§ House in a committee of supply.
On the question that a sum of 620,164l. be granted to her Majesty, to defray the charge of provisions and victualling stores, including freight and other charges, for 33,500 men, including 5,000 royal marines and 2,000 boys, to be employed in her Majesty's fleet, and also for the packet service, for one year, ending 31st March, 1844.
§ Captain Pechell
availed himself of that opportunity to complain of the delay on the part of the Admiralty authorities in taking advantage of the various suggestions and improvements which had been made in our steam navigation. As far back as 1839 a vessel worked by Smith's 267 screw propeller, the Archimedes, was brought under the notice of the Admiralty, and she made a voyage of some 5,000 miles in the most satisfactory manner. Great injustice had been done to those who had been the originators of this invention. In proof of this the gallant Officer referred to the case of the Rattler, at Sheerness. Mr. Smith had been removed, it appeared, and Mr. Brunei was superintending the fitting out of that vessel. But how stood the matter? Why, Mr. Brunei, in a letter stated that he was ready to fit a screw of such dimensions as Mr. Smith should propose as best adapted to carry out his views. He could not understand why the Admiralty, having so long since acknowledged the efficiency of this screw, should now almost throw impediments in the way of its more general adoption. This was no party affair, it was one in which the good sense of the House must ultimately prevail. There was a steam-yacht building for the use of her Majesty and he rejoiced at it. The service were delighted to find that her Majesty was pleased to take voyages. The more her Majesty saw of the navy the better.
§ Captain Rous
approved of the reduction of 4,000 men in the navy, as we were now at peace with all the world. He thought that this reduction would in no way impair the efficiency of the navy. He would, however, recommend that the different captains now on service should have liberty to select from their crews and discharge all men of bad character. If this were done, the navy would be weeded of a thousand inefficient men, and the service much improved. With reference to the manning of the ships, he thought one Government had not allowed sufficient complements, but that the succeeding Government had gone to the other extreme. The present crews were too numerous. If they wanted to make good officers they should have short crews; the real merits of the officers would then appear. There was a point relating to the victualling which he wished to press. It was, of course, of the utmost importance that the men on board ship should be orderly and sober. Twenty-nine out of thirty of the offences that occurred arose from drunkenness. He should recommend, therefore, the American system, which, he believed, had been found to succeed, of giving increased wages to the men who did not drink. It was clearly 268 absurd to bring up your men in a practice which took ten years from their lives. But if the House would not consent to increase the expense, at least the rations of spirits might be taken away from boys of the first and second class. He was happy to hear from the right hon. Baronet, that it was intended to reduce the Mediterranean fleet, and he hoped the right hon. Baronet would carry his intentions into effect of having only four sail of the line on that station. Ships that were sometimes lying in Malta harbour eight months in the year; and he once knew a ship lie in the Tagus for three years. These were bad schools both for seamen and young officers. He thought, too, that the system of permitting captains of ships to take their wives and families with them open to serious objection. Another practice to which he objected, was that of selecting men for the highest commands in an inverse ratio to their efficiency, the practice being to appoint those to the most responsible posts who had been longest ashore. An officer who was allowed to remain long ashore generally got married, and that alone took 40 per cent. away from his efficiency
§ Mr. C. Buller
wished to ask a question respecting the mode adopted by the Government for the transport of troops. It appeared that two regiments had recently been ordered to the Cape of Good Hope. The Admiralty had, in the first instance, advertised for ships, but, instead of accepting any tender, they had sent out the troops in two of her Majesty's ships, the Thunderer, and the Rodney, the expense of which proceeding he had heard estimated at 41.000l. Large merchant vessels in every way eligible for the service, might have been hired at the rate of 8l. ahead, which would have made the expense for taking out the troops, which amounted to 1,000 men, only 8,000l. These statements had been made to him on most respectable authority.
§ Mr. S. Herbert
was surprised to hear the expense of sending out the reinforcements to the Cape estimated at so large a sum as 41,000l. The hon. and learned Member opposite seemed to have derived his information from persons connected with the shipping interest, whose calculations were made in a very different manner from that in which the estimates to lay before Parliament were prepared. It was in fact no easy matter to make a 269 comparison of the two modes of transport, on account of the difficulty of calculating exactly the wear and tear. There could be no doubt as to the superiority of the Queen's ships in accommodation and celerity, which latter quality had peculiarly recommended their employment in the service alluded to by the hon. and learned Gentleman.
wished to call the attention of the committee to two subjects. First of all he wished to know whether the marines were to be furnished with percusssion muskets. Everyone, whether professional or amateur, knew the inefficiency of the old musket, which missed fire five times out of seven. In this age of improvement, when such rapid progress had been made in every branch of art and manufactures, fire-arms used for warfare were in their infancy. The other subject to which he wished to direct attention, was the propriety of employing steam to a greater extent in our navy. It had been said, that a steam fleet could easily be formed in the event of a war out of our commercial steam-vessels. He doubted this, from the circumstance that these vessels had not been built with a view to enable them to withstand the shock of artillery.
§ Sir F. Trench
had heard that some of the bayonets used in the late Affghan war were of such wretched manufacture as to be found utterly unserviceable in charging the enemy. These, however, he understood, were furnished by contract to the East-India Company. Nothing was more injudicious than parsimony in such matters as these. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down was, however, mistaken in supposing that any apathy existed on this subject at the Ordnance office; on the contrary, it occupied much of their attention, and 36,658 percussion muskets had been already furnished to the troops.
§ Sir C. Napier
differed from the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Captain Rous) as to the manning of our ships, and could see no reasonable objection to their present complements. We did not discover in the late war that our ships were undermanned until we saw them, one after another walking into the American ports. He recommended that the crews should be more frequently at sea and less time in port, where they wasted their time in a series of useless 270 manœuvres. He thought the observations of the hon. Member for Westminster (Captain Rous) respecting the employment of officers who were unfit for service, were well worthy of the attention of the Government, and that it was quite useless to continue such a system. He thought, also, we had not directed sufficient attention to steam-vessels, and that a committee of naval officers and engineers should be appointed to take into their consideration the improvement of this branch of navigation. The French paid much more attention to steam navigation than we did. We had not a single war steamer through the sides of which a shot would not pass, and the men would be positively cooked before they could get from the engine-room to the deck if a shot should strike the boiler. He must also say that he entirely disapproved of employing men of war for carrying troops, since his experience had taught him that it destroyed the efficiency of the crews and disgusted the officers.
§ Mr. Hume
, observed that no one had done more for the improvement of arms than Lord Vivian. He had spared no exertion to obtain the best information on the subject, and when the first vote for new arms was submitted to the House, it was admitted by all that anything short of the very best description of musket would be but a false economy. He therefore hoped that every British soldier, whether in the army or navy, would have such put into his hands without delay. He objected to the number of line of battle-ships which it was proposed to keep up, particularly after the testimony of several gallant officers, that they would be kept lying useless in harbour for months. Keeping up twenty-eight sail of the line at a time of perfect peace seemed to him to incur a shameful waste of public money at a time of financial distress, and to inflict a serious injury on the service by lessening the efficiency of the force when it came to be required. The best way, in his opinion, would be to keep up a squadron of frigates, which were notoriously the best class of ships for the discipline of seamen, and for making good officers. He agreed with what had just fallen from the hon. and gallant officer respecting steam-vessels. No country could compete with us in the excellence of our machinery and the cleverness of our engineers; and no expense should be spared in making improvements, and in 271 speedily applying them to the naval service. He hoped the present Government would show some consideration for the assistant-surgeons of the navy, and give them that position which their character and education fairly entitled them to. Higher qualifications were required of them now than heretofore, and he saw no reason why they should not be put upon a footing in every respect with the assistant-surgeons of the army. A reference to the evidence taken before the naval and military commission would show how unjustly they had been treated, and he did hope that the Government would not overlook the question. Against the present extent of our naval force he must protest. It was preposterous to be called on to vote 6,250,000l., when all that was required for the actual and effective service of the navy was 1,065,000l. Unless some new regulations were adopted he should feel it his duty to submit a motion on the subject to the House. We were at perfect peace, France had not one quarter the number of our ships, and taking the whole world together, we had nothing to compete with us. He did not object to the pay of the men, that he considered too low; but he did object to the number of officers, many of whom were promoted, and then laid on the shelf; giving a show of strength, but in reality creating weakness.
§ Mr. S. Herbert
would briefly reply to the several points which had been referred to. It had been asked, what course the Government would pursue in reference to the screw of Mr. Smith? He stated the other night that the late Board of Admiralty had taken up the question, and arrived at the decision that Mr. Brunei should co-operate with Mr. Smith for the purpose of ascertaining the particular mode of screw best adapted for ships. In the course of the year Mr. Brunell had been called to Italy, and Mr. Smith, without his co-operation, proceeded with his experiments, and invented a screw called "Smith's screw." Different modifications of this had since been made, which went by the names of those who made them, and it was in that view only he had spoken the other night of Brunell's screw. Experiments were being now made at Portsmouth in order to test their relative merits, and every attention would be paid to the subject by the Admiralty. With regard to the complements of men for different ships, the present complements, not with- 272 standing the opinion of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster, were generally admitted to be a great improvement upon the old system. As to the complaint of the employment of old officers instead of young officers, that subject was one of great difficulty. If the old officers were passed over, it was complained that they were set aside to make way for young officers, and vice versa. To both courses objections were taken, and the Admiralty, in the exercise of its patronage, were obliged to keep open employments as rewards for meritorious services. As to the allowance of grog to boys, that was a matter upon which medical opinions had been taken, and against those opinions those of non-professional Gentlemen ought not to too lightly pronounced.
§ Mr. C. Wood
expressed his concurrence in the observations of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster, and believed that the Board of Admiralty would find that a vast number of officers entertained the same opinion as that expressed by the hon. and gallant Member. He differed entirely from the hon. Member for Montrose as to the further reduction in the number of men, for he (Mr. C. Wood) thought (and it was due to hon. Gentle men opposite that he should state it) that the reduction for the present year went as far as was prudent. He, however, hoped in a future year, a further reduction would take place.
§ Captain Pechell
was rejoiced to find that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty had erred when he attributed to Mr. Brunell the merit of the Archimedean screw, invented by Mr. Smith, and he was glad he had elicited that explanation. He wished, however, to know whether Mr. Smith was now superintending the erection of the machinery under his plan on board the Rattler, at Sheerness? It was said that the various improvements suggested had not been at tended to, because the Admiralty had been too much occupied with other matters. That was true, but how had they been occupied? Why, by going back to the old system of the Navy Board, of which the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Graham) had when First Lord of the Admiralty got rid. They had given up the duties of the dock-yards to the civil power, while the right, hon. Baronet had placed those discharging those duties under the operation of martial law. He must 273 complain of the want of ships on foreign stations. At Monte Video there were two American ships, there was a large French frigate, there was a Brazilian vessel, and a Swedish vessel, and our whole force was only one brig. As the case of the assistant-surveyors in the navy had been mentioned, he felt bound to put in a claim on behalf of the masters, and to express a hope that the memorial some time since presented by this most valuable class of officers would be attended to. He could not avoid also pointing out on the present occasion how improperly the Income-tax was brought to bear upon all branches of the service. He held in his hand a circular issued from Somerset-house and forwarded by the Admiralty to all admirals, captains, and pursers, and which in effect appointed them taxing officers, collectors, and almost informers. Now let the committee remember that an admiral commanding-in-chief was allowed for table money at a certain rate per day, amounting in the year to 1,000l.; but from this grant of the public to an officer holding a high station, and having to discharge the duties of that station with hospitality, a reduction of 3 per cent. was to be made in the shape of Income-tax; in short he must reduce his hospitalities or the comforts of his table, because, in fact, the Chancellor of the Exchequer either forbade so many guests or whipped off so many dishes from the table.
§ Captain Jones
said, the condition of the assistant-surgeon, which had been mooted by the hon. Member for Montrose, was of considerable importance. The question why these were permitted to mess in the ward-room or gun-room had not yet been answered. He agreed with the hon. Member for Montrose in thinking that such a concession, which would be satisfactory to the medical officers, would be of great advantage to the service.
said, he had listened with great attention to all that had taken place, but would not now enter upon the points touched upon, as they would regularly come before the committee when the votes to which they respectively related were proposed. He would merely say a word on one or two topics which had been urged, and to which no vote applied. As to the assistant-surgeons, he begged to state that the recommendation of the naval and military commission had been carried out with the exception of that as to rank. 274 However, the whole subject of the navy regulations would undergo revision. With reference to the messing of the assistant surgeons, he was afraid it was not quite so simple a matter as some hon. Members seemed to suppose, because there were other officers, such as mates, who had passed for lieutenants, who must rank at least equal with the assistant-surgeons; and if all these were to be placed in the same mess great inconvenience would arise. The subject would, however, be taken into consideration. With regard to the masters in the navy, he begged to assure the hon. and gallant officer opposite (Captain Pechell) that the memorial to which he had referred had been under consideration; and that the Board would fairly consider their claims, and do what might be considered right upon the subject.
§ Mr. S. Herbert
, replied that many of the chaplains discharged the duties of schoolmaster, having an additional allowance.
§ Captain Pechell
complained of the consequences of this arrangement. It seemed that because a chaplain acted as a school master, the captain was to deduct three percent from his additional income. So much for education and church extension people. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer went further than this, he even deducted the three per cent. from the additional pay which was received by engineers of steam-vessels whilst in a tropical climate. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had instructed captains of ships to get hold of this pittance, which these poor fellows received for sweating under a tropical climate.
§ Captain Rous
did not wish the men who liked grog to give it up; all he desired was to give a premium to temperance, and this would be his answer to the remarks which had fallen from the hon. Member for Aberdeen. He wanted to see old officers properly rewarded, and that they should have something comfortable to look to in their old age. He was quite satisfied, in reference to what had been said about the number of men required in ships, that it was very injurious to have ships not properly complemented.
§ Sir C. Napier
could not agree in any proposal to take away the men's grog. A dram at sea under some circumstances was 275 of great advantage; he had taken a dram sometimes himself. He wished the old officers to have those advantages which their length of service fairly entitled them to. He hoped, therefore, that the Admiralty would establish it as a rule, that no man in future should be put on the efficient list, except a vacancy by death took place. As a reduction to the extent of 400,000l. had been made in the estimates, he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would draw his purse-strings and devote a sum of about 20,000l. to the efficient list.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the question that the sum of 126,459l. be granted to defray the expenses of the Admiralty department,
§ Mr. G. Wood
said, this vote gave him an opportunity to refer to a matter which he had alluded to on a former occasion. It was the new item which appeared in the vote, and which comprehended the creation of a new officer, that of deputy accountant-general. There was a first class clerk to be reduced, so that the expense of this new office would, therefore, only be the difference between the sum to be paid to the new officer and the salary of a first-class clerk; but, though the additional amount would be small, his objection was not so much to the amount as to the principle. He could see no adequate reason for the creation of this new office. It was, in his opinion, the first step to wards a return to that objectionable state of things which existed some years ago. The new officer was to act as deputy to the civil lord of the Admiralty. Upon principle he always objected to the appointment of deputies, except in those cases where they were indispensable. In particular, when bills required to be signed, or money was to be paid away, he thought it was an unsound practice to have these offices discharged by deputy. The only reason for the appointment of a deputy accountant-general that he could see was to relieve the civil lord of the Admiralty from the trouble of writing a certain number of signatures. He was of opinion, that it was advisable that nothing should be so arranged as to free the civil lord of the Admiralty from the necessity of personal daily attendance at Somerset-house. It was important that a civil lord should be at the office to attend to the duties personally; and when the office was first established the civil lord had a house 276 given to him to live in at Somerset-house. When this House was taken away for public uses, the civil lord of the Admiralty was put on the same footing as a lord of the Treasury, without a house; and this led to the difficulty which had been occasionally experienced in procuring the regular attendance of the civil lord at Somerset-house. It was a great check on the office in the personal attendance of the civil lord at Somerset-house; but this great advantage would be lost if a deputy accountant-general was appointed. There was another point why a civil lord of the Admiralty should be at Somerset-house; it was the opportunity he would have of furnishing important intelligence to the Government, not only as more immediately concerned his own office, but as concerned other departments. He was quite aware that a civil Lord of the Admiralty must trust greatly to his clerks; but then it was something for him to feel that the responsibility of the department rested on him, which would make him watchful over them. He repeated that he objected to the appointment because he thought it a recurrence to the old system which had been completely put an end to by the recent changes, and the very life and soul of which were that each lord of the Admiralty should attend to the details of his own peculiar department.
§ Mr. Sidney Herbert
did not see how it could be made out that the responsibility of the Lords of the Admiralty, for any department under their charge, was in any degree lessened by the present clause. In common with the hon. Gentleman who last spoke, he, too, should be peculiarly jealous of any thing which could tend to trench upon the new and beneficial system introduced by his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham), or appear any thing like a return to the old system; but, so far from regarding the additional appointment now in question as an approach to a vicious system, he considered that it would operate as a more efficient check to the many payments in this most important branch of the public service, The responsibility on the Board of Admiralty would be in no degree less than before, for the signature of two Lords would still be necessary in all contracts, &c.—the only difference being this advantageous one, that instead of a third Lord of the Admiralty, the accounts would be signed by an officer specially appointed for this purpose, whose 277 duty it would be carefully to examine the details of each bill, and who might naturally be expected to do this with a closer degree of attention and more minute accuracy than any other person. In the course of the year there were no less than 40,000 bills to go through in detail. Before this new officer was appointed a great many errors had been passed over, but since the appointment had taken place, such errors had been detected and Corrected, much to the public advantage. It was to be borne in mind, besides, that neither the Accountant-general nor his deputy had of themselves the power of ordering the payment of a single individual.
§ Mr. Labouchere
must say that, for his part, he did expect the right hon. Baronet opposite would speak as to a measure, which was a large step towards the entire subversion of the improved system which the right hon. Baronet had introduced into the Admiralty. On a former night he had understood the right hon. Baronet to say across the Table that he had not been consulted on this change before it was actually carried into effect. If so, and if the right hon. Baronet considered, as surely he could not fail to do, that this change would counteract to a very great extent the improvements which he himself had taken so much pains to introduce, he was quite sure that the right hon. Baronet would not hesitate to express his opinion on the subject; and if that opinion were unfavourable to the change, to exert his influence to have that change superseded. As had been pointed out by his hon. Friend, the life and soul of the improved system was, that each Lord of the Admiralty should have under his superintendence one particular department, for the management of which he was responsible to the first Lord. The Accountant-general's department was a most important one. No less than six millions were paid every year in that department: was it consistent with the practice in other public departments that so immense a sum as this should be paid on the signature of subordinate persons, however efficient and respectable? It was argued that the junior Lord of the Admiralty had so much other wise to do that he ought to be relieved from the investigation of these multifarious accounts; but surely the business of the junior Lord was neither so extensive nor so complicated as that of the Accountant-general. It appeared to him to be of the 278 utmost importance that there should be an indispensible obligation on the junior Lord of the Admiralty to attend constantly at Somerset-house. If, when he was at the Admiralty, he had proposed to his right hon. Friend (Sir James Graham) to throw aside some of his labours and to neglect signing those bills, he could imagine how firm would have been the refusal of his right hon. Friend, and in what strong terms his right hon. Friend Would have commented on his proposal. And what was the reason now assigned for thus excusing the junior Lord from these duties? It was said that the number of bills was doubled in amount; but that did not justify the departure from the principle oh which the present system was founded, and it threw, contrary to that principle, the responsibility on the subordinate officers. He was persuaded that his right hon. Friend could not approve of the alteration. The reason alleged for it rather implied a necessity to relieve the Account-ant-genera l than to relieve the junior Lord, and if he were relieved, the Account-ant-general must be relieved. He admired as much as any man the great zeal of that officer. He had the control of six millions of money, and had under him one hundred and twenty clerks; but with all his zeal and all his assiduity he might require assistance. In that case the check which was implied in his individual responsibility would be lessened or destroyed. He hoped, therefore, that his right hon. Friend if he had sanctioned this plan, would reconsider the subject. It tended, he thought, to disconnect the Admiralty from Somerset, house, and he feared, if the scheme Were persisted in, that it would lead to the revival of the naval board, and to that system of opposition to the First Lord of the Admiralty which was formerly one of the motives of his right hon. Friend for recommending the abolition of the navy board. That was the first step towards the revival of that board. It was opposed to the present system, which had hitherto worked well, and which, if left alone, would, he was satisfied, continue to work well.
defended the appointment. The deputy-accountant being required to enter in to a bond for a considerable sum, really provided a greater security for the public money than under the present system. He Would relieve the junior Lord from some of 279 his work, and allow him to devote his time to more important matters than merely putting his signature to bills. All the security that was now possessed would be continued, and in all cases of doubt the superintending Lord would be referred to as at present. He must now attend as closely as before the appointment of the deputy accountant-general, and he must be daily at Somerset-house. The only difference was, that the junior Lord would be relieved of some unimportant routine duties, and be able to attend to things of more importance.
§ Mr. Hume
said, this was the first attempt which had been made to break into the improved system. The appointment of this new officer was to relieve the Civil Lord; it impaired the principle of responsibility which was the foundation of that system, by destroying the responsibility of the junior Lord. The new check which was created by that responsibility would be destroyed, and by and by all responsibility would be done away. Now, instead of one individual at Somerset-house being controlled by a Lord of the Admiralty, two individuals, both at Somerset-house, would have the whole business in their own hands. It would cause great public inconvenience. He had objected to a similar appointment when the Exchequer-office bill was before the House, and then be had predicted that the appointment of a deputy to which he had objected would lead to the principal neglecting his duty. He had then said, that the chief would be absent three days out of four, and it appeared from a return, that out of 455 days the comptroller had been absent 350 days. He censured the appointment because it tended to weaken responsibility and destroy the present system.
§ Sir J. Graham
admitted that his right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Labouchere) had a right to call on him to give his opinion on this question, and he would do so. He would first disembarrass the question of some unnecessary details; and must at the outset state that no principle was involved in the appointment. If there were any principle involved in it, and if it went to infringe on the principle he had established, no Member would look on the matter with greater jealousy than he should. It was impossible for any person to state with greater clearness than had been stated by the hon. Member for Halifax the principle of the 280 measure he (Sir J. Graham) had introduced for reforming the Admiralty. It was founded on the principle of dividing and subdividing the different branches of the administration of the navy, and placing every branch under the superintendence of some responsible officer. Over each of the great departments was placed one of the lords of the Admiralty, who was to have the superintendence of that Branch. Through that means he hoped to throw the first Lord into continual communication with all the junior Lords, and enable him to acquire a knowledge of everything that was going on. That was the principle of his measure, to which he attached great importance. If any change had been made in that respect, if that principle had been weakened, if there were any Lord of the Admiralty excused from his duties, if there were any diminution of responsibility, no man would more strongly object to the change than he should. By the new arrangement, anything preliminary to the signing of bills remained unchanged. As he understood, all the ordinary bills drawn, and all the bills presented for payment, must be authorised by the signatures of two Lords, or of the superintending Lord. That invariable rule would not be departed from. Every payment would be brought under the supervision of the board or of the civil Lord. The preparation of all the documents to the final payment of the bill itself remained unaltered. The act which he had passed left a latitude to the board as to the mode of preparing the bills for payment, but they must be either signed or counter signed by the Secretary of the Admiralty, or the Accountant-general. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the act of 1832, and read a clause to show that it was not imperative, according to that clause, that the bills should be signed by the Lords of the Admiralty, but might be signed by a special officer appointed for that purpose. He did not deny that it was most important that one of the Lords should attend daily at Somerset-house; and when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) was in the Admiralty he was constant in his attendance, and set an example which was worthy of imitation; but his practice was still adhered to, and one of the Lords of the Admiralty was now daily in attendance at Somerset' house, and attended regularly to the business of the Accountant-general's office. 281 Thus the principle which he had established was adhered to. He proceeded next to the practice of signing the bills; and the question was, could the civil Lord's signature to the bills be dispensed with? The question did not concern, in the smallest degree, the preparation of the bill, but the counter-signature of the Lord after it was presented for payment. The right hon. Gentleman had made an important admission, which might go a long way to justify the step which had been taken. The right hon. Gentleman said that the business of the Admiralty had increased very much since 1833. He believed that the number of bills was more than double. In 1832 the number was 18,000, in 1842 it was 42,000. Was it necessary that the signature of a Lord of the Admiralty should be affixed to all those bills? He had foreseen the possibility of that not being necessary, and in his act he had reserved the power to make that change. He had foreseen the necessity for dispensing with the signature of a Lord of the Admiralty, and he therefore saw no departure from principle in dispensing with his signature. It was dispensed with in other cases. There was no class of payments in which there was a greater probability of fraud being committed than in those to the out-pensioners of Greenwich, and to them no signature of any Lord was required. It was clear, there fore, that the counter signature of a Lord was not always necessary, and that it might be dispensed with. He was pre pared to contend, under these circum stances, that the opinion of the House ought to be favourable to the transfer of business now proposed. Such a vast increase of bills had taken place that it was no longer practicable for a Lord of the Admiralty to sign them all. If they could not be countersigned by a Lord, by whom were they to be counter signed? It was only by carrying out that principle of subdivision which he had acted on, and which he thought in time must be carried further, to relieve the Lord from signing these bills. He had also foreseen that, in case of war, it would be necessary to make some other subdivisions, and divide the service into several branches. For example, he believed, that an Assistant-secretary, under such circumstances, might be necessary, who should not have a seat in Parliament. The question was one which time must decide. The payments 282 at the Treasury were, he believed, all sanctioned only by the Secretary of the Treasury. He contended, therefore, that this was a question only of detail, and that none of the principles of the great measure he had introduced had been infringed. Every department would still be supervised by a Lord of the Admiralty one of them would be daily at Somerset-house. He certainly should look with great jealousy at any infringement on the principles of his measure, but he saw none in this case, and had no objections to make to the plan proposed.
§ Mr. F. Baring
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had referred to the subdivision of the labours of the Board as the principle of his bill, and the right hon. Gentle man had admitted that it was for the consideration of Parliament whether the Board was efficient or not. But this alteration had been made without any reference to Parliament. The principle of re sponsibility was violated by the transfer of the superintendence of the civil Lord to two subordinate officers. The right hon. Baronet had made him doubt, by his de fence of the plan, whether it were likely to turn out well. The right hon. Gentle man had admitted that it was important that the bills should be signed by a Lord of the Admiralty, and no ground had been stated why that plan should be given up. The justification was, the increase of bills; but though there might be a considerable increase since 1833, there was no great in crease within a year or two. Did his noble Eriend Lord Dalmeny, find any difficulty in executing the duties of his office? Did he ask for assitance? No; yet the business was then as extensive as at present. At what period, too, was it proposed to make this alteration? He had heard of an increase of duties at the Admiralty in case of war, but what measures were the Administration now taking? Why, at this moment, they were reducing the estimates, and they promised to reduce them more; and just now, at the time when they were reducing the navy, they were creating this new office. A great deal was said about 42,000 bills; but, divided by the number of official days in the year, they would not amount to more than 140 bills a-day, and it would be no great labour to sign them. He thought a Lord of the Admiralty could easily do that and attend to his other duties. He saw no ground, therefore, for the proposed altera- 283 tion, and he thought the committee should look on the change with suspicion, as tending to break in on the system established by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir James Graham
explained that the alteration was proposed by Mr. Briggs, the Accountant-general, to whose zeal and assiduity the right hon. Gentleman had borne his testimony. That Gentleman was, perhaps, one of the first accountants of the country, and his exertions, he thought, could not be surpassed. Now, Mr. Briggs had written a letter to the Admiralty, dated July 29, 1842, in which he stated that the business of his office weighed heavily on the persons employed. In particular he complained of the number of bills to be examined and signed, which was much greater than before. In this letter it was also remarked, that the documents were becoming so numerous, in consequence of the extension of public business, that a great portion of the time of the superintendent at Somerset-house must be engaged in the mere signature of them; and there was no additional security afforded by it, as the mass of papers to be submitted was so voluminous that it was impossible for him to satisfy himself as to their accuracy, or make himself acquainted with their contents, even in the most superficial manner. It was on this document that the change mainly rested, and, for himself, he must say, that he attached the greatest importance to the authority of Mr. Briggs.
§ Sir Charles Napier
observed, that the House was in a very awkward predicament. Here was an ex-junior lord of the Admiralty, and an ex-secretary of the Admiralty, objecting to an alteration that had recently been made as injurious to the public service, while on the other side, there was the Secretary of the Admiralty, and junior Lord of the Admiralty, with with the ex-first Lord of the Admiralty, maintaining that the change so far from being injurious was calculated to be of benefit to the public service. This be said, left the House in a very awkward predicament, and he did not know how they were to get out of it. But then the junior Lord who had not sufficient time to sign letters, was engaged in looking after the ships and docks. In the name of God! what had the Civil Lord who 'ought to be looking after the accounts, to do with the ships and docks of the navy? Ha believed that was a part of the duty 284 that belonged to the Civil Engineer's department, and ought to be under the direction of the senior rather than of the junior Lord. But, then it was said, that the hon. Member for Taunton, when he was a junior Lord, was told be should live at Somerset-house. Why did not the junior Lord live there now? He supposed he did not, as he was allowed 200l. a-year for a house. The junior Lord ought to be there and at his work. It was no great hardship for a gentleman who received 1,200l. a-year to have to sign two hundred letters a-day. It was his opinion that all the Lords ought to reside at Somerset-house; but then the ladies objected to it, as there was not as good quarters there as there were at the Admiralty. Why, when a gentleman came out of his room in the morning, after his breakfast, he sat himself down to his business. Well, then he sat himself down at his desk, and his business was at hand—he had all his letters, and it must disturb him considerably to be obliged to leave one office to go to another. But it had been said that the bills had increased from 18,000 to 42,000. If there were a war that number must be doubled, and then he supposed that they should have another deputy accountant-general. As to the letter of Mr. Briggs, he must remark that it was dated in July, 1842; but then they had had a decrease in the navy estimates of 400,000l. It was his opinion that if another Lord of the Admiralty were proposed, no objection would be made to it, and, in his opinion, it would be impossible to do without it.
§ Mr. C. Wood
,in reply, remarked that the clause referred to by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), showed that it was the intention that the bills should be signed by a Lord of the Admiralty. In order to have an expression of the opinion of the House, be intended to move that the estimates be reduced by 100l.
The committee divided on the question that the sum granted be 125,359l.:— Ayes 45; Noes 124: Majority 79.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aldam, W.||Busfeild, W.|
|Baring, rt. hn. F. T.||Duke, Sir J.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Duncan, G.|
|Bernal, R.||Dundas, Admiral|
|Bowring, Dr.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Brodie, W. B.||Ewart, W.|
|Brotherton, J.||Forster, M.|
|Browne, hon. W||Fox, C. R.|
|Gore, hon. R.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Hallyburton, Lord J. F.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Hatton, Capt. V.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Hawes, B.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Hay, Sir A. L.||Ross, D. R.|
|Hindley, C.||Rundle, J.|
|Hume, J.||Scholefield, J.|
|Humphery, Ald.||Thornely, T.|
|Hutt, W.||Wawn, J. T.|
|James, W.||Williams, W.|
|Labouchere, rt. hn. H.||Wood, B.|
|Layard, Capt.||Wood, G. W.|
|Marsland, H.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Mitcalfe, H.||Wood, C.|
|Morris, D.||Tuffnell, H.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Gordon, hon. Capt.|
|Acland, T. D.||Gore, M.|
|Acton, Col.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Adare, Visct.||Goulbourn, rt. hn. H.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Alford, Visct.||Grogan, E.|
|Antrobus, E.||Halford, II.|
|Arkwright, G.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Hampden, R.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Heneage, G. H. W.|
|Beresford, Major||Henley, J. W.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Hepburn, Sir T. B.|
|Borthwick, P.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Botfield, B.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Broadley, H.||Hodgson, R.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Buck, L. W.||Hope, G. W.|
|Bunbury, T.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Campbell, Sir H.||Hussey, T.|
|Chapman, A.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Chelsea, Visct.||Irton, S.|
|Clerk, Sir G.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Clive, Visct.||Jones, Capt.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Kemble, H.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E|
|Cripps, W.||Knight, H. G.|
|Darner, hon. Col.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|Darby, G.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Lockhart, W.|
|Denison, E. B.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Mc Geachy, F. A.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Douglas, J. D. S.||March, Earl of|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Marsham, Visct.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Martin, C. W.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Marton, G.|
|Eliot, Lord||Master, T. W. C.|
|Escott, B.||Masterman, J.|
|Ferrand, W. B.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Fitzmaurice, hon. W.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Fitzroy, Capt.||Morgan, O.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Mundy, E. M.|
|Forbes, W.||Neville, R.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Newry, Visct.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Packe, C. W.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Peel, J.||Tollemache, J.|
|Plumptre, J. P.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Rashleigh, W.||Trevor, hn. G. R.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Rous, hon. Capt.||Trotter, J.|
|Russell, J. D. W.||Turnor, C.|
|Scarlett, hn. R. C.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Seymour, Lord||Waddington, H. S.|
|Shaw, rt. hon. F.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Somerset, Lord G.||Wortley, hn. J. S.|
|Spry, Sir S. T.||Wyndham, Col. C|
|Sutton, H. H. M.||TELLERS.|
|Tennent, J. E.||Freemantle, Sir T|
|Thornhill, G.||Pringle, A.|
§ The proposition to vote 125,459l. for the salaries and expenses of the Admiralty Office was agreed to.
§ On the vote of 2,980l. for the salaries and expenses of the office for the registry of merchant seamen being proposed,
§ Captain Pechell
remarked upon the inefficiency of the office. The system did not seem to have worked well; there were not above half of our merchant seamen registered in the office.
§ Sir J. Graham
said, that although the establishment was one opposed by merchants and shipowners, yet that it was calculated to be of essential service to the navy. On the whole its effects had approximated towards success. It was of course capable of many improvements, and he knew that the gallant Commodore opposite had interested himself in their successful execution. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman would direct his attention practically to the point he could assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that he would not be wanting to second his endeavours; and he hoped that, for the sake of making a slight reduction in the estimates, the House would not throw any impediment in the way of the progress of an object of such national importance.
§ Mr. Charles Wood
begged to ask the hon. gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty whether any effectual steps had been taken with a view towards improveing the state of the registry, an derasing fictitious and double entries? for unless something of this sort could be done, the value of the registry would be extremely small. A number of persons who had been entered upon the registry were dead, and their names, he understood, had not been erased.
§ Sir C. Napier
said, that before the question of his hon. Friend was answered, 287 he wished to state, that he had paid muc attention to the subject before the committee. He believed that the register would not be complete until the Registrar-general furnished every seaman, upon enrollment, with a ticket of registration. If the registration system were rigidly carried out to the length to which he would be inclined to urge it, it would supersede the necessity of the existence of the odious practice of impressment. He would like it to be made obligatory upon every boy who went to sea as an apprentice for a term of years, to serve, after the expiration of that term, for a certain period on board of a man-of-war, before he should become entitled to be a registered seaman. It would be well to adopt some such system, in order to get rid of the manifold evils and hardships of impressment.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the question that 124,353l. be for the expenses of the naval establishments at home,
§ Captain Rous
objected to the great expense of the ships kept in ordinary; at the same time he said that much praise was due to the right hon. Baronet near him for having so readily adopted the new system of building. He ridiculed the idea of converting the Penelope into a steam frigate. The experiment he felt convinced would never succeed. With reference to the construction of steamers he could not help expressing his surprise that the engines of Mr. Napier, or those of Messrs. Maudaley and Field, were not patronized in preference to those of Messrs. Seward, because the former never failed, while the great friction of the latter was much complained of. After what had been said to-night he hoped the troops of her Majesty would always be conveyed abroad in ships of war.
§ Captain Pechell
disapproved of converting thirty six-gun frigates into steamers, but thought the Admiralty of late years entitled to great credit for the improvements introduced in the building of ships of war. The superior class of ships now employed had contributed more than anything else to the suppression of the slave-trade on the coast of Africa.
admitted the great expense of keeping ships in ordinary; but that expense was necessary in order to have a sufficient number of vessels ready 288 for commission at a moment's notice upon any emergency.
§ Sir C. Napier
considered it impolitic to build many large vessels. In his opinion they ought only to have such a number of ships as could be manned with facility. He wished to know whether it was the intention of the Admiralty to try the Albion before proceeding to build other vessels of similar construction?
was understood to say that the intention of the Admiralty was, before adopting any improvements in shipbuilding, to test their efficiency.
§ Mr. Hume
thought much unnecessary expense was incurred in the building of large ships, which were of no service but were allowed to rot in harbour. He thought the remarks of the hon. and gallant Officer who had alluded to this subject were well deserving the attention of the Government. The hon. and gallant Member opposite had alluded to the state of the transports, and had said that they were frequently commanded by officers who were not competent to discharge their duties. He thought that some proof of the truth of this statement was afforded by the experience of the last few years, but he yet believed that the number of ships of war lost exceeded that of the transports. As a large sum of money was voted annually for defraying the expense of transports it was, he conceived, the duty of the Government to ascertain that the ships employed in this service were safe and efficient.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ House resumed.—Committee to sit again.
§ House adjourned.