Naval Aid Bill : Speech Delivered by Rt. Hon. R.L. Borden, 5th December, 1912


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BORDEN, Rt. Hon. R.L. The Naval Aid Bill : Speech Delivered by Rt. Hon. R.L. Borden, 5th December, 1912. [Ottawa : House of Commons, 1912]. Pp (4),5-31,(1) including a portrait frontispiece of Borden. 8vo, blue card covers.

Sir Robert Laird Borden, PC (1854-1937) was a Canadian lawyer and politician. He served as the eighth Prime Minister of Canada from October 10, 1911 to July 10, 1920, and was the third Nova Scotian to hold this office.

"On the 5th of December, 1912, the Rt. Honourable R. L. Borden introduced in the Canadian House of Commons the Naval Aid Act. The object of this bill is to increase immediately the effective naval forces of the Empire. It provides for an expenditure of $35,000,000 for the construction and equipment of battleships or armoured cruisers of the most modern and powerful type. When the ships are constructed they will be placed at the disposal of His Majesty for the common defence of the Empire.

Right Hon. R. L. BORDEN (Prime Minister) moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 21) to authorize measures for increasing the effective naval forces of the Empire. He said Mr. Speaker, in addressing the House upon so important a subject as that which I propose to discuss, I shall speak in no controversial spirit. If a portion of my remarks may necessarily controvert opinions which have been expressed by hon. gentlemen on either side of the House, let it be understood that I do so, not by way of criticism, but purely for the purpose of giving frankly to the House the reasons which have led the Government to adopt the course which I shall now outline." - from page 5.

"I now proceed to submit to the House the information which we have received from His Majesty's Government. It is in the form of a memorandum, as follows : —
From the Secretary of State for the Colonies to His Royal
Highness the Governor General.
Downing Street, 25th October, 1912.
Sir, —
1. I have the honour to transmit to Your Royal Highness the accompanying copy of a memorandum relating to the requirements of the naval defence of the Empire.
2. This document has been prepared by the Admiralty on the instructions of His Majesty's Government in compliance with the request of Mr. Borden with a view to presentation to the Dominion Parliament if, and when, the Dominion ministers deem it necessary.
I have, &c,
L. Harcourt.

Some sections: Strength of the German Fleet -
Strength of the British Fleet -
Home Waters -
Mediterranean Station -

"The rapid expansion of Canadian sea-borne trade, and the immense value of Canadian cargoes always afloat in British and Canadian bottoms, here require consideration. On the basis of the figures supplied by the Board of Trade to the Imperial Conference of 1911, the annual value of the overseas trade of the Dominion of Canada in 1909-10 was not less than £72,000,000, and the tonnage of Canadian vessels was 718,000 tons, and these proportions have already increased and are still increasing. For the whole of this trade wherever it may be about the distant waters of the world, as well as for the maintenance of her communications, both with Europe and Asia, Canada is dependent, and has always depended upon the Imperial navy, without corresponding contribution or cost." - p.16.

"Whatever may be the decision of Canada at the present juncture, Great Britain will not in any circumstances fail in her duty to the Overseas Dominions of the Crown. (Cheers and loud applause, some Liberals joining.) She has before now successfully made head alone and unaided against the most formidable combinations, and she has not lost her capacity by a wise policy and strenuous exertions to watch over and preserve the vital interests of the Empire. (Applause.)

The Admiralty are assured that His Majesty's Government will not hesitate to ask the House of Commons for whatever provision the circumstances of each year may require. But the aid which Canada could give at the present time is not to be measured only in ships or money. (Loud cheers.)

Any action on the part of Canada to increase the power and mobility of the Imperial Navy, and thus widen the margin of our common safety, would be recognized everywhere as a most significant witness to the united strength of the Empire, and to the renewed resolve of the Overseas Dominions to take their part in maintaining its integrity. (Loud applause.)

The Prime Minister of the Dominion having inquired in what form any immediate aid that Canada might give would be most effective, we have no hesitation in answering after a prolonged consideration of all the circumstances that it is desirable that such aid should include the provision of a certain number of the largest and strongest ships of war which science can build or money supply.'' (Loud cheers and prolonged applause.)- pp.17-18.

"Our navy was once dominant everywhere, and the white ensign was the token of naval supremacy in all the seas. Is it not time that the former conditions should in some measure be restored? (Applause.) Upon our own* coasts, both Atlantic and Pacific, powerful squadrons were maintained twelve years ago. To-day the flag .is not shown on either seaboard. I am assured that the aid which we propose will enable such special arrangements to be consummated that, without courting disaster at home, an effective fleet of battleships and cruisers can be established in the Pacific, and a powerful squadron can periodically visit our Atlantic seaboard, to assert once more the naval strength of the Empire along these coasts. (Applause.)" - p.22.

"Upon inquiry as to the cost of such a battleship, we are informed by the Admiralty that it is approximately £2,350,000 including armament and first outfit of ordnance stores and ammunition. The total cost of three such battleships, which when launched will be the most powerful in the world, would be approximately* $35,000,000, and we ask the people of Canada through their Parliament to grant that sum to His Majesty the King (Loud and repeated cheering) of Great Britain and Ireland and of the Overseas Dominions, in order to increase the effective naval forces of the Empire, to safeguard our shores and our seaborne commerce, and to make secure the common heritage of all who owe allegiance to the King, (Applause.)

These ships will be at the disposal of His Majesty the King for the common defence of the Empire. (Cheers.) They will be maintained and controlled as part of the Royal Navy (Hear, hear) ; and we have the assurance that if at any time in the future it should be the will of the Canadian people to establish a Canadian unit of the Royal Navy, these vessels can be recalled by the Canadian Government to form part of that unit, in which case, of course, they would be maintained by Canada and not by Great Britain. (Cheers.)" - p.23.

"Where shall these ships be built? They will be built under Admiralty supervision in the United Kingdom, for the reason that at present there are no adequate facilities for constructing them in Canada. The plant required for the construction of a dreadnought battleship is enormous, and it would be impossible at present to maintain shipbuilding in this country on such a scale. In any case, only the hull could be built in Canada; because the machinery, the armour, and the guns would necessarily be constructed or manufactured in the United Kingdom. The additional cost of construction in Canada would be about $12,000,000 for the three ships, and it would be impossible to estimate the delay. No one is more eager than myself for the development of shipbuilding industries in Canada, but we cannot, upon any business or economic considerations, begin with the construction of dreadnoughts; and especially we could not do so when these ships are urgently required within two or three years at the outside, for rendering aid upon which may depend the Empire's future existence. (Applause.)

According to my conception, the effective development of shipbuilding industries in Canada must commence with small beginnings and in a businesslike way. (Hear, hear.) I have discussed this subject with the Admiralty, and they thoroughly realize that it is not to the Empire's advantage that all shipbuilding facilities should be concentrated in the United Kingdom. I am assured, therefore, that the Admiralty are prepared in the early future to give orders for the construction in Canada of small cruisers, oil-tank vessels, and auxiliary craft of various kinds. (Loud applause.) The plant required is relatively small as compared with that which is necessary for a dreadnought battleship, and such an undertaking would have a much more secure and permanent basis from a business standpoint. For the purpose of stimulating so important and necessary an industry, we have expressed our willingness to bear a portion of the increased cost for a time at least. (Applause.) I see no reason why all vessels required in the future for our Government service should not be built in Canada, even at some additional cost. (Applause.) In connection with the development of shipbuilding, I should not be surprised to see the establishment of a higher class of engineering works, which would produce articles now imported and not presently manufactured in Canada. (Hear, hear.) - pp.24-25.

'Canada is sending these ships to range themselves in the battle line of the Empire with those of the mother country, of Australia, and of New Zealand. They will be the three most powerful battleships in the world, and they will bear historic names associated with this country. (Applause.) Thus, every Canadian will realize, in seeing or reading of these ships, that they are a gift in which he has participated, and that, by their presence in the battle line of the Empire, he has freely taken a direct and distinct share in maintaining the Empire's safety." p.26.

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Title: Naval Aid Bill : Speech Delivered by Rt. Hon. R.L. Borden, 5th December, 1912

Author Name: BORDEN, R.L.

Categories: 888,

Publisher: House of Commons, Ottawa, 1912,: 1912

Seller ID: 19178