20. Commander SOUTH BY
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he consulted his technical advisers before deciding on the reductions in the 1929–30 shipbuilding programme?
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. A. V. Alexander)
The reductions in the 1929 programme of naval construction were decided upon by His Majesty's Government after careful consideration of all the relevant considerations, including the advice tendered by their naval expert advisers on the Board of Admiralty.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
I should not dream of answering a question like that. In these matters, the Government are the responsible body for giving a decision.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
Was the decision of the Government in general accord with the advice tendered by His Majesty's advisers?
§ Mr. MALONE
Can we be assured that this country is governed by Parliament and not by the Admiralty?
§ 22. Captain EDEN
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state by categories the number of warships of all classes upon which work has been suspended or abandoned since the present Government came into office; and how much money had been spent upon these ships up to the time of the suspension or abandonment of work?
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
As the reply is rather long, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Following is the reply:
§ The Prime Minister, in his statement made in this House on the 24th July last [OFFICIAL REPORT, columns 1304–11] to which I referred the hon. and gallant Member last week [OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th February, columns 393–4], stated that His Majesty's Government had decided:
§ To suspend all work on the cruisers "Surrey" and "Northumberland."
§ To cancel the Submarine Depot Ship "Maidstone," and
§ To cancel two contract submarines.
§ In my reply of the 29th January [OFFICIAL REPORT, columns 970–6], to the hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha), to which I also referred the hon. and gallant Member, I stated that it had been decided as a matter of administrative convenience in connection with the framing of the Navy Estimates to regard the two cruisers, which were of the 10,000 ton class, as cancelled.
§ As regards the latter part of the question I have, pending the investigation and consideration of the contractors' claims, nothing to add to the reply of the 6th November [OFFICIAL REPORT, column 1066], 1356 referred to in my reply last week in which the hon. and gallent Member for Abingdon (Major Glyn) was informed that the Royal Dockyard expenditure incurred was approximately £44,000, but that it was not possible to give any accurate information of the value of work done by the private contractors.
§ I should make it clear that what I have said excludes all reference to the ships deleted from the programme for the current financial year. As has already been stated, no orders had been placed for any of these vessels, a list of which was given in my reply of the 29th January to the hon. Member for Devon-port [OFFICIAL REPORT, columns 1019–20].