HC Deb 07 May 1947 vol 437 cc419-20
44. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many of His Majesty's ships are now laid up or could not be ready for service in 14 days.

The Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. John Dugdale)

I regret that it would not be in the public interest to disclose this information.

Sir W. Smithers

In view of the state of unrest in the world, in view of the enormous commitments of our country, and in view of the increasing menace of Communism, will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that the Royal Navy, which has saved us so often in the past, will be kept fully equipped and ready for action?

Mr. Dugdale

Certainly, Sir.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

Is not this a very simple request in time of peace? Is it really against the public interest that this figure should be disclosed?

Mr. Dugdale

It is frequently very desirable that certain information should not be disclosed to the public, and this is one of the kinds of such information.

Sir Ronald Ross

Can the Parliamentary Secretary give us some idea when it will be possible to resume the practice of publishing the Admiralty List?

Mr. Dugdale

Not at the moment, but I am perfectly willing to consult my noble Friend to see if, later, it will be possible.

Mr. Eden

But was not this information available before the war? Will not the Admiralty take as a guiding rule that the practice followed before the war should be followed now? This secrecy and hush-hush is most disagreeable.

Hon. Members


Mr. Dugdale

I thought I had answered that previously, in saying that I will consult with my noble Friend to see if in time it will be possible to release this information.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that any of these ships could easily be repaired within 14 days if he were to get a team of Communist engineers on the job?

Major. Bruce

Will the hon. Gentleman make it quite clear that he does not concede the inference contained in the first supplementary question of the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers)?

Mr. Dugdale

Certainly, Sir.

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