Will my hon. friend permit me to put him right? A question was asked by Mr. Arthur Lee in the British House of Commons on 5th June, 1913, and in reply Mr. Churchill said:
The situation created by the rejection of the Canadian Naval Aid Bill requires immediate action in order that the margins of naval strength necessary for the whole world protection of the British Empire may he adequately ' maintained for the autumn and winter of 1915, and in the spring of 1916. In these circumstances, the Government have determined to advance the construction of the three contract ships of this year's programme, and orders have been issued by the Admiralty which will ensure their being begun at the earliest possible date instead of in March next.
My hon. friend knows what that meant. It simply meant that the Admiralty intended to build three ships after my right hon. friend the Prime Minister went over there and said: We will give you three ships, or rather we will borrow the money for you; and, when the British Admiralty found that he was not going to borrow the money, they had to build three ships in order to carry out their original programme.
What I was pointing cut was that the theory of my hon. friend the
"Minister of Marine and Fisheries that, because Commander Roper told him that the vessels, the plans of which had been drafted by the Admiralty in the winter of 1910-11, would be obsolete before they could be constructed, would apply to every vessel which vras constructed previous to three or four years ago.
I was speaking of the Niobe, and I have some figures here which I have taken from the Naval Annual. Take first the first and second class cruisers. How many of these do you suppose, Mr. Speaker, there are in commission in the British Navy that are older than the Niobe? There are 35 of them. How many naval vessels of the same class as the Niobe, and built in the same year, are now in commission in the British Navy? Seven, all built in the same year, and of the same class exactly. How many armoured ships older than the Niobe are there in the British Navy? There are no less than ten built at dates running back to 1895. They are as follows:
Caesar, 14 900 tons, comp'eted in 1897;
Hannibal, 14,900 tens, completed in 1897 ;
Illustrious, 14,000 tons, completed in 1898; Jupiter, 14,900 tons, completed in 1897 ; Magnificent, 14,900 tons, completed in 1895; Majestic, 14,900 tons, completed in 1895 ; Mars,
14.900 tons, completed in 1897 ; Prince George,
14.900 tons, completed in 1896; Renown, 12,350 tons, completed in 1896; Victorious, 14,900 tons, completed in 1897.
There are 47 ships as old or older than the Niobe in the British Navy to-day. Taking cruisers, there are :
Arlus (3,600), completed in 1893; Astraea
(4.360) , completed in 1894 ; Barham, completed in 1890 ; Brilliant, completed in 1893 ; Cambrian, completed in 1894; Charybdis, completed in 1SE5 ; Crescent (7,700), completed in 1894; Diana (5,600), completed in 1898 ; Dodo (5,600), completed in 1898; Doris ('5,600), completed in 1898 ; Eclipse (5,600), completed in 1897; Edgar (7,350), completed in 1893; Flora, completed in 1895 ; Forte, completed in 1895 ; Fox completed in 1897 ; Gibraltar (7,700), completed in 1894; Grafton (7,350), completed in 1894; Hawke (7,350), completed in 1893; Hermione
(4.360) , completed in 1895; Hussar, completed in 1895 ; Iris (5,600), completed in 1898 ; Juno (5^600), completed in 1898; Minerva (5,600), completed in 1897 ; Pelonis, completed in 1897 ; Philomel, completed in 1892 ; Royal Arthur, (7,700), completed in 1893 ; Sappho, completed in 1893.
One of these cruisers is the Hawke, which distinguished herself in one of the few naval battles which took place in the British Channel. She was built in 1893 and she is only 7,350 tons, or more than 4,000 tons less than the Niobe. As far as armament
and equipment are concerned, she did not begin to compare with the Niobe.
Then of vessels of the same class as the Niobe, all of 11,000 tons, built between 1896 and 1898, there are the following:
Amphritite, 11,000 tons, launched in 1S98, completed 1900; Andromeda, 11,000 tons, launched In 1897, completed 1900; Argonaut,
11.000 tons, launched in 1898, completed 1900 ; Ariadne, 11,000 tons, launched in 1898, completed 1900 ; Diadem, 11,000 tons, launched in 1896, completed 1899; Europa, 11,000 tons, launched in 1897, completed 1899; Spartiate,
11.000 tons, launched in 1898, completed 1902.
These vessels were built about the same time as the Niobe, and have the same armament, and all of them are sailing the seas while some of them have been in action during the present war. The only trouble about the Niobe was that she was sent out here while a Liberal Government was in power in Canada. The fact is that in the British Navy to-day there are 47 vessels older than she is.
With regard to size, there are 87 first-class vessels set out in the Naval Annual as having a smaller tonnage than the Niobe and they are all in commission to-day in the British Navy, though older than the Niobe.
Let us compare her with one or two of the vessels which defended our coasts last summer. Take the Berwick, 9,800 tons. She has smaller guns than the Niobe. The Carnarvon is of 10,850 tons, or some 250 tons less than the Niobe, and, with the exception of four 7.5 guns, she had not as heavy an armament. Then there are the Cornwall, the Cumberland, the Essex and the Suffolk. These names are all familiar to those who have read the newspapers All of them are cruisers of 9,800 tons; all are of the same armament as the Niobe, or even lighter, and nobody has ever heard of them being called no good. The Glory, for instance, the flagship that was out here last year, was 12,000 tons, or a little more than 1,000 tons bigger than the Niobe. Her armament was practically the same as the Niobe's, except that she had in addition four 12-inch guns. The Leviathian was a 14,100-ton boat; she had a couple more guns than the Niobe. The fact is, then, that the Niobe is larger than five of the vessels which comprise the North Atlantic squadron defending our coast to-day. Furthermore, when hon, gentlemen came into power in (19111 the Niobe was, larger than any vessel in the navies of Denmark, Greece, Holland, Norway, Sweden, and Portugal, and yet hon. gentlemen opposite
who claini to be the repositories of everything that is patriotic in this country, have done nothing since the Niobe came to Canada except to declare that she was of no value whatever, and that it was a disgrace that she was ever sent out here by the British Government. Well, I have given the Niobe's history. My hon. friend says that her boilers were bad. I wonder what has beoome of the boilers of these other eight or nine vessels that were built at the same time and which are now fighting the battlps of the Empire.
It does seem to me that I had very ample grounds for calling the attention of the House to the situation to-day with regard, to our Naval Service. If hon. gentlemen opposite had this wonderful prescience in regard to the war, if they knew it was coming, why did they sit down and do nothing after the verdict of Parliament in 1913? Parliament rose in the spring of 1913. These gentlemen who had it in the back of their head,s that war was coming on did nothing at all to prepare for it, either on land or on sea. Was it that they wanted to
play politics? Because they wanted to act upon the suggestion which seems so gratifying to the Minister of Public Works, that because the proposition had been turned down, they need do nothing but play politics with it? What were they doing from the spring of 1913 to August 1914, and what have they done from August 1914 down to the present? As the hon. member for South Cape Breton (Mr. Carroll) has said, the only vessel in Nova Scotia that is any good to-day is the one that was given to this Government. Does it mean that because the policy of contribution of hon. gentlemen opposite was turned down and they did not wish to adopt the alternative policy of construction in Canada, they decided to sit down and do nothing; that no matter how long this war is going to last they will not initiate some method of building ships in Canada to protect our coast? As the hon. member for South Cape Breton has pointed out, when the British Government wanted ten submarines last summer, they bought them from Vickers-Maxim, Montreal, and we in the Maritime Provinces saw them floating across the ocean to the other side. Why do not hon. gentlemen opposite do something of that kind? Why do they not encourage conditions in Canada under which we could construct vessels of some kind to defend Canada on the sea? They have not done anything.
And that is why I moved the resolution. I moved it to call the attention of the people of this country to the failure of the Minister of Marine to do anything in the way of providing a defence for Canada upon the sea, and for the purpose of calling attention to the fact that while * Australia, Cape Colony and Newfoundland are sending men to take part in the naval battles of the Empire, the best the Minister of Naval Service can do is to send word around to the boys who run motor boats that in a while, when somebody comes out from England to make the necessary arrangements, they will be given a chance to recruit There are many young men in Canada just waiting for an opportunity to hecruit. I submit that that is the situation to-day so far as Canada is concerned. The question as to who was right in 1913 in regard to the whole problem will be settled, and settled right, before many years are over. When ever the Prime Minister of this country has the nerve and temerity to propound a permanent naval policy in this country, that permanent policy will be the adoption of the Liberal policy in 1913. We on this side of the House are perfectly prepared to await the judgment of the people on that question; we know what that verdict will be. But to-day, when my hon. friend from Cape Breton is going away to take his part in the battles of the Empire, as he has decided to do in the past ten days, and when all our other young men are coming forward to bear their share, let us forget the old struggle for a moment, and consider whether we have done our part on the sea since 1913. I think this discussion has disclosed the fact that we have not done our part and that it is time the Minister of Naval Service began to realize that w-should be doing something in this direction.
Motion of Mr. Macdonald agreed to.
On the motion of Mr. Rogers for the adjournment of the House:
We shall take up any Bills that are on the Order Paper, and then ' go on with the Shell Investigation resolution. I hope we shall make more progress to-morrow than we have to-day, which we might consider as a day wasted. Otherwise we shall have to sit much later than in the past if we are ever going to get to the end of the session.
I think this can hardly be called a day wasted. For instance, the Minister of Marine and Fisheries has had an opportunity to make that speech of his over again, and we like it. It is not a day wasted. The people of the country like to know the mind of public men on these great questions. I do not belong to that class of people who do not like these discussions. I am sure I enjoyed the discussion immensely, particularly the speech of my hon. friend from Pictou, and I think if the Minister of Public Works will revise his view, he will come to the conclusion that a day like to-day has not been wasted.