HC Deb 24 July 1846 vol 87 cc1446-60

said, that as no statement with respect to the Navy Estimates had been made, he trusted to the indulgence of the House whilst he made a short explanation of the different votes; and he must, in justice to the hon. Gentleman whom he had succeeded (Mr. Corry), say, that if it had not been for his kind and liberal assistance, he should not have been able to make himself master of the subject. In the first place, he must remind the House of the precise state of the votes already taken; the first vote for the number of men had passed, and the number had been taken at 40,000; for the wages of these men 900,000l. had been voted; and there had been three separate votes on account of other votes; 400,000l. (vote 3) for victualling, 1,200,000l. (vote 11) for naval stores, and 400,000l. (vote 12) for new works; and on Monday last, the House had completed the second vote by voting 394,720l. to furnish the sum necessary for the charge of seamen, and 705,448l. (vote 15) for the half-pay. The whole amount of the votes for the year was 6,667,414l.; and, deducting the reserved credit of 190,461l., the gross sum required would be 7,476,953l. As he had already stated, the whole number of men voted was 40,000; of these 27,500 were seamen, for the fleet, surveying vessels, troop-ships, and yachts, 2,000 boys, 5,500 marines afloat, and 5,000 marines ashore. The total wages required were 1,328,053l.; but after deducting the estimated credit of 33,333l., the total sum required for the credit of the year would be 1,294,720l. There was on this vote an apparent increase of 5,177l.; but in fact the gross vote was the same as last year; but the reserved credit being less, the total sum required was larger by the difference. On the second vote, for the victuals of seamen and marines, there was an increase of 34,503l. caused almost entirely by the rise in the price of provisions, which accounted for 33,843l. out of the 34,000l. In the 3rd vote, for the Admiralty-office, the vote was the same within 622l., and that difference was caused by the change in the salaries of the clerks, which rose with the time of service, and by some increase in the establishment; but there was a decrease in the 13th vote by reduction of the list of temporary clerks. To the next vote (4) he ventured to call the particular attention of the House. It was the vote for the General Register and Record Office for Seamen, which was very ably managed under Lieutenant Brown, at the Custom-house, and in which there was a decrease of 2,500l. in the amount for postages, for which too large a sum was taken last year. It was an Act which was very good so far as he had power of judging, and was working very well. Up to the 30th of June, 236,105 register tickets had been issued. Of these, 16,840 had been returned in cases of death and desertion; so that the number of tickets actually in the possession of the men was 219,266. He was told that the Act had proved a great check upon desertion from the merchant service; and he looked forward to a probable increase to 250,000 registered seamen in the merchant service. The Act had been particularly good as it affected apprentices. There had been 22,000 tickets attached to indentures since the 1st of January, 1845; and the total number of registered apprentices in merchant services was 25,000. There were, no doubt, some defects in the Act; there was perhaps too much of mulct and penalty, and too little of inducement to merit, and too little of permanent interest: but he looked upon it as the nucleus of much that was most valuable. It was a link between the mercantile and the Royal navy, and it would be the source and origin from which they might at a trifling expense draw in time of need, and with proper organization, the most powerful naval reserve. They would have at hand trained sailors always ready for the advanced ships, and, with proper classification and fit inducements for the men to enter the Royal navy in the event of war, they would find in this Act what was, in his opinion, the only substitute for the practice of impressment, useful and necessary, perhaps for the Crown, but always uncertain and inconvenient, and was frequently attended with circumstances which were painful and injurious. This Act, however, gave an organization which they ought to encourage. If they looked to France, they found that every man in the merchant service had passed through the Royal marine; they were all more or less practised men, and on the first emergency that might occur they were all available. He might say, without pledging the present Board of Admiralty, but speaking only his opinions, that no subject was likely to occupy so much of their attention during the recess; and if he should have the honour of making a statement next year, he hoped he should prove there was none to which he had turned his attention with so much good; certainly there was none which would be so satisfactory to himself. The subject was a large one, for the whole connexion between the two services ought to be reviewed, and if there were just causes of complaint, they ought to be dealt with in a kindly spirit. The subject of "Merchant Seaman's Fund" had been strongly pressed upon the Board, and they had been urged to introduce the Bill which had been brought in by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) when President of the Board of Trade; but, on the whole, they had thought it better not to revive a Bill which was confessedly only a temporary expedient, but to consider the question carefully during the recess, and to deal with it as a whole next Session. The 5th vote was for the scientific branch; and of that he need say nothing, as this important service was fully appreciated in that House, except that there was an increase of 470l. In the 6th vote, for establishments at home, at Deptford, Woolwich, Chatham, Sheerness, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Deal, and Yarmouth, for packets, and for the victualling establishments, there was a decrease of 1,115l. In the 7th vote, for the staff of the dockyards abroad, the total amount required for those establishments in every part of the globe was 23,902l., and in this there was an increase of 945l., in consequence of works going on at Malta, which were absolutely indispensable for the service. The 8th vote was a large one; it was for the wages of the artificers in the establishments at home, and there was an increase of 61,797l. The whole amount required this year was 752,427l., whilst the amount last year was only 690,630l. This increase was caused partly by increased repairs and works, and partly by substitution of free for convict labour in the different dockyards. There were only 800 convicts employed in the present year, 300 at Woolwich and 500 at Portsmouth, instead of 2,570, and the additional charge in the yards was upwards of 28,000l. Vote 9 was for wages paid in establishments abroad, and this showed an increase of 1,725l. Vote 10 was for naval stores, and for the building, repairing, and outfit of the fleet; it exhibited an increase of 1,694,152l., of which 437,285l. had been entirely caused by the increased activity of the different establishments towards the middle and close of last year. The items were—for the additional purchase of timber, 199,899l.; coals, 19,974l.; steam machinery, 170,000l.; and for steam guard-ships, 18,000l. It could not be said that this increase had been made before it was called for, or without a fair necessity which could not in prudence be disregarded. Vote 11 was for new works, improvements, and repairs; there was a not increase on this vote of 40,464l. The principal works were the substitution of iron roofs over the building slips in the dockyards for those of wood and tarred paper, which he thought were kind of premiums on fire in their great naval establishments; the improvement was going on, wherever repairs were required iron roofs were substituted; nothing could be more dangerous than the old and stupid system of covering these buildings with tar and paper, a single spark falling on which might have cost the country 1,000,000l. for the sake of a miserable economy of 10,000l. 156,500l. was for building steam basins at Devonport and Portsmouth. They had been built on a very large scale; but considering the preparations going on elsewhere, and the formidable organization of steamers and steam machinery on the French coast, it was impossible for England, with any regard to its own credit and safety, to remain behindhand. These works were being carried on with all economy, but also with the utmost activity; a similar work was in course of construction at Malta, where it was much wanted; the docks there had been enlarged, and would now hold steamers of 72 feet beam. Vote 12 was for medicines and medical stores, on which there was an increase of 1,515l. Vote 13 was for pilotage, distressed seamen, temporary clerks, and the purchase of land, being one of the votes on which there was a decrease; that decrease was 47,382l. Vote 14 was for half-pay to officers of the Navy and Marines; 15 and 16 for pensions for good service, Greenwich Hospital, civil pensions, superannuations, &c.; on these votes also there was a decrease. Vote 17 was for Freight on account of the Army and Ordnance Departments, on which there was an increase of 35,221l.; this was a charge which came under the Admiralty, but the Board had no control over it; it comprised the passages of troops and the freight of stores sent by sea for the service of the country. Vote 18 was a similar charge for the Home Department, 92,859l. for the transport of convicts, showing an increase of 1,186l. on the previous year; 5,065 convicts had been sent to Hobart Town and Norfolk Island, and 400 to Bermuda. The increase on the vote would have been greater but for a reduction in the freight of from 4l. 13s. 8d. to 3l. 17s. 1d., on which the present Estimate was based. There had been in the present year an extraordinary increase in the number of convicts, to the number of 10,183, caused by an alteration in the dockyard system, from those establishments. There only remained the vote for the Packet Department, 544,587l. This included all the contracts for steam mails to every part of the Empire, extending to the East and West Indies, the Pacific, the Mediterranean, Ceylon and Hong Kong; it was a charge thrown on the Admiralty, but they had but little control over it; there was a net decrease on it of 187l. He had now gone shortly, but as clearly as he could, over the chief items of the Naval Estimates of the year; he felt they were very large; he knew that an expenditure of 7,500,000l. was one over which the House of Commons had a right to exercise a strict scrutiny as to details. He would only remind the House that for what was of the past, the present Board of Admiralty was not responsible; he saw no fault to find with the Estimates, but they had been handed over to them by their predecessors, and they had taken them as they were left. And for the future he was bound to say he should not feel justified in holding out any false hopes; he did not believe that any great reduction in these Estimates was probable or possible, so long as the naval establishments of other countries continued on the footing on which they were at present placed. He thought it both unfit and unsafe, he believed it would be dishonourable, for England again to run the risks she had twice done during the last five years, from an unwillingness to increase their naval establishment. He believed it would be in the recollection of every man who had held such a post as the gallant Admiral (Sir C. Napier), that there were periods when any sudden rupture, either here or on the other side of the Atlantic, Would have found them unprepared. He believed the maritime superiority of England was as great and decided as ever—that the heart, and spirit, and means of the country were as good as ever they were; but they had distinct evidence that, from a natural unwillingness to create alarm, these means had not been concentrated; they were not available on the instant in the event of sudden attack, and the country had been left vulnerable on some important points. Up to the present moment Woolwich was the only steam factory they possessed of any size. The basins at Portsmouth and Plymouth were not yet finished; and, if finished, they were not in a proper state of defence. The advanced ships presented a formidable list; but the arrangement of manning them were inadequate and unsatisfactory. In case of a sudden emergency, he confessed he should be unwilling to trust to the exercise of the power of impressment alone. It was a resource not to be trusted to to man such a navy; and to oppose untrained men, totally unacquainted with gunnery, to trained and practised crews, at the first outbreak of any maritime contest, would be imprudent and unsafe. He would rather seek to recall and collect together, by proper regulations, those elements of strength now scattered over the globe. By their own fault they were so scattered; and it was in their power to recall them, by devising a better mode of treatment for the gallant men upon whom the country must rely for its safety. His own opinion was worth nothing; but in the opinion of many experienced officers a great deal might be done by kind treatment of the seamen, proper training of boys in the service, and altering the foolish practice of discharging a whole ship's company the moment she was paid off. Why should a practice which would be utterly destructive of the discipline of a regiment be applied to a ship? Why not endeavour to make the men anxious to remain in the service, and give them the means of remaining in it, instead of turning them adrift to be plundered of their honest earnings, and compelled to transfer their services to other Powers? He should wish to see the men with a permanent interest in the service of the Crown. He looked forward to its being the task of the present Board of Admiralty, profiting by the experience of its predecessor, to organize, complete, and systematise the great defensive arrangements now in existence. Without entertaining any hostile or aggressive views, being as anxious as any man that the peace of the world should be preserved, he would still express his firm belief that the greatest security for peace was the conviction on the part of other nations that, as far as England was concerned, that peace could not be broken by them with impunity. That conviction would depend on the proper organization of those resources, in ships and men, which existed in every direction around them; and which, properly applied, would always make England the first maritime power in the world. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving that 245,148l. be granted for wages and victuals of seamen.


admitted that he had listened with great pleasure to the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Admiralty, who had shown a degree of information which was exceedingly creditable to him, and which it was indeed not a little surprising to find in one who had been for so short a time in the department with which he was at present connected. He was really at a loss to think how the hon. Gentleman managed to have concentrated such a mass of information within so brief a period. He had arranged it, too, in a systematic and perspicuous manner; and he (Sir C. Napier) could with truth affirm that a clearer elucidation of the whole system of the navy he had ever heard. He concurred unreservedly in almost every proposition that had fallen from the hon. Gentleman, and particularly approved of what he had said respecting the mode of manning the navy. He was also completely of the same opinion with the hon. Member as to its being exceedingly improper, and, indeed, exceedingly dishonourable to this country, that the naval establishment should ever be in such a condition that in the event of a sudden emergency we should be taken at a disadvantage. Every thing ought certainly to be ready at a moment's warning, so that we might never be taken by surprise. He trusted that the new Board of Admiralty would look vigilantly to the discharge of their duties, and display more zeal and ability than their predecessors in office, of whom, by the way, he was surprised to find that only one had thought it worth his while to be present in his place on the present occasion. The mode of manning the navy was unquestionably a matter of the most serious importance. In the year 1841 it was the opinion of him (Sir C. Napier), and of several other naval officers, whose opinions might be supposed to be of some value, that the navy was very imperfectly manned. The right hon. Baronet, who then came into power, admitted that he was of the same opinion, and accordingly introduced a scale on which the service was for the future to be supplied; but he did not follow up his own system; and the consequence was, that there was still great cause of complaint in this department. No ships, it had been said, were for the future to be sent out to sea which were not manned in admirable style. There were, however, seven or eight sail of the line which were now afloat. Would it be contended that the sail of the line now afloat were manned in admirable style? Quite the contrary. He had no hesitation in saying they were improperly manned. If they were inspected, it would be found that they were manned not with a first-rate crew, but with a crew two rates below that, and that the ships were filled up with marines. He asked any naval officer in command of a man-of-war whether he would prefer having the number of marines on board doubled, rather than to have her properly manned with competent seamen? The system was a most improper one; and he protested against it accordingly. The gallant officer opposite (Captain Berkeley), whom he was delighted to find again a Lord of the Admiralty, had left that department some years ago under circumstances as honourable as those under which any public man ever resigned office. He went out because he could not see the navy manned as he wished it to be. It was to be hoped that his opinion on this important subject had undergone no change, but that now that he was in office he would abide manfully by the views which he had promulgated so emphatically when out of power, and take care that no ships should go to sea that were not manned in the first style, and in all respects properly equipped, He trusted that if the gallant officer and the other new authorities at the Admiralty manifested a desire to effect these desirable changes, the House of Commons would back them zealously, and supply them in a generous spirit with the funds requisite for carrying these projects into execution. He would not, on the present occasion, trespass on the attention of the House by discussing the votes one by one, having on Tuesday evening addressed them on the subject at considerable length; but there was one vote he could not forbear alluding to. It was that which was designed to cover the expenses of the dockyards and naval stores. The money here voted appeared to him to be quite too profuse. If anything like order or economy had prevailed, he certainly did think that they might have diminished a million and a half of money in the expenses of the dockyards and stores. He had here again to complain, as he had complained a thousand times before, of the gross defects of our present system of naval architecture. The ships which were constructed under that system—he would not say of them that they were absolute failures; but he certainly thought, and every naval officer must say the same, that they were bad men-of-war. They looked very charmingly in harbour; but to judge of them properly you should see them in a gale of wind, when it would be found that they would roll forty-five degrees leeward, and forty-three degrees windward. He trusted that the new Board of Admiralty would perceive the evils of the present system, and acknowledge the necessity of adopting a new plan. There was another point he was anxious to allude to. He meant the enormous expense which had been incurred since 1800 in cutting down ships of war. They had recently taken four 72-gun ships and four frigates—good men-of-war, or at least fair men-of-war—and these they had cut down to make block ships of. The practice was an inexcusable one. Why should men-of-war be thus sacrificed? If block ships were required, what was easier than to take old hulks, mount guns on them, and to tow them by steam boats to the positions it was desirable they should occupy? The cost of repairing these block ships had been set down at 18,000l.; but he would take upon him to say that the cost of these ships would not be less than 20,000l. a piece. Independent of that, there were engines put into them at an enormous expense; and he would answer for this, that those four sail of the line and four frigates when transmogrified into block ships would cost no less than half a million of money. Let them but wait until they had obtained a bill of expenses, and they would find that they would cost little less than the sum he had mentioned. And what was the use of them? Why, they would be absolutely useless. They would be put in dock with the machinery on board, and they would be totally useless altogether. Perhaps he would be told, "Oh, no! those vessels are intended to go to sea; we will send them into the Downs." He (Sir C. Napier) asked, could they not send six vessels into the Downs with the same facility? Now, suppose those block ships were in the Downs and a westerly wind set in, and the enemy instead of going to the Downs proceeded to Plymouth, those block ships might be able to sail not more than five or six miles an hour, while the enemy's vessels could sail ten or twelve miles in the same time; and what then, he (Sir Charles Napier) asked, would become of their block ships? Now, with respect to their steam boats, he complained of the mode in which they were built. He went on board of one the other day in Woolwich, and she was exactly in the same position as the first steam boats they had built, and the engines and other parts were exposed to shot. He, therefore, conceived that they should change the present system. It was perfectly easy to do so, and he was sure that they would find that it would do a great deal of good. He had been allowed to build a steam man-of-war, and he had arranged that it should carry provisions for two hundred men; but when he went to look at the establishment of the Sidon, a paper from the Admiralty was shown to him, and that paper stated that she was to carry provisions for 240 men. But if they were to fit her out with a view to carry the order of the Admiralty into execution, she would, like other steam boats, be too deep in the water to be useful. He would suggest that the present Board of Admiralty should form some sort of Commission, to investigate and report what was the proper system of building steam boats, and thus save the country from the enormous losses to which it was subject during every year for the last twenty years. The Secretary of the Admiralty had said that steam boats were in their infancy. Yes, they were so in the navy; but it was not so in the merchant service. They were in their infancy for the last twenty years in the navy, and how long would it be before they came to maturity? If they went to Scotland, Liverpool, and Ireland, they would find steam boats belonging to the merchant service that could stand every weather.


felt, after the statement which had been made by the gallant Officer on his left (Sir C. Napier), that it was quite right he should say a word on the subject. In the first place, it was said that after they (the late Board of Admiralty) came into office, they agreed in thinking that ships of war should go to sea fully manned; but at the same time, with respect to the ships that were kept in the Channel, he explained at the time—two or three years ago—he felt that they could exercise those ships without being fully manned. They were enabled, with the sum they got from Parliament, to send more vessels where they were wanted—for instance, to Brazil and China—than if they had those vessels of the line fully manned at home. As to sending a double number of marines on board, it was exceedingly useful if they were looking out for the chance of a war, for a portion of them were lately enlisted, who were fit to act as soldiers, but it was necessary to have some experience at sea. He was old enough to remember the last war, when they were obliged to put soldiers on board, and they were all dead as it were from sea sickness. In the event of a war they had now a vote for 40,000 men; but if they had the vessels fully manned, they should have 43,000 or 44,000 men. They should, he repeated, send the marines to sea, to get sea legs, and give practice to the officers and men. As to the next charge, with respect to the cutting down of the block ships, the House would remember that it was not a proposal of the Admiralty at all. There was an order from the Government to appoint a Commission to visit all their ports, and see what was necessary to be done for their protection, in consequence of the French having got a steam navy. That Commission went round to the different ports, and the recommendation of that Commission was adopted by the Government, requiring that a certain number of line of battle ships, and of frigates, should be prepared to aid the batteries in the different positions in which they might be attacked; and it was thought wise that a screw propeller should be put to each of them to enable them to shift their position from side to side, where the attack of the enemy made it necessary. One of those vessels was to be completed with the screw, and the order was that others were not to be completed until that one was tried. His hon. and gallant Friend had stated that they had not a steamer that was a perfect man of war. They had often heard that statement before, and it was contradicted over again. He might mention an officer well known to the country, Sir Edmond Lyons, now Minister in Greece, and in his opinion the Terrible and Devastation were most efficient vessels. The Gomer (French vessel) was not to be compared to the Devastation; and it was quite right in his (Sir G. Cockburn's) opinion, as they had ships of the size in France, that in England they should have some ships of the same description, and therefore it was that those ships were built.


said, it had been his pride during his professional career, to endeavour to the utmost of his power to make the ship effective to which he belonged; and it was now his pride to assist in making the British navy as effective as possible. He was sure they had the finest fleet in the world, both ships that sailed and steamed; but he confessed there might be some difficulty to man those ships, and particularly in cases of emergency. He was desirous that attention should be paid to the manning of the navy; and he hoped the gallant Commodore would never have to say that he forgot one word in office, that he had said out of it. He thought there had been too much amateur shipbuilding, and he wished that a minute, left by Lord Minto on his retirement from office, had been strictly followed. That noble Lord, foreseeing, it would appear, what was about to take place, cautioned his successors, and through them the public, not to go too fast to endeavour to vie with others who were building bad steamers, when the small class of steamers were much better and more efficient for every purpose than all the large ones they could put together.


was always anxious for the prosperity of the British navy, and could safely say that he never made an observation tending to lower it in comparison with other navies. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Admiralty had gone through the items in a very clear manner, but he had not told them how he intended to apply them. He would wish for information on various matters connected with this subject. He would wish, for instance, to hear how far the scheme, in connexion with the French Government, for the suppression of the Slave Trade, entered into by Her Majesty's late Government, had been successful, comparing the operations of the French cruisers with those of this country. There were, he believed, no treaties between France and the Brazils or Spain, that would warrant the French cruisers in attacking any vessel under the flags of those nations. He would also like to hear what was to be the policy of the Government with regard to the employment of admirals. It was, he thought, strange that the superintendent of Woolwich Dockyard, whose services were considered so important and pressing that he was not permitted to sleep out of the dockyard without the express orders of the Admiralty, should be taken from his post and placed in command of the experimental squadron; and it was equally strange that the Mediterranean station should be deprived of its only admiral, who was sent to command that squadron, which he had not yet been able to find. Many of the old officers felt aggrieved that they should have been passed over, and that their representations should not have been attended to. He would like to hear whether the Board of Admiralty approved of their conduct in this respect. He would likewise wish to know whether they intended to continue the same system pursued heretofore with regard to the conveyance of specie — namely, of giving the commander a direct interest in the amount placed under his charge, by paying him a certain portion of it. He next came to the matter of which he had given notice. He alluded to the case of a certain portion of the paymasters and pursers of the navy. The case of these officers was one of very great injustice. When placed on half-pay they were in three classes, who were paid at 3s., 4s., and 5s. a day respectively. It was found very unjust to old officers that they should not rise to more than 5s. a day, and the pursers accordingly agreed among themselves to forego some of their sea emoluments in order that their old officers on half-pay should have an increase of pay. The Report of the Commission of Inquiry instituted on the matter recommended an addition of 1s. a day to the pay of the first class of these officers; and the amount sacrificed by the pursers to ensure this object from their sea emoluments was 9,600l. a year. In addition to this, 23 per cent was taken off other emoluments, making a further sum of nearly 9,000l. a year. A total sum of 18,600l. thus came into the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but instead of these arrangements having been carried out by the Admiralty, they reduced the first class from 200 to 100. The consequence was, that a balance of 4,384l. was retained by the Government every year out of the amount so subscribed, and that 2,737l. a year was taken out of the pockets of 100 officers who ought to be in receipt of additional pay to that amount. He would ask any member of the Admiralty, and more particularly of the late Board, whether they could deny any one of the statements contained in the memorial of this class of officers? Some of the officers who had been so removed were from thirty to forty years' standing, and among others he might mention that the paymaster of the Victory, an officer of between thirty and forty years' standing, was still only in the third class. He would also wish to draw the attention of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Admiralty, to another class of officers, namely, the masters. A master in the navy was in fact a master over nobody. Whenever there was any danger he was always at hand, but when promotion was in question he was never heard of; when there was any responsibility or blame to be attributed, the master had his share as well as the captain; but when honour was to be conferred, nobody thought of sending for the master.


said, when the Board of Admiralty had employment for admirals, the old officers would not be forgotten. As to the question of the hon. and gallant Gentleman respecting the conveyance of specie, he believed a great part of the emolument went to the support of Greenwich Hospital. There could be no doubt but that the pursers were a most deserving class of officers, and he was sure the hon. and gallant Admiral opposite was prepared to explain the treatment of which the hon. and gallant Gentleman complained.


said, the arrangements made with the pursers in 1841 was at their own application. The Commission which had been appointed on the subject went into the entire case of these officers, and recommended the additional retiring pay of 1s. a day; but that was no part of the original bargain entered into when their pay had been increased.


had heard with much pleasure the statement of the hon. Gentle- man the Secretary of the Navy, and cordially approved of the useful reforms the hon. Gentleman proposed to introduce. But he must call the attention of the Lords of the Admiralty to the mania which prevailed of putting very few and ponderous guns into our ships. Such a system would entail the same disastrous results as the opposite extreme of employing guns of too light a calibre. Our three classes of frigates threw one-sixth less weight of broadside than French and American ships of the same tonnage. The Vernon, larger than any of the French 60-gun frigates, carried two guns less on her main deck. The Pique, 100 tons more than the United States, threw 420lb. less weight of shot. The old frigates of 1,000 tons, with a converted armament, would be overmatched in close action by the American corvettes of 800 tons. The ponderous swivel guns on the upper dock were only useful where steam power enabled a ship to choose her own range. Their crews were wholly exposed to the fire of musketry in close action from the want of bulwarks, and for the same cause they could not be fought in a sea way. At that late hour of the night he would not go into further details, but he trusted that this vicious system would not be persisted in.


wished to call the attention of the Committee to the large expenditure in forming a steam navy. They had hitherto no experience of the use of such enormous war steamers; those hitherto usefully employed in China and elsewhere were comparatively of a small class. A number of these large steamers had been sent to sea with the experimental squadron, and on a gale coming on they were not to be seen at the end of twenty-four hours, although the rest of the squadron kept together.

Several other Votes agreed to.

House resumed. Resolution to be reported.

House adjourned at a quarter-past One.