HL Deb 11 May 1906 vol 157 cc5-6

My Lords, I rise, in accordance with the Notice standing in my name on the Paper, to.ask the Under-Secretary for War, within what time, after the receipt of notice that their services would be required to repel an actual or threatened hostile landing on the south or east coast, could the so-called "commands" of those districts be ready to take the field fully equipped in all respects; what would be the total strength of each of these forces, and its composition; and also the number, calibre, and description of up-to-date guns attached to each force. I have no intention at present of making any remarks upon the Question. I simply put it.


My Lords, I am afraid I am unable to give the noble Earl the; information he desires. The noble Earl asks that I should publish what our military authorities conceive to be the enemies' possible strategy, and the detailed plans for defeating the same. I am advised by every one of the military advisers of the Army Council that to make such details as are desired by my noble friend would be opposed to the public interest. I regret extremely that we cannot give this information to our friends without communicating it to our potential enemies In adopting this attitude I am following the traditions of former Governments. In a debate on a somewhat similar question which was raised by my noble friend on July 17 of last year, † my predecessor in office, Lord Dououghmore, explained that it was inexpedient to publish the details of mobilisation schemes, whether relating to the field Army or to defences. Questions of armament also, Lord Donoughmore stated, are treated as confidential. This principle is still accepted by the Army Council, and, as a breach of it would be involved by any real Answer to my noble friend's Question, I am very sorry to have to say that I cannot give him the details he desires.


My Lords, I have a Motion down for Monday next upon a cognate question, and as my noble friend has declined to give information which I think not only your Lordships but those who pay £29,000,000 a year in taxation ought to know, I shall venture between this and then—I have already got some of the information—to get, in the rough, the information which my noble friend declines to give us to-day, and I hope to give it to the House on Monday.