to the Prime Minister. We believe that this is the men's right. All we ask is equality of treatment for the officers of the Royal Navy for their devoted services. There are 986 of these officers. It may be said that there is a very small number of ranker officers, and it is for these rankers only that I am now pleading. They need it more and they expected that it was going to be continued, and it was not. These gentlemen, in my opinion, should be given the pensions they have earned, and earned so hardly. They should not be punished. They are old for the most part—they are all over 60. But they have done their best for their country and they have done their best for us. As I said at the beginning, it is absolutely shameful that they have not received their rights. I beg to move that the Vote be reduced by £10.
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. James Hope)
A Motion to reduce the Vote is already before me; I cannot accept that.
§ Mr. MOSLEY
In the few moments that remain I want to say a few words on the very remarkable argument which the First Lord has addressed to the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman's peroration rather spoilt the pacific effect of his speech. If necessary every one would fight to the last man and to the last ship if confronted with a menace. That some- 2657 what disconnected the pacific assurance which the right hon. Gentleman gave in the earlier part of his speech, that these new proposals could not possibly be intended to operate against anyone at all. One could almost hear in that frantic culmination of his speech the crash of the gun. For the rest of his speech, he attempted to minimise the gravity for the step which we are taking. He said we were not going to establish any big base at Singapore, but at the same time he derided the argument of the right hon. Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert). The First Lord said it was an earlier reversion to a pre-War policy. We always kept in Pacific waters a substantial fleet which had been withdrawn when the German menace began to develop. But he cannot meet the point that it was never considered a necessity while the alliance with Japan existed, and it was not until this Japanese menace, which was sketched in such lurid terms in the right hon. Gentleman's peroration, began to develop that it was considered necessary to have this base. The right hon. Gentleman did say, in the course of his speech, that the base was necessary on account of the submarine development and the consequent development of battleships. The submarine was a danger and a menace before the War. But before the War, while the Japanese Alliance was in being, it was never considered necessary to have a dock of this nature in these waters. In the few minutes left, I come to the real argument of the case which the right hon. Gentleman made in such a singular way.
The charge of my hon. and gallant Friend was that, at Washington, we had either concealed or not revealed to the Japanese the fact that we intended to establish a great base of this nature at Singapore some five degrees outside the specified area. What did the right hon. Gentleman say? He said that this longitude was purposely chosen in order to leave out Singapore, and that all through those negotiations our representatives had the possibilities of Singapore in mind and were considering the creation of this great base. What a singular reticence, if, having it in mind when drawing this line for the purpose of this great base at Singapore, throughout the whole of these negotia- 2658 tions they never mentioned this matter. We have heard something of the traditions of the Silent Service, but Lord Balfour appears to have excelled even its traditions in the degree of reticence which he exercised in Washington. What an extraordinary answer, having said that it was never hinted to the Japanese, for the right hon. Gentleman to say that our representatives, throughout these negotiations, had this intention in mind! The right hon. Gentleman failed entirely to meet the point of my hon. and gallant Friend—
§ Mr. MOSLEY
My Noble Friend the Member for Hornsey (Viscount Ednam) has again contributed one of his singular contributions to this discussion
§ Viscount EDNAM
On a point of Order. Has not an hon. Member on this side of the Committee the right to can out "divide," without insulting remarks from the hon. Gentleman?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think there has been any insulting remark. As to the use of the word "divide," I do not know if it has ever been ruled upon, but it has certainly been consecrated by immemorial use.
§ Mr. MOSLEY
Far be it from me to take as an insult a perfectly reasonable remark of the Noble Lord. I was merely about to felicitate him upon the wisdom and upon the mellow eloquence of his contribution to our Debate. What is more, I was also about to assure him that, so far from impeding my speech, he actually assisted it. During the course of recent Debates I have felt quite lonely without the interruptions of hon. Members opposite, so familiar and so sweet has become the music of the nightingales—those great masters of song, but, unfortunately, not of speech. I will leave my Noble Friend to develop his vocal faculties, which, no doubt, with due exercise, will yet grow to charm the House.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 214; Noes, 133.2661
|Division No. 300.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Furness, G. J.||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Galbraith, J. F. W.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Apsley, Lord||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Paget, T. G.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Sir Martin||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Parker, Owen (Kettering)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Pease, William Edwin|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Astor, Viscountess||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Gretton, Colonel John||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pete, Basil E.|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Philipson, Mabel|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Halstead, Major D.||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Becker, Harry||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlvon W.||Harrison, F. C.||Privett, F. J.|
|Berry, Sir George||Harvey, Major S. E.||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hawke, John Anthony||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Remer, J. R.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hiley, Sir Ernest||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Islgtn, W.)|
|Briggs, Harold||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Bruford, R.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hume, G. H.||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Sandon, Lord|
|Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Hurst, Gerald B.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Button, H. S.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Jephcott, A. R.||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Simpson-Hinchliffe, W. A.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Johnson, Sir L. (Waithamstow, E.)||Singleton, J. E.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Skelton, A. N.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stanley, Lord|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lamb, J. Q.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Cope, Major William||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Lorden, John William||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Lorimer, H. D.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Lort-Williams, J.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lougher, L.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Manville, Edward||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Ednam, Viscount||Margesson, H. D. R.||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Ellis, R. G.||Mercer, Colonel H.||Wells, S. R.|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Winterton, Earl|
|Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Wise, Frederick|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. M.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfrey||Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Fawkes, Major F. H.||Murchison, C. K.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Nall, Major Joseph||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|the Rt. Hon. G. A. Gibbs|
|Adams, D.||Batey, Joseph||Broad, F. A.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Bromfield, William|
|Ammon, Charles George||Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Brotherton, J.|
|Attlee, C. R.||Bonwick, A.||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Burgess, S.|
|Barnes, A.||Briant, Frank||Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Hinds, John||Saklatvala, S.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Cape, Thomas||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Chapple, W. A.||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Sexton, James|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Collison, Levi||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Sinclair, Sir A.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lansbury, George||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lawson, John James||Snell, Harry|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Leach, W.||Snowden, Philip|
|Dunnico, H.||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Spoor, B. G.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lowth, T.||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Edmonds, G.||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||M'Entee, V. L.||Sullivan, J.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Falconer, J.||March, S.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Thornton, M.|
|Gosling, Harry||Middleton, G.||Tout, W. J.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Millar, J. D.||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Turner, Ben|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Mosley, Oswald||Warne, G. H.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Murnin, H.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Groves, T.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col D. (Rhondda)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)||Webb, Sidney|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Newbold, J. T. W.||Westwood J.|
|Hancock, John George||O'Grady, Captain James||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Hardie, George D.||Oliver, George Harold||Whiteley, W.|
|Harney, E. A.||Paling, W.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Harris, Percy A.||Parker, H. (Hanley)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Potts, John S.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Pringle, W. M. R.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wright, W.|
|Herriotts, J.||Ritson, J.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hill, A.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Hillary, A. E.||Royce, William Stapleton||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Phillipps and Sir A. Marshall.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,280,300, be granted for the said Service."2662
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 130; Noes, 217.2665
|Division No. 301.]||AYES.||[11.9 p.m.|
|Adams, D.||Gosling, Harry||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||March, S.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)|
|Attlee, C. R.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Middleton, G.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Millar, J. D.|
|Barnes, A.||Groves, T.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Mosley, Oswald|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Hancock, John George||Murnin, H.|
|Bonwick, A.||Hardie, George D.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Harris, Percy A.||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)|
|Briant, Frank||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Newbold, J. T. W.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Bromfield, William||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Brotherton, J.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Paling, W.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Herriotts, J.||Parker, H. (Hanley)|
|Burgess, S.||Hill, A.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Hillary, A. E.||Potts, John S.|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Hinds, John||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Chapple, W. A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Ritson, J.|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Collison, Levi||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Saklatvala, S.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Sexton, James|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lansbury, George||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Lawson, John James||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Dunnico, H.||Leach, W.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Edmonds, G.||Lowth, T.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon||Snell, Harry|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||M'Entee, V. L.||Snowden, Philip|
|Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.||Trevelyan, C. P.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Spoor, B. G.||Turner, Ben||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.||Warne, G. H.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Stewart, J. (St. Rollex)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Sullivan, J.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Webb, Sidney||Wright, W.|
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Westwood, J.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Thornton, M.||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Tout, W. J.||Whiteley, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Phillipps and Sir A. Marshall.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Forestier-Walker, L.||Nall, Major Joseph|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Furness, G. J.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Apsley, Lord||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Sir Martin||Ganzoni, Sir John||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Paget, T. G.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Parker, Owen (Kettering)|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Pease, William Edwin|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Gretton, Colonel John||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Becker, Harry||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Peto, Basil E.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Philipson, Mabel|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Halstead, Major D.||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Harrison, F. C.||Price, E. G.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Harvey, Major S. E.||Privett, F. J.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Hawke, John Anthony||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Brass, Captain W.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Briggs, Harold||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Remer, J. R.|
|Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Hiley, Sir Ernest||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Bruford, R.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Islgtn, W.)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hood, Sir Joseph||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Butler, J. R. M. (Cambridge Univ.)||Hume, G. H.||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Button, H. S.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hurst, Gerald B.||Sandon, Lord|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Jephcott, A. R.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Simpson-Hinchliffe, W. A.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||King, Capt. Henry Douglas||Singleton, J. E.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Skelton, A. N.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lamb, J. Q.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cope, Major William||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Stanley, Lord|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Lorden, John William||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lorimer, H. D.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Lort-Williams, J.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lougher, L.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Ednam, Viscount||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Manville, Edward||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Margesson, H. D. R.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mercer, Colonel H.||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Wells, S. R.|
|Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Corn. Rt. Hon. Sir B. M.||Morden, Col. W. Grant||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Fawkes, Major F. H.||Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton)||Winterton, Earl|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Murchison, C. K.||Wise, Frederick|
|Wolmer, Viscount||Wood, Maj. Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)||Yerburgh, R. D. T.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|the Rt. Hon. G. A. Gibbs.|
Bill read the Third time, and passed.
§ Original Question put.
§ The CHAIRMAN stated that he thought the Ayes had it; and, on his decision being challenged, it appeared to him that the Division was unnecessarily claimed, and he accordingly called upon the Members who supported and who challenged his decision successively to rise in their places, and he declared the Ayes had it.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next (23rd July).
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.