HC Deb 23 June 1948 vol 452 cc1344-6
35. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what expenditure has been incurred on the naval bases at Singapore since the war; and what further expenditure is to be incurred.

Mr. W. Edwards

I presume that the Question refers to capital expenditure. The total of such expenditure incurred since the occupation of the base after the war amounts to about £1,600,000, including that on rehabilitation. As regards the second part of the Question, I cannot, of course, anticipate future policy, but further expenditure on capital services already approved will amount to about £800,000 including rehabilitation.

Mr. Hughes

Is this £1,600,000 spent since the war in addition to the £26 million which the "Daily Telegraph" estimate says was spent in the war; and is the statement true that up to the present 10,000 people have been working daily at Singapore and that the local naval authorities say that it is an absurdity?

Mr. Edwards

The Question asked the amount of money spent since the war. Quite obviously that excludes any amount spent before or during the war. In regard to the number of people employed there I can assure my hon. Friend that there has been no statement by the naval authorities that the number of people employed are far more than there should be.

Mr. J. P. L. Thomas

May I ask that no considerations of economy will prevent the full re-equipment of this base both as regards defence and dockyard facilities; and further whether the transference of the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief from Hong Kong to Singapore will not in any way lessen the strength and effectiveness of Hong Kong itself?

Mr. Edwards

The second part of the supplementary question does not come within this Question. In regard to the first part, the Admiralty naturally have in mind the valuable position of Singapore and quite obviously, within financial limitations, they will do everything to see that it is kept in a proper state.

Mr. Scollan

In view of the ineffectiveness of the £26 million—

Hon. Members

Speak up.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Address the audience.

Mr. Scollan

I am addressing the Chair. In view of the ineffectiveness of the £26 million previously spent and of the fact that military and naval experts have all proved wrong in their prognostications, is it now proposed to proceed to pour several more millions down the drain to give us another white elephant in Singapore such as the last?

Sir Ronald Ross

Is the amount that the Civil Lord has mentioned the minimum amount required to bring this base into effective use and to rehabilitate it after the damage suffered during the war?

Mr. Edwards

It does not necessarily follow that the figures I have given represent the minimum amount, but that is what we have spent after the war in capital purposes up to the present.

Mr. Donner

Have the deficiencies revealed during the war as regards attack from the land to the north been remedied?

Mr. Edwards

The hon. Gentleman can certainly take it that any lessons we learned as a result of war action are being very carefully taken into account at the moment.