Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,832,8550, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the expense of works, buildings, and repairs, at home and abroad, including the cost of superintendence, purchase of sites, Grants-in-Aid, and other charges connected therewith, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1924.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Commander Eyres-Monsell)
In making the customary introductory statement on Vote 10, I do not propose to go into it in any very great detail. It would be impossible to do so in the case of a Vote of this sort, which deals with such a multiplicity and diversity of interests all over the world. At this juncture, all that I wish to do is to sketch the outline of the Vote and emphasise its more important features, leaving questions of detail to be answered later and to be dealt with as they may arise in the course of the Debate. I would first endeavour to temper, and, perhaps, if I am lucky, to avert, hostile criticism, by drawing the attention of the Committee to the large and consistent reductions that we have made in this Vote since the War. In this financial year, 1923–4, we are asking for a sum of £3,832,850 for works, buildings, maintenance and repairs both at home and abroad. To get at the true figure that we are spending this year, we have to deduct from that certain sums. There are certain annual charges and obligations which, although they relate to works services carried out, or to grants approved in past years, have to be provided for in this Vote. There are also charges such as reconditioning war properties, and so on, which are purely War liabilities. Much the largest item in that list is the annuity in repayment of 1224 advances under the Naval Works Act, 1895, which accounts for over £1,250,000. All of these commitments total to a sum of £1,370,238. Subtracting that from the total Vote asked for, and adding the Appropriations-in-Aid, which amount to £75,000, we get the real effective expenditure under this Vote, namely, £2,537,612.
I wish to compare that, first, with the total effective expenditure of last year, making the same additions and subtractions. Comparing it with last year, we show a reduction this year of £371,257. Comparing it with the last Vote of this sort before the War, namely, that for 1914–15, which, I think, will interest the Committee, we find that it is only up by 10 per cent. as compared with the Vote of 1914–15, and at a time when, as I would remind the Committee, the cost of works and buildings, and almost every other expenditure undertaken under this Vote, is 90 per cent. higher than it was in 1914. I think the Committee will agree with me in thinking that, if all Votes in all Services of the Crown were only 10 per cent. more than they were in the year 1914–15, this country would not have very much to complain of.
One of the chief lines of argument used against Vote 10 is that expenditure on works and buildings, on bricks and mortar, is diverting money from seagoing ships, and that, at a time when we are trying to cut down our expenditure to a certain sum, money spent on these Votes is circumscribing the efficiency of our sea going ships. Of course, the efficiency of the Fleet is, and must be, the prime necessity to be aimed at, and I wish to assure the Committee that it is quite impossible to separate the expenditure under Vote 10 from the total expenditure undertaken under the general Navy Estimates. The work done under the aegis of this Vote 10 is inextricably woven with the destinies of the Fleet. Let me take, first, the example of the ships. Vote 10 has to build the slips on which cur ships come into being. We have to build and maintain the docks, the locks, and the basins in which they are repaired. We have to dredge the channels to allow these ships to come to those docks and basins. We have to build and repair the workshops in which repairs are undertaken. We have to build and repair the lines and the roadways which serve those 1225 workshops. We have to build and maintain the depots for ammunition, and for the thousand and one articles that are necessary to make a ship into a real fighting unit. Lastly, we have to build and maintain the fuel depots both at home and abroad, without which the British Navy would be immobile and utterly useless. In the same way we cater for the personnel of the Navy. We have to build and maintain all the instructional establishments for both officers and men. We have to build and maintain barracks, hospitals, canteens, recreation grounds and many other things, and I can say, with truth, that the well-being of the Navy in both material and personnel depends upon the activities of this Vote 10. I can assure the Committee that whenever an item under this Vote comes up to us to be adjudicated upon, the first question that is asked is whether it is necessary for the efficiency, the well-being or the safety of the Fleet, and by the answer it is invariably judged. As we now maintain only a one-Power standard, and our Fleet, so far as capital ships at all events are concerned, is limited, it is of vital importance that we should do two things. Firstly, we should do everything in our power to make the Fleet as efficient as possible, and, secondly, we should do everything in our power to make it as mobile as possible. I should be glad ii the Committee could find in this Vote a single item that does not aim at one of those two objects.
I want to take two groups of items under the head of efficiency. The first are those which make provision for the welfare of the men of the lower deck. The attainment of contentment, or if contentment be too strong a word, the absence of a legitimate grievance, is a big step towards efficiency. After the War, the Admiralty shared with the rest of the country that feeling of exalted optimism which, I am sorry to say, has turned out to be one of the most cynical legacies. Under the stress of that feeling of the War, we planned great schemes for the comfort and the betterment of the men of the lower deck. Also, under sheer financial necessity, we have had to drop a great deal of that programme. But I am glad to say that this year we have managed to include a fairly large number of new welfare items, and we ask the Committee to approve a fairly large number 1226 which are already approved by the House of Commons and are what are called continuation items. In war time there is no doubt the sailor is a good deal more comfortable than the soldier, but in peace it is the reverse and very often the sailors are living under conditions which approximate very closely to the conditions they live under in war time. I hope when financial times are better, and we are able to put forward more proposals in this direction, the House of Commons will not grudge us money which is designed to smooth the lives of those men who are very often uncomfortable, and are in my opinion, at all events, a most uncomplaining body of men.
Under the heading of efficiency, I wish to take one other group of items, and that is the armament supply depots. I wish to say something about this, because these armament supply depots are very often criticised, and rightly, because the provision for them has increased since pre-War days, and the outport staff necessary for their upkeep has also increased, and anything that increases since pre-War days ought rightly to be criticised and examined. But I can give the Committee some very good reasons for this. The experience of the War forced us to adopt a good many new weapons which are a great deal more complicated than they used to be. Let me give the example of mines. It is a matter of history that at the outbreak of the War, this country was very deficient in mines, both in quantity and quality. We do not want that to happen again and we have in reserve a much larger number of mines than we used to have—a number that we hope will be sufficient if, unfortunately, war should ever come again. But we have many new weapons. We have the paravane, for which we are indebted to the inventive genius of the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney). We have depth charges and bombs of all sorts to provide stowage for. All these weapons are filled with a much more powerful explosive than we used to deal with in the old days. We used to have wet guncotton, a very safe and a very stable form of explosive, but to-day we deal with far more powerful things than wet guncotton, and on the top of that the advent of aircraft has made it absolutely imperative to strengthen these depots and make 1227 them as impervious as possible to attack from aircraft. I hope when anyone criticises any expenditure on armament supply depots he will recollect those three points.
I now come to the question of mobility, and here we have the largest item of expenditure, namely, £914,000 for tanks for the stowage of oil fuel. For some years now we have been building up a reserve of these tanks for oil fuel both at home and abroad. We have continuously reviewed our requirements in the endeavour to bring down our total Estimates. We have continually cut down our requirements in the interest of economy. What we now ask for we regard as the irreducible minimum for safety. The necessary tanks in England and abroad are being proceeded with. Most of the objects for which we are asking for money in this Vote are continuation services already approved by this House, but this year we ask for permission to add to the number of these tanks at certain places. At home we ask for provision 'to add to the number at Glasgow, and abroad we ask for permission to add to the number at Malta, Aden, Ceylon, Rangoon and Singapore. All these places are on the route to the East. Up to about 1907 everyone in this country understood the duties of our Navy to be world-wide, for the protection of our trade and for the defence of our Empire. In those days we had squadrons in almost every part of the world, and particularly we always had a strong squadron on the China station, for from that station some of our greatest dominions—India, Australia, New Zealand—could be best protected and our multifarious interests in the East best safeguarded. But in about 1907 the growing menace of the Germany Navy compelled us gradually to concentrate in the North Sea, and after so many years of that concentration there are a great many people in this country who have got the idea into their minds that the true function of the British Navy is to guard our shores. I cannot too strongly denounce that idea. It never has been the function of our Navy, and that is proved because nearly every vital engagement fought by our Navy has been fought at some considerable distance from these 1228 shores. The real function of the British Navy is to keep open the great sea routes for the safe passage of our trade and for the defence of our scattered Empire, and to do this we must be in a position to move our ships rapidly to any part of the world. In these days this is more important than ever it was before.
I have said we are now a one-Power standard and we cannot divide up the Fleet as we used to do in pre-War days. The Fleet must be kept intact and it must be capable of going wherever it is required. This Eastern route is the most important route of all and until it is ready we cannot guarantee the safety of our Dominions or adequately protect British interests in the East. Hon. Members opposite may ask whom are you going to fight? I say, without any hesitation whatever, no one. What we are asking for is purely defensive and not offensive, and if proof of that were needed it is given in the leisurely way in which we are going to work in building up this route to the East. It is an insurance, and a small one, for the integrity of our Empire. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) is always rather anxious about the protection of these tanks. He assumes that it is rather easy to blow them to pieces or to set them on fire. I am happy to be able to assure him that all our experience goes to prove the contrary. There is only one recorded case of tanks having been fired. That occurred at Madras to two tanks, which were fired by the "Emden," but those tanks contained kerosene, and tanks in the near neighbourhood which were also shelled, and which contained the much heavier oil that we use in the Navy, did not ignite. There were many cases also of oilers being torpedoed, but in no case did they take fire. If the tanks are shattered by shell fire we have a system of saucers designed to catch the oil that may come out. If it is hostile aircraft that the right hon. Gentleman is afraid of, I would remind him that none of these tanks are anywhere near a possibly hostile aerodrome, and if an enemy were going to attack the tanks they must go by means of surface craft. On other occasions, on many other Votes, my right hon. Friend is always rather sceptical about the use of these surface craft.
1229 I now come, by the Eastern route, to Singapore. We are asking this year for a sum to enable us to develop a Naval base—
§ Commander EYRES-MONSELL
Against nobody. It is for insurance. When a man insures his house, he does not have to specify, and he does not think, whether a match, a cigarette end or a lamp overturned is going to set the house on fire. He insures against the general risk of fire. When a man buys his daily insurance on the bookstall, he does not look at the front of every omnibus as a potential means of securing him with a headline next day; he rather looks at the back of the omnibus, and reads there, "Safety first." That is all we are asking the House for. We want to develop our base at Singapore and to be able to cater for the needs of modern capital ships. There have been many examples in history which demonstrate the supreme folly of concentrating a fleet far from a defended base. The Spanish Armada supplies one example; but we have a far better and more modern example in the Russian Fleet, under Admiral Rojestvensky, which met with such an untimely end. I should like to make it clear to the Committee, that there is nothing new in this idea of a defended base at Singapore.
§ Commander EYRES-MONSELL
I was talking about Singapore. It has been defended since 1882, and all we are asking this Committee to do is to allow us to bring it up to date. It was intended to bring it up to date before the War, but, as I have said, all our energies were concentrated on the North Sea, and we could not do it. This work was approved by the Dominion Conference in 1921; it was strongly recommended by the Committee of Imperial Defence; it was approved by the late Cabinet; it has been approved by this Cabinet; and it is most strongly urged by the Dominions. The Washington Conference has made this work increasingly necessary at the present day. As the Committee knows, under the Treaty we are precluded from further developing Hong Kong and, at the present moment, we have not got a single dock in the Far East on British territory capable of taking 1230 a bulged capital battleship. On the total sum foreshadowed in these Estimates, we have already cut down the amount by something like £1,500,000, bringing it down to about £9,500,000. This sum will be spread over a very considerable period, probably about 10 years. I have great hopes that the Dominions, which have a very direct interest in this work, will see their way to co-operate with us in this direction. I have tried to give the Committee an outline of this Vote. I hope I have not been too long, and I trust the Committee will see their way to let us have the Vote without any very great or undue delay.
§ Mr. G. LAMBERT
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
My hon. and gallant Friend need never fear wearying the House of Commons. He speaks with practical experience, as a very gallant naval officer, and also as a Parliamentarian of great ability. Therefore, in any Vote which he proposes to the Committee, everything that can be said in its favour will be said by him. In his opening remarks, he stated that this Vote was about 10 per cent. lower than pre-War. During the War, if I may touch on that point of his argument for a moment, there were enormous new works built. One would have thought that those works would have sufficed now we are at peace—or what we call peace. There has been a reduction in the personnel of the Navy, and we should have imagined that the Works Vote would have decreased with the personnel of the Navy. One remark of my hon. and gallant Friend will find an echo in every part of the Committee. That is, that the Committee will grudge no expenditure to secure the contentment and comfort of the officers and men of the Royal Navy.
I propose to deal very lightly with detail, and to go direct to the point with which my hon. and gallant Friend concluded his speech, namely, the new naval base at Singapore. I do not know where he got his information that it was proposed to spend large sums of money on this base before the War. I happen to have been at the Admiralty, and I was not aware of it. I did not know that we had brought in any Estimate, or that any proposals were made. Of course, it is a good while ago, and one's memory may be defective; but I was there, and I do not recollect any proposal for building a 1231 naval base at Singapore. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), who was then Prime Minister, states, it was, at any rate, never approved by any responsible authority, neither by the Admiralty nor by the Cabinet. The first question I would ask with regard to this new naval base is, has this matter been thought of in relation to the League of Nations? This is a new naval base at Singapore, costing, on the Estimate, something like £11,000,000, which, by the way, will certainly be exceeded before it is finished. That certainly is an act for the establishment of a naval establishment which would, I imagine, have been considered in relation to that solemn League to which Britain put her hand at Versailles. Article 8 of the Covenant of the League of Nations is very clear. I copied out the salient portion of it this morning. It says:The Members of the League undertake to interchange full and frank information is to the scale of their armaments, their military and naval air programmes and the condition of such of their industries as are adaptable to war-like purposes.This is a base which is adaptable to warlike purposes. As my hon. and gallant Friend said to-day, it is a base for war purposes. Britain, the British Empire, British statesmen, and the statesmen of the British Empire have set their seal to the League of Nations. Japan has also set her seal to the League of Nations. Have you entered in a consultation with Japan in regard to this base at Singapore? If not, you must have flouted the League of Nations. To my mind it is a very serious thing, after this terrible War, that that solemn covenant of the League of Nations should be treated as a scrap of paper, and should be a kind of sepulchre for the pledges which have been so freely made. I would remind the Government that the present Prime Minister was one of the signatories to the League, and also the past Prime Minister. Therefore, surely, this is not the moment to enter upon an enormously expensive new naval base in the Far East without some consultation as covenanted by the League we have so solemnly approved. My hon. and gallant Friend said that owing to the Washington Treaty we were not permitted to develop Hong Kong. Then, I ask, do you propose to get behind the Washington Treaty by developing Singapore?
§ Commander EYRES-MONSELL
It was clearly excluded. If the right hon. Gentleman will read the Agreement, he will see it was clearly excluded.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
As I understand, it was not permissible under the Washington Agreement to develop Hong Kong. Then, you may develop somewhere else, somewhere near. That seems to me to be perilously near going behind the Washington Treaty. Having the horrors and terrors of the late War so strongly in my mind, I deplore this new race for armaments and naval bases.
More than that, having said this from the moral point of view, I come to the strategical point of view. What was the lesson we learned from the late War? Whatever may have been the late Lord Fisher's faults, he did concentrate the Fleet in home waters. His was a policy of concentration. To-day, according to the new strategic policy of the Admiralty, we are to have stations and establishments all over the world. They will be very vulnerable in time of war, and extremely expensive in time of peace. I have said more than once from this Box that the Admiralty during the last three or four years, have laid broad and deep the foundations of great expenditure. Even in this country, though the personnel of the Navy has been reduced from 150,000 to about 100,000, we have actually got one more dockyard than we had before the War. Rosyth, as a protection against the German menace, was built at a cost of something like £6,000,000 or £7,000,000. Now we are to have Singapore, at a cost of £11,000,000. Singapore is about 7,000 miles away.
I should like the First Lord, or whoever is going to reply for the Admiralty, to tell us how they propose to maintain communication between the home country and this new naval base, 7,000 miles away. The Grand Fleet was based on Great Britain, a very mighty and very highly industrialised country; but, as I understand from my hon. and gallant Friend, the route to reach Singapore is to be by Malta, Aden, Ceylon and Rangoon. I 1233 hope the British Fleet will not be sent to Singapore to fight any possible enemy, but I think, if it is, that all these naval bases, all these oil fuel bases, will be liable to attack. When my hon. and gallant Friend said that the "Emden" had only damaged two depots in Madras, the German fleet, fortunately, was very quickly bottled up; it did not escape Who and what you are going to fight against in the future, of course, I cannot say. Then I come to the point that we are to have a very leisurely construction of this base. Whatever you do in naval matters, leisurely construction is the most fatal and extravagant course. If you want to build ships, you must build them quickly or they will be out of date. I remember being at the Admiralty when Rosyth was started, and we made a special provision that if the base was built quicker than the contract date the contractors should have a special bonus. Do you really suggest that in a time of emergency, a time of war—and though I hate to talk about war, yet when we have enormous Estimates of £130,000,000 for the fighting forces we have to think and talk about war—does anyone believe that with a one-Power standard you are to send that one-Power standard to Singapore in time of war? That seems to me to be an idea that might be evolved at Colney Hatch or somewhere like that.
Take capital ships. The Admiralty first build their ships, and then they say, Now we have no docks in which to repair the ships. Therefore we must build docks." It is a very vicious circle of expenditure. If this base is to be finished at a cost of £9,000,000—there has been a reduction in the Estimate, and I, having had considerable experience of these matters, know that these Estimates are generally elusive, and that docks cost far more than they are expected to cost—this base is to be finished in 10 years' time. Who knows whether the capital ships and the docks will not then be obsolete? What enemy do you really expect to fight at Singapore? In the old days, when we had a two-Power standard, it was against France and Russia. Then it was two keels to one against Germany. What enemy are you to meet at Singapore, and how are you to meet him 7,000 miles away? My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty said 1234 it is a very important matter for the Dominions, and he refers particularly to Australia, but has Australia been consulted? Do the Australians propose to bear any proportion of the cost.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
But will the Imperial Conference bring with it any Dominion money? That is the real point I ask. If the Imperial Conference is coming, why not postpone committing the House of Commons to the construction of this naval base till afterwards? Ten million pounds of money is not a small sum, and it is not only £10,000,000 spent there, but the base must have a garrison to defend it. You cannot have a great naval base without defence. You must have guns and an army, or, at any rate, some military establishment there.
I honestly say, so far as I am concerned, I do not believe any case has been made out for committing the House of Commons at the present moment to this naval base at such an enormous cost. I would point out to the Committee that when you have all these bases scattered all over the world—oil fuel and other kinds of depots—it means vast expenditure to the taxpayer, without, I think, a commensurate result. It must be recollected that, if you have even a small oil-fuel depot, that depot has to be defended. It must have people to look after it, and these same people have to have their opposite number at the Admiralty. The Admiralty establishment is greatly above the pre-War standard. The Admiralty staff at the present time is 3,000, against about 2,000 before the War. All these naval establishments are a most wasteful form of activity. In the interests of the British taxpayer—who, one would imagine, had a bottomless pocket—I ask the Government to postpone this matter and let this whole question of Singapore be examined and, indeed, let the whole question of the fighting forces and their relation to each other be examined by a strong, competent Commission or Committee. If each Department is going into riotous expenditure in competition with the others, what will the end of it be? I say it is absolute madness at the present moment to spend £11,000,000 on Singapore and to leave London, the heart of the Empire, unguarded against aircraft attacks. Therefore, so far as I am concerned, 1235 I shall move a reduction in this Vote, and I move it, first, because the League of Nations has been ignored; secondly, because I think it is a wrongheaded method of expenditure to scatter our forces instead of concentrating them; thirdly, because the new base at Singapore would be a hostage to any possible enemy; and, fourthly, because it is a diversion of defence from the heart of the Empire of Britain to a place 7,000 miles away.
I have read somewhere in Ruskin that at one time a beautiful valley between two towns was filled up to make a railway, and after all the smoke and the noise and the spoiling of the beauty, the total result was that any fool could get from town A to town B in half the time it took before, and any fool in town B could get to town A in the same time. After hearing the speech of the Financial Secretary I wondered what advantage it is going to be to us or to anyone when we are to pay £9,500,000 of the taxpayers' money and spoil the beautiful harbour of Singapore. I wish to ask again, against whom are we fortifying Singapore? I have asked that already and I received a partial answer, an answer in the sense that it parried my attack but not an answer in the sense that it gave us any information. We command the seas to Malta, to Aden, we command India, we command Australia. Again I ask, against whom are we going to fortify Singapore? Surely not against Australia, not against India, not against America. We are not spending money, I suppose, for nothing. We are going to spend £10,000,000, according to the present estimate, but we know right well that that estimate is to be swelled. In the first place, we are gang to work there in a very unhealthy climate, and, having finished these works, they have to be garrisoned. That means the occupation of Singapore by a permanent garrison of at least 2,000 artillery, to say nothing about the other services. It is not only the building of these stations at a great expenditure that we are going to have. There is something we ought to draw attention to here. We have had the Washington Conference, which was drawn together for the limitation of armaments, and now the Financial Secretary tells us that we are 1236 forced to fortify Singapore by the Washington Convention. I think these are words which ought to be explained or withdrawn. What is the sense of saying that we tied ourselves not to increase the fortification at Hong Kong and then going a thousand miles further south and putting up a new fortification at Singapore?
South and west. This I regard as a cynical attack upon the Washington Peace Conference. Are we to blame this Conference, which was set up for the limitation of armaments, for the fortification of Singapore? Are we to hide behind the Conference for limitation of armaments and to say that that has caused us to fortify Singapore? And supposing Singapore is west as well as south, what is the point of bringing out that it is west? I have been in both places. Singapore may be south or west from Hong Kong, but why stress its westerliness? Are you trying to show that, being west, it cannot be east, and therefore that Japan does not come within our purview? If we take out an insurance, it is because there are such things as motor cars, trains and buses, If we fortify Singapore, we are not doing it for the pleasure of throwing away money. We are brought back to the question, why are we fortifying Singapore? Are we doing it against America or against Japan? As one who shared some of the labours and the dangers of the late War, it surprises me that men can stand up in this House and speak for hours not under the category of peace but under the category of war. Were we not bidden to fight the last War because it was to be the last war, and what right has any hon. Gentleman or right hon. Gentleman to speak about the next War? Surely we fought the last War to end war, and if we did not, then men were called to the colours under false pretences. I feel that we on this side at least are going to keep these things before the workers, and before our constituents.
If we are looking forward to having merry times in 1924 or 1934, it is time, during the peace, for the working classes of the country to ask their rulers what is the meaning of it all. If we want money for housing or old age pensions we are asked "Where is the money to come 1237 from?" Now this House contemplates spending £10,000,000 estimated, which will swell easily to £20,000,000, and we are not asking ourselves if we are justified in spending this money. The Minister of Health can only spare £6 per house for 20 years as a bonus on house building, and we are prepared to throw away £10,000,000, much of which will find its bed in the mudswamps of the harbour of Singapore. We are going to spend our money on buildings and garrisons in that pestilential and immoral cesspool, for what and against whom? [Laughter.] The hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Penny) is smiling. I do not know at what particular part of my speech he gets funny. We are going to waste the health and morality of a large garrison in this pestilential and immoral cesspool.
This is the point which we are up against. It will be regarded as a direct challenge by the yellow men of the Far East, particularly by the Japanese. Mention was made to-day about the untimely end of a Russian Admiral in the Japanese sea. That Admiral came to an untimely end for the simple reason that he was far away from his base, 15,000 miles away from his base. As I look into the future I might also see another fleet coming to an untimely end in a Japanese sea because it is far from its base. We cannot look to the future with any satisfaction or sense of peace. We are not preparing the way for peace in the future by this Vote. We are going in the way of destruction and misery and not in the paths of peace.
§ Mr. PENNY
I have listened with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert), in which he stated that the view was not held before the War that Singapore would be a great naval base. We all know that in questions such as these there is great diversity of opinion. Having lived in Singapore for 20 years, I can say that the great feeling out there was that it would be a wonderful naval base for our Pacific station. The right hon. Gentleman also laid great stress on the fact that he hated war. There is no Member of this House who does not hold the same view, but it would be suicidal for a country such as ours if we were not prepared for war, and to have a "wait and see" policy in a matter such as this would be criminal. For that reason I think that he is wrong in taking the view that we should not be prepared. 1238 The hon. Member for Cathcart (Captain Hay) asked why I was smiling at a portion of his speech. I was smiling at the fact that he was so very inconsistent. He started his speech by describing this "beautiful island" of Singapore, and he finished it by calling it a "pestilential and immoral cesspool." I feel in a perfect state of health at the present time. I spent 20 years in that immoral cesspool, and I feel none the worse for it. There is an hon. Member on the other side of the Committee who, I am sure, will speak in this Debate, who has lived there as long as I have, who is known for his virility, and who, like rubber out there, is also known for his great resiliency. Although we are the greatest friends, it is possible that he will put a different view to the Committee. Personally, I think that the decision of the Admiralty to establish a naval base at. Singapore is an extremely wise one. The Estimate of £11,000,000, which will be spread over a great number of years, will be a very cheap premium of insurance for our safety in the future. It will also, I think, act as a great safeguard for peace in the future, so long as it is necessary for us to maintain ourselves as a great sea Power, and I presume that we shall have to do that until the world at large is educated up to accepting the principles of the League of Nations.
§ Mr. PENNY
Whichever you like. It is all the same thing. It is a matter of Christianity and brotherhood, and I want to see it brought about as soon as possible, just as much as any Member of this House. But until the world is ready to accept the principle of the League of Nations, and to have a reduction in armaments and a cessation of warfare it is up to us to be prepared. We have seen strikingly illustrated by the last War the changing of the balance of power. It changes quickly as regards naval matters, and it was transferred from the North Sea to the Pacific. We have the Japanese fleet there, and the main portion of the American fleet and our Dominion Australia at once realised that she was unprotected and asked our protection, and we should not be doing our duty to our Dominions if we did not protect them in that way by having a base which would insure the safety, not only of the Dominions, not only of our 1239 trade routes, but in the event of war, which I hope will never come about, but for which we must be prepared.
The position of Singapore which is situated at the extreme south of the Malay Peninsula is unique and ideal both geographically and strategically as a base for the China, Australia and East Indies Stations, and for that reason no better place could be found to establish a base. The surrounding islands lend themselves admirably to artillery defence. The waters are such that they could be mined and would be useful for submarine work in the event of war. The harbour itself is a most wonderful place for the anchorage of ships of the biggest size, and the graving docks can take in practically the largest ships in the world at the present day. There is a breakwater there, to which small craft can always go in times of storm and stress, but I do not think that it would be possible to take the capital ships there unless the Government were to go in for a very expensive scheme of dredging, and to that I should be very much opposed because I do not think it would do nor do I think it necessary.
There is great diversity of opinion as to whether the work there should be of a permanent or only of a temporary nature. I would strongly advocate that if work is to be done it should be of a permanent nature, for the climate there is of such a character that anything that is temporary deteriorates very quickly and goes to pieces, and the result is that the final cost is always greater than the initial cost though it may seem bigger when you put up a permanent structure. Apart from warlike reasons, Singapore, as hon. Gentlemen know, was acquired in the year 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles, and the trade of the hinterland at the present time comes to about £50,000,000 sterling, while Singapore itself has become one of the largest entrepôts for trade, and coaling stations in the world. It produces more than half of the rubber of the world and approximately 40 per cent. of the tin. Therefore, apart from all naval considerations, I do think that the Government are doing right in establishing a base there which will protect our trade routes and also protect this great valuable outpost of Empire. I think that they have showed great wisdom and foresight in deciding upon this as a naval base and I 1240 do not ask them to postpone their operations, but I do ask them to go ahead.
§ Mr. DARBISHIRE
I, like the hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Penny), have spent 20 years in this immoral cesspool of Singapore, and, if I can lay any claim to the virility for which he has given me credit, I only wish that I could exchange it for the eloquence with which he has delighted the Committee. But I think that when he stated that Singapore was a healthy place he overlooked the fact that he and I were hard at work from morning to night every day of our lives, for five and six years on end, and I have to suggest that there would be a very different kind of employment for men stationed at a naval base. These men are not as a rule kept hard at work in places like Singapore, as we were, and it is a case of Satan finding work for idle hands to do, and thus resulting in these people finding the climate of Singapore enervating and demoralising.
I do not think that the argument of my hon. Friend will hold when he referred to the cheap premium of £10,000,000 which we are asked to spend. That is what we were told before the last War. We were told that if you want peace you must prepare for war, that it was an insurance against this, that and the other, and the result of all this talk before the War is that to-day we are saddled with a debt of something like £8,000,000,000. Is that what you are going to insure against? I do suggest that what this country should aim at is not so much insurance, and not so much waiting for other nations to see that peace is the only solution, but that we ought to take the lead in the League of Nations and show an example to the League of Nations by cutting down our expenditure on armaments as much as we possibly can.
My hon. Friend referred to the founder of Singapore, Sir Stamford Baffles. He overlooked one thing which Sir Stamford Baffles said when he went there, which was that he went there for trade and not for territory. As I sat here a month or so ago, and listened to the solemn, the almost sanctimonious, accents of the First Lord, as he intoned his sermon on a mount that this country would have to provide in order to maintain the Navy during the current year, I could not help feeling 1241 that it was not so much the First Lord who was talking as the first lord of the universe, the all-highest. That is the attitude which is taken: "This is the irreducible minimum; you must accept it." They hand out their tables of stone on which are graven the sums we have to pay and when we are to pay. They lay down the law. But they do not tell us how we are to get the money When I listened to the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty on that occasion and he referred to Singapore, I first began to doubt the omniscience, omnipotence, the good judgment and the sense of right and wrong of the first lord of the universe, as he appeared to me to be at the beginning of his speech.
I wish to say a word or two about the Washington Treaty. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) that this proposal is an infringement of the Washington Treaty. It is all very well to say that the Washington Treaty applied only to longitude 110° East of East. Was there any discussion at Washington? Was there any suggestion that as soon as we signed that Treaty we would go round the corner, five degrees West of that longitude, and start this enormous undertaking at Singapore? If there was no such suggestion, this is an infringement of the spirit, if not of the deed, of the Washington Treaty. To what, is it going to lead? It will simply encourage the United States to do exactly the same thing. I have here an article in the "China Telegraph," in which a whole page is taken up in stating what the United States will do in reply to our establishing a naval base at Singapore, and that is to develop Pearl Harbour, in Honolulu, 2,000 mikes West of San Francisco. That will be a new base of operations.
You cannot create stations of this kind without immediately encouraging other nations to do likewise. I do not know what Japan will do. She is hedged in by this Treaty somehow, and apparently cannot go anywhere to respond to our advance. The creation of this new base is contrary to the spirit of the Washington Treaty, and I urge that we should hold our hands until we have more information as to the necessity of the base. The objects of the Washington Treaty were to contribute to the maintenance of general peace and to reduce the 1242 burden of competition in armaments. Under Article 19 it was stated that the status quo at the time of signing the Treaty should be maintained. The status quo is not being maintained by embarking upon this Singapore scheme. It is also laid down in the Treaty that if circumstances were to change the nations who were signatories to the Treaty should meet in conference and consider matters. For those reasons it is essential that the House should not sanction the beginning of this vast expenditure.
I have alluded to the conditions of health at Singapore. I think it is an enervating and demoralising climate and is the last place in the world to be chosen for a naval base. Even in the case of Hong Kong it has been found necessary to provide in Wei-hai-wei a place to which to send men to recuperate every year. Singapore has a much more demoralising and enervating climate than Hong Kong; it is much more like a hothouse. It has been said that the cost of this scheme has been reduced from £11,000,000 to £9,500,000. I have had something to do with big works at Singapore. I was a member of the Harbour Board for 10 or 12 years, during which time most of the big works were done. You can never find bottom there. I do not know whether Singapore is suffering from something which is due to the glacial age, but the fact is that there is mud there with no bottom. In one particular work they thought they had reached bottom. They bored, and assumed that they had got to a sound foundation, but as soon as the monoliths were put into the ground, they went through it, for it was only a crust. The whole scheme had to be modified and the ultimate cost was something like double what had been anticipated. If you start this scheme and complete it at a cost of less than £20,000,000 you will be jolly lucky.
I join the right hon. Member for South Molten in asking who is responsible for the scheme? On whose dictum is it put forward? Are they the same people who sent Admiral Cradock to his death at Coronel? Are they the people who split up the fleet and murdered Cradock? Of course Mr. Winston Churchill is the only man who is always right and he denies the charge, but the bulk of opinion supports what I have said. Who is responsible for this scheme? Can we rely upon them? Who is the genius responsible? 1243 The whole scheme is unnecessary. I differ from the last speaker. We have been in Singapore together for many years. He has come back to this country with the war mind and I have come back with the peace mind. We want to get rid of the idea of another war. I do not believe in this insurance. I do not believe that the way to get peace is to prepare for war. If we want peace we must prepare for peace, and we are not preparing for peace by embarking to the extent of £20,000,000 on this scheme in Far Eastern waters.
§ Captain Viscount CURZON
I have been much interested in listening to the speeches this afternoon. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who introduced the Vote made an excellent speech. One of his remarks struck me as very odd. He said that a sailor was more comfortable in a warship than was the soldier in the trenches during the War. I ask him to cast his mind back. After all he is better able than any other officer in this House to speak of the conditions under which the crews of destroyers lived in the Grand Fleet during the late War. I am sure he would not attempt to contrast those conditions in any way with the conditions in the Army, for I am certain that the conditions under which the officers and men during the War had to live were not very far removed from the conditions in the front line trenches in France.
As to the development of Singapore, I was much interested in the speech of the right hon. Member for South Molton. The right hon. Gentleman said that he was a Member of the Board of Admiralty which started Rosyth. I ask him to go back to the story of Rosyth. He will remember that when Rosyth was started a good deal of work was done there. Then a sort of creeping paralysis overtook the scheme, and gradually it was damped down until practically no work was carried on. The War came. What happened? We had to go ahead with Rosyth, men working overtime and double time in day and night shifts in order to get the dock ready for the use of the Fleet. The amount of money which had to be spent in the long run, I am confident, though I have not the figures, was about double the amount which had been estimated for in the first instance. That was simply and solely because the work 1244 did not go on during a period of years. That was not the end of the story. It was not until 1917 that the Fleet was able to go to Rosyth and use it. In fact, during the first two or three years of the War, the Grand Fleet was very - much hampered because it had not a proper place to which to go, and because, when ships required to be docked, they had to be sent to an emergency base at Invergordon, or else to home ports, north-about, to Plymouth or Portsmouth or Chatham. I hope that the House will not forget that lesson.
Hon. Members have asked, "Why do we want to prepare for war?" The reason is this: If we do not prepare for the time of need, should it ever come—God knows, there is not a Member on this side of the House who wants to go to war again, for we have all had enough of it!—if we are weak, we invite attack. If we show that we are strong enough to defend ourselves when attacked, people will think twice before they attack us. Hon. Members say, "Oh, yes, but the last war was a war to end wars." I have heard that story often enough. I hoped that it was a war to end war. At the same time, if a Labour Government were in power and this country were attacked, the Labour Government, just the same as any other Government, would have to defend the country. Suppose that a Labour Government were in power in five or ten years' time, and it found that proper provision had not been made for the efficiency of the Fleet, in fact that it was not able to use the Fleet, what would it say of a Conservative Government which had not fulfilled its trust?
In regard to Singapore, the interests of our Dominions and of India are sometimes overlooked. This is not a question solely for ourselves in this country; it is an Imperial question, which will no doubt be considered at the Imperial Conference. If you look to the Far East now what do you find? If we wanted to send a Fleet there to-morrow there is no base to which the Fleet could go. If you wanted to establish a base there you would have to do what was done in the last War, that is, pack up net defences and everything else on steamers, and begin the towing of a floating dock from this country to some obscure island in the Pacific. All that would take an enormous time. During its passage East the floating base and dock would be subject to 1245 attack, and it is possible that it would never reach its destination, apart from the risks of bad weather. I hold that the Admiralty are doing the only possible thing by providing a base at what is described as the Gateway of the Far East.
The last speaker stated that the United States were considering the construction of a base at Pearl Harbour, Honolulu. What on earth has it got to do with us whether the Americans construct a base at Honolulu or not? I hope they will if they want one. Personally I am convinced that an American base at Honolulu would be a very good thing, not only for this country, but from the point of view of the Empire, and I hope we shall see one. The position in the Far East at the moment is that we have no base there and neither have the United States. We do not want to go to war with the Japanese; we do not contemplate war with them for one moment, but, at the same time, they are a very great naval power and the Admiralty have got to consider this question not only from the point of view of the Empire but from the point of view of world power. As I have said, the Americans, like ourselves, have no-base in the Far East, and it comes to this, that Japan, if she wished to go to war—we hope she will not, and there is no indication that she ever will—but if she did so. Japan could do anything she liked in the Far East and we could do practically nothing to prevent her.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton alluded to the strategic point of view and to what he termed Lord Fisher's concentration in home waters. Surely the right hon. Gentleman remembers that Lord Fisher concentrated the Fleet in home waters in order to meet a particular menace. That particular menace no longer exists, and what you have now to be ready to do, should war ever come, is to use our Navy, not in the narrow seas, not in the North Sea, but on the other side of the world if necessary. The right hon. Gentleman said something to the effect that the Fleet could not, in future wars, leave these shores—that it is to be tied to these shores. What is the good of that? Is the Fleet to remain here while a hostile fleet is attacking India, or taking possession of Australia or New Zealand? Surely the right hon. Gentleman would 1246 not have tolerated that when he was at the Admiralty. He would do what any Board of Admiralty do, whether Conservative, Liberal or Labour. I am perfectly certain they would all do the same thing. They would send a British fleet to seek out the hostile fleet and destroy them. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or be destroyed!"] Or be destroyed; but if you give the Navy what is necessary for it, I do not think you would find a British fleet so very easy to destroy.
A question has been asked as to the numbers of the garrison in Singapore. I wish to ask the First Lord whether the defences of the harbour have really been thought out, because that defence will have to be not in one Department nor two, but in three, and it involves aircraft defences as well. I do hope the First Lord will be able to give us a little more detailed information as to what he proposes to construct at. Singapore than has so far been given us. For instance, I am not quite clear whether it is proposed to construct a dockyard on the scale of Rosyth—a first-class yard—or whether it is proposed to construct a yard on the lines of Hong Kong or Simonstown. I should be grateful for any little information which can be given us in that respect. The hon. Member for Kingston-on-Thames (Mr. Penny), who spoke with knowledge and authority, having lived a great number of years at Singapore, said capital ships could not go there until the harbour was dredged. I ask the First Lord to confirm or deny that statement. It is an important factor in the general consideration of the question, and I am not sure whether the statement is correct or not.
The one thing I should like to impress upon the Committee is this. Unless the Fleet has a first-class yard in the Far East, it has absolutely no base to go to there, and therefore I hope the Committee will support the Admiralty in their proposals regarding Singapore. In my opinion, it is absolutely vital for the mobility not only of our own Fleet, but of any possible allies we may have, supposing we had a war in the Far East with any possible enemy you may conceive. I do not believe any fleet could cross the Pacific Ocean under conditions of modern war. The only way in which they could ever be able to get into that 1247 theatre of war would be by going across the Atlantic through the Mediterranean, and along our chain of bases. Therefore, I hope the Admiralty will proceed with their scheme, and that the Committee will look upon it as an insurance—not a preparation for war but an insurance that we are doing at least something to see that a war does not come.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I should like to preface anything I have to say, if I may be allowed to do so, by warmly complimenting the hon. and gallant Gentleman who introduced this Vote to-night on the admirable manner in which he discharged what is always a very difficult and responsible duty. After a long experience, as long as almost anybody's, of Admiralty administration, I am always pre-disposed in favour of the considered judgment of the Admiralty upon technical and strategic matters. They have nothing to do with policy. Policy is a matter for the Cabinet and the Government, but in regard to the Department over which they preside, my experience is that, on the whole, they are very well and soundly advised. That is my natural predisposition. But I am bound to say that, as regards this particular proposal, I view it with very grave apprehension, both on strategic and financial grounds. There are one or two other considerations also which are very material, and with which I shall deal in a moment.
I understood the hon. and gallant Gentleman to suggest that some scheme of this kind or of a similar kind had found favour in days gone by before the War. The memory of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molten (Mr. Lambert) entirely fails him on that point, and, having presided for nearly ten years over the Committee of Imperial Defence, I can say that no such scheme ever found favour with them. It may have been suggested. All kinds of schemes were suggested at the Admiralty, where a fertile imagination, as well as a great degree of expertness, was always putting forward one place or another as a place it was desirable to fortify for safeguarding the trade of the Empire. I have no doubt in the course of those many suggestions Singapore found a place, not, however, as far as my memory serves me, in the ambitious sense of this 1248 proposal that it should become a naval base on which £10,000,000 or £11,000,000 is to be expended and which is to become part of our permanent chain, if I may so describe it, of fixed and immobile Imperial defences. That, however, is a small point, and relates only to the history of the past.
I join with the noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) in asking for, and I am sure the First Lord will give a rather fuller account than any the House of Commons have yet received, of the genesis of this scheme, and the naval advice upon which it has been put forward and commended as to the points—quite apart from the expenditure incurred in the structural establishment of this new naval base—of what will be the nature of the garrison necessary for its defence, and whether due account has been taken of those local conditions which the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Darbishire) with his intimate knowledge of the spot has given? These have a very direct practical bearing upon the length of time which these operations will take, if carried out, upon their cost, and upon their permanency.
Further, I should like to know, and this is perhaps a more important point than either, what strategic advice the Admiralty got in the matter? In the course of my administrative experience I have had the advantage, which the Admiralty had in those days and which it has now, of the counsel of greatest naval experts and I am perfectly certain—as certain as that I stand by this Box at this moment—that if a proposal of this kind had been put forward to Lord Fisher or Sir Arthur Wilson or any of the great naval strategists and architects whom I have known it would have been rejected by them. It is not merely a question of where, having regard to the political conditions of the moment and the immediate future, we are to concentrate the Fleet. We changed in my time the whole base of the Fleet from the Mediterranean to the North Sea. We did so advisedly, and as everybody will now agree, wisely, because the centre of gravity, if you may use such an expression—the centre of polemical naval gravity—had shifted, when on the one hand we had an Entente with France and, on the other hand, were faced with the menace of a growing German fleet. That has nothing to do with the larger strategic 1249 question. Changes of this sort we must; make in view of the political situations of the time.
It is a complete mistake to suppose, and here I think I am in agreement with the hon. and gallant Gentleman, that the function of the Fleet is limited or conditioned in any way by its base for the time being. The object of the Fleet is to obtain and retain the command of the seas. That is what we did during the War, and when the history of the War comes to be written—written I mean with a true sense of perspective and not as viewed through many distorting and refractive glasses—when the history of the War comes to be written with proper perspective and proportion, it will be found, I do not hesitate to say, that the ultimate success of the Allies was due to our possession and retention of the command of the seas. I make that statement without, in any way, depreciating or disparaging the work of the Army—I need hardly say that—but what ultimately broke down the Central Powers was the fact that after the first two or three months of the War, at any rate after the Emden had finished its meteoric career, the British Fleet had command of the seas in every part of the world—not merely in the North Sea, not merely in the Mediterranean, but in the Pacific, and in all those outlying parts of the world. Not only was the German High Fleet bottled up in its ports, with the one single adventure of the battle of Jutland, but there was not a German cruiser, there was not a German merchant ship, that sailed safely, or attempted to sail safely, over the seas of the world, simply be cause we had got, in the largest and, if I may use the expression, the most fluid sense, complete command of the sea. It does not depend on your base, it does not depend on where, for the time being, your point of concentration may be. What you want is—what we had, and what I hope we shall always retain—that power of complete mobility, wisely and well directed, with strategic prescience and tactical skill, which, in my judgment, at any rate, won us the War. I do not attach myself any great importance, or at any rate commanding importance, to the establishment of naval bases, and, in regard to this particular bane, I think it is open to very serious 1250 objections, even from a strategical point of view.
In the first place, it is placed at an enormous distance from what is, after all, its ultimate source of supply, of reinforcement—the home country. I will not say that its establishment is a breach of the conditions of the Treaty of Washington. I do not think it is a breach of the terms, because the Treaty of Washington defines geographically the limits within which the self-denying ordinance as to the establishment of new naval bases was to be carried out. But I do say that the Treaty of Washington has a very direct bearing upon the matter, because, although it may not be a breach or an infringement, yet it certainly appeared to me at the time that the intention and object of the Treaty, as regards all those who made themselves parties to it, was to limit and restrict, except in an obvious, and urgent, and indisputable case of necessity, the construction and creation of new fortified places in the Pacific and that part of the world. At any rate, it was so understood, and, from that point of view alone, I think this is a proposal which ought to be looked at many times over—and I hope it has been—and with a special regard to that which I may call the moral or ethical side of the situation.
But why is this base to be established at Singapore? I am not going to repeat the question which was put with so much force by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Molton: Against whom are you proceeding? What enemy do you contemplate which makes it necessary to establish a base in that part of the world? That is a difficult question to answer, because the answer which the hon. and gallant Gentleman gave, and which I have no doubt the First Lord of the Admiralty will give, is that we are not aiming at anybody. Therefore, if that be so, your sole justification for the establishment of this base must be that it puts you in a better position, not for aggression or annexation, not for any forward movement or adventure, but that it puts you in a better position to protect your sea-borne trade in that part of the world and possibly, to defend your Dominions—there are only two concerned, Australia and New Zealand—against possible attack. Let us dismiss the 1251 matter by simply saying that if that be so, I think this proposal might very well be deferred until you have had your Imperial Conference, and consulted with the Dominions, and taken their view, and seen whether or not they insist, or, if that is too strong a word, whether they suggest as essential for their protection and defence the establishment of a base of this kind. There is no urgency.
The Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea said it is a terrible thing to think that we have no base in the Far East in which our colossal new ships, the super-Dreadnoughts, with their gigantic draft and their enormous scale, can lie for repair and so forth. Nor will you have under this scheme until at least 10 years have elapsed. If there be an urgent necessity, such as obsesses the imagination of the Noble Lord, for the construction of these docks, why proceed with them in this dilatory and leisurely fashion?
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I am coming to that. I hope the Noble Lord will still be alive, but I am not at all sure that I shall, at the time when this dock, if it is ever proceeded with, arrives at completion, but, in the meantime, during the whole of my life, at any rate, unless I exceed the span the psalmist has alloted for us all, I must lie awake at night thinking and trembling—
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I will start to-night-trembling at the spectre, which the Noble Lord has conjured up with so much vivid imagination, of our being without a single base in the Far East in which our Dreadnoughts can lie. Ten years is a long time. My hon. Friend the Member for Westbury with his intimate knowledge of the subject, drew a very lurid picture of harbour construction at Singapore, of monoliths disappearing in the mud, which it would take months and perhaps years to construct, and his anticipation was that, so far from spending £9,000,000, you will probably spend £20,000,000 before you have finished with this job. The hon. Member for Kingstonon-Thames (Mr. Penny), who preceded 1252 him, also spoke with knowledge of the subject. In fact, we are singularly fortunate in having heard two experts, both of whom have spent 20 years of their life in this more or less enervating climate. They do not seem to be the worse for it physically or intellectually, and although my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cathcart (Captain Hay) said something about a moral cesspool, I see no reason to think that they have been in any way contaminated. But £20,000,000 is the estimate of my hon. Friend, spread over a period of 10 years. What for? In order that at last the homeless Colossuses which at present wander about the high seas, according to the imagination of the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea—I thought they were better employed—may at last find a resting place in which they can be docked and repaired.
What about the Colossuses themselves? What about them? Is there anybody here in this Committee who, so far as his prevision can pierce into the probabilities of the future—is there any man in any quarter of the House—who really believes that 10 years hence those ships, or anything like those ships, will be the dominating factors—which I agree they are now; I am not saying we were not right in building within the limits of the Treaty of Washington—in naval warfare? When the Committee reflects upon the enormous and revolutionary changes which, even during the time of the War, were made—poison gas, the development of the submarine, the extension of aerial warfare—anyone who reflects upon these things and who knows or realises, as he ought to realise, that at this moment a very large part of the scientific ingenuity of the world, chemical, physical, mechanical, is being devoted not only to improving but to transforming and to revolutionising the instruments of war, does anyone think it is a wise thing to bank, as it were, on the "Dreadnought" or on any other ship or any other instrument of destruction that we now possess being, 10 years hence, still an important and predominating ingredient of war? I say it is a speculation, it is even a gamble, which rests upon a very slender foundation of probability.
Why cannot you go back once more to the old strategic policy? Why cannot you 1253 continue to protect your sea-borne trade, not only in the Pacific and those regions, but all over the world, as we have done hitherto, without establishing anything in the nature of a base of this kind in distant seas? In the War we had no such base. As I pointed out a few moments ago, we made those seas perfectly safe highways for our own commerce and our own ships. In the War, what was it that enabled the Americans to land in France, and to strike the splendid and formidable blows which they did in the concluding months of the campaign? The British Fleet—the power of the British Fleet to command the Atlantic without any base of any kind in that part of the world. So long as you have your Fleet as it has been, as I hope it is, and certainly as it ought to be, you do not see any base of this kind in any of these outlying parts of the world.
I said at the beginning that I attach—and I attach because I have experienced it, valued it, and profited by it, in those anxious years before the War when we built up the Fleet—the greatest importance to the considered judgment of the advisers of the Admiralty. I confess I have not heard yet any sufficient case made out for this absolutely new departure, costly, uncertain, precarious, in my opinion wholly unwarranted by any proved necessity, and I think the Committee is entitled, before this Vote is passed, to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty for a full statement of the advice on which the Admiralty has acted, and the reason, if there be any, why a final decision in this matter should not be postponed, as I think it ought, until it has been maturely considered by representative conference, in which all the Dominions take part.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
After hearing the last speech, and such of the speeches that have been delivered from the cross benches, I am driven to the conclusion that Opposition means pessimism. Perhaps it is because I am a supporter of the Government that I am myself going to make an optimistic speech. First, let me congratulate the Admiralty on the fact that in facing this great expenditure on Singapore, they are not following the example of previous Governments and paying it out of borrowed money. The whole of it is being paid out of revenue, which is a great change. We had a 1254 reminder from the Civil Lord that the fact that they are paying one-and-a-quarter millions of interest on old works which are not situated in the right position for war in the future, so that I am glad they have got away from that policy altogether. When the hon. Member below the Gangway who spent 20 years of his life in Singapore gave us such a pessimistic speech, I could not help recalling other prognostications. When the Suez Canal was under discussion in this House we were assured by Stephenson, the great engineer, who was a Member of this House, that it was quite impossible to construct that canal. Therefore, I feel some of the scepticism which the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) feels in regard to the proposals of the Admiralty, when confident statements of the character made by the hon. Gentleman are made on the Floor of this House. The right hon. Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert.) said that this was against the League of Nations proposal under Article 8. Article 8 is simply to prevent the secret arming of one nation against another, such as secret gas preparation, secret submarine preparation, and so forth. We are not making any secret preparations at Singapore. It has been blazoned out to the world that we proposed to establish a naval base at Singapore, to be completed abut the year 1932.
Therefore, the point about the League of Nations falls to the ground. He also said it was contrary to the Washington Conference. This question was discussed in full at the Washington Conference, and it was known perfectly well that Singapore was left out of consideration, and that we might establish a naval base there. Japan's only desire was that naval bases should not be close to Japan, and that was the sole point considered. The right hon. Member for Paisley asked on what strategic advice the Admiralty have acted. It is obvious that the advice on which the Admiralty act is the War Staff advice. We never had a War Staff before the War. We now have a real War Staff, which he and his Government never gave us.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I know quite well what was then called the Naval War Staff. The right hon. Winston Churchill went to the Admiralty to establish a War Staff, but never did, and the result was the Coronel and other blunders. Here we have a real War Staff. We have two Governments—the Coalition Government and the present Government—affirming this proposal. We had these proposals before the Dominion Governments in 1921 and they have confirmed them, and we have had them before the Defence Committee, and they are unanimous. It is not merely the Naval War Staff that they have been before, but the Air War Staff and the Army War Staff, and all War Staffs have concurred. There are three main causes which, I think, make the Singapore base a necessary base. I remember, shortly after the last Parliament came into existence, in one of these thin Houses which usually discuss the Navy Estimates, I asked the House to take a Pacific outlook instead of a European outlook. I said warfare was changing its ground, and we had to look to the Pacific rather than to Europe for future wars. The reason I gave at that time was that over half the population of the world borders on the Pacific, and looks to the Pacific for its outlet to the sea, that the shipping of the Pacific was overtaking the shipping of the Atlantic, and now at this moment the shipbuilding of the United States on the Pacific Coast is nearly double the shipbuilding of the United States on the Atlantic Coast. That is to say, the Pacific is becoming of increasing importance to the future of the world.
The second point which makes us require a naval base out there is the rise of Japan. Japan was only a small naval power 20 years ago. At the time with which the right hon. Member for Paisley dealt Japan was an ally of ours. Japan is not an ally of ours at this moment. We cannot tell, and no hon. Member on the other side of the House who laughs can give me a forecast of what will be the relations of the Powers 10 years hence. It is impossible. We know perfectly well if we go back to history that in regard 1256 to the Dutch Wars, we have three nations—France, England and Holland. There was every possible combination. One moment it was France and England against Holland and another moment it was France and Holland against England, and in the third case it was some other combination, and we know that in the French Napoleonic Wars Russia changed sides three times, so that no one can foresee what will happen. Even before this War, we saw France, Russia and Germany acting in co-operation to coerce Japan. I expect no one can foresee what will be the permutations and combinations in future, but we do know that Japan has become very powerful. She has a very much larger population than our own, and we know that that population is increasing twice as fast as our own, and will naturally look for fresh territory. We know that its trade has increased in 10 years from £92,000,000 to £438,000,000. The First Lord of the Admiralty, in introducing the Navy Estimates, said we can at present neither sent our Fleet to the Far East nor maintain it there. That is given as the first reason for Singapore. I believe it is quite possible to send a fleet to the Far East, but you cannot ensure, if there were a difference with the Japanese in the future, and war resulted, that the Japanese would fight our Fleet at once on arrival, and how on earth are we to maintain our Fleet in the Far East without a great naval base? We have no docks on that station capable of accommodating Dreadnoughts. It is not a question, as the right hon. Member for Paisley said, that we shall not have Singapore available in 10 years. We shall have a large part available before 10 years, and we have two large floating docks at this moment which can take Dreadnoughts and go through the Suez Canal. Another one of the old docks will be ready before the end of the year, so that we have three floating docks, all of which, if we choose, we can send out to Far Eastern ports.
There is the position of the United States. I quite agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Battersea (Viscount Curzon), who said it is all for the good if the United States possess a developed base at Honolulu, and I have never supposed we were ever going to war with the United States. But, so far from it being a matter of rivalry, Singapore may be of very great assistance to the United 1257 States in defending the Philippines, as we are certain to be on the side of the United States. No one supposes at this day that the United States is going to seek war with Japan, but no one can tell whether the Liberal party in power in Japan will always be in power, and that the Militarist party may not come into power at a later date.
The third reason why I think we require Singapore is this. Singapore is on the direct route to the Far East. It is already a great maritime port. It flanks the route along which all our Australian trade proceeds. Therefore, this is very different from developing such a dockyard as Portsmouth. Singapore is already a great mercantile port, and if ever the time comes when there is no more danger of war, all this naval base will be fully available for commercial development. It will not, be wasted. The right hon. Member for Paisley used an argument very much like that, the other day, of the hon. Member for Greenock (Sir G. Collins), who said this policy of constructing docks at great expense far from the centre of the Empire is opposed to the naval policy of the past 50 years. The difference between now and the past 50 years is that we had then to look to a European enemy. There is none at this moment which can threaten us on the sea whatsoever. The right hon. Member for Paisley talked about the Navy taking the command of the sea in the late War, and asked why could not we go on doing that under present arrangements. Surely the answer is that you had not to send any capital ships to distant seas where there were no docks except for a brief interval when we sent them to the Falklands. If we are going to defend our Australian possessions in the future, we will need capital ships in the Far East, and therefore we must have docks for them. So far from this country being, as the hon. Member for Greenock says, the centre of the Empire, it is on the northern fringe of the Empire. People are apt to forget that 99/100ths of the Empire lies outside a 2,000-mile radius from this country, and Singapore is really much more the centre of the Empire than Portsmouth Dockyard is.
Another point which hon. Members are apt to forget is that the great majority of our naval battles have been fought in distant waters. The Pacific was the scene of many stiffly contested battles in the 1258 old days, such as between Hughes and Suffren, and when I hear all through the speeches to which I have been listening from the Liberal and Labour benches the refrain of economy and peace to-day, my mind goes back to the time when some of us were fighting against naval reduction in the 1906 Parliament. It is precisely the same old story. Randolph Churchill said that the Liberal party is always prevented from governing by what it is pleased to call its principles, and in the process of governing invariably commits suicide. That is true of one section of the party but not of the whole. I believe the National Liberals are better. They run this principle of economy to death. They run the principle of peace to death, but this does not prevent very much greater expenditure in the future. I believe if we had kept up our naval arms in a more decided way, and told Germany very frankly what we intended to do, that the late War might have been avoided, and I think that that would happen and peace be preserved under any Government which carefully looked ahead and framed its policy on a far distant outlook, as I believe the present Government is doing in framing this present policy in regard to Singapore.
§ Mr. NEWBOLD
I should like, first of all, to acknowledge the frankness of the last speaker, and particularly his remarks concerning the centre of gravity of the British Empire. It is very interesting that it is the opinion of, not only a considerable section of the party to which he belongs, but others, that this country and the islands immediately about it are only a minor part of the British Empire. The statement that was made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who introduced this Vote was also very useful indeed. He pointed out that the purpose of the British Fleet was primarily to defend the trade of the British Empire. First and foremost to do that now, and not first of all to be used to defend the shores of this country. I should not myself be surprised if in his lifetime and mine we see Singapore used as a base for the blockade of these islands rather than for the defence of these islands. It is notable that while sometimes we are told that it is policy that determines the outlook, particularly of the Admiralty, and its action, we often discover that armaments disclose what is the real, if carefully disguised, policy which the permanent Government 1259 of this country pursues from decade to decade and from generation to generation regardless of whatever section, Codlin or Short, happens to be in office at the particular moment.
We shall continue to hear of the necessity of basing the centre of the Empire in the East, for the Eastern school are definitely gaining ground. You have your base at Gibraltar, where I see there is to be extra provision for oil. Malta, again, I read is to have extra provision for oil. At Port Said, Port Sudan, and Aden, right down to Singapore, there is constantly more provision for oil. There seems now to be definitely established a tendency to think of the Empire in terms of it going Eastward. That is only natural, having regard to the fact that the labour costs in this country are so much in excess of the labour costs of production in this Eastern quarter. There are such enormous interests to protect. Within a radius of 1,000 to 1,500 miles of Singapore you have what is virtually one of the richest regions in the world. It is because of the tremendous financial interests of hon. Members on the opposite side of the House, and particularly below the gangway as well—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"]—that there is this constant raid upon Singapore.
The whole of the powers of the capitalist world are quarelling at the present time, not merely about petroleum, but about other things. We know that there is a tremendous rivalry for petroleum in the regions of Borneo, Sumatra and around Singapore, but there is also a corresponding necessity for that vital raw material, rubber. There in the neighbourhood of the Malay States is produced practically 95 per cent. of the entire plantation rubber of the world. Of that some 67 per cent. or so is definitely controlled and possessed by British capital. When we turn to the papers published in New York, or organs like the "United States Commerce Review" published in Washington, we find that the Americans are devoting increasing interest to the development of that particular region and considering how best they may possess these plantations and keep them outside the control of the British Empire. We turn again and find that the Japanese are similarly seeking to promote their 1260 interests in that quarter. I quote from a Dutch periodical, produced in English, to the following effect:—Japan is ever casting covetous glances at the Djambi oilfields, the Celebes ores, the coal, rubber, timber, and all the riches of the Dutch Colonies. The American steel, rubber, automobile, and machinery manufacturers, the bankers, the shipowners, and particularly the United States Government, are perfectly aware of the importance of Dutch East India to America. It will be no advantage to the United States if these Colonies should fall into other hands.Then is the struggle to be waged in the future between Japan on the one side and America on the other side, with the British Government acting as a lackey and a tool of American high finance? And you are providing the means that you may assist them. On the one side at Honolulu the Americans are providing for themselves, and on the other side, that is Singapore, the kept men of Pier-point Morgan are carefully providing for the necessities of the American Government, knowing incidentally that any facilities that they may provide at Singapore will redound to their mercantile and financial advantage—not merely of the gang that happens to be building the dockyards for the time being. I should like to know who are the contractors who are getting this £10,000,000 slice. Are they the same people who got the last slice out of Dover, out of Gibraltar, or the magnificent piece of profit and plunder that they got out of Rosyth, or Gretna, for this is about the same size as Gretna? Quite apart from that, we must remember there must be a very much higher rate of profit upon the building of a dockyard at Singapore by coloured labour—that is non-trade union labour—than there would be by building a dockyard say at Fish-guard or Grangemouth—a very much greater rate of profit for the building contractors building this kind of thing at Singapore than building a canal across Scotland, or putting down a road between Edinburgh and Glasgow, or building houses for the people in Lanarkshire! You get a bigger return. As for the Admiralty, it will be used as it has been for the last 30 or 40 years deliberately, conscientiously, and consciously to serve the interests of a certain gang of people who are always powerfully entrenched and whose representatives can be seen wandering in and out, backwards and forwards, through the corridors of the 1261 Admiralty whenever you like to look inside; and who are represented in very great numbers on the other side of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]
Quite apart from all this, and from the advantages that can be derived in the direction I have indicated, there is the assistance, as pointed out by the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) to the mercantile pursuits of trade, and, let me say incidentally, the shipping interests of Singapore; the assistance that they will be to the great steamship companies, like the British Indian, the New Zealand Shipping Company, and great syndicates like the Peninsula and Oriental, and which alone, as everybody interested in these things knows, has been the ruler virtually, and controls not merely India but the Straits Settlements and our road to the East! That is the definite policy underlying this Singapore business. I protest against it on the grounds I put forward. To spend money in that direction, quite apart from any of these men who recommend it, the strategical experts of the country is not to the point. After all, it is as likely if we get into a war—and we generally topple into one every few years—that is your wonderful ability!—we get an enemy somewhere—that Singapore will be another Port Arthur. Then, I suppose, you will want, when you have got your dockyard there, to provide a fleet of perhaps eight, perhaps 16, or, it may be, 24 capital ships to go East. Also after that you will point out that you need another eight, 16, or 24 to use in the West. You will ask next for extra provision here, and so the merry game will go on, all the time redounding to the vested interests of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I want also vehemently to protest against, especially, the provision of the extra facilities for oiling in the various parts named in this Report, such as Gibraltar, to which you have no claim whatsoever, except that which you are in a position to assert, the claim in which the good Christians opposite believe, namely, the sword. You have no claim to Malta, except the cannon's mouth. You have no claim to Port Sudan, or Port Said, except broken pledges and rape. You have no claim to other places similarly, except that you were strong enough to steal them from someone who was not strong enough to defend them. The story of your 1262 Possessions in the East is a story of one long usurpation. I oppose the amount of this Vote not primarily because of the expenditure but because you are in places where you have no earthly right to be.
§ Rear-Admiral Sir G. GAUNT
Probably the hon. Member who has just sat down will take the same view of my speech as I do of his. I think I quite understand his view. With America and Japan fighting for the Dutch East Indies, we want to have a base at Singapore—which we have already got; only our idea is to improve it. I do not want to make a speech on this matter; I got up more as an illustration than anything. Two very good men have spoken about Singapore, and one of them spoke about the poor sailor who went to bits because of the climate. But I have lived at Singapore and have been there a good many times since I was first there. I am aggressively healthy, and the place has never affected me, and, please God, if there are those here who are not concerned at defending our home, then I may have to go to Singapore and live there again. I say I am using myself as an illustration. It seems to me we have got some tremendously able politicians, but may I suggest that when they speak on this matter they miss the point?
I think it is many years since we have had a more able and efficient Board of Admiralty than that which we have at the present time, because they are all young men. It is 100 years since men were put through the same tests as these men. They are very keen and able, and they are doing their little best to make bricks without straw and cutting everything down. One hon. Gentleman has criticised the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), who made several points which I would like to be up against, and one of the points he referred to was convoy work. He asked who brought the American troops over from America? I may say that I was in charge of one large convoy, but on that occasion we had somewhere to fuel. But supposing the admiral in charge of those convoys had to go to Australia. He would have no place to coal. The same hon. Member referred to Lord Fisher and Admiral Wilson. He might just as well have gone further back and referred to Nelson, because the Navy is changing so quickly. Our ships are changing very quickly, and although I have only just left the sea myself, I hardly 1263 recognise the ships that are now coming along.
We live by the sea, and I am a man of the Empire. I look to this country when danger threatens and this country looks to our Colonies to come along and help us. If trouble should come along in regard to our Colonies, and if they say to this country, "Mother, give us a hand," it is no good arriving there with our ships if you cannot get fuel for them. I was the Commander of the "Vengeance" which was despatched to China. Our ships were small then, and it was all right, but you could not do the same thing with the "Hood," because there is nowhere you can go to fuel, and when the Admiral of that ship comes to his radius then he is done. Another hon. Member opposite suggested waiting for the Imperial Conference, but I put it we ought not to do that, and we ought to make a start now. Supposing the Imperial Conference said "No," we still have to go ahead, and you are not going to get any "forrader" by waiting until they say "No."
With regard to what has been said about Honolulu, I know that harbour well, and there is no bottom to it. I hope we shall go on with that harbour. With regard to our naval policy, if America and us only see eye to eye there will never be any fighting with anybody, and that is the way to proceed. Another right hon. Gentleman said we should wait for the League of Nations, but that League does not function, and if we are going to wait for that sort of thing we shall not get anywhere. It is all very well to say that 10 years hence we shall not require ships, but until we have discovered something better we have got to go along with ships. You may cut out your ships when you get something better. No doubt eventually we will get in the air, but until you have got there let us keep command of the seas, and keep open our lines of communication and look after the distant parts of the Empire. I hope this Committee will give the Admiralty a chance, and let us have the bases we require.
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Amery)
The House is more than fortunate in having heard the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken and of other hon. and gallant Members who have addressed the Committee, 1264 and who know Singapore from their own practical experience. I am glad that they have been able to contribute the result of that experience to this Committee. I should like to say a word or two upon some of the points which have been raised. Some of the criticisms directed against the Government have been upon broad moral grounds. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) began by saying that the establishment of a naval base at Singapore constitutes a flouting of the League of Nations. The hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) has already pointed out that the article referred to by the hon. Member was simply one which discouraged members of the League from making secret preparations. All we are doing is perfectly straightforward and aboveboard.
After all, if the League of Nations has succeeded so far as it has succeeded in the last few years, it is entirely due to the unfailing support which it has received from this Government and the other Governments of the British Empire. This Government has not only given the League support in Council, but it has endorsed the whore spirit of the League both in its policy towards other nations, and in the example we have set with regard to disarmament. This country has disarmed more completely than any other great Power concerned in the late struggle. We not only took a leading part in arriving at the Washington Agreement, but to make sure that it should be carried out we ran great risks by carrying out at once the measures of disarmament which that Treaty prescribed.
There is one other word which I should like to say about the League of Nations. The League has laid down as one of its chief objects to prevent war by co-operation against wanton aggression. You cannot co-operate against wanton aggression unless you have some force co-operating with you. It never was the idea of the League of Nations that it should be a League of the Helpless, and surely the strength of the British Empire is an essential factor in the success of the League of Nations. Our policy has also been criticised on the ground that it is said to be a cynical infringement of the provisions of the Washington Treaty. I think the 1265 merit and success of that Treaty is due to the fact that we aimed at a perfectly clear and precise objective. We put an end to the competitive building of new capital ships by putting a definite limit to the number and size of the ships.
We were also confronted by the fact that some of the Powers concerned—more particularly Japan, which was the weakest of the three, and which by the Treaty had its navy fixed at a strength of only three-fifths of that of the United States and of this country—thought that the development of more powerful fleet bases in the neighbourhood of their own countries would constitute a menace. Consequently, to use a phrase used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), we made a self-denying ordinance, and we mutually agreed not to establish or to further develop naval bases within that region where the construction of those naval bases would obviously indicate the possibility of aggression against each other. That is why the United States cannot develop any base west of Pearl Harbour, and that is why we are precluded ourselves from developing any further our old-fashioned small base at Hong Kong.
That Agreement, however, did not preclude any of the three Powers from developing those bases which were required for the mobility of their fleets on the outer border of the region so defined. Japan is not precluded from building bases on its own mainland, and America and Australia explicitly are free to strengthen their main land bases. In the discussion Which took place it was clearly understood that Singapore stood outside the region indicated and was clearly outside the Treaty. In face of these facts there can be no suggestion of menace to Japan or any idea on our part that we are contemplating the danger of strained relations with Japan or any other great Power. On the contrary, if we were contemplating such a menace we should certainly be proceeding in a much more strenuous and urgent fashion. After all, as more than one hon. Member has said, you cannot rely upon an indefinite future of peace, and just because we have so reduced our naval force, it is essential that that force should be free and mobile.
I have been asked against whom is this base being directed? My answer is 1266 that it is not against Japan or any other great Power any more than Portsmouth or Malta or Gibraltar can be considered as a menace against France or Italy or Germany. They are required by our Navy, which must be mobile and free to act right across the world. It is just because the Navy has been so reduced that it is vitally essential that it should be mobile, and possess a chain of fuel stations and repairing bases without which it would be helpless at those long distances. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton asked, "How can we keep up communications with a base 7,000 miles away?" Here the right hon. Gentleman is in conflict with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley who believes in the command of all the seas. But how could a navy more than 7,000 miles away carry on war, if it should arise, without any bases nearer than 8,000, 9,000, or 10,000 miles across the sea? It is only if you have bases within the operating range of your battleship fleet that you can make your navy free to work across the seas of the world. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molten suggested that for anyone to believe that with a one-Power standard we could ever send a fleet to Singapore was only worthy of someone confined in Colney Hatch. I wonder where you would confine someone who imagined that in a war with a great oceanic Power across the sea the British Navy is to remain in the North Sea while one portion after another of the British Empire is being destroyed?
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the new strategy which the Admiralty are now following. It is not a new strategy. On the contrary, it is the immemorial strategy on which this Empire has been built, and by which it has been defended. The Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) pointed out, I think, that the decisive sea battles of our history have been fought at great distances from our shores. Trafalgar itself, though fought in European waters, was only accidentally fought there in the course of a chase right across the Atlantic to the West Indies and back again. The future destinies of the British Empire may well be settled in the remotest seas. It is not a new strategy. It was laid before the Dominions by the Admiralty in the Selborne Memorandum just over 20 years 1267 ago, in which it was pointed out that "the seas are all one, and our policy must be to seek out the ships of the enemy, wherever to be found, and destroy them. At whatever spot and in whatever sea those ships are found and destroyed, there the whole Empire will be simultaneously defended, and its territory, trade, and interests." That is the true doctrine. If I understand him aright, the right hon. Member for Paisley himself fully subscribes to that doctrine. He pointed out that the really vital thing which decided the fate of the late War in the first month or two was the fact that in all the seas of the world we had assured command almost from the outset. We swept the enemy from all these outlying seas, and that cut the main artery of Germany from which, slowly but surely, she bled to death. It took four years for Germany to bleed to death, but how many weeks would it take us to be undone if the command of the outer seas were lost?
I would remind the right hon. Member for Paisley that we secured the command of the outer seas almost at once because in those days we had far more than a one-power standard—fully a two-power standard in cruisers and lighter craft—and we had an actual superiority on the spot in practically all the waters of the world. Even so, one small German squadron beginning in the China seas caused us infinite anxiety, and at one moment, as Mr. Churchill's book brings out very dramatically, was in serious danger of affecting our whole strategic position. We had to weaken for a time the capital ships of the Grand Fleet in order to fight a battle in the Southern Atlantic 7,000 or 8,000 miles from this country. Imagine a position in which von Spee's squadron had been appreciably stronger. Imagine it had been what the battle fleets of other great nations in these distant waters are, a mighty fleet comparable and even equal to our own. How could you then cope with such a situation except by being able to take out your battle fleets? The right hon. Gentleman spoke as if the present or late wartime cruiser proportion could cover all our trade to Australia and those countries. One hon. Member said we had the command of all the Australian seas. We have not. We are not in a position to-day, nor shall we be for many years to come, to put a battle fleet into the Pacific or 1268 even as far as Singapore. In all these waters, with their immense consequences to us from the strategical point of view and from the point of view also of the Empire of which we are the trustees and main defenders, we are helpless and reliant on the good will of a friendly and lately allied Power. But no self-respecting Power can afford indefinitely to be dependent on another Power for its security and even existence, and it is because we wish the Navy to be free to fulfil its historic function in order to operate freely anywhere in the world, and to operate with an additional freedom because we have so cut down the margin of naval strength—these are the general grounds on which the Board of Admiralty have come to the conclusion that it is essential to develop, not hastily nor in any manner which would appear to aim at anyone, but steadily and surely to develop a base with which we can maintain the Navy in those waters.
The right hon. Gentleman asked, and I think quite rightly, on what responsibility and on what authority we proceeded—what was the genesis of the scheme. I may remind him that the defence of Singapore goes back to recommendations made as early as 1882. In 1885 provision was made to strengthen these defences still further, and before the War it was decided that the scale of defence should be adequate to resist attack by armoured cruisers involving the use of 9.2 guns. That was the largest vessel at that time to be considered. It is true that that did not come under naval Estimates but was dealt with in Army Votes, but it certainly came before the Committee of Imperial Defence. The strategic importance of Singapore was very fully recognised by the Imperial Defence Conference of 1911, and it was considered that the future composite Pacific Fleet of the Empire, as it was then spoken of, should look to Singapore as its main rallying point, and regular conferences took place between the Commanders-in-Chief of the China, Australian, and Indian stations at intervals at what was recognised as the strategical centre of the Empire east of the Suez Canal. It is perfectly true that during the years preceding the War we had an immense concentration in home waters, but that was only because our enemy happened to be in those same waters, and we concentrated immediately in front of him. If he had had another 1269 exit on the ocean, or had developed his Fleets in distant waters as France and Russia did in earlier times, our Fleets would have been correspondingly dispersed. I would remind the right hon. Member for South Molton that during that period relating to France and Russia of which he spoke we maintained a very powerful Fleet on the China station, and it has always been our position that our Fleet shall be free to go wherever the Fleet of any possible or potential enemy can go.
Therefore, it is perfectly natural that after the War, when the German menace was disposed of, when you had to deal with the problem of great oceanic powers across distant seas, the task of reviewing the disposition of the Navy on the lines of its historic strategy should occupy the attention of the naval staff. I should like, in passing, to endorse all that has been said about the immense increase in the efficiency the staff has witnessed in recent years, and the careful and painstaking work they have done which, I may say, has paid every consideration to the pressing needs of economy. The Chief of the Staff, Lord Beatty, and, his fellow members, the Sea Lords, have throughout dealt with these strategic problems, not only as strategists, but also as statesmen. They have never made a demand that they have not regarded as absolutely imperative, and they have postponed many demands which they have undoubtedly regarded as urgent. From the moment that demobilisation was completed, this problem of the necessity of improving our oil stations on the route to Singapore and developing the base at Singapore was put forward by the naval staff to the Committee of Imperial Defence. The views of the naval staff were endorsed by the Committee, and by the Cabinet in the time of the late Government. I am speaking of two and three years ago. These proposals were before the Imperial Conference of 1921, and met with the approval of the Imperial Conference. It is no use telling us to wait for another Imperial Conference. The question of principle has been already agreed to by ourselves and the Dominions concerned.
After all, what we are engaged on now are the veriest preliminaries. There is ample time to discuss, and we mean to discuss, the fuller development of the dockyard and of the contribution the parts of 1270 the Empire concerned may make. There is every time for that at the next Conference. Nothing is being lost in that respect. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that this matter has been investigated and re-investigated for more than three years. It was re-investigated by the Board, by the Committee of Imperial Defence, by the Cabinet since the new Government came into power, and the conclusion they came to, and I have no doubt it is the right one, was identical with the decision to which their predecessors came. I have no doubt the Conference this autumn will endorse the conclusions to which the Conference of 1921 came. Hon. Members have asked for a certain amount of detail about this base, and first of all I should like to meet the criticism, rather surprising criticism as coming from such a quarter, that we are building too slowly. I think it has already been mentioned that Rosyth, for which the right hon. Member for South Molton was responsible as Civil Lord, was held up, very unnecessarily as the event proved, and with disastrous consequences from the point of view of economy and possibly strategy. The right hon. Member suggested, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley followed him in suggesting, that unless we finish this dockyard at once it will be entirely out of date.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I did not say that. I said that if the urgency was what it is represented to be it seemed to me a very odd way of dealing with it to construct a base that could not be completed for 10 years.
§ Mr. AMERY
I think the right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. The right hon. Member for South Molton considered that the docks would be obsolete because ships would have changed entirely in 10 years. I think he forgets that by the Washington Treaty the bulk and size of ships is definitely limited not only for 10 years but for a considerable period beyond that. The life of our capital ships is 20 years as laid down by the Treaty.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
Will the right hon. Member answer this question? How will you protect the communications of Singapore with the home country in the face of the extraordinarily developed power of the submarine?
§ Mr. AMERY
That is another point, to which I will come in a moment. The point the right hon. Gentleman did make was that when we had completed it Singapore would be obsolete. I suggest that under the conditions of the Washington Treaty, and in any case in view of the substantial size of the docks we are going to build and that the workshops in any case are not affected, Singapore will be anything but obsolete 10, 20, or 50 years hence. The right hon. Member for Paisley had a different point. He suggested that the battleship would be obsolete, and that some entirely different form of warfare would take its place. All I can say is that the basis of all the discussions at Washington, on which all the great naval staffs were unanimous, and on which the most careful investigation by Cabinet Committees in this country were unanimous, is that the battleship is now, and will remain for as long a future as one can foresee, the main strength and pivot of naval battle. You may have immense developments in the air, immense developments in lighter craft, but, when it comes to the main battle, in the war of the future as in the late War, it will be the faster and more powerfully armed ships, with bigger guns, which will destroy. There is a very striking passage in the book to which I have referred, in which it is stated that Von Spee, the moment he saw the tripod masts of our battle cruisers, knew that he was destroyed and could never escape, because of the greater strength and greater speed of those ships. That will remain true in the future as it is true to-day. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton raised a very different question. He asked how will this distant base be defended, how will communications be defended against the submarine menace?
§ Mr. AMERY
The submarine has never interfered in the least with the free movement of battleships in battle fleets. The danger they have had to face has been when they were at anchor. It is then that the most elaborate precautions have to be taken. A fleet in movement, with its proper proportion of destroyers and light cruisers, its own submarines and aeroplanes, can, I think, afford to take very lightly the possibilities of an attack 1272 by stray submarines operating many thousands of miles from their nearest base. With our chain of bases like Malta, Aden, and so on, and our oil-fuel stations, we have not the slightest doubt that the British Navy can hold its own effectively in those distant waters. But—and this is the whole point of what we are doing—if we had not those oil stations, if we had not those bases where the Fleet could be repaired, we should be helpless. Hon. Members will, I think, remember very well those terrible hours when we heard of some of our winged battleships limping back across the North Sea after Jutland. The advantage that the Germans had then was that they had not so far to go to save their ships. They might not have been saved if they had had to cross the North Sea. How can you get ships back from the other end of the world unless you have effective repairing bases for the Navy near the possible scene of action?
What we propose to construct there is an effective repair and docking base in every sense of the word. We propose to have a graving dock capable of holding the biggest modern capital ships. We shall probably have a floating dock there as well. Certainly, we shall have all the workshops, the stores of reserve ammunition, and all the other equipment of a good sized base upon which the Fleet could work if the emergency should, possibly, arise. The hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Darbishire) spoke very pessimistically about Singapore altogether, but his appearance and vigour belied his own pessimism. He suggested that we should have terrible difficulties in regard to dredging and so on in Singapore harbour. I can assure the House that we have, naturally, considered those problems, and we are not proposing either to interfere with the beauty or with the depth of the existing harbour of Singapore; but, at the point where we do propose to construct a naval base, we hope to be able at any rate to accommodate a very considerable number of ships without any dredging, and to construct the necessary docks and basins without meeting those difficulties of bottomless mud to which the hon. Member referred. After all, the Admiralty experts are capable of profiting by the experience of civil engineers who have worked in other parts of the world, and, naturally, they 1273 inquired into all the conditions of Singapore before they took action.
Then the question was raised of the military garrison that would be required. Undoubtedly, Singapore will require guns to defend it against a raid, and it will require some form of military garrison. It has a not inconsiderable military garrison at the moment. It will also require, in its proper proportion, its share of aeroplanes. But in all these respects Singapore, like Malta and like Gibraltar, as far as most probable forms of attack are concerned, is, in the main, dependent upon the Navy itself for its security against a great attack. It is only against minor attacks or preliminary raids that you want to make it secure. It is virtually an island position, and it would be anything but easy to land a large army in a jungle such as the hon. Member spoke of so pessimistically. The present complement may have to be increased, but it will not require an enormous land force or air force.
§ Mr. DARBISHIRE
May I say that there is no jungle round the shores of Singapore? It is a very easy problem.
§ Mr. AMERY
I did not mean immediately round Singapore, but, at any rate, that problem has been very carefully investigated in connection with the proposed base, and we do not contemplate the possibility of vast armies being able to land there before the British Navy can come to its support. I think I have made it clear that the action we have taken is entirely consistent with our general policy of keeping armaments down to the utmost limit compatible with our safety, that it is in no sense contrary to the spirit either of the League of Nations or of the Washington Treaty, that it simply aims at securing for the British Navy as it now is—very much reduced, on a one-Power standard, where we used to consider a two-Power standard barely sufficient—to secure for that Navy free mobility, so that it may carry out in every sea of the world its historic mission, which is to keep the seas free for the trade of this country and free for that communication between this country and other portions of the Empire, on which, after all, in peace and in war, our security and existence depends.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
This is a very important Vote. It commits the country to 1274 a large expenditure of money, and the speech which the right hon. Gentleman has just made is the first considered statement that has come from any Minister on this question. I think, therefore, that it is only right that the Committee, after hearing this new statement of policy on the part of the Admiralty, should consider all the issues which are therein involved. I think it is the general feeling of the Committee that the right hon. Gentleman has made a very admirable statement, and I am sure that hon. Members in all quarters are indebted to him for what he has said. We were interested alike in his historical account of the strategy of the British Navy and in his equally confident speculations regarding the future. One thing which he made clear is that, since the War, the Admiralty and the War Staff of the Admiralty have decided upon a complete new system of strategy. In the days before the War, naval strategy, as is now well known, was based upon concentration. The adoption of this proposal has made it clear that the Admiralty now contemplates a dispersion of the naval forces of this country, somewhat in the same way and on the same scale as in the days before 1902.
That is a very serious decision to take, and it is all the more serious in view of the comparative weakness of the forces which are now at the disposal of the Admiralty. Dispersion may be a sound thing if you have a large superiority. Dispersion, for example, was the policy in the days when we built on the two-Power standard, and when France and Russia were considered to be our possible enemies. Owing to the strategetic dispositions of those Powers, the Admiralty of those days, in the '80's and the '90's, had considerable forces in practically every sea in the world. There was a considerable part of our Fleet, as the right hon. Gentleman said, on the China Station in those days; but we had a margin over the two-Power standard in those days, and what might have been a safe policy when we had a substantial margin may now be a doubtful policy if there is no such margin, as the right hon. Gentleman has now admitted to be the case.
One would like to know more clearly what the right hon. Gentleman means by the mobility of the British Fleet. It is 1275 one of those fine-sounding phrases the exact meaning of which is not often precisely defined by the gentlemen who use them, nor is it clear to the minds of those who hear them. Apparently, there can be no mobility of the British Fleet until this base is completed. That is obvious, because at the present moment there is no adequate base at Singapore, and, as there will be no adequate base at Singapore during the whole period of 10 years until this base is completed, the British Fleet is robbed of all mobility. First of all, therefore, we are in this position, that the British Fleet is based on what is hardly a one-Power standard, and, in the second place, it has no mobility in the sense which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned. It seems to me that, if there is a sound case for a base at Singapore, and if the base at Singapore is essential for the mobility of the Fleet—a mobility which the right hon. Gentleman has said is necessary for the defence of the Empire—then there can be no excuse for the Admiralty delaying it so long.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Then the hon. and gallant Gentleman, therefore, cannot be satisfied with the present position. He cannot be satisfied to wait for 10 years until the Fleet is mobile. It seems to me that the policy of the Admiralty is to "wait and see" for a period of 10 years, during which all sorts of changes may take place in regard to the conditions of sea warfare. The right hon. Gentleman, in dealing with the past, forgot that in those cases we had a clear objective in relation to which we had to make our plans. We were making our plans, in the 80's and 90's of last century, on the basis of a possible combination between France and Russia. After the entente with France, our plans were based upon the possible enmity of Germany. On what basis is the new strategy framed? I think that is a fair question to ask. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about a war with a great oceanic Power across the sea. That can only be construed as a veiled allusion to Japan, and it can only be construed, therefore, as casting doubt upon the value of the Washington Agreement. If the Washington Agreement were regarded as providing that security for the Pacific 1276 Ocean which it is alleged to provide, and if it were regarded as laying down on a definite basis the relative standard of naval strength for ourselves, America and Japan, then it would, surely, be unnecessary to undertake these new preparations. In addition to that, I think the selection of Singapore in that connection, however well the right hon. Gentleman may defend it, casts some doubt on the value of what he himself has described as a great act of faith. He took credit to himself in the Memorandum which he issued on the Navy Estimates, as well as in the speech he delivered in introducing them for the reduction of armaments which had been made by the Admiralty and he described that as a great act of faith. But when it comes to this naval base at Singapore there is not the same evidence of faith. It is true that by the strict terms of the Agreement we are debarred from having such a base at Hong Kong, but in this attitude of faith we say, "Being debarred from Hong Kong, we will do the next best thing and be as near as we possibly can on the heels of the Japanese fleet by having this base at Singapore."
Here you have a double contradiction. First of all, if this base be necessary there can be no excuse for the long delay in its construction, because there is the admission that during all the period in which it is under construction the British Fleet is deprived of mobility. Then there is the second contradiction, that if we are to pin our faith to the Washington Agreement, if the standards laid down in the Washington Agreement are to determine the naval strength of the three great Powers, as the Government allege it will, it is unnecessary to undertake this at all and to talk about the mobility of our Fleet for the purpose of these distant seas. It is of the utmost importance that the Government and the Admiralty should make up their minds which line they are going to take. Are they going to adhere to the Washington Agreement? Are they going to give evidence of their belief, not by reducing armaments, but evidence of their belief indeed by not making this unnecessary provision at Singapore? If they take the line that the policy of armament reduction is sound and that the Agreement is to stand, the Committee is not justified in agreeing to this expense. If, on the other hand, 1277 the Agreement is to be regarded as of little account, as apparently the League of Nations is in nearly every quarter of the House, and if, that Agreement being of little account, it is essential that at the earliest possible moment we should secure the mobility of the British Fleet, there is no excuse for the long delay which the Admiralty is now advising. They are taking up a middle position which cannot be defended in any quarter of the House. It cannot be defended by the people who believe in the next war, because if they believe in the next war it is necessary to have this done immediately. If, on the other hand,
§ they believe in the security that is afforded by international agreements they should declare by their vote that there is no excuse for entering upon this heavy commitment, admittedly now amounting to £11,000,000 and which will in all probability in the future amount to a great deal more, and I advise the Committee to vote against this increased expenditure.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £3,832,750, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 94; Noes, 253.1279
|Division No. 120.]||AYES.||[7.35 p.m.|
|Adams, D.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hancock, John George||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Harris, Percy A.||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield)||Hayday, Arthur||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bonwick, A.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Sexton, James|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hill, A.||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hillary, A. E.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Buchanan, G.||Hogge, James Myles||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Irving, Dan||Snowden, Philip|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Cairns, John||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Cape, Thomas||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Thornton, M.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kenyon, Barnet||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Leach, W.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Duncan, C.||Linfield, F. C.||Weir, L. M.|
|Edmonds, G||Lowth, T.||white, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Falconer, J.||M'Entee, V. L.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Foot, Isaac||McLaren, Andrew||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gosling, Harry||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Millar, J. D.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Greenall, T.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wright, W.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Muir, John W.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Newbold, J. T. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Phillips and Sir A. Marshall.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Blundell, F. N.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Churchman, Sir Arthur|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Brass, Captain W.||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Apsley, Lord||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Clayton, G. C.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Briggs, Harold||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Cope, Major William|
|Banks, Mitchell||Bruford, R.||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Buckingham, Sir H.||Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Becker, Harry||Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page|
|Bell, Lieut. Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Butcher, Sir John George||Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North)||Crooke, J. S. (Derltend)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Butler, J. R. M. (Cambridge Univ.)||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Butt, Sir Alfred||Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Berry, Sir George||Cautley, Henry Strother||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Jarrett, G. W. S.||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.|
|Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)||Jephcott, A. R.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. B.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, putney)|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Lamb, J. Q.||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Sandon, Lord|
|Fermor-Hesketh, Major T.||Lorimer, H. D.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lougher, L.||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Forestler-Walker, L.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Lumley, L. R.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Furness, G. J.||McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Simpson-Hinchcliffe, W. A.|
|Garland, C. S.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Singleton, J. E.|
|Gates, Percy||Manville, Edward||Skelton, A. N.|
|Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Margesson, H. D. R.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Martin, A. E. (Essex, Romford)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Mercer, Colonel H.||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furn'ss)|
|Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Sparkes, H. W.|
|Greene, Lt.-Col- Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Stanley, Lord|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Grigg, Sir Edward||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Stockton, Sir Edwin Forsyth|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Gwynne, Rupert S.||Murchison, C. K.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Nall, Major Joseph||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Halstead, Major D.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Harbord, Arthur||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Harvey, Major S. E||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Paget, T. G.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Wells, S. R.|
|Hewett, Sir J. P.||Penny, Frederick George||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Hiley, Sir Ernest||Perring, William George||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Peto, Basil E.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Pielou, D. P.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Windsor-Clive, Lieut. Colonel George|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Winterton, Earl|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Privett, F. J.||Wise Frederick|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mosslay)||Raine, W.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Houfton, John Plowright||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Hughes, Collingwood||Remer, J. R.||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Reynolds, W. G. W.||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Hurst, Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W)||Gibbs.|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)|
§ Original Question put.1280
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 274; Noes, 51.1281
|Butler, J. R. M. (Cambridge Univ.)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Remer, J. R.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hiley, Sir Ernest||Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hillary, A. E.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chrtsy)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hood, Sir Joseph||Robertson-Despencer, Major (lsl'gt'n W)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Houfton, John Plowright||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Cope, Major William||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Hurd, Percy A.||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell||Hurst, Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Sandon, Lord|
|Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Jarrett, G. W. S.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Jephcott, A. R.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Daizlel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Darblshire, C. W.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Simpson-Hinchcliffe, W. A.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sinclair, Sir A.|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Singleton, J. E.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lamb, J. Q.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Linfield, F. C.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Edmonds, G.||Lorimer, H. D.||Sparkes, H. W.|
|Ednam, Viscount||Lougher, L.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Lumley, L. R.||Stanley, Lord|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Stockton, Sir Edwin Forsyth|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Manville, Edward||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Falconer, J.||Margesson, H. D. R.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Fermor-Hesketh, Major T.||Martin, A. E. (Essex, Romford)||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Foot, Isaac||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Merger, Colonel H.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Furness, G. J.||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Gates, Percy||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Waring, Major Walter|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Murchison, C. K.||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wells, S. R.|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Nall, Major Joseph||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Grigg, Sir Edward||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Guthrie, Thomas Mauie||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Winterton, Earl|
|Gwynne, Rupert S.||Paget, T. G.||Wise, Frederick|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Penny, Frederick George||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Halstead, Major D.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)||Perring, William George||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Peto, Basil E.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Hancock, John George||Phillipps, Vivian||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Pielou, D. P.||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Harbord, Arthur||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Harris, Percy A.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Harvey, Major S. E.||Price, E. G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Pringle, W. M. R.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Privett, F. J.||Gibbs.|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Raine, W|
|Adams, D.||Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Cairns, John||Duncan, C.|
|Buchanan, G.||Cape, Thomas||Gosling, Harry|