HL Deb 12 March 1889 vol 333 cc1489-90

had on the Paper the following Question:—To ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Dominion Government of Canada have assented to the proposed arrangements for the defence of the harbour of Esquimault, in Vancouver's Island, which he stated last year had been sent out on the 12th June, 1888; whether the contemplated works have been commenced, and the armaments sent out; whether the Government will now state the date when the fortifications of this important harbour (being the headquarters of our Navy on the Pacific Station) will be completed, and the guns placed in position?


I have to ask my noble Friend opposite (Lord Sudeley) whether he will be good enough to postpone for a short time the Question which he has put upon the Paper. If he will repeat the Question on a future occasion, I shall be able to give a much more complete and definite answer than I could at present.


I have no objection, of course, to postponing the Question, as the noble Lord asks; but I sincerely hope that the Government really intend to press forward this matter to a settlement. As your Lordships are aware, it is quite nine months ago since this Question was fully discussed, and the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies then stated clearly that the Government intended at once to fortify the harbour of Esquimault, and to make it secure; but, as far as I have been able to discover, up to the present moment nothing has really been done. Although this is our only harbour and coaling station on that coast, it is still unfortified and undefended; and there can be no doubt that if war with Russia should break out a great attempt would be made to seize and occupy it. I sincerely hope that the Government will really push the matter forward, and endeavour to get the Dominion Government to make some arrangement in regard to it.

House adjourned at half past Four o'clock, to Thursday next, a quarter past Ten o'clock.