My Lords, I beg to call attention to the armament of our mine-layers, such as the "Thetis" and "Iphigenia," which, though over three thousand tons, carry no guns, and to the fact that these two ships were considered to be torpedoed and sunk at the very commencement of our recent manœuvres; and to ask the Government if, while not requiring the crews of mine-layers to compete against other vessels in prize-firing, it would not be desirable to equip them with a light armament such as 12-pounders, so as to put them in a somewhat better position than sheep in the presence of wolves when in sight of an enemy's torpedo vessels.
§ THE EARL OF GRANARD
The Question which my noble friend asks is one of a highly technical character. As your Lordships are aware, these mine-laying ships are of a comparatively new class, the first one having been completed as recently as the year 1907. These ships are generally employed under convoy, and at first it was not thought necessary to arm them. I may say, however, that the Admiralty are considering the whole matter anew, and perhaps at a future date my noble 729 friend will put a further question to me on the subject. I am sorry that I am not able to give him any further information at the present moment.