HC Deb 17 December 1936 vol 318 cc2632-4

(by Private Notice) asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is now in a position to make any statement as to the retention in His Majesty's service of the five cruisers due to be scrapped under Treaty arrangements before the end of the year?

The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Sir Samuel Hoare)

For some time His Majesty's Government have been giving serious consideration to the question of the scrapping of five over-age cruisers in order to conform with the provisions of the London Naval Treaty of 1930. In view of the deterioration of the general international situation, this is obviously not a moment at which any Power would wish to scrap serviceable vessels, and His Majesty's Government have therefore been exchanging views on this subject with the other parties to Part III of the London Naval Treaty, namely, the Governments of the United States and Japan. The United States Government have intimated that, if His Majesty's Government decide to have recourse to Article 21 of the London Naval Treaty to retain these vessels, on the ground that the requirements of our nation's security necessitate this action, no objection will be raised by them. No final answer has yet been received from the Japanese Government, but we have reason to believe that their reply will also be favourable.

I am glad. therefore, to be able to inform the House that we expect, in the course of the next few days, to convey to the Governments of the United States and Japan an official intimation of our intention to have recourse to Article 21 of the London Naval Treaty to retain these cruisers on the ground stated above. I should like to take this opportunity to give public expression to our appreciation of the sympathetic and helpful attitude adopted by the Governments of the United States and Japan in this matter.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether this will have any effect on the building programmes of the other two Powers who were signatories of that Treaty?


Certainly not on the building programmes. It might raise questions of scrapping, but certainly not of building.


The right hon. Gentleman referred to the age limit of these vessels. What is the age limit of this particular form of vessel?


That is obviously a question that had better be put on the Paper.


Will the right hon. Gentleman confer with the President of the Board of Trade to apply somewhat the

same argument that he used just now in connection with battleships to merchant service vessels of the larger size?


That is a consideration that does not affect my Department directly.


May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will accept general congratulations upon his considerable achievement?