1908-03-19 THE DEFENCE COMMITTEE
London Times, 19 March 1908, p. 5: THE RUSSIAN NAVY. Sub-heading: THE DEFENCE COMMITTEE AND THE GOVERNMENT DEMANDS. St. Petersburg, March 13 (Reuters) In an article appearing to-day in the Novoe Vremya, M. Stolypin, brother of the Premier, discusses the almost foregone conclusion of the vote of the Defence Committee. The writer says that this day is likely to be a day of sorrowful memory for the history of the life and greatness of Russia. He analyses the motives of the majority in wishing immediately to cauterize the wounds of Russian shame – an operation which, he says, cannot be executed without fatal consequences.
Other papers, including the Russ, the Slovo, the Retch, and the Bourse Gazette, are unanimous in supporting the rejection of the credits and dwell on the time which has elapsed since the battle of Tsu Shima without any sign of the accomplishment of naval reforms. They say that neither the representatives of the nation nor of the navy itself can share M. Stolypin’s optimism. Strong pressure from outside is required, and the mysterious secret of the reforms to be expected in a few weeks must be revealed before the country gives the Government the money and confidence asked by M. Stolypin. The Slovo remarks that the internal regeneration of the impoverished country will raise Russian prestige far more than the lavish expenditure of millions on a fleet and on railways in the Far East.
The Defence Committee of the Duma and the Budget Sub-Committee, sitting together, have rejected by 19 votes to 14 the credit for the construction of new battleships, but have approved the credits for new torpedo-boats and submarines and for a depôt ship. The credits for the vessels now under construction and their armaments were also approved.
The committees reported that a comprehensive reconstruction of the navy was only possible by a complete reorganization of the Ministry of Marine and by the legislative determination of the naval programme for several years to come.
Provided by Stephen McLaughlin