said, that from observing that the Navy Estimates increased year after year, he had been induced to look into them generally, and, by dividing the estimates for the last fourteen years into two parts, he found that they produced the most extraordinary results. For the first seven years the expenditure was 7,900,000l.; in the last seven years 14,900,000l., being a total in fourteen years of 22,800,000l. for wages and salaries in dockyards and naval stores. They had now, in line of battle-ships, frigates, and steamers, a Navy with which, if properly manned, no nation of the world could compete; the country ought to be satisfied as to the mode in which these vast sums were expended, he believed there had been a great waste of money in continuing to build ships on plans which were the subjects of much controversy among naval and scientific men; the estimates were increasing year after year; a new system altogether ought to be adopted. He thought the abolition of the College of Naval Architecture by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) during his administration of the Admiralty a grave error. He had no hope, in making these observations, that he would be enabled to effect any reduction in the amount of the estimate under consideration, and he should not, therefore, oppose the vote.
§ VISCOUNT INGESTRE
would not attempt on this occasion to discuss those multifarious topics affecting the well-being of the service, which had been introduced and forced upon the notice of the House by hon. Gentlemen, in the course of the debates upon the various estimates which had been agreed 733 to. He was not prepared to state any decided approval of the conduct pursued by those in authority in particular instances; but he could not deny himself the satisfaction of stating that, from what he had observed, he was convinced the present Board of Admiralty were seriously and steadily endeavouring to accomplish the primary object of their legislation—the amelioration of the condition of the seamen in the Royal Navy. So long as they pursued that course in the spirit in which they had commenced, they should have his best and heartiest support. He gave them every credit for the manner in which they had proceeded in the promotion in the dockyards; and he trusted that they would have the fortitude, apart from every political consideration, to adhere to those principles in this respect by which, hitherto, their patronage and the rewards it was in their power to bestow, had been directed. He thought that the strictures of the hon. Member for Coventry upon the mode adopted in the building of ships were in a great measure justified. As early as 1832 he had pointed out the impolicy of the appointment of a Surveyor of the Navy, as the party to be held responsible for such defects as might be found in the ships. He had shown that the education of that gentleman had not been of a sufficiently nautical scientific character to fit him for such a post; and, in reply to the remarks which he then made, the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), then in office, declared that it was too soon to pronounce an opinion before any result was before them, and that he (Sir J. Graham) would rest the appropriateness of such an appointment upon the future completeness of the ship Vernon, then in process of construction. He was quite willing to judge by that experiment. He would acknowledge that the Vernon was a good ship, and carried her guns well; but it had been proved that, in addition to many minor faults which might be detected in the vessel, the expense of building had been unnecessarily great. The Admiralty, it seemed to him, were not proceeding upon any defined plan. They had all sorts of models on the stocks; but it was yet unknown which experiment had failed, or which had been successful. A great mistake had been made in dispensing with the services of the students of the School of Architecture. They were instructed at the expense of this country, and had been led to suppose that, after the recommendation 734 which had been made to the Admiralty, they would have been permitted to fill the superior class of appointments in the dockyards as they became vacant. They had, however, been very badly treated, and even persecuted; and he was glad to see that they had demonstrated the error which had been made when their knowledge and skill were rejected by the Government. He wished to know what was being done with that class of ships which were directed to be built after the model of the Albion? A letter, he believed, had been addressed to the Admiralty, stating that, in consequence of the excessive breadth of the Albion, she had failed, or, at any rate, had not answered those expectations which had been formed. It was desirable that the real state of the case should be understood; and that, if she had failed, the construction of those ships about to be built on the same model, should be stopped. He had not yet seen any improvement in the practice of the dockyard builders. They seemed to be altogether uncertain when they commenced how they should end. Her Majesty's yacht, the Victoria and Albert, was often referred to as reflecting great credit upon the dockyards; but, in fact, she was a failure, and it was only after trying all sorts of nostrums, that she had at last attained a hap-hazard success. The public were altogether ignorant of the exact, results of the experiments which had been undertaken by the Admiralty in the construction of our war ships. He had never yet seen the report of Rear-Admiral Sir Hyde Barker, who commanded the first experimental squadron. Sir W. Symonds had made his report; but if his ships were good ships, it was very doubtful if greater praise could be accorded than consisted in saying they were not inferior to those with which they had been compared. He believed that if officers were to give the same report publicly, which they gave of their ships privately, the present state of things would not long be permitted to exist. He would now come to the question of the steam navy; and would first of all observe, that he should like to see the reports of the Retribution and the Terrible. Of the latter, it had been stated, on very good authority, that she was able to make good way in good weather, and had shown great capabilities in sailing when her steam was not required; but he should like to see the reports that had been made as to both these vessels. There was one point on which he here felt 735 bound to make a remark or two, and that was, on the subject of naval construction. He would say, without fear of contradiction, that most of the steamers which had been built by the present Surveyor of the Navy, had not answered the purpose for which they were built; and he had no hesitation in saying, that there could be found numerous scientific men who were able to build better ships than those which now existed. The late Board of Admiralty, in 1844, appointed a Committee to judge of naval architecture, who had made an analysis, from which much good in the way of advancing the science was expected; and he should like to know if there were any objections to the production of the report of that Committee. The late Admiralty also appointed a Committee of Reference for testing and examining this most important question. At the beginning of the Session, he had asked the hon. Gentleman whether he would object to the production of this report; and he was subsequently informed that it was not desirable to make it public, chiefly on account of foreign nations. If the same reason still existed, he should not ask for that report; but he hoped it would lead to the formation of a permanent scientific body, whose duty it should be to look over all plans beforehand, to ascertain what weight vessels would carry, what armament, and what number of men, and who should be capable of detecting errors in plans, as well as to make plans themselves. Holding, as he did, these views, he hoped the Admiralty would consider whether the duties of the Surveyor of the Navy should not be revised. The duties of that officer he considered more than one man could do. If he had to be constructor of ships, and of all that depended on that duty, he had not time to do what the name of his office implied what he ought to do—thoroughly survey the ships of the Navy. In consequence of this, vast expense had been incurred by laying up ships in ordinary, and which went to decay from not being sold in time. Ships had been disposed of at rates much below what they would have brought had they been sold earlier, when they were of much greater value. Before he sat down, there was one point to which he wished to direct the attention of the Admiralty. About three years ago, he asked the gallant Admiral the Member for Ripon, if it was the intention to send any ships to survey the colony of New Zealand? The answer was, that a ship for 736 that purpose would be sent out as soon as circumstances permitted. Since that time the colony had greatly increased in importance, and its trade was much enlarged; and he might state that a fine ship, the Osprey, was lost in that quarter, in consequence of one headland being mistaken for another. He begged, therefore, before resuming his seat, to call the attention of the Admiralty to this important subject.
§ MR. WARD
believed, that on the subject of shipbuilding, it would be found there were as great differences of opinion as on religious questions; but, before going into these points, he might state, in reply to questions that had been put, that the Princess, one of the ships of the Albion class, was to be considerably altered and improved, and that, among other alterations, she was to be reduced two feet in breadth. As to the best mode of building ships, no doubt, in many cases, the advantages and disadvantages had been pretty much as the noble Lord had described them; he hoped there would in future be a better system. The noble Lord had inquired whether there was any intention of establishing a School of Naval Architecture. It was not intended to establish such a school; but the intention was to introduce a better system into the dockyards, and by giving the boys a good elementary education, and selecting two or three of the best boys yearly, instructing them in mathematics, and placing them in the dockyards at Plymouth and other places, it was thought that a school of naval architecture might be dispensed with.
§ SIR C. NAPIER
repeated his objections to the Aboukir, and that class of vessels which were finishing at Plymouth. The Albion was a most unfit man-of-war. Sir Hyde Parker had told him (Sir C. Napier) that when the Albion had been ordered to bear up and form in the lee line, she rolled so tremendously that she nearly carried away her masts. [Admiral DUNDAS: No report of this was made by the Admiral.] Then the Admiral did not do his duty. The Exmouth, he had heard, was so far advanced, that it was too late to stop; and so sure as she went into action, and attempted to manœuvre, it would be the same with her as with the Albion, and the Superb, which had likewise the character of a bad man-of-war. He therefore could not help saying that it was wrong in the Admiralty to expend one sixpence upon the Aboukir or the Exmouth. At present we 737 were going on with five three-decked ships finishing on the stocks without knowing whether they would be fit for the purposes for which they were intended. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty had informed the Committee that the 92-gun ship was to be altered; but he had heard odd stories about some of those ships. Certain plans had been submitted to the Committee of Construction to make them better ships. The Surveyor had, however, represented to the Board of Admiralty that he could suggest a plan for altering those ships. He hoped the hon. Secretary would tell the House whether the plan of the Surveyor had been required to be submitted to the Committee of Construction, and approved by them or not; and whether the Surveyor's plan, or the Committee of Construction's plan, was to be carried into execution. The duty of the Surveyor of the Navy was not to build ships. If they allowed one man to influence these questions, and to propose a plan, he would see no good in any plan but his own. If certain sets of men were to be allowed to build ships according to their own notions, they would still have classes of ships which were deficient. He would tell the Secretary to the Admiralty what the duty of the Surveyor was; he should let the shipbuilders at Woolwich, at Plymouth, and at Portsmouth, and other places, build ships, and then it should be his duty to check him, examine into their timbers and their iron, and finally ascertain which of the ships sailed the best. That was the proper duty of the Surveyor; and if the Admiralty kept him to that duty we should have more efficient ships built than we now had. He wished to know whether the Secretary to the Admiralty had any objection to lay on the Table copies of the reports made by the Surveyor upon all the plans that had been submitted to him by the different shipbuilders in this country during the last three years; if not, he would, in a few days, make a Motion on the subject. The noble Lord (Lord Ingestre) stated that there was evidently such a desire to bring only one description of ships into the service that every impediment was thrown in the way of completing those ships, which were intended to be built on a different construction. He (Sir C. Napier) agreed with the noble Lord in this opinion; and as a proof of it he would just remind the Committee of what occurred in the case of the Dublin. That vessel was ordered to be repaired; and the cost of reparation was 738 estimated at between 30,000l. and 40,000l.; but after much delay it was finally repaired, and only 10,000l. was expended on her. That was a strong instance of the manner in which it was endeavoured to get rid of ships that were built in certain ship-yards. Another instance was that of the Vindictive, which was a ship built by Mr. Blake, of Portsmouth. That ship was sent up the river in order to get it out of the way, and there it remained for ten years, though on two occasions it had been commissioned and favourably reported on. As to the Queen's yacht, he agreed with the noble Lord (Lord Ingestre), that the expense of it had been tremendous. No one would be more gratified than himself to see Her Majesty possess a yacht that should be capable of affording every possible convenience; but the people, when they should come to know what had been expended on the one that was even yet unfinished, would be perfectly astounded. And, after all, what was she? The Queen of England when she should go on board would be stuffed down into a well cabin; and if she wished to look out of the stern cabin windows, she would be obliged to get upon a chair. If the vessel over should be finished, he was sure it would never be for the Queen of England's use; for Her Majesty would find it absolutely necessary to have a new yacht, and he should readily give his vote on any such occasion for building her a new one.
was desirous of knowing what was the nature of the responsibility which attached to the Committee recently appointed to examine plans for the construction of ships submitted to the Board of Admiralty? He had no objection to the appointment of such a Committee; but he did trust that the Admiralty had determined to adhere to their recommendations and reports. It now appeared that the Admiralty had come to the determination to proceed with two ships of the Albion class; now he (Captain Gordon) wished to know whether that determination was arrived at in consequence of the recommendation of the Committee of Construction? Unless that Committee were to have some responsibility, it had much better be done away with altogether. There was another subject which he could not refrain from alluding to—he meant the late School of Naval Architecture. He never should cease to regret the discontinuance of that school. He thought it a disgrace to this great maritime country that there should not exist 739 an institution of that description. Indeed it was now more than ever required, since the organization of the men at the dockyards into a sort of naval artillery; for how would those men become qualified either to act themselves, or to instruct others, unless there existed a school at which they might obtain the necessary knowledge?
, in reply to the gallant Captain's question respecting the responsibility of the Committee of Reference, said, that the duty of that Committee was to act as the advisers of the Board of Admiralty; but the Board were not necessarily bound to follow implicitly the recommendations and suggestions of the Committee. With regard to the Admiralty having at length determined to proceed with the two vessels of the Albion class, he begged to observe that the board was very much guided as to the course they should take by the expense that would be incurred. Now, in the case of those two vessels, the expense incurred was immense—not less than 20,000l.; and this might be supposed to require consideration before proceeding. But in the case of the Princess Royal, the expense already incurred was only 5,000l., and in that respect, therefore, no difficulty could be supposed to exist.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote that the sum of 1,556,498l. be granted to Her Majesty for defraying the expense of naval stores, for the building, repair, and outfit of the fleet, &c., for the year 1847–8, being proposed,
§ MR. HUME
wished to know whether any one could get up in that House and say whether, since the abolition of the Naval School of Architecture, the greatest abuses had not arisen in the building of ships? Since the date of Sir William Symonds' appointment as Surveyor of the Navy, no less than 22,000,000l. had been expended in building ships for the Navy. If he was rightly informed, not one ship built by Sir William Symonds could carry her guns on the lines laid down for her floatage. Before the building of the Albion was completed, and before any trial could possibly have taken place, half a dozen of the same class were laid down at a cost of at least half a million of money. When the Vernon was alluded to in that House, Sir J. Graham promised that she should be fairly tiled before any other ships of the same class were laid down. How had that promise been adhered to? 740 The character of the Navy had been destroyed by the proceedings which had taken place with respect to the building of ships for Her Majesty's service. If something were not done without delay by those who were responsible for the efficiency of the Navy as to the rules for the construction of ships, he should certainly bring the subject before the House. If he had not been misinformed, the report of the Committee on Naval Construction condemned the system of shipbuilding adopted by Sir William Symonds from beginning to end. He therefore wished to ask his hon. Friend the Secretary of the Admiralty what was the nature of the Report of the Committee on Naval Construction on the present state of the Navy? The Admiralty would not do its duty to the country, if it did not give the fullest information on the subject.
had not risen to defend the shipbuilding of Sir W. Symonds; but he could not sit still and hear that gallant officer condemned in the way in which he had been. He had belonged to three several Boards of Admiralty, namely, that of Sir James Graham, that of the Earl of Minto, and the present Board; and to each of these boards reports most favourable of the character of Sir W. Symonds' ships had been presented. An hon. Gentleman had challenged any naval officer to point out a ship built by Sir W. Symonds which was fit to go to sea. He could mention several of the finest ships in the service built by that officer; for instance, the Vestal and the Cleopatra. When the Vernon was first sent to sea, under the command of Sir Francis Collier, that officer made the most favourable reports to the Admiralty respecting her. He admitted, at the same time, that Sir W. Symonds might have failed in the construction of his line-of-battle ships. The Committee on Naval Construction had suggested that part of the plan of Sir W. Symonds should be modified, as they conceived that in some respects he carried certain principles too far; and the present Board of Admiralty intended to act on that suggestion.
§ VISCOUNT INGESTRE
complained of the system of mystification and falsehood which prevailed in our dockyards, by which the work done to one ship was charged to another, so as to prevent the discovery of the real expense incurred on each ship.
§ SIR C. NAPIER
said, that he should propose, as an Amendment, that the vote 741 be reduced from 1,556,498l. to 1,520,000l. He wished to observe, that when he spoke in such condemnatory terms of Sir W. Symonds' ships, he only alluded to the line-of-battle ships.
§ CAPTAIN PECHELL
thought that the country was in some respects indebted to the services of Sir W. Symonds. He had had occasion to complain of that gallant officer, and of the construction of some of his ships; but he believed that he had recently rendered the State some service. They had formerly sent a class of vessels to the coast of Africa, the well known ten-gun brigs—a class that had been actually condemned by the House. Now, they had a very superior class of vessels for that service. During the late American war, they had suffered great privation and much annoyance from the want of vessels sufficiently fast sailers to be able to catch the American ships; and he himself had suffered, during the blockade of one of the American ports, from the want of a sufficiently fast-sailing vessel. Now, the improvement in the sailing qualities of British ships of war, was a great benefit to the service; and as to the condemnation that had been passed upon some of our ships of the line, let them look to the opinion of the Prince de Joinville, who had pronounced the British to be eminently successful in the construction of steam vessels; whilst the condemnation passed by him upon two of the French ships, the Hercule and the Gemappes, was far beyond anything that could with justice be said of any British vessel of the line. If therefore the gallant Admiral pressed the House to a division, he certainly should not vote with him, thinking, as he did, that Sir W. Symonds had done some good service to the country. Before sitting down he should beg to ask the hon. Secretary to the Admiralty what course had been adopted with respect to a very valuable invention produced by Mr. Alfred Jeffrey, and applicable to the caulking of ships—he meant the marine glue? He understood that that very valuable invention had been applied to the purpose of caulking the decks of several of our ships that were sent to the coast of Africa and other hot climates, and they had been very much benefited. The necessity, which was well known to exist hitherto, of having the decks caulked every three years, had been obviated; and he believed that if the material were brought into use throughout the Navy generally, a saving of from 20,000l. to 50,000l. a year 742 might be effected. But as to the advantages to those on board the vessels sent to warm climates, every one at all conversant with the subject must be aware of the excessive annoyance arising from the pitch used in the ordinary caulking of the decks becoming soft and clinging to the feet; and when the comfort of those who were obliged to sleep upon the deck was considered, the advantage arising from the use of the marine glue must be evident. He trusted that the hon. Secretary to the Admiralty would tell the House what course was about to be adopted with reference to the material, and also whether the gentleman who invented it was to be rewarded.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, that Sir W. Symonds had had nothing to do with building the iron steam boats. But as to the question before the House, he would not put them to the trouble of a division, if hon. Members were opposed to it on the ground that it implied an attack on Sir W. Symonds. It was not upon such a ground that he wished to divide; and he would withdraw his Amendment if the hon. Secretary of the Admiralty would give him any hope that a Committee would be granted for the purpose of examining into those matters of which he complained.
§ On the Vote of a sum not exceeding 22,839 for medicines and medical stores,
§ CAPTAIN PECHELL
called the attention of the House to officers taken into the Haslar Hospital for lunatics. It appeared that from the year 1818 to 1831 a system had prevailed of impounding half the pay of those unfortunate officers by way of compensation for their keep in the hospital; so that whether they had 5s. or only 3s. a day, the half was alike kept back, to the great hardship of their families. In 1831 it was at length discovered that 1s. 6d. a day was enough to keep each individual; and he (Captain Pechell) brought the case of Lieutenant Bevan before the House. 743 Restitution of the difference during the period of his confinement was ordered to be made; and an order to that effect (directing the reimbursement of the excess), dated the 11th January, 1832, was sent down from the Board of Admiralty. But on the 20th of January, and before the order was obeyed, a fresh order from the Board was sent down countermanding the first, and stating as the reason, that if restitution of the excess were made in the case of Lieutenant Bevan, there would be no fewer than ninety similar claimants who would expect a similar reimbursement. Now, on looking over the list, he found that only forty instead of ninety similar claims could be made, and the whole sum required to repay them would not exceed 3,000l. This was one of the few cases in which he had to complain of Sir J. Graham's Board of Admiralty, and he trusted the matter would be remedied.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the question that 725,788l. be granted for half-pay to officers of the Navy and Royal Marines.
§ CAPTAIN PECHELL
wished, before the vote was sanctioned, to draw the attention of the House briefly to the case of the masters, paymasters, and pursers of the Royal Navy. He felt the necessity of getting through the Navy Estimates that night, and he would therefore be very brief in his observations. The injustice done these officers had been frequently brought forward. The masters were always by the captain's side in the hour of danger: they shared all the responsibility and risk; but when honour or emolument was in the way, they were always passed over. All they desired was, that their rank should be amalgamated with that of the lieutenants. In 1834, the purser's sea-profits were reduced without there being any correspondent advantages given to them; and a Committee of flag-officers had reported that there should be a retired list. This Committee recommended it should be limited to fifty, but only thirty were appointed. Some explanation ought to be given of the reason why this recommendation was not carried out.
assured the Committee that the masters in the Navy were a most valuable class of officers. By good conduct and bravery they could attain the highest rank; but he believed it would be an injury to the service to remove them from the class to which they belonged.
§ SIR C. NAPIER
did not think the 744 masters in the Navy were in their proper position. A boy, who had been midshipman, on being made junior lieutenant, became the senior officer of the master immediately, a practice extremely hard upon the master. They ought, in his opinion, to be promoted to the rank of commander.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ The House resumed. Report to be received.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past One o'clock.