HL Deb 09 March 1943 vol 126 c483

My Lords, I regret that I must ask your Lordships' indulgence for a few moments in order to make a personal statement in connexion with the answer which I gave last Thursday to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Winster, on the subject of naval losses. For some weeks there stood upon the Order Paper, for non-oral reply, a question by the noble Lord asking His Majesty's Government—here I quote— what are the losses to date, December 31, 1942, in each category of warship already announced by the Admiralty during the progress of the war and what are the total naval casualties, officers and men to the same date. On March 2 the noble Lord's question appeared on the Order Paper as an unstarred question in similar terms but with this important difference, that the period for which figures were required had been extended from December 31, 1942, to February 28, 1943. I much regret that, though it was observed that the character of the question was changed, it was overlooked in the Admiralty that the period for which figures were asked had been amended. Due to this oversight the figures which I gave to your Lordships last Thursday covered the period asked for in the original question but failed to include the losses during the first two months of 1943. I must express to your Lordships my sincere regret for this mistake. The alteration in the noble Lord's question should, of course, have been noticed in the Department. I unhesitatingly accept full personal responsibility for the error made. In order to make the figures in my reply accurate up to February 28, 1943, it is necessary to add the following losses: destroyers, 4; corvettes, 4; submarines, 4; minesweepers, 1; and trawlers, 6.

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