HC Deb 19 March 1925 vol 181 cc2517-8

With regard to Fleet exercises, no manoeuvres on any large scale have taken place, or are going to take place this year, beyond the ordinary short sea exercises. I think I ought to say a word about the Special Service Squadron, which not Ions ago returned from its Empire tour, a tour which, according to all accounts, is admitted to have been a great success in many different directions. It was very fitting, I think, that at a time when we in this country were able to see at Wembley all the developments of our great Empire, its resources, its power and its products, the people of the Empire in their turn should have a glimpse of that great peaceful force, the Navy, on which the security of their trade and ours depends so much. They had the opportunity also, I think, of seeing how much the Mother Country has to pay for the benefit and security of Imperial trade, and certain things have happened, which I shall refer to later, which show, I think, that the effect of that tour has been to make some of our Dominions realise what a heavy burden the Mother Country is bearing in this respect, and to show that as they grow and increase in prosperity, they are prepared, or will be prepared, to take upon themselves some share or larger share of the cost.

Another most satisfactory point was the universal recognition we have had from every quarter of the orderly and splendid conduct of the men whenever they went on shore in all parts of the world. Only this morning I had a message from the Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet to say that when they were at Algiers, 14,000 men went on leave, only 15 broke leave, and not one was "run in" by the police. That is a very fine record. It was very interesting, too, that in return for this visit of the British squadron to Australia, it should be accompanied on its homeward journey by a cruiser, "Adelaide," belonging to the Royal Australian Navy, which we were very glad to welcome here in return for the hospitality we have received from the Australians. Later on I will refer to the response that some of our Dominions and Colonies have made towards the upkeep Of our naval force.

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