HC Deb 19 March 1925 vol 181 c2487

Order for Committee read.

The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Bridgeman)

I beg to move, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

I am afraid that I have not got anything very sensational to say to the House. The fact that this Estimate contains no provision for new construction takes away a great deal of the interest which usually attaches to occasions of this kind, and I think the House already knows that it has been decided to refer to a Committee, for report to the Cabinet, the whole question of the programme of replacement of cruisers and other warships, as I believe hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite were going to have done if they had remained in office, so as to draw up a programme spread over a certain number of years and thus secure a steady list of replacement work. I need hardly say that for my own part I would much have preferred to have had one bite at the cherry, instead of two, but I do not think it is unreasonable that a Government, coming into office within the last few months, should desire to take a rather full survey of the present situation and circumstances before committing themselves and the House to a long programme of building construction. But, as the Prime Minister said this afternoon, the Cabinet decision will be reached in time to allow of a Supplementary Estimate being introduced before the close of the summer, and therefore those who may have had apprehension that this Committee meant indefinite postponement need not have any fear on that score.

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