§ 22. "That a sum, not exceeding £2,291,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1925, for Expenditure in respect of the Air Force Services."
§ [For Services included herein, see OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1924; col. 2203]
§ First Resolution read a Second time.2293
§ Mr. AMERY
I beg to move to leave out "£1,229,500," and to insert instead thereof "£1,229,400."
We have asked for this Vote to be taken to-day in order that we may elicit from the Government, if we can, a definite statement on certain important aspects of Admiralty policy, more particularly the present position with regard to the suspension of operations at the Singapore base, with regard to the prospective future programme, and also with regard to the pay of the Navy. I myself and several of my colleagues have put down an Amendment to reduce the Vote, which we shall feel bound to press to a conclusion if we do not elicit any more satisfactory answer on some of these points than we have been able to do up to date. Before I touch on those points, I should, however, like to say just a word or two in support of the plea put forward two or three weeks ago by my Noble Friend the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) that some opportunity should be offered to the citizens of London of seeing the Empire Squadron when it comes home from its cruise of nearly a year's duration. That Empire cruise has been something unique in the annals of the Navy. I believe that the members of the Special Service Squadron, from the distinguished Admiral in command of it down to the humblest member of the crew on any ship, have been in a very true sense missionaries of Empire.
It would be a pity, it seems to me, if the citizens of London should not be privileged to see something of the magnificent bearing and discipline of that body of men such as has been seen by almost every other city in the Empire. There is, I think, a further reason for supporting this request. This squadron is an Imperial squadron in a very special sense. It is composed not only of ships of the Royal Navy, but includes a vessel of His Majesty's Australian Navy, the "Adelaide." I think everyone in the House will agree that it would be a good thing if the citizens of London could realise, what the citizens of the great cities of Canada and the citizens of our colonies in the West Indies are realising at this moment, namely, that there is an Australian Navy, a Navy young and small in numbers, but not untried in war, and a Navy determined, I believe, in efficiency, in fighting 2294 spirit, in loyalty to the ideals and traditions of the past, not to fall one whit behind the standard set by the Royal Navy. I believe that the plea of my Noble Friend has been warmly endorsed in every quarter of the House, and I hope that the hon. Member will be able to assure us that the Board of Admiralty can see their way to meet it.
On the question of pay, I only propose to say just a word or two. The hon. Member opposite told us yesterday, I think, that it was a matter of great complexity and that it might still be a matter of months before a decision is arrived at. That is not altogether satisfactory. The Board of Admiralty—I am giving away no secret, because this is what I have stated in the House—have for a long time past been convinced that it made a mistake when it did not press for the system of marriage allowance, or, what I think would be preferable, of family allowance, in 1919. There were reasons why it was difficult for them to re-open the question before this year. But I should have thought the main decision was one of principle and that, once the decision to reopen the question had been taken, the precise adjustment of the amount that might be granted and the effect that it might possibly have—I trust it would be only a small effect—upon the pay of unmarried officers would not be a matter requiring so many months' consideration as apparently it has taken. I do not want to press my hon. Friend unfairly, but I do hope that at any rate he will give us this assurance, that when the House meets again at the end of October he will be able to place before us a definite plan which will meet the demand, the very real demand, which has been made for some years, and help to alleviate the very real distress that, many married naval officers suffer under present conditions.
On the cruiser question I do not propose to enter into many details or into the issues raised by a certain manifesto launched from the benches below the Gangway opposite—that manifesto with its wholly unwarranted suggestion that the cruiser programme was directly created by and originated from the very modest proposals the Government made in February. That suggestion is wholly unwarranted. I have no doubt it will be effectively dealt with both by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty and by my hon. Friends behind me as well as, 2295 perhaps, by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. I would remind the House, in the absence of the Prime Minister, that the Prime Minister himself, speaking in answer to a question on 19th May last, directly repudiated that suggestion in so far as it affected the United States, while as regards the Japanese programme it is a matter of common knowledge that that was framed as far back as the early months of 1922.
What I should like to say once again is in regard to the real seriousness of the cruiser position as it affects our needs. The Parliamentary Secretary during the last Debate rightly said that the number of our cruisers should depend primarily on the length of our trade routes and the volume of our sea-borne trade, and only to a limited extent on the number possessed by other countries. It is from the point of view of our needs that our cruiser strength is dwindling away with such alarming rapidity. We have had it, in repeated answers from the hon. Gentleman opposite, that in the course of the present year our total effective cruisers will have dwindled from 48 to 38, and of these 38 some 18, owing to size and construction, are unsuitable for ocean-going work and therefore unsuitable for protecting our commerce on the high seas. That leaves us with a total of only 20 cruisers for effective work in protecting our commerce. That situation will be seen to be growing seriously worse if we take other fleets into consideration. In 1929, which will be a critical year, not only for our own naval construction, but because it is nearing the period when the Washington Agreement comes to an end, we shall have 32 effective cruisers as against 29 possessed by Japan, and of the Japanese cruisers 11 will have been commissioned since the present date. Therefore her 29 cruisers will be of a more modern character than our own, while the task which ours have to carry out is infinitely greater than that which falls on any other Power.
It has also been made clear in answers to questions, and by statements by the Parliamentary Secretary and by the Prime Minister, that we shall have to replace the whole of our cruisers during something like the next 10 years, and that unless we are to be grievously short by 2296 1930 or 1931 we must lay down 17 cruisers in the three years of which the present year is the first. The Prime Minister himself stated the case absolutely fairly, and in language the seriousness of which cannot be over-estimated, when he pointed out that of our cruisers 10 are practically dead and 17 more will be over 15 years old in the next five years. He put this question:Are we going to be told—and I want a straight answer on this point—that the method of bringing about disarmament and of carrying out pledges is to allow the Navy to disappear by wastage from the bottom. … But what a magnificent conception of pacifist principles is held by hon. Members who think that the best way to bring about disarmament is to allow your ships to fall to pieces. That is not my view, and it never will be.The Prime Minister used that statement in order to make it clear that, whatever the future policy as to our cruisers might be, to replace live cruisers in the present year's programme could not affect that policy one jot. The change is so small as compared with what is admitted to be necessary in the next few years that it cannot affect the precise, total of cruisers which we should have. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say—and this is the wider question we are raising to-day, i.e., what is to be our future cruiser programme—that that question "is at the present moment under exploration, and until the exploration is finished no decision will be come to." He also added:Whatever the policy we must work on a scheme. There is nothing more wasteful and less efficient than to build a number of ships one year and a number of ships another year, because we must know exactly what we are driving at.He further added:We want to replace, and no foreign nation, whether France, Japan, or America, can ever protest with the least effectiveness if our building simple means replacement."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st February, 1924; col. 2130, Vol. 169.]The right hon. Gentleman made it perfectly clear that he had in view in February an exploration of the situation which would at the earliest possible moment enable the Government to decide on and to inform the House what the programme of replacement was going to be over a series of years. He was quite right in laying it down that we should work on a definite scheme covering a definite period. The question I have to ask is 2297 whether these promises have borne any fruit, and whether we can now have an assurance, such as we have every right to ash, that failing at any rate some effective scheme of further general disarmament or rather limitation of armaments—of which I confess I see very little immediate prospect—failing such a scheme the Government will definitely proceed with a comprehensive programme of replacement? Taking into account the five cruisers now laid down, taking also into account the two cruisers which it seems reasonably probable the Australian Commonwealth will add to her young Navy, we ought to lay down at least another 10 cruisers in the next two years. We want a definite assurance on that point. The House ought to realise that unless we deal with our cruiser programme in reasonable time we shall not only be in a position of grave strategical weakness by 1929, but that we shall also, from the point of view of naval administration, and I think hon. Gentlemen opposite will agree with me in that, be piling up the whole of our replacement programme in a manner absolutely contrary to efficiency, and absolutely unsatisfactory from the point of view of any Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I think I gave the figures to the House on a previous occasion, but I feel it necessary to say again that, from 1929 onwards and until 1935, we shall have to replace 177 destroyers. We shall have to begin laying destroyers down at the rate of something like 30 per year. Again from the submarine point of view we have to face the fact that by 1929 the United States will have 122 effective submarines, Japan 73, France 63 and ourselves 31. I use these figures not necessarily as an argument for building a corresponding number of submarines: I should say the argument rather is that the construction of these great fleets of submarines will necessitate a much large construction of cruisers and destroyers on our part to deal with them. After all, the answer to the submarine, is not another submarine, under present conditions at any rate, but it is surface craft. I do not wish to pursue that point further. I would only again lay stress upon the importance which we on this side of the House attach to the need for implementing what the Prime Minister said in February, and we think the House should have in- 2298 formation definitely as to what replacement scheme the Government has in view.
The particular subject to which specially I wish to refer, and as to which we desire to extract a clear answer from the Government, is their present attitude with regard to the suspension of work on the Singapore Base. May I remind the House briefly what the position of the Government, as defined by the Prime Minister himself last March, is. The right hon. Gentleman made it clear, first of all, that the reasons for the suspension had nothing to do either with strategy or with finance. He made it quite clear that the Government had the fullest confidence in their advisers at the Admiralty, and recognised that from the point of view of Imperial defence and security the Base at Singapore was a necessary and desirable measure. It was considerations of a much wider kind which, he said, had induced them to hold their hands. The Prime Minister made it equally clear that he did not consider we were guilty of any breach in word or understanding with regard to the Washington Treaty. He expressed his belief that our intention to extend the work at Singapore was clearly understood by all who took part in the Washington negotiations. He also made it clear—and this is important—that he regarded this Base in its true perspective as a defensive and not an offensive work. He described it aspart of a complete defensive naval strategy in the Pacific.''I think he should have said rather the Indian Ocean. Again he said a little later:Should the practical necessity of putting such a strategy into operation arise by reason of the condition of world politics and a return to attempts to provide Imperial security primarily by armaments, the whole question will have to be reconsidered."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March, 1924; col. 321, Vol. 171.]That is to say, the Prime Minister, while having doubts as to the desirability of obtaining security by armaments alone, did definitely regard this measure as defensive in its character. He also made it perfectly clear that he did not take the action which his naval advisers would have had him take, in order to make a special effort to bring about a more peaceful situation in the world and a further limitation of armaments. He made it quite clear, not only in the sentence which I have read, but in more than one other passage of his speech, that this 2299 gesture which he was making was, if I might use the word, a pawn which he was sacrificing in order to get a larger piece. In answer to those, like myself, who suggested that the best way of bargaining was to go on with what we were doing and then to hold our hands if others held their hands, he said: "No, let us take the other attitude." And he added:If we hold our hands we let all the world know that if we are driven to extend we will extend."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March, 1924; col. 323, Vol. 171.]Speaking to an imaginary foreign interlocutor he said:If I come to make an agreement with you and I cannot get it, I will have to begin developing my base."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March, 1924; col. 324, Vol. 171.]That point of view is, therefore, a perfectly clear one. A definite gesture was made as the prelude to some definite opening of negotiations with the hope that the gesture would favourably influence those negotiations, and with the clearly avowed intention that if the negotions did not result successfully work would proceed once again on the Singapore Base. That point of view is not the point of view of the Prime Minister alone. It was reiterated equally definitely and clearly by the First Lord of the Admiralty in another place barely a fortnight ago. He declared that the policy of going back to the development of Singapore, if negotiations failed, still holds. He said:If the policy of appeasement, which the Prime Minister adumbrated in another place, were to fail, we shall then have to go back to the consideration of the Singapore base.He added that they had been exploring the situation ever since the decision taken in March and that even at that date—on 17th July—there had been a meeting to consider how best the Prime Minister's policy could be carried out. He said that as soon as they could make up their minds as to the method of approach, with regard to this difficult question, they would make the approaches that the Prime Minister indicated in his statement of 18th March. To make the matter even more definite, in answer to a question put by Lord Long, suggesting that work on the Base would be indefinitely postponed, the First Lord of the Admiralty said:That is not the policy of His Majesty's Government. I said quite distinctly that the 2300 policy is exactly the same, but that that particular condition on which the Prime Minister said that the policy would be considered has not arisen, because we have not yet been able to get into such touch with other foreign Governments as would enable us to say that our policy has been a failure.The position, therefore, is perfectly clear, as put both by the Prime Minister and more recently by the First Lord. It was the position which aimed, as the Prime Minister indicated, at some early negotiations and some early scheme for the general limitation of armaments. Quite true. But what has been the development of events since then? What has been the experience of the Government in contact with the very real difficulties of dealing with disarmament? I do not think that there is any difference of opinion in this House with regard to the desirability of limiting the cost of the burden of armaments. The difference is really with regard to the possibility of easily attaining the desired end. The difficulty lies in the immense complexity of the whole business. It was inevitable that we, who had just been in close touch with the problem, should take a more serious view of those difficulties than did the Government in the first few weeks of office. Since then they have realised the extent of those difficulties just as we realised them. Nothing could be more significant than the line which the Government have felt themselves compelled to take—I am sure it was against all their natural inclinations—with regard to the Treaty of Mutual Assistance. There was a project for the limitation of armaments which had been considered by all the most earnest and able advocates of disarmament, not for weeks but for years, and yet, when that project was seriously examined as a practicable method by a Government whose greatest aim in external affairs is disarmament, they had reluctantly to confess that the project was wholly unworkable, and, indeed—here I express my personal opinion—far more likely to bring us into war than to keep us out of war.
§ Mr. AMERY
That was my personal opinion, near the last sentence. At the end of their despatch with regard to the Treaty of Mutual Assistance the Government, feeling it necessary to indicate once 2301 again their desire to do something, could only say this much:It is the policy of His Majesty's Government that whenever a favourable opportunity presents itself, the Governments of the world should meet in conference with the object of devising a scheme or schemes for the reduction of armaments."Whenever a favourable opportunity presents itself." That is a very different note from the note struck by the Prime Minister a few months ago. But I would point out that the change goes even further than that. Only a day or two ago, in answer to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), with regard to the attitude of the President of the United States, the Prime Minister replied that no move in favour of disarmament had been made by the President of the United States. The Prime Minister added:He has declared his general interest and sympathy, and I agree with and respond to that."General interest and sympathy." We all agree and respond. But that is surely a very different note from the demand for "energy and decision" in pressing forward disarmament, which were the words of the Prime Minister only as recently as March last. In answer to the same series of questions by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull, and in reply to a suggestion that the Prime Minister should make a definite move now, the Prime Minister replied, and, I think, replied wisely:Any ill-timed move would do incalculable harm.That is quite true: the situation is so delicate—more delicate to-day, in many respects, than it was a few months ago—that the right moment and the right way to approach the problem have to be chosen very carefully, and it may not be a matter of weeks only but of months and even of years before that problem can be satisfactorily tackled. If that is so, I suggest that the move which was made in March with regard to Singapore was not a particularly well-timed move. If a gesture is to have real effect it ought to precede immediately the opening of negotiations; it ought to lead to a definite conference from which some definite result can be reached. But we realise now, as I suggested in criticising the Prime Minister's action at the time, that the gesture was made in a vague and fumbling man- 2302 ner, with no definite idea as to how it was to be followed up. The idea, whatever it may have been in March, has grown progressively less definite and more remote every week during which the Government has been face to face with the complexity of the international situation. That is the position, the official policy of the Government as regards the Navy.
But there seem to be two different policies in the Government in this matter, at any rate if one is to judge by the very amazing utterances to which the Lord Chancellor, who is also the Lord High Strategist of the Government as head of the Committee of Imperial Defence, gave vent in that same Debate to which I have referred. While the First Lord made it quite clear that definite Powers were to be approached in the near future with regard to this matter, and that we were going back to the construction of Singapore if that approach were unsuccessful, all that the Lord Chancellor could say was:How can we give any indication as to when our policy is to succeed or fail; or how soon it will succeed or fail? The question is one which does not admit of an answer.He apparently acquiesces in the position that, whatever may be the strategical dangers involved, we have as a matter of fact no policy with regard to disarmament, no idea whatever when the time will come when we can say that we have done well or made a mistake in withholding our hand with regard to Singapore. Again, the Lord High Strategist gave a description of the Singapore Base which, I am sure, will not commend itself to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. He described it as "a base of offence, just as much as it was to be a base, and even more, of defence." He said that it would bea great instrument of offensive possibility. It would be something which would dominate the whole Pacific, and which would make an alteration in the strategical balance of the world, a new weapon which we had never had before, by which this nation has to impose its will upon the Pacific.
And he added:There is no getting out of that. I have worked it out on paper.With all submission, I have attempted to work it out on paper myself, and I have been informed—I think it is information equally in the possession of my hon. Friends opposite—that the very maximum 2303 radius which a fleet can dominate from a particular base is something like 1,500 miles. As a matter of fact, long before that radius is reached the effective power of a fleet is greatly diminished. We felt it ourselves in the narrow waters of the North Sea. When we were operating off the German Coast, we were already operating at a disadvantage. One thousand five hundred miles radius into the Pacific from Singapore covers less than 2 per cent. of the area of the Pacific. It does not get to within 1,500 miles of Japan. At the very most it might be said to dominate Hong Kong. If you want to dominate even the Western Pacific, you would require to bring up to date the base at Hong Kong, and you would require to create a new powerful base at Wei-hai-wei, or some-where in that neighbourhood. It is only under those circumstances that you could, in any sense of the word, be said to dominate even the Western half of the Pacific.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
If that be the case, does not the whole argument fall to the ground that Singapore is required to defend the route between Japan and Australia from transport forces?
§ Mr. AMERY
The answer to that is this. At the point at which the route would approach Singapore, I do not think it is very much beyond the 1,500 miles. At any rate, it would be much further from Japan, Therefore, at the possible point of intersection of a Japanese transporting force—not with the battleships necessary, but the cruisers supported by the battleships—the advantage would lie with the fleet operating from Singapore. We were not aiming, even on that route, at domination. It would be sufficient for our purposes if we could prevent another Power dominating it to such an extent that it could move a large army in the wake of a dominating navy. To say that Singapore dominates the Pacific is absurd. You might as well say that Rosyth dominates the Falkland Islands or the Argentine coast. It is amazing that anyone who seriously considers strategic problems should give vent to such an utterance.
This is not a new policy. On the contrary, it is only a very partial return 2304 to established policy. All through the time during which most of us have followed naval distribution up to the eve of the concentration in the North Sea, we maintained a China squadron, which was the second largest British fleet of commissioned ships. Even as late as 1911, it was part of the agreed policy of the Empire that we should have three squadrons of cruisers, each including one capital ship, in those waters; and the only thing that was aimed at under what I may call the Singapore policy, was the possibility of being able to keep normally in those waters a squadron which might include, perhaps, three battle cruisers, and of maintaining a position which would, in a great emergency, enable our Fleet to go out there and find, at any rate, something in the nature of a base equipped for its needs.
The whole purpose of Singapore is neither new not offensive. It is simply going back to the policy, which was the normal policy of this country up to the very eve of the Great War, and going back to it purely for defensive purposes. The importance of Singapore lies not in the Pacific, of which it only covers an infinitesimal section; it lies in the Indian Ocean, which is effectively and completely covered against outside invasion if we have a base at Singapore, and which is utterly at the mercy of any other Power if such Power should seize the position of Singapore. It is through that ocean that the greatest part of our trade goes. It is round that ocean that three-quarters of the people of this Empire live, and the waters of that ocean wash the territories of more than three-fourths in extent of the British Empire.
The only object which the late Government, and the Government which preceded it, and all the Governments of the Empire which were in agreement, had in view was defence and security. Nor was it security as against one particular possible opponent May I repeat again what I said previously to the House—that the importance of Singapore lies, not only in the case of a war with Japan, but in the case of any war with any naval Power except Germany; because in any war, except the particular war which we waged during the last few years, our commerce is bound to be subject to far more effective raiding by cruisers than in that case, when we were able to bottle up effectually our enemies. If so, then we require an 2305 adequate cruiser base, and, more than that, as our experience in the late War showed us, with regard to our cruiser position we ought to have at any rate some battle cruisers to give a backing to our cruiser fleet.
It is a point which is always overlooked by the critics of Singapore, that it is essential, not merely in the eventuality of war with Japan, but it is essential for battle cruisers, for aircraft carriers, and for ordinary 10,000 ton cruisers as well, in any war. I cannot imagine any war in which the commercial docks at Singapore will not be crowded, and overcrowded, with ships seeking refuge there, many of the ships torpedoed and urgently in need of repairs. There would be no room for any of His Majesty's ships, cruisers, aircraft carriers, battle cruisers, or what-ever it might be, in the commercial docks. A naval dock is therefore essential for any type of war which may possibly be waged, and in which we are concerned.
More than that, it is not only a question of our being engaged in war. The main object of the Navy is to keep us out of war, and the particular occasion on which that task is most effectually fulfilled by a Navy, and when we shall most need its ability effectually to fulfil it, is the occasion when other Powers are at war, and when we are neutrals. The experience of the late war showed that a Power struggling for life is not likely to show much regard for the susceptibilities or the rights of neutrals, unless those neutrals can defend themselves. Germany treated American rights high-handedly only because she thought that America could never intervene effectively on this side of the Atlantic, or at any rate intervene effectively in time. We have got to face that position, if there should be a war by any chance in Eastern waters. We have millions of trade passing through the waters adjacent to the Indian Ocean. We have great interests to defend, and it is essential that, we should be in a position to make a belligerent in any new war respect us. Nobody can say that conditions are, from that point of view, necessarily improving. I do not think anybody would venture to say that, if the Washington Agreement had not been negotiated in 1921, it could be negotiated to-day after the attitude which the United States have taken about the entry 2306 of Japanese citizens into their country. He would be a very bold person who would prophesy now that the Washington Agreement will be extended, or even renewed, in 1931. What would be the position of the British Empire if the time comes when, with the growth of the fleets of other Powers, and with the breakdown of the Washington Agreement, we find ourselves completely paralysed in Eastern waters for lack of the essential facilities without which a fleet can neither move nor operate—essential facilities which take years and years to build up?
May I just sum up the situation as we on these benches see it? We regard the precautions which we were taking with regard to Singapore as essentially defensive and protective, as concerning entirely the internal security of the British Empire, as concerned with maintaining the passage of communications free between the different parts of the British Empire and as not concerning any other Power in the world, but as being equally necessary from the point of view of our relations with any other Power. It was an essential part of any policy of effective co-operation with the Dominions, and it is upon that co-operation that the best chance of both peace and of the reduction of armaments lies in the future. Therefore, whatever the scale of our naval defence, We regard the provision of this base as an essential part of its permanent structure.
The proposal of the Government was, for the sake of a moral gesture, to take out the central point of the whole structure, the keystone of the whole arch. I have already expressed my doubt as to the value of gestures generally; still more as to the value of gestures which have no definite, clear purpose behind them. We regard the way in which this step was taken as unwise and ill-founded, and not calculated to have any helpful effect in our relations with foreign countries, but calculated, as I am sorry to say the event has proved, to have the most unfortunate effect upon public opinion in the British Dominions. We regard it also as the wrong thing with which to make the gesture. If you make a gesture, it is something that you may have to recall. It ought to be done with some part of your defences that can be easily made good, and rapidly made 2307 good. The Government chose to do it in respect of something which takes ten years to make good without regard to what may happen to the position in the world and in the British Empire during those 10 years. The Government has never told us yet to whom the gesture is to be made, or with whom we are going to confer. If it is to be a conference with the particular Naval Powers with which we conferred at Washington, I am afraid, in view of what has happened, the moment was singularly ill-chosen. It would be the height of folly to embark on such a conference at the present moment, or, indeed, for some appreciable time to come, until a very delicate, not to say strained, situation has satisfactorily eased and adjusted itself. It can hardly be part of the general programme of mutual disarmament. It bears no relation to the kind of thing that was suggested in that Treaty of Mutual Disarmament, which has been duly thrown on the scrap heap.
I do venture to suggest—and I do so in no tone of unfairness—that the time is coming, or, indeed, has come, for the Government frankly to recognise that, in its inexperience and in its judgment of a situation, which has changed very greatly since then, it has made a mistake; that a gesture made at this time cannot have the effect desired; that the prospect of securing agreement on disarmament, which we all desire, cannot be fulfilled as soon as they hoped it might, and, last but not least, that the particular object they selected for their gesture was not the right object. Let them frankly recognise that. Let them proceed quietly, and without offence to anyone, with carrying on the work we were carrying on. Let them indicate, as we have always indicated, unmistakably, our good will and peaceful intentions to the world, and in any effort they may make towards a general limitation of armaments, they will secure no better or more loyal support than they will secure from this side of the House.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The whole House, I am sure, will have listened with the greatest interest to the most lucid and interesting speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery). If he will allow me to 2308 say so, I thought there was only one blot upon it, and that was when he hinted that certain Powers with whom we might find ourselves in hostility, or our friends in hostility, might imitate German methods by coercing and bullying neutrals. I thought that was an ungenerous suggestion to make, especially in view of the fact that the greater part of his speech was devoted to the examination of strategy in a possible war with our ancient and tried ally, Japan. I am sure his remarks, unless repudiated, will be taken as accusing the Japanese of being likely to imitate German methods in the late War. We have now a new theory for carrying on the proposal to create a great battleship base at Singapore—a grand new theory. Before, we were told it wag necessary that this base should be developed for the defence of our great Dominions in the Antipodes—that Dominion opinion would be affronted in Australia and New Zealand if we did not proceed with this base for their defence. Now the right hon. Gentleman says, from the point of view of dominating the Pacific, Singapore is almost useless, except for 2 per cent., and that in order to defend Australia and New Zealand from his chosen enemy Japan, it is necessary to dominate the Pacific. In order to protect British trade in the Pacific, it is necessary to dominate the great trade routes of the Pacific, and if Singapore can dominate only 2 per cent. of the Pacific, if it is only of value to defend the Indian Ocean, I say the whole case made by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends falls to the ground.
§ Mr. AMERY
I do not know if the hon. and gallant Gentleman realises that the trade of both Australia and New Zealand to this country passes through the Indian Ocean, and that, as I tried to make clear, in reply to his last interruption, dominating a particular area is one thing, while being able to prevent another Power dominating part of that area so completely as to be able to send a large army across, is another thing. Undoubtedly the influence of Singapore from that point of view would extend beyond the 1,500 miles. I do not believe the Japanese—using a purely hypothetical case—escorting a large army would venture within an even wider radius of cruisers based upon Singapore than 1,500 miles
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
I shall answer both those points. With regard to trade going through the Straits of Malacca from Australia and New Zealand—
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
With regard to the trade of Australia passing through the Indian Ocean, and the attack coming through the Straits of Malacca, I think it could be shown that the Straits of Malacca could be made just as dangerous by means of submarines, minefields, and the more modern aircraft with their future development, than by having a battle-fleet station or even battle cruisers. The late War showed the extreme danger of vessels getting near the bases of the enemy in a naval war. We found it expedient not to allow our valuable ships to go near the German bases, or even in the North Sea, and the Straits of Malacca could be made extremely dangerous to any raiders. Furthermore, by a suitable arrangement of hydrophones and wide aircraft scouting, they could be made almost impossible for submarines, and they are the main entry into the Indian Ocean. The second point is that the Japanese have a half-way house in the Marshall Islands between Japan and Australia, and if they are going to send an expedition—and I am taking this hypothetical case—that base is a very natural naval harbour. It is almost a Scapa Flow, in fact, and the extraordinary thing is that at the present moment no persons other than Japanese are allowed to go anywhere near the Marshall Islands, and, although they are forbidden to defend them under the Washington Treaty, they are a naval base in being, and the late War shows that you can very easily make a natural harbour into an efficient naval base, as we did at the Orkneys, because all the world knows we made no preparation at all in the Orkneys for a war with Germany. [An HON. MEMBER: "Whose fault was that?"] It was the fault of the Conservative Government just as much as of the Liberal Government, because the Conservative Government were in power in 2310 1906 when the German menace made itself clear. I believe even the right hon. Gentleman referred to it long before 1906, and the Conservative Government took no part in the matter. Furthermore, in the Debates in this House before the outbreak of War, when Mr. Winston Churchill was defending the Admiralty against the attacks of Conservative Members, including the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs), I do not remember any of them criticising the Admiralty for not making preparations at Scapa Flow.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I was out of the House, as I separated from the Liberal party because of their policy on disarmament.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I do not think the Conservative leaders who criticised at that time ever made the constructive suggestion of preparing Scapa Flow. The Japanese showed, in their war with Russia, how it was possible to improvise a naval base many years before that, and the same thing can be done in the case of the Marshall Islands. Singapore is too far away from that great line of approach effectively to interfere with it, except by long-distance cruising submarines, and I should think the real naval defence of Australia and New Zealand against a hypothetical enemy in the Pacific is to have a suitable base in Northern Australia, or, possibly, in Borneo or New Guinea. At any rate, Singapore is too far off the main line of action. We have already there a base or dock suitable for submarines, and that will take the new 10,000 ton cruisers. It is perfectly true the docks will be wanted for merchant ships, but that will be the case in any naval war. The only thing I can say as to that, is that the Admiralty will naturally give attention to warships. I find myself in the unusual position of defending my hon. Friend the Secretary of the Admiralty against the attacks of the Conservatives, while the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook is defending him against me. With regard to Singapore, I think they are absolutely right, and there is no necessity to spend this vast amount of money in extending still further the efficient and adequate base we have there already.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
With regard to the aeroplane carriers, we can send a floating dock, which can be moved about, and not blown to pieces, as the graving docks will be within a very few hours of the outbreak of war. Already, I am told, the Japanese have a large concession from the Sultan of Johor, and no doubt will put down concrete tennis courts for the recreation of employés. In any case, I believe, from the military point of view, a base in the Johor Channel is extremely vulnerable.
§ Captain Viscount CURZON
Do I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman would be in favour of a floating dock at Singapore?
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
If it be necessary to have a dock there, I would rather have a floating clock, instead of having a brand new dock in the Johor Channel. I believe a floating dock was seriously considered. If it be necessary to have a floating dock, I would prefer one close to the naval station, if it exist, or to send one out, or build one on the spot. But to start a new one in the jungle, with its houses, churches, canteens and all the amenities of civilisation, and, I suppose, houses for the dockyard workmen who will lie displaced from the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Major Hore-Belisha)—to do all this in the midst of a virgin jungle is a woeful waste of money. The right hon. Gentleman talked lightly of war with Japan as if it were a matter of course.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
It seems to be part of the Constitution, according to the Conservative party, that there must be someone to arm against, some bogey to hold up to the people, to reconcile them to increased taxation, and put off social reforms and the spending of money on more necessary things. They do not talk about America now. Japan is far away, and the Japanese are a strange people, different from us in their ways and manners. They are now the hypothetical enemy, and the bogey to hold up. I say it is time that attitude was changed. In the few years that have elapsed. Since I entered His Majesty's Service, I have seen three enemies held up. First it was France and their Ally 2312 Russia, and then Germany. My first mobilisation in the Navy was against Russia, when the Russian Fleet fired on our fishing vessels. Our China Squadron was kept in being against Russia. Then we had the new enemy, Germany, and the War came. Now that Germany has disappeared as a potential naval enemy, Japan is held up. It is this sort of talk by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that surely will lead to war. Not one word from the right hon. Gentleman, except a vague and an elusive reference to a conference in the future—he even went so far as to say the Washington Treaty would not he renewed—not one word of this policy of peace and conciliation about which the Prime Minister has talked! I admit he has only talked about it, but I will come to that. He gets little enough encouragement from the right hon. Gentleman.
Apart from the fact that the Government have not reversed their policy with regard to Singapore, I do not know what was the complaint against the Government in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. He seems to have approved of the Prime Minister coming more into touch with the difficulties of the complex situation. Let me congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on a new policy in regard to cruisers. It used to be, "We want eight, and we won't wait." Now it is. "We want 10, and some more then." I suppose that will be the slogan of the Conservative party. I had heard that the right hon. Gentleman was to open this Debate by an attack on the Government, and a demand for eight cruisers. That, apparently, is not considered enough. Eight cruisers would cost £24,000,000, but the right hon. Gentleman wants 10, costing £30,000,000. I suppose overnight he thought it better to add two to the number. As I have said before, we are overwhelmingly strong in cruising power at the present moment. As a matter of fact, I think we are weak in one branch of the naval service, and that is submarines, especially cruising submarines, with a long radius. There I admit a strong case can be made out for building new ships, but in regard to cruisers we are relatively stronger than we have ever been in modern times.
I may remind the House of the figures. To begin with, we are the only Power which has any cruisers equipped with any 2313 gun larger than the 6-inch gun. I am talking about modern light, fast cruisers. We have two vessels armed with 7.5-inch guns and two completing or completed with the same comparatively heavy gun. No other naval power has modern cruisers armed with any gun larger than the 6-inch. Look at the numbers. The numbers built at the end of February last—actually built and less than 12 years old—were 46 British Empire; 16 Japanese; four French; and seven United States. The number actually building for the British Empire before these five new cruisers were contracted for was four, and I would remind the House that since the War, we have completed and launched and commissioned 11 magnificent vessels. On 27th February we had four actually building, Japan had six, France three and the United States three. That is a reply to a Parliamentary question on, 27th February last, and I think those figures show our enormous preponderance in cruising craft.
§ Viscount CURZON
Has the hon. and gallant Member seen the answer given last Monday on the same subject?
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I certainly did, and the only difference is that it gives the number of vessels projected, but not yet commenced. I am going on the number of vessels actually built and the numbers actually being built at the beginning of this financial year. The number of light cruisers in full commission is the real test, because only the cruisers in full commission can be reckoned efficient, and the figures are: British Empire, 34; Japan, 14; France, 4; United States, 7. This only includes modern vessels. We made a tremendous sweep of our Navy list, got rid of our obsolescent ships, and oar Navy is extremely modern and efficient at the present time. There is no case for building five cruisers, and I am only sorry that while my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook was making his oration, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not present. I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer had heard the demand for ten cruisers, and I should like to have been on the other side of the House in that event, in order to watch the Chancellor's face when the demand was being made.
2314 The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last referred to the Prime Minister's beau geste, his pious aspiration for general disarmament. What has been done in that direction? I submit to the Government that it is no use leaving such matters to ambassadors, diplomatic representatives or naval attachés. It is no use sending secret Notes to Governments, sounding them, and making advances towards new conferences on disarmament. You have to appeal to the public opinion of the common people, and it is on those lines that the Prime Minister should have proceeded. He should have come out into the open, and spoken to the common people over the heads of their rulers. Had he done so, I believe he would have got a response. In America, as we have seen, a rider has been added to the Naval Bill calling on the President to summon a new Conference to deal with the limitation of armaments in those classes of vessels outside the Washington Conference, including those vastly expensive cruisers of 10,000 tons, which cost £3,000,000—"pocket Dreadnoughts," as an hon. Friend of mine has described them—as well as submarines, aircraft and, of course, destroyers. That is the hope—not to embark on a new race in submarine and destroyer building, as the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) suggests, but to try to get another conference to deal with the vessels left outside the original Washington Conference.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I said there was a case for building more submarines, but I say that a better policy is to abolish the submarine altogether. That was the attempt which was made very half-heartedly at the Paris Conference. I should like to see that attempt renewed. Public opinion in the United States has manifested itself through Congress, and, as I have said, a rider has been added on to the Naval Appropriation Bill, which corresponds to our Naval Estimates, inviting the President of the United States to take steps to call such a conference as I have indicated. Our Government have been asked repeatedly by myself and by other hon. Members what they have done to meet tins advance made by public opinion in the United States. I 2315 repeat the question now. Has this House been invited to pass a Resolution in the same terms as the Congress Resolution? As to Japan, that country is half-ruined as a result of the terrible convulsion of nature which occurred a short time ago.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
refer to the earthquake in Japan. It did not happen in Devonport, except in the political sense. Japan is not in a financial condition to embark on a race of armaments, and there is a growing liberal and democratic movement in Japan which, I believe, would respond to such an invitation if it wore openly made. I should like to know whether the Government propose to do anything in this matter after the present Conference. I daresay it will be said that they are endeavouring to settle other matters, but this is a naval question which does not affect the European Powers nearly so much as it affects America, Japan and ourselves.
As this may be the last opportunity I will have of doing so in this Session. I wish to address two questions to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. The first is: When are the Admiralty going to give a decision with regard to charging fees for cadets entering the Royal Naval College? At the present moment a great many naval officers whose families have been for generations represented in the Navy are unable, through financial difficulties, to put their sons into the Service. Taxes are so high, the cost of education is so great, and the expenses are so heavy that they cannot do it. To-day only the rich can afford to put their sons into the Royal Navy. It is only in the case of the sons of naval officers killed in the War that special cadetship can be obtained; otherwise heavy fees are charged. We are told that this matter also affects the War Office and the Air Ministry, but the Admiralty might give a lead, and perhaps the other Departments would follow. Japan, which is an ancient monarchy, recruits its officers largely from a very old-established aristocracy, the Samurai, and I do not think the Japanese officers are of a type inferior to those of any other navy—except our own. I, of course, will not for a moment compare any officers to our own. In the Japanese Navy no fees at all are charged. Once a cadet has passed the examination, 2316 and is accepted, the State undertakes full responsibility. That is a much more democratic system.
In the United States the same practice prevails. No fees are charged for the American cadets, and I do not think it can be said that the American Navy suffers in consequence. As a matter of fact, the field of selection is wider. Surely a Labour Government can look on this matter as sympathetically as the Government of the Elder Statesmen in Japan or that of the Republican party in America. The amount involved is £67,000 a year, and I have put down an Amendment to reduce the Vote by that amount. I was hoping that the House would force the Admiralty to undertake this necessary reform. May we have some hope from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty—HON. MEMBERS: "Put it to a Division!"] There is another Amendment down on another question, and I cannot propose my Amendment until that is disposed of, but I shall certainly ask my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to take note of the promises from the naval experts arrayed on the benches opposite. The Government have been six months in office, and it is time they made up their minds on this point.
The second question to which I desire to direct attention is that of marriage allowances for officers. That matter has been pressed very often and very eloquently by the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea, the hon. Member for North Portsmouth (Sir B. Falle) and other hon. Gentlemen opposite. It would cost £750,000 a year, or about a quarter of the cost of one of the new cruisers, and it would take away an injustice from the officers of the Royal Navy, the only officers in the three fighting services who do not get marriage allowances. They are separated in this matter from the petty officers and men who receive marriage allowances, and I do not think there is any reason why that should be so. Furthermore, the pay of tire naval officer has been reduced—and I was disgusted at such a step being taken by a Labour Government—on the ground that the cost of living has come down! The heaviest items of expenditure in the budget of the poor married naval officer are house rent and the education of his children, and these have not come down, while clothing and other items remain practically the 2317 same. It is time the Admiralty came to a decision on this matter. They have considered the matter long enough. When it is a question of recommissioning the "Enchantress" they do not hesitate; when it is a question of laying down five new cruisers, they do it first, and ask the Cabinet afterwards. We have waited long enough for the settlement of these two points, and I appeal to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to see whether he cannot give the naval community some comfort in this matter before the House disperses for the holidays. If not, I certainly will invite hon. Gentlemen opposite, when the present Amendment has been disposed of, to press their dissatisfaction to a Division.
§ Captain BEAMISH
On rising to address the House, I realise that many pit falls surround one on such an occasion. But I also realise and appreciate very fully the kindness and tolerance with which the House treats a new Member, and I hope I shall avoid the former and, possibly, deserve the latter. There are two main reasons which appear to have been put forward with regard to the deplorable decision to delay indefinitely even the commencement of the Singapore base. It is a painful thing to me to see the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) behaving in what I would call the manner of the pseudo-pacifist, because it is not so very many years ago since I had the pleasure of observing that he did not behave in that manner when he was winning the middle-weight championship. There was no pacifism about the hon. and gallant Member then. The decision of the Government to delay this project indefinitely is most astonishing. I believe—in fact I know—it has been said that the idea is that the world may be pacified with a gesture. But I suggest—personally, I say it most clearly—that the world never in its past history has been pacified with a gesture. It is not possible to do anything of the kind. If we attempt anything of the kind in a spirit of pacification, the only thing we can do is to have something very definite and very straightforward with which to bargain. The creation of a base at Singapore, to my mind, speaks for itself, and is absolutely essential, indeed, vital to our Imperial 2318 interests. We are quite clearly within our right in every possible way, and I say it is a moral and an Imperial duty to proceed with the project. It has been said that there are questions of much wider implication involved than those of pure naval strategy. Whilst naval strategy is definitely vital to the main issue, the questions involved—we on this side of the House think so—are very much wider than that of naval strategy. The questions which this side of the House consider are involved are questions of Imperial strategy, and the question of the safety, honour, welfare and progress of British citizens all over the world.
It is very constantly stated that foreigners will be extremely annoyed with us if we proceed with that sort of project, whether it may be at Singapore or elsewhere, or with any other project connected with armaments in any way. I should say that our own kith and kin, and people who are not our kith and kin, yet notwithstanding that are loyal British citizens, will be a great deal angrier than any foreigner if we do not proceed with the Singapore base, and very rightly so. My own experience of the attitude of foreigners in all parts of the world is that they view the British Empire with an immense admiration tinged—and very understandingly so—with a very human jealousy. That admiration is turned to scorn, and a desire to dispossess us if we do not carry out what is definitely our duty towards our Possessions. It is within the memory of all of us in this House as to what happened in August, 1914, on the outbreak of war. It is no exaggeration to say that, between Muckle Flugga and the Thames, there was not on the East Coast of Great Britain one single port which was capable of protecting or even of sheltering any capital ships. The blame for that does not lie on this side of the House. One must remember that, although the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) talked about the Conservative party being in power up to 1906, the essential stress and strain in connection with the possibility of the outbreak of war did not commence until somewhere about that year. In the eight years which followed the matter was pressed by every thinking naval officer, by a large number of Members of Parliament, and 2319 by the Conservative party. It was pressed in every possible way that something of the nature indicated ought to be done.
What was the result? The result was, that while the Navy came up to the scratch when the time came, they were asked to do a great deal more than they ought ever to have been asked to do. We have heard this afternoon something on the subject of the creation of a temporary base. There is no necessity, there ought to be no necessity, to create a temporary base. It is not too much to say that in consequence of our lack of a base for the protection, reconditioning, and refreshment of our Fleet in the early days of the War, they ran the risk of irreparable disaster. I would acid that if the German submarines had had the same, or nearly the same, efficiency in the early days of the, War as they had later, our Fleet would have suffered a tremendous loss. It is a fact that, because there was no base, the Fleet in many instances was taken to sea for safety. The exact contrary ought to have been the proper condition of affairs. So I ask the House to allow me to point out the utter fallacy of trying to get along on anything in the nature of a temporary base.
May I give a couple of personal experiences in connection with Singapore, and bearing on naval exigencies? In 1904 I had the honour to be serving in an 11,000-ton cruiser at Singapore. Within 20 or 30 miles of Singapore that ship discovered—by striking it—let me make that clear—a very dangerous rock. We were not in a position to go into dock at Singapore, because at that time there was no dock capable of taking us. Therefore, at very considerable risk we had to proceed to Hong Kong, nearly 1,500 miles away. I want to say that there is a lesson to be learned from that, because, if there were any war, and we had our large ships working from or near Singapore, and they got into that sort of trouble either by striking rocks, or mines, being torpedoed, or damaged by gunfire, it is the fact that if nothing be done at Singapore, those ships would have to proceed to Malta, the nearest place where anything like a large ship can get adequate repairs, and that then would be a matter of almost prac- 2320 tical impossibility. The next personal experience, also at Singapore, was in 1905, when suddenly I was called on deck, and told that a gigantic fleet was in sight. I went on deck, and there saw the Russian Fleet which had started, as we know, from the North Sea, and was on its way to fight the Japanese Fleet. It is not too much to say that when that fleet started, it was an inefficient fleet. When it arrived at Singapore they were not allowed, by International law, to stop there for reconditioning and so on. That fleet was then three times as inefficient as it had been when it started. One can well understand the feelings of the gallant officers and men—as they were—in those ships at seeing a British man-of-war anchored so near in the open roadstead, when they were not allowed to stay, but had to go on to nothing more or less than their inevitable doom at the Battle of Tsushima. They went to their doom splendidly.
My point is that we ourselves might be placed in a similar position by reason of some of our Fleet, in the possible event of war, going through the Straits of Malacca past Singapore, incapable as they would be of taking any rest or of being adequately reconditioned. Are we to run so great a risk for the sake of a belief—a foolish belief as I consider it—in the efficacy of a gesture? There are many suggestions that this project would be directed at Japan Nothing of the kind. It is merely, to my mind, a duty definitely to make use of the very wonderful heritage left to us through the foresight of our predecessors. What would any foreign statesman think? Let me take an American, a Japanese, or a Dutch statesman. What would they say if they were spoken to on this matter, and asked: "What do you think we ought to do?" and were asked: "Is it not a moral right, is it not the right thing to do to make Singapore a useful base for our ships?" I say, without any fear of serious denial, that every one of those men of affairs, those foreign statesmen, would say: "Most certainly; you are not only within your rights, but the whole world expects you to do that very thing, to look after your own Possessions, and to make adequate provision for what might happen." It is not a new question.
We had another point raised this afternoon, and I must raise it again, because 2321 it is a very important point. In 1911 the question was quite clearly raised. It had been constantly discussed for many years before; certainly in 1902, when I went to China. In 1911 a definite decision was reached, to base three capital ships and, I think, it was nine cruisers, on Singapore to work from that base. To the best of my recollection, there was no noticeable, depression, or even discussion, on the part of any foreign nation at that decision which we made. The reason that they did not say anything was because they are not everlastingly wondering whether we are going to fall upon them, and destroy them, but because they look to us to be sensible, and to utilise our resources. Nothing was said in protest of any kind when we came to that decision. The Washington Treaty quite clearly takes no cognisance whatever of any action we may take at Singapore. I have no doubt, or very little, that I may be accused of being a Jingo. I am not a Jingo. I have had too much experience of these things for that. I speak not as a naval officer except in regard to my experience. I speak solely as a Member for a constituency. Quite clearly the question of Singapore is one that raises the greatest interest in the heart and mind, of pretty nearly every citizen in this country. My experience has been recently that they attach the greatest importance to it, and wish fie project to proceed. I know, of course, that a naval officer is generally expected to produce a "breeze," and I must apologise for any shortcoming that I have in that respect. But I say that personally I can only produce the mildest, zephyr compared with the Williwaws which sweep down on us from the stern and wild benches opposite! There is only one wind that I know of that all of us on these benches are so very much in favour of, and that is the great trade wind. Speaking of trade, let me say, in finishing, that trade cannot possibly succeed, and cannot progress if we do not make adequate protection for it. We must not only encourage it, but insure it by proper bases. We must prosper it with proper and adequate protection.
§ Sir GODFREY COLLINS
There is no necessity for the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken to make any kind of apology for his speech, and if I interpret correctly the minds of hon. Members, I think I may say that they will 2322 all agree with me when I welcome to our Debates the speech of the hon. and gallant Member, who brings to his subject a knowledge and close application, and his speech was marked by a moderation and knowledge which I am sure will commend itself to hon. Members in all quarters of the House. Perhaps I may be permitted to acid that it is a peculiar pleasure to me to have this opportunity of congratulating the hon. and gallant Member, because he will recollect that 36 years ago he and I joined the "Britannia" together as naval cadets, and although circumstances have intervened which have caused us to sit on different sides of the House, I am sure all parts of this House are anxious to maintain and secure the supremacy of the British Navy.
The Debate to-day was started by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), and in his opening sentences he joined in the request that the Admiralty would permit the Imperial squadron on returning from their cruise to march through the streets of London, where they are always welcome. I am sure that the taxpayers who are now finding such large sums of money would all welcome the opportunity of witnessing such a procession, if the Admiralty could sec their way to grant that very natural request. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook went on to sketch what was in his opinion the necessary policy of replacement, and he reminded the House that in a certain number of years 177 cruisers and 177 destroyers would be required, and he said that in a few years' time America would have 122 submarines, Japan 73, and France 63, and he asked what was the policy of the Government. That is the policy of replacement, for which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook stands. But there is another policy, that is, the policy of disarmament. The comprehensive programme which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook says is necessary fills one with consternation. When we realise the tremendous sacrifices made by the people of this country, and when one remembers that our Navy to-day is so supreme among all the nations of the world, I ask the Parliamentary Secretary what is the policy of the Government towards international disarmament? May I recall the very remarkable speech made just 12 months ago by the present Prime 2323 Minister. On the 23rd July last year, some seven months after the late Government took office, the then Leader of the Opposition tabled the following Motion:That this House deplores the enormous and growing expenditure on armaments, and urges the Government to take immediate steps to call an international conference.Twelve months ago that was the policy of the Prime Minister. What has happended during the intervening months when he has turned his back on this policy? Twelve months ago he expressed truly the minds of the men and women of this country. At that time he was in close touch with the people throughout the country. He knew the horrors of war. He knew that the tragedy of war was causing unemployment and bringing distress in its train, and from his place in the House of Commons he tabled the Motion which I have just quoted. What has happened during the last 12 months? The Prime Minister has turned his back on that policy. He has turned his back upon cutting down expenditure upon armaments. He has turned his back upon pleading with other nations to reduce their armaments by consent; indeed he has himself supported, and his Government have supported, a new race in armaments. His Government have ordered five cruisers to be laid down, and they have started to build them. He has invited competition from America and other countries, and, instead of decreasing expenditure on armaments, for the first time for many years the Government of this country since the War has increased expenditure on armaments.
Therefore I am entitled to ask for what reason has the Prime Minister turned his back upon the policy which commended itself to every member of the Labour party 12 months ago, and which the members of the Liberal party supported in the Division Lobby, and which the Financial Secretary himself supported 12 months ago. I believe the Prime Minister's speech delivered on the 23rd July last year did commend itself to the people of this country, and that the votes cast at the last Election were largely influenced by the knowledge and the realisation that if they placed a Labour Government in power, that Government, not having any commitments like other parties, would look this matter in the 2324 face, and see at the very beginning of their taking office that they did not increase the burden of armaments, but would invite all the countries in the world to reduce armaments, and not initiate a policy of replacement, which has been the policy of the Financial Secretary, not a policy of replacing so many destroyers, cruisers and submarines, but take into consideration what is the dominating idea in the minds of the people not only in Great Britain but in every country in the world that if you increase armaments you increase the chances of war.
Take the situation to-day. There are many people in this country afraid because France is increasing, the number of her aeroplanes, and they ask and expect the Government of this country to do likewise. Last Saturday the French Prime Minister saw our great Fleet at Spithead, and they are saying in France to-day, and rightly saying, "The French Prime Minister has seen the enormous strength of the British Fleet, and what steps can the French people and the French Government take to be more in keeping with the predominating strength of Great Britain?" It is rather a tragedy that while the people of this country have been seeking and pressing upon Governments to reduce their armaments there is no movement in that direction, but on the contrary there is a distinct tendency in the other direction for Governments to increase the size and strength of their striking force, not only here but in other countries.
We are all proud of our Navy, we are proud of its traditions and its strength, and we are proud that our Navy is supreme, but surely to-day of all days our Government might take the lead in inviting the nations of the world to a further conference on disarmament. Great Britain's Navy to-day is stronger than all the European nations. There is only the navy of Japan and America to compete with, and two incidents which have happened in connection with those two countries are extraordinary. Japan recently came to this country and invited us to lend her large sums of money, and a 30 million or 40 million loan was floated in the London market. In the case of America we are 2325 steadily year by year repaying our debt to her. While on the one hand we are financing Japan and making her more powerful and efficient, the Government of the day is taking no steps to curtail our Army and our Navy. While on the other hand we are paying our debts to America, we are brushing on one side the appeals mentioned by the hon. Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) when, in a recent Debate in Congress, they called on the Government of the day in that country to call an International Conference. Although the Government of America intends to build eight cruisers, as a result of the challenge of the First Lord of the Admiralty, Britain leads the way in the policy of armaments, and other nations are bound to follow. Through the Parliamentary situation in Washington, on 7th July there was so much business to get through that the Government Bill which was to authorise the building of these eight cruisers, and to modernise other battleships, was delayed. America, through that event, has not, to-day, built those eight cruisers which her Government intended to lay down in the future, and to modernise a certain number of her old battleships. Therefore, I appeal to the Prime Minister to return to the policy which he enunciated when in opposition, and I urge him to call an International Conference to consider the question of international disarmament.
Surely the time is ripe when the Government might devote their energies—instead of taking £10,000,000 or £15,000,000 for building, but more millions that will be required to maintain these ships—to interpreting what is in the minds of the people of this country. We are a peace-loving people. We have a Navy of overwhelming strength, and why fling down a challenge to the world? Why start this senseless race in cruisers? We speak of them as cruisers, but to my mind they are greater than the battleships were before the War. The Washington Conference limited the size of battleships, but naval ingenuity and modern science has made the cruiser more expensive than a battleship before the War. The world has progressed in science and in the cost of ships, but it has also progressed in the downward tendency of so many people, not only here, but in America and other 2326 countries, to give all their labour and time to maintaining forces far above what is necessary.
I am not pleading that our Navy should be reduced below the danger point; I am pleading, rather, that we should look these facts in the face. What is the real reason why disarmament is not started in this country and in other countries? It is because vested interests are concerned. If we could remove vested interests from these matters, we should have a growing public opinion on the question, but vested interests are able to appeal to the minds and the fears of the public. It is easy to work on fear. Fear and force go together. I am pleading for another policy. We know that the British Navy, however powerful and however efficient, is not able to keep this country from war. We know that it is able to keep this country from being invaded, but a Navy, however strong, cannot check the chances of war. The size of our armaments will not cause peace to come. Another policy is needed—the policy of the Prime Minister 12 months ago. Is that his policy to-day? Why has he turned his back upon it? Why has he, after being in opposition for many years in conjunction with the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the President of the Board of Education, and others who put peace in the forefront of their programme—why have they turned their backs on that policy? Why have they forgotten what they said to the people who sent them here?
The Labour party have been sent here, and are in power to-day, because, in the minds of millions of our people, they stand for peace, they stand for disarmament. Their first act is contrary to all that they have said. They have started a race in armaments; they have flung down the challenge, and America has taken it up. Instead of building five cruisers, America is laying down eight. America, with her long purse, her 100,000,000 people, and her vast territory, will always be able to find larger sums than this country, especially while this country is forced to pay £35,000,000 a year for 60 years. Hon. Members opposite and above the Gangway are always pleading the cause of the unemployed. Unemployment is caused by this excessive waste on armaments. The Labour party have started this race, 2327 and have turned their backs on their old policy. It may be that I speak a little strongly on this subject, and I hope the House will forgive me for doing so, but I do think that Great Britain should lead the way in this matter. Our traditions, our strength, the justice of our cause, and our past history, will influence the world, and if our Prime Minister would just have the courage which he had 12 months ago, and would invite the nations of the world to consider the cause of disarmament, I feel sure he would have full support, not only in this House, but throughout the country.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
The hon. Member who has just sat down has made an impassioned speech, but not, I think, a very closely reasoned one. He referred to the cost of the ships, but does not that apply to every other article? Are we not talking about houses costing three times as much as they used to cost? He is perfectly well aware of that. Again, if he regards the American programme as dictated by our programme of five cruisers, I would remind him that the American programme for the previous year, 1923, was for 16 cruisers. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) is quite right in one particular. The American Congress has passed a Resolution in favour of disarmament, which was attached to the Navy Bill. They did the same in 1923. The last paragraph of that Bill appeals to the President to hold a conference on disarmament, and because of that understanding they took out the 16 cruisers from the 1923 Bill. But if the hon. and gallant Member's argument is worth anything, we had no cruisers laid down that year, and because we had no cruisers America was going to lay down 16. He now says that because we have five, America proposes eight, but as a matter of fact the scale has gone down from 16 cruisers in the 1923 programme to eight in the 1924 programme. As a matter of fact, the American programme, as anyone who reads the Debates can see, has really no reference to the British programme. The main idea is the necessity of defending American commerce and American interests against possible war with Japan. I know perfectly well that there were some other references. The hon. 2328 and gallant Member is on far safer ground when he calls attention to the Resolution, tabled by the Prime Minister and moved by the Prime Minister 12 months ago, in favour of calling an immediate conference on disarmament. We have had no explanation why that Resolution has not been implemented.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
If the hon. and gallant Member will forgive me for interrupting him, may I ask him if he has read, in the "Congressional Record" of the 28th May last, the account of the Debate, in which speaker after speaker referred to the increase in naval armaments on this side of the Atlantic, and England—not Japan—was held up as the great Power with whom America could not compete?
§ Commander BELLAIRS
The hon. and gallant Member is mistaken. America was only preparing to do what was necessary for the defence of her own interests, and what she thought it necessary to do in regard to Japan, and what we did was quoted in this connection. I happen to know that in America the war game of the naval staff never includes England now; they are moving the whole of their Fleet from the Atlantic, because they do not regard English rivalry as in any sense of the word a rivalry applying to themselves. With regard to the question of a Conference on disarmament, I drew attention to the American Resolution in 1923. I am not deterred by the fact that the Conference will probably fail. I think that that is very likely. But a Conference that fails always shows up who is the Power that is standing in the way of disarmament, and I think that that is its main vane. As a matter of fact, I am struck by the parallel between the present position this year and the position at the time of the Great Exhibition in 1851. Then, as now, a great peace exhibition was being held, and all the talk in the year 1851 was of disarmament; but within six years of that great exhibition there was the Crimean War, there was the Burmese War, and there was the great Indian Mutiny, and within 19 years there were, in addition, four European wars and the American Civil War. That all goes to show that we cannot get rid of this question of war by merely talking about disarmament.
As for the Conferences in 1899 and in 1907, they passed resolutions in favour of 2329 disarmament, and we all remember the famous speech by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman at the Albert Hall in 1905, where it was laid down that England was to take the lead in disarmament. We had three examples of disarmament, and they were all followed by increases in armaments on the part of Germany. I submit that there is only one policy for this country to carry out, until we get a cut-and-dried agreement, and that is to take care of that naval supremacy which has never failed us and which saved us in the Great War. I read the speech in the House of Lords of Lord Grey, which represents Liberal opinion, but he only talks of disarmament in relation to the five European Powers, and, therefore, he forces upon us the necessity of accentuating the fact that the rivalry is largely with Japan in regard to naval armaments.
The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull spoke of the Japanese earthquake as having half ruined Japan. As a matter of fact, when that earthquake occurred, Japan had three times the gold reserve that this country has. Her trade and shipping had gone up by leaps and bounds, and it is not too much to say that during the War hundreds of millions were added to the capital owned by the Japanese. As to the total cost of the earthquake, it did not amount to one month's cost of the War to this country. As regards the navy, the damage done had only this effect, that two dockyards had to be reconditioned, while they had six others that were quite capable of taking care of their whole navy; one aircraft carrier—a battle cruiser which was converted for that purpose—had to be scrapped, and a more efficient capital ship was substituted for her for conversion to an aircraft carrier; one cruiser that was building was damaged, and the probability, to my mind, is that in that case they will substitute for a 7,000-ton cruiser one of 10,000 tons. The only effect will be that ships that would have been ready in March, 1928, will be delayed until March, 1929. That is the only effect on the Japanese programme.
My hon. and gallant Friend also referred to the German methods of submarine warfare, and took issue with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) because he mentioned the possibility of those methods of 2330 warfare being used again. But does the hon. and gallant Member know that the Resolutions doing away with these methods of submarine warfare have never been implemented? They were agreed to at Washington at the end of 1921, but France has never put them before her Chamber from that day to this, and they have never, therefore, become law. My hon. and gallant Friend's mistake is excusable, because Senator Lodge makes exactly the same mistake in the last issue of the American Quarterly "Foreign Affairs." It is necessary to remember that Germany is not the author of these methods of warfare. Had my hon. and gallant Friend joined the Service, as I did, in 1886, he would have known that we were all studying, from 1886 onwards, the French writers on the doctrine of "Sink at Sight." M. Gabriel Charmes, who was the head of the French Navy, Admiral Aube, Commandant Z and the Jeune Ecole—all these writers gradually impressed this doctrine, right through the eighties and nineties, on the French Navy; and not only that—it has been reaffirmed lately by Captain Castex, of the historical section of the French Admiralty, an officer of great influence, who was chiefly concerned in reorganising the French War Staff. He has been reaffirming this doctrine, and he says:The Germans were well within the limits advocated by the French Navy, and were absolutely justified.''He goes on to say:War is all act of violence to which there is no limit of application—and he lays down the doctrine that the only way to defeat the British Navy is for Continental nations not to have a Continental war. That rather squares with the Liberal doctrine of creating a United States of Europe. In that case, there will be no war in Europe, but the United States of Europe would be able to crush this country. I have I think clearly established that the French have not ratified these Resolutions, and the hon. and gallant Member, instead of finding fault with people who think that these methods of warfare may be resorted to again, had much better bring pressure to bear on the Government and on public opinion in France—because I am certain that public opinion in France is against such horrible methods—so that these Resolutions, which have been agreed to by other nations, shall be agreed to by France. Otherwise, 2331 we may see the same doctrine applied to our commerce in a future war.
§ Mr. AMERY
I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will forgive me for interrupting him. He is entirely right, but I was referring not only to methods of that kind, but to the possibility of the rights of neutrals being progressively encroached upon in respect of contraband and other matters, and the necessity of protecting our rights in that way. That, however, is, of course, a little beyond the scope of these Resolutions.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I am really replying to the reference which the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy) made to what was said. The hon. and gallant Gentleman speaks in the old language. Why include Japan? We rule out the United States altogether. Japan happens to be the Power which is expanding. Its population is increasing at a rate double our own, and it rightly desires an outlet for colonisation. Unfortunately the racial question comes in and cannot be bulled. The talk of "hypothetical enemies " is exactly the same talk as went on when I belonged to the Liberal party and we heard of phantom armadas, and we who differed from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and Mr. Winston Churchill were told that we belonged to the blue funk school. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Basingstoke (Lieut. - Commander Fletcher), who is now taking on the difficult task of educating the Liberal party, has, in the language of the Americans, bitten off more than he can chew. I recognise that there are a number of Members on that side who give us their support on these Imperial questions, hat the Liberal party will always be in the position Lord Randolph Churchill described it as committing suicide for what it is pleased to call its principles. The principle of disarmament it always will carry out without regard to the situation, just as, it did prior to 1909. Then came the occasion when their eyes were opened, in 1909, and an article appeared in the "Nation' on 20th March of that year, which said, in reference to the leader of the Liberal party:Finally, if we have a Palmerstonian Prime Minister pressing the case for an 2332 enlarged armament, we have, thank God, a Gladstonian Chancellor of the Exchequer labouring violently and not alone in the cause of economy and peace.When the War came, and when the Liberals were driven out of office because they could not conduct the War properly, largely through the instrumentality of the Member for Carnarvon Broughs, the Leader of the Liberal party said no body of men could have done better, and no Body of men could have done more, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said we were the worst prepared nation in the world for this War.
I want to point out to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hull that Japan commenced all this rivalry of armaments, and that we followed behind. In 1921 armaments were responsible for over 50 per cent. of Japanese expenditure. Their armaments were more extensive than those of Germany before the War. Precisely the same methods were carried out. In 1919 there were manœuvres on a far bigger scale than ever Germany carried out under the Kaiser. In February, 1921, a Motion for the limitation of armaments by agreement with the British Empire and the United States was defeated by a very large majority in the Japanese Chamber, and when the Washington Conference did succeed is reducing the battleship competition it took 14 projected Japanese batleships out. But the point to notice is that there is a definite relation between cruisers and destroyers to the number of battleships. The bigger the fleet the more cruises and destroyers are required. Japan never reduced the number of cruisers and destroyers with the number of battleships. On the contrary she increased them and their armament. So it was Japan that started the race in armaments.
I mention that because, under the influence of the hon. and gallant Gentleman I believe, the Liberal party has reverted to its old method of manifestoes. We have numbers of these manifestoes almost every year from 1906 onwards. They say in this manifesto that the Japanese Government, after borrowing £50,000,000 or £60,000,000 in London and New York, has also responded to the British challenge by a new cruiser programme. There was no British challenge 2333 of any sort, kind, or description. The Government delayed its replacement programme for several years, and then, after this Japanese programme was settled, they started on this programme of five cruisers, which was cut clown from the eight projected by the late Conservative Government. Let me call the attention of hon. Members opposite to the answer I got, I think yesterday, from the Admiralty Summarising it, the number of cruisers building and projected in the British Empire is nine. The number building and projected in Japan is 11. Our destroyers are five building and projected to 21 building and projected in Japan. Our submarines, three building and projected to 31 for Japan. I acknowledge that that is a programme for two or three years, but it all goes to prove what my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) said, that we shall have to follow this cruiser programme by an extensive cruiser, destroyer and submarine programme later on. An extensive foreign programme of submarines is an argument for more destroyers for us, and unless we come to some arrangement about disarmament, we shall have to go forward with armaments.
The most efficient way of negotiating for disarmament is to show that you ale doing something which you are prepared to give up, and the way America succeeded in getting her proposals for a limitation of the numbers of battleships and their tonnage and their guns carried was this. She said, "We have 14 battleships 30 to 90 per cent. completed. We are prepared to scrap the whole of those 14 if you agree to our proposals." Under those conditions the Japanese came in.
If we are going to bear these burdens the Dominions undoubtedly ought to help us, as they promised to do at successive conferences. Australia and New Zealand are helping us. The only direct contribution made to the British Navy is £100,000 made by India towards the upkeep of the squadron in those waters. India spends £700,000 on the Indian Marine every year. I think that Indian Marine, except for certain minor purposes, is perfectly useless to the British Navy. That £700,000, as far as the Navy is concerned, might be wiped out and we should be just as strong. I wish to suggest to the Admiralty that 2334 they should get into conference with the Indian Government and see whether we cannot run the show a little better for that expenditure and spend the money in a way more useful to the British Navy. Now I turn to Canada. On 16th May, 1922, the Canadian Prime Minister said of the Naval Service Act of 1910:That law embodies the Liberal police as it was stated at that time and as we are standing for it to-day.Sir Wilfrid Laurier, under that law, proposed to bring 10 ships to our assistance. Canada has never brought one single ship to our assistance. Everyone recognises the magnificent service that Canada rendered during the War, but the Leader of the Opposition in Canada showed that she is not coming to the assistance of the British Empire in a way commensurate with her great population. After all, if Canada were not a part of the British Empire, she would have to maintain a big navy. Even Holland, with several millions less population, spends nearly £5,000,000 a year on her navy. Canada was given by this country after the Armistice one cruiser, two destroyers and two submarines. She scrapped the cruiser and the two submarines, and maintained the two destroyers—one in the Pacific and one in the Atlantic—one destroyer to look after the Pacific and one to look after the Atlantic. That is no use to us. In 1910, on the understanding that they were going on with this programme which Sir Wilfrid Laurier had announced, we lent them two cruisers to train the men, the Admiralty stating that the loan was on the assumption that the new cruisers that they were going to build would be commenced as early as possible. The reason why Canada got disillusioned about it was simply the desertions that occurred from the Canadian ships. Mr. Borden pointed out the reason. He said there were 136 recruits in one year and 149 desertions; they paid the men in the Canadian Navy such low wages that there were more desertions than there were recruits. If labouring men were paid six times as much, it was only natural that there would be desertions when the summer Caine. In fact, in one case a policeman who was arrested was found to be a deserter from the Navy, and he had the warrant for his own arrest in his pocket. After Sir Wilfrid Laurier's proposals came the General Election of 2335 1911, and the Conservatives came into power, and they promised the British Government that they would pay for three super-Dreadnoughts to be built in this country. I notice that Mr. Churchill wrote to Mr. Borden in 1912:I must repeat that the Canadian ships are necessary for the whole world defence of the Empire from the end of 1915 or the beginning of 1916 onwards.The Senate rejected the Bill. We are not entitled to reproach Canada for breach of faith. We have been guilty of these things ourselves. There was the 1909 Agreement by which we were to have three battle cruisers and nine cruisers in the Pacific. In 1912 we broke that agreement, and brought two battle cruisers home. Had they been in the Pacific there would have been no Coronel and no Cradock disaster. I commend that to the Liberal party as showing the danger they run when they bring about disarmament the way they did from 1906 onwards, because the influence was still felt of these manifestoes, an important section of the party being discontented.
I was in Canada at the time. There was a progressive increase. The moving of ships—it is hardly a fair controversy—was done, as I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows well, on the advice of the Sea Lords of the Admiralty, for strategic reasons.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
There was a concentration of the Navy, but it would not have been necessary to move those ships had we built more ships at home. The pressure which has been exerted on the Sea Lords is precisely similar to the pressure that is exerted nowadays. They cannot get all they want. No one can read Lord Jellicoe's book without seeing that he was very dissatisfied with the strength of the Fleet put under his command, and yet he was second Sea Lord prior to taking the command. I remember there was a bit of a scene in the House when my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney) said it was sheer murder to pit cruisers with six-inch guns against ships with eight-inch guns. It is sheer murder. That does not mean that it is any reflection on hon. Members opposite except on their ignorance. That is precisely what happened to Cradock and his gallant 2336 officers at Coronel—ships with inferior guns. I know the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hull will say the "Good Hope" had 9˙2 inch guns but they were very obsolete guns. They were inferior cruisers. They were ships that had not been in commission prior to the War. So they were manned by untrained mobilized crews.
I would appeal to hon. Members opposite to apply the lessons of the War and to see that we have an adequate naval strength to prevent war. By all means let them urge the holding of conferences to bring about disarmament. Let those conferences be held, and if they fail they will show up the Power that is standing in the way of disarmament. I recognise the burden inflicted upon this country. We show that in practice. The British Navy at one time policed the whole world. We no longer can police the world, and what is the result. We see that piracy has broken out on the China Station, and that slave trading has broken out again. All these things were kept completely in check in the old days by the British Navy. It is time that the United States of America and the British Dominions shouldered their share of the burden.
§ Lieut. - Commander FLETCHER
Although the Debate has covered a wide range, it is evident already that the main interest will be focussed upon the question of Singapore and the question of the five cruisers. With the permission of the House, I would like to say something upon both these subjects later, but, first of all, wish to bring four other matters of, perhaps, less importance to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary. The first question is that of the appointment of naval attaches. I remember that, when I was at the Admiralty, a case was put forward to increase the number of these appointments, but it was opposed by the Treasury. I think it would interest the House to know how that matter now stands. I have often found in conversation that there is a certain amount of misapprehension regarding the duties of naval attaches. The idea exists that these duties are purely decorative. The duties are by no means purely decorative. I am very glad to think that in the Navy of to-day there are hardly any purely decorative appointments left. I know, of course, 2337 that flag lieutenants, like, the poor, we always have with us, but even flag lieutenants grow up and very often become more or less respectable naval citizens.
As regards the duties of the naval attache, he advises his Ambassador upon naval matters. It is also his duty to keep himself informed and abreast of naval thought and naval development in the country to which he is accredited, providing that he does so from sources which are legitimately open to him or to anybody else. During my service at the Admiralty I read and commented upon hundreds of reports from naval attaches, and I can bear witness to the extreme value of those reports. In the Navy of to-day, with our limited number of ships, when it is more than ever necessary to keep ourselves abreast of what is going on in other countries, the duties which these naval attaches perform are of the utmost importance. The only pity is that we have so few of them. We have six naval attaches and one assistant naval attache, whereas by comparison France has 11, Japan 11, in addition to a considerable number of naval missions which she sends abroad, and the United States of America maintain no fewer than 20 naval attaches and assistants, five of whom I believe are at the present moment serving in London. The United States is not in the habit of spending money without getting some return for it, and if she finds it worth her while to maintain this large number of naval attaches, I think that in itself is sufficient evidence of their value.
The point I wish to make more particularly is this: At Washington at the present time, in addition to the naval attache, we maintain an engineer officer as assistant naval attache. I believe that without such technical assistance the work of the attache can hardly be efficiently performed. Unless he has such technical assistance we are not really getting full value for the money which we spend upon these appointments. It is spoiling the ship for the want of a ha'porth of tar. Therefore, I urge the Parliamentary Secretary to put forward again the case for the appointment of similar assistants at Paris, Rome and Tokio. If the Treasury opposes, I am sure that when the case is properly explained to this House the Admiralty will 2338 have the support of the House in pressing for these appointments. In the appointment of the attaches there are one or two paints which I should like to mention, which I believe to be of importance. There was a time when the pay and allowances attached to these posts were so poor that the Admiralty was very much restricted in its area of selection for them, but I understand that the Treasury has improved the pay and allowances, and it is quite possible for naval officers selected for these appointments to live upon the pay and allowances. In that case the area of selection for them has been very greatly widened, and that is all to the good.
I strongly urge that it is very desirable that officers selected for these appointments should be specialists—officers who have qualified either in gunnery or torpedo and who, consequently, have a certain amount of technical knowledge—and that their assistants should be engineer officers. It is also very desirable that the officers selected for these appointments should be officers who intend to stay in the Service and who have a reasonable prospect of reaching high rank in the Service, so that the experience they gain while holding their appointments may remain at the disposal of the Admiralty. I can recollect two recent cases where officers holding these appointments retired either in the course of their appointment or at the end of their appointment. I believe that another officer holding one of these appointments will probably retire when his appointment comes to an end. That is a very poor compliment to pay to the countries to which we accredit these officers, and in the interests of the Admiralty and of this country it ought not to be so. I hope the Admiralty will bear these points in mind when making these appointments in future.
The second point on which the House may be interested to hear something from the Parliamentary Secretary is the question of the maintenance of close relationship between the officers and the men of the Navy and the officers and men of the mercantile marine. I must say, in passing, that I regret at the recent review something was not done to emphasise the position of the Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as component parts 2339 of the Royal Navy. I say that, recollecting the part which the officers and men of these branches of the Service played during the War. Over and above that, is the fact that the War found the Navy compelled to take over hundreds of ships of the mercantile marine, and the officers and men of the. Navy found themselves associated in a combat of life and death with the officers and men of the mercantile marine. That introduced the Navy to many new problems of convoying engineering, seamanship and ship construction. It is of the utmost importance that we should do everything we can to maintain this close relationship between the. Navy and the mercantile marine, and I trust that the Admiral commanding reserve units has kept that point constantly before the notice of the Sea Lords.
I should also like to take this opportunity of inquiring whether any steps are being taken to co-ordinate the purchase of supplies for the three fighting Services. I believe that great economy and great increase in efficiency could be effected by some such co-ordination. It would be interesting to the Committee to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary whether any opposition exists at the Admiralty to such co-ordination, which, I believe, in addition to the purchase of stores and equipment, might extend to the question of the hospital services. As a minor point, though it is an important one, I believe proposals were put forward for co-ordinating the three separate Chaplains Departments for the three fighting Services into one. I believe that small reform, also, would result in economy and greater efficiency.
The last of the minor points—at any rate they are points of lesser interest than the main points of interest in this Debate—refers to the question of the intercourse and the exchange of information between officers of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. At the present time a certain number of naval officers attend the War Staff courses; I think the number of them might be increased. I believe, also, that there are many opportunities which present themselves for officers of the Army and the Air Force coming into contact with officers of the Navy and with the work of the Navy, and that very often when the Fleet is cruising or when the 2340 Fleet is carrying out manoœuvres the opportunity might very well be taken to invite Army and Air Force officers to be present on those occasions. I am certain that intercourse of that sort would be for the good of the three Services. I believe that certain commanders-in-chief are already working in that direction and do offer facilities to officers of the other two fighting Services. A little encouragement from the Admiralty in that direction would, I believe, be attended with the very happiest results.
To pass now to the two main questions. As to Singapore I have nothing to add to what I said in this House on the previous occasions. The position remains almost exactly where it was. The Prime Minister has admitted the necessity of Singapore from the point of view of security, and that is all very well, but the day must come when the Prime Minister must table his results as regards the security which he is endeavouring to achieve by other means. When that day does come, I do not think that I shall envy him his task of tabling his results in this House, and when he has to explain what are the fruits of the new diplomacy, the new methods and gestures, and when he has to explain exactly how much security he has gained in what he is so fond of calling the favourable atmosphere which he has created. I rather fear that that atmosphere is one which will only grow hot-house plants of extremely short duration. When that day arrives and the Prime Minister tells us what he has achieved in the way of security, that will be the day, in my humble opinion, to re-open the discussion upon Singapore and the security which Singapore should have afforded us.
Let me pass to the question of the cruisers. We have had two debates on this question, and, as far as I know, nothing whatever has occurred to alter the position since those debates took place. The position remains the same and the arguments advanced for the construction of the cruisers remain, not only unanswered, but unanswerable. I believe that hon. Members opposite are pressing now for the full eight.
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
I am not sure that in pressing for those eight they have any substantial backing of professional opinion. I remember in the 2341 debate on Singapore the Government said that they were acting contrary to the opinion and advice of their professional advisers. Had it been so in the case of those cruisers, and had their professional advisers been pressing, I believe that they would have said so with the same frankness as they said it in the case of Singapore. That being so I do not believe that in pressing for the eight cruisers hon. Members opposite have any substantial professional backing. I would ask them to remain content with the five. Australia I believe is proposing to build three. There are indications that Australia will build three. [HON. MEMBERS: "Two!"] Well, two, and if the day comes when we have to reconsider the question of what is necessary for cruisers, namely, a base, they may be glad to have the £6,000,000, which these three cruisers would cost, in their pockets with which to commence operations.
As regards the five which are to be built, I have seen various arguments advanced in opposition to their construction, and I would like to say a few words upon those arguments. I have seen it stated that this programme of five cruisers involved us in a rivalry with the United States. I do not believe that there is any rivalry of that sort. What we are faced with is the fact that America is determined to increase her naval strength with a view to increasing her international prestige, and if the British Navy were not a factor in the question at all, I believe that the United States would find some other reason for pressing on with their naval programme. They are going on in response, I believe, to political and trade pressure. I believe that here in this House—I say it with great respect—we have experience of the pressure which dockyard members exert. The pressure which they exert in this House is exerted in the United States Senate by various interests up and down the Pacific Coast. The same political and trade pressure is exerted there by all those interests which see big money in a big American Navy. I know about the speeches in the American Senate and by distinguished American naval officers, but I am convinced that those speeches are merely a cloak behind which exist the real reasons for American naval expansion. That is American commercial ambition in South 2342 America and those other factors which, as we know, confront the United States in the Pacific, and the real reason for going on with their programme is not rivalry with this country at all, but the two reasons which I have quoted.
There have been many references—we have heard them in this Debate—to the possibility of another naval conference. Proposals of that nature certainly invite one's support, and I am fully aware of the strength of them. I supported in a very minor capacity the Washington Conference, but I was never completely deluded by that Conference. It happened at the time to suit the purposes of certainly three of the great countries which went into that Conference. It suited Japan and ourselves to limit capital ship construction. We were very hard up at the time, and for financial reasons it suited us. It suited the United States to limit capital ship construction, because they realised that they were unable to find the personnel to man the capital ship programme on which they had embarked. But if we are to have another conference, upon what basis are we going into it? Upon what ratio of cruiser strength is it proposed that we should go into such a conference? What are the ideas on that point which the advocates of a conference have in their minds? It would be impossible to determine any ratio of cruiser strength until you have determined the ratio of submarine strength. The one turns upon the other, because the cruiser is the naval answer to the submarine, and, until you have decided your submarine ratio, it is impossible to determine your cruiser ratio. That brings me to the point that, as we know, the French Government have resolutely declined to consider any limitation whatever of submarines and submarine armaments. That being so, it seems to me impossible to go into any conference with a view to limiting the cruiser strength of the great naval Powers.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
The hon. and gallant Gentleman says that the answer to the submarine is the cruiser. What does a 10,000 ton cruiser do to a submarine?
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
The answer is that in all the offensive operations against submarines, if you go back 2343 enough and come from the torpedo to the destroyer, from the destroyer to the light cruiser, and from the light cruiser to the large cruiser, I should be supported by naval experts in saying that upon cruisers ultimately the real answer to the submarines rests. Since the Washington Conference took place a new factor has come into play. The United States Government have passed a law instituting a colour bar against the Japanese. I consider that that law has wrecked the spirit of the Washington Conference and of the four power agreement in the Pacific. Are we to believe, in face of that law, that Japan will attend another naval conference on disarmament? The day that law came into force was observed as "injustice day" in Japan, and both Houses of Parliament passed resolutions deploring that that law infringed an old friendship of 70 years' standing. The Prime Minister, who has been returned to power now in Japan has declared a neighbourly policy to China, and he is the same Prime Minister who 10 years ago was pressing the 21 demands on China. Those events have taken place since the Conference as a result of that law instituting the colour bar. It has strengthened immeasurably the movement for oriental solidarity, and it has increased immeasurably the difficulties in the way of another naval conference.
Arguments have also been advanced as to our duty to forward the cause of disarmament under the League of Nations. Here, though I support the League of Nations, I feel in a great difficulty, because at this moment the League of Nations is pressing on us a treaty of mutual assistance, and that necessitates an increase in our naval armaments. I understand from the memoranda which I have seen that that is the considered view of the naval and of the military staffs. So the question remains: are we to arm or to disarm? Which of the two is it to be? But I come to the real crux of the matter, that is the view that, by embarking on this programme of cruiser construction, we are instituting a race in armaments, and that we have provoked retaliation on the part of the United States, France, Japan and Italy. Those points should be cleared up definitely, from the point of view of the country, and the facts about them should be definitely established.
2344 Take the United States first. In November, 1923, the Navy Department urged the building of eight cruisers of the Washington Conference type. It was in October, 1923, that the head of the late Government simply hinted at the building of eight cruisers. The American Bill authorising the construction of the eight cruisers was presented on the 2nd February, 1924, and the proposal to authorise the construction of our five cruisers was presented on the 21st February, 1924, so that in each case our proposals followed the American proposals, and if there is any question of one programme being a reply to another programme one can say, on the facts and the dates, that the British programme is a reply to the programme of the United States. As regards Japan, again it is not the case that their programme is in response to ours. The existing Japanese programme was authorised in July, 1922, and nothing has been added to that programme since. That programme was a modification following on the Washington Conference. It was a programme which was to be completed in 1928, but, owing to the effects of the earthquake, the date of completion has been put back to 1929. But the essential point is that it is a programme that was authorised in July, 1922, and nothing has been done since, whereas our programme of five was authorised in February this year, so once again what becomes of the case that our decision to build five cruisers has led to retaliation on the part of Japan??
§ Mr. JOHN HARRIS
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us what has happened to the American programme?
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
I am dealing with the question of when these programmes were authorised, which, I understand, is the essential point. Let me go on to the case of France. The French naval programme was laid before the French Chamber in March, 1922, and that Bill authorised three cruisers of the Washington type, which were under construction at the time, and it gave authority for six more cruisers of the Washington type to be brought forward in April, 1923. Again, may I remind hon. Members, the British programme was first hinted at in October, 1923, and authorised in February of this year. So once again it is impossible to say on the facts that 2345 the French programme was embarked upon in reply to our programme. Last we come to the case of Italy. Her new construction was outlined in January, 1923, and it provided for five cruisers of the Washington type. Financial stringency, I understand, resulted in the programme of five being reduced to two; but in May of this year—1924—improved financial conditions permitted of the programme being restored to its original number of five cruisers of the Washington type. In the case of Italy, then, it is not proved that their altered programme was put forward as a response to our decision. Are we seriously asked to believe that Italy is building against Great Britain, a country which depends practically entirely upon this country for her coal supply? The supposition that Italy is building against us, to my mind, is absurd. The real naval position is that Italy, in embarking on her programme, feels that it is necessary for her to maintain her position vis-a-vis with France in the Mediterranean, and I think the response of Italy will bear out the truth of what I say, that it is not this country which is the deciding factor in the Italian programme, but it is the French naval programme. I think the dates which I have given regarding these programmes destroy once and for ever the idea that the building programmes of those four countries have been embarked upon as a reply and a response to the decision of this country to proceed with the building of five new cruisers. I think the talk of indignation in Rome and Paris following upon that decision is folly, and I do not believe that any responsible evidence of any sort can be produced to prove that any real indignation existed in Paris or in Rome in regard to our decision to build. One must not be led away by political Press propaganda of the type to be found in French papers.
I must not detain the House any longer, but I ask those hon. Members who see in these cruisers nothing but weapons of war to remember that the protection of seaborne trade has always ranked among the primary functions of the British Navy. I would ask them to remember that the vast majority of our warships pass to the scrap heaps without having been at war, having fulfilled no function but the peaceful function of having pro- 2346 tected the commerce, not only of this country, but of the world. That is the real function these ships perform, and it is an exception for one of them to pass out of commission into the scrap heap after having met an enemy.
The review of Saturday last remains in the minds of a good many of us. It took my mind back to another review in 1914, and, as certain references have been made by hon. Members opposite to the record of the Liberal party in regard to the matter of naval defence, I shall take this opportunity of saying that, on Saturday, I remembered that review of 1914 and felt proud of the party which had charge of the Fleet in 1914. At the review last week I was profoundly impressed by two remarks which were made by two friends of mine. One was a friend who had been in this House very much opposed to the building of these five new cruisers, but he told me that when, having gone to the review, he saw five cruisers, he realised that he had been under a misapprehension altogether, and that, had he known what the size of those ships was, his opinion would have been modified. The other remark which was made was by another friend, who said:Does the world realise what a service to peace we render to the world by maintaining this Fleet? If this Fleet were blotted out to-morrow the world would very soon be in a state of chaos.Those are two honest and very interesting statements. They made a very great impression on my mind, and I ask hon. Members, with whom, to my regret, I differ on this point, to bear in mind those statements and some of the facts which I have put forward to the House, to remember the really peaceful functions which our warships fulfil, and to ask themselves if they cannot possibly reconsider their attitude in the opposition which they have manifested towards the new construction.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I think the Liberal party have distinguished themselves in this Debate to-day. We have had three speeches from the Liberal party, in which they have displayed the hall-mark of Liberalism, namely, their insincerity and a desire to depreciate everything British. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Let me take the three speeches which we have had from that party. First of all the hon. and gallant Member 2347 for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) attacked my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) for attempting to stir up trouble with Japan by regarding her as a possible enemy. But what did the hon. and gallant Member do himself? He made a very much more serious attack on Japan, for he said she had actually bought land near Singapore, and that very shortly, as we should see, she would build tennis courts with concrete to act as howitzer foundations in the same way as the Germans had done. That is what the hon. and gallant Member for Hull said. Is that the thing to say about a friendly nation? The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook was not making an insidious attack of that nature on Japan; he was merely taking that country as an example of a possible enemy. The Member who sits on the Front Bench opposite (Sir G. Collins) made a speech which reminded me of a Methodist parson preaching. [HON."MEMBERS: "Why not?"] What did he say He made the statement that at the last General Election a majority for the Labour party was obtained because they had a disarmament policy. But what was the cry of the Liberal party? "Vote for Liberals and keep Labour out." The Labour Members were returned because they were preaching peace and disarmament.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
My remark was directed to one point and that was the speech of the Prime Minister—the Leader of the Opposition at that time—in favour of an early conference to reduce armaments, and the speech he made on that occasion influenced, in my judgment, a large number of people in the country to vote not for our party but for the members of his own.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
That certainly was not the impression which was left on my mind. The hon. Member for Greenock then attacked the Prime Minister for changing his mind. But what is the actual fact? The Prime Minister made that speech before he was in office. On assuming office, when he saw the difficulties and responsibilities of the position, he came to the same attitude of mind on that question as the late Government. It is purely because the hon. Members of the Liberal party have not been in power for a long time 2348 that they have got out of close touch with that policy. Why do they not follow the attitude of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George)? When he was Prime Minister, he practically adopted every one of those projects for which we are fighting. He then had that responsibility. Even now he does not lead his party on the lines of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher) who has just spoken. Let me turn to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member who spoke of the policy of his party from a technical point of view. He proved that the cruisers are absolutely necessary, and that from a technical point of view the Singapore base is absolutely necessary. He says he is not in favour of the Prime Minister's policy, and although that is his opinion, he voted against Singapore, notwithstanding that, from a technical point of view, he realises he was endangering the safety of the British Empire. Those speeches are, to my mind, an example of insincerity, and it is for that reason that I do not think at the next Election the Liberal party will get very many votes.
I should like now to refer to the question of Singapore and the cruisers and endeavour to consider the position from another point of view than that which has already been discussed this afternoon. From the technical point of view, I think it is generally agreed on all sides of the House that if only technical considerations were involved both Singapore and the cruisers would be necessary. The objections are admittedly based upon grounds other than technical considerations. The point I would like to put to the Government is this, that, owing to the very great changes which are taking place in technique, it is not only possible but more than probable that very considerable changes will have to be introduced, not only in the reorganisation of the Navy, but the Air Force as well. These changes in organisation will necessarily carry with them a re-orientation of the materiel and bases, and a thoroughly different outlook in so far as the doctrine of the Naval and Air Staff as applied to the defences of this country is concerned. That is why I ask the House to look the facts in the face as they are, because to-day, in my belief, we are wasting many millions of public money and we are not obtaining that security to which we are entitled. I 2349 believe that not only the present Government, but other Governments have rather hesitated to face this difficult matter, the solution of which would bring no political advantage to them.
I will endeavour to follow out the logical argument showing the weakness of our present position. It is generally admitted that the defence of the Empire is necessarily associated with aerial development. The more your Air Force develops the more it is going to perform the functions of the Navy. The more it develops the more it can replace the Navy. The more it develops the more the naval staff will have to transfer to the Air Staff, in so far as defence is concerned. Therefore the effect of the development of the Air Service must be to limit the functions and responsibilities of the Navy, and we require some organisation which will allow of the gradual substitution of air power for water power. It is obvious that, unless some organisation capable of this gradual substitution is evolved, both the efficiency and capacity of our Fighting forces will be reduced. It is realised, I believe, by those technically skilled that there is really no difference between the Navy and Air Force in their several functions. They are made up of self-contained machines and possess self-propelled machines which can attack, whereas the Army is entirely different as it is a holding force. Neither the Air Force nor the Navy can actually hold any position. They can however both of them attack.
What is the organisation to-day? We have two Departments—two organisations which control a carrier service, each independent of the other. The Air Force controls the seaplanes round our coast, and it has sea vessels to look after its seaplanes, whereas the Navy takes its own aeroplanes to sea with it. Yet each in a sense discharges the same function. I should like to quote a very simple case to make my point clear. Suppose it was possible to lift a Dreadnought into the air. I do not suggest it is possible. What would happen under our organisation as it exists to-day? The Admiralty would be in charge of that vessel while it was on the water or over the water, but as soon as it passed over land it would automatically he transferred to the Air Department. The more the aerial machine develops the more must the two 2350 organisations overlap. It seems to me there is no other way out of this aver-lapping and inefficiency than a complete combination of the Admiralty and the Air Ministry. That combination would have to be under one political head—whether it be the Secretary for Air or the First Lord of the Admiralty matters very little. I ask the House to consider what is the result of this, and why it is we are not getting real efficiency with our service, but are wasting large sums of public money. I think it will be found that this question hears directly upon Singapore and upon the question of the five cruisers. The House will agree that the more the Air Service develops the more will the control of the Narrow Seas pass from the Navy. The defence of these islands will shortly become almost entirely aerial, whereas with the small range of action of existing aerial machines the defence of the outer Empire will remain as to-day in the hands of the Navy. We shall want very few bases in this country. We shall want more abroad. We shall want a re-orientation of conditions as we are developing scientifically with our machines. Eventually we shall probably want but one dockyard at home. More, however, will be wanted at Singapore and in different parts of the Empire.
This whole question of Singapore is merely the first step of an absolutely certain development and re-orientation of naval power. We have to-day three dockyards at home which are absolutely and completely useless. I fully admit it is very difficult for any Government to disestablish a dockyard, but some Governments sooner or later will have to face that fact, and will have to disestablish more than one dockyard. There is no other way out of this, if we are to secure an entire re-orientation and the efficiency of our fighting forces. If the control of the Narrow Seas passes entirely to the Air, which it is doing, then the defence of the outer seas and of the Empire outside will remain with the Navy until the Air Force has developed sufficiently to undertake it. As far as the Narrow Seas are concerned, that position is almost here, but with regard to the outer parts of the Empire, it will not be reached for many years to come. The construction of a base like Singapore takes something like ten years. The Navy staff have to look ten years ahead, and, therefore, we ought to face now the question of reduction of the 2351 expenditure on our home dockyards. The naval staff will be the first to admit that the dockyards at Chatham and Sheerness are absolutely and completely useless.
Three months ago I asked a question as to the advisability of making Chatham an extension of the Port of London authority. I believe the Government have now received a report of the explorations in regard to the new tunnel under the Thames. I understand that one between Tilbury and Gravesend would not be in a satisfactory position, and the site is more likely to be from Dartford. We ought to make an effort to do away with loss of the taxpayers' money on useless things. It may be that the Government will not get any good offer for Chatham, but as long as they save the £1,500,000 a year which it now costs, it will give them money to spend on bases overseas. And I would ask the House to consider this whole question from the point of view that the defences of this country at home must become aerial, while the defences of the Outer Empire must for the present be naval. I hope the right hon. Gentleman for Carnarvon Boroughs will look at this matter from the aspect of reorientation which I have suggested, and, if he agree with me, that he will endeavour to lead his party towards supporting the construction of the Singapore Base.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
As there are very many Members anxious to participate in this Debate who can speak with technical knowledge, I do not propose to take up much time. Many of those who have spoken have claimed to represent the opinions of the people on the question of national defence. I cannot pretend to specially represent the people of the country, but I want to put one or two ideas before the House in as few words as I possibly can. First, I should like to say, that so far as I know the man in the street he does not care much about abstractions. I agree with the right hon. Member for Greenock (Sir G. Collins) that our defences should be adequate and that they should not fall below the danger point. The right hon. Gentleman said he was in favour of maintaining the safety of the Empire, and of not going below the danger point. Then he went on to make a speech which might have been delivered by the most extreme pacifist sitting on these benches or in the 2352 country. His whole argument was extremely pacifist and every point could have been used with the idea of doing away with any kind of national defence. But the plain man who has no technical knowledge wants to know what is meant when one talks about the danger point and the adequacy of defence.
I do not think there is the slightest justification for the statement that the Labour Government began the race in armaments. If there is to be national defence of any kind, we must base it on the needs of the country and of the Empire. Surely the attempts of hon. Members ought to be directed towards telling us exactly what are the needs of the Empire, and why those needs exist. We require that knowledge. Indeed I am perfectly sure the country wants to know if there is any reason to support the contention of those who are in the main in favour or apparently abstractedly in favour of increased armaments, or whether their support should be given to those on the other side who favour the abstract principle of disarmament. I am not in favour of that abstract principle. I belong to that section of my party which is not prepared to disarm. If you have armaments at all they ought to be adequate for defence. I am prepared to listen to any argument for the reasonable limitation of armaments, irrespective of what any other country may do, but we do want technical authority to give us definite reasons, to tell us what the danger point is, and in what adequacy lies.
Let me refer briefly to the Singapore base. Here we have the point of view of the people who have been appealed to so much by speakers this evening—those who do not possess much technical or even geographical knowledge, but possess some knowledge. If you look at the map of the area concerned, you find that Singapore is at least, twice the distance from this country that it is from the only naval State, Japan, which could possibly be affected in the event of a Pacific war. You also find that Singapore is in a network of waterways which are obviously an admirable place in which to bottle up any ships that may be at that base. I may be wrong, and, if so, I would like to be corrected. I want to know why so much is made of a base of that character, even in the event, of a Pacific war, when it would be impossible, once the war had 2353 begun, to send the major portion of our Fleet there in anything like the time which would be occupied by a Japanese Fleet in getting there. The place could be bottled up with submarines in a few hours. I notice that the last speaker shakes his head. I do not profess to be an expert, but it seems to me that there is no point at all in the Singapore base from the point of view of a Pacific war. If there were any point in it I would be in favour of the maintenance of the base at the highest possible standard of efficiency. I put these points to the Committee as a layman and as a change from the technical points to which we have listened hitherto.
§ Major Sir BERTRAM FALLE
This is the first occasion, in my experience, on which we have had such a delightfully crowded House for a naval debate. There are more than a dozen Members of the Government party present. I would like to congratulate the hon. Member for Lewes (Captain Beamish), who made a maiden speech this afternoon. It was a most interesting speech, and one which augured well for an increase of authority on our side. In addition, the hon. Member has the great advantage of knowing the waters about Singapore. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) apparently thought that if you wanted to go to Australia, you had to go through the Straits of Malacca. It was an extra-ordinary statement on his part. Of course, it is possible that he has never been in those waters. But it seemed to me he sailed through them to-day without a compass, or, at any rate, without a chart, for, when he left Singapore behind him, he said that he would prefer a base in Borneo! One of the arguments used against Singapore is that it would annoy Japan. The only large and fine harbour that we have suitable in Borneo is the Harbour of Sandakan, which is many miles nearer Japan than is Singapore, and, as one of the points made against Singapore is that it might annoy the Japanese, a fortiori Sandakan, being so much nearer, would annoy them more. And Sandakan is, I believe, the wrong side of the Washington Convention line! Therefore, it seemed to me that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was sailing without a compass in waters that were strange to him. He could, of course, get 2354 to Australia through the Straits of Malacca, and he could also get there through the North West Passage—in time. Without a chart, he would find it a very difficult operation.
Although the hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke feelingly of Japan, he was not prevented from making the charge that Japan had bought land at Singapore and might make "concrete foundations" for her tennis courts in the manner of the Germans. He also mentioned that Japan owned the Marshall Islands, that, although bound by the Washington Convention, she did not allow any other nation to send ships to the Marshall Islands, and she might, for all he knew, be building bases there for her fleet. I do not think that was at all a proper suggestion to make with regard to a country which fought for us and was our strong ally during the War. He said that bases could be improvised, and he mentioned Scapa Flow. As a naval man he knows, of course, that a very considerable period passed before Scapa Flow was of any use at all, and that, so far from being useful at the beginning of the War, the fleet put to sea from Scapa because there was no efficient base on which it could rest. Incidentally the hon. and gallant Gentleman grossly exaggerated the cost of the cruisers, which he put at £3,000,000. He wanted eight cruisers at a cost of £24,000,000. The latest information that we have is that in this country we can build a cruiser for £2,000,000 or £2,200,000. The hon. and gallant Gentleman must have been thinking of Australia, for there wages are very much higher than here, and it is a fact that a cruiser would cost £3,000,000.
I deprecate very strongly taking Japan as a possible enemy, and using that as a reason for having a base at Singapore. I sec no reason for making Japan our enemy any more than the United States or even China. China has not much of a navy now, but if she started to have a navy she might have a very efficient one. It was Lord Wolseley who said, "Among all the nations of the East, give me a Chinaman to make a soldier." A soldier is not a sailor, very far from it; but if you train an Eastern nation to fight on land, it is certainly possible to train a great Chinese maritime people to fight, and fight well on the sea. They are people who do not value their lives 2355 when fighting. That kind of fighter is an exceedingly dangerous enemy. He is not the kind of person I would like to fight. Most European nations value their lives. We can remember the first taking of Port Arthur by Japan. She took it from the Chinese, and was forced to give it up by three European nations. Japan had then only a small navy. It cost Japan an infinity of blood, and Russian blood, too, before she had a chance of reconquering Port Arthur and keeping it as her own. If any such situation recurred we would have no base in the East from which our warships could act in the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. That would mean that those oceans would be closed to our ships.
By the energy and foresight of our fore-fathers we have some of the finest chains of harbours and coaling stations in the world. When we go through the canal we have Aden, which could be made a wondrous dockyard. In Ceylon we have Trincomalee, one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. There are in the Andamans two harbours which any other nation would give its eyes to possess, Port Blair and Port Cornwallis. We have all those harbours before we come to Singapore. An hon. Gentleman asked, what was the use of Singapore? Its use is that every ship which comes from China and Japan into the Indian Ocean must come through Singapore. It is the meeting place. They can go round Australia or through the North West Passage if they like, but Singapore is the natural stopping place, and is the bottle neck through which they must come. We ought to have a dockyard there, and we ought to have forts sufficient to preserve that dockyard from any possible foe. Then, even if the ports were taken—forts can be taken, as they were taken at Port Arthur—it would take time, and meanwhile the necessary ships of the Navy would be able to reach Singapore. From Singapore we could spring on any possible foe attacking Australia, unless a South American foe or a Mexican foe or a French foe based on the Marquesas. We could strike from Singapore more favourably than from any other base. I do not presume to know as much as the Board of Admiralty. It may be that Port Moresby would be just as useful a dockyard for Australia and New Zealand as Singapore, but I do not 2356 think that for Imperial and world-wide purposes it would be as useful, and certainly not as necessary a base as Singapore, and I am fortified in that belief, because I know that the Lords of the Admiralty are very strongly of that opinion.
A few days ago there was a review of the Fleet, and some hon. Members went to Portsmouth to see it. Some have grumbled since, and some enjoyed themselves. I was one of those who enjoyed themselves. We saw the Fleet of 1911 and the Fleet of 1914. Both were efficient, both ready to fight if called upon. Last week we saw the present Fleet. A large majority of the ships were absolutely incapable of fighting. They were manned by nucleus crews, and it would take days and days before the remainder of the crews could be put on board, and before they could find their way about. We saw 10 battleships instead of the 55 in 1914. Still we hear talk of reducing armaments and of an International Disarmament Committee.
It is not the strong who make the trouble in this world—it is the weak. I am sorry that my classics have practically vanished, but I still sometimes attempt to read Tacitus. He is a difficult author for me to follow, but I came across a statement of his the other day which bears on what I am saying—When a people are strong they naturally look round for what they can seize. They look round at the smiling valleys and plains of the peoples who are next to them, and if these are not properly protected they very quickly put them under their own flag.What was true in the days of Tacitus are true to-day. Our forefathers under God have given us all the finest places in the world, and, owning thee finest places, we suggest to other people, who have got nothing, that the lion should lie down with the lamb and be satisfied with grass and old harness. But that time is not yet. It may come with the Millennium, but I do not think anyone in this world at the present moment, or their immediate descendants, will live to see it. If our Fleet is so complete, why was the complaint made that we were not allowed to visit those ships the other day? We were very carefully kept away from the reserve ships, and we were not allowed to land on them so that we should not be able to see that they had about three men and a boy to get up steam and look 2357 after the ship. We have done all we possibly can in the way of disarmament. If we did more, it would be absolutely criminal on our part.
I will leave the question of Singapore by saying that if none of those bases suit the parties opposite, then there is Sydney herself: and there is no question that the Australians would be more ready to spend and give large sums of money for the defence of Sydney than they would for any other part of the world, in the same way that this country would be willing to give more money for the completion and perfection of Portsmouth than she would even, let us say, for Malta—certainly for Simon's Bay. It is difficult to say which of those two dockyards is more essential to us imperially. Malta and Simon's Bay are the most important dockyards outside home waters. The hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney) is in favour of scrapping some of the dockyards. That is a theme on which I have worried the House on several occasions. Perhaps hon. Members will say that that is because I happen to represent Portsmouth, but that would not be a fair charge. I think, with the hon. and gallant Member, that there are redundant dockyards. I say it with some hesitation, because if there were any dockyards scrapped, it would only mean that all their established men would come to Portsmouth and Devonport, and a great deal of further unemployment would be created in those dockyards.
The next point is that of cruisers. The ex-Lord of the Admiralty told us we want 10 for replacement purposes. We cannot press that point home too often and too strongly. It is not an increase; it is to replace. It is simply murder to send smaller cruisers to fight a larger and more powerfully-armed cruiser. We saw that when the "Göben" escaped from the three cruisers under Admiral Troubridge. Although he had three cruisers with him, all carried the obsolete 9˙2 guns. We know now that, in all probability, if he had been able to come up with the "Göben," which carried 11-inch guns, it is improbable she would have been able to sink all three. We did not think that at the beginning of the War, because most of us were not aware that the old 9˙2 was no match for even the German 2358 8-inch gun, as was proved at the Coronel, where the "Good Hope" had only two very old 9˙2 guns, and was crushed by a salvo from the sixteen 8-inch guns of the "Gneisnau" and the "Scharnorst."
If we are to have these cruisers, and are to be able to build two cruisers for Australia, I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to this. I know he takes not only the ordinary interest which a Financial Secretary to the Navy must take, but I think he takes a lively interest in the Navy itself. There is not a slip at Devonport or at Portsmouth fit to build a big ship in. There is much unemployment in both of those dockyards. I wish the Members for all those dockyards would join with me in pressing the Government to build a new slip in each of those dockyards. I know it will be said that the money is not there, but if war came again you would have to build those slips in record time, and you would have to waste three times the money that you would now usefully spend in building them at once. If you give private yards the building of those cruisers, it means a monopoly. I am as opposed to a monopoly as any man can be. I have seen the effects of it, and I do not believe in it. If you eliminate the Royal Dockyards from the building of cruisers, the private yards will charge just what they like once they have got the monopoly, and never again will you get cruisers built by private yards for the figure you are getting them built at now. We must have these cruisers, and, that being so, we must have these slips.
Then there is the question of extravagance—of building five cruisers or 10 cruisers. It is an extravagance, that I cannot find words enough to condemn, to build cruisers or battleships in small packets. If you build four battleships or five cruisers, by the time there are supplementary battleship and supplementary cruisers built, the earlier ships are insufficiently armed, slow and out of date. They cannot cruise with the larger battleships more recently built, and they cannot cruise with the new cruisers; and as the pace of the battleship and cruiser is the pace of the weakest ship, so you condemn your larger battleships and cruisers. You condemn your cruisers to a pace which is not fair to their commanders or their crews and still unfairer to the people who have had to pay for the building of them, 2359 and whose security is dependent upon them. That finishes my remarks on the points of Singapore and the cruisers.
I have only two points further to touch upon with regard to the dockyards. The points are uninteresting, I am afraid, to the average Member, but they are of vital interest to the nation and to the great dockyards themselves. There are established men whom we have taken at an early age, and who, when they reach the age of 60, we pension—pension on moneys which they themselves have contributed. They have a claim on us, and it is a claim which I trust, as the Member of one of the dockyards, I shall never cease to press. The dockyards are at the moment much troubled by a comparatively small matter which the Financial Secretary is more interested in perhaps than the Civil Lord. The trouble of the established workmen in the dockyards at the present moment—that is to say, those men who joined young or who were apprenticed and trained—is that their pension is inadequate. They are pensioned for the most part at 55s. a week. From that is deducted the 2s. 6d. that they have paid in every week, so they are not pensioned on 55s. but on 52s. 6d. It may be true that that is settled by Act of Parliament, but there are Acts of Parliament which are easily passed, such as the payment to Members of this House, and also our free passes to our constituencies. These men complain of this—and it is a legitimate grumble. The pension of a pensioner at the present day whose basic rate is 55s. and who only gets 52s. 6d.—when he is pensioned he gets £51 a year. Then he gets a supplementary bonus of 10 per cent., which brings him to £61. All the men who were pensioned before 1920 get £73. The men who have been pensioned since cannot understand why those men—brothers and cousins—who were pensioned before 1920 should receive £10, and in some cases £20, more than they themselves are receiving.
With the price of food at the present time my hon. Friend is well aware that no man at the age of 60 retiring from the dockyard can possibly live on £61 a year, and so far as work is concerned there is no work outside the dockyard for a man of 60. If he could be kept on till 65, 2360 that of course would raise many questions. The younger men would object and say that they were blocking promotion, but, still, if they could be kept on till 65, then, with the £61 a year, they might hang on until a Unionist Government comes into power and gives the Old Age Pension at the age of 65. I think hon. Gentleman will not have to live long to see that.
There is one further point. It is the point of those hired men who were discharged from the dockyard not with the 75 per cent., but with the 40 per cent. It is a grievance that I ask my hon. Friend to look into. It is a grievance which I am going to ask him to receive a deputation upon. He will, no doubt, at the same time receive a deputation from these "pensioners since 1920." In both cases there is much dissatisfaction, and I think there is an honest and a sincere grievance, and it is a grievance which should be looked into. The Government, as a model employer, should turn its attention to these men who have served the State faithfully as established men for many years. Of course, it is known to most Members of this House, that unless a man gets in at a certain age, and is a very fortunate person, he cannot become established. Only one in eight—or is it 8 per cent.—can hope to get established at the present moment. They have worked faithfully and did wonderfully well during the War, and they, deserve fair and honest treatment from the Government.
§ Captain BERKELEY
Like the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down, I, too, visited the Naval Review, and what I saw there so greatly impressed me, that I hope the House will permit me to make one or two remarks on the large question of naval policy generally. First, perhaps, may I endeavour to answer, not at all as an expert, but like himself, as a mere learner, the point put by my hon. Friend the Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague), in his comment on the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Sir G. Collins) as to the criterion that has to be observed in estimating the necessary naval force, or, indeed, the necessary armaments of any kind, for a country to maintain. Surely the test in any armament question is what is the menace, if any, to be met, and I 2361 quite agree in estimating the menace, as the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney) pointed out, you must look ahead. You cannot only look at existing forces; you have to look at the building programmes of other countries, and ask yourself what is likely to be the situation in 10 years' time. When I saw that great, magnificent and powerful Armada stretched out across the Solent, and followed, with other Members, in the wake of His Majesty, passing through those wonderful ships that the ingenuity and skill of our naval architects have perfected for us, the two matters that first came into my mind were, first, that the capital value of this great flotilla must be in the neighbourhood of between £200,000,000 and £300,000,000, and that that only represented a part of the naval strength of the British Empire. The second point that occurred to me was in the form of a question, and it was precisely that criterion which I have suggested we ought to have before us, namely, what is the menace that this great fleet exists to meet? I reflected, as one must reflect, that the only fleet which competes with our own in present size, or in projected building of capital ships, is that of the United States of America, and I, for my part, reject as unthinkable in the last degree that there ever can be, in the state of civilisation which the world has reached to-day, hostilities between this country and America. I rule America out. At the worst it is my belief that if this country should ever be engaged—which, God forbid!—in a war in my lifetime, America would be neutral. But if this country were engaged in a war, I believe this country would be engaged in a righteous war, and, if so, it is my belief that America would be in the war with us. That is my own personal opinion. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the last war?"] The last war was a righteous war, and America came in with us.
§ Captain BERKELEY
She was a neutral to begin with, and fought with us when the righteousness of the Allied cause became overwhelming. One is interested to observe the opinion of that great country which is voiced by certain members of the party opposite, but I am glad 2362 to know it is not the opinion of that party as a whole.
§ Sir B. FALLE
May I remind the hon. and gallant gentleman of what Admiral Benson said—I would as lief fight with one as t'other?
§ Captain BERKELEY
I have never heard of Admiral Benson before, and if he made that remark, I never wish to hear of him again. To proceed with this question of naval strength, from which I was drawn aside by my hon. and gallant Friend, the next fleet in the scale of capital ships—and it comes a great deal down in the scale—is the fleet of Japan, and no other fleet, or combination of fleets, is really material when we are discussing the question of capital ships. Surely we ought to be realists in this matter. It is a very vital question to the Empire.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted; and 40 Members being present—
§ Captain BERKELEY
I was remarking, when my hon. Friend opposite was so kind as to secure me a larger audience, that for the purpose of considering questions of naval strength, the only two Powers that we must take into account at the moment, either in connection with existing strength or building programmes, which, of course, are suspended for the time under the Washington Convention, are the United States and Japan, and I was pointing out that it is surely necessary for us, if we are to arrive at a proper decision on a question of this kind, to be realists in the matter, and to be perfectly candid and state whether we believe ourselves to be in any danger of hostilities with Japan. I, myself, do not hold that view, and I contend that it is for the protagonists of the greater Navy to make good their case, because the criterion must be the nature of the menace, and if no menace exists, it is not necessary to arm further; indeed, it might conceivably be possible, by conference with other naval Powers, to arrest naval naval programmes, and even reduce armaments. I am quite sure that with that statement of the matter my hon. Friend the Member for West Islington would be in agreement, and that if he were present he would say so. I think that is a perfectly reasonable and rational 2363 explanation of the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock.
I should like to refer to one or two remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs), and I am rather sorry he is not in his place, because he gave an illustration of what is historically attributed to those who are apostates; that is to say, he did not hesitate to disparage the cause he formerly embraced. One of the chief points of his speech, in so far as it affected the cruiser building programme, was that the American decision to build their eight cruisers had nothing to do with ours, and he gave as his reason for making that assertion that America had previously, in 1923, proposed a constructional programme of 16. But the Conference had suspended that for a year, with a request to the President that he would take steps to summon a Naval Conference to render such building unnecessary. What is the real sequence of facts? First, the proposed American programme of 16 was suspended in order to enable the President to negotiate for a Conference. The reply was a programme entered into by this country, as they explained, for purposes of replacement and other purposes. The reply to that on the part of America—and they have taken pains to make it perfectly plain in their Debates, that the reason for adopting the programme is in reply to the programme of our Government—the reply of America is to authorise the construction of eight cruisers. The Americans, in other words, contend that the fault lies with us for precipitating the competition in this new and very formidable weapon of naval defence.
§ Mr. T. HENDERSON
If it be true, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman says, that the United States of America regard it as a menace in the future, how does he justify his other argument?
§ Captain BERKELEY
I am very glad, indeed, my hon. Friend has put that question. I should have thought the answer was fairly obvious. You cannot call it a threat from America to this country if, in reply to a programme by this country, America adopts a building programme of her own. I should have said that was evidence, if evidence of anything, that the American regarded our building programme as a menace. After 2364 all, America took the very important step of summoning the Washington Conference for the purpose of bringing about a general reduction in naval armaments. When they got the Conference together, there were all these subjects to discuss. There were the capital ship, the cruiser, the torpedo boat and the submarine. You cannot keep the plenipotentiaries of great Powers debating interminably in the Capital of one of them. What was necessary was to get a decision, and anyone experienced in international affairs, I am sure, would recognise that America did precisely the right thing when they saw the possibility of encountering difficulties, both in relation to cruisers and submarines, to limit the Conference for the time to capital ships. They got their decision on capital ships. There was a suspension of building, and a certain amount of scrapping of existing ships. What America, I should imagine, was not prepared for at the time was the naval architects' reply at the Washington Conference. No sooner had the Conference laid down an arbitrary figure of 10,000 tons, and an arbitrary figure of 8-inch guns for the purpose of making it impossible for countries to construct capital ships, than the naval architects replied by designing a smaller capital ship.
That is the super-light cruiser to which on a previous occasion I referred as a pocket Dreadnought, and as the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon), who is an authority on naval affairs, has approved of that description, we may let it pass as accurate. In point of fact, these vessels are Dreadnoughts on a smaller scale, and they have revolutionised naval construction in 1924 just as mach as the Dreadnought in 1906 revolutionised the then existing ideas of naval construction. These vessels have rendered all pre-1924 light cruisers obsolete. If that be the case, and if America has attached a rider to the Congressional Act which authorises the construction of cruisers, suggesting that there should be a naval conference on the specific question of the construction of light cruisers, will not the Government pause and consider whether such a conference should not be held before this new weapon of offence has been launched and manned? We are faced with this dilemma. It is perfectly correct that trade routes have to be protected, and it is perfectly correct that the 2365 existing light cruisers do not answer that purpose. I give my Noble Friend opposite that point. I contested it formerly, but I now make him the amende honorable, and admit that the existing light cruisers are really of a super-destroyer type. I cannot imagine that the crews could be properly comfortable in extended voyages over long trade routes, but in order to get a cruiser suitable for protecting trade routes it is not necessary to go to the other extreme and build pocket Dreadnoughts. After all, there are cruisers of the "Yarmouth" type. That is a good trade route cruiser.
§ Viscount CURZON
I am sure the hon. and gallant Member has no wish to mislead the House. Is he aware that H.M.S. "Yarmouth" has a maximum speed of 25 knots?
§ Captain BERKELEY
I am coming to that. My noble Friend is right, but there is not the least reason why you should not build a cruiser, with a cruising speed of 30 knots, of the same tonnage approximately as H.M.S. "Yarmouth."
§ Captain BERKELEY
It is all very well for the noble Lord to say that these things cannot be done, but they can be done under pressure from the Admiralty. The hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher) who is as great an expert on naval matters, even as the noble Lord, will I am quite sure agree that it is not past the powers of naval architects to design a medium-sized light cruiser which is suitable for the protection of trade routes but which is not a "pocket Dreadnought."
§ Captain BERKELEY
My hon. and gallant Friend of course agrees that it can be done. It is perfect nonsense to pretend that it cannot be done, and there is a very important reason why it should be done. If there is one lesson which the Great War burned into my mind, it is the lesson of the Battle of Coronel. You cannot deal with 10,000 ton super-light-cruisers armed with 8-inch guns and of 30 or 32 knots speed, except with battle cruisers. It was proved in the War that battle cruisers had to be sent out 2366 to cope with such vessels. In 1932 the Washington Convention will come up either to be ratified for a further period or to be turned down. I address these remarks particularly to hon. Members above the Gangway because I know how deeply anxious they are that this country should not be committed to any policy which is going to run the risk of bringing about a competition in armaments. I know perfectly well the reason why they supported the five cruisers. They said, "Five is not a great number, and we must have some to replace wastage and it is absurd for people to make such a fuss about such a simple matter." But the danger is this. Let us imagine the position in 1932 when the Washington Convention comes to be considered. The Great Powers with their naval experts will go into conference. There will be, by that time, some twenty or thirty or perhaps more super-light cruisers in the navies of the world. The naval experts will say to the political people before they start, "You must be careful about agreeing not to build larger ships than these because the lesson of Coronel was that it requires a battle cruiser to cope with the 10,000-ton light cruiser." That is the job of the naval experts and they would be neglecting their duty if they did not say so. I am not thinking of them, but of the representatives of the Great Powers at this future conference and what they will say, and I venture to prophesy, if competition in super-light cruisers takes place between the naval Powers of the world, begun by this Government, then in 1932 the Washington Convention will die or will be so modified as to allow of the building of battle cruisers to cope with the menace of the super-light-cruiser.
I turn to the question of Singapore. Again the whole criterion is necessity. Although hon. Members opposite are not very willing to recognise that there is reason to be found in this home of lost causes, yet reason is to be found here, and reason ought to dominate every discussion of national defence. What is the position? Singapore may be necessary. Powerful arguments are advanced by the protagonists of Singapore, but it must be remembered that you must condition your expenditure, even on such an important matter as national defence, not only upon necessity but also upon your pocket. The naval situation is not dan- 2367 gerous. Everyone knows that the Japanese programme has been postponed for a year, and may be postponed for longer. That will depend upon the financial success with which Japan is able to meet the very severe blow of the earthquake. Some think the effects of that blow have been exaggerated, but I do not wish to exaggerate. At any rate, it gives us a year's breathing space, and when everyone's construction is being retarded for a year, this constructional project will not suffer if it is also retarded for a year.
On the other hand if no menace exists—and no one has put it as a fact that any menace does exist—all the talk on that matter has been in the air—if, I say, no menace exists, is any Government, in view of the state of the finances of this country justified in the very great expenditure which would be necessitated almost immediately by the construction of Singapore? Surely the mater might be disposed of, whether we are Little Navyites, or Big Navyites, or No Navyites, or from whatever point of view we look at this matter—surely the question of Singapore could be disposed of for the present, purely as an economic problem! The country at this moment being under no necessity to do the work, and being afraid of no menace, ought not to embark upon what may in the end prove to be an unnecessary project at a time when we cannot spare sufficient money, on the one hand to remit taxation, and on the other hand, to proceed with much-needed schemes of social reform.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
Most of the points I had intended to make have been made by other hon. Gentlemen, but there are just one or two things I should like to say. Nobody in this House can accuse me of being an advocate of bloated naval armaments. Some three years ago I made a speech in this House, and I laid down how naval armaments could be limited. That was three months before the Washington Conference. I laid down a formula which was largely adopted by Mr., now Earl, Balfour when he signed the Washington Agreement. The Prime Minister said that 10 of our cruisers were dead. That statement alarms me very much, because it means that those cruisers are quite obsolete, and not 2368 efficient. The hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Lieut. - Commander Fletcher) said that no technical opinion had been given as to why we should have these five cruisers replaced. The Prime Minister said that 10 are dead. In my opinion we should replace those 10 cruisers.
Some years ago I had the honour of commanding an old cruiser. The Government policy is to replace these cruisers. They are replacement cruisers. They are not an addition to our naval strength. I went to sea in that old cruiser. When we got into the Bay of Biscay that ship very nearly collapsed. She panted very much, and vibrated considerably. When I got to Malta I asked my Commander-in-Chief if we could have the ship examined. He gave his approval to that, and at Malta Dockyard they stripped the whole of the 4-inch teak deck from the cruiser and found the steel deck was corroded in many places; so much so, that you could put your fist through the steel deck. It was giving no support to the ship, which simply relied upon the strength of the teak deck for support. The steel deck was no use at all. If we had got into a gale of wind in the Bay of Biscay—I mean a rather bad one, worse than we were in—we should have lost that cruiser with all hands. Yet hon. Members opposite belonging to the Liberal party are advocating that we should not replace these cruisers. That is as much as asking that our sailors should go to sea in Dutch ships, where they lose their lives, with nothing ever heard of them afterwards. The lives of my comrades in the Navy are just as good as the lives of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Captain BERKELEY
That is not at all the intention of the Liberal party. It is where a certain class of cruisers have been scrapped, and, therefore, there is no danger of the crews going out, and you have a very large preponderance of a different typo of cruiser, that it is only under the pressure of the most stringent necessity that you ought to embark on a replacement programme in view of the financial condition of the country.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for that interruption. The Prime Minister when he made his speech on the Naval Estimates gave in my opinion a good speech 2369 considering he is a pacifist. He said he was not going to have a Navy rotting from the bottom to the top, and, therefore, he was going to have a replacement policy of building these five cruisers. It is simply a question of replacing cruisers.
§ Mr. LOVERSEED
The Prime Minister also said the intention was to give employment to the unemployed.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
The Prime Minister was very clear on the point. He said it would relieve unemployment. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition also said so in his Plymouth speech. The Prime Minister was very clear indeed. I admired his speech because he said these were replacement cruisers. If you do not replace these elderly cruisers that are worn out you run the risk of losing your ship with all hands. Why should you run a risk like that?
§ Captain BERKELEY
The Prime Minister said that these cruisers were to replace the county class. The county class was scrapped long ago. It is no question of replacing ships because of imperilling the lives of sailors. It was a rhetorical flourish on the part of the Prime Minister.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
The Prime Minister said the 10 cruisers were practically dead. The Admiralty have agreed to build five new cruisers. In my opinion they ought to build 10 cruisers, because they have no right to send crews to sea in ships that are practically dead. That is my point. I want to protect the lives of my comrades in the Navy; that they shall have the most efficient type of ship that we can give them, and not be sent to sea in dud cruisers like the one I went to sea in, as I said a while ago, 15 years ago when we might have been all lost. The contention that we are adding to the naval strength of this country is pure nonsense. It is simply replacing these cruisers. The representatives at the Washington Conference of this country, and of France, Italy and Japan all understood, when they signed the Washington Agreement, that these battleships and cruisers would have to be replaced. That is the policy of the present Government to build these five cruisers. I only wish they were building 10!
A word now about what the hon. and 2370 gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) said about the submarine. I believe he thought we might have another Conference at Washington at which they could arrange to do away with submarines—or anyhow limit them. There is not the slightest chance, I think, of abolishing submarine warfare. We never brought in the submarine. We were forced to build submarines because France started this weapon; and the great success of her submarines, the "Goubet," "Gynmote," "Gustave Zede," and "Narval" in the early days forced us to build these submarines. I am perfectly certain you will never get the French Government to agree to do away with submarines because they know their value, and are not likely to do away with a weapon which they have developed so well. That brings me to what an hon. Member who belongs to the Labour party suggested in a query as to what was the value of Singapore. He suggested it could be practically blockaded by the Japanese. The value of Singapore, in my opinion, is this. We never know when there may be strained relations between, the United States and Japan. The "Gentleman's Agreement" has been thrown over by the United States, and the Japanese are very much purturbed about it. They want to be treated in exactly the same way as Europeans in regard to the immigration question. They do not want to be treated as Asiatics. At any time there may be some incident that would lead to strained relations between the Japanese and the Americans. If that happened, we have great interests out in the Far East and we might be drawn into it much against our will. We might have to send a large fleet out there into Far Eastern waters to protect our interests. That fleet to be efficient must have a base to fall back upon. It would need a reliable refitting base so that if the ships had to go into action they would be as efficient as it is possible to make them. That is why we want a base at Singapore, and I ask the Secretary for the Admiralty to tell me whether they have ever gone into the question of providing a floating dock at Singapore. We ought to have at least two floating docks in the Pacific. If financial stringency at the present time will not allow this to be done, I suggest that the whole 2371 question should be looked into in order to see if we could not send out a dock like the Southampton dock which would take our ships in those waters.
With regard to protecting Singapore, one hon. Member asked to be convinced that we could protect it properly. If the hon. Member had followed modern naval warfare he would have known that it is possible to do this by means of efficient submarines, minelayers, aircraft and aircraft carriers. There is no question about this, and although the Japanese Fleet might blockade it, they would always run the risk of their ship being torpedoed by submarines, and therefore the hon. Member need have no fear upon that score. I would like to ask the Financial Secretary to say, if we had strained relations, how he would dock a ship damaged by collision, perhaps while demonstrating in those waters? I would like to ask him how he would dock a seaplane carrier if she came to grief out there? At the present time you cannot dock a bulge ship there, but if the Admiralty provide a Southampton floating dock, you could dock such ships efficiently. If the Secretary to the Admiralty will give me an answer on these points, I shall be very grateful.
§ Major BURNIE
The hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down appears to think that the Liberal party are in favour of sending men to sea in "dud" ships, but I am afraid he has gathered a totally wrong impression of the Liberal party. At any rate, I desire that the Navy shall be kept sufficiently strong to protect our commerce, although we desire the Government to take steps to reduce armaments all over the world, and that is our position.
§ Major BURNIE
No, I voted for them. Some hon. Members here are advocating a conference on armaments, whilst others are saying that we require five cruisers and a base at Singapore. We have to decide what we ought to do. In regard to these political matters, I generally go to the source of information which is available to me, and in my own town I went to a man I know in the Mercantile Marines, who served in the late War, and said to him: "Do you think we require 2372 new cruisers? Are our cruisers racked to bits by the War?" He answered, "Yes,' and I came to this House afterwards and voted for the five cruisers, and that is practically the explanation of what I did and why I did it. I should like to say that I would support the Prime Minister and his Government, or any other Government, in any steps they might take to promote mutual disarmament, but this can only be done mutually, and I am not going to disarm unless the other fellows do. The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney) paid the hon. Member for Greenock (Sir G. Collins) a great compliment, because he said that he spoke like a Methodist parson. Those who know Methodist parsons know that it was a great compliment to say that, and not an insult.
§ Mr. GREENE
Has the hon. Member any right to say that my hon. Friend intended to insult Methodist parsons?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Robert Young)
The hon. Member has not said anything which I think was not in order.
§ Major BURNIE
I will leave those who heard the remark to draw their own inference, and I regret that the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge is not present to hear what I am saying on this point. I am not a Methodist and I do not belong to the Methodist pursuasion, but I am sure that the people of England are proud of their Methodist parsons. The point I wish to touch upon more particularly is the feeling that exists in the mercantile marine that the Navy and the mercantile marine should be able to cooperate more closely with each other. Before the War in our port the Navy was very little known, and we had very little chance of knowing what the Navy was like, and the Navy had very little knowledge of the work being done by the mercantile marine. Everybody admits, however, that during the War the mercantile marine wry, of the greatest possible service to the Navy, and they skilfully performed all the operations incidental to a great mercantile marine. The men of the Mercantile Marine felt that, had it been possible for naval officers, at the beginning of the War, to have more knowledge of the Mercantile Marine, it would have been better for this country. The whole lay-out of merchant shipping is totally and entirely different 2373 from that of the Navy. We live in an age of specialists, and even in the Mercantile Marine itself the liner companies are entirely different from the tramps, bulk-carrying ships are totally different from passenger-carrying ships, and so on. We feel that the two Services, which were drawn so closely together during the War, are in danger of drifting apart, and we think that the Admiralty should take this into consideration, and send their young officers, who would be welcomed by the Mercantile Marine, to go amongst them and make themselves known, and then, if a national emergency should arise, the two Services could co-operate whole-heartedly together.
With every day that goes by, great changes take place in our merchant service. In the matter of prime movers, changes are going on practically from day to day. In my time the merchant service has changed over from compound to triple expansion and quadruple expansion engines, and, more recently, to turbines, and now they are changing on to Diesel engines. The engineering side of the service is developing from day to day, and that is why I feel that particularly the engineer officers of the Navy should be in close touch with the merchant service. A great attack has been made on the Liberal party in regard to what they say and do about the Navy. We have always said that we believe in peace, and we do believe in peace, but, at the same time, the Liberal party have always kept up in this country, whenever they have been in office, a strong Navy. Although the Italians at the time were designing big ships, the Tory party left it to the Liberals to bring in the "Dreadnought" in 1908 and 1909. The "Queen Elizabeth" class was brought in by the Liberals. They gave you big guns, they gave you oil fuel, and they left you, in 1914, with a Navy which swept the seas of the world and left Britain then, as she was before, mistress of the seas.
§ Mr. PENNY
I have listened with very great interest, especially to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Nottingham (Captain Berkeley), who put forward the plea that at the present time there is no danger. I should like, rather, to go fully into this question, but I regret that, owing to lack of time, it is impossible for me to do so. In view of the great burden of debt 2374 which this country is bearing at the present time—due, in a great measure, to our being unprepared when war was declared—and which is preventing social progress and harassing our trade to so great a degree, I feel that one is speaking with great responsibility when one puts forward a plea for any Measure which is going to cost this country any expenditure at the present time; but I do feel that it is absolutely essential that we should have a base at Singapore, not only for the protection of our great Empire but for the protection of our great trade routes, and as an insurance against future conflict. I think it is rather a pity that there has been such a repetition of really sound, reasonable arguments in its favour, because, owing to this constant repetition, they have rather come to be looked upon as platitudes by those who hear them. To my mind, the crux of the whole position is this: We are spending a large sum of money on our Navy. Are we to have it efficient, and is it to be a mobile Navy? I regard it as just as important to have bases as to have up-to-date ships and armaments, and, therefore, the one thing we have to consider is the establishment of a base whereby the mobility of our Fleet in these seas can be ensured, if it should be necessary. I deprecate bringing any nation whatsoever into the argument, and I deprecate its being made a party question. We must look at it from a broad aspect, and I feel quite sure, from what hon. Gentlemen opposite have said, that many of them look at our Empire in just as big a way as we on these benches do.
I would point out that this base is not a new base. It is only a question of bringing it up to date. Most hon. Gentleman who are opposed to it say that it is a question of the cost, but the cost, which has been so frequently put at £11,000,000 spread over 10 years, could have been brought in as revenue to this country had the Chancellor of the Exchequer said to the naval authorities, "I will not take off the McKenna Duties, and I will not reduce the amount of the duty under the German Reparation (Recovery) Act." That in itself would pay for this base at Singapore. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) mentioned the matter of docking facilities, and, as I 2375 have so short a time at my disposal, I think it is just as well to deal with this point, having lived in those parts for many years. There are five docks in Singapore, the largest being the King's Dock, which is 879 feet long, and has a breadth of 100 feet and a depth of 54 feet. The other four docks—the Albert Dock, the Victoria Dock, and the two Keppel Harbour Docks—are all under 500 feet in length, and the greatest depth of the largest is 24 feet, These five docks are in continuous use for commercial purposes, and, therefore, I do say that provision should be made for a dock on the north side of the island for naval purposes, which would not be a wasting asset, and would not cost more than a battleship and a half. Then, if occasion should arise—I sincerely trust it never will arise—we should be prepared. Do not let us, like the hon. and gallant Member for Central Nottingham, say, "Let us wait and see; there is no danger at the present time," because that "Wait and see" policy has always been our downfall in the past.
I think hon. Members really do not realise the vast importance of Singapore, and for that reason I should like to give a few figures, although I know they are rather boresome. To Singapore there are 15 direct steamship lines from Europe. There are five lines from India, five from Australia, five from South Africa, and several direct cargo lines from Canada, South America and the United States; and there are numerous services right through the Malay Archipelago to China and Japan. The wharfage accommodation extends over some 10,000 feet, and of this over 4,400 feet affords wharfage for the largest steamers with a draught of 33 feet at low water. In 1922, over 42,000 vessels were cleared there, with a tonnage of over 20,000,000 tons, and Singapore is looked upon as the shipping port next in importance to Liverpool. That will give the House some idea of the potentialities of the place, and it was for that very reason that I asked the Colonial Secretary the other day, knowing that he is a man of great Empire aspirations, whether, when he went on his tour to South Africa, he might not extend it by going to Singapore, because I do feel that, although we should lose 2376 his genial presence and wise counsel in this House, every Member of all parties would be quite ready to give way to that if he could bring back to the Prime Minister his view of its potentialities, and that it was essential that the whole question of the establishment of a base at Singapore should be reconsidered. I believe that the provision of oil tankage is still being continued there, and, if that be the case, I do feel that the Government, at the back of their minds, realise that there is good reason why a base should be established there. The Prime Minister has said that there is a difference of view as to the way in which the Empire should be protected. He thinks that we can create an atmosphere, and that we should offer moral gestures. I can honestly say for every Member on these benches that we do not belittle any gesture which in any way will point out to the peoples of the world that we really want peace, but the Prime Minister himself said if we fail in what we are now doing we shall have to think of other things. If the Government will give an assurance that they have left the door open so that they can reconsider this question—because in my heart of hearts I feel they themselves look at it from the point of view that I am looking at it—if the Secretary to the Admiralty will tell us that he is at one with us, if the gestures they are making have not brought about what they desire, I feel sure that the base at Singapore will be established, that our kith and kin overseas will have reason to thank the Labour Government for not only considering the feehags of other people, but the feelings of our own people, who have this very much at heart, and for that reason I urge that the Government should keep this in mind and reconsider their decision in regard to abandoning the scheme.
§ Viscount CURZON
We have listened to what, on the whole, has been, I think, a very instructive naval Debate, which has been remarkable for some of the speeches which have been made. I should like to allude to the memorial which has been presented to the Government that they should reconsider their decision not to allow the march of the sailors of the special service squadron through the streets of London. The House must realise that our men have had a most wonderful reception in all the great 2377 Dominions. One Australian ship is coming back with the squadron, and it would undoubtedly be very much appreciated in Australia if the same compliment could be paid to them—and I think it would be paid willingly by the people of the country—that they paid to our sailors. With regard to the views held in the squadron, the House can take it from me—I have had many letters from officers and men serving in the squadron—that they very much hope that when the squadron comes back it will not, so to speak, slink in at the back-door, but the occasion will be marked by this march, which will remind the country of the places visited by this squadron overseas, and the great value they have obtained from the British sailors in the ward-room and on the lower deck as their best ambassadors, not only in our Dominions, but throughout the world.
I should like to touch next on the question of the marriage allowance. The position is much more serious than I think the House realises. At present the naval officer—it does not matter whether you take the Air Force or the Army or the lower deck of the Navy—is the only individual in the fighting Services who does not get any allowance in respect of marraige. The reason for it is that the Admiralty wished to do away with all marraige allowances when the rates of pay were fixed, but subsequently, those rates of pay being fixed, the rates of pay for the Air Force and the Army both incorporated the principle. The sailor does not ask for anything which is not granted to the Army or to the Air Force, but I am certain the country does not wish the officers of the Royal Navy to be at a disadvantage in this respect as compared with their colleagues in the other Services. There is one essential factor in the case of the naval officer which will appeal to hon. Members opposite. Many officers in the Royal Navy have no income except their pay, and I think they, as wage earners, have a right to demand the consideration of the Government and of hon. Members opposite. The essential difference in the case of the naval officer is that he must of necessity, when married, keep up two homes. He must have a home for his wife and children ashore and pay for his messing, and so on, on board ship, and that is the whole difference between him and the 2378 Army or the Air Force officer. They can live at home, or in some cases in married quarters. The Government must make up their minds about this. The rates of naval pay were reduced on and from 1st July. Do Members of the Government, does the Secretary to the Admiralty, realise what it means to have boys and to have to take them away from school? Does he realise what it means to an officer who cannot pay his bilk for his uniform? What is he to do? Go more heavily in debt to his outfitter? Surely that is not for the good of the service. This question is not being tackled with resolution. The Government are not pressing the matter as they should press it. They have been in office quite long enough to make up their minds. The time is ripe when the Secretary to the Admiralty must go to his Department and see that a decision is reached. It must not be a decision to rob Peter to pay Paul. I think the rates of pay of junior officers of the Navy are perhaps a little more in some cases than they would require, but do not let us have a marriage allowance on that principle. That is not what the country wants. I am certain all we want is to see the naval officer on exactly the same basis as his colleagues in the other forces, and that is all the Navy wants.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) opened with an attack upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), and his first statement was that submarines and aircraft were a substitute for battleships. I have debated this question in and outside the House, and I will challenge the hon. and gallant Gentleman, or any member of his party who likes to take the challenge up, to debate it with me before an impartial audience—not Members of the House—with a neutral chairman anywhere they like. I think I shall be able to put forward arguments which will show the fallacy. Everyone knows the history of the Straits of Dover during the War. Could our aircraft prevent submarines going through the Straits of Malacca? Could our aircraft stop German submarines going through the Straits of Dover? Nothing of the sort was possible until nets were fitted and guarded night and day. Yet the hon. and gallant Gentleman, speaking with authority as a naval officer, deliberately deluded the 2379 House by his statement. Then he said that Singapore was too far away, and that he would rather have a base somewhere in Australia or New Zealand I am sure the hon. and gallant Member does not wish to deceive the House. Do hon. Members realise the distance? Do they realise that it is twelve days' steam from Sydney to Singapore for a fleet at fleet cruising speed? If they go that distance, it will, of course, take the same time to get back. Meanwhile the possible enemy with whom you are engaged could arrive in the rear of you and cut you off. I mention these points so that the House may attach the proper value to a speech of that description
The hon. and gallant Member also said that we are overwhelmingly strong in cruisers. What are the facts? I doubt very much whether the facts are realised by hon. Members opposite, or in the country. The answer given to me on Monday last was that we have 38 light cruisers in the Navy at the present time, but of these 38 there are only two, the "Hawkins" and the "Vindictive," that can really be considered in the way of modern light cruisers to be equal to modern requirements. The other ships are of small size, amounting to about 4,000 tons. The whole value of cruisers for modern conditions of deep-sea warfare depends upon their radius of action, their ability to keep the sea and to meet the ships that they have to meet. It is no use telling a small cruiser that she has to go to sea and catch a big cruiser armed with a 7˙5 gun. Of the remainder of the 38 ships which I have mentioned, there is not one of them that even in smooth water can make a 30-knot speed. On the other hand, the ships that they would have to meet can do a 33-knot speed and more. American ships have done 36 knots on trial.
Another point about the small ships is that in the seaway they are very wet. The water comes over forward, and it is impossible to fight your foremost guns. It is very often impossible to fight your guns at all, and even if you can fight them, rapidity and precision both suffer. In the case of the small ship in a rough sea, her speed falls off to nothing. I can give an instance in point. I remember the day of the Dublin rebellion, because I was serving in the "Queen Eliza- 2380 beth." We were going down the North Sea, trying to catch the German battle cruisers that were bombarding Lowestoft. We had with us at the start, as a screen, a squadron of light cruisers of the class favoured by hon. Members opposite, of about 4,000 tons. At the start the cruisers were 15 miles ahead of us. We went on through the night at full speed in the teeth of a gale. Next morning, the nearest of these ships was 50 miles astern of us. In the battleship we were only capable of steaming 24 to 24½ knots, while the light cruisers that were supposed to be screening us were supposed to be able to do 29 knots. That is the difference between a small ship and a large one. The only ships that we have built, and building, of the bigger type are of the "Hawkins" class and the "Effingham" class. They are enlarged editions of the "D" and "C" classes. The "Hawkins" class and the "Effingham" class are the only ships that we can really count on for deep-sea ocean-going work. There are six of them, and we have to back them up with the five cruisers that are being laid down. Hon. Members opposite do not seem to pay any attention to the actual performances of foreign ships. How is it possible for a ship carrying six, seven or eight 7˙5 guns to go into action against ships steaming three or four knots faster, with a much larger radius of action, and, therefore, able to keep to sea much longer, and bigger ships and, therefore, ships which can fight their guns with greater accuracy?
§ Viscount CURZON
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member was not present when the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Nottingham (Captain Berkeley) was making his speech. He said that he advocated a smaller ship, carrying either the same or a similar armament.
§ Viscount CURZON
It is absolutely impossible to build a small ship which will mount the requisite number of eight-inch guns to enable her to compete with any ships she might have to meet from any other Navy, or of the requisite radius of 2381 action and requisite speed. These things can only be given to a ship if you build a ship of sufficient size. If she is to carry 4,000 or 5,000 tons of oil, she has to be a correspondingly bigger ship in order to do that, and if she has to carry eight-inch guns she has to be bigger than a ship which can only carry five at the outside. The "Yarmouth" is an old coal-burning ship.
Another point of importance respecting the small ship is the question of the conditions under which the crews have to live. I do not know whether hon. Members have received letters, as I have, from friends on the lower deck, but if they have they will appreciate the different conditions that prevail on a small ship compared with a bigger ship. The conditions under which the men of the special service squadron are living in the small cruisers are simply deplorable. I want the House to realise the actual facts. The hon. and gallant Member for Bootle (Major Burnie) said that lie voted for the five cruisers. But I have here a Liberal manifesto, and I notice that his signature is attached to it.
§ Major BURNIE
When the manifesto was issued the cruisers were to be built to relieve unemployment. I did not think that was proper, but when it was a question of replacement, I ascertained from my friends in Bootle that they were required, and I voted for them. That was a perfectly natural thing to do.
§ Viscount CURZON
I am glad that the hon. Member has repudiated this manifesto, because I agree with him that the manifesto is an absurdity as it stands. The manifesto which he signed makes an astonishing assertion. It states that the cruisers are unnecessary for the standard of defence. The hon. Member has now explained that he has consulted his friends in Liverpool, and he realises that they are necessary. The manifesto states that to build these cruisers was economically disastrous and morally wrong. How can it be economically disastrous and morally wrong to take the steps necessary to ensure the food of the people? A subsequent manifesto was issued which says that the programme of cruiser building should be reconsidered and the money applied to useful or productive purposes. There is a homely sound about that. I am old enough to remember some of the statements that the Liberal party used 2382 to make before the War. They are extraordinarily like those we have to-day. The right hon. Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert), speaking in Devonshire on the 13th April, 1909, said:He was an advocate of a supreme navy, but he demurred to the demand for eight more ships. They would needs be badly built, and they would be completed when they were not required for national security.I could give various other quotations from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. For instance, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) in an interview in the "Daily Chronicle" on the 1st January, 1914, was asked:Do you consider this a favourable moment to overhaul our expenditure on armaments?And he said in reply,I think it is the most favourable moment that has presented itself during the last 20 years. Our relations with Germany are infinitely more friendly now than they have been for years.There is one thing in which it seems to me the Liberal party are invariably consistent—that is they are out for a little navy. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] They seem to be the one party in the country who are I will not say in favour of disarmament, for so are we, but who think that we are to be the first people and the only people to disarm.
§ Major MOULTON
May I ask whether after years of Liberal Government in 1914 there was a little navy?
§ Viscount CURZON
I remember that we started the War with 30 mines, and we finished up with I do not know how many hundred thousand. I remember the Grand Fleet nor being able to go into harbour because there were no defences, and the destroyer flotilla being practically at sea the whole time because we had not half the destroyers we required. I merely mention those points, but if the hon. Gentleman challenges the accuracy of what I say I can give him more. I have here an article written by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, in which he said:Liberalism practically lest England for 40 years. For reasons one need not enter into now, Englishmen were pursuaded that it had no pride in British renown, and no concern for British prestige. It allowed Conservatism to capture the flag. It disdained the patriotic appeal and left it to Tory platforms. … As long as it is 2383 possible for the Tory Press and even Liberal papers to draw attention to the fact that an appeal from a Liberal Member in the House of Commons to stand up for British interests in Europe is 'received in grim silence on the Liberal benches' Englishmen will continue to suspect Liberalism of an anti-patriotic bias.
One word as to Singapore. Does the House realise that if an emergency arises in the Far East—it does not matter what it may be—Briton has no fleet to-day which can go east of Suez? We are spending to-day £56,000,000 upon our fleet, a fleet which can operate only over one half of the world. The other half is denied to it. Economically it is unsound; strategically it is disastrous. I would submit to the Government that it is impossible for them to continue to maintain their attitude of aloofness on this matter. If they have got negotiations in prospect, or if there is some real chance of getting some agreement in reference to this matter, then very probably the country as a whole would be prepared to wait, though personally I would think it dangerous. But if there is no chance—and I submit that at present it is not obvious that there is—then that is a matter for serious consideration, and the party to which I belong, I am certain, will not be content to wait indefinitely. We demand that this question should be considered, and that we should get a clear answer from the Government as to how the matter stands. I hope that the hon. Gentleman when he comes to reply will give us a perfectly clear and complete statement as to what is the position of the Government in regard to Singapore.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Ammon)
I think I shall not be accused of discourtesy if I fail to deal with some of what I may call the minor points which have been raised in the Debate, and concentrate my attention chiefly on the two main points, though I will deal as far as I can with the other points. But I can assure hon. Members that with regard to the other points, I will go through the OFFICIAL REPORT and study them, and, as far as possible, deal with them after-wards. I am sure also that it will not be considered discourteous if I say that very few points have been raised in this discussion beyond those which have been raised in previous discussions, both as re- 2384 gards the question of Singapore and the question of the cruisers.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) and the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) and an hon. Member below the Gangway have raised the question of the marriage allowance for naval officers. It sometimes strikes me as being a little cool on the part of hon. Members opposite who tell us that we should deal with this matter at once, when we know that they had the same problem for a number of years and did not deal with it, and yet now bring accusations against this side of the House for having failed to do something in the short time in which we have been in office. I do not want to dwell on the shortness of the time during which the Government have been in office, but I do not think that hon. Gentlemen opposite will fail to recognise that there have been many problems with which we have had to grapple in the comparatively short time which the Government has had for the purpose of dealing with them. On this particular question there has not been any lack of sympathy or any want of endeavour to get to grips with the matter. Perhaps hon. Member will allow me to leave it at the moment when I say that we have now got in the Admiralty a committee of naval officers, not connected with the Admiralty in any way, to go into certain proposals of the advisers to the Admiralty with regard to this matter, and I hope that, as a result of that, we may be able, before long, to deliver a verdict. I trust that this will be taken as a considerable step towards indicating our desires in that respect.
Another point which was raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) was the lowering of Cadet fees to make it possible to recruit the upper deck without barring any eligible person on financial grounds. That has advanced considerably. It is a matter calling for a certain amount of consultation with the other Services, and I am sure it will be appreciated, if I remind the House of the fairly long illness of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War which has delayed progress in this matter, when I say that I hope that next week a committee will get together and be able to 2385 deliver some sort of verdict in a short time.
The hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher) did manage to introduce, if I might say so with every respect, in an excellent speech in every way, two or three entirely fresh points. There were three, in fact. The first was a plea for additional naval Attachés, particularly with regard to Rome, Paris and Tokio. In regard to that, I can only say that the matter has never been raised at the Admiralty, and the Ambassadors have made no representations on the subject. It shall receive consideration, and inquiries shall be made as to how far it is necessary to carry out the proposal. The hon. and gallant Member also said that every step should be taken to bring into closer co-operation the Navy and the mercantile marine. All I can say is that that is being done as far as possible. Then the hon. and gallant Member brought forward as his third point that something should be done to co-ordinate the three fighting Services, particularly with regard to the purchase of stores. I am sure he will be gratified to know that is already done, and that a Committee considers this sort of thing.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
With regard to the Committee, can the hon. Gentleman say whether, as to the medical services, that on the co-ordinated Committee there will be an independent chairman?
§ Mr. AMMON
No, I cannot say. We have actually a co-ordinating committee of the three Services, and as far as we know there has been no complaint, and it is working quite well and to the advantage of the services. Probably also we shall gain by our experience. The hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke asked that we might have co-ordination between the three Services in regard to hospitals. He will be delighted to know that in that matter we have advanced, and that is already done. At Gibraltar the naval hospital has been closed.
§ Mr. AMMON
The hon. and gallant Member has raised what he considered a new story and I am giving him the answer. The right hon. Member for 2386 Sparkbrook, in opening the Debate, made reference, as also did other Members, to the proposal that the men from the Special Service Squadron should march through London. When a question was put to me some days ago, I said quite clearly that I should have to consider the weight of opinion expressed by a considerable number of Members in the House. I have since then received a memorial signed by Members below the Gangway as well as Members across the Floor, and that will have to be considered—and probably favourably—by the Board of Admiralty at its next meeting.
I gather the right hon. Gentleman made no charge against the Government that they had in any way thrown over the cruiser programme up to date, and that the real programme, as laid down by the preceding Government, was for five cruisers. The suggestion of the other three was a matter of acceleration to meet un-employment, but without regard to the needs at the moment of the Navy.
§ Mr. AMMON
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for reminding me. I had forgotten the point. The position of the Government on that for the moment is that we have not been able to give consideration to or make an announcement on the point. I think the House will agree that the attention of the Prime Minister has been fully occupied on other matters in international fields, with regard to reconciliation, during the past few months. I under stand that as soon as possible every step will be taken to call into being something in the nature of an International Conference with a view to arriving at an agreement as to the reduction of armaments. That will be done as soon as practicable. I think the right hon. Gentleman indicated that he realised that this was not just the very best moment when anyone could advance any proposals on those lines. But there is no reason why the Government should 2387 depart from its intention, at the earliest possible moment, to call such a conference into being, with a view to seeing whether we can arrive at saner methods in relation to armaments. In the meantime, there will be no departure from what is thought to be the right margin of safety and the integrity of the country, but nothing will be done in any way that can be considered to be of a provocative character or as infringing agreements which exist among nations at the present time.
With regard to the Debate on the cruiser question, there has been very little new matter introduced. We have had from some of our friends reiteration again and again of the statement that by the building of five cruisers this country is setting the pace in another naval armament race. One cannot do more than contradict that statement. If hon. Members like to knock down dummies of their own erection, then one must refuse to take them seriously. The hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke gave chapter and verse indicating that he had every faith that in every case, whether as regards the United States, Japan, France or Italy, the move for an increase of naval equipment and armament proceeded with in this country was not regarded in the nature of a naval race for increasing armaments, and that other countries were simply doing what they could to keep up their margin of safety. Let me again say there can be no stronger evidence that this is not more than a matter of replacement than that since 1919 no less than 36 cruisers have been scrapped and put out of commission by the British nation: twelve being of the "County" class. Before the other five are completed, another five—making 15 in all—will have passed the period of full efficiency. Can it be seriously contested, in face of that statement, that these replacements are not at all commensurate with the numbers that have already gone out of commission?
I hope that to all sections of the House that will be a satisfactory statement so far as this means replacement rather than an endeavour to increase our naval strength. I want to say quite frankly and fairly that all the parties to the Washington Pact have honourably abided by 2388 the agreement and discharged all their obligations under it. No country has made a greater-reduction in that respect, or has been called upon to do more than has this country, particularly having regard to our long trade routes and the commitments to which we are pledged. That, I venture to say, is not inconsistent with the claim the Government makes, that we still stand for and will strive at the earliest possible moment to bring about a condition of affairs with other nations as a result of which we can reduce armaments, and, I hope, go a long way towards securing eventually complete disarmament. But we should be wanting in our duty if we were to do that without having any security or knowledge that others are likely to meet us. We will leave nothing undone to give a lead, if necessary, as soon as we have got through the immediate business we have on the Continent, and I am sure hon. Members on all sides, irrespective of party, will wish the Prime Minister and those associated with him every success in their endeavour to find agreement on the Continent, and thus go a long way towards securing a settlement of this question.
I come now to the question of Singapore, raised by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. Our position with regard to Singapore is in a measure that we are precisely where we were left on the last occasion when the question was discussed in this House. We see no reason whatever why we should revise our decision and go forward any more with the plan to set up a naval port there. The position is, as was stated by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, that we still hold that if it is necessary, regrettable though it may be—if occasion should arise, we may still have to go on with this base if we fail to get a proper understanding when we come to negotiate with the other nations. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, when he was discussing this subject, suggested that we need not fear delay in dealing with this matter, and pointed out the great distance that would have to be steamed by the fleets of other nations, the distance being so great as to considerably impair the effectiveness of the ships when they arrive there. I always demur when we are told that there is a strong feeling in Australia that they have been let down. In Australia as in this country, there is a division of 2389 opinion on the matter. I have conversed in the last two days with a responsible public man from Australia, who takes the view that in this respect the Government have acted wisely. I equally credit people who take the other point of view. We have to keep quits level heads on a matter of this kind, and I assume that in the whole of Australia, irrespective of party, there is a division of opinion in regard to this particular question. The distance from Australia to Japan is so great that one may imagine it would not be quite so easy for Japan to wreak her will on Australia as some people think. That is the position. The Prime Minister stated that it would be better when we go into conference to have something to bargain with. Surely, we have something to bargain with here, if we show that we are determined, should our hopes of bringing the other nations to our view be disappointed, to go on with this work, however regrettable it may be.
It would be mere repetition if I attempted to say more on this subject. With regard to the question of a floating dock raised by my hon. and gallant Friend below the Gangway, the moral arguments are precisely the same for a floating dock as for a graving dock. Before a floating dock can be constructed there will have to be a considerable amount of dredging, which is not an easy matter, and which might be attended by considerable risk, and certainly would be expensive. On the whole, I think naval opinion would be inclined to say that we should not gain anything from a financial point of view, and from the other points of view, political or moral, the position is precisely the same. I think I have now dealt with all the points that have been raised in the course of the Debate. Fortunately my position has been made considerably easier by the fact that Members of the present Opposition and my hon. Friends below the Gangway on this side have been fighting their historic battle over again, and I have gone unscathed while listening to the mutual pleasantries that have passed between them. I hope I have satisfied the House with regard to the points raised. I hope we shall be allowed to get the Vote. I want to assure the House that we are fully alive to the great responsibility imposed on us with regard to the efficiency and well being of 2390 the Navy and of the men who are engaged therein. At the same time we depart not one jot or tittle from our ideal that we shall be able to do something before our term of office is finished that will have brought the nations nearer together on the question of the reduction of armaments, and have taken them a long way towards disarmament in the future.
§ Mr. J. HARRIS
I should like to take a few minutes in order to reply to those hon. Members who have attacked so vigorously the memorandum issued by my hon. Friends on the cruiser question. Before doing that may I say that some of us feel a little disappointed to-night that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty has not been able to carry us a little further with regard to the steps which the Government are taking to secure a limitation of armaments in the world. There are three fixed conditions upon which most hon. Members in this House will be agreed, and which no one can violate without being called to book by public opinion. The first of these is that the country will not tolerate any Government or any party which imperils the security of the country or of the British Empire. The second thing which the country demands is this, that while maintaining that security they shall accept the principles which some of us adhere to very strongly, that our armaments and our commitments for armaments shall be reduced to the lowest point consistent with security. The third point to which we adhere is that every step should be taken to secure by international agreement a reduction of armaments to a limit which still preserves the security of this country and the Empire.
It is just because of that, because we thought that those three principles were violated, that those two memoranda were issued. The first one was issued because we took strong exception to the building of the cruisers, as we were then informed, in order to meet the exceptional nature of unemployment. The second memorandum was issued in view of the action taken by the Congress in America. If the hon. and gallant Member for South Battersea (Viscount. Curzon) will refer to the second memorandum, he will find that that was the main point of that memorandum. We would like to know from the Government at some time 2391 whether they propose to respond in any way whatever to the gesture which was so generously made by Congress. An hon. Member referring to the Debates in Congress, stated that the dominating note of those Debates was the competition between America and Japan. I have gone through those Debates very carefully several times, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the dominant note there was not so much the ratio between America and Japan as that between America and Great Britain. If there were time, I could read extracts which would demonstrate that fact. But that is not my point. In those debates there were two Amendments passed. The first was designed to secure a postponement of the American programme until December, 1924. The second Amendment was the more important one. It empowered the President of the United States to suspend part or all of the commitments of the Bill. That Amendment was carried unanimously, and it is stated here in the Debate that the object of the Amendments was to give a chance to other naval Powers to come together in naval conference and to see whether it was possible to extend in any way the restrictions which had been agreed to in the Washington Convention.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty has not been able to tell us whether the Government sees any way by which we can respond to that action taken in Congress, nor has he been able to give us any definite idea of the practical measures which the Government propose to pursue in order to secure this limitation. For months some of us have been trying to get this information from the Government. I was very happy the other day in coming across a new periodical, in which a very interesting suggestion was made by the hon. Gentleman himself, I very much wish that he would, on some occasion, develop this a little further. This is what he says:The Labour Government see at the moment in the League of Nations a possible means for bringing together the nations to work out an acceptable scheme for policing the seas by some international agreement, and working out a policy that will replace the arbitrament of force by discussion and agreement.It would have been very encouraging to many of my friends if we could have 2392 heard a little more of the details of this scheme which the Government has in mind. I hope that some, opportunity will be taken before the House rises to tell us whether it is proposed to advance these proposals before the Assembly of the League of Nations in September. I beg the Parliamentary Secretary to think that over, and to see if he cannot give us some further light on it before the House rises.
It may be possible that at some future occasion, the Greek Kalends or another, a general scheme of disarmament may be agreed upon by all the nations of the earth, but until that event does happen it seems to me that it is for us in this country to take those practical measures which experience has taught us we must rely upon to protect ourselves, to protect our trade and to protect our Empire. We cannot rely either upon this talk about gestures, nor can we rely upon universal goodwill. However admirable may be the pious aspirations of Liberal Members and, perhaps, Labour Members, however admirable may be our own aspirations towards peace, we must recognise that at the present moment we are face to face with a wicked world in which peace is almost the last thought in men's minds. I disagree entirely with the hon. Member who said that what we had to consider was the rivalry of the various navies. I do not think that that is the criterion at all. What we have to consider is this: Here we are, an island people, dependent almost entirely for our food and our raw material on our trade routes overseas. No other nation in the world is quite in that position. Our need, therefore, of protection is very much greater than the need of any other nation.
Hon. Members have only to remember what happened during the Great War, when one German cruiser was let loose in the Indian Ocean, and that one ship in a very short time did incalculable damage—much more damage than the cost of quite a number of cruisers. I am not a naval man and I do not pretend to be an expert, but it is obvious that if one cruiser is let loose on a trade route it is no good having only one cruiser to go in search of it and bring it to action. You must have a sufficient number of cruisers adequately to 2393 protect our ocean-borne commerce. The question is, ought they to be built now, or ought we to wait till some future time? As we have been talking about Methodists and Methodist Ministers, I will say:Now is the accepted time.All Methodists will know that phrase. At a period when unemployment is so terrible in the engineering trade, now is the time when, with the greatest benefit to the country and to its internal trade, these additional cruisers should be built.
§ Mr. AMERY
May I, with the leave of the House, say that while on this side we have no quarrel with a good deal of what the Parliamentary Secretary has said in his speech this evening, we cannot accept his reply on the question of Singapore as either adequate or sufficient, and it is our intention to divide the House?
§ Question put, "That '£1,229,500' stand part of the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 226; Noes, 182.2395
|Division No. 186.]||AYES.||[9.58 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Middleton, G.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Millar, J. D.|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Groves, T.||Mills, J. E.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Grundy, T. W.||Mitchell, R. M.(Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Montague, Frederick|
|Baker, Walter||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Morel, E. D.|
|Banton, G.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morris, R. H.|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Harbison, Thomas James S.||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Barnes, A.||Harris, Percy A.||Mosley, Oswald|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Moulton, Major Fletcher|
|Batey, Joseph||Harvey, T. E, (Dewsbury)||Murray, Robert|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Murrell, Frank|
|Birkett, W. N.||Haycock, A. W.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Black, J. W.||Hayday, Arthur||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Hayes, John Henry||Oliver, George Harold|
|Bonwick, A.||Henderson, T, (Glasgow)||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Henderson, W. W. (Middfesex, Enfld.)||Owen, Major G.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hillary, A. E.||Paling, W.|
|Briant, Frank||Hindle, F.||Palmer, E. T.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hirst, G. H.||Perry, S. F.|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Hobhouse, A. L.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hodge, Lieut. Col. J. P. (Preston)||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Hodges, Frank||Potts, John S.|
|Buckle, J.||Hoffman, P. C.||Purcell, A. A.|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootie)||Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie||Raffan, P. W.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Raffety, F. W.|
|Cape, Thomas||Isaacs, G. A.||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Climie, R.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Rea, W. Russell|
|Cluse, W. S.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Richards, R.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Compton, Joseph||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Costello, L. W. J.||Jones, Morgan (Cairphilly)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Cove, W, G.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Romeril, H. G.|
|Crittall, V, G.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Royle, C.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kay, Sir R. Newbald||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Keens, T.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Dickson, T.||Kenyon, Barnet||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)|
|Dodds, S. Ft.||Kirkwood, D.||Sexton, James|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Laverack, F. J.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Dukes, C.||Law, A.||Sherwood, George Henry|
|Dunn, J. Freeman||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lawson, John James||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Leach, W.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||Lessing, E.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Egan, W. H.||Linfield, F. C.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Falconer, J.||Livingstone, A. M.||Snell, Harry|
|Finney, V. H.||Loverseed, J. F.||Spence, R.|
|Fletcher, Lieut.-Com. R. T. H.||Lowth, T.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Foot, Isaac||McCrae, Sir George||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Franklin, L. B.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||McEntee, V. L.||Stewart, Maj. R. S. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Gavan-Duffy, Thomas||Macfadyen, E.||Stranger, Innes Harold|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Mackinder, W.||Sullivan, J.|
|Gillett, George M.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Gorman, William||Maden, H.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||March, S.||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Marley, James||Terrington, Lady|
|Greenall, T.||Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Willison, H.|
|Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Wedgwood, Col. Rt. Hon. Josiah C.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Thornton, Maxwell R.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.||Windsor, Walter|
|Tillett, Benjamin||White, H G. (Birkenhead, E.)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Tinker, John Joseph||Whiteley, W.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Tout, W. J.||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)||Wright, W.|
|Varley, Frank B.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Viant, S. P.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Vivian, H.||Williams, Lt.-Col. T. S. B.(Kennington)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Warne, G. H.||Williams, Maj. A. S.(Kent, Sevenoaks)||Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. Allen Parkinson.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Alexander, Brg.-Gen. Sir W.(Glas. C.)||Ednam, Viscount||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Elliot, Walter E.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Elveden, Viscount||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Falie, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Pease, William Edwin|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Ferguson, H.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Austin, Sir Herbert||FitzRoy, Captain Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Forestier-Walker, L.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Perring, William George|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gates, Percy||Philipson, Mabel|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Pielou, D. P.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Raine, W.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Gretton, Colonel John||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Bellairs, Commander Cariyon W.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Berry, sir George||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Remer, J. R.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Remnant, Sir James|
|Blundell, F. N.||Harland, A.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Bourne, Robert Croft||Hartington, Marquess of||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Harvey, C. M. B.(Aberd'n & Kincardne)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hill-Wood, Major Sir Samuel||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hogbin, Henry Cairns||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Burman, J. B.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Hood, Sir Joseph||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Calne, Gordon Hall||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Huntingfield, Lord||Stanley, Lord|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Birm., W.)||Ilifle, Sir Edward M.||Steel, Samuel Strang|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Jephcott, A. R.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Sykes, Major Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lorimer, H. D.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)|
|Cope, Major William||Lumley, L. R.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||MacDonald, R.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col K. P.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||McLean, Major A.||Waddington, R.|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Wells, S. R.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Meller, R. J.||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Wood, Sir H, K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Deans, Richard Storry||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Dixey, A. C.||Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Commander B. Eyres-Monsell and Colonel Gibbs.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
Resolution agreed to.
§ It being after Ten of the Clock, Mr. Speaker proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15, to put forthwith the 2396 Question necessary to dispose of the Report of the Resolution under consideration.2397
§ Mr. SPEAKER then proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15, to put forthwith the Questions, That this House doth agree, with the Committee in the outstanding Resolutions reported in respect of Classes I to VII of the Civil Services Estimates, and of the Navy Estimates, the Army Estimates, the Air Force Estimates, the Revenue Departments Estimates, and other outstanding Resolutions severally.