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Navy Estimates

Volume 236: debated on Monday 10 March 1930

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asked the Prime Minister whether it is proposed to introduce this year's Navy Estimates before the conclusion of the present Naval Conference; and whether he will consider the desirability of introducing a Vote on Account and presenting the final Estimates after the Conference?

I have been asked to reply. As my hon. and gallant Friend is aware, the Navy Estimates for the ensuing year have now been presented to the House. The alternative course which he suggests was strongly deprecated by Mr. Speaker when it was last adopted in 1922, and it has not been considered that present circumstances are such that the Administration need seek the consent of the House to such an exceptional procedure.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it would be very difficult to discuss these Estimates and that they are the biggest Estimates of any Department of the Government? It will be very difficult to discuss them adequately.

I really do not see where the difficulty comes in. My hon. and gallant Friend suggests that the discussion upon them might be postponed until after the end of the Conference which cannot now be very long. We all hope for a happy outcome of this Conference, and, if the results should justify a further reduction in the Estimates, then there is nothing to prevent the matter from being considered.

Is it a fact that a debate on the subject at the present time would either be mainly unreal or extremely embarrassing?

I do not see that it is either unreal or embarrassing. The Estimates are before the House, and an opportunity will be presented to the House to discuss them.