§ Mr. LUMLEY
(by Private Notice) asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he can now make a statement as to the policy of the Government in regard to the acceleration of the construction of cruisers and other vessels?
§ Mr. D. G. SOMERVILLE
On a point of Order. I have had this question down every week this Session, the last occasion being yesterday, and I was asked to put it down again next Tuesday.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
May I submit that it is absolutely immaterial to the House whether hon. Members have certain questions down, because, on a question of public interest, we want the information as soon as possible?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Ammon)
I think that if the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. D. G. Somerville) will consult his Front Bench, he will find that I made every effort to get in touch with him this morning, in order to give him the opportunity of raising this matter, having regard to the fact that he has shown so much interest in it.
The Government have decided, in view of the serious unemployment, to proceed with the laying down of five cruisers—three of which will be built in the Royal Dockyards—and two destroyers. Tenders will be invited at once from contractors, so that it will be possible to proceed with the work as soon as the necessary Parliamentary sanction has been given.
§ Mr. PERCY HARRIS
Are we to understand that these boats are actually needed urgently for the defence of the country? Would it not be better to use the money in something more productive?
§ Mr. THURTLE
Before the hon. Gentleman replies, would he inform the House whether or not this decision is to be taken as a great moral gesture to the world?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Are we to understand that this decision is final, and that the House is to have no opportunity of discussing it? Does the hon. Gentleman 1972 intend to allow the House to have any voice in this question?
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Is it proposed to start these cruisers without asking the House for the money first?
Apart from the statement which the hon. Gentleman has just made in regard to the dockyards, is it proposed that any of that work should come to the Tyne?
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
With regard to the original reply, which is unsatisfactory, is it not the fact that the original programme was eight, whereas only five are going to be built, and, if so, how is Barrow going to get a cruiser in competition?
§ Mr. HUDSON
Will the hon. Gentleman take into account that when these cruisers are laid down, if they are laid down, it will lead to the laying down of further cruisers in foreign countries, and by that means lead to a possible catastrophe, which will create more unemployment than ever?
§ Mr. LAMBERT
Will the hon. Gentleman clearly give us a decision that these tenders will not be accepted until the approval of the House of Commons has been given?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment, of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, "the decision of the Government to lay down five new cruisers."
§ The pleasure of the House not having been, signified, Mr. SPEAKER called on those Members who supported the Motion to rise in their places, and, not fewer than Forty Members having accordingly risen,
§ The Motion stood over, under Standing Order No. 10, until a Quarter past Eight this evening.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member has the necessary number of supporters, and accordingly the discussion will take place at a quarter past eight.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If an hon. Member obtain the requisite number of supporters, there is no question of a Division.