§ Mr. Charles Wood
rose for the purpose of offering to the Committee an explanation of the Navy Estimates. The general form of these Estimates was precisely the same as that in which they had been submitted for three or four years past; and as that had been so often and so clearly explained by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir James Graham), and last year by the noble Lord (Ashley), he would not trouble the Committee by going over the same ground. He would merely refer to those parts of the Estimates in which there was any prominent difference between the votes of last year and those of the present. Confining the statement to those services over which alone they had any power of" reduction, there was a difference between the amount of the votes in this year and the last of 306,000l.; but in reality, the total difference between the expense of the two periods was only 256,000l., the apparent increase arising from the fact that in the Estimates of last year a much larger sum than usual was obtained in reduction of the votes asked from Parliament, by taking in aid of the grants, the sums accruing from the sale of stores, &c. &c, for the period of a year and three quarters, instead of for the usual period of a 1225 year; and thereby exhibiting a great apparent reduction. In this arrangement he perfectly concurred; and he merely mentioned the circumstance to show that they had not the same advantages this year which the last had afforded. The first excess was an item No. 1, for the wages to seamen; and also in No. 2. This excess arose principally from, the increase which was to be made in the number of seamen. As he should have to return to this part of the subject before he sat down, he would merely state that the expense occasioned by that increase was 220,000l. The increase on the votes, however, was only 204,000l. The difference arose, partly from the transfer of the sum of 10,000l. to the half-pay list, part of the arrangement of the Ordinary, and partly from a saving of 5,000l., which had been effected by an economical arrangement. The charge for the Navy Pay-office was entirely omitted, an arrangement having been made by the Treasury for that head of expense, and this caused a difference to the amount of 22,000l. The next item in which there had been an increase was No. 10, the vote for the stores of the Navy, in which they had felt it their duty to propose an increase of 47,000l., as compared with the charge of last year. He was desirous of stating that this increase was rendered necessary, because the vote of last year was unprecedentedly small; but although the increase he had just stated was made, the whole amount was 30,000l. below the lowest vote taken by the right hon. Baronet opposite(Sir James Graham), who certainly was not chargeable with any extravagance on that head. The next item of increase was in the miscellaneous services; if the miscellaneous services of this year had remained the same as those of last, there would have been a saving under this head of 3,000l..; but the increase was occasioned, first, by the establishment of an office for the registration of merchant seamen, and secondly by the expense of fitting out the expedition for the relief of the whale ships which were blocked up in the ice. Under the head of half-pay, there was a saving of 5,000l., it would have been upwards of 12,000l., but for an arrangement which transferred from No. 2 to No. 5 a charge of 7,000l., occasioned by a proposed increase in the half-pay of pursers. He should also say, that there would be a 1226 larger prospective reduction, in consequence of an arrangement made by the present Board of Admiralty for extending to masters, surgeons, and pursers, a rule only applied hitherto to lieutenants and other commissioned officers, namely, only creating one new officer for every three vacancies. He had stated these facts to show, that although the present Government had enlarged some of the votes, they were not unmindful of principles of just economy, but were, on the contrary, prepared to carry them to the utmost extent consistent with the interests of the service, conscious as they were that they should deserve the censure of that House if they carried a desire for reduction so far as to impair the efficiency of the Navy, or lessen its utility. The Admiralty had also thought it right to afford, for the first time, a full explanation of several of the statements which appeared in the Estimate. He was inclined to think that by so doing they had pursued, not only a fair, but a prudent course. He had always held—and it was an opinion expressed last year by the members of the present Board of Admiralty—that it was the duty of every Government to afford, especially in matters of finance, the fullest information that they could furnish consistently with due regard to the public interests. They had acted on this principle; and in the explanatory statements of this year no point was omitted in which debate was likely to arise.
The first statement contained a detailed account of the officers and men employed in the service on the 1st of January in the present year, A prospective statement had been called for, but that hon. Gentlemen must be aware it would be impossible to give, from the constant variation of the force employed. They had thought it advisable to give a statement of the actual condition of the Navy on the last quarter-day, and that would be no bad criterion for the ensuing year. The statement specified the different services in which the several ships employed were engaged, and it would be seen that they had kept as near to the number of men voted as possible. In fact the number on the 1st of January only exceeded the number voted by two. The next paper was explanatory of an arrangement which the Government proposed to carry into effect with regard to the Ordinary of the Navy; and as he did 1227 not know that he should have any better opportunity of explaining the arrangement, he would avail himself of the present, and refer to it at once. The Committee were probably aware, that in order to take care of that portion of the fleet which was laid up in Ordinary, as it was termed, a certain number of officers and men were employed; the officers received half-pay, and allowances, amounting very nearly to their full pay. There were also warrant officers, and a certain number of men. The first step taken by the Lords of the Admiralty was to order a survey of the warrant officers. That survey was made, and upwards of 200 of them were found to be lame and infirm, or otherwise inefficient and incompetent for the discharge of such duties as they were called upon to perform. All these men were removed, upon superannuated allowances proportionate to their services. It was proposed that one of the ships in Ordinary should be placed in commission, and a captain, with a proper complement of officers, appointed to her. Those officers would look after the ships in Ordinary, while the captains, by being placed upon full pay, would be enabled to attend upon Courts-martial and to discharge other duties, which at present, in consequence of the small number of ships in commission, could not be discharged without very great inconvenience. Government would, under the proposed arrangement, gain the services of one captain and one commander in each port, while they got rid of the inefficient warrant officers and retained only such as were competent to the discharge of duty. One very great advantage that would result from this, would be the facility it would afford the Admiralty of sending ships to sea much more speedily than formerly. The persons to be retained in the places of superannuated warrant officers would be able men fit for sea duty, who might be sent out immediately without any notice. The way in which this was intended to work was this:—In the course of the last summer three large three-deckers had been put in commission as guard-ships, and equipped for active service in all respects except as to the number of men, which were to be kept below the full complement. By the proposed plan they would always have a sufficient number of able seamen at command to make up the full complement of those ships, which could, if 1228 necessary, put to sea within a few hours after an order from the Admiralty had reached them for the purpose. The same course might be pursued to a smaller extent in the event of fitting out more vessels; a party of marines and a number of these men would be put on board of each ship, and the nucleus of a crew formed at once, and thus would be gained an advantage of the utmost importance, as it would obviate the difficulty which had always been experienced in getting-men when there was a pressing emergency for them—and this, too, without putting the country to any additional expense. They would substitute for the superannuated parties 288 qualified men, and this, with the 342 to be added, would constitute an efficient and well-educated force of 630 men, always at their disposal. A saving would be effected to the public of 1,062l., which would be increased as the superannuated warrant officers died off. The third statement was the detail of the expense of the Royal Marines. As to item No. 10, it had been stated before, that there were very many things it would be impossible, consistently with the public service, to state in detail in the Estimates. In that opinion he concurred, and these items he must ask for upon the responsibility of the Government, At the same time that the Government asked for that confidence, they felt it their duty to include in such vote nothing upon which it was possible to give information consistently with the public service. They had, therefore, in framing the Estimates, removed much that was in No. 10 to No. 11.; and the former (No. 10) they had divided, including in the first item the sum necessary for the purchase of all sorts of stores, namely, 377,458l.., and the remaining services formerly included in one gross sum were now stated separately. The only other alteration related to officers on half-pay, the numbers and pay of each rank being now stated at length. He was not aware that there was any other topic upon which it was possible to give any information to the House which had been omitted from the Estimates. Having stated thus much in explanation of the general plan (any further information he should be most happy to give when each separate vote came to be considered), he should now lay before the House the grounds upon which he proposed to ask for an increase of 5,000 men upon the number 1229 in the Estimates of last year. The right hon. Baronet opposite (the Member for Cumberland), and certainly no one was better qualified to form an opinion upon the subject than he was, had last year, when a reduction in the number of men was proposed, expressed his doubts of the possibility of making such a reduction without seriously impairing the public service, and he (Mr. Wood) must say, that the experience of a year had proved to his satisfaction that those doubts of the right hon. Baronet were well, founded. He would beg the House to look to the amount of our force, which could be strictly called, naval. In the packet service there were employed 1,347 men. In addition there were six gun brigs recently employed in the packet service in which there were about 250 men. In the surveying vessels there were employed 664 men, and in the troop ships 183. This, not including the crews of the gun brigs, gave a sum of more than 2,000 men, leaving for our effective naval service less than 14,000 men. The first ground upon which he asked the House to consent to the resolution for an increase of 5,000 men was, that there was no British naval station in the world from which there were not pressing demands for an increased force. From the station in the Pacific, where the English trade was increasing very much, there were continued demands for an increase of naval force. The demands made upon the Admiralty in this respect had been reiterated through the Foreign Office by the Consuls of this country, as his noble Friend at the head of that department well knew. Again, similar calls had been made upon the Admiralty by the Consuls at Mexico and Valparaiso, by the merchants resident there, and on the whole western coast of Mexico, claiming this aid in protection of their persons and their property, and declaring such increased naval force to be absolutely necessary for this purpose. Similar applications had been made from the coast of Peru, which was in a perfect state of revolution, where there existed no Government able either to enforce its own decrees, or to protect the property of British merchants—property which could only be secured by the presence of a ship of war, which assistance the British merchants claimed. From the northern ports of the Brazils, which were in a similar condition to Peru, similar demands had 1230 been made, and the claims for protection to the trade in that part of the world had been supported by the merchants of Liverpool and other influential bodies. That such protection was necessary was shown by the fact, that a British merchant ship had been lately seized and, he was sorry to add, that her crew, save one man, had been murdered. Again, Sir George Cockburn, on the West-India station, called for additional force to put down the slave trade, which, he regretted to say, was again upon the increase in that part of the world, and was now carried on to a very great extent. From our North American station there were also complaints of the interference with our Newfoundland fisheries, both by the United States and by France; and it appeared that an increase of our force in the fishery season would be the only means of protecting our interests. From our Admiral on the East India station there were also representations of the insufficiency of our naval force to check the increase of piracy; and the presence of an additional ship was urgently requested on the coast of New South Wales. His Majesty's Government had been also apprised, that on the eastern and western coasts of Africa, and to the south-west of Madagascar and Mozambique, there had been a very considerable increase of the slave trade, carried on under the Spanish and Portuguese flags; and the anticipation of the treaty with Spain speedily taking effect, gave a stimulus to this trade at the present moment, which it was desirable should be checked. The continuance of our fleet in the Tagus was requested by the Portuguese Government, and on the coast of Spain the presence of the British squadron had been of the most essential service, by affording moral support to the Government of the Queen and the cause of constitutional freedom in furtherance of the Quadruple Treaty; nor had they been less useful at Barcelona and elsewhere in protecting the Carlist prisoners from that retaliation which the excesses of the rebel forces had provoked. This was not, however, the principal reason he should urge in order to induce the House to consent to this addition of 5,000 men to our naval force. It was the intention of the Government to send a squadron to sea to cruise during the summer, for the purpose of giving both officers and men an opportunity of practising the evolutions of a fleet; which, from the scattered dis- 1231 position of our vessels for the protection of our trade, could very seldom be done, The greatest advantage had been derived in this respect from the cruise which took place under the orders of the hon. and gallant Admiral, the Member for Devonport; and it was only fair to our navy to give them the same advantage as the navies of other powers enjoyed. The French and the Russians did not neglect this means of forming their seamen. From the best information he could obtain, the French would have twelve sail of the line at sea during the ensuing summer. In 1834, the Russians bad five sail of the line cruising in the Black Sea, and eighteen sail of the line besides frigates in the Baltic. Last summer two divisions of nine sail of the line each appeared together at a review at Cronstadt; and after landing troops for the review at Kalisch, eleven sail of the line and seven frigates, besides smaller vessels carrying crews, amounting to more than 10,000 men, were cruising in the Baltic. During this same period, there never was in our channel ports more than two frigates and a sloop, with crews amounting, perhaps, to 1,000 men, disposable for sea service at any one time, and this only for a day or two. At the same time, all the line-of-battle ships this nation had afloat, in every part of the world, did not exceed ten. He did not wish to urge any arguments on this or to appeal to the feelings of Gentlemen as to the recollection of former days when the British navy was the unrivalled mistress of the seas; he stated the naked fact, that such was the existing state of things, and then confidently appealed to every hon. Member, whether or not it ought longer to continue? The cause of this state of circumstances was not the want of ships, but the want of men to animate the lifeless bodies lying in the harbours of the country, and which, so far as the ships were concerned, could be sent to sea in a few clays, equal to any of the foreign fleets he had mentioned. Those ships could not, however, be manned without applying to Parliament, or having recourse to those forcible measures which it ought to be the great object of every man to avoid. It was, therefore, for the purpose of preventing being left in such a condition—a condition not consistent with the honour and interests of this great nation—that his Majesty's Government proposed an increase of 5,000 men, He would not 1232 say, that the Government would not be justified in demanding more; but the Government would content themselves with asking for such a number as would enable them at any time to send a squadron to sea, and might, as he had explained, in the case of the Ordinary, form, if need arose, a sufficient nucleus for manning a larger fleet. He begged that his proposition might not be considered as indicating any hostile intentions, or apprehension of approaching hostilities. That this country would not be the aggressor they had every security, and the further knowledge that his Majesty's present Ministers had preserved peace when it had been pronounced impossible to do so, by no light authority; and that no aggression was likely to be made by any foreign Power. In addition to the friendly disposition which he believed to exist, they would, by acceding to this vote, gain the further and best security for peace, that they would not be unprepared or defenceless against war. For these reasons, and so far as regarded our commerce, because he thought the revenue arising from that source could not be better expended than in defraying the charge of that protection by which our commerce was fostered and increased. He confidently anticipated the unanimous support of the Committee, and concluded by moving that 33,700 be employed for the sea service for thirteen lunar months from the 31st of March, including 9,000 marines and 2,000 boys.
Mr. Grove Price
would be most happy indeed to hear from the hon. Member opposite any instance in which the officers of his Majesty's navy had interfered, as described by the hon. Member, for the purpose of preventing a retaliation on Carlist prisoners. On the contrary, however, he had heard that an English vessel was lying very near Barcelona when one of the most infernal masacres had taken place that ever disgraced a civilised country. He had heard, too, that when, a few days after, a riot had occurred, for the ostensible purpose of restoring what was called the constitution of 1812, there were not wanting British officers and men to aid the existing authorities.
§ Mr. Charles Wood
said, that Captain Parker, of the Rodney, offered to land some of his men to check the outrages at Barcelona, as General Mina was absent, but was unfortunately assured by the Governor that the disturbance would pass 1233 over without any serious result. Captain Parker was afterwards principally instrumental in putting a stop to these proceedings in Barcelona. Lord Ingestrie too toot the Archbishop of Taragona on board his ship, and was also instrumental in saving many lives, which but for his interference would have been forfeited.
§ Sir H. Verney
was understood to say that, no doubt if there were an occasion for the vaunted fleet of Russia, which seemed so powerful, to engage in a war, they would soon be brought back from the Baltic and Black Sea to harbour again.
§ Sir Edward Codrington
had never known a naval officer sacrifice his duty for party feelings. Greatly as Lord Ingestrie had distinguished himself, and without at all detracting from the merits of that noble and gallant Officer, he must say that Captain Parker had exceeded him, for he had offered to lend his men to prevent the horrible massacre. The offer had, however, been declined by the Governor. As to receiving the unfortunate people on board, every British Officer would do the same, without inquiring whether they were Carlists or Christinos, Greeks or Turks, as had been shown by the conduct of Captain Hamilton. With regard to the proposed increase of the naval force, he was glad of it, and should have been better pleased to have seen that increase doubled. The increase was necessary, for hon. Members seemed to forget that this was a maritime and commercial country. On the first revolution in the Brazils he stated at the Admiralty that an admiral and at least five sail of the line ought to be sent out to protect the many millions of British property deposited there. He pointed this out as the only means of saving that property. This, was not done, the property was destroyed, and British merchant ships seized for want of protection. To keep this country from insult, and to protect her commerce, a naval force was necessary, and he rejoiced to see the increase now proposed.
§ Mr. Roebuck
said, he should be glad to know for what purpose Captain Parker had been stationed near Barcelona, and whether he interfered by the orders of the Admiral?.
§ Admiral Adam
replied, that Captain Parker had been sent to that station in 1234 order to carry into effect the quadripartite treaty. That gallant officer had offered (as had been already stated) to send his men to prevent the insurrection; the governor, however, said that it was unnecessary, for that all would go off quietly. He proved unfortunately erroneous in his opinion, but Captain Parker did not hear further until the insurrection had commenced—the prison was broken open, and it was then too late to stop it.
§ Mr. George F. Young
expressed his full concurrence in the Motion before the Committee. The hon. Member for Halifax, in enumerating the naval strength of other countries, had omitted to mention that of France, [Cries of "No! No!"] He begged pardon if he was in error. There was, however, one point to which he wished to call attention—he alluded to the encroachments which had been made by France on British interests in the coast of Africa, and which would have been repelled, force by force, by the British naval commander, if he had had the means of doing so. At Porto Negro an outrage had been committed on British rights and interests, by the establishment of a blockade by the French, under which the British merchants had been interdicted from carrying on a very important trade from want of a sufficient power to enforce their rights, and protect their interests. He hoped the Government would take care that the parties who had been the sufferers on that occasion should receive a just and proper indemnity for the loss they had thus sustained.
§ Viscount Palmerston
assured the hon. Member that on the occasion to which he referred there was no necessity for a recurrence to force, as recommended by the hon. Member, It was only just to the French Government to say, that a communication of an amicable nature took place between the two Powers, which led to a satisfactory termination of the matter.
§ Mr. Robinson
was sure that the statement of the hon. Secretary for the Admiralty, as well as the proposal made by the Government, would be satisfactory to the country, and, above all, when it became known that the proposed increase did not result from any fear of hostile attacks. He thought also that the thanks of the country were due to the Government for the alterations they had made in the Estimates.
§ Mr. Hume
felt bound to say, that the Estimates, which he held in his hand, 1235 were the best arranged that he had ever seen, and the most complete. He was sorry, however, that several sinecure situations connected with this branch of the service had not been abolished, and especially those of the generals and officers of marines. He contended, also, that the marine force was too numerous. In his opinion the statement of the hon. Secretary, as to the propriety of increasing the naval force, did not differ from the arguments which he was accustomed to hear from hon. Gentlemen opposite. It was stated, that an increase was necessary for the protection of our commerce, and especially on the coast of South America; but the United States navy, with not one-tenth part of the force which the English had there, was found efficient for the protection of American commerce. He had no hesitation in saying that the American commerce was much better protected than that of England. The Admiralty had often suffered the complaints of English merchants to be unredressed for ten years, but this had never been the case with respect to American merchants. The commerce of the country was equally well defended in 1817, when there were only 19,000 sailors and marines, as it was now when there were 32,000. In 1823, there were only 23,000 men, at which time a war was raging in the west of Europe. In 1828, there were 30,000, and then it was thought by many Members of his Majesty's present Government, as well as by Gentlemen opposite, that it was much too large a force. As for what his gallant Friend (Sir E. Codrington) had said, he would only observe, that he had never known a general in the army who did not applaud an increase in the land forces, or a gallant admiral who did not applaud the Government for increasing the naval force. They had been told that navigation was endangered from a want of British force; and although the crew of a ship belonging to his native town, Montrose, had been massacred, he had no hesitation in saying that they might increase the naval force to any extent, and still an occasional event of the kind would occur. He would ask, why should we, after twenty years' peace, have larger establishments now, than we had had at any time since the peace? They had been told that there was nothing to fear from Russia, he therefore protested against an increase of the naval force. The truth was, that hon. Gentlemen had talked so much about Rus- 1236 sia, that they were afraid of a monster they had created. He was anxious to see the naval establishment of this country paramount, and he had never been anxious unnecessarily to lessen it, but he did not see any necessity for doing so in the present case.
§ Sir James Graham
observed, that if he had not taken part on former occasions in the discussion of these Estimates, he should not have troubled the House on that occasion. Before he made any other observations, he felt bound to congratulate the hon. Secretary for the Admiralty on what was extremely rare, namely, praise bestowed by the hon. Member for Middlesex. With reference to the alterations in the arrangement of the Estimates, he had no hesitation in stating that the hon. Secretary, or rather the Board of Admiralty, were entitled to credit, as they were substantial improvements. He was glad to hear the hon. Member for Middlesex say that the present Estimates were clear and precise; they certainly were so, and nearly all that he had some years ago thought necessary, with respect to them, had been attained: he had commenced the present system of arrangement in this branch of the service, and it had been fully carried into effect by the present Board of Admiralty. He understood last year that a great diminution had been made in the number of the crews of ships of war actively employed; he had stated then that he thought this reduction of the effective force very injudicious, and he was still more satisfied now of the propriety of his observations. The subject had repeatedly been under discussion at the Board of Admiralty, when he was a member of it, and the best judgment the Admiralty could then come to was, that such a diminution of the crews even in times of peace was highly inexpedient.—Within the last few years the strength of vessels had been greatly increased; and it was only expedient, when they increased the effective force and size of their ships, that they should increase the number of able seamen on board. He well recollected that a gallant Admiral opposite had told him that it was more safe to go into action with six ships of the line fully manned, than with ten sail under-manned. Another important point to which he wished to advert was, the importance of increasing the number of hoys on board our ships of war. He was glad that in this Estimate 1237 no diminution was proposed in their numbers; and he should have been glad if there had been an augmentation; but, at the same time, he wished it to be remembered, that he urged the employment of boys, as supernumeraries, not as part of complement superseding the service of able seamen. If, at the expiration of three years' service, these boys had not served sufficiently to become able seamen, he thought they should not be turned adrift, but that they should be received on board the guard-ships, or sent, on board the smaller vessels to complete their period of service. He was of opinion, also, that those boys who thus entered the service, provided they behaved well, should never be lost sight of until they became rated seamen. He thought this system was most proper to a maritime state, as a system of volunteers was encouraged, by which ultimately the necessity of recourse to impressment might be diminished. On this point he could not help adverting to two or three appropriate observations contained in the last address of the American President to the Legislature of the United States. The President says—"As a means of strengthening this national arm, I also recommend to your particular attention the propriety of the suggestion which attracted the consideration of Congress at the last Session, respecting the enlistment of boys at a suitable age in the service. In this manner a nursery of skilful and able-bodied seamen can be established, which will be of the greatest importance. Next to the capacity to put afloat and arm the requisite number of ships, is the possession of the means to man them efficiently; and nothing seems better calculated to aid this object than the measure proposed. As an auxiliary to the advantages derived from our extensive commercial marine, it would furnish us with a resource ample enough for all the exigencies which can be anticipated. Considering the state of our resources, it cannot be doubted, that whatever provision the liberality and wisdom of Congress may now adopt with a view to the perfect organization of this branch of our service, will meet the approbation of all classes of our citizens. "He next came to the most important topic to which he intended to call the attention of the Committee. He believed it would be in the recollection of the House that he had never been the advocate for a reduction of the naval force. The hon. Member for Mid- 1238 dlesex had intimated that the friends with whom he was formerly connected in office had pressed for a reduction of the naval force. He denied that this was the case; on the contrary, that they had repeatedly urged an increase of this branch of the service; and he believed that it was in 1823 that the present Lord Brougham moved for an increase of the naval force. It was asked, of whom, then, are you afraid? He would say, although "we are not afraid of any one, let us be prepared to meet every one." It was necessary in these questions that confidence should be limited; but still to a considerable extent it must be placed in the Government, It was impossible at all times for the Government to explain fully the reasons for what they proposed, or what the ends were which they contemplated; but he thought when they did enter into explanations that they should be substantial and real, not illusory and deceptive. He did not think that an increase of the commerce of the country, or the demands of our merchants for protection, would be in themselves sufficient to justify the demand of an additional naval force; for if these were to be taken as substantial reasons, if the request of British merchants in every foreign port, for the presence of ships of war be once admitted, instead of 5,000 additional seamen being sufficient, neither 20,000 nor 30,000 would be enough. The commerce of this country extended to every part of the world, and the British navy had always afforded it ample protection, even within the last four years, the period of large reductions. He had always said, that it was inexpedient to have a small naval peace establishment, because it was hardly possible to increase it rapidly in case of war. He was also of opinion that if this country was sincere in its desire to avoid impressment, this object could be most safely attained by keeping up a large naval force in time of peace. The hon. Member for Middlesex said, that it would be better to fit out a number of small vessels than to equip a force of line-of-battle ships. But he was satisfied that the best way to render a naval force effective, and to educate a body of efficient naval officers, was to have a squadron of large ships fully equipped and accustomed to manœuvre in line: therefore he had always agreed in the expediency of occasionally having large experimental naval squadrons. He should give his cordial 1239 vote in favour of the hon. Gentleman's proposition, and he trusted that it would meet with the general sanction of the House, for unanimity on the present occasion would add greatly to the moral effect of the vote.
§ Mr. Charles Wood
was glad to have the support of the right hon. Baronet, to whom it was only justice to say, that the improvements about to be effected, and now in progress, were but the carrying out of the right hon. Baronet's own views and suggestions. With respect to what had been said as to the increase of men, he begged to remind the hon. Member for Middlesex that the men employed during peace were Very different from those employed during war, and that the same observation applied to the boys. The right hon. Baronet had observed that the reasons assigned by the Government (if any reasons were assigned at all) should be real and substantial reasons, not imaginary ones. He begged to remind the right hon. Baronet that he had stated various reasons besides the one which he had attributed to him as his main reason. He also had assigned as a reason the necessity for maintaining a peace force sufficient for war, in case of an emergency, and the difference between the men employed in peace and those employed in war.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, there was only one point which called for observation, namely, the proposed increase in the naval force. No doubt that increase was very considerable, being not less than 5,000 men. The number proposed in the Estimate of last year was 26,500 men and 2,000 boys, and the addition to these of 5,000 men was certainly a very material one. But he had always contended, in opposition to the hon. Member for Middlesex, that the Estimate of any one year could not in any case be made a rule for any, even for the very next year. Circumstances might, at any point of time, suddenly arise, demanding an increase of force, between the Estimate of one year and that of the following year, such grounds for the apprehension of greater danger, or some other such consideration might intervene, as rendered it perfectly justifiable and proper to call for an increased demonstration of naval force on the part of this country. He could not see that on the present occasion there would be the slightest inconsistency chargeable upon those hon. Members who, having last year 1240 voted for the reduced Naval Estimates, now thought it their duty to assent to the proposed increase of our naval force. It did not follow that, because there was this year said to be a necessity for increased Estimates, that last year the reduced estimates were not adequate to the actual wants of the country, or the contingencies then contemplated, or vice versa. He was borne out in the conclusion by this, that when the last year's Estimates were presented to the House, with the single exception of his Right hon. Friend on his left, no objection was made to the proposed reduction. The hon. Gentleman had said very justly, that in the reduction in these departments he was only following out the example of a former Government and set by the right hon. Baronet. He had not objected to the reduction then proposed in the naval force, nor should he to the now proposed increase. He remembered that on the first day of the Session it was distinctly stated, that the increase to be proposed in this department was not in any way meant to convey a censure upon what was last year done, in reducing the naval force. When the parties responsible to the country for the due management of its affairs declared to the House, and in the Speech from the Throne advised his Majesty to pronounce his opinion, that an increased naval force was necessary for the purpose of protecting British commerce and of maintaining British interests, their recommendations, even though the precise object were not explained, were entitled to the attentive consideration of the House. There was no doubt but his Majesty's Ministers had access to information on this as on other subjects, which other Members of the House had not the advantage of; and it was very probable that they had access to information which it might be prudent for them not to make public. He thought there was one sentence in the speech of the hon. Secretary of the Admiralty which was not in harmony with the rest of his observations. The hon. Gentleman told the House that there was no apprehension of danger from any foreign power, and that the increase in our naval force was not proposed for the purpose of warding off any contemplated hostile attack, yet it was said that a numerous vote of the House was desirable, in order to give a moral force to that increase. He (Sir Robert Peel) did not exactly see in what 1241 way the unanimous vote of the House could give a moral force to an increased navy, if there were no apprehension of danger from foreign foes. An increased naval force might be necessary for the protection of our commerce; but he did not understand how the unanimity of the House in voting it, could give a moral force, if no hostility from foreign powers were feared. If such, however, were the feeling, he should be sorry to disturb the unanimity of such a vote. The hon. Member stated that the desired addition to our naval power was necessary, on account of the increase, which all must regret to hear of, in the scandalous traffic in slaves, on account of the continued contest in Spain rendering it more than ever essential to protect our commerce on the coasts of that part of Europe, and other reasons. Assuming, as he was bound to do, that all the facts brought forward had been correctly stated, and were well founded, he (Sir Robert Peel) felt called upon to express his decided opinion that such a combination of facts afforded an excellent reason why the House should take into consideration the propriety of acceding to an increased naval force. In consequence of the relations existing between France and America, these Powers had thought it necessary to increase their naval force. This being the case, although there might be no reason for apprehending immediate danger on the part of this country, yet it was most important that we should not neglect to keep our own navy in a state of efficiency. If other countries—even though friendly ones—powerful in their navies, were found to be increasing their maritime force, it was but a provident circumspection in a great naval power like England, to keep some pace with them, and not to allow ourselves to be taken by surprise, or be compelled, should the occasion come, to resort to sudden and possibly inefficient attempts at regaining our proper position. He would conclude his observations by repeating, that he should most certainly not make one in disturbing the unanimity with which, he trusted, this resolution would be sanctioned.
§ Lord John Russell
observed, it was unnecessary for him to say much more than to express his gratification at the confidence so generally displayed by the House in the statement made by his Majesty's Ministers, that an increase of the 1242 naval force of this country was necessary, He was gratified in not having to support his hon. Friend against any opposition to his Resolution, but merely to advert to one point which had been misapprehended by the right hon. Baronet opposite. His hon. Friend had not merely stated the protection of our commerce as a sufficient reason for the proposed increase, but had explained, that while various circumstances had arisen in different parts of the world demanding new protection for our commerce, which protection must be afforded, at the same time, equally necessary to support a sufficient fleet in the neighbourhood of our own shores, which could not be done while, in various parts of the world, our commerce claimed and obtained an increased protection. He was ready to admit, that when the Estimates were laid before the House last year, there seemed no necessity for a higher estimate than what was then proposed, but be was satisfied that if an increase had been then shown to be called for, it would have been assented to. It was an absurd argument, in his opinion, that because other nations kept up a large military force, we should do so likewise; but, as a maritime country, we cannot be indifferent to the maritime force of other powers. On the part of France, a considerable increase of naval force had taken place, and his hon. Friend had clearly shown how great was the existing maritime preparation of Russia. He did not for a moment mean to say, that the great naval power of Russia was raised, or exhibited, as it periodically was, with any other than pacific intentions; but it would not be satisfactory to the British nation to see so large a naval force in the immediate neighbourhood of its shores, while we were without any force at all proportionate to it. With respect to foreign Powers, though we were, happily, at present, upon entirely peaceful terms with every nation, yet it must be always recollected that our foreign relations did not depend solely upon the will and inclinations or negotiations of our own Ministers, but upon various circumstances, and frequently upon mere accident. It should be recollected also, that in cases where we were negotiating for peace, the chances of success were greatly enhanced by our keeping ourselves in a position to command respect, and repel outrage—in a position to defend ourselves from insult, and our commerce from loss. 1243 It was essential that we should even guard ourselves from the possibility of a surprise from whatever quarter. These were the considerations which induced the Government to propose an increased naval farce; and he trusted that the House would, by an unanimous vote, not only accede to the increase, but give a moral effect to that increase. He thought that the assent of the whole House to the additional force, would produce a moral effect most beneficial in itself, and highly satisfactory to the country. The proposed increase, he would add, was not to be made in the contemplation of hostility on the part of, or against, any foreign Power, nor was it so understood anywhere. The sole object was, that the country should continue to maintain its high position among the European nations.
§ Mr. Labouchere
said, that this estimate was not intended to be the permanent peace establishment; he did not consider that it would be for the honour or interest of this country, unless we kept up a naval force consistent with its high rank in the scale of nations.
Sir George Clerk
thought, that his Majesty's Government, when they advised an increase of force on their own responsibility, were the only judges of the extent of that increase. He rose up to congratulate the Secretary for the Admiralty in having been able to satisfy even the hon. Member for Middlesex of the propriety of the present Estimates. [Mr. Hume,—He has not done so.]—If he had had to bring forward the present Estimates he thought he should have been better able to throw a sop to Cerberus. If anything should occur to bring us into collision with any foreign Power while our navy was in a weak state, we should run a great risk of tarnishing the national honour.
§ Sir Edward Codrington
had himself seen, when he was at St. Petersburgh, twenty-four or twenty-five sail of the line there; he therefore considered it necessary that we should make a corresponding increase in our naval force in this country. He also thought that what was going on in the Black Sea required, and ought to meet, our immediate attention. It put our ancient ally, Turkey, in great danger, and we ought, therefore, to be ready to afford her immediate protection. He contended that it was the duty of the Admiralty to take care that the ships we had at sea were sufficiently manned, not with mere boys, but with 1244 able seamen; for, as an officer of some experience, he would say, that he would rather go into action with six ships sufficiently maimed, than with ten ships insufficiently manned. Though fourteen men were attached to every 32-pounder in the action of the 1st of June, he had only had nine men and a half to every 32-pounder in the action of Navarino. He maintained that the ships in commission at our different ports should be very differently manned from what they were at present. A French frigate might now go to Spithead and commit any insult or injury she pleased, for he much doubted whether at this moment there was any ship in commission able to fight with such a vessel. He complained of the great want of encouragement afforded at present to the officers of the navy. The full pay of a lieutenant in the navy was 7s. a-day; his half-pay was 5s. a-day. What inducement was there for such an officer to volunteer his services afloat, and leave his family ashore, when by so doing he only increased his income by the paltry pittance of 2s. a-day?
§ Mr. Grote
could not concur in what appeared to be the general feeling of the Committee with respect to this grant. He contended that nothing like a necessity for so large an increase as 5,000 men to our naval force bad been made out by any of the hon. Members who preceded him. So far were large establishments from preventing war, that he verily believed that the uniform course of history proved that they always led to irritation and hostilities. The only thing in this debate which had sounded satisfactorily to his feelings was, the declaration of the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, that it was not intended that this Estimate should be a permanent one.
§ Mr. Robinson
defended the opinions which he had formerly expressed, and said that complaints had been made by several of Our merchants trading with South America that in the ports of that continent our naval force was in general inferior to that of the United States.
§ Captain Pechell
defended the marine force of the country from the attacks which the hon. Member for Middlesex had made upon it, and contended that the present force of marines was necessary, as it would be inexpedient to have the whole force at once at sea. He supported the present increase of our naval force upon different grounds from those which had been se- 1245 lected by most of the hon. Members who preceded him. The right hon. Baronet, when in office, had refused to give protection to our fisheries on the coast of Kent and Sussex, on the ground that he had not a sufficient naval force for that purpose. [Sir R. Peel: the gallant Officer is mistaken,] Welt, the right hon. Baronet had refused the protection, and he supposed that the right hon. Baronet would not have done so had he been in possession of a naval force sufficient for that purpose. The present Administration had a sufficient naval force, and they had given the British fisheries the protection which they required.
§ Lord Dudley Stuart
expressed his readiness to vote this increase of 5,000 men. He was sorry that Ministers had veiled the reasons for which they demanded it. The real reason undoubtedly was, their fear of the designs of Russia. Instead of degrading the country by crouching at the feet of Russia, Ministers ought to have spoken out boldly in a language befitting the might of this nation, if they wished to do credit to themselves and benefit to their country. If they had spoken out as they ought to have done, and had avowed the real purposes for which they wanted this increase of force, he thought that they would have had the willing support even of the hon. Member for Middlesex. Great economist as that boo. Member was, he had never known that hon. Member object to the increase of any grant when good grounds were shown for it. Whilst on the subject of Russia, he should like to know whether it was true that Russia had established a blockade on the coast of Circassia without the courtesy of communicating it to other nations. He was sorry that his noble friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs was not in the House. [Lord Palmerston took his seat cm the Ministerial Bench.] He was glad to find that his noble Friend was so near. He was speaking on a subject that must be interesting to the noble Lord. He was speaking on the subject of Circassian blockade. A blockade had been established on the coast of Circassia without notice, and Russia had, as he was informed, seized a British ship, sailing under British colours. If this were the fact, what was it but an act of piracy? He was glad that a debate had taken place on this subject, for it would go forth to the world that this Government was 1246 beginning to feel what it ought to have felt long ago—a jealousy of the designs of Russia. The diplomatists of other countries were laughing at us, for the easy temper with which we had submitted to be first duped, and afterwards insulted by Russia. Though the subject before the Committee was a vote on the Navy Estimates, he hoped that he might be permitted to allude to the case of Cracow. The neutrality of that republic had been guaranteed by us; and yet foreign troops—the troops of the partitioned of Poland—had dared to enter upon and violate its territory, although the express words of the treaty were, "that under no pretext" whatever were foreign troops to enter within the confines of that Republic. Furthermore, it was reported that it was the intention of the Powers, who had so daringly and nefariously violated the neutrality of the Cracow, not only to remove from that republic all the unfortunate refugees from Poland, who dwelt there, but also to transport them across the Atlantic to starve, or to live as well as they could. He said "to starve"—for Russia had already transported to America some of the Poles, whose property she had either destroyed or confiscated, and the consequence had been that in America they had died from their absolute inability to procure the mere necessaries of life. If the three Powers who had so flagitiously violated the faith of solemn treaties by which they were bound to this country, should attempt to transport across the Atlantic the unfortunate victims of despotism whom they had just seized, he hoped that this country would interfere, and not permit the perpetration of so gross and wicked an outrage. On a future occasion, if no other Member brought the subject of Cracow before the House, he certainly would. At present, he would only say, that for the real purposes for which this increase of force was demanded, he would readily vote an increase not merely of 5,000 men, but of twice that number.
§ Mr. Roebuck
defended the course adopted by his hon. Friend, the Member for Middlesex, on this vote, and said that it was undoubtedly true that if we did not pursue a different course from that which we had hitherto followed, Russia would take Constantinople, and shut us out from the Black Sea. He would not, however, increase our naval force on that account, 1247 for he would not have us interfere with her designs. We ought not to interfere for the balance of power, but only for specific insults, and for the protection of British interests. No case was, in his opinion, made out for this increase of force.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ The next vote proposed was 1,069,122l. for wages to seamen and marines, and to the ordinary and yard craft.
§ Sir James Graham
thought it very desirable to hold out every possible inducement to seafaring men, of good character, to enter into the King's service, and to secure their steadiness and efficiency, by a system of rewards and punishments other than corporal. The best way of attaining this most desirable end was, in his opinion, to increase the bounty in volunteering, to enable the men, by good conduct, to rise to the rank of petty officers, and, at the same time, to increase the pay now allowed to that class. Such an increase would occasion an addition in the Estimates of not more than 10,000l. or 12,000l., and sure he was that such a sum could not be more advantageously and efficiently applied. In all times of danger, in the most critical moments of peril and exertion, the petty officers had to set an example to the whole of the crew; they were already exempt from corporal punishment, and if, in addition, they had the stimulus of increased pay, very great general advantage would, no doubt, result to the service. He hoped the Admiralty would be induced to take this subject into their early and favourable consideration; and if, on reflection, they thought it advisable to propose any increase under this head, the House, he was sure, would manifest no reluctance to vote it.
§ Sir Edward Codrington
was understood to ask the right hon. Baronet, the Member for East Cumberland (Sir James Graham), how it happened that retiring pensions had been secured to the Lords of the Admiralty, when there were so many gentlemen to be found who would be happy to fill the office of First Lord of the Treasury without such a stipulation? How came it that a late Lord of the Admiralty (Lord Auckland) had had a retiring pension guaranteed to him on his vacating office?
§ Sir James Graham
said, that as far as his own case went, he (Sir J. Graham) had filled the office of First Lord of the 1248 Admiralty, but had not taken any pension in consideration of that office; that he had reason to believe, however, the noble Lord who succeeded him in office had, previous to accepting the appointment, stipulated that he should receive a certain pension for life, in case of his retiring.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that if the insinuations made by the right hon. Baronet were founded in fact, they made out a very disgraceful case, both against the noble Lord and the Government who appointed him. He sincerely trusted that his Majesty's Ministers would be able to give a satisfactory reply to this charge, and show it to be devoid of truth. With respect to the right hon. Baronet's proposal to increase the pay of the petty officers in the navy, he thought that if a rule were to be made that half the lieutenants should be selected from that class of persons, there would be no need for any pecuniary addition of the kind, as an inducement to good conduct. He would ask the right hon. Baronet whether, during the whole time that he had been in office, one single mate had been promoted to superior rank? There were many of these deserving men, who had served for years during the war, and for years after it, and yet no one of them, as he believed, had been rewarded by promotion. No! promotion, both in the army and the navy, was reserved entirely for the Aristocracy, to the total exclusion of men of equal age and superior worth, who happened to be more humbly connected.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that some observations had been made by the right hon. Baronet opposite in reference to a noble Friend of his, which, if that noble Lord were present, he was sure he would have had no difficulty in replying to satisfactorily; but as his noble Friend was not present, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was perfectly ready to defend him from the charge imputed to him. It had been stated that some transactions had taken place between his Majesty's Government and Lord Auckland, relative to the appointment of the noble Lord as First Lord of the Admiralty, which an hon. Friend, near him, had characterised as highly disgraceful. Now, he begged to say, on the part of his noble Friend, that no transaction had taken place connected with that appointment which could attach any kind of stigma to the noble Lord; there was no transaction, 1249 he repeated, in which the noble Lord had taken part, which any person standing in the most intimate relation of friendship towards his Lordship could not be perfectly prepared to defend. The case was this—Lord Auckland stood possessed of an office at Greenwich Hospital, and also of a pension—both for life; and both these his Lordship had resigned before he entered upon the office of the First Lord of the Admiralty. The right hon. Baronet, therefore, had not done justice to the noble Lord, in stating one part of the transaction and withholding the very important fact that his Lordship had given up the pension and salary which he formerly enjoyed, to the public. It was not fair to give out either that Lord Auckland stood bargaining about the conditions at which he should accept office—that the post of the First Lord of the Admiralty was so poor a thing that it was not worth accepting, without some additional inducements being held out. There was no circumstance connected with this arrangement which could be looked upon as otherwise than highly honourable to Lord Auckland, and fully justifiable on the part of his Majesty's Government. He could not, therefore, but regret, that observations so totally uncalled for, as those which had fallen from the right hon. Baronet, should have been made upon this subject, which the House must perceive had nothing whatever to do with the question before them. He must take the liberty of saying to the hon. Member for Middlesex, that when he attempted to draw lines of distinction between the aristocracy and the people, they were distinctions which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) could not bring himself to understand. He maintained that the people had a community of interest with the aristocracy, because they had a chance themselves of rising to it by their own merit and conduct. The real question which was to be looked to was, whether the persons appointed and promoted were deserving of such promotion or not.
§ Sir James Graham
had no wish to make any personal attack upon any Gentleman who was not present in that House or in the country to answer for himself, but it did so happen that the present was not the first occasion on which he had made this statement with respect to the noble Lord. Aspersions of a similar character had been thrown on himself (Sir James 1250 Graham). It was distinctly stated in the public papers throughout the country, that he had corruptly brought forward that arrangement with respect to pensions of Cabinet Ministers, in order to serve some sinister purpose of his own. Having at the time occasion to appear before his constituents—the slander having been. circulated in his own neighbourhood—Lord Auckland being then in the country, he had felt it necessary in vindication of his own character to make a similar statement to that which he had uttered tonight; and Lord Auckland never ventured to deny the fact. He did not mean it as a stigma—it was only a statement of fact. He made no reflection on him personally. He did say, that he had brought in the Pension Act, the nature of which was to reduce pensions by one-third in amount, and one-fourth—from eight to six or from six to four, he did not know which—as to the number of persons who could receive them; and he added, as a remarkable fact, that so far from seeking a particular pension himself, the noble Lord who succeeded him in office had stipulated with the Government to receive it. [An hon. Member: the right hon. Baronet could not take it.] Not lake it! Why not take it? Owing to a limitation which he (Sir J. Graham) himself, had as a Member of Government, introduced. It was the boast of that Government that he, as their instrument, had introduced a limitation which, from the passing of the Act, prevented retired Ministers of State, with adequate private fortunes, from going to the Treasury and claiming their pensions. He stated this at the time, and be now repeated it, that having introduced such a measure, he was, on relinquishing office, succeeded by a noble Lord, who refused to accept it, as First Lord of the Admiralty, without stipulating for a Parliamentary pension of 2,000l. He had no official information on the point. He spoke only from rumour; but he challenged the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer to contradict that statement if it were wrong. True, the noble Lord had given up his office in Greenwich Hospital, at a salary of 600l., and also a pension of 1,000l. a-year: and he would not attempt to detract from the merit of the noble Lord on that score. At the same time, however, when it was recollected that pensions of this kind were payable out of the Civil List, and therefore, literally, though perhaps not virtually, determinable with 1251 the demise of the Crown, it would be admitted, he thought, that the noble Lord had not acted unwisely or imprudently, by resigning it in exchange for a Parliamentary pension of 2,000l. for life.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
begged to observe in reply to the right hon. Baronet, that in respect to his notion of a stipulation, no such word had been known Or heard of in the present case. In respect also to what the right hon. Baronet seemed to wish to suggest, namely, that a pension paid out of the Civil List, being held only for the life of the Sovereign, was one not of equal value with a Parliamentary pension—with respect to the ungenerous insinuation—["No, no."] No! he admitted that the right hon. Baronet did not actually say, that Lord Auckland acted upon this consideration, but he did suggest the notion of it; and what was the meaning of making suggestions of this kind, if at the same time he did not state his conviction of the contrary, and disclaim his intention of applying that suggestion to the particular case in question?
§ Viscount Howick
thought it necessary to come forward and state distinctly, in behalf both of his noble Friend (Lord Auckland) and the Government, that the arrangement made was precisely one of that particular description Which the Act of the right hon. Baronet himself was meant to sanction and provide for. "What were the facts of the case? Lord Auckland, not possessing any very considerable income of his own, having a place in Greenwich Hospital, which, by the custom of the country, was considered as for life, and it being greatly for the advantage of Government that he should occupy the higher and more important situation of First Lord of the Admiralty, he stated to Lord Grey that it would be impossible for him, in his circumstances, to take an office of which, by a change of Administration, he might be deprived the following day, surrendering at the same time a permanent provision for life. Such was the statement made; and it was precisely to meet that case that the Pension Act had been proposed; because persons of inconsiderable fortune could not be expected to accept the higher situations in the Government, if by so doing they surrendered the provision they already had, unless some mode were adopted of securing themselves in the manner proposed by that Bill. Precisely, therefore, in conformity with that Act, a 1252 permanent pension of that kind was assured to Lord Auckland, he giving up the pension of 1,000l. he possessed under the Civil List, and the office of 600l. a-year he held in Greenwich Hospital. The whole arrangement was, therefore, perfectly and strictly honourable in every point of view.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
observed, that the noble Lord had put the case on its true ground, fairly, openly, and in that straightforward manner which was highly honourable to him. He must, however, be permitted to observe, that nobody blamed Lord Auckland in his absence for what had been done. But the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had certainly not treated the question with the same manliness and straightforwardness. He accused the right hon. Baronet of having thrown out an insinuation against the appointment of Lord Auckland, for which certainly there was no ground or pretence whatever. It was perfectly true that Lord Auckland had acted with great prudence. What more had the right hon. Baronet stated? The noble Lord stipulated to give up 1,600l. a-year.—partly at the disposal of Government, so that they might appoint others on the Civil List for a Parliamentary pension of 2,000l. But the right hon. Baronet had thrown out no insinuation against him for having so done. He only stated the fact, which had been borne out by the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), and the noble Lord (Howick) the Secretary at War. It was not, therefore, a fair or candid manner of treating the question, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to insinuate that the right hon. Baronet had been impelled by any sinister motive to cast a stigma on the character of Lord Auckland, who, he repeated, throughout the transaction, could not be held to have acted, in a pecuniary point of view, a very imprudent part.
§ Lord John Russell
agreed that the way in which this question had been dealt with was not perfectly fair and ingenuous. Lord Auckland on taking office had given up the office and pension which he had previously enjoyed, amounting to an income of 1,600l. per annum, but because his Lordship could not afford to do so, without the prospect of being secured in a certain income in return, the Government entered into the arrangement with his Lordship to which the right hon. Baronet 1253 opposite had alluded. The right hon. Baronet, however, had mentioned the fact of the arrangement, without ever mentioning the fact also that the noble Lord had given up his pension and his office of 1,600l. a-year. The alleged slanders against the right hon. Baronet might certainly have been talked of in his county, but he could not see why the right hon. Baronet might not have repelled those calumnies from himself, without, when that was done, saying something which seemed to cast a stigma upon the noble Lord who succeeded him in office. If the right hon. Baronet had stated all the facts and circumstances of the case, it would be seen that it was not simply because Lord Auckland became First Lord of the Admiralty that this arrangement was made, but because his Lordship also gave up his former pension. The hon. and gallant Member who had just sot down seemed to cast a sneer at what he was pleased to term the prudent arrangement by which Lord Auckland secured a Parliamentary pension for life in lieu of one payable out of the Civil List; and seemed to insinuate also that the Government by this arrangement had the power in their hands of filling up the vacancy in respect to the latter pension. Now the fact was, that this pension was paid out of two different funds, one-half being charged upon the 4½ per cent, duties, which consequently reverted immediately to the public, the other half being paid out of the Civil List. Now, with respect to any interest the Government might have in filling up this part of the pension, he could only state the fact, that it remained unappropriated for a considerable time, and was actually not filled up at the time the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tarn worth, came into office. If it had been filled up since, it had been filled up by the right hon. Baronet.
§ Viscount Howick
replied, that Mr. Creevy had resigned the office of Treasurer to the Ordnance, and had accepted the situation which Lord Auckland had vacated.
said, he would not prolong this discussion; but he must be allowed to say, that the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, had not been fairly dealt with in this discussion; which, as the House was aware, had arisen entirely out of a rather pointed observation which had been made by the hon. and 1254 gallant Admiral on the other side of the House (Sir E. Codrington). No blame could, in his opinion, attach to Lord Auckland, for he was at a loss to conceive how any individual could be fairly called on to make such a sacrifice for the public service as would oblige him to incur great pecuniary loss.
observed, in reference to the subject of the vote before the House, that as an increase in the naval force was contemplated, old and meritorious officers should not be forgotten. He trusted that promotion would not for the future depend on aristocratic connexion or personal influence.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that he must admit he had made use of a very strong expression with reference to a noble Lord, whose appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty had been brought under the consideration of the House. He should always feel regret when he used harsh language, when it was not warranted by the conduct of the party to whom it was applied; and he felt bound, in this instance, to state to the House that he would not have made use of the observation which he had expressed, if he had understood the matter in the light in which it now appeared.
Sir George Clerk
alluded to the alteration which was to take place this year in respect of ships in ordinary. He perceived that instead of the three warrant-officers who were hitherto employed on board each of those ships to take care of them, the Government meant to place two or three seamen, in order to effect a saving in the salaries. Now he much doubted, in the first place, whether this arrangement would be productive of any real economy; for was it likely that these men would take as much care of the vessels intrusted to them, from which they were liable to be removed in a week or two, as the warrant-officers heretofore employed for the purpose, who were fixtures to the ship, and would naturally have a greater anxiety to preserve them in good condition. Besides which, would the hon. Member for Middlesex consent that the country should bear the expense of pensioning these officers? And would he think it proper to remove so many comfortable situations of from 60l. to 150l. a-year from the navy, without holding out an equivalent operating as they did, to induce in the petty officers and seamen good conduct, in order that they might, in their old age, be rewarded by such desirable provisions: 1255 nor could he agree to the proposition of Government that the seamen in these ships in ordinary should be placed under military discipline. If that proposition had been advanced in an unreformed Parliament by a Tory Ministry, of placing ships in harbour, not in actual service, under military discipline, what an outcry would have been raised against it on constitutional grounds. He thought, considering the immense sums which had been expended on these ships, this was a question of great importance.
§ Mr. Charles Wood
The Government did not bring forward this alteration solely as a measure of economy, although they thought it would effect a saving of some moment in the Estimates: their object was to gain greater efficiency in this branch of the service. He had in his possession many eminent authorities in favour of the alteration proposed; but the best argument, in his opinion, was the fact, that 200 of these warrant-officers had been superannuated, being unable to perform even the slight duties which devolved upon them, And he thought it was not an unimportant benefit to the navy to substitute able and efficient seamen in the room of these almost totally inefficient warrant-officers.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the question that 110,302l.be granted for the salaries of officers connected with the Board of Admiralty being proposed,
§ Sir James Graham,
in reference to the salary of the present Private Secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty, wished to make one observation. He had been accused, in the course of the debate, of making "insinuations"—of casting out suggestions; "he should now merely state a few facts. When he (Sir J. Graham) held the office of First Lord of the Admiralty, his brother, Major Graham, was his Private Secretary. At that time Lord Althorp was Chancellor of the Exchequer. A Bill had been introduced for preventing officers on half-pay receiving their half-pay in conjunction with their salaries while holding any office under Government, but at the same time giving the Lords of the Admiralty discretion, in certain circumstances, to dispense with the provisions of the Act. His brother, Major Graham, applied to the Lords of the Treasury for their permission to receive his half-pay (he being a British officer), and also his salary. which would only together amount to 500l. The case was referred to Lord Althorp, the present Chancellor of the Exachequer, and 1256 the present Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Baring); Lord Althorp and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer were in favour of the grant—the hon. Member (Mr. Baring) was against it, and Major Graham received his salary only, amounting to 300l. a-year.
Mr. Francis Baring
said, that as the right hon. Baronet had broken into what he must have known was a perfectly private confidential affair, he should feel released from all obligation to secresy, and should give the whole transaction unreservedly to the House. It was perfectly true, that under a clause introduced by the right hon. Baronet into the certain Act in question, authority was given to the Treasury to dispense in certain cases with its provisions; and to permit officers on half-pay to receive their half-pay in addition to their salaries; and it was equally true that the Treasury did not, in the case of the gallant officer, (Major Graham) the right hon. Baronet's brother, relax the prohibition in his favour. When he (Mr. Baling) consulted with his noble Friend, Lord Althorp, regarding his construction of the clause referred to, his answer was—"You will consider the permission to receive the half-pay as an exception to the rule, that rule being that the assent of the Treasury to that indulgence is not to be expressed in any case, but those intended by the House of Commons to receive the benefit of it, viz. old and distressed officers in reduced circumstances, holding situations under Government. When the gallant officer's case came before the Treasury, it was true that the assent of that Board was given; but when it came to his (Mr. Baring's) knowledge, he went to his noble Friend (Lord Althorp) and said to him—"Consider whether this, which will be almost the first case you will have to lay upon the Table of the House, in which you have exercised the discretion committed to you by that House, shall be the case of a gallant officer, brother of the First Lord of the Admiralty, one of the Cabinet Ministers." At the same time he told Lord Althorp that he considered all the private officers of the Admiralty were under-paid; and that if Major Graham thought fit to apply for an increase of salary, he would give the gallant officer ail the support in his power. He believed a different arrangement had taken place with regard to the salaries of these officers, and that they were now better paid. He had thus detailed the 1257 whole matter to the House; it was a private and confidential transaction: the right hon. Baronet had thought proper to bring it before the House, and he (Mr. Baring) left it with confidence for their opinion.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ The House resumed.