The discussion, on going into Supply, on the Navy Estimates,
was concluded on Thursday evening, when Sir Charles Dilke made a very pessimistic speech, declaring that the Government scheme was quite inadequate to the emergency; that the commercial marine (from which the Naval Reserve ought to derive its supply) contains much fewer A.B. sailors than it did ; that the number of battleships to be added is inadequate ; and that the great new docks have been begun much too late, and ought to have been built long ago. Mr. Balfour replied by insisting on the great care which the Admiralty had taken in drawing up their programme, by declaring that the Naval Reserve is fully up to any probable requirements, and explaining that to keep a great number of recruits for the Navy long waiting for employment which they may never get, only spoils them for their work if they do actually get it, and by showing that the question of what a first-class battleship is, is a very complex one. A second-class battleship may be as good a fighting-vessel as a first-class, but if it has no great storage for coal, it is unable to fight at any great distance from its own ports. Sir William Harcourt declined to criticise the Estimates till he knew more of our foreign relations, and the probable risks of war which we have to run ; but in the meanwhile declared that we must accept the Estimates of the Government on their respon- sibility, large as they arc. Eventually the Closure was carried by a majority of 136 (183 to 47), and the motion that the Speaker do leave the chair by a majority of 145 (186 to 41).