§ MR. WARD
rose and said, that he had deferred making any allusion to the speech of the hon. Member for Evesham (Sir H. Willoughby) until he came to the general statement which it was his duty to make to the House, as he considered that would be the most convenient occasion for replying to the observations of the hon. Baronet. In many of his observations he (Mr. Ward) entirely concurred. He thought there was a great deal of truth in what he stated—that if votes for excesses were to recur perpetually from year to year, the Navy Estimates would cease to be regarded as a fair criterion of the national expenditure. He thought that whenever such excesses had occurred, the House was not only entitled to call for the fullest explanation of that excess, but also not to allow the votes to pass without such explanation. This was the third vote of this kind which it had been his lot to submit to the House since he became Secretary to the Admiralty; but it was the first one for which the present Board of Admiralty was entirely responsible. The first vote was for excess in the year 1845–6, amounting to 185,000l. That vote was to be regarded rather in the light of a supplemental vote, than of an excess. It was an estimate, sanctioned under peculiar circumstances by the Treasury, of which the present Board of Admiralty knew nothing whatever. That vote was sanctioned, and the money expended, before the present Government came into office, and for which his hon. Friend the then Secretary of the Admiralty, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, assigned satisfactory reasons to the House. If that vote had been a vote of excess, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, he could not have moved it with the estimates of 1846–7, as the House was aware that the old financial year ended the 5th of March; and, six months being allowed to wind up the accounts, he could not, of course, have brought it forward with the estimates of that year. The excess in 1847–8 was the largest excess of all, amounting to 323,787l. It was the first of the three votes for which the present Board of Admiralty were entirely responsible. He was far from underrating the weight of that responsibility. He was perfectly ready to admit the weight of all the objections urged by the hon. Member for Evesham against these votes of excess. Votes of this sort might be explained or excused, 887 but they never could be entirely justified. The House was, however, prepared, during the last twelve months, for the fact of such an excess; although not to the amount which had resulted at the end of the year. He had stated it in the House last year, and in his evidence before the Committee upon the Navy Estimates, that there were three causes for that excess. In the first place, the average pay allowed per man was 36l. 3s. 11d. per annum; while the real average, as was proved by the actual cost, of the complements of all the ships' crews in commission was 38l. 15s.3d., which would make a difference of 70,524l. upon the vote No. 1. The second cause of the excess was, that during the whole of the financial year in question, they had an average of 3,969 men more on board than was voted by the House. The third cause was the unusual number of men paid off during the same year. The number of men paid off in 1847–8 was 15,369—their wages amounted to 245,000l.; while the average of the preceding three years had been only 6,328 men, whose wages amounted to 123,000l. Under the three heads—No. 1, wages; No. 2, victualling; No. 3, medical stores, the amount of excess had been 308,864l. 15s. 3d. In addition to this sum, there was an excess which arose from the dockyard battalions, which was a much less defensible excess than the others to which he had alluded, and upon which the hon. Member for Evesham had very strongly commented. It should, however, be remembered, that the estimate for those battalions was entirely a conjectural one. The Government had no means of knowing the number of men who would enrol themselves, and it was purely voluntary. The lists, however, were filled up with great rapidity. The Government had not the least anticipation, when proposing the vote, and when it was discussed in the House, that the lists would have been so speedily filled up. Subsequently, the House having sanctioned the principle, the Government took the most economical mode of establishing those battalions, by making arrangements at once for equipments, drilling, and clothing, the last of which would last for the next five years. The expense of clothing was 39,012l.—staff and drill pay, 30,000l. The step was taken in accordance with the wishes of the people; but they having changed their opinions, he supposed that the Government must bear the blame of this expense. Now, with respect to the 888 excess which took place in wages in vote No. 1, the House would recollect that that was a matter not always within the power of the Admiralty to control—for the wages of men was in point of fact a running account. The House might fancy that a certain sum was to be voted for the men, but that money so voted had to be paid to men some of whom entered, perhaps, three or four years before. These were the elements of uncertainty that made it difficult for the Board of Admiralty to tell exactly what sum might be required in any one given year. Provided the average of the wages were correct, and the number of men did not exceed the number of men voted, they would of course always find that the sum taken under vote. No. 1 would be sufficient. The great thing to guard against was excess in the number of men. Whatever might be the number of men voted by the House, an excess of that number would necessarily derange the whole of the plans, and involve the Government in the necessity of coming to Parliament for further funds to meet the increased demand. The excess on that account amounted in the financial year 1847–8 to an average of 3,969 men. Was that excess entirely of their originating? Certainly not. A very large portion of that excess was bequeathed to the present by the last Government. They found in ships commissioned in June and July, 1846, by Lord Ellenborough, 2,603 men above the number voted, and when the complements of those ships were complete the number was increased to 3,436 in October. That was the starting point of the present Government—an excess of 3,436 men in October, 1846, three months after their taking office, without a single ship being commissioned by the present Board of Admiralty. Then came the Irish relief service, the disturbances in New Zealand, afterwards the Kafir war, the detention of ships in the River Plate, disturbances in China and Borneo, all justifying the different admirals in detaining ships upon the station which were under orders to return home, and thus disappointing the Government in the relief of ships, upon the return of which they had calculated, and involving the Admiralty with the payment of a number of men whom it was impossible to have at home. The number of men under orders to return home was never less than 3,717 in any month during the year 1847–8; and on the 1st of March, 1848, there were 4,134 men under orders 889 to return, though unfortunately they could not be spared. As to Irish relief, the expenses entailed on the Admiralty by that calamity were almost incalculable. One flag-ship, eight receiving ships, three troop ships, and thirty-one steam vessels, five colliers and tender, one naval transport, and two sailing frigates, making a total of fifty-one vessels, and employing 3,100 seamen, besides a battalion of marines, were despatched upon that service. The price of coals also rose from the average price of 16s. to 2l. per ton, because at that season of distress there was no such thing to be had on the whole coast of Ireland as a return cargo, and freights were proportion-ably dear. All these expenses went to swell that excess of which the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham had justly spoken in strong terms of condemnation. No doubt it was true that some portion of these expenses had been repaid by the Treasury, but not a very large portion, for no man was better able to settle an account than his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Treasury had a way of its own, and where the Admiralty was concerned generally got the best of the bargain. Under these circumstances, could the House wonder at the fact, that the excess under Nos. 1 and 2, had in the last year amounted to 303,442l. The sum required for the service of the year 1849–50, for wages to seamen and marines, would be l,355,420l., and the net estimate for the financial year 1848–9 was l,393,506l. He had never made any attempt to disguise from the House the fact—on the contrary, he stated it to the House last year—that the proper average of men could not be discovered, and that consequently the number of men borne greatly exceeded the number voted. Some of these causes had been in operation during the present financial year also. The table which was appended to the first vote of the present estimates would show what had been the excess of men borne during the first ten months of the financial year, which would increase the average expense of each man to 39l. 9s., instead of the allowed average of 36l. 3s. 11d. It had been found necessary to take a period of ten months to work down an excess of 3,947 men borne over the number voted—which was the excess in April, 1848—to 350 men below the vote. Whatever responsibility had been incurred for permitting this excess was, he was bound to say, due to the late Lord Auckland, and not to his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty. 890 To him (Mr. Ward) it appeared that this excess of men borne over the number voted was the source of perpetual anxiety, and of the disturbance of all the calculations which were made with regard to the Admiralty Department. Nobody had done more than his late lamented Friend, Lord Auckland, in his endeavours gradually to get rid of this evil; and as this was, perhaps, the last time that he should have the opportunity of adverting to Lord Auckland's name, he ventured to say, that from what he had observed during the two years and a half in which he had the happiness of serving under him, he had never known any man with a keener sense of the responsibilities of high office, or more entirely devoted to his duties—or more impartial in the distribution of his patronage, or possessing on all occasions more self-command. He only did justice to himself and his gallant Friend near him (Admiral Dundas) in bearing this testimony to the merits of that lamented nobleman. But while Lord Auckland was undoubtedly responsible for the excess to which he had referred, death had robbed him of the honour due to him for the foundation of that improved system of administering naval affairs, of which his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty would reap the advantage. He was sure that his right hon. Friend would now hold with a firm and vigorous hand the vantage ground which he had gained; and he hoped that this vote for an excess of expenditure would be the last vote of the kind which, in a time of peace would ever be brought before the House of Commons. With regard to the estimates for the present year, the discussions which had taken place on subjects connected with the annual expenditure, and the notices upon the Votes of the House, had sufficiently warned him that he would have no easy task to perform in submitting to the House these estimates. He was far from saying that these estimates would please no party, because he believed that, both in that House and in the country, persons were to be found who would look favourably on an honest desire to combine economy with efficiency in the public service. But, on the other hand, he was well aware that there were many who thought that Her Majesty's Government had done too little in the way of reduction, while others were of opinion that too much had been done. There were, he had no doubt. Gentlemen opposite who thought that, however circumstances might differ, not a ship or a man could be spared from the great bulwark of England; while 891 he was told by several friends in his neighbourhood, that the reduction made was a mere miserable instalment of that retrenchment which ought to be effected, and that an alteration ought to be carried out in accordance with the standard of 1835. It was rather a remarkable circumstance that although most parties had at one time or other referred to that year as an example for imitation, it had never been affirmed by their sober judgment. The number of seamen was raised by Lord Melbourne in the following year to 22,700; and under the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, that force was raised to 26,000 men, and ultimately increased to 27,000 men, an amount still farther augmented by the present Administration, till it reached, in 1848–9, with the addition of marines, 43,000 men. It must be admitted that it was difficult to assign specific reasons for all these changes. Something must be taken on trust; something must be left to the discretion of the Government; but he was sure that the House of Commons had acquiesced in all these changes. Happily for the present Government, instead of having to deal with the two extremes to which he had referred, there was a middle course laid down by the Estimates Committee, upon which, as he had stated in August last, the Government were determined to act. He had promised, on the part of the Admiralty, that there should be a general revision of naval stations, and that every practicable reduction should be made whenever fresh circumstances would justify it. The Admiralty had done so; the stations had been revised, and they thought that with 3,000 men less than last year, they could efficiently provide for the honour and security of the country. Since that time the hon. Member for Montrose had taken the matter into his capacious hands. The hon. Gentleman had taken, not the standard of 1835, but a standard of his own. He had chosen a very convenient half-way house of his own, where he was determined to stop for a while till the country was ready to go further. Now, of course he (Mr. Ward) did not think that a reduction of 8,000 men from the number voted last year was so objectionable, so imprudent, or so unsafe as the reduction of 16,000 proposed by his hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding; but at the same time it was much too large, much too imprudent, and much too unsafe for the Government to assent to it. The Government proposed a reduction of 3,000 men; his hon. Friend's proposition went 892 5,000 below that of the Government, and after his hon. Friend's reasons had been stated it would be for the House to decide between the two. He came now to the changes in the form of the estimates which the House would remark had been made. Upon them he had only to say that every recommendation made by the Committee had been attended to. In Vote No. 1, that for wages to seamen and marines, the monthly excess of men was stated, and also a return of the expenditure incurred on account of marine contingencies. Under No. 10, the vote for timber, an estimate was given of the sums required for the purchase of timber, other stores, coals, repairs of steam machinery, &c. Under Vote 13, there was a return of the total expenditure incurred for contingencies in the year 1847–8. Under the head of Vote 18, which was for the convict service, the estimate had been transferred to the miscellaneous estimates; and under Vote 19, the charge for defraying the expense of steam communication to Bombay, which had hitherto been voted in the miscellaneous estimates, had been included. These changes, and the withdrawal of the credits in aid from sales now paid over to the Exchequer, made a comparison between the estimates of the present year and of any other year exceedingly complicated. There was not only a gross and a net estimate, but a revised net estimate, by which a deduction of 208,000l. was made from the estimates in August last. This would be found in a separate table at page 2 of the estimates. The House, however, would see at once that the gross estimates was the only fair test of comparison which could be made between the present estimates and the estimates for last year. The hon. Gentleman then read the following comparison between Navy Estimates of 1848–49 and 1849–50:—
Gross Estimate for 1848–49, unrevised, 19 votes £7,951,842 Decrease, on Votes 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 1,703,302l. Increase on Votes 3, 9, 14, 16, 12,200l. Apparent saving 1,691,102 Deduct—Vote 18.—Home Department, 53,950l. (transferred to Miscellaneous Estimates). Vote 19.—Contract packets, 611,662l. Packet service.—Queen's vessels, stores, repairs, &c. 183,195l. (now charged to Post Office estimate) 848,807 Actual saving on Naval Votes No. 1 to 17 842,295
Now, he might be told that there might be some trick in these figures, and that the Government had shuffled and doubled through the various estimates in such a manner that it was very difficult to come to a conclusion on the real facts of the case. He would read, therefore, another document:—Comparison between the estimate of 1849–50, and the net revised estimate of 1848–49, as actually voted:—
Brought forward £842,295 PACKET VOTE.—Contract packets, 1848–9, 611,662l.; 1849–50, 586,616l.; saving, 25,046l.—Queen's vessels, stores, repairs, &c, 1848–9, 183,195l.; 1849–50, 111,680l,; saving, 71,515l. 96,561 Decrease on the two estimates 938,856 Deduct for saving by revised estimate of 1848–9 208,000 Actual saving upon estimates of 1849–50 730,856
He believed that these figures were strictly accurate, as compared with the gross or the revised estimates of last year. But he had been told out of the House that the Government had promised to do a great deal more than they had performed, and that the saving was not so great as what he had stated it would be if all the promised 894 reductions were struck out. But 208,000l. were struck off in August last, as well as 730,000l. in the present year, and therefore he thought that the Government had tolerably well redeemed their promise, by effecting, between August, 1848, and the 1st of August, 1849, a total saving of 938,856l. The House would allow him to state in what way this had been done. Under Vote No. 1, the reduction had been almost neutralised by the increase of the average allowance of 36l. 3s. 10d. for each seaman, to 39l. 9s., which was to be the cost on the 1st of December, 1848. It was high time to do away with the perpetual disturbance of calculation occasioned by taking a very low average of the number of men employed, since there was an increase under this head of 27,208l. Under Vote No. 2, there was a decrease of 115,151l., because there they got the whole benefit derived from a reduction in the prices of provisions. Under Vote No. 3, there was a small increase of l,911l., principally charged for the Surveyor's Department in the Admiralty. Sir W. Symonds, the late surveyor, had a house allowed him, and 300l. was allowed to the present Surveyor of the Navy, Sir Baldwin Walker, on account of surrendering that house, which was required for public purposes. He had also two assistants, instead of one, which was formerly allowed. These changes were of much importance, as they affected the stability of the Board of Admiralty at Somerset House. It was a great evil to have a political Board of Admiralty; and it was the true interest and policy of the country to have a permanent system under a fluctuating board. He could not speak of the present surveyor without expressing his opinion how well qualified he was for an office which required great knowledge and experience, and of the men with whom he had to deal. He looked upon him as a most valuable public servant; and he trusted that the country would derive great advantage from the increased superintendence which would be exercised over this department. Under Vote No. 5, that for the scientific branch, there was a reduction of 27,548l. A sum of 25,000l. had been voted last year for the purchase of two ships for the Arctic expedition in search of Sir John Franklin, which was found to be totally inadequate for the purpose for which it was intended; and as the amount required could not be ascertained in sufficient time to include the vote in the present 895 estimate, it was intended to apply to the House to sanction, by a supplementary vote, the expense incurred. In the hydro-graphical department, there was a special grant proposed of 1,500l., for completing the survey of the great lagoon running parallel with the Bight of Benin. It had been lately ascertained that the country had, as usual, paid dearly for the acquisition of geographical knowledge in Africa. The life of Mr. Middleton, by whom the survey was first undertaken, had been sacrificed; but another gentleman, with a more iron-like constitution, who accompanied him, had survived, and was going out again to complete the labours which had been commenced. Under Vote 6, for Her Majesty's establishments at home, the House would see a reduction of 3,554l. Under the head of Vote No. 8, for wages to artificers in the dockyards, there was a very considerable reduction in comparison with the estimate of last year, being 84,231l. on the gross estimate; but 40,000l. were taken off that estimate last year, subsequently to the estimates being laid on the table of the House, and this would leave a net reduction of 44,231l. The vote for this year, however, included a charge of 8,926l. for some additional hours of work in dockyard smitheries, and 3,000l. for a general survey in the yards, which the Committee thought most desirable, and so did the Government. The public would have increased security from this additional outlay; and as this charge was not included in the vote for last year, the fair way would be to consider 47,231l. as the net deduction. Under Vote No. 10, for naval stores, there was a reduction to the amount of 342,802l., as compared with the gross vote of last year. Last year the vote proposed was 1,511,671l., and this year the estimate was 1,168,869l., the reduction taking place chiefly in the purchase of timber, masts, and other stores. Instead of 28,000 loads of timber, the estimate was for 21,860. On hemp there was a saving of 12,000l., principally owing to a fall in the price. The total saving under these items was 167,145l., but it was not intended to trench in any way on the establishments maintained in the yards, but reduce the expenditure in repairs and shipbuilding during the present year. There was an increase of 9,000l. in the item of coals, which were largely required for the service of the Mediterranean steamers, but in steam machinery there was a reduction 896 of 100,000l. He had stated last year, that he hoped to reduce this item by 120,000l.; but the Admiralty began the year with large liabilities under contracts, amounting to 160,000l., and therefore he hoped his hon. Friend behind him would not think he was asking too much if he asked for 20,000l. for steam machinery. All these deductions were made without trenching in any way on the establishments of the articles which ought to be kept in store in the different yards. Under Vote No. 11, for new works, the gross increase was 296,667l.; but as the Committee of revision struck off from the estimate of last year a sum of 62,000l., the difference between the two estimates would be 234,667l. in excess over the vote of last year. The House would, however, perceive that there was the greatest possible difference now in stating the amount for works. There was no mystification or uncertainty about it, but the whole sum for works and repairs was stated distinctly, there was a column for the gross sum already expended upon it, the vote required for the ensuing year, and the further estimate for completing the work. It would be satisfactory to the House and to the country to observe that the Government works of the dockyards were almost all completed. At Portsmouth, very little was required; and the only things left were the basin at Devonport, the works at Key-ham, and the buildings at Bermuda. It should be recollected, that the Committee on the Estimates itself limited the possible reductions under this head to a strict compliance with existing engagements. With regard to the works at Keyham, he could assure his hon. Friend, that although the sum of 120,000l. was larger than would be asked for in the present year under different circumstances, the Admiralty had the greatest difficulty in inducing the contractors to wave their undoubted rights, and to allow the Government to reduce the vote from 150,000l. to 120,000l. That could not have been done without the consent of the contractors, as they were under contracts as well as the Government. The further progress of the work must of course depend upon Parliament. The total estimate for the works at Keyham was 1,225,000l., and the sum already expended upon them was 479,683l. He thought it would be most unwise to abstain from proceeding with a work on which so much money had been already laid out, though he admitted that its progress 897 should be spread over as many years as the public convenience might require. He would not, however, look at the possibility of amending it. The returns from the factories appeared to be a matter of guess rather than of certainty. The Admiralty Committee of revision was thoroughly convinced that they were not prepared on sound principles, and the result was, that they were hardly worthy of credence; but since this had occurred, some of the most able practical men had been appointed to investigate and report on the whole subject. For this purpose, two or three persons of the highest character and ability had been directed to examine the matter, for the purpose of seeing what the result was. If it should not turn out to be satisfactory, it would then be better for them to see whether they could not do the work by contract. This was the very first time when the result of the work executed in the factories would have a fair trial; and he confessed that he did not anticipate a failure, as his hon. Friend did. As to the works abroad, the works at Bermuda were by far in the least satisfactory state. There was no place on which so much public money had been expended, and where there was so little to show for it as the public works in this colony. They had been going on since the year 1815, and no one seemed to have had any intelligence as to what was being done. Five plans for fortifying that island had been pursued up to a certain point, and then abandoned. The last plan adopted had been carried on for three or four years. A large space had been enclosed by the fortresses, and land had been cleared for the naval yard, and for the purposes of the buildings, some of which were then in progress. The total cost for these works, as he had already stated to the House, would be 143,000l.; and the proposed expenditure for the current year was 11,274l.; but as to the progress with which the works should be carried on, the House at any time it pleased could regulate that by increasing or decreasing the amount of convict labour. He believed the importance of Bermuda, as a naval station, had never been disputed; and he conceived that it would be unwise not to go on with these works, which had already cost so much money. Still it was for the House to decide on this question, which was one which the Committee of last year had left undecided. The Government proposed that they should go on with the 898 works to the extent which he had previously described. He had now gone through all the points connected with public works, the expenditure on which had created great interest throughout the country, and which had been very much misunderstood. The great rise which had taken place in this branch of expenditure, within the last few years, must, no doubt, be regarded as the great ground of objection. He admitted that large sums of money had been ill spent in many instances, and in others thrown away altogether, through a want of system in carrying on or directing their works. There was one point which struck his noble Friend behind him (Lord Seymour) last year, when Chairman of the Committee—namely, the large expenditure which had taken place in the saw mills in the different dockyards. The result of inquiry showed that the saw mills at Chatham might have supplied the yards on the Thames, as well as those on the Medway, with prepared wood; or the saw mills at Woolwich might have supplied Chatham and Sheerness with wood. The Admiralty thought it better at once to admit these excesses in expenditure than to attempt to excuse them. They admitted that they had neglected to look into these matters too long a time. What had been done had arisen entirely from errors, and, generally speaking, from a generous feeling. There had been errors, but they were not intentional errors; and in every instance not the slightest imputation could be cast upon the eminent officers who had superintended these works; and he was satisfied that many of these errors would have been avoided if they had taken more time for consideration before they proceeded with them. The whole of the public works of the country had been allowed to fall into an almost ruinous condition, when we suddenly rushed from parsimony into profuse expenditure on them. He doubted, however, in looking at the Government works, whether more errors had been committed, or money had been more unwisely expended, than on any of the great railways, where the different companies had the very first intelligence in the country to carry their works into effect. Under similar circumstances similar errors might again occur. They therefore should look back and see how they could be avoided if they had to do similar work again. The question was whether these works were necessary? A great deal had been said by 899 some hon. Friends behind him as to an observation which he had made as to the dockyards having been left in a state of destitution. He had no hesitation in saying that in 1841 the yards were left most behind in the supply of stores. The works were in decay, and there were no littoral defences to them. There were no defences to Devonport dockyard. At Sheerness there was one honey-combed gun, which was left there to return the salute of any French ship that might pass. He believed that it would have been a false step, under such circumstances, not immediately to have taken steps to give protection to their establishments, instead of, as it were, abandoning them without defence. If the latter course was adopted, it might lead other Powers to hope that the naval power of England might be crippled by a sudden blow, for by appearing without means of defence hostile Powers would be encouraged to attack us. The best way of checking angry passions was to show that there was some danger in indulging in them; and the country was in the best state of defence when she appeared capable of resisting aggression. The question was now brought within a narrow compass, for the reduction in this vote, as compared with that of last year, was 296,000l. less than the Tote in the estimates of last year. He believed the time was rapidly approaching when this vote might be very materially reduced by the completion of many works. He would not go back to the expenditure which had been mentioned of 63,700l. for this vote in 1833; but he trusted that, ere long, they would be able to reduce it to 100,000l, and at the same time give to the yards, and the buildings connected with them, both at home and abroad, the most perfect protection. He now came to Vote 13, for miscellaneous services, in which there was a diminution of 13,147l. as compared with this vote for last year. This had chiefly arisen in the charge for drilling the men belonging to the coast-guard. In consequence of what had occurred last year, it had been determined to abandon, to a considerable extent, the drilling of this most deserving body of men. He need hardly say that the coast-guard had been most usefully employed. He now came to Vote 24, which was for the half-pay and retirement to officers of the Navy and Royal Marines. This vote his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose had taken under his particular protection. There was an increase upon it of 2,512l.; but this 900 amount would appear to be 12,562l., if they compared it with the revision of the estimates last year. There had been a great reduction last year in the naval force, as a number of ships were paid off, and, of course, this increased the charge for half-pay. If they reduced the expenditure in the active or effective service, there must be a comparative increase in the other branch. He knew that the large amount of the half-pay was a favourite matter with his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, and other financial reformers, who seemed to think that this sum was expended in pensions for the younger brothers and sons of the aristocracy. If those persons had no better resources they were in a very poor condition. His hon. Friend, who dwelt so long the other night on this topic, drew a painful contrast between the number of officers on the half-pay list in the English and French navies respectively. He stated that there were 931 officers on half-pay belonging to the French navy, while this country had 4,913 in that situation. But what was the half-pay list of the French navy in 1815? Their navy had been swept from the seas, and it had been destroyed from the battle of Trafalgar. The number of officers of the French navy, who would then be placed on the half-pay list, was extremely small; in our Navy, on the contrary, there was a very large number of gallant veterans whom it was necessary to provide for in this way after the long periods in which they had served their country. Surely his hon. Friend would not say that there should have been any breach of contract with that class of officers who had been promised their half-pay, in case of their not being employed. Now the following was the state of the half-pay list. The fleet in the beginning of the year 1814 consisted of 140,000 men, and—
Net estimate for 1848–49, credits in aid deducted—19 votes £7,726,610 Deduct for revision, under Votes 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 19—(Page 2 of Estimate) 208,000 Actual vote of last Session 7,518,610 Vote proposed for 1849–50 6,260,740 Apparent saving £1,257,870 Deduct for Vote 18, Home Department, less credits in aid (now transferred to Miscellaneous Estimates), 43,602l.; Vote 19, contract packets (9,000l. deducted by "revision" for Bombay mail), 602,662l.; packet service—Queen's vessels, stores, &c. (less credits in aid), 161,698l 807,962 Saving on net revised Naval Votes (No. 1 to 17) £449,908 PACKET ESTIMATE.—Packet service (contract and Queen's vessels), 1848–49, 764,360l.; 1849–50, 698,296l.—decrease 66,064 Actual saving upon estimates of 1849–50 515,972 Add appropriations in aid (now paid into Exchequer), less that for Home Department 214,884 Reduction on estimates of 1849–50, as compared with net revised estimate of 1848–49 £730,856
Ships of the line … … 99 Frigates … … 131 Sixth-rates, sloops … … 364 Troop ships … … 50 644
At the beginning of the year 1817 the Navy consisted of 19,000 men, and— 901
Flag-officers. 42 afloat out of a total of 204 Captains 282 798 Commanders 240 628 Lieutenants 1607 4915 2171 4915
Ships of the line … … 14 Frigates … … 24 Sixth-rates, &c. … … 76 Troop-ships … … 10 124
This great increase to the list of the Navy-was occasioned by the large promotions consequent on the Peace of 1814 and of 1815, namely—
Flag-officers. 12 out of a total of 196 Captains 74 854 Commanders 49 829 Lieutenants 401 4012 536 5891
The reduction of the force in commission placed 1,635 officers on half-pay. The fleet now in commission shows that there are employed—
Captains … … 134 Commanders … … 360 Lieutenants … … 1312
The officers now employed are, therefore, 213 more than in the year 1817, and the total number of officers is 2,034 less than in that year; showing that the number on the active half-pay list has been diminished by 2,247 officers. The officers unfit for actual service are exclusive of those on the retired list, whose numbers in 1814, 1817, and 1849, are as follows:—
Out of a Of whom are unfit total of for actual service. Flag-officers 13 151 89 Captains 76 532 108 Commanders 101 864 461 Lieutenants 559 2310 1300 749 3857 1958
Being a decrease of 1,649 by death and other causes in 32 years upon both lists, with only 1,899 officers of all classes fit for active service, or little more than double the number required to command the ships in commission under the present establishment. He could not recognise the accusation that places were constantly being made in the naval service for persons 902 connected with the aristocracy of the country because of their supposed status; neither could he permit the doctrine to be tenable that brothers and cousins had a preference in the patronage of the Navy Board. Out of the 3,857 officers of the Navy on the half-pay list, 1,915 were totally unfit for service at the present time. Surely it would not be said that that was a reason for the public to break faith with them. There were also on the half-pay list at present 2,034 officers less than were on it in 1817. The only question for the House to consider was, to see how it could check any improper expenditure under this charge. [Mr. HUME: There should be no promotions.] He (Mr. Ward) asked how by any possibility they could keep up the Navy without promotions? How could they find officers for the 35,000 men which his hon. Friend proposed should be voted for the Navy, if they held out no prospect of promotion? Without promotion no man worth having, no man who could get a crust of bread by any other means, would enter the Navy. There might be some consideration as to promotions going on towards the top of the tree; but the question of the admirals he should leave to his gallant Friend near him (Admiral Dundas), who would enter into an explanation on the subject. He would only add, that the Admiralty were desirous to stop the expenditure on this as on other votes, as far as justice or the exigency of the service would admit of. The next vote was for military pensions and allowances, on which there would be a diminution of 9,727l. as compared with that of last year. He was sure that no one would object to the pension which had been bestowed on Captain G. E. Watts, who had been forty times under fire, and who had received seventeen wounds; nor to that to the widow of Lieutenant Kingsman, who had lost his life under such disastrous circumstances? The question was, whether this amount was distributed with fairness and impartiality. He would venture to say that not one pension had been bestowed in this branch of the service during the last seventeen years with which the profession was not perfectly satisfied. The next vote was for civil pensions and allowances, in which there had been an increase of 6,313l. This could be accounted for by the circumstance of the large reductions which had taken place in the civil departments of the service. The next vote was the 17th and last one in the pre- 903 sent estimates, and it was for the conveyance of troops in connexion with the Army and Ordnance departments, in which there was a diminution of 67,300l., and this had arisen from the circumstance that the movements of troops would be much less during the present than for many years past. He had now gone through the purely Navy votes. The separate statement respecting the Post Office vote explained itself, as it embodied all the matters connected with the subject. The savings in this vote was very considerable, and amounted to 71,000l. This had arisen in consequence of there having been several large reductions made in connexion with this vote. The Admiralty, so far from being desirous of preserving patronage, had made a reduction in some stations of fourteen packets, and had only substituted four. Complaints had been made that the mails were not conveyed from Holyhead to Kingston by contract, instead of the Government keeping steamers there. The Government had no objection to apply the contract service to the conveyance of the mails to and from Holyhead, if they could get security that they should be conveyed at a reasonable charge. His right hon. Friend at the head of the Admiralty was favourable to the contract system, and the only hesitation with respect to Holyhead was a question of expense. He had thus said a few words with respect to the smaller reductions, and he had also explained to the House the nature of the large reductions which had been made in other votes. Some of these reductions, however, were productive of great hardship to that fine class of men who wished to remain in the service to which they were strongly attached, but who were turned adrift on their ships being paid off. He might here observe, that the right to re-enter themselves again on the part of these men was not generally known. It was admitted that great distress was occasioned by the reduction in the number of men; but his hon. Friend proposed to increase that distress by adding to the reduction not less than 5,000 more seamen. Without some most urgent necessity, he trusted that no proposition of the kind would be listened to; for if the House were to make a further reduction to the extent of 5,000, they never could expect to have an effective Navy. As it was, the Admiralty found it to be most difficult to meet the demands made upon them by consuls and British merchants in foreign parts for protection; but 904 if they had less means of affording protection, he was sure the constituents of his hon. Friends behind him would be the first to complain. He hoped that the first reduction of men would meet every object they could have in view in checking the expenditure. He believed that the most beneficial effects would be produced from the other measures which had been adopted. He was satisfied that they would get better work out of the dockyards by the reductions which had been made, accompanied, as they would be, by proper superintendence and supervision. He had been taunted in that House with some singular omissions which it was alleged occurred in the minutes which had been drawn up for the regulation of the dockyards. It was because they were without an audit of wages and stores that he could not give the desired information. On reference they would find that there had been no audit of wages for years; they had, therefore, determined that this should be done for the future, and the board of officers, to whom he had previously referred, were instructed to draw up regulations for the purpose. They had also found that stock of the stores had not been taken in the dockyards for a very long time. They had, therefore, determined that this should be done triennially, and the taking stock in each yard was to commence on the 1st of April next. They had found that the register of the amount of work done in the dockyards was improperly kept, and they had introduced a system of book-keeping in each yard, on a similar principle to that in use in private yards. They had also taken measures to ensure a monthly return of the expenditure of the yards, and they had introduced the ten-hours system into all the naval establishments. Surely these were not proofs that they wanted to conceal any abuses which at present existed; on the contrary, they were most satisfactory attestations of the sincerity of their anxiety to reform all abuses, and to introduce in all the dockyards the most methodic system of business. In carrying out this revision of the rules and regulations in the dockyards, he was bound to say that he had received every aid and assistance from his gallant Friend the Under Secretary of the Admiralty, as well as other offices connected with the public service. There was one thing which he had not touched upon, but which his noble Friend had alluded to in the able report of last year, and which had made a strong 905 impression on the Board of Admiralty—namely, that any change in the management of the dockyards produced an important effect, and that the order and efficiency of each yard would be found principally to depend on the fitness of the superintendent for the peculiar duties which he was selected to perform. It was recommended, therefore, that, in appointing a chief superintendent in a dockyard, they should look less to conferring it as honorary retirement for past services, but should select a young, active, and vigilant man, who was fully competent to the discharge of the duties of the office, by keeping up a constant superintendence and check in every department under him. He (Mr. Ward) hoped that in any future promotion to an office of the kind, this recommendation would be attended to. It might be asked, what were the reductions to be made in the yards, and upon what principle they were based? In the several dockyards there were, on January 1, 1848, 3,772 shipwrights, and 430 hired; April I, 1848, 3,856, and 279 hired; on April 1, 1849, there would be 3,500. Of smiths there were, on January 1, 1848, 832, and 125 hired; on April 1, 1848, 881, and 74 hired; on April 1, 1849, there would be 756. The list might be gone through in detail, including the caulkers, joiners, sawyers, labourers, police; but it would be enough to state the grand total:—On January 1,1848, it was 12,498; on April 1, 1849, 9,911. As to the basis of those reductions, an estimate had been made by the Admiralty Surveyor of the works for the next five years, the repairs that would be required, and the number of ships that must he built to maintain the force to be kept up for the protection of the country. It had been taken at 55 effective line-of-battle ships; 14 were now building, and it would be necessary, in the next five years, to launch two—independently of the Meeanee, now coming home from Bombay—and to repair two. The hon. Member for Montrose had always, as he (Mr. Ward) understood, been a great advocate for getting rid of the system of leaving ships to rot "in ordinary," as it had been termed; launching them and leaving them in the Medway, for instance; but there had been great mis-statements as to the extent to which shipbuilding had been carried of late years. We began, no doubt, with an immense capital of ships in 1815, and we spent it rashly. He had a return of the number of ships broken up, cut down, or 906 lost in the last 20 years, between 1828 and 1848, both inclusive; and it showed 80 line-of-battle ships broken up, and 29 built, reducing the force by 51; of large frigates, 21 were broken up, and 30 built; of small frigates, 113 broken up, 18 built; sloops, brigs, &c., 170 broken up, 96 built; cutters, &c., 83 broken up, 21 built; total reduction of sailing ships, 273. In steamers there was an increase of 95, leaving the total reduction in the force afloat 178 vessels, the number broken up being 482; the number built, 304. This result was partly owing to the natural progress of decay, and partly to changes in the art of shipbuilding elsewhere; if other nations were building larger ships, and fitting them with heavier guns, it was indispensable that we should follow their example. He had understood from naval officers that the battle of the Nile was fought by 18-pounders on the main decks of the line-of-battle ships, while at present 64 and 68 pounders were mounted on the main decks of our large ships. In point of fact, a new standard of strength had risen up in the world, with which England must keep pace, or cease to be a great naval Power. With respect to the statements that had been put forth as to there being 67 ships now building in our yards, the House would scarcely believe that it was physically possible to be true, because the fact was that there was no room for the alleged number. There were only 41 ships in the yards, and the number of ships ordered was 36, and not 67, being as follows:—12 converting, 18 not began, and the order for 8 had been recalled. The shipwrights employed in building were 751 in 1835, 1,534 in 1846, 1,133 in 1849. It had been asked, why build to this extent, or why not build ships that would last longer; and some hon. Gentleman said that ships would last 40 or 50 years. The real average duration of a vessel was 15 years; and he assured the House that at the end of that time very considerable repairs were required. Repairs were often more costly than the rebuilding of ships. It was sometimes asked why we could not build such a ship as the Canopus, which was taken in 1798, and was still an available ship. Why, in addition to a repair soon after she came into the service, costing about 15,000l., she had cost in repairs since 1806 135,523l. about the sum for which two similar ships could be built.[An Hon. MEMBER: What has the Nelson cost?] There was a fortune lavished upon the Nelson—a most 907 profligate expenditure; she was pulled to pieces to put a round stern instead of a square; in all probability nearly 1,500,000l. had been spent upon round sterns in the last half century. The state of the Navy at the present moment was such as must be viewed with satisfaction by any man who wished to see this country maintain her proper position of superiority. He had shown that some steps had been of late taken by the Admiralty to amend the system in all its parts. He hoped the House would support the proposition for the number of men which it was his duty to make, in preference to the number proposed by his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose. He deprecated all attempts at retrenchment which should impair the strength of the nation, but at the same time no persons could be found more ready to second all endeavours to promote a safe and well-considered economy than those who now sat at the Board of Admiralty. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving that 40,000 men be employed in the sea service for the year.
1814. 1817. 1849. Retired rear admirals 29 27 45 Retired captains 37 31 132 Commanders with the rank of captain — — 60 Lieutenants with the rank of commander 80 100 100 Lieutenants (retired commander) with pay of lieutenants — — 216 146 158 543 Officers on the active list 4915 5891 3857 Total 5061 6049 4400
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That 40,000 men be employed for the Sea Service for thirteen lunar months, to the 31st day of March 1850, including 12,000 Royal Marines and 2,000 Boys.
§ MR. HUME
believed there was always hope of men who confessed themselves in fault, and he had never heard a more candid confession from a public officer proposing an estimate. No one who had heard the details entered into by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Admiralty showing how utterly without order, without system, the naval affairs of the country were conducted, could be surprised at the enormous expense that was incurred. The hon. Gentleman, no doubt, believed now what he said when he expressed his anxiety to effect a reduction; but he (Mr. Hume) could have but little confidence in such professions; for, during the thirty years he had sat in that House, he had never heard the Navy spoken of officially as in otherwise than a perfect state. He had never heard any admissions of error, but everything was always represented to be carried on with the greatest accuracy. But was it not a reproach to that House to have permitted such waste and profusion? His hon. Friend said that the country had began with a large fund, or capital, of ships in 1815. That might be very true; but would his hon. Friend do him the favour to look at the debates of 1817–1819–1820 908 —1821, and 1822, and see what he (Mr. Hume) had done to do away with and prevent all that profligate expenditure. It was only the year before last it was said that nothing could be more perfect than the state of the Navy; and he should like to know how it was this new light, as evinced by the speech of his hon. Friend, had broken upon the Government. A Committee was appointed. True that Committee was very much abused at first, and he had been very much abused himself for proposing it; but after all he believed that the Admiralty owed their new lights to that Committee. Here he was glad to say that much of the credit was due to the noble Lord who was Chairman of that Committee; and he must in justice add that men of all classes of politics sat upon that Committee; but there were no differences of opinion among them as to the objects of the Committee, but on the contrary every disposition to acknowledge the necessity for the exposure of their errors. But what could be said in defence of such a system of naval administration as had existed for so many years? He did not wish to reflect upon any one personally. He believed that all that was wanted was that the noble Lord late at the head of the Admiralty should have known the truth, and what was really going on, and he would have acted with the single honesty and directness of purpose which formed part of his character. His hon. Friend the Secretary of the Admiralty had said much in the way of candidly admitting the errors that had taken place formerly; but he must tell his hon. Friend that he (Mr. Hume) doubted very much whether matters were much better now. One of the appeals he had constantly made in the House was this—Why go on thus from time to time increasing the establishments, and so induce men to join the service who expect to continue in it, and who left other employments in which they might have remained, when all at once a fit of economy came on, and they were discharged. Gentlemen took up the word economy very quickly; but he was not blaming the economy, but the extravagance. Why, the grossest libel ever uttered upon the naval administration of any country was to be found in the speech of his hon. Friend when he alluded to the state of the Navy in 1841. Was it possible, or tolerable, that that should be the case with an establishment so large, and expenditure so vast? Yet the result of the inquiry certainly led to 909 that conclusion. Let his hon. Friend refer to Hansard, which was a tolerable record of the state of the Navy in 1840 and 1841, and he would find that everything relating to it was painted in the highest colours—the Navy, it was said, was never in a better condition. He (Mr. Hume) did not wish his opinions to be misunderstood upon this subject. He said the Navy of England ought to be a match for the whole world; it was the arm in which she was strong, and to keep that arm strong he would reduce other expenses. But in keeping up the Navy in that condition he would not enter into expenses such as those which had been incurred—such as building ships like the Nelson, for example. Was it to be defended that ships of the largest calibre should be allowed to lie and rot in the waters? For the manifold instances of profligate expenditure, he would not blame any particular person; they were owing to the system itself, and the truth was that the House of Commons had never done its duty as regarded inquiry into these things. Committees were now sitting in France, which would soon bring down the estimates of that country within reasonable limits. In Belgium, Committees were appointed, to which the estimates were every year referred. Every year those Committees did the same duties which the Committee appointed last Session in that House performed on a single occasion. He could not understand why there should be any objection to sending the estimates year by year before a Committee. He would put the Minister on his trial, so that he should explain and prove the necessity for every addition he required. Humble as he (Mr. Hume) had been, and undoubtedly persevering, these were no new doctrines with him—no doctrines of this day. His hon. Friend knew that his humble efforts in this direction had been made years ago. Let the past, however, be forgotten, and if only new and better courses were adopted, he should be satisfied. One charge made against him was that he grudged the half-pay. He did not grudge the half-pay; but what he did grudge was this—to see young men brought into the service to supersede good tried officers, who loved the service, and would do all in their power to promote it; and to see young men brought forward, setting aside other young men who had nothing to depend upon but the service, and who thus spent their lives upon half-pay, kept out of the performance of duties which they would have fulfilled with pleasure 910 to themselves and benefit to the State. He should move, at an early day, for a return of the number of brevets, which would show what the country would scarcely believe—that the number of promotions had been doubled in late years, and that there had been more promotions in time of peace, in proportion to the number of officers, than in time of war. When that return came before the House, the immense sums of money spent would scarcely be credited. He appealed to the House not to be induced, by the statements of his hon. Friend, to reject the Amendment. The hon. Gentleman said, that in 1817 there were 19,000 men, and 125 ships; and if, just after a period when Europe had been convulsed, that number of ships and men had been found sufficient, was it not too much to be called upon to maintain the establishment now proposed—and that, too, when it was acknowledged that there were expenses which ought never to have been incurred, and building which ought never to have been begun? Look at Keyham, where there were works that would cost 1,200,000l, and to the many other schemes and plans of which nobody could see either the object or the end. These were the pits into which the public money had been thrown, and it was really time to put a stop to such enormities. It was high time that a new course should be considered of. His hon. Friend boldly asserted that the naval administration had been carried on without patronage. He (Mr. Hume) believed, indeed, that Lord Auckland was the last man to do so, but nevertheless he could not acquit any Administration. Not that he blamed the individuals, but the political influence that was brought to bear upon the department by that House. There being no fixed establishment, no check or control whatever, the department was left to political power and influence, and these were exercised according to immediate wants and purposes. A strong Administration might reject all applications, but a weak one found it necessary to conciliate this man and that man, and thus the public suffered. If his hon. Friend wished for a history of the abuses of the Navy, let him look to his (Mr. Hume's) speech in 1827, and there he would find a rational proposition. In 1827 he proposed, instead of allowing the Lords of the Admiralty to do that which Her Majesty could not do, grant pensions and promotions ad libitum, that there should be something like an establishment beyond which no First Lord of 911 the Admiralty should be allowed to go; and that it should not be competent to him to add to the list without coming to that House for a new establishment. Not that he was so little accustomed to a time of war as to desire to keep up a peace establishment if war was to be apprehended; but to be maintaining a war establishment, as we had been for the last twenty-five years, he could not regard otherwise than as a public abuse. While he was anxious to maintain the Navy of England paramount, and capable of beating the whole navy of the world, he objected to their building and proceeding in the way they had been without justifying the necessity. He thought the building programme for the next five years might be dispensed with if the Admiralty would only look well to the ships they had in ordinary and on the stocks. He regretted to hear a Minister say that the errors of a public department like the Admiralty had been no worse than those of railway companies. After the expenditure, and he might say robbery, which had taken place in some of those companies, the compliment of his hon. Friend was but a bad one to whomsoever it might apply. But he believed that during the last twenty-five years there had been as much waste in building in our dockyards as in any railway establishment in the kingdom. His hon. Friend had expressed the hope that the House would not support his Amendment; he would, therefore, state the grounds of it. He had taken the years from 1835 to 1839, and the average of ships and men in those years. The average number of men on board, within these five years, was 31,469. Why did he propose this period? Because in 1839–40, towards the close of the year, it was proposed to add 7,000 marines to the naval establishment, and he opposed it saying, "This is to enable Lord Palmerston to go to war in Syria." But he took those five years he had mentioned, year by year, and he proposed to give them the highest number of men they had had within those years, being 4,000 more than the average number of the whole of those years. Was he unreasonable in saying that the public service could be efficiently carried on with that number? He submitted to the House that his proposal of 35,000 men was grounded upon the most liberal principle. The Government had 208 ships in ordinary, and 252 in commission. There was not a country in the world with such a number, and yet 912 we had an establishment literally built to rot and decay. He was asked how he provided for this reduction of 8,000 men. In 1835 there were in the Pacific, and on the south-western coast of America, fourteen ships, with 2,091 men. In 1848 there were twenty-six ships, with 5,431 men, being a surplus of 3,340 men. Then take the western coast of Africa, and the Cape of Good Hope. In 1835, thirteen ships, with 1,065 men, were all that were on that station. But what was the number in 1848? Thirty-seven ships, with 4,047 men, being an excess over 1835 of twenty-four ships and 3,582 men. That was the cost of the African blockading squadron, and he asked if there was a man in the House who had not come to the conviction that it ought to be discontinued? There had been Committees on this subject. Were they asleep? He believed confidently that from one end of the country to the other there was the most thorough conviction that we had utterly failed in effecting the abolition of the slave trade upon the coast of Africa; and not only failed, but added to the horrors of that traffic. And were the people of England to be saddled with one million sterling for that purpose? If the House were not of that opinion, they would support his Amendment. Take away the men at once—that was the way to deal with the matter. Then there was the Mediterranean. Sir George Cockburn had given his opinion that in time of peace all the force necessary there was a line-of-battle ship and six frigates. But what were the facts? In 1835 there were twenty-three ships, with 6,236 men, in the Mediterranean; and in 1848 there were thirty-one ships, with 8,337 men, being a surplus of 2,101 men. Take these statements only, and he appealed to the House whether the number of men serving the country in 1835 were not capable of doing so now? Take away the forty-three ships which had been added to these stations since 1835, and a reduction of 9,023 men would be effected. He only asked for a reduction of 8,000. American merchant ships were not protected by a large naval force, yet any insult to an American vessel was immediately redressed, whilst he could point out insults to British ships which remained unredressed to this day. What, he asked, did our commerce want with the great number of British ships of war on the coasts of Sicily and Naples? British mercantile houses in that quarter were diminishing in 913 number, yet we had increased our armed force from twenty-three ships to thirty-one. If he had shown that 12,000 men could be set free, he maintained he had made out a strong case for reduction. In 1835, the ships in commission were 167; in 1837, 189; the average of the years 1835–7 being 176, with 24,300 men. There were now 230 ships in commission, and 43,000 men. These men cost 140l. a year a head. The Navy Estimates, therefore, were increased by nearly 3,000,000l. If then he could reduce these estimates by that amount, and also the Ordnance by the same amount, and at the same time effect a considerable reduction in the Army, he should be able to make out a case by which 10,000,000l. might be saved without starving the service, or depriving the colonies or the mother country of the protection which they required. The hon. Member then adverted in terms of ridicule to what he designated the absurd allegation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he (Mr. Hume) had proposed to reduce 10,000,000l of taxation out of 11,900,000l., the folly of which statement was only to be paralleled by a similar assertion of the right hon. Gentleman that he (Mr. Hume) had proposed to abolish all the counties in the kingdom. No man valued self-government more than he did. There were 59,000,000l. of revenue, and it was out of that sum that he proposed to make a reduction, and how would he do it? Four millions and a half were expended in collecting the revenue; the greater part of this he would save by abolishing the excise and stamp duties. 2,000,000l. would be sufficient. Then there was the Civil List. He would make the Crown lands produce a revenue equal at least to what was paid to Her Majesty in lieu of the Crown property which she surrendered to the country at the commencement of Her reign. Then, again, in the civil establishment, why should there be two, three, and four retired Chancellors receiving large pensions? And why should this country be paying a large sum of money to the King of Hanover? Was it not possible, too, by abolishing the mock sovereignty in Ireland to save 100,000l. a year? He was thus endeavouring to rebuke the extraordinary assertion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he (Mr. Hume) was foolish enough to propose a reduction of ten millions out of eleven, and at the same time to show how a very great saving in the public expenditure might be effected. He believed the time was coming 914 when common sense and common decency would force these matters on the public mind, and that, although the country Gentlemen had that night voted against him, a majority would soon be found whose constituents would demand economy and retrenchment in all the public establishments. He considered he was making a very moderate proposition in asking, upon this first vote, a reduction of 5,000 men.
Afterwards Motion made, and Question put—
That 35,000 men be employed for the Sea Service for thirteen lunar months, to the 31st day of March, 1850, including 12,000 Royal Marines and 2,000 Boys.
SIR F. T. BARING
rose and said, that he hoped his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose would not deem it a disrespect towards him, if he did not embark in a discussion of the budget with which he had concluded, and his proposition for reducing 10,000,000l. of the revenue, which, however, he might be permitted to say, he doubted if his hon. Friend would be able to persuade the House could be practically carried into effect. He would now confine himself as much, as possible to that which was the vote proposed by his hon. Friend; and he hoped he should be successful in convincing the House that it would not be wise to adopt the hon. Gentleman's Motion. There was one observation which the hon. Gentleman had made in which he (Sir F. Baring) entirely concurred, and that was as to the extreme inconvenience which arose out of these ups and downs in the public service. It was a great misfortune, but possibly it could not be avoided, that this House was apt at one time to be liberal with the public expenditure, and at another time was inclined to run into the opposite extreme and take alarm at the amount of money expended, and to reduce the expense below what was actually necessary for the efficiency of the public service. He believed that, in many cases, the exercise of a certain amount of care on the part of the House would prevent improper and extravagant expenditure; and, on the other hand, he believed that a too rigid economy had frequently proved very expensive—that by too great a reduction they bad raised the feeling that an increase was necessary, and that thus they had created the very evil of which they afterwards complained. He was not now about to take a review of the past. He was not at the time a Member of the 915 Government, and did not, on this occasion, appear to defend it. But he could take upon himself to say that it was not the fault of the Government of the day alone that the estimates were increased. It was that House and the country which had equally concurred with the Government in the increase of the public establishments; and if the Government did anything at all, it had rather exerted itself to abate alarm and to keep under the feeling in favour of those large establishments. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose said that the Government must of course adapt itself to a certain extent to the feeling of the House and the country in a popular and free State like this; but, on the one hand, if the Government was made of squeezable materials, with regard to reductions, as the hon. Gentleman had stated, on the other hand, when the country and the House of Commons call out for an increase, they must not be surprised if the Government adopted the feeling of the country and acted accordingly. He admitted, as was shown to the Committee which had inquired into the Navy Estimates, and of which he was a Member, that, in the doing that which was in the main proper to be done, from want of system and want of care, there had been an expenditure which might possibly have been spared if they had proceeded more cautiously and with greater deliberation. At the same time, every one must he aware that the introduction of steam into the Navy had changed the whole face and nature of naval warfare; and no man would deny that if, unhappily, this country should ever again be engaged in war, it was absolutely necessary she should not he unprepared to enter into the conflict. To return, however, to the hon. Gentleman's Amendment. The hon. Gentleman had proposed to-night to make a further reduction of 5,000 men. Now, let him (Sir F. Baring) state to the House what the actual reduction was; for he did not think the hon. Gentleman had fairly laid before the House the real amount of reduction of force which had been effected by the present estimate. The House must he aware that a much larger number of men was borne upon the books than were actually voted; and he asked the Committee to look at what the fact was. In April, 1848, the number of men actually borne upon the books was 45,947, or in round numbers, 46,000; and it was proposed for the present year that 40,000 only should be 916 voted, and that the number of men to be home upon the hooks should be kept within the number voted. There was thus practically a reduction proposed of 6,000 men to take place in the course of the current year. Now, that of itself was a large number; but to this his hon. Friend proposed an addition of no less than 5,000, which, if adopted, would make in one year a reduction of 11,000 men. He (Sir P. Baring) did not think that his hon. Friend had fairly laid his grounds for effecting so extensive a reduction. He was quite prepared to consider any fair reduction which might be justified by circumstances; but he thought he should be deceiving the House if he led them to suppose that he believed that less than 40,000 men would be sufficient to meet the public exigencies. His hon. Friend had told the House that in 1841 the British Navy was in an efficient state.
SIR F. BARING
Well, in 1841, the number of men voted for the Navy was 39,365. In 1835, no doubt, the number was smaller; but what was the fact? The Government in 1835 had tried the experiment of reduction, but it had not succeeded. They had found the amount of men voted on that occasion was not sufficient, and it had been increased by the general assent of the House. The number voted for the year 1837–38 was 34,165 men; but his hon. Friend forgot that the world had not stood quite still between the years 1835 and 1848. His hon. Friend said, let the House refuse the men, and they would get rid of the squadron on the coast of Africa; but he forgot that we were compelled by treaty to keep up that squadron. It was not for naval purposes that that squadron was kept up, but for great political purposes, quite unconnected with naval considerations. If they now reduced the number of men under the supposition that they could get rid of the African squadron, they would act under an erroneous impression; for the truth was, that they could not withdraw that squadron, as they were bound by treaty to maintain it; and the only effect of a reduction would be that they would have to withdraw their ships and men from important naval stations—from the real naval service of the country—for the purpose of placing them upon the African station. That subject, how- 917 ever, was now before a Committee. It was one of a grave character, which deserved ample consideration; and he trusted that the House would not, while a Committee on the question was sitting, he so far led away as to reduce the number of men for the service of the Navy with a view of getting rid of the African squadron. There were other grounds for the increase, which his hon. Friend had omitted to mention. There were five ships which we were bound by treaty to keep on the coast of China—an obligation which did not exist in former times. Those two additions to the service had created a necessity of from 2,500 to 3,000 men additional, which brought the amount up to 37,000 men—a number a little above that which his hon. Friend proposed. The number of men, however, was generally settled by the Cabinet; and for the present year it had been fixed before he entered the Cabinet. To a certain extent they must rely upon those who were at the head of the Administration to settle what was the course which the interests of the country required on the subject. It would be easy for him to show them by comparison with the forces of other countries that it would not be advisable for them to render their forces less effective than their present strength; but he felt that he need not enter into this comparison, which was always an invidious one. His hon. Friend told them that the reduction signified little to the commerce of the country. [Mr. HUME intimated dissent.] Then the hon. Gentleman did admit that our commerce required protection. Since he (Sir F. Baring) had been at the Admiralty—short a time as it was—he had not been without applications from different parties asking, and not unfairly in the present state of affairs, for the protection of a British ship of war; indeed, one of the first official duties he had performed this Session in the House was to answer a question from the gallant Officer opposite, the Member for Westminster, as to whether he would not allow a ship to be constantly stationed on the coast of California. He earnestly entreated the House to consider carefully before they followed the proposal of the hon. Gentleman. He was not one who was ready blindly to sanction unnecessary expenses, he had not been brought up in that school; but, on the other hand, he believed it would be a most unwise course if, after the large reduction which they had already proposed, the House should force the Government to reduce the amount 918 of men below that which they proposed in the vote, and which they believed necessary for the real service of the country. He would not trouble the House with entering upon the other items to which the hon. Gentleman had referred. He would not mix up the question relating to the number of half-pay officers with the vote now proposed, which was on so different a subject. The hon. Gentleman had given notice of a Motion on that question, and when the subject came under discussion, he would take an opportunity of stating his views upon it.
§ MR. WODEHOUSE
said, the hon. Member for Montrose had complained upon this, as upon all similar occasions, that the country Gentlemen did not support him. He (Mr. Wodehouse) believed the reason why they did not do so was, that, giving the hon. Member perfect credit for the sincerity of his patriotism, he never enforced his views of reduction with a due regard to the circumstances in which the country was placed. He would endeavour to show this by a retrospect of the hon. Member's conduct, and he would begin with the year 1820. It should be borne in mind, that that year was one of failure everywhere, and of internal disturbance; and then it was that the hon. Member began his outcry against establishments of every possible kind. The distress then prevailing was ignorantly and stupidly ascribed to the corn laws, though it had no connexion with them. In that year, upon the third reading of the Mutiny Bill, they were warned to pause before passing the Bill, on the plea of the dangers that would arise from military despotism. The hon. Member persisted, and persuaded the Earl of Liverpool to reduce the Army by 20,000 men. The shame of that reduction rested upon the head of the Earl of Liverpool, not upon his friends; for in weak deference to the irrational clamours of the hon. Member for Montrose, he reduced the Army in 1822, and was obliged to restore it to its former establishment in 1825. In 1826, the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Control said he was not prepared to go all the length of the hon. Member for Montrose, but would insist upon a course of reduction being followed; but only thirty-four Members voted with him. The noble Viscount the Foreign Secretary, who was then Secretary at War, most ably combated the danger arising from reforms of every kind; and if he wanted additional testimony, he might 919 with equal confidence ask the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, who was then Home Secretary, whether there was a single portion of the manufacturing districts that was not daily and hourly supplicating for increased military protection? With regard to the squadron upon the coast of Africa, he admitted it was maintained there at the cost of much suffering, and of much waste in health; but the alternative was, whether this country should become a passive spectator of slavery and the slave trade. If that question were fairly submitted to the country, he believed the verdict would be, that the discontinuance of the squadron would be unacceptable to the people, and dishonourable to the Crown. Such were the general grounds upon which he had always felt it his duty to oppose the hon. Member for Montrose, and on the same grounds he should continue to oppose him.
§ MR. MITCHELL
said, the object of the hon. Member for Montrose was simply to reduce the naval force of the country, and not to inquire into any jobs or sinecures. On many points of financial economy he agreed with the hon. Member for Montrose; but he did not agree with him that, at the present moment, it was desirable to reduce the effective service of the Army, Navy, or Ordnance. He agreed with that hon. Gentleman that the money expended under the treaty for the suppression of the slave trade had been entirely thrown away. He also considered that our Navy was over-officered; and whenever the hon. Member for Montrose submitted a proposition to the House on either of those subjects, he should have his (Mr. Mitchell's) cordial support. He also considered that very great extravagance had been committed in our dockyards—that there had been a great deal of overbuilding; and not only that, but a great many failures, which to a certain extent might have been obviated by competition. He would vote for the estimates as submitted by the Secretary of the Admiralty, because he (Mr. Mitchell) placed implicit confidence in the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. And in expressing that opinion, he believed that he spoke the sentiments expressed by many Members of that House privately. He had not the pleasure of that nobleman's acquaintance, and he could not, therefore, in 920 speaking thus, be charged with being influenced by interested motives. He believed that the noble Lord at the head of Foreign Affairs supported the cause of freedom against tyranny and injustice; and notwithstanding the influence of the metropolitan press—if it had any—against the noble Lord, he (Mr. Mitchell) had found him standing up throughout the whole of his official career in defence of what in this country might be termed by influential classes an unpopular cause. He would, therefore, do nothing to weaken the influence of the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs in other countries. He did not believe that it would be necessary for us to go to war. He believed that the moral weight of this country had the greatest effect; but he thought, at the same time, that an efficient navy had something to do with the maintenance of that influence. The very first effect of reducing our Navy at this moment would be to give an encouragement to those Powers of Europe that had aggressive intentions to imagine that this country had become so wedded to the doctrines of economy that no considerations would induce her to stand up in defence of her rights against foreign aggression. He felt certain that the best way to save this country from the necessity of going to war was to maintain an effective navy, for such he considered to be the right arm of this country; and as the Government now proposed to keep up its efficiency, he had great pleasure in tendering to them his humble though cordial support. But on any other Motion for economy in public expenditure he should be happy to spport his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose.
§ MR. URQUHART
had listened with great attention to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty; and had it been a question of confidence in that right hon. Gentleman, he would have been ready to grant it. He did not agree, however, with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down in his estimate of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs; and, having no confidence in that noble Lord, he thought the best thing he could do was to vote with the hon. Member for Montrose, so as to reduce the means of mischief which were placed at the disposal of the noble Lord. They had been told, the policy of the noble Lord in late transactions had been dictated by humanity; and similar language had been put into the mouth of Her Majesty in the Speech from 921 the Throne; but humanity did not stand in the place of the law of nations. [Cries of" Question!"] That was the question.["No, no!"] It related to the employment of Her Majesty's forces, and he could not vote one penny for those forces till he had a pledge that they would not be employed as they had been during the last year. He had a Motion on the Paper with respect to this question, but he rose in order to give the Government an opportunity of saving the House the trouble and annoyance of considering it; if he could obtain a promise or assurance from the Government that Her Majesty's forces would not be employed except in accordance with the law of nations, and that our admirals should not be allowed to carry on operations abroad at their pleasure.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
When the hon. Gentleman asked me, last year, whether the forces of Her Majesty should be employed only according to the law of nations, I certainly answered, without any hesitation, that that was the intention of Her Majesty's Government. But when the hon. Gentleman asks me that question at present, I certainly must be influenced in my answer by the construction that he puts upon the law of nations and the law of this country. Now, it appeared to me, with regard to the question on which the hon. Gentleman has spoken, and upon which I do not wish to enter into an argument at present—it appeared to me that Sir William Parker was fully justified, he having certainly no instructions to that effect, but having in command a fleet in the Mediterranean. Indeed, the circumstances of the case were such as to compel him, for the sake of humanity, to interfere in the contests going on between the forces of the King of the Two Sicilies and the forces of the Sicilians who were in arms against that authority. I thought that the circumstances of the case did justify Sir William Parker in that interference—and Sir William Parker obtained accordingly the approval of Her Majesty's Government, signified through my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, for the course which he then pursued. Now, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford, I know, considers that that conduct was contrary to the law of nations; and that, instead of approving of Sir William Parker's conduct on that occasion, he ought to have been recalled. Now, such being the difference between us, it certainly would be somewhat imprudent in 922 me, if I were to say that Her Majesty's forces would not be employed in any ease, except according to the construction which the hon. Gentleman puts on the law of nations. I do not wish to enter into the merits of the case. There may be another opportunity of doing that; but I certainly must say that the views of Her Majesty's Government, and those which the hon. Gentleman entertains, are totally different on this subject. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridport has, I think, shown a very proper confidence in the Government. He tells us that these forces of Her Majesty cannot be directed to any purpose dangerous to this country, or in violation of the principles of which he approves. I was in hopes that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford would have been influenced by that example, and been induced to have declared his readiness to support this vote, for the same reasons as those which had led the hon. Member for Bridport to support it. However, it appears that I was disappointed in that view. The hon. Gentleman will take his own course on this occasion.
§ MR. URQUHART
was quite willing to submit to the opinion of the law officers of the Crown with regard to the true construction of "the law of nations." As the noble Lord had declined to give him an answer, he intended to bring forward his promised Motion on our intervention in foreign disputes.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
complimented the hon. Secretary for the Admiralty on the ability displayed in his speech, and the frankness with which he had acknowledged the presence of abuses in his department from 1831 down to 1848. According to him a new era of economy and retrenchment had commenced in 1848; but he (Sir W. Molesworth) thought there was much reason to be thankful to the hon. Gentlemen the Members for Montrose and for the West Riding of Yorkshire, for the opposition which they had offered to the Navy Estimates of last year; for in consequence of that opposition there had been last year a reduction on those estimates to the amount of 208,000l., and this year there was a reduction of 707,000l. He thought, likewise, that Her Majesty's Ministers deserved much credit for their willing and successful efforts to reduce the naval expenditure. He hoped they would not relax those efforts, for, in his opinion, there was ample room for still further reductions. With a view to ascertaining to what extent 923 that expenditure might be reduced, he must ask the House to consider what had led to its increase. That menace had arisen partly from the increase in the force of the Navy, partly from the introduction of steam into the Navy, and partly from improvident expenditure in and on the naval establishments. The expenditure of the Navy might be classed in a general manner under three distinct heads—namely, expenditure on account of the force of the Navy, expenditure in connexion with the establishments of the Navy, and the dead weight. First, under the head of expenditure on account of the force of the Navy, he only included the sums paid for wages and provisions; those were evidently in proportion to the numerical force of the Navy. For instance, that force had been increased from 26,500 men and boys in 1835, to 40,000 men and boys, according to the estimate of this year; in the same interval the votes for wages and provisions had increased in the same proportion—from 1,355,000l. in 1835, to l,947,000l this year. Therefore, if Parliament desired to reduce this head of expenditure, there must be a reduction in the force of the Navy. Under the head of expenditure on account of the naval establishments, he included the sums paid under the six votes of establishments at home and abroad, wages of workmen at home and abroad, stores, and new works and repairs. It appeared to him, that if the naval establishments were conducted in the most judicious and economical manner, the expenditure on account of them should be in proportion to the average amount of the force of the Navy. For in proportion to the number of seamen employed should be the number of ships in commission, and the amount of stores consumed; and in proportion to the average number of ships in commission, should be the repairs required, the new ships built, the wages paid to workmen, and the materials consumed. But the expenditure on account of the establishments of the Navy had increased in a much greater ratio than the force of the Navy; it had increased 150 per cent since 1835, though in that period the force of the Navy had only increased 50 per cent. In fact, it had increased almost exactly in proportion to the increase of the number of workmen employed in the dockyards. In 1834, the number of workmen so employed amounted to 5,848; last year they amounted to 924 13,894. The expenditure in 1835 was estimated at 1,000,000l.; this year at above 2,500,000l. Part of this great increase had, without doubt, arisen from the introduction of steam into the Navy; but no one who had studied the report of the Navy Committee could deny that there had been most improvident and ill-judged expenditure. First, with regard to sailing vessels. The Admiralty had gone on year after year building new ships, accumulating them to perish ingloriously of dry rot in harbours, which many of them had never left. In the last 20 years, 24 line-of-battle ships and 43 frigates had been launched: 13 of these line-of-battle ships and 14 of these frigates had never been employed; their hulls alone cost 1,200,000l.; and to keep them in repair must cost 50,000l. a year. On the 1st of January, 1848, there were in commission 17 ships of the line and 32 frigates; in ordinary nearly three times that number, namely, 54 ships of the line and 62 frigates. The naval force fit for sea for four years, without repairs, consisted of 55 ships of the line, and 21 fifty-gun frigates, to which might be added 42 smaller frigates and 90 sloops, and gun brigs in good condition, and 8 line-of-battle ships which might be sent to sea with a trifling repair. To man these ships of war, not one of which was a steamer, 83,000 men would be required. Therefore, the immediately available force of sailing vessels contained more line-of-battle ships than the aggregate number of those which fought at the Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar. Notwithstanding this force, there were last year 20 new line-of-battle ships and 16 frigates building, and ordered in the dockyards. By the time they were ready for sea, they would have cost the country at least a couple of millions sterling; and to man them 20,000 men would be required. To this enormous force of sailing vessels must be added the steam navy, which was returned last year to the Navy Committee as consisting of 4 line-of-battle ships, 23 frigates, 48 sloops, and 28 gun vessels, in all 103 steamers, with about 32,000 horse-power, and a tonnage of about 100,000 tons. To man these steamers 14,000 men would be required. Therefore, to man the whole of the Navy of this country, which was immediately available for purposes of war, at least 100,000 men would be necessary. Three-fourths of this steam navy were in use, or ready for use, the remaining fourth was building. To build such a Navy by contract 925 would have cost, without the armaments, from 5,000,000l. to 5,500,000l. It had probably cost the country a very much larger sum, for, since 1840, 2,000,000l. had been expended on the purchase and repair of steam machinery alone. A considerable portion of this money had been literally thrown away—for instance, on iron steamers. The last Government, with little knowledge and no experience on the subject, had hastily ordered, in the course of the years 1843, 1844, and 1845, twenty-one iron steamers to be built—nine of them were to be war steamers, and five of them were to be of the largest size. When completed, these war steamers would have cost, in all, half a million sterling; but when some of them were nearly ready, experiments at Woolwich—unfortunately too long delayed—proved that iron steamers were inapplicable to purposes of war. Some of them were then abandoned, while others were converted into troop ships; but for troop ships the original engines were too large, and smaller ones had to be substituted in their stead at considerable expense. Then came the question, what was to be done with the original engines, two of which had cost 70,000l? If not immediately employed, they would in the course of a year or two, from the constant improvement in steam machinery, have become obsolete and worthless, and to dispose of them the project was conceived of putting them into two of our newest and best ninety-gun ships, which had cost 160,000l. This wise project, which would have converted two good line-of-battle ships into two bad screw steamers, did not meet with the approval of the Naval Committee. The Admiralty did not seem to have managed much better with their wooden steamers of war. The nine largest which had been built had been failures; a list of them, with a brief account of their incapacities, was given in page 875 of the Appendix to the Report of the Navy Committee, a few extracts from which he would beg leave to read;—1. Terrible, horse power, 800—greatest speed, 12 miles an hour—'should have done 16 miles an hour easily'—'cost 101,000l.'—'more useful one could be built for 90,000l. 2. Retribution, 800 horse power—'slow'—' said to be unserviceable altogether'—'crank.' 3. Sidon, 'slow'—'crank'—'cannot sail when empty.' 4. Penelope, 'a French frigate ruined'—'useless except as a troop ship.' 5. Odin, 'slow'—'cost 80,000l.'—equally good ship for less than 70,000l.' 6. Avenger, ' slow.' 7. Amphion, 'an experimental failure in machinery.' 8 and 9. Cyclops 926 and Gorgon, both failed to carry their guns—the latter could not steam off a lee shore.This was certainly a bad account of their nine largest wooden steamers of war. He hoped the Admiralty would be more fortunate with the twenty-eight steamers which were building, or ordered last year, and that, in building them, they had avoided the mistakes of their predecessors, and had not permitted any of their political subordinates to become amateur naval architects. There could be no doubt that a large steam navy was a very expensive thing, on account of the great original outlay in building steam ships, and in providing them with machinery, and, also, on account of the cost of repairs. It was said that about 6l. per horse power was annually required to keep steam vessels in repair. And, if so, the repairs of the steam navy would amount to at least 190,000l. a year. Under the pretext of making these repairs as economically as possible, large sums of money had been squandered on steam factories and steam basins; for it had been asserted that if such factories and basins were built, repairs could be done in them from 15 to 20 per cent cheaper than by contract. He very much doubted the correctness of this statement; for it was notorious that the amount of work done in public establishments was, generally speaking, very much less in proportion to the number of men employed, than in well-conducted private establishments; For in such private establishments there was always one or more persons whose pecuniary interest it was to extract from the workmen the maximum amount of labour that could be obtained; on the contrary, in public establishments it was the interest of all that there should be the maximum amount of idleness that could be permitted without incurring the risk of censure from head quarters; workmen, therefore, not unfrequently preferred employment at lesser wages in the dockyards, to employment at higher wages in private establishments, for the simple reason, that in the naval yards they were permitted to begin work later, to end it earlier, and to work less hard. In fact, time and labour were so little valued in the dockyards, that of late many precious hours had been consumed every week in the fantastic, attempt to convert skilful artisans into ill-disciplined dockyard battalions. He could not, therefore, believe the assertion that when the steam factories and steam basins were completed, steam vessels could be 927 repaired in them more cheaply than by contract. But, supposing that the calculations upon which that assertion was founded were correct, it should still be borne in mind that from these calculations the interest of the money expended in constructing steam factories and basins had been omitted, as well as the cost of keeping them in repair. Now, by the time that the steam factories, steam basins, and other works connected with them, were completed at Woolwich, Portsmouth, and Keyham, the sum of at least two millions and a half sterling would have been expended. The interest of the money so expended, and the cost of keeping the buildings in repair, would, therefore, nearly amount to what would be the whole annual cost of repairing the steam navy by contract. Therefore, instead of an economy of 20 per cent, there would be a loss of nearly 78 per cent by repairing steam vessels in the dockyards. He did not deny that it would be advisable to have the means of repairing steam vessels in one or two places—as, for instance, at Woolwich and Portsmouth; but to commence works at Keyham which could not be completed for less than 1,200,000l., or 1,300,000l., was a most ill-judged proceeding. With regard to the proposed cost of the works at Keyham, Parliament had been regularly and systematically misinformed. In 1844–5 Parliament was informed that they would cost 400,000l.; next year the estimate was 675,000l.; last year it amounted to l,225,000l.; and it was notorious that that sum would be insufficient to cover the whole cost of the projected works. He thought he had sufficiently established his position, that there had been very improvident expenditure in the naval establishments. If the House wished to reduce the expenditure, it would not be sufficient to reduce the number of seamen in the Navy, but it would likewise be necessary to reduce the number of workmen in the dockyards, and to insist that no new works should be commenced without a full and complete estimate being laid before Parliament. The last head of naval expenditure to which he would refer, was that called the dead weight or half-pay pensions and allowances. The dead weight of the Navy, like that of the Army, depended upon the number of officers that had previously been employed. Therefore, with a long continuance of peace there should have been a steady and considerable reduction 928 in its amount. This had been the case with respect to the dead weight of the Army, but not so much so with regard to the dead weight of the Navy. Since 1828 the dead weight of the Army had diminished from 2,915,000l. to 2,116,000l., a decrease of 799,000l. or more than one-fourth. In the same period the dead weight of the Navy had only decreased from 1,557,000l. to 1,394,000l., a decrease of only 163,000l., or less than one-ninth. He attributed this difference in a considerable degree to an improvident exercise of the power of admitting cadets into the Navy. The number of cadets, and therefore the number of them annually admitted into the Navy, should to a certain extent have been in proportion to the number of ships in commission, and to the number of seamen employed. No such proportion had been observed; for instance, in 1837, when the number of ships in commission amounted to 189, with a complement of about 27,000 men, the number of entries of cadets was only 37; in 1846, the number of entries of cadets was sixfold, or 226, though the force of the Navy had only been increased one-third—namely, to 249 ships in commission with a complement of about 36,000 men. Now, this lavish admission of cadets could not be too severely condemned. It tended both directly and indirectly to produce an unnecessary increase of expenditure, and ultimately to create discontent in the Navy, for when the number of admissions had been excessive, the number of officers anxious for promotion and employment, but unable to obtain either one or the other, became much increased, while every rank in the Navy was overstocked with old and useless officers. Besides, there was a severe and constant pressure on the Admiralty for more promotion and for more employment, to relieve which recourse had been had to periodical promotions, which had considerably augmented the burden of the dead weight; and, besides, to find employment for officers, the Admiralty had often been tempted to put into commission more ships than the seamen voted were sufficient properly to man. The consequence was, that at times the Navy had been much under-manned, and this led to well-founded complaints, which had been followed not by a reduction in the number of ships in commission, but by an increase in the number of seamen, and a consequent increase in every branch of the naval expenditure. Hence vast fleets had been 929 kept up and scattered over the face of the ocean, offering to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs irresistible temptation to meddle in every squabble that took place on the terraqueous globe—to teach constitutional maxims in Portugal—to controvert the "divine right" of kings in Sicily—to lead on a crusade against the slave trade in Africa—and to do, he knew not what, in the Rio de la Plata. Hence never-ending broils, which again afforded a pretext for more ships, more seamen, and more expenditure. Therefore, if Parliament wished to keep down the future expenditure of the Navy, it was of the utmost importance to limit as much as possible the number of admissions of cadets into the Navy. It appeared to him, therefore, that there were three main items upon which the expenditure of the Navy depended; and to those items Parliament should direct its special attention, with a view to a reduction of naval expenditure. It was impossible for Parliament annually to investigate all the minute details of naval expenditure, but it could easily ascertain what had been the number of seamen, the number of workmen in the dockyards, and the number of admissions into the Navy. By limiting the number of seamen, Parliament could, as he had already shown, limit the sums to be paid for wages and victuals, the number of ships that could be commissioned, and the amount of stores that could be consumed; secondly, by limiting the number of workmen in the dockyards. Parliament could limit the number of ships that could be built, the new works that could be done, the amount of wages to be paid, and the materials that could be used; and, lastly, by limiting the number of admissions of cadets. Parliament could limit the future amount of dead weight. It was, however, of the utmost importance that Parliament should not only fix the number of seamen, the number of workmen, and the number of admissions into the Navy, but should insist that the number so fixed should not, if possible, be exceeded. For of late years a very bad and unbusiness-like habit had sprung up of employing very many more seamen than Parliament had voted, and of having very many extra workmen in addition to those on the establishment. The consequence was, though year after year the Navy Estimates had been increased, yet generally the expenditure had exceeded the estimate; and a couple of years afterwards the House had had to make good the 930 deficiency. For instance, in 1847, there had been a vote of 185,000l. for excess of naval expenditure in 1845–6; in 1848 there had been a vote of 245,000l. for excess of naval expenditure in 1846–7. This year there would be a vote of 324,000l. for excess of naval expenditure in 1847–8; and in all probability there would be a similar vote next year for excess of naval expenditure this year. Thus for a series of years the House had been regularly and systematically misinformed with regard to the extent and cost of the naval establishment; and the Admiralty, being subject to little or no control, had fixed the establishment according to its own pleasure, rather than according to the will of Parliament. It was no wonder, therefore, that there had been great and increasing expenditure in the Navy. To prevent such consequences in future, he repeated that the House ought, as far as possible, to fix the number of seamen and workmen to be employed, and to insist that the number so fixed should not be exceeded without the excess being made known to the House, and good reasons assigned for it. Now, with reference to the vote under the immediate consideration of the House, he would ask, what number of men were required for the Navy? Last year, the vote for 43,000 men included boys and marines; but the number of men borne on the establishment had exceeded the number voted by 3,000 or 4,000 more. This year the vote was to be for 40,000 men, including boys and marines, and the number of men borne on the establishment were not to exceed the number to be voted. Therefore there was to be a reduction of 6,000 or 7,000 men in the naval force as compared to that of last year. This, he acknowledged, was a good beginning, but he thought a further reduction to an equal if not larger amount in the force of the Navy could easily be made in the course of this year without detriment to the interests of the country. He should propose to make it in the naval force on foreign stations; and he would confine his remaining observations to showing to what extent that force ought, in his opinion, to be reduced. There were six foreign stations, exclusive of the Mediterranean, which was generally considered a home station. Now, for various reasons the naval force on most of the foreign stations had been very much increased since 1841. On the average of the seven years ending with 1841, the naval force on the foreign stations amounted to eighty ships, with a complement of 931 about 10,000 men. Last year it amounted to ninety-six ships, with a complement of 16,368 men. Now, the Navy Committee had observed, that—Whatever cause may have led to the increase of force on any particular station, when once the force had been augmented, there was too frequently some unfortunate hindrance to its subsequent reduction.This statement was perfectly correct. He would begin with the station of the East Indies and China, which included New Zealand and Australia. On the average of the five years before 1840, ten ships, with a complement of 2,000 men, had been sufficient for that station. Then came the war with China, and the number of ships and men had been doubled, and even tripled; though on the termination of that war some of the ships had been removed, yet he found that last year there were on this station twenty-five ships, with a complement of 4,573 men, which must have cost the country at least 400,000l. a year. Now it appeared from the report of the Navy Committee, that eighteen ships, with a complement of about 3,300 men, would have been quite sufficient for that station; of these ships three might be employed off the shores of New Zealand and Australia—seven in the Chinese seas—two in the Persian Gulf—five for reliefs or on special service, and the Admiral's ship wherever its presence might be required. This amount of force would far exceed what we had in the East before 1840. There could be little doubt that it would be ample for all purposes of protecting our trade; and it should also be borne in mind that the East Company had a force of twenty steamers fitted for purposes of war; therefore he would presume to recommend to Her Majesty's Government to remove from that station seven ships, with a complement of about 1,300 men. Next, he would direct the attention of the House to the two stations, formerly united, of the Pacific and the south-east coast of America. On the average of the seven years before 1842, seventeen ships, with a complement of 2,200 men, were sufficient for these stations. But then came the Oregon question, the disputes about Mexico, and the interference on the Rio de la Plata, and the naval force on these stations had been, in consequence, more than doubled. Though, however, the Oregon question, and the disputes about Mexico, had been settled, yet last year the force on these stations amounted to no less than twenty-five 932 ships, with a complement of 5,431 men, which must have cost the country at the rate of half a million a year. Now, it appeared to him that half of that force would be ample; for, when reduced to one-half, it would still exceed the force on those stations in any one of the seven years before 1842. He would therefore recommend to Her Majesty's Government to diminish the force on these stations by ten ships, with a complement of 2,700 men. Lastly, he would call the attention of the House to the two stations, formerly united, of the Cape of Good Hope and the west coast of Africa. On the average of the seven years prior to 1842, eighteen ships, with a complement of about 1,600 men, were sufficient for those stations. Then came the attempt to put down the slave trade and the Kafir war; and in consequence the force on those stations was nearly tripled. Last year it amounted to thirty-seven ships, with a complement of 4,647 men, which must have cost the country at the rate of 450,000l. a year. But as the Kafir war had terminated, and the attempt to suppress the slave trade had signally failed, he would recommend Her Majesty's Ministers to reduce the force on these stations to what it was before 1842, and to remove about nineteen ships with a complement of about 3,000 men. Thus it appeared to him that, without any detriment to the interests of the empire. Her Majesty's Ministers might remove about thirty-six ships, with a complement of about 6,000 men, from the five stations, of the East Indies and China, the Pacific, the south-east coast of America, the Cape of Good Hope, and the west coast of Africa. The force which would still remain on these stations would amount to about fifty-two ships, with a complement of about 7,600 men, and would considerably exceed the force which was employed on those stations before 1840. By making these reductions, he calculated that there would be an immediate reduction in the naval expenditure to the amount of at least half a million a year; and there would likewise be an ultimate reduction of expenditure to an amount which he could not estimate. For, if we reduced our force on foreign stations, we should not require to build so many new ships, nor to keep so many ships for reliefs. He had said that he should confine his remaining observations to showing how the naval expenditure might be reduced, without detriment to the interests of the empire, by reducing 933 the force on foreign stations. He should now, therefore, sit down with again expressing his hope that Her Majesty's Ministers would steadily pursue the course of economy and retrenchment which they had so creditably begun.
§ CAPTAIN M. BERKELEY
said, the question was, whether 5,000 men could be taken away from the Navy without impairing its efficiency? The question could be far better decided by naval officers than by hon. Members who had addressed the House. The hon. Member for Montrose had charged the Government with keeping up a war establishment in a time of peace. Now the House had been told by every speaker that the proposed number of 40,000 men was only one-fourth of the number which would be required to man our Navy in a time of war. If, then, they took this fourth part of practised seamen, and gave a proportion to each man of war, making up the other three-fourths with raw and inexperienced hands, he was of opinion they would find that the ships would not be too well manned to go into action. The hon. Member appeared to think they could put up sailors like ninepins. If they counted number instead of quality, they would find out their mistake when it was too late. The hon. Member for Montrose found fault because several ships were lying up in ordinary in harbour; and, in the same breath, he proposed to take down the number of men wanted to move those ships. But if these ships were brought forward as the hon. Member appeared to desire, they would each cost the country 10,000l.; and so much, therefore, for the hon. Gentleman's economy. He believed that recently more improvements had been effected in our men-of-war than had ever before taken place in the same period. With regard to the Surveyor of the Navy, in defending his conduct against the attacks made upon it, he (Captain Berkeley) was only proclaiming what he believed to be the fact, when he said that he had done more good for the service than any man in England.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
believed that the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark was calculated to convey a very incorrect impression of the real question that was before the House, and he wished, therefore to take that opportunity of correcting some of his misrepresentations. The hon. Baronet told them that there had been a profligate system of expenditure pursued in the system of building 934 ships. Now, he wished to say one word upon this subject, because he was a party to that system, having been at the Admiralty during part of the time that efforts had been made to construct a steam navy, which was now happily completed, and which enabled reductions to be made. The hon. Baronet asserted that orders had been issued to build twenty-one iron war steamers. Now, nothing could be more disingenuous than such a mode of stating the question. He stated that the Admiralty had ordered twenty-one war steamers to be built of iron at the time that doubts were entertained by professional men whether iron was a proper material for vessels of war. But he did not state, that with the exception of six, every one of these vessels was intended for the packet service, the same as private companies were now using; for he was happy to observe that the companies sailing these vessels from Holyhead, Folkestone, Dover, and other ports, were all using iron steamers. With respect to the six war steamers, he would say that experiments as to their utility were made both at Woolwich and Portsmouth. The experiments at Portsmouth were made on an old iron hulk, whose rivets were rusty and worn so that they could be pushed out with a walking stick, while the experiments at Woolwich were fairly tried and held to be so far successful. Then there were only two men who had ever commanded iron steamers in action—Captain Hall of the Nemesis, and Captain Charlewood, and the opinion of both these officers was favourable to the employment of iron steamers. The hon. Baronet might depend upon it that the merit or demerit of iron vessels of war was still a vexata questio; their failure had not yet been proved. Then the hon. Baronet read a list of steamers—he (Mr. S. Herbert) knew not where he had got it—describing our steam navy as the most contemptible steam navy in the world. He said there was the Terrible, a slow ship, which ought to go sixteen miles an hour—certainly a startling rate of progress for a war steamer; but instead of that she only went twelve knots an hour. He would not enter into a personal dispute with the hon. Baronet, but he would ask what was the opinion of professional men? He had the pleasure of seeing the fleet in the Mediterranean last year, and he saw no ship there that could surpass the Terrible. There was only one captain who said his ship could surpass the Terrible: he saw an 935 American captain, and when he (Mr. S. Herbert) asked him how fast his ship could go, he said he could not tell, for it would be quite dangerous to put his ship to her utmost speed. But the hon. Baronet did not confine himself to steamers. He said that besides steamers, there was also a profligate expenditure in the building of line-of-battle ships, and that we had more line-of-battle ships now than we had when the battles of Aboukir, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar were fought. Now, let the House compare the number of ships in former periods with the present. In the year 1792, which was a favourite year with hon. Gentlemen opposite, we had 127 line-of-battle ships; in 1815 we had 192; this year year we had only 71. [An Hon. MEMBER: How many iron line-of-battle ships have we now?] There was no such thing as an iron line-of-battle ship, and in all probability there never would be. In 1793 the actual number of line-of-battle ships in commission was greater than the number we now proposed both in commission and in ordinary. The number of frigates in 1792 was 149; in 1815, 288; this year it was only 73. He did not think, therefore, that they were extravagant either in their line-of-battle ships or their frigates. The estimate laid before the Committee of last year by the late Lord Auckland was a very good one, but in order to secure that estimate of 50 line-of-battle ships, and a certain number every year upon the stocks, it must be remembered that his Lordship meant first and second rates, and not inferior vessels, otherwise they would not have 71 line-of-battle ships that they could confidently send into action. The hon. Member for Montrose said that he could not understand why they went on building more ships while they had such vessels as the Nelson broken up, without ever having once been in action. Why, the hon. Member might as well complain that an officer was useless because he was not shot. They had all reason to be thankful to Providence that these ships had not been used, but it was necessary to have these ships ready in case of an emergency; because, as the gallant Officer opposite explained, if they chose to commission a fresh ship every time that one was required to be commissioned, the extra cost could not be less than 10,000l. The whole of these statements made to depress the Navy—he would not say from what motives they were made—were not borne out by the opinions of impartial persons, whether of this country 936 or foreigners. They had been asked why they did not build ships as good as merchantmen? It was said that the ships built by Messrs. Wigram and Green were the most admirable in the world—that they looked like frigates—that when put into the water they floated exactly according to the calculated line of flotation—that in short, they were perfection. Now, he could tell the House that these ships, which were so much, so justly admired, were all built from the lines of the Inconstant frigate, which had been designed by Admiral Hayes. He supposed that, in the language of the present day, Admiral Hayes would be designated as a dilettanti and amateur shipbuilder. For his own part, he did not recollect a single ship now afloat that had been built by a dilettanti shipbuilder; every ship had been built either in Her Majesty's dockyard, or by the builders of merchant ships. [Mr. HUME: Mr. White, of Cowes.] Mr. White and his son had built some of the largest merchant steamers, and he did not believe that there were more scientific builders in the world. He thought he had now disabused the minds of the Committee of the statements of the hon. Member for Southwark, and had shown that the Admiralty had not built an extravagant number of ships, or built them in a manner that reflected discredit upon themselves. When they came to the vote for works, he thought he should be able to justify what had been done in that department on the same grounds. With respect to the admission of cadets into the service, his opinion was known, having stated it before the Committee of last year. He wished now to make a single observation on the form of the present estimate, to which he wished to call the attention of the House, because he thought it was drawn up in a manner fitted to mislead, though he did not think it was done intentionally; but he could not understand the principle on which the column of last year's estimate was filled up, not with the money actually voted last year, but with the estimates which had been submitted to the House, but which were afterwards withdrawn. He held that that estimate was as much non-existent as any other estimate which might have been drawn and disapproved of by the Admiralty, without ever having been submitted to the House at all. He knew that the estimate in its present form was fitted to mislead, because he had seen several calculations based upon it, and he had 937 made a calculation himself, which certainly did not agree with any of these.
§ MR. COBDEN
Sir, I think hon. Gentlemen opposite could not have avoided all allusions to the gross mismanagement—I think, the profligate mismanagement—of our naval department; for I know that every Member of the Committee of last year, of whom I was one, left it with the impression that there had been gross mismanagement in the dockyards. But I so far agree with some hon. Gentlemen opposite, that I do think, after all, that if you maintain the present system, you must make up your minds to a great amount of mismanagement. I mean by a great mismanagement, a waste of those ships in ordinary—those vessels which are to be ready to be used in case of war; you must make up your minds to that, if you maintain the present system. There is a great want of management in all Government establishments at present. It seems to me that the larger the establishment is, the greater the waste. You cannot, do what you will in Committees, get a Government, either in the matter of shipbuilding or anything else, to do things in the same way as private individuals. And I quite agree also that, if you are to keep ships of war, I would rather have them in ordinary than afloat. I would rather see them out of commission, idle and useless, than fighting; and when you talk of the evil of not launching ships already built, let me say that that is the smallest evil, both in the view of the humanity, and in the matter of actual expense. But, if you will effect any reasonable reduction in the cost of your Navy, it must be by making up your minds to change the system, and to content yourselves with a smaller establishment. And when I say a smaller establishment, I do not mean a less efficient one. There is a great deal of misconception on this subject. There is a confusion of ideas in saying that when we speak of a smaller, we are the advocates of a less efficient, establishment. That is a confounding of words; for I believe it to be quite possible that you may have a small establishment more efficient than a large one. Now, I will take the American navy. There was a ship of war, the frigate St. Lawrence, which arrived at Southampton; and will 938 anybody say that she was not a model of discipline and equipment? Well, but that was a specimen of a small navy, which does not cost the one-quarter of what our Navy costs us; and therefore do not let us be answered by people who exclaim that we are for impairing the efficiency of the Navy. I am for keeping it up; and I will tell you how; and it is the result of some investigation I have made into this matter. I would pay our men and officers better than they are now paid. I would pay them as much as the Americans pay their officers and sailors, which is 30 or 40 per cent more than we pay. I would not have a ship more at sea than I could keep constantly at work, because in seamanship, as in everything else, if you will keep people in idleness, you will never find them efficient. Well, this is the mode in which I would carry out a diminished peace establishment for the Navy. The hon. and gallant Member for Gloucester speaks as if this was a question which civilians could not entertain. Why, it is a question which we can all entertain. If it were a question of the building, or manœuvring, or disciplining of ships, I would not give any opinion about it; but when you come to the question of how many men you ought to have—what the size of your peace establishment ought to be—these are questions which every civilian is as competent to judge of as any nautical man. What do we keep up our present large establishment for? I never heard that answered as yet in such a manner as to satisfy me. We cross-examined the late Earl of Auckland on the subject, and his answer was unsatisfactory. He fell back on the political state of the world, or something of that sort; but we could not get a specific reply from him. Many think you want a large naval force because it cannot be created in a short time. The hon. and gallant Captain opposite said you cannot set up seamen like ninepins. This was meant to infer that you must keep up a large establishment in times of peace, because you cannot impress men in case of war. Now, at the breaking out of the French war, you had, on the 1st January, 1793, in commission 22 ships of the line, 41 frigates, 18,739 men. That was before the breaking out of the war with France. On 31st December, in the same year, after the war broke out, you had 78 ships of the line, 101 frigates, and 76,565 men. We had an increase of 58,000 seamen in less than a year—in fact, a few months after the 939 war broke out. [Captain BERKELEY: By impressment.] The gallant Captain says "by impressment." I admit you cannot have impressment again; for if you had, your pressgang would be shot, and public opinion would sanction it. If such a thing could be justified, it certainly would be when a man came to drag you from your home, and force you into the service. No, you must be prepared to pay men high bounties when you want them, and when in the service to pay them as much as the American naval seamen, and by that means you will make the service popular, and rather desired than shunned. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth says it must be a matter of confidence. Good heavens! why are we brought here, or why is this subject submitted to us, or who is responsible for voting this money? For if you vote the number of men now demanded, you must of necessity vote the 6,000,000l. and odd of estimates. Well, then, we are responsible for voting this money, and if we do so Government will fall back upon us hereafter, and accuse us of consenting to the number of men; just as my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield has taunted the Member for Montrose with having some ten or twelve years ago voted for the number of men demanded, without any protest. The right hon. Baronet said it should be done with reference to other countries, and that he could mention facts to justify it on that ground; but he forgot to give us those facts. I suppose America is one of the countries which he wished to compare with this. Now, I hold in my hand a report of the Secretary of the Treasury to the Congress, giving the expenditure under all the heads for the coming years 1849–50. We have had a great deal in the way of vague statements respecting the Russian, French, and American navies from gallant admirals and captains, but I now quote from an official paper:—American vessels of all sizes in commission, 47; only one line-of-battle ship on foreign service—three others employed as receiving ships; in ordinary, 21; on the stocks, 11: total, 79.While we have about 440. The United States is the only maritime rival that England can have. She has nearly as large a trade with Europe as we have with the Continent, and her vessels are employed nearly all over the globe. I heard the case of France quoted by the hon. Member for Sheffield. He has brought forward France before to justify large estimates; but I believe he has greatly exaggerated the state of 940 the French navy. I have here an extract from a French journal, the Constitutionnel, of September 20, 1848, giving a summary of the actual condition of the French navy. The article begins by reciting the royal ordinance of the 22nd of November, 1846, which fixed the naval peace establishment—At 40 ships of the line, 24 afloat, and 16 on the stocks; 50 frigates, 40 afloat, and 10 on the stocks; 136 vessels of an inferior class afloat; 100 steam vessels, all afloat, and two floating batteries, with from forty to fifty guns: total, 328 ships. In November, 1846, the Navy Board, in order to complete the projected establishments, had to construct about 17 ships of the line, 27 frigates, 85 inferior vessels, 32 steam boats, and 2 floating batteries.It demanded seven years and 90,000,000f.—3,700,000l—to execute the works. The delay and the money were granted. The year 1847 passed away in preparatory measures. The works in the arsenals were conducted slowly and confusedly. The expenses were ill calculated, and the sum voted for the wages of the operatives was exhausted before the conclusion of the works which those wages were intended to represent. The money allotted for the purchase of materials was consequently applied to the payment of wages. In 1848 the naval administration appeared disposed to display more activity and more order. A statement of the constructions to be executed during the present year, to make up for lost time, was laid before the public. The revolution of February took place, and the new Government lost sight of the navy in the midst of the difficulties which surrounded them. The French navy now consists of 24 sail of the line afloat, 38 frigates, and 86 steam vessels. Of these 24 ships of the line, 12 require to be replaced in consequence of their age. Of the 38 frigates, there are 19 condemned; and of the 86 steamboats not more than 70 are effective. The situation of the French fleet is, in fact, such as it was on the 1st of January, 1846. As compared with the fleet of Great Britain, that of France is insignificant. As compared with other maritime Powers, it comes after Russia; and if the 12 ships of the line and the 19 frigates are deducted, the French fleet falls short of those of Sweden and Holland. The Constitutionnel next observes that it is impossible the French fleet can be improved during the present year, inasmuch as the Minister of Finance requires a diminution of 30,000,000f., 1,200,000l, in the navy budget. That announcement has caused the utmost consternation amongst 941 the operatives employed in the French dockyards. This is the very case of the French establishment, quoted by the hon. Gentleman, as a reason why we should increase our Navy. Russia has also been made the bugbear; but how can she be our rival? Every protectionist who spoke upon the navigation laws has said that our maritime superiority and supremacy of the seas depends upon our mercantile marine; and is it not well known that Russia has no mercantile marine? She has in the Baltic and Black Sea a great number of men who can only be called semi-sailors, for half the year they are frozen up in ports doing the duty of soldiers. But have we any fear of an attack from Russia, or is there a possibility of rivalry on her part as a maritime State? Why, if you considered the case as between Russia and America, and if America had not a single war ship afloat, and that war was declared between them, would you not say still that America would soon destroy the Russian fleet if it ventured out of her harbours? Russia knows full well it is a question of seamen; and if you have sailors, there is no necessity for being always armed against her. Hon. Members may say, "Oh, it is only a question of 5,000 men." Yes, but that involves a question of some 500,000l. or 600,000l., sufficient to meet the views of some of those other hon. Gentlemen, who want a removal of the hop duty, or the duty on soap or paper. We ought to bear in mind that when we are voting the estimates, we are voting for excise and other obnoxious duties. My hon. friends near me have fully demonstrated the way in which you can save these men without any danger to our naval superiority or efficiency. But they omitted one fact, and here it is. By a return on the table of the House it appears that, for the last six years they have had, on an average, 2,000 men in the Rio de la Plata, and an average of 10 vessels of war—all for the purpose of interfering between two petty States, whose population would not equal that of some towns in the north of England. Now, was there ever such folly as that? I may be told that English merchants and consuls sent for them, and that they are to blame for our interference in the Rio de la Plata; but that does not justify the Government if they have been wrong in yielding to their request. If English merchants and consuls make such unreasonable requests, I would tell them that we don't keep ships of war to interfere 942 in such cases; that it is too expensive a game; and that we cannot afford it. Then there is China. We are carrying on our trade with China at an enormous national loss. Our annual export trade of 2,000,000l. or 3,000,000l., is burdened with an expenditure of 400,000l. or 500,000l. a year. An hon. Member says 600,000l., but the expense for our naval and military force is at least what I have stated. Better far let some other country bring your tea, and take back your goods. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth says, you must keep five ships on the China coast by treaty. But that was your own treaty, and imposed at the point of the bayonet. There would, therefore, be no breach of faith in withdrawing these ships. Indeed, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth told us, on a former occasion, that those ships had been withdrawn, and the duty tried to be performed by steamers; but that the ships were renewed, because the consuls told them it was necessary. These consuls have proved bad advisers in many cases. I can see no danger whatever in the proposed reduction of 5,000 men. Of all the extraordinary reasons for keeping up the present force, that of the hon. Member for Bridport is the most so. He would maintain it, because of his confidence in the noble Viscount the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and because he wishes him to have a roving commission to set up liberty and institutions in all parts of the world. Now, although I much admire our institutions, however I may desire to amend them, I do not think we should send them, like our calicoes, to other countries—particularly at the point of the bayonet. Something has been said of 1835, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth was very jaunty on the subject, alleging that it must be thrown over altogether. But he and the hon. Member for Sheffield say that that year presented a mere struggle for place and popularity, and that, therefore, the reduction of that year ought not to be referred to—that the estimates had been reduced below the proper standard, and had afterwards to be proportionately increased. I should certainly be sorry to belong to a Whig Government, and make such an excuse as that; for the Government of the Duke of Wellington was overturned on the plea of extravagance, and the Government of the Whigs established in its place on the express ground of retrenchment. Yet they now 943 turn round and say that the saving of 1835 was not a legitimate one—that they sold off old stores, reduced the estimates unjustifiably low, and that that year should never be alluded to as a standard. I shall certainly never cease to allude to it, nor cease to advocate a return to the expenditure of that year—but I shall do so by steps, and we have made one already; and with that view I shall now vote for the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose.
The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had read an account from a French paper of the state of the French navy. Now, he believed that the true basis on which we ought to proceed was to keep our armaments, looking relatively to the navy of France. The hon. Gentleman had read the particulars of the number of ships building, but he did not state the number of men the French Government had voted, nor the men who had been voted for the navy this year. The number of men voted this year was 29,000, and 11,000 marines; making a total of 40,000 men; and they could, within a few weeks, have 20 sail of the line ready, with 29,000 men. With respect to impressment, he must remind the hon. Gentleman that it was very easy to make appeals to the country, either from the hustings, or in this place in Parliament. He (Captain Harris) was as much opposed to the system of impressment as any man could be, and he hoped it would never be resorted to again. He, however, thought it was the duty of the Admiralty to take into their most serious consideration some great and comprehensive plan for manning the Navy. He had brought this subject under their notice last year and the year before, and he thought it of such paramount importance that he should not cease to agitate it. He bore testimony to the great merits of the late noble Earl who presided over the Admiralty, who had always evinced the most lively interest for the service; and any one who looked over the evidence of that noble Lord would see that that was the feeling which animated him. He again called the attention of the House to the necessity of adopting some comprehensive plan for manning the Navy during this year, and in a period of peace, and before we could be hurried into a war. The system suggested by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon gave a most excessive bounty, which would entail upon the country an expense of 200,000l. at the 944 breaking out of a war. Might not some plan be matured which would induce persons to enter into the service? The system of registration had been found to be efficient, without having recourse to impressment.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
rose principally for the purpose of asking when that part of the discussion was likely to be touched upon which referred to the salaries of the officials of the Admiralty, because he did not hesitate to say that he should feel it to be his painful duty to call the attention of the House to that important subject. He would leave the hon. Member for Montrose himself to settle his Motion with Her Majesty's Government. With respect to that Motion, he would only observe that certain parties occasionally quarrelled with each other, and that out of those quarrels occasional good was derived by the public. He left the hon. Member to the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Secretary of the Admiralty, and his friends.
could very well comprehend that the Government, if they chose, might find means of doing without the 5,000 men in question. Agreeing, however, with his hon. Friends on this point, he did not pledge himself to all the details, and especially to what had been said about the African squadron. He believed that the spirit was still breathing which had led to the providing that squadron, and that a discussion of the question would end in demonstrating something very different from the African squadron being given up by everybody.
§ CAPTAIN BOLDERO
said, it was a well-known fact that more than two-thirds of our troops were employed in the colonies. Now, the system of transport was most injurious to the British service. The hon. Member for Montrose proposed a reduction of 5,000 men; and if they were to employ some of the officers now on half-pay to command ships which could be employed to convey troops, the soldiers would be made more comfortable, there would be less danger, and less expense to the Government if they employed Government vessels. We were about to send troops out to India, and, if matters should turn out unfortunate, a large body of troops would be sent out to India, and 7,000 tons of shipping would be required to be taken up in the river; but he defied the Government to find 7,000 tons of A 1 ships; they must charter ships of the class A 2, 945 and A 3, which were bad vessels to send out our troops in. He would ask what were the objections to employing more of the ships of the Navy? He might be answered, perhaps, that the East India Company paid the expense of the transport of troops to India, but it cost them 100l. to send out every European soldier; and that it was a great favour to allow them to go there. But if the Government would send out the troops, charging the East India Company so much per head, their ships would be employed, he would not say at a profit, but the comfort of the men would be much increased, and the officers would be benefited by seeing service.
said, that the troops were now sent out at a much cheaper rate than they could be by his hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion, because the vessels now employed brought a cargo home, whereas the men-of-war could not bring anything home.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 59; Noes 144: Majority 85.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adair, H. E.||Lushington, C.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Marshall, J. G.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Marshall, W.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Moffatt, G.|
|Bright, J.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Morris, D.|
|Brotherton, J.||Mowatt, F.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Clay, J.||Perfect, R.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Pilkington, J.|
|Cowan, C.||Reynolds, J.|
|Duncan, G.||Ricardo, O.|
|Ellis, J.||Sidney, Ald.|
|Ewart, W.||Smith, J. B.|
|Fergus, J.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.||Sullivan, M.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Thompson, Col.|
|Greene, J.||Thornely, T.|
|Grenfell, C. P.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Hastie, A.||Urquhart, D.|
|Headlam, T. E.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Henry, A.||Westhead, J. P.|
|Heywood, J.||Williams, J.|
|Heyworth, L.||Wood, W. P.|
|Hindley, C.||Wyvill, M.|
|Kershaw, J.||Hume, J.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Cobden, R.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Hollond, R.|
|Acland. Sir T. D.||Hood, Sir A.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Hope, Sir J.|
|Alexander, N.||Hotham, Lord|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Anson, Visct.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Howard, P. H.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Jermyn, Earl|
|Jervis, Sir J.|
|Baines, M. T.||Keppel, hon. G. T.|
|Bankes, G.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Langsten, J. H.|
|Baring, T.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Legh, G. C.|
|Bennet, P.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Blair, S.||Littleton, hon. E. R.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Maitland, T.|
|Bourke, R. S.||Mandeville, Visct.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Martin, J.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Martin, C. W.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Masterman, J.|
|Busfeild, W.||Matheson, A.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Miles, W.|
|Carter, J. B.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Childers, J. W.||Packe, C. W.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Clive, H. B.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Coke, hon. E. K.||Parker, J.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Patten, J. W.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Pinney, W.|
|Craig, W. B.||Rice, E. R.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Rich, H|
|Duncuft, J.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Russell, hon. E. S.|
|Dunne, F. P.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Sandars, J.|
|Edwards, H.||Scholefield, W.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Farrer, J.||Seymour, Lord|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Fortescue, hon. J. W.||Smith, J. A.|
|Gordon, Adm.||Smith, M. T.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Grey, R. W.||Spooner, R.|
|Grosvenor, Earl||Stafford, A.|
|Gwyn, H.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Hallyburton, Lord J.F.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Harris, hon. Capt.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Hawes, B.||Tennent, R. J.|
|Hay, Lord J.||Towneley, J.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Ward, H. G.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Wilson, J.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Wilson, M.|
|Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.||Tufnell, H.|
|Wyld, J.||Hill, Lord M.|
§ Original Question put, and agreed to. 40,000 Men; 1,355,420l for Wages; 538,642l. for Victuals.