§ 12. Mr. DOBBIE
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that, at the United States Senate investigation into the munitions industry, evidence was given that an official of the Soley Armaments Company, of this country, sent to the American Armaments Corporation an Admiralty handbook, containing details of the four-inch quick-firing gun and one blue print; and what action he proposes to take in this matter?
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Lord Stanley)
A handbook and prints of the gun in question, which is obsolete, were supplied to the Soley Armament Company, at their request, in 1931. If the company subsequently forwarded this material, which is in no way confidential, to the American Armaments Corporation, they were perfectly in order in so doing, and I cannot imagine what action the hon. Member has in mind.
§ 13. Mr. DOBBIE
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that, at the United States Senate investigation into the munitions industry, evidence was given that Sir Charles Craven informed the Electric Boat Company that the Admiralty had promised Vickers, Limited, an order for His Majesty's ship "Clyde," a repeat of the "Thames," and that he asked this American company not to let the information get into the hands of the American Navy Department; and what action he intends to take with regard to the matter under the Official Secrets Act or otherwise?
The programme of New Construction for 1932, which included His Majesty's ship "Clyde," was announced in February, 1932. On the 14th October, 1932, Messrs. Vickers-Armstrong were asked to quote a price for this vessel, and on the 20th December, 1932, they received the order for her. In view of His Majesty's Government's desire to secure international agreement for the abolition and limitation of submarines, the contract contained a proviso giving the Admiralty an option of cancelling the order at any time before the 31st March, 1933. The letter in question, addressed to the licensors of Vickers-Armstrong for submarine construction, was presumably written on account of this proviso. As it was apparently written on the 6th January, 1933, 11 months after the programme had been announced, and actually after the order had been placed, no breach of the Official Secrets Act could possibly have been committed thereby, and no question of any action therefore arises.
§ Commander MARSDEN
Is it not a fact that the Electric Boat Company had a financial interest in the building of the submarine, "Clyde," to the extent that they have certain patents incorporated in the ship for which they receive certain fees? If that be so, and I believe it is, is it not correct that Sir Charles Craven was perfectly in order in acquainting his business friends in America what the position was? If that be so, are not these continual innuendoes against Sir Charles Craven without any foundation whatsoever?