HC Deb 23 April 1839 vol 47 cc478-95
Sir E. Codrington

was understood to say, that the question of the mode of Manning her Majesty's ships, which he proposed to submit to the House, had usually been treated as a party question, and had on that ground been brought prominently before the House. He hoped, however, to have the votes of hon. Gentlemen in favour of his motion, though he did not bring it forward as a party question. The motion he had to make was, "That the system of reducing the crews of her Majesty's ships in time of peace below the number required to make them efficient in time of war is injurious to the best interests of the service; and that it is the opinion of this House, that all her Majesty's ships, when actively employed, or about to quit the British channel, should, in future, have but one complement of men, whether in peace or war." In those discussions which had taken place before the House on the navy estimates observations had been made on the necessity of keeping the navy in a condition for all purposes; and one side of the House had attributed to the other great neglect, and that charge had been mutually retaliated. But there was no question but that there had been great deterioration in the navy, whether it were the fault of this side of the House, or the other; but he believed, that the navy had suffered by both parties. A great deal had been said about ships and stores by the right hon. Baronet opposite. The former first Lord of the Admiralty had said, "I launched so many ships: I did this, and I did that." Why, that was one cause of the deterioration. But the question was not about the ships or the stores, but was about the seamen. The noble Lord, now at the head of the Admiralty, did not know what a seaman was. The noble Lord had said a great deal about the ships and stores, he should like to know what this Lord knew about the navy. Every one of the Members of the Admiralty Board seemed to know a great deal about the patronage of the navy, and of the advantages of having the navy appointments in their hands; but none of them seemed to hint to understand the value of seamen, and what were the means best calculated to keep them in the service, and to keep the officers contented, and the whole of the crews in such a state as to be fit for service when required. Seamen could not learn their duties in ships which were not sufficiently manned. There must be an efficient ship's company, in order that the seamen might learn the duties they were required to perform in a ship of war, and what they should do in time of war. It was very easy to undo what had been done, but it was not so easy to put things right again. By injudicious measures the best seamen had been driven from the service, and the only way to bring them back again, in his opinion, was to adopt the resolution which he had moved, that at all times, whether in peace or war, ships should be efficiently manned. He knew well, that owing to the present system the officers of the navy were discontented, and it was important that they should not be so. The private seaman of this country was a person not easy to be obtained; and when they had got him, he was of that sort of value they ought to do anything to retain him in the service. A great deal had been said about the efficiency of the navy, and about the ships and stores, which were of primary but temporary importance. Let them take the worst ships of the navy, and let them be properly manned, and if these ships were placed in competition with the best and most splendid ships, built and manned as they now were, the latter would not be able to cope with the former for one moment. It was of great importance to this country to have the ships properly manned, in order to keep up the credit of the navy with foreign countries. If Commodore Douglas had had a proper force off the coast of Mexico, Admiral Baudin would not have dared to insult the British flag, and run the risk of going to war with England, but his ships were in a miserable condition with his peace establishment when compared to those of Admiral Baudin. These were matters, he thought, which would be considered by the country of pre-eminent importance, and not matters to be laughed at. It might be thought by Gentlemen who brought forward party questions that those only were the things worth consideration: he was not of that opinion; he thought that the welfare of the British navy, and its being able at all times to do its duty, were much more important, and that which party was victorious, was a secondary matter. It did not much concern him who was Minister, or whether one party or the other were in, provided the duty of the country was done; and the duty of the country was not done when the navy was inefficient and neglected. There had been a great deal of talk about "reform;" he thought there was more reform wanted in the management of the navy than in any other part of the public service. They had heard a great deal about "justice to Ireland," but they had heard nothing of justice to the navy, and they had experienced very little of it. He had before brought statements before that House, and had stated that there was no department of the public service in this country that was not doubly rewarded, compared with the navy. The most experienced officers of the navy, having seen double the service, were not half so well rewarded as the officers of other departments of the service. To come more immediately to the question, his object now was to confine himself to the necessity of having ships efficiently manned and fit for service. In looking at the past war, he might mention that they had had two captains rewarded as distinguished officers for their conduct, who in frigate actions with the Americans had been captured. He was not surprised at this; he knew very well the difficulties they had to contend with; their ships were half-manned, and the Americans were double-manned. Nothing could prove the necessity of keeping up a sufficient naval complement so much as the difficulties they had then experienced. Why would not seamen enter into our fine ships? Because they were deficiently manned. They would enter into these fine ships in preference but for that. The seamen knew very well that they could not compete with other ships to gain credit; but more than that, they could not perform the common evolutions of the fleet. Owing to the deficiency of hands, there was net a single manœuvre to be performed, which did not require that the whole of the ship's company should be employed. He had asked for a return of the desertions which had taken place from the squadron of Sir C. Paget, but the Board of Admiralty had declined giving him that return. Sir C. Paget dreaded going into port, because he knew that all his best seamen would run away and leave him. Was that a situation in which a seaman ought to be placed? He did not think there was any condition of life in which a working-man could be better off than in the navy, if he had his duty to do and no more, and proper indulgences given to him. Nothing could be more advantageous than the position of a man-of-war's man in ordinary service, such as was formerly the case. But such was now the labour required, that the private seamen would not go on board these fine ships; they would rather go on board the inferior frigates—the "jackass frigates," as they were called. This feeling broke the hearts of the officers. He would tell hon. Members that there were times when more duty was required from the men than it was thought possible they could do, and when the men, if properly treated, would struggle on without sleep and do more than their duty when they had a pride in the ship. But their labour was ten times increased whenever there was an inefficient crew. Whenever there was an emergency, and it was known, with an efficient crew, there was great alacrity and exertion to save the ship; but what was it now? From the constant call for this exertion the men came upon deck unwillingly, and the officers were obliged to drive them. The officers knew the spirit of the men was gone, and were unwilling to drive them, and that was one of the worst of evils. On board a ship they called a certain class of people "idlers;" but now the idlers had as much work as any other men in the ship. He ventured to say, that by the present system not only the comfort, but the health, of the ships' crews, was destroyed. He did not affirm that the Admiralty cared what number of men they had employed, or what number of ships, but whether they had one or 100, in time of war or in time of peace, they ought to be in the condition to do their duty. If they did not want a thing, let them not have it; but so long as they had it, let them have it in a condition fit for service. On that ground he had brought forward this motion. He admitted, that it was the duty of the Admiralty to attend to the subject of his resolution, and that it ought not to be necessary to be brought before the House of Parliament. The opinion and the practice formerly were during times of peace, that ships going abroad should never have a greater reduction from the war complement than would enable them to have an efficient peace complement—that was, that the war complement should not be reduced more than one-eighth; but the present First Lord of the Admiralty differed from this opinion, and said that the complement of hands was to be reduced one- fifth. Our navy was thus governed by landsmen, who knew nothing at all about the matter. There were times when the crews of the fullest and best-manned ships had been so worked down, that the spirits of the men had been in danger of being broken by too much exertion, and when it had been necessary to take some means to recover their spirit. They might get plenty of men, he knew, to do the present work, and they might call them able seamen if they pleased; but to show what they were, he would mention that the other day, when they had wanted the sails to be furled on board Captain Napier's ship, the officers had been obliged to go on the yards, and show the men how it should be done; the men did not actually know how to furl a sail. If that ship were to go to sea, so manned she very probably would be lost. If the ships were to have full complements of men, they would have prime seamen going onboard the men-of-war in preference to merchant vessels. It was quite ridiculous to talk about the expense. He was perfectly sure that ten ships manned as they ought to be, would be more efficient than twenty ships imperfectly manned. The army was governed in a different way; it had too much influence in the country to submit to be governed by civilians. The navy had not the same influence; if it had it would not be governed as at present, and would have naval men at its head. Upon the whole it was his full conviction, as he was sure it was the full conviction of the navy at large, that no ship of war ought to leave the channel on foreign service without being fully manned with a war complement. Only conceive the inefficiency of a thirty-two pounder, which ought to have fourteen men to serve it, having only nine! Without men there was no use in having ships. He had been induced to bring the matter before the House, because he believed that a proposition which asserted the necessity of her Majesty's ships having but one complement, whether in peace or war, when actively employed, or about to quit the British Channel, would have met with the concurrence of the House. He gathered so much from the sentiments formerly expressed in the. House, and indeed out of it, with reference to the subject. If his proposal did not meet the sanction of the House, he should sincerely lament it, not less on account of hon. Gentlemen themselves, than on account of the interests of the country. But he could not think that hon. Gentlemen would be so false to the sentiments they had expressed again and again in that House and before the country, respecting the necessity of manning our skips of war fully, as to refuse their concurrence and support to the resolution he had moved.

Viscount Ingestrie

seconded the motion. He fully agreed with those who held, that the House of Commons was not a fit body, in ordinary circumstances, to conduct the affairs of the Board of Admiralty; but when he found that the Board of Admiralty treated all applications and overtures for amendment of the present system, or any part of it, with contempt and derision, he confessed he saw no course open, but to bring questions of this kind before the House and the public. On the present occasion, therefore, he was delighted to concur with the hon. and gallant Officer opposite, from whom he differed so much on politics in general; and he would say, that as he had had the honour of sailing into action under the command of the gallant Admiral, the gallant Admiral had then led him to victory, and he hoped he would again on the present occasion. The subject had been very much discussed in former debates some time ago; since then there had been what sailors called a lull; but he hoped the hon. and gallant Admiral would blow up the breeze again. In his opinion, the statement of the hon. and gallant Admiral was highly satisfactory. He thought the gallant Admiral's positions were very strong; and he must say he had never heard a word from hon. Gentlemen or from the hon. and gallant Officers of the Admiralty to show why ships of war should not go out to active service with their full complement of men. Every one knew, be was very sorry to say, that the political affairs of the country were not in that state of harmony which one could wish, We were actually at war in Canada. A war with America seemed not so far distant us he could wish. We were at war also in the East Indies; and, therefore, he must say he thought that the Government, in refusing to put the navy on a war complement, threw out of view wholly what was the actual state of our foreign relations. But this was not all. On former occasions he had felt it his duty to allude to the difference in the rates of wages, pay, and allowances in the British and in foreign navies, and the discontent which arose among our seamen in consequence, The discrepancy was most remarkable between the situation of officers in foreign services and ours. In the former the officers, in addition to their pay, had a very considerable allowance granted them for table money. In our service the officers had no allowance for the purchase of libraries and other things; in fact, they were even obliged in some cases to furnish their cabins themselves. Having thrown out these few observations on the condition of the officers, he would now come to that of the men, which was more particularly connected with the subject of the present motion. What was the first thing which the seaman found out upon going aboard an under-manned man-of-war? Why, he found himself put to the greatest inconvenience from having put upon him very much more work than proper. Every one at all conversant with the nature of a man-of-war's man knew, that of all things, he felt it to be one of the very greatest grievances to be called up in the night to go upon duty after a hard day's work. Perhaps hon. Members were not aware that the sailor was actively engaged upon deck nearly one-half of the twenty-four hours, whilst that part of his time which lie passed below he was by no means without any thing to do. Was this all? No, for, in addition to finding her Majesty's ships under-manned, he found himself rated at very inadequate wages as compared with the seamen of other nations; and although as a set off to this, the British seamen had provisions allowed, and a pension and justice, yet still his situation might and ought to be ameliorated. To give some idea of the degree in which our navy was under-manned, as compared with that of other nations, he might mention, that when he was at sea, he met an United States corvette with spars of the same length as those of his own ship, yet she had forty able seamen more than the vessel he commanded. It was said, that a habit had some time ago grown up of sending out seventy-fours with a complement of 400 men, and that it had been clone at the request of Sir Peter Halkin by former Governments as well as by the present. But, however this might be, one of the ships so sent out was the Cornwallis, the flag-ship of Admiral Sir Charles Paget, on the American station. Very shortly after she arrived out, the revolt in Canada broke out; then came the Mexican affair; and in consequence of these events the guns of the ship were obliged to be sent out in a transport. He wished hon. Gentlemen to reflect what might have been the consequence if this transport had been captured on its passage out. The gallant Admiral (Sir C. Adam) surely would not think of sending out any more ships without their guns, But supposing, that the gallant Admiral repeated this experiment and sent out other ships without their guns, he asked, where were they to find men to work those guns when they were to go out? There was another matter to which, on a subject of this nature, he found it impossible not to refer—he meant the practice of impressment. For his part, till an adequate substitute was provided, he would never consent to relinquish this power of the Crown. He wished, nevertheless, as much as any man for a remedy for the evils of the system, and like every man of common feeling, he would like to see it mitigated as much as possible. Still it ought to be borne in mind, that however hard impressment might seem, in truth its working was rather less of a hardship than the ballot for the militia; for the distinction between the two plans was, that on the one a tailor, a tinker, or person of any trade or profession, might be taken from his fire side to serve; while the other meddled only with persons who had been accustomed to a water life. Connected with the subject of manning the navy, there was a consideration or two which he could not omit to urge on the House and on hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Admiralty, in his opinion, were bound to look for a supply of men in future to the mercantile navy, which had very much reduced its numbers of seamen, at least in the coast trade, since the general adoption of steam-boats. The sailor, as was well known, to naval men, could not get the same style of nautical education aboard a steam-boat as aboard a coasting vessel. Upon a view of this part of the subject, he should be very glad to see introduced a system of naval apprenticeship for the purpose of supplying able seamen to the navy. The term should be seven years, he thought; and after five were elapsed, the apprentice, if he were fit and willing, should be allowed to enter the navy. The effect of such a system would be to do away with the necessity for impressment, and render the service generally popular. It would be necessary for this purpose, however, to give the men to understand that they would be well fed and well paid, and that the public faith should he kept inviolably with them. He should like to know why they should not have a committee of naval officers to take into consideration the questions of impressment, and of manning the navy in general, the latter being a question which the state of trade at present rendered in the last degree important. With regard to the motion, he hoped the gallant Officer would not only press it to a division, but also carry the point. If a war were to break out, we should have great difficulty in getting men. This might be inferred from the situation in which our ships of war were at present placed when they required to be manned on an emergency. When he was in the Mediterranean he found such miserable men on board the British ships there, as he blushed to see in British men-of-war. The fact was, the complement had been made up on a sudden, by any one that could be got to make it up, and the consequence was, that by the time they got into the Mediterranean the principal part of the crew were on the sick list. While he was on this subject he might mention, that he had been given to understand that the Talavera was a very short time ago, if not at present, no less than 110 men short of her complement. This was a most strange way of having an efficient fleet. Was it fair on the officers, or on the men, if our ships were really manned in this defective manner, to call upon them to meet the enemy, as though they were to fight upon equal terms with him? If this sytera were persisted in, where would the feeling be which once animated every British seaman, that, an English ship was invincible? Where would be the confidence of the seamen if they felt they were condemned to go into battle with an inequality in the numbers of the contending crews? In his opinion it was clear that the ships ought to be fully manned. On these considerations he would urge on the Admiralty, though he would much rather that they should do it themselves than to have it forced on them by the House, that they should inquire into these matters, and he was quite confident that the vast majority of the most competent officers in the service would agree in the observations he had made.

Mr. C. Wood

said, that after the strong opinion that was expressed on the last occasion when this matter was discussed, against the practice which had grown up of late of introducing into the House of Commons discussions upon questions of naval and military administration, he had hoped that it would have prevented a repetition of that course. He thought that the noble Lord opposite, whose acts and principles were so much at variance, by introducing every possible subject connected or not connected with the motion, had afforded a most convincing proof of the inconvenience of the practice that had been condemned. He protested against the practice; and he did so with the less hesitation, because he could not possibly be suspected of doing so in order to meet an attack upon the present Board of Admiralty. The hon. and gallant Admiral distinctly stated that this was not a party question. The hon. and gallant Admiral did not call upon the House to say, that the present Board of Admiralty only was wrong; he called upon the House of Commons to pronounce an opinion that Lord Howe, in 1783, that Lord St. Vincent, and Sir T. Trowbridge, at the Peace of Amiens, and all the other distinguished officers who had sat at the Board of Admiralty, at any time during peace, had all been wrong, both in practice and in opinion, on this subject. No person could feel more how improper it would be in him to give an opinion upon a professional question of this nature, and he was far from presuming to do anything so indecorous; but when he stated what were the opinions of so many officers not less distinguished than the hon. and gallant Admiral, he hoped the House would not be led away by the opinion of the hon. and gallant Admiral. The hon. and gallant Admiral said, that almost all captains in the navy agreed in opinion with him. Now it was perfectly well known that a spirit animated the captains of the navy which made them anxious to have their ships in the highest order, and to have as many men as they could possibly get; but he must say that the opinions of the many distinguished officers to whom he had referred, who had all commanded ships with great credit, who were not seeking to get men for themselves, and who knew from experience what was necessary to provide for the efficiency of the navy, carried with them the greatest weight and authority. The hon. and gallant Member had referred to the amount of the peace complement. Now he must say that the peace complement was at this moment higher than at any period since the war. The peace complement of a first rate was actually at this moment 220 men higher than was established in 1816. The complement of a second rate was ninety-five men higher than established in 1816; that of a third rate was forty men higher; and that of a fifth rate—for the fourth rates were a new class of vessels, with which it would not be fair to make a comparison—the present peace complement of the fifth rates (and he might instance one of that class of ships to which the hon. and gallant Member had alluded, the Macedonian) was actually higher by nine men than the complement carried by the same class in the war. But the question did not refer to the amount of the peace complement; it went the full length of saying, that in time of profound peace all ships that went to sea should have a war complement. As he had maintained on a former occasion, he thought it was exceedingly absurd in time of peace to maintain our establishments on a war footing. He thought it an useless waste of men and money to maintain in time of peace the same complement as in time of war. If hon. Gentlemen only considered the difference of the service that was required to be performed in time of peace and in time of war, they would see that a great difference might fairly be made in the amount of their respective complements. In time of peace ships were not by any means so much exposed as in time of war, either to the battle or the breeze; they had not to fight their guns, and very seldom had to maintain their cruising ground off a lee shore; they were for the most part lying in the ports of friendly States to protect our commerce, so that the peace complement of men was fully adequate to the performance of all the duties that were required. War did not break out so suddenly as to leave no time for preparation, and he understood from gallant officers on foreign stations that there was seldom any difficulty in filling the complement of a ship on foreign stations, there was frequently a greater difficulty in refusing than in seeking for hands. The hon. and gallant Officer had referred to the battle of Navarin, in which he had so much distinguished himself, which was certainly a contingency unlooked for, but against a recurrence of which he trusted it was not necessary to provide. But it was worthy of remark, that this victory was obtained by our fleet with a peace complement; and at the battle of Algiers, also, there were a considerable number of ships with peace complements. He wished to impress upon the House, that in the light he viewed this question, it was not merely a question of economy. He believed, that it was more advantageous to the service of the country, and a better protection to our flag, to employ a larger number of ships with reduced peace complements, than to crowd all the hands voted by Parliament, into fewer ships. As a school for officers, it was of essential importance to have a certain number of ships in commission, because although we might obtain men from the merchant service, we could not get officers. The hon. and gallant Gentleman and the noble Lord had both complained of the inferior quality of the crews at the present time. Now, from the information which he was in possession of, he believed that these complaints were groundless. He believed that in the time of the war the complements of the ships in the navy consisted on an average of one third able-bodied seamen, one third ordinary seamen, and one third landsmen. Now, in 1834, 1836, and 1838 it appeared by the returns of a very large number of ships that there were sixty-four per cent. of able-bodied seamen, thirty-two per cent. of ordinary seamen, and four per cent. of landsmen. He was aware that it was imputed to some officers that they were often disposed to rate men as able-bodied seamen who were not so, in order to induce them to join the ship. But he would instance the case of the Rodney, commanded by Captain Hyde Parker, whom he was quite sure every Gentleman in the House would acquit of resorting to such an expedient; and in this ship it appeared, in 1835, that of the crew eighty-three per cent. were able seamen, and that there was only one landsman in her. In 1838, her crew consisted of seventy-seven per cent. of able bodied seamen, and twenty-three per cent. of ordinary men, without a single landsman. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had complained of the difficulty of manning the largest ships in the service; but he would refer to the instance of the Vanguard, which was certainly not longer than usual in obtaining her hands. The longest time required by any ship to procure men since he had been in office, was the case of a small 28-gun frigate, a class of ships well manned for their size, which had actually been longer in completing her crew than the largest vessel in the service. The hon. and gallant Admiral had spoken of the great desertion in Sir C. Paget's experimental squadron in 1836, and attributed it to the hard work imposed upon the men by their small numbers. If it arose from this cause, the greatest desertion would probably be in the larger ships, such as the Vanguard, whereas in fact, the greatest number of deserters were from one of the small seventy-fours; and the whole desertion in the year 1836 was less in proportion to the number of men than either in 1835 or 1837, the preceding and the following year. With regard to the want of smartness on the part of our ship's crews at present, which had been lamented by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, he was of opinion that it did not arise from the want of a proper number of hands on board, but from other circumstances; and he would beg in corroboration of this opinion to read a passage from a letter published in the form of a pamphlet, which was originally published anonymously; but which he believed, had since been acknowledged to be the production of that gallant officer, Captain Napier. The hon. Gentleman then read an extract from the letter of Captain Napier to Lord Melville, which was to the following effect:— In the latter years of the war (when the ships had full war complements), all zeal and energy were extinct in the breasts of the greatest part of the officers and men. The emulation that formerly existed was at an end, and the pride that officers felt in seeing their ships excel others in evolutions, had entirely disappeared. The Mediterranean fleet, commanded by a highly distinguished officer, was to look at, the finest, but in evolutions the most lubberly I ever beheld. I served in it for three years, and it was accounted almost tyranny by the old officers to keep a ship in anything like order. It would be seen from this, that there was one very high authority for the fact, that a want of smartness could be shown by a full, as well as by a reduced, complement of hands; and therefore, upon this ground, he could see no argument for adopting the war complement in time of peace. As this subject had been already so frequently discussed, both here and elsewhere, he should not now enter into further observations; but, for the reasons he had stated, he would oppose the motion of the hon. and gallant Member.

Captain Pechell

thought that there could not be a doubt that our ships were inefficiently manned; but, at the same time, he was quite ready to admit, that the fault did not altogether rest with the present Board of Admiralty. He could not, however, congratulate his hon. Friend below him upon the manner in which he had answered the statements of the hon. and gallant Admiral. The object of the promoters of this question was, not to incur additional expense to the country, by increasing the strength of the navy. On the contrary, it was agreed that the House had voted sufficient men already, and all that was now sought for was, that those hands should be more efficiently distributed, so that our ships might be sent to sea in a state fit to compete with any foreign ships they might meet with. At the present day there was no part of the world where our ships were not liable to meet with foreign ships, when they must inevitably find themselves placed in very trying and disadvantageous circumstances, being quite unable to enter into anything like fair competition. It was not fair to refer back to the example of the latter end of the last century in this matter. In the years 1783 and 1784, circumstances were very different from those of the present day There were then no French double-banked ships, and no Russian sail-of-the-line to compete with, and it was notorious, that whilst, since the war, France, Russia, and America had been making long and rapid strides in their naval service, England had made little or no comparative progress. But when the Home Secretary referred to authorities of by-gone time, why did he omit that of Lord Collingwood, who, even in his day, complained that "not only had he inefficient ships, but inefficient officers also; young gentlemen being appointed merely on account of their parliamentary connection and interests?" As an instance of the practical inefficiency of our present service, he would refer to the case of the vessels stationed on the coast of Africa to look after pirates and slavers, and which, on taking a prize, were obliged to accompany it into port because they had not hands enough to spare to man her. He repeated again that he hoped the House would not be led away with the impression that this was a proposition to increase the expenses of the country; he declared again his opinion, that we had already a sufficient number of hands, but that they required to be better distributed. With this conviction, therefore, he should certainly support the motion.

Captain F. H. Berkeley

said that, as a naval man, he felt called upon to say a few words on the subject of the present motion. He felt bound to say, that, as far as his experience extended, the present system tended to create disgust in the service, and to destroy that esprit de corps which was so essential to it; he very much feared, that in the event of a collision with a foreign power, our flag would be—not disgraced, for that it could never be under British officers—but humiliated. The hon. Secretary talked of protecting the British flag, as if the only object was, to protect merchant vessels from piracy and aggression. If such were the sole object, he thought it would be much better attained by employing smaller ships, which would draw less water and require fewer hands. But if it was intended that we should defend our flag from insult and indignity, it was, in his mind, ridiculous to send out for that purpose ships which could not compete with foreign ships of war. On a former night he had had the honour to call the attention of the House to a letter from the hon. Sir C. Paget. He did not then mention the name; but all necessity for secrecy had now unfortunately ceased, as the gallant Admiral was no more. He would say, that that lamented officer added to all the high qualities inherent in his gallant family the best attributes of a British seaman, That gallant Officer stated in his letter, that he, on one occasion, placed all his sails below rather than expose his inability to compete with the French squadron. The gallant Admiral foretold, that if he ever came into collision with foreign ships we should surely be degraded. He would now quote the practice of a great naval power as to the mode of manning fleets—of that power that taught us such a lesson in the last war. The American frigates that took our ships had been called line-of-battle ships in disguise; but the fact was, that their forty-four-gun frigates were eighty-six tons burthen less than the Pique. They carried fifty-six guns, but they were twenty-four-pounders, while those of the Pique were thirty-two-pounders. If she had gone into action with a peace complement, she would have had eight guns mute for want of hands to work them. The members of government in that House opposed any augmentation in the crews of our ships, but all the members of Government were not of the same opinion. The noble Premier was reported to have said in another place, that he thought our ships ought to be perfect in all things. If the noble Premier was right, the noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty must be wrong. The Americans in the late war acted in a different manner. When their commodore, Hull, sailed on his cruise against our ships, he had a crew of 316 picked men, but, not thinking that enough, he put into the Chesapeake, and increased it to 416. With this crew he took the Guerrier, which ship at the time had only 244 men. When the American frigate, the United States, took our ship, the Macedonia, her crew consisted of 474 men, while that of the Macedonia was only 254. In the action of the Shannon and Chesapeake, Captain Broke had only 306 men, while the Chesapeake numbered 376. The noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty lately said, in another place, that our ships, as far as they were in commission, were perfect; but, manned as they were, how could that be? A noble and gallant Duke had also said, that, with a peace establishment, we were unfit to begin war in any part of the world while the fleets of other nations were on a full war establishment. He thought the noble Duke was right; and, moreover, if war were to break out, it would be impossible to send men abroad to man our ships, which for want of proper crews would be exposed to capture. The hon. Member for Birmingham, the other night, said it was possible that a Russian fleet might sail up the Thames. The Secretary to the Admiralty admitted the possibility, but, said he, "See what revenge we will take." What would the merchants of London, Bristol, Liverpool, and other ports, say to revenge of this sort? When their vessels were destroyed, would they be satisfied with the declaration that revenge should be taken when vessels were built and manned? No; they would say, their best revenge would be the impeachment of the First Lord of the Admiralty. The reign of George the 4th ought to be held up as a beacon to warn all future Admiralties. Had this motion been brought forward during the reign of his late Majesty, the Admiralty would have had the advantage of the opinion of that monarch, for no man complained more of the imbecility of the Admiralty during his brother's reign. Although he hoped the reign of her Majesty would be distinguished for the solid glories of peace and the lasting triumphs of literature, still it should be the care of that House that, if she did draw the sword in a just quarrel, she should be enabled to vindicate the character of the nation over which she presided, and to rival the glories of her great predecessor, Elizabeth. In supporting this motion, he felt he was taking a leading step towards upholding our best and most constitutional bulwark—the gallant navy.

Sir C. Adam

To hear the complaint of the hon. Gentleman who last addressed them, one would suppose that our navy was in the lowest state of degradation. Sir R. Stopford, however, was of a very different opinion, for he considered the ships under his command as well qualified to bear the British flag in triumph as ever our men of war were in former times. Nobody could deny, that foreign powers had lately taken the greatest pains to put their ships in the best order. But it should be borne in mind, that there were very few French men of war afloat, and that all those sent to Mexico were experimental ships. It was true, that the French and the Russians had introduced guns of a larger calibre than those which were formerly used. We were, of course, obliged to follow their example, and to have our guns on a larger scale; but he had the authority of officers in command for saying that our ships were more quickly and efficiently worked than those which belonged to foreign nations. Much had been said of the necessity of keeping up a sufficient number of men. He admitted that, in 1836, such was the demand for seamen, that many of our ships were obliged to remain in port for a considerable time through want of hands. But the men of war which were sent on service were by no means ill manned. When British ships carried on commerce with all the ports of the world, he thought it was obvious we could get men from these ships if we wanted them. The gallant Admiral (Codrington) had asserted that there was a difference of opinion between the noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty and the naval Members of the Board as to the proportion which our peace should bear to our war complement. To this statement he gave the most distinct denial.

Mr. Plumptre

thought that, through false economy and false patriotism, our present establishment was too low for the honour and safety of the country.

Mr. Hume

said, they were extremely warlike in that House; but, though he had taken considerable pains to ascertain whether there was any ground for the apprehensions which were entertained on this subject by many hon. Members, he could find, out of doors, no foundation for them. They were told, in a late debate, that there was not one ship too many afloat, and it was now proposed to man them according to the war complement. This he thought was a most unnecessary expense, particularly when it was reflected that there were afloat one-third more ships than they had any occasion for. It was, in his opinion, most unfortunate that the naval Members in that House should be perpetually proclaiming that our navy was unfit to compete with foreigners. He must oppose this motion, because if agreed to, it would take away a degree of responsibility from the Admiralty, to which it was most desirable that they should be subjected.

Sir E. Codrington

in reply said, even on the score of economy the hon. Member for Kilkenny ought to vote for his motion, because he did not ask for more men, but that one or two ships should be discharged, and the men drafted to other ships so that they might be rendered efficient. He claimed the vote of the hon. Member, because, by his plan, there would be a saving of stores for the ships which he wanted to be put out of commission. The present Government only continued the old system of the Tory misrule. He had represented the state of the Navy to the noble Lord and to the Premier, and to the Admiralty, but they all said the system was working very well. He would rather go to sea with ten ships well manned than with twenty ships half manned, according to the present system.

The House divided: Ayes 27, Noes 90—Majority 63.

List of the AYES.
Archdall, M. Maclean, D.
Attwood, T. Maunsell, T. P.
Bentinek, Lord G. Maxwell, hon. S. R.
Berkeley, hon. H. Parker, R. T.
Berkeley, hon. C. Pechell, Captain
Boldero, H. G. Plumptre, J, P.
Bruges, W. H. L. Salwey, Colonel
Courtenay, P. Sibthorp, Col.
Dundas, C. W. D. Smyth, Sir G. H.
Farnham, E. B. Trench, Sir F.
Godson, R. Vivian, J. E.
Grimsditch, T. Williams, W.
Halford, H. TELLERS.
Hawkes, T. Codrington Admiral
Jackson, Serjeant Ingestrie, Viscount
List of the NOES.
Abercromby, hn.G.R. Barnard, E. G.
Adam Admiral Barry, G. S.
Baring, F. T. Bernal, R.
Bewes, T. O'Connell, D.
Blake, M. J. O'Connell, M.
Blake, W. J. O'Connell, M.
Briscoe, J. I. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Buller, C. Paget, Lord A.
Chichester, J. P. B. Parker, J.
Childers, J. W. Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H.
Craig, W. G. Pease, J.
Curry, W. Pigot, D. R.
Davies, Colonel Price, Sir R.
Donkin, Sir R. S. Protheroe, E.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Pryme, G.
Evans, W. Rice, right hon. T. S.
Finch, F. Rickford, W.
Fitzsimon, N. Roche, Sir D.
Fort, J. Rolle, Sir R. M.
Gordon, R. Russell, Lord J.
Grey, right hon. Sir G. Scholefield, J.
Hawes, B. Smith, B.
Hayter, W. G. Spencer, hon. F.
Hodges, T. L. Stanley, W. O.
Hodgson, R. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Hoskins, K. Steuart, R.
Howard, F. J. Stock, Dr.
Howard, P. H. Strickland, Sir G.
Howick, Lord Tancred, H. W.
Hume, J. Thornely, T.
Humphrey, J. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Hutton, R. Turner, E.
Ingham, R. Turner, W.
Labouchere, right hon. Verney, Sir H.
H. Vigors, N. A.
Lister, E. C. Vivian, right hon. Sir
Lynch, A. H. R. H.
Macleod, R. Walker, R.
Marsland, H. Warburton, H.
Maule, hon. F. Ward, H. G.
Melgund, Visct. Wilshere, W.
Morpeth, Viscount Wood, C.
Morris, D. Wood, G. W.
Muskett, G. A. Yates, J. A.
Nagle, Sir R.
Noel, W. M. TELLERS.
Norreys, Sir D. Dalmeny, Lord
O'Callaghan, hon. C. Stanley, E. J.