27 MARCH 1909, Page 2

For ourselves, we extremely deprecate all these attempts to pin

the German Government to statements as to their inten- tions in regard to shipbuilding. Even if the German Govern- ment were willing to be perfectly frank in the matter, their declarations would be of little practical value, as they would necessarily be liable to be changed at any moment. At the same time, if the British public is taught to regard these statements as more absolute than they can be, there is always a danger of accusations of bad faith being based upon them. The business of our Government and Parlia- ment is not to indulge in verbal wrangles with Germany WI to statements and alleged promises and midertakinge In regard to their Fleet, but to concentrate our attention Upon our own Navy and our own shipbuilding programme. We have got to deal with facts, not words. Just imagine the situation which would arise if every three or four months our Government, acting on confidential reports, were to ask explanations from Germany as to whether her promises had not been falsified by an increase of activity in this or that shipyard, or upon the hull of this or that battleship.