asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether the Commander-in-Chiefs yachts "Surprise" and "Alacrity" are still in commission; if not, when they were paid off; what is the annual cost of these yachts in full commission, including pay of crew and depreciation; and what they are costing at present if not in commission?
These vessels are at present in commission, but in the interests of economy they are to be paid off and disposed of as soon as practicable. The "Surprise" will be paid off before the end of the month, but it may take somewhat longer to make arrangements for the "Alacrity," which is on the China Station. Allowing for the fall in prices since my reply to the hon. and gallant Member, on the 2nd August last, the approximate cost during the current financial year, including depreciation, is £53,400 for "Alacrity" and £45,700 for "Surprise." The previous figures did not include depreciation.
What justification is there for keeping these non-fighting ships in commission when there are not sufficient destroyers in commission to give proper training to officers and crews?
That is a fact. In reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy), these vessels have been in constant use for various purposes, and in their absence it might have been necessary to use more expensive and larger vessels. I hope, in each case, they will be replaced in future by sloops which will probably cost less.