HC Deb 17 July 1851 vol 118 cc914-8

Order for the House going into Committee of Supply read. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


rose to call the attention of the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, and of the House, to the great want of accommodation for the repair of steam vessels at Hawlboline. A pledge had been given by a former Government that this accommodation should be provided, but nothing had yet been done to redeem that pledge. The result was that great inconvenience was frequently felt by steam ships in the Translantic voyage, and which, after putting into Cork Harbour in a disabled state, and being unable to have their repairs effected there for want of the proper factories and of other appliances on the spot, were compelled to be towed to Liverpool, or some other port better provided for that purpose. Among other instances of this was the case some months ago of the Translantic Company's steamer, the Atlantic, which, after sailing from Liverpool, on her voyage to America, met with an accident to her machinery, when she endeavoured to make for Halifax, but encountering a heavy gale she was driven back to Cork Harbour, with the view of refitting, if that could be done there; and although there were operatives and mechanics there, yet there was no accommodation for repairing, and therefore she had to be towed back again to Liverpool. Above 1,000,000l. of money had been expended on the works at Keyham Harbour; and after all that expenditure they would be useless for the ob- ject for which they were designed. He thought, therefore, it was not asking too much to propose an outlay of 200,000l. for the object of his Motion. The Transatlantic Packet Station Committee, he was aware, had reported unfavourably of any port in Ireland; but he hoped the Government would be induced to reconsider their decision, and that the time might come when it would be deemed desirable to establish a postal and a passenger depot at Cork, as well as a station for the purposes of transatlantic communication. He was the more disposed to entertain such a hope, seeing that the report of the Committee to which he had alluded spoke of Cork Harbour as a good and safe harbour, and accessible as a refuge for ships in a gale. He trusted, therefore, yet to see Hawlboline provided by the Government with the necessary establishments for effecting repairs for the steam navy; and to see it also adapted as a refuge harbour for the merchant service.

Amendment proposed— To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, 'a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the want of accommodation for the repair of steam vessels at Hawlboline,' instead thereof.


regretted that he must oppose the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend, for it was rather satisfactory to him, after the attacks that had been made upon the Admiralty, to be put upon his trial for not having spent more money. The House should consider it as a question relating to the naval service, for the country was not bound to erect factories on the chance that they would be useful to the merchant service. The late Lord Auckland had under his consideration the question of erecting a factory at Cork; but experience had shown that we had a sufficient number of factories for the naval service, and the Admiralty had concluded that it was not necessary to have a further outlay in Ireland. It might be, certainly, for the advantage of Cork to have a factory there; but, looking to the general interests of the country, it was not thought desirable to establish other factories than those already in existence, without a strong necessity for so doing. 200,000l. might establish such a factory as the hon. and learned Member desired, but, when established, the cost of maintaining it would be very considerable. The public service did not require another factory at Cork, and, therefore, he was not prepared, on the part of the Government, to hold out any expectation to his hon. and learned Friend that any such would be established. He could not agree to the appointment of the Committee.


said, the objection of the Irish Members was not that the Admiralty did not spend enough money, but that Ireland had no share in the establishments to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded. The works going on at Devonport, when completed, would not cost them less than 1,200,000l., and they had expended at least 2,000,000l. at Holyhead—yet they refused to spend a single sixpence upon any Irish port. What Ireland wanted was, to have her natural resources developed; but then, they were told, she must rely upon private enterprise. Why, England herself, with all her superior advantages, had not been left, in the matter of her naval establishments, to private enterprise; and the Government were lavishing hundreds of thousands upon Holyhead and Devonport. In refusing the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend, they would be adding another to the long catalogue of acts of injustice of which Ireland had to complain.


in order to show the inconvenience that arose from the absence of accommodation at Hawlboline, would call the attention of the House to the fact, that only the other day the 12th Lancers, which were ordered for the Cape of Good Hope, had to be brought from Ireland to England before they could embark; and then, instead of sending them out in steam vessels, which could have taken horses and all in a short passage of six weeks, they had, notwithstanding the critical position in which Sir Harry Smith was left, been sent out in sailing vessels, which could not accomplish the distance under some months.


said, the Admiralty had no orders to send the troops from Ireland to the Cape, but the orders were to bring them to England in the first instance. Had the order from the War Office been to send the troops direct from Ireland to the Cape of Good Hope, that order would have been complied with. No less than five steam vessels had been used in the transmission of the troops.


begged to remark, that one of the inducements held out to Ireland previous to the passing of the Act of Union was that Cove, now Queenstown, would be made a naval station; but from that day to this the promise had never been fulfilled. Since that period there had been only about 14,000l. expended on the erection of a quay at Queenstown.


would be very glad to hear what reply the hon. and gallant Admiral the Member for Greenwich (Admiral Dundas) had to make to his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chippenham (Captain Boldero), and also if he would inform the House and the country why the 12th Royal Lancers were sent from this country to the Cape in sailing instead of in steam vessels, and without their horses, at a time when the presence of cavalry was so much required at that colony, and the despatches of Sir Harry Smith so urgent for a reinforcement of that arm, in consequence of the ill conduct of the Cape Corps of cavalry. He would take that opportunity to complain of the beggarly parsimony of the naval department towards Ireland, in not providing in Cork harbour a suitable flag-ship for the admiral, who was now frequently obliged to hoist his flag on board a wretched un-seaworthy craft.


said, that the Government had a twodecker and a screw-propeller at Cork at the time; but the 12th Lancers were sent out without their horses, as they would be amply provided with horses on their arrival at the Cape.


said, it could not be denied but that the harbour of Cork was one of the greatest importance to be kept up as a naval station, both as regarded convenience and economy.


hoped the House would not divide without further discussion. The principle at issue was whether they were to increase the whole of the establishments in England, to the entire disregard and neglect of Ireland. Were they to treat her as a portion of the United Kingdom, or studiously to exclude her? Cork was acknowledged to be one of the finest harbours in the United Kingdom, and acknowledged to be one of the greatest importance in the trade of the western world—a trade which was daily increasing. A naval arsenal had been established there in time of war, and it was then found to be of the greatest use; but the danger having passed away, they were now gradually abandoning it. Hundreds of thousands were lavished on Woolwich, Deptford, Sheerness, Portsmouth, and other naval establishments in England; but unfortunate, depressed, wretched Ire- land, was utterly neglected. Ireland was made subvervient to English interests. Her trade and agriculture had been destroyed, and in refusing this Committee now, they were still further showing that Parliament had no regard for their condition, and would not sympathise in her sufferings.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 104; Noes 26: Majority 78.

Main Question again proposed.