HC Deb 11 June 1912 vol 39 cc826-7W

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the present naval force available for the seaward defence of India; whether the Indian Government have made any overtures or have been approached by the Admiralty with regard to the provision and maintenance by India of a, fleet of cruisers sufficient to adequately patrol her coast-line; and whether, in view of recent naval developments in the Pacific, he is satisfied as to the naval strength of the Empire in Pacific and Indian waters?


The seaward defence of India, like that of all the Empire, depends primarily on the strength of the Fleet as a whole. As regards the East Indies Squadron, it consists for the moment of nine ships, a force adequate for the demands which are likely to be made on it. No proposals for an increase of this force are at present under discussion. The existing financial relations of the Admiralty with the Government of India are of a temporary character, and will be subject to reconsideration in due course. I am satisfied that the strength of the Fleet in Eastern waters generally is sufficient, and account must be taken for the future of the growth of the Australian Navy.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he has received representations from any section of Indian opinion with regard to the defenceless condition of Indian harbours and anchorages; whether the anchorage opposite Calcutta and the harbour of Bombay are without adequate protection and the batteries and forts of Trincomalee scrapped and dismantled; and whether the Indian peninsula can now be said to possess a naval base comparable to those possessed by the United States of America in the Sandwich Islands and the Philippines?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; to the second part, the anchorages at Bombay and Calcutta are adequately protected, and Trincomalee is in Ceylon; in answer to the third part of the question, I can only say that the defences of the Indian Peninsula are designed for local protection, and are adequate for this purpose.