§ MR. WAWN
asked the Secretary to the Admiralty "how many iron war steamers are being built? Also, whether any experiments have been tried as to the effects of cannon shot upon iron vessels; and if those experiments have been satisfactory or not? And whether the Government intend to persevere in the building of iron war steamers?"
§ MR. WARD
replied, that there were now sixteen iron steamers in commission, including the Dover mail packets; four iron steamers were built, but not in commission, including the Birkenhead of 1400 685 tons and 556 horse power; and seven more iron steamers, including the Simoom of 1953 tons and 780 horse power, were now building by contract. With regard to the second question of the hon. Member, "Whether any experiments have been tried as to the effects of cannon shot upon iron vessels, and if those experiments have been satisfactory or not?" he begged to state that one experiment, and one only, having been tried, it would be highly improper in him to pronounce an opinion at present as to the effects or the probable effects of that experiment on the employment of iron steamers for purposes of war. What had been done, however, was quite sufficient to make the Government cautious in giving any fresh orders as to the building of new iron steamers; and he could assure the hon. Gentleman that nothing had yet been resolved upon with regard to persevering in their construction.