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-----"EMPIRE DEFENCE. .

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"EMPIRE DEFENCE. Speeches by Sir E. Grey and Mr McKenna. OMINOUS TIMES. SIR E. GREY AND ARMAMENTS. The all-important topic of the Navy in rela- tion to the 1efenceof the Empire was discussed at the Imperial Press Conference at the Foreign Office on Tuesday. The matter arose out of the subject for discussion, The Press and the Empire," and was introduced by Mr Reginald McKenna. the First Lord of the Admiralty, who presided. Prior to the conference the delegates Were entertained by Mr Lloyd George at breakfast at 11, Dovvning- street. Mr McKenna said the principal business that morning-though not to the exclusion of other topics—was the Navy in relation to Imperial defence. We always," Mr McKenna con- tinued, speak of our Imperial and military problems as iiie problem of defence, and it is only from the defensive point of view that we ever consider ourselves in relation to other nations. The Navy for the best pTl-t; of a cen- tury has been only an instrument of peace used for defensive purposes and for no other. Though our predominance at sea has been so Inng assured, it would be difficult for anyone her,, to recall a case of a naval war in which 'otir naval strength bad been exerted. We took to the future, and we see growing difficul- ties surrounding our Empire. We foresee possibilities in which we shall be called upon to unite our whole strength in com- mon defence." The one essential is that we shou!d keep the high road of the Sea open. That is the great Imperial stategic problem which confronts us. It is that which gives us a quickening sense—not only of confidence-in our dependence upon, but of partnership in, the Navy. (Applause.) We recognise, we all recognise cach one of ns, that the peculiar naval problem in its local aspect which each of us has to deal with, is not the same. Empire Responsibility. To us the question of naval defence in its Imperial aspect covers the whole globe. We cannot admit that we have any less responsi- bility in one part of the Empire than in another. But when you come to consider the naval problem as it must present itself to the mind of each of the dominions, it is impossible that you can avoid forming different judg- ments and conclusions. In a sense to the whole of the Empire the problem is the same as to the United Kingdom, but it would be absurd to ignore the tact that if you take a dominion in the Southern Seas. and consider its relationship to the Navy in comparison to the relationship of a dominion in the Northern Atlantic there is a wide difference. The sense of partnership in the Navy is common to us all. But we don't ask-we never have asked- for that generous assistance which is being so cordially offered by you, and which we most gratefully accept. We recognise—and I hope we ever shall recognise—that in the develop- ment of what you may call the naval idea in every dominion, it is essential that the main- spring should come from the dominions them- selves. We cannot force our strategical ideas upon you. We should fail if we attempted to do so. If any dominion came to the Admiralty at home here and asked us what our view was as to the best assistance for the purpose of common defence which could be rendered we should be ready with an answer. But we should not necessarily expect you to accept our answer. You will have your own views as to the proper development of defensive forces in your own dominions. It is only by your-working out your own problems for your- selves that you can ever gam experience. Lessons told you, as it were, by othera will never come home to you with the same force as lessons which you have learnt for yourselves. We will assist in every way in our power whatever be the methods by which we are asked to assist—(cheers)—and we are sure that, in the long run, out of this process of self- development every dominion will come ultimately to the same conclusion — that the main problem of defence is the same for them all, and that the maintenance of supremacy at Ilea means the maintenance of supremacy in all the seas of life. Now, gentlemen, I won't detain you too long, but before I sit down I must Kay one word as to your-if I may so address you—peculiar influence as delegates from the dominions in relation to naval defence. Navy Above Party. It is unavoidable, owing to fundamental differences of temperament, that we should be divided in political parties, but it is inbst desirable that the Navy should so far as possible be set above party differences. The more the Navy is recognised as Imperial, and not local, the more you, gentlemen, bring home to the minds of the great English-speak- ing world-not only ia this country, but throughout the Empire—that the Navy is something in which we all alike feel the same vital interest, the more impossible it Will become to treat the Navy as the plaything of local dimensions. (Applause.) By the tone of the Press more than in any other way the Navy can be removed from the arena of party politics. If you make rt discreditable, as you can, to treat the Navy in any other way than as the Empire itself is treated, as something which is not to be made the mere subject (3 party discussion, you will render the greatest service which it is in the power of any man to render to Imperial defence. We must be left free to discuss these problems on their pure merits, without consideration of this or that party gain or party loss. We call upon you, on both sides, to render your assistance in raising the Navy into a status something: above party and purely Imperial. Gentlemen, when the Press, as it so often does, forgets itself and looks only to its ideal, the Press can impose Its will upon peoples and Governments alike. You represent the people. You speak for the people in a peculiar sense. When you are right your power is omnipotent. I hope that in this respect your visit will prove most beneficial to the interests of naval defence, and I feel confident that in exercising your power in this way during peace you will render the same service to Imperial defence as if, and when, war comes. You will be willing to sacri- fice your own professional interests by that exerciser of self-control—by no other name can we call it—which admits the Press into pre- serving secrets necessary to be preserved in war. (Hear, hear.) You have a positive duty both of teaching and action, and I know the whole Empire can appeal unhesitatingly toyou to exercise that power. (Applause.)

SIR EDWARD GREY.

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