20 October 1915 – Awkward Questions

In Parliament today, Mr William Joyson-Hicks MP for Brentford asked the Secretary of State for War, about recent air raids The exchange shows that the confusion of responsibility between the War office and the Admiralty remains:

Mr Joyson-Hicks asked the First Lord of the Admiralty “which Departments of the State and what actual persons are responsible for the defence of London from Zeppelin raids?”

Dr. Macnamara (Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty) replied that “Under arrangements made in August, 1914, the primary responsibility for the defence of London rests with the Admiralty. The Home Office are responsible for the arrangements about lighting and other precautionary measures of a non-military character, and they act in co-operation with the Admiralty. The officer in charge of the gun defence of London is Admiral Sir Percy Scott.”

Mr Joyson-Hicks then asked “can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, when Army aeroplanes go up, they are directed by the Admiralty as well? What is the exact provision for the defence of London in regard to aeroplanes?“

Dr. Macnamara replied: “The general responsibility rests with the Admiralty, as I have said. I think the question as to aeroplanes over London is down for to-morrow.

Mr Joyson-Hicks asked the Prime Minister “whether the Cabinet has considered the policy of aeroplane reprisals on German towns as a deterrent to the Zeppelin air raids on our defenceless population; and whether such policy will be adopted?”

Mr Harold Tennant (The Under-Secretary of State for War) replied: “The policy of reprisals is always one open to controversy. The Royal Flying Corps is a military organisation and is engaged upon military operations. The dastardly raids by the enemy on undefended towns and defenceless people will not and should not be allowed to divert the energies of this fighting force from its primary military duties. “

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