I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether the Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Fleet is the officer responsible for the defence of Home waters and of this country against invasion; and whether the strength of the Channel Fleet is to be increased in numbers beyond the fourteen battleships, four armoured cruisers, and three unarmoured cruisers to which it was reduced last January.
before the Question was answered, asked did not the Board of Admiralty regret being obliged, under the pressure of Questions placed on the paper by the hon. Member and his friends on the opposite side of the House, of which this was an example, to make public information regarding important details of our naval dispositions which ought not in the national interest to be divulged—["Order."]—and which in the case of all foreign Navies was invariably withheld.
The hon. Member's Question is in the nature of a speech. The Civil Lord of the Admiralty is quite capable of taking care of himself.
In reply to the first part of the Question, the hon. Member is referred to the reply to a similar Question given yesterday to the hon. Member for Rutland.†In reply to the second part of the Question, the Admiralty, as has been frequently repeated, are not prepared to indicate in advance the developments they have in view.
asked whether there would be a statement in regard to the strength of the Channel Fleet next week.
† See(4) Debates, clxxviii, 1339
objected that these Questions pressed upon the Admiralty asked for information which if published would be at the disposal of foreign countries.
asked whether the strength of the Channel Fleet did not appear in the Navy List.
said that if it appeared in the Navy List his hon. friend should be satisfied.
said that if the statement he asked for was not made on the Navy Estimates he would repeat his Question in debate.
asked whether, in the interests of the House and the saving of time, it was not desirable to place the full control of all the naval affairs of the country in the hands of the hon. Member for King's Lynn.
The position of Lord High Admiral is still vacant.