HC Deb 04 April 1845 vol 79 cc223-4
Mr. Corry

moved that a sum of 1,289,543l. be granted for the wages of Seamen and Marines.

Captain Pechell

wished to call the attention of the Committee to the situation of captains' clerks in the Navy. They were called upon to perform eminent and important services, and they received for those the most paltry pay. They had scarcely any hope of advancement, and having no rank in the Navy were subordinate to the smallest midshipmen or the lowest officer, although they messed with mates and midshipmen. The pay was now but 56l. per annum for the highest, and 52l. for the lowest; and he thought their situation deserved the attention of the Admiralty.

Sir G. Cockburn

admitted that many of these clerks were in a hard position; but it was very difficult to apply a remedy. In the first place, as the gallant Officer was aware, it was a principle of the Naval Service to allow the captain of a ship to choose his own clerk. He was the captain's instrument, who was answerable for his conduct. The captain's clerk, in short, was not the servant of the Admiralty at all: he followed the fortunes of the captain, if he changed his ship; therefore the Admiralty had no direct control over those clerks. Clerks that had passed, the Admiralty had some hold upon: they were now borne on the list of the Navy; and there were several points on which he hoped that the Admiralty would be able to ameliorate their condition. If they were to say that none should enter the Navy as clerks but through the Admiralty, as the hon. and gallant Officer wished, he was not so sure that the result would be satisfactory in all respects. He believed no class was so much sought after in the Navy as this. Such extensive alterations as were suggested, could not be made on account of the number of applications.

Sir C. Napier

admitted that it was extremely difficult to make any material arrangement on this subject; but he did not see any difficulty in the Admiralty appointing clerks after they had passed their examination, and then holding them responsible. He did not think the captain would have any objection to the Admiralty appointing clerks in this way, provided the clerk was held responsible.

Mr. Williams

thought that persons who were employed for a short time as clerks by captains, and then dismissed, had no claim to support afterwards at the expense of the public; but if they were placed upon the establishment, they then acquired a right to a provison for their subsistence.

Captain Pechell

said, what he wished was, that this class of persons should be made respectable, taken from the list, and rewarded with a modicum of 2s. 6d. a-day when the Admiralty could not give them ships.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed. Committee to sit again.

House adjourned at half-past twelve o'clock.