HC Deb 11 May 1938 vol 335 cc1559-60
20. Mr. George Griffiths

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what voyages have been made by His Majesty's Ship "Enchantress" since she was commissioned, for the purpose of conveying the First Lord of the Admiralty and private guests; and whether these voyages have been a charge on public funds?

The First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Duff Cooper)

Since she was commissioned in April, 1935, His Majesty's Ship "Enchantress" has been used to convey the First Lord of the Admiralty on two occasions in each of the years 1936, 1937, and 1938. It has always been customary for the First Lord to entertain private guests on board, and this involves no charges on public funds.

21. Mr. Griffiths

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what was the occasion of the recent voyage of His Majesty's Ship "Enchantress" to the Scilly Islands, and from there to Dover; what, if any, naval duties were involved; what private guests made the voyage; and whether the general expenses were a charge on public funds?

Mr. Cooper

I held an official inspection of the Portland Base on Friday, 29th April, and of the Royal Marine Depot at Deal on Monday, 2nd May. Between the two inspections a visit was paid to the Scilly Isles, such visits being part of the normal duties of an escort vessel such as His Majesty's Ship "Enchantress." I may add that I consider it highly desirable that the First Lord should avail himself of suitable opportunities of going to sea and of becoming acquainted with the Fleet.

Mr. Griffiths

Did the right hon. Gentleman go to the Scilly Islands for any naval purpose?

Mr. Cooper

I said in my reply that it is part of the normal duties of the ship, an escort vessel, to visit ports in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. It is a perfectly ordinary voyage for her to make.

Mr. Griffiths

To what port in the Scilly Islands did the Minister go directly on business?

Mr. Stephen

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that the base inspected by him is quite safe?

Mr. Beechman

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the population of those enchanting islands have been greatly encouraged by the presence of the "Enchantress" in their midst?

Mr. A. V. Alexander

May I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the generally heavy expenditure on armaments, it is desirable, with the heavy taxation at present, to keep this ship so much in commission for the type of service to which the First Lord referred?

The Prime Minister

I do not think any change in that respect would make much difference to the existing expenditure.

Mr. Griffiths

I give notice that I desire to raise this question on the Motion for the Adjournment on account of the unsatisfactory answer that the Minister gave.