25 MARCH 1899, Page 1

M. Lockroy made a remarkable speech on Friday, the 17th

inst., when introducing his Naval Budget to the Chamber. He showed that France was nine months ago totally unpre- pared for a naval war, lacking material and organisation, but especially men. At Brest there were only 28 per cent. of the artillerists needed for the guns. He maintained, however, that she was now in a much better position, having fifteen ironolads in the Mediterranean, while England has only ten. He would create points d'appui all over the world, and when created send to them swift ironclad cruisers, the object being to attack British commerce everywhere. He promised in time to bring the Fleet up to a level with that of the Triple Alliance, and expressed a strong confidence that as against Great Britain France might rely upon her new weapon, submarine torpedo- boats. He was severely criticised by the naval Deputies, and the general impression left by his speech is that while be really intends France to have a Navy, and will greatly im- prove the condition of her coast defences, he either under- rates or wilfully conceals the amount of time and money required to make his department thoroughly effective. France will require five years and thirty millions for that undertaking, and will even then find that this country has outpaced her. Her role is that of a great Continental Power, and she has never departed from it without disaster.