The following Question stood on the Order Paper in the name of Sir F. HALL:17. To ask the First Lord of the Admiralty what will be the comparative strength in five years' time of the American and British Navies in the event of effect being given to the five years' building programme of the general board of the United States of America's Navy providing for the building of 26 cruisers of 10,000 tons, three aeroplane carriers, five fleet submarines, 18 destroyer leaders, and four battleships to replace an equal number now growing obsolete?
§ Mr. THURTLE
On a point of Order. I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that this question is not in order. As I understand it, the American naval programme referred to is contingent upon approval by the American Senate and the American House of Representatives. As that approval has not been given, I sub- 388 mit that the question is based on a contingency, and, therefore, out of order.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Although I have not the facts in my mind at the moment, I think that that answer has been given by the Government. Questions of this kind have been allowed before, relating to naval programmes in different countries, and I do not think it is out of order.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM
Until much more detailed information is available in regard to the particulars of the projected United States naval programme and the dates on which it is proposed to lay down the ships included in the programme, no comparison of the probable relative strength of the British and United States Navies five years hence is possible.
Sir F. HALL
Is it not a little difficult for our Admiralty to take into consideration the desire of the Government and reduce their building programme when other countries adopt a policy of continually increasing their navies?
§ Mr. DALTON
Can the Parliamentary Secretary give us an assurance that neither the Admiralty nor the Government are going to be stampeded into any panic-building programme in competition with America?