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DEBATE IN THE COMMONS.

NO FRICTION WITH GERMANY; A COMPARISON OF THE NAVIES LONDON, March 23. The debate on the' 'motion , "3f censure on the Government to be move dby Mr. Balfour, on the ground that the immediate provision of battleships of the .newest typo as proposed by the Government is insufficient to secure the safety of the Empire, has been fixed for the 29th inst. The House of Commons iip-rnow discussing in committee the vote for officers and men of the navy. AN ARTIFICIAL AGITATION. After Mr. George Wyndham (Chief Secretary for Ireland in the Balfour Ministry) and Sir Charles Dilke had spoken, the latter deprecating the unworthy panic, and insisting upon our preponderance of pre-Dreadnought ships, Mr. Asquith raised an Opposition protest by describing the demand for a etronger navy as an extraordinary agitation of a very artificial kind, and raised cheers by declaring that between ourselves and Germany there was no friction, and no unfriendliness, but a mutual sense of what was due to the independence of the two nations, and a common feeling that they must in great matters of national defence primarily consider their own interests. The Prime Minister asked for suspension of judgment upon Britain's informal communications to the German Government until Sir Edward Grey (Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs) made, as he would do shortly, a full statement. Though the communications did not result in nil cases in bringing about all that Britain would have desired, the Government had nothing to complain of. BRITAIN IS PREPARED. - Continuing, Mr. Asquith protested against the absurd and mischievous legends regarding Britain's naval unpreparednese. More unpatriotic and unscrupulous misrepresentation of the actual situation had never come to his knowledge. He cited figures showing what Britain's strength would be in 1912, compared with Germany's, and appealed to the nation to believe that whatever party was in power the first care of every statesman worthy of the name would be to maintain intact, unassailable, and unchallengeable, the n avy superiority upon which independence and freedom depended. (Loud Ministerialist cheers.) A VIGOROUS REPLY. Mr. Balfour, in the course of a vigorous reply, said that no one would deny that the country was safe now. What the Opposition affirmed was that danger would begin in 1910, and increase in 1911. The speeches ot Mr. Asquith and Mr. McKenna last week showed that it was impossible to view with indifference the foreign Dreadnoughts, and while the pre-Dreadnought ships were useful, the country would not consider the position safe if foreign Powers had ships of a better type and almost equal or superior in numbers. "Because," he added, "the Government ■will not budge a hair's breadth from a policy involving great national peril, I shall take the course I have announced." FEDERAL CABINET'S DECISION. NO DREADNOUGHT OFFER. MELBOURNE, March 23. The Federal Government has definitely decided not to offer a Dreadnought to Britain. ~. , . .... Mr. Fisher, the Prime Minister, made the announcement after a meeting of the Cabinet this afternoon, and added that Cabinet had agreed with the action he had already taken in the matter. He had intimated to the Governor-General (Lord Dudley) that in the event of emergency the resources of the Commonwealth would be immediately placed at the disposal of Great Britain. Whether this intimation had been transmitted to the Imperial authorities he did not know. The Imperial Government knew Australia's sympathy so much with it that it was unnecessary to make any special communication at present. It must be remembered that the presentation of a Dreadnought would not be a matter of policy, but a mere spasmodic action, and a spectacular display. The only means to meet any danger to the Empire would be by the adoption of a steady, persistent, and determined policy for the defence of Australia combined with readiness to assist the Mother Country in the event of emergency. It waa, he concluded, a matter of indifference to the Government whether the refusal of the Government to comply with the demand for the presentation of a warship was misunderstood or misinterpreted in Australia. The Chamber of Commerce and the Employers' Federation have adopted resolutions in favour of the gift of a Dreadnought.

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DEBATE IN THE COMMONS. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 71, 24 March 1909

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