HC Deb 16 April 1930 vol 237 cc2878-80
10. Commander SOUTHBY

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in view of the recent curtailment of the cruiser-building programme and the fact that the four vessels of the "Hawkins" class are four of the most up-to-date and efficient cruisers in His Majesty's Navy, he is now in a position to give an assurance that they will not be scrapped as a result of any deliberations at the Naval Conference?


Under the rules for replacement which have been agreed upon at the Conference, two of the ships of the "Hawkins" class will have reached the age at which they may be replaced in 1934 and 1935, respectively. It has been agreed that the remaining two, whose completion was delayed owing to conditions following the War, may be replaced in 1936.

15. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what is the tonnage of the present cruiser fleets of this country, the United States of America and Japan, respectively, on the Washington basis of measurement, and counting only ships built and less than 20 years old?


The standard tonnage of the cruiser fleets of the British Empire, United States of America and Japan, counting only ships built and less than 20 years of age, is to-day:

British Empire 327,111
United States of America 90,500
Japan 166,815
Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that under the figures that he has agreed on at the Naval Conference every one of these three fleets will be increased, and the American fleet very substantially?


Of course, that is putting the most unfair construction on the result of the Naval Conference. The hon. and gallant Member has asked for figures of ships built at the moment. He takes no account of ships building, or of programmes, or the position that would have been arrived at in 1936 had the programme been continued. I hope that such suggestions will cease.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am the best judge of whether my question is fair or not? Was this not a Conference for the limitation and reduction of armaments?


It was certainly a Conference for limitation, and limitation has proceeded to such an extent that President Hoover announced that the result of the Conference would save his country £200,000,000 in arriving at parity.


Is the period of life of 20 years for cruisers a correct one?


I wish that hon. Members would await the full details which will be given to the House. Twenty years is to be the general life, but there will be some detailed variations.


When will those details be given?


The Write Paper that was mentioned the other day, I hope, will be in the hands of the House either this afternoon or to-morrow morning, and, if any further details are required, it will be open to Members to ask for them.

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