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Cruisers

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1949

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3.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty the minimum number of cruisers now regarded by the Board of Admiralty as the indispensable minimum for the safety of the United Kingdom and of the Empire for the protection of our trade routes and for the command of the sea in 1949 and during the next few years.

No, Sir, I regret that it would not be in the public interest to give information of this kind.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that in bygone years the minimum number of cruisers considered necessary has always been published, and in view of our extensive imperial and national commitments can he justify the position he has now adopted?

Yes, Sir. As has been stated on a number of occasions, other countries do not give us information as to their strength, and we do not think it advisable that we should give information as to our strength.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is not possible to hide a major ship?

It may not be possible to hide a major ship but we can hide the target as to major ships.

Will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance to the House that, in view of the small number of cruisers at present in commission, as crews become available, more cruisers will be put into commission in order to bring up our cruiser strength?

Can the hon. Gentleman give some indication whether there will be more cruisers or fewer cruisers as a result of the Atlantic Pact?