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New Construction (Suspension)

Volume 149: debated on Friday 16 December 1921

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what will be the total charge in connection with the four new battleships whose construction has now been abandoned?

I regret I cannot give figures of the total charge which will be incurred in the event of the contracts for the four new battle cruisers being cancelled.

Does the hon. Gentleman not wish that he had taken our advice to postpone the construction of these ships until after the Washington Conference?

Considering that this House has voted these sums to be spent on shipbuilding, cannot the hon. Gentleman see his way to adopt some alternative scheme of spending the money in order to alleviate unemployment in the shipbuilding districts?

Is it not a fact that two of these ships have to be built, and that this news is in the paper to-day?

I have no information on that subject. As regards the other supplementary question, the only shipbuilding I can deal with is Admiralty shipbuilding.

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us whether the four ships are to be proceeded with or not?

The construction of the four battle cruisers for the present is in suspense. What will ultimately be done will depend on the outcome of the Washington Conference.

Has anything been done by way of compensation to the shipbuilders who are going to lose money on these contracts; and if so, will anything be done correspondingly with regard to the workmen who will lose wages?

My right hon. Friend's question raises a point of detail with reference to the contracts. Questions of that sort may arise, but I do not think it would be in the public interest to go into them now.

Will the House be informed how much money has been thrown away owing to this mistake?