§ 16. Mr. D. G. SOMERVILLE
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if, in view of its importance to all shipbuilding centres, he can now state whether it is the intention of the Government to carry out the policy of the last Ministry with regard to expediting the carrying out of what is known as the cruiser programme, with the object of relieving unemployment in those districts where no other form of work is of any use whatever to the skilled men concerned; whether he is aware that in Barrow 1,000 more men will within a very short time probably be discharged owing to the completion of the gun-mounting work on which 443 they are engaged; and whether he is aware that the towns engaged in shipbuilding and steel manufacture are among those where the depression is greatest at the present moment?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Ammon)
As regards the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply of the 21st February to the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Hull. I am aware of the position at Barrow and all relevant factors will be considered when orders for new naval work are placed.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any decision has been come to with regard to the balance of that naval programme, including submarines?
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
Will the hon. Member bear in mind the claims of those towns whose working population was largely increased owing to the War and which peace conditions cannot absorb?
§ 18. Sir GRATTAN DOYLE
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware of the serious amount of unemployment in Newcastle and on the Tyne; and if he will say what, proportion of the new Admiralty work it is proposed to allocate to this district?
§ Mr. AMMON
I am aware of the position and firms on the Tyne capable of building a cruiser are being invited to tender. The allocation of the orders cannot be forecast, but, when Parliamentary approval to the programme has been given, will be decided after receipt of the tenders and full consideration of all relevant factors.
Sir G. DOYLE
Will the hon. Member see that an effective promise is given with regard to the time, and will he bear in mind that every shipbuilding yard in Newcastle and on the Tyne is capable of building a cruiser?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Will the hon. Gentleman say whether the electoral pressure 444 which can be exercised by the various parties is a relative consideration?
§ 20. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what is to be the displacement, speed, armament, and approximate cost of the five new light cruisers for which tenders are to be invited; and how many of these new light cruisers is it intended to build in the Royal Dockyards?
§ Mr. AMMON
It would be contrary to the usual practice and not in the public interest to publish details of these vessels at present, but they will, of course, conform to the requirements of the Washington Naval Treaty. It is undesirable to give any estimated cost until tenders have been submitted and accepted, but the Admiralty expect the cost to be between 1½ and 2 millions. It is the intention that three of the cruisers should be built in His Majesty's Dockyards, namely, one each at Portsmouth, Devonport and Chatham.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Will the hon. Member state when these details as to size, speed, etc., will be published, and is he aware that before the War, when we were faced with a naval menace, these particulars were given in order that the public might be informed as to the strength of the Navy, and which will have to be given sooner or later?
§ Viscount CURZON
Is it not a fact that before the War particulars were only given in the discussion on the Navy Estimates for the first time?
§ 27. Major HORE-BELISHA
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what additions to the personnel of the Navy the proposed construction of the five light cruisers will involve?
§ Mr. AMMON
The effect of the building of the cruisers, if approved by Parliament, on the number of the personnel of the Royal Navy must depend upon the decisions come to on the replacement programme which is to be the subject of investigation by His Majesty's Government. The numbers of Vote A to be proposed to this House for 1924–25 will not include any additional provision for the cruisers.
§ 34. Major HORE-BELISHA
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, with reference to the proposed 445 programme of naval construction, whether it is the intention of the Government to carry out the plans of his predecessor and to lay down this year three submarines and a submarine depot ship, two destroyers and a destroyer depot ship, and two gunboats of a special shape for the Persian Gulf, an aircraft carrier, and a mine-laying vessel; whether he endorses the view of his predecessor that all of the above are necessary requirements most urgently needed for replacement; and to how many men the construction of the above-mentioned vessels would give employment, and what addition would it involve to the Naval Estimates in the coming year?
§ Mr. AMMON
No, Sir. The Government have decided that, subject to the necessary Parliamentary sanction, five cruisers and two destroyers shall be laid down, and this House has already been informed that they have appointed a Cabinet Committee to consider the requirements of the Navy as regards the replacement of units of the Fleet. Had the full programme of the late Government been embodied in the Navy Estimates for 1924–25 and been approved by this House, the extra cost involved would have been approximately three million pounds in 1924–25, and the additional number of men employed about 14,000.
§ Viscount CURZON
Are we to understand from the hon. Gentleman's answer that His Majesty's Government adhere to the principle of a one-power standard?
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Are we to understand that two destroyers are being built in addition to five cruisers? [HON. MEMBERS: "Of course!"]
§ Major HORE-BELISHA
As the Government are so solicitous about unemployment, does not the hon. Gentleman consider that it would be worth while to spend this extra £3,000,000?
§ 38. Mr. PRINGLE
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what 446 is the estimated cost of building and completing the new cruisers of 10,000 tons as compared with the cost of the vessels they are to replace?
§ 39. Mr. PRINGLE
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what will be the cost of maintaining in commission a cruiser of 10,000 tons as compared with one of those to be replaced?
§ Captain BERKELEY
Is not the cost increased on foreign service, and are not these cruisers designed for foreign service on trade routes?
§ 59. Mr. STRANGER
asked the Prime Minister what arrangements he has made for allocating the contracts for building the new light cruisers to areas where unemployment is most serious?
§ Captain W. BENN
Does the Prime Minister consider that the existence of unemployment is a reason for the increase of armaments?