§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had avowed his intention of submitting to the House an amended budget, and he (Mr. Williams) thought they ought not to vote any portion of the public money until they knew what that budget was. It appeared to him that this House had for a long period of time submitted too quietly to receive and vote such estimates as the Government had thought fit to lay before them. That had given great dissatisfaction to the people out of doors, who were anxious to see a very different course pursued. The House would remember that in the year 1848, in consequence of the refusal of an increase to the income tax, large reductions were effected by the Government by the introduction of three distinct budgets on the Navy and Army Estimates. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer should adopt the same course as he did in 1848, he might think it right that the estimates should be reconsidered as in that year; but at all events, he (Mr. Williams) would shortly show, he hoped to the satisfaction of the House, that very large reductions might be effected without any detriment whatever to the public service. He considered that it was of very great importance also that those estimates should be reconsidered, as well as the budget, because, from the demonstration made in that House, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had no security of having the income and property tax retained. To arrive at anything like a correct idea of the amount which ought to be voted, it was necessary to make reference to the number of the force, and the expenditure required for that force in former years. The most eminent statesmen had conducted the public service at a much less expenditure than that which was now proposed. The Duke of Wellington in 1830, Earl Grey in 1834, and Sir Robert Peel in 1885, conducted the public service of the Army, Navy, and Ordnance at a much less cost than the Government pro- 1184 posed for the ensuing year, as would be seen from the following:—
Thus the present estimates exceeded those for 1830 by 2,444,929l.; those for 1834 by 3,015,393l.; and those for 1835 by 3,787,034l. He wanted to know what circumstances were there which called for such an enormous increase of expenditure? He would like for the First Lord of the Admiralty to point out the necessity this year for the increase of the force which he had pointed out. Perhaps the House was hardly aware of the vast extent of our military establishments. The number of men for the Army and Navy this year was 182,000; deduct from that in India 30,000, and in the Colonies 35,000, making together 65,000, and there remained 116,700 men for the Army and Navy for Great Britain and Ireland. In addition to that there was the Irish police—a well-organised military force, the expense of which ought to be voted as a part of the standing Army—amounting to 12,000 men; the embodied pensioners, a most efficient corps of 15,000 men; the dockyard battalions, 9,000; the yeomanry cavalry, 13,600; and the coast guard and supplementary, 8,000; making a total of 174,500 men for Great Britain and Ireland. In addition to that, even, there was the metropolitan police, 6,000, and the county police, 7,500, together 13,500. The increase of the Army and Navy now, over the last year of the Duke of Wellington's Administration, was 43,000, and in auxiliaries 38,000, making an increase of force paid for by the people of this country of 81,500 men, besides 10,000 in the police force. He begged the attention of the House to this fact; the cost of stores supplied to the dockyards, and of the wages of officers, artificers, and labourers employed therein, from 1816 to the termination of last year, had amounted to fifty-five millions of money. There ought to be something to show for it; but he ventured to say, if everything were valued, it would not reach half the amount. The sum expended in the same years in enlarging and improving the dockyards 1185 was 9,500,000l.; and the total amount expended on the Navy since the peace was 213 millions, which did not include the munitions of war supplied by the Ordnance. There was great apprehension that when a Tory Government came into power it would be attended with an enormous increased expenditure of money, but he found the reverse was the fact. He hoped some Member of Her Majesty's Government would tell them how it was they required for the Army and Navy such a large excess above that which was sufficient under the Administration of the Duke of Wellington, of Earl Grey, and of Sir Robert Peel. If there was nothing existing in the present state of public affairs which required this enormous expenditure, the House ought to resist; at any rate, they ought to know what changes were to be introduced into the budget before they voted any of the estimates.
No. of men voted for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, in Amount voted and expended for the Total. Effective Force. Non-effective, Half Pay, and Pensions. £. £. £. 1830 138,954 8,491,057 4,803,653 13,294,710 1834 136,332 7,918,593 4,147,464 12,066,057 1835 135,820 7,146,952 4,510,535 11,657,487 1851,2 182,284 10,933,981 3,740,717 14,674,701
§ MR. HUME
wished to ask his right hon. Friend whether it was not high time to give an explanation, or whether he intended, before he asked the House to vote the remainder of the Navy Estimates, to give an explanation of the peculiar circumstances which required such a war establishment as the present?
SIR F. T. BARING
said, the question before the House was whether the House should go into a Committee of Supply. As soon as the Speaker should leave the chair, it would be his duty to lay before the House the Navy Estimates.
To leave out from the word, 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'no Supplies be voted before the amended Budget shall be submitted to this House,' instead thereof.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ House in Committee; Mr. Bernal in the chair.
SIR F. T. BARING
said, that when he had to open the Navy Estimates last year, the first duty he had to perform was to call upon the House to vote a large sum for the excess of expenditure over the votes of former years—somewhat about 211,000l. He had stated to the Committee that he considered the course of constantly exceeding the estimates, which had from various circumstances been pursued for several years, was highly objectionable; that that opinion he had expressed on 1186 whichever side of the House he sat, and it was the recommendation of a Committee of the House in 1848; that therefore it was his intention to prevent the recurrence of such votes for excess for the future; and that he hoped that that would be the last time the House would (except under extraordinary circumstances) have to vote any sum for excess of expenditure. Gentlemen who had taken the trouble to refer to the statement laid on the table of the naval receipts and expenditure, would have observed that he had not this year called for any vote for excess; on the contrary, the House having given him certain sums to expend, the actual outlay had been 400,000l. below the vote given by the House. He was also happy to be able to state, though he could not give the exact figures at the present moment, that there would be a considerable surplus this year in the amount voted over the sum expended. He mentioned this, because it was a subject of deep importance in a constitutional point of view with regard to the finances of the country. It was of the utmost importance that Parliament should know exactly the amount which the expenditure for the year was likely to reach; but if they got into the habit of voting so much, and expending more than they voted, the control which Parliament ought to have over the expenditure of the country would be practically lost. He mentioned it also as it had reference to the present. There were two modes of framing the estimates—one, that of taking them at a reduced amount, with a sanguine view that they would cover the expenditure for the year. That was the mode one would adopt for the purpose of presenting the appearance of a decreased expenditure, and obtaining the reputation of economy. That mode would show a considerable decrease of expenditure at first, but the person who should have to propose the estimates in a few years subsequently would unfortunately have to submit a considerably increased estimate on account of excess of expenditure over the amount voted in the preceding years. There was another course, that of taking a full estimate, leaving a considerable margin, so as to enable the Minister to assure the House that the expenditure would not, except under extraordinary circumstances, exceed the sum voted. That was the course he had thought it his duty to take: but according to that mode the House must remember that the esti- 1187 mate would appear larger than the actual expenditure would probably turn out. And he had framed the present Navy Estimates on the same principle. In the last two years that he had the honour of holding office, the expenditure had been full 700,000l. below the amount of the votes given him by the House. He would proceed to give whatever explanations were called for by the several votes. The first vote was that for the number of men. He proposed to take the same number of men as last year, but the actual sum of money was beyond that taken last year. With regard to the number of men required for the service of the year, that was a question on which the Government must exercise an opinion as a Government, and—it was not a mere departmental question or opinion which must be granted—in which they must have full regard to the circumstances of the times. He had always felt that in discussing that question it was difficult to deal with the circumstances which came before the Government, without giving rise to questions of a delicate nature. The question was, what amount of force would be necessary to fix upon for the defence, first, of our colonies and dependencies; and next, for our own shores. He wished, in everything he stated, not to be supposed to look with anything like jealousy at the proceedings of any foreign country. But it was impossible to fix upon what was necessary in their own establishment without looking to the establishments of foreign countries. He might, however, observe that they had had sufficient proof in the course of the last year that a gallant, active, and intelligent people not far from themselves had not by any means neglected their naval establishments and naval power. Those Gentlemen who had been in the course of last summer at Cherburg, and had partaken of the hospitality shown on that occasion to the English visitors, must have come back with the conviction that France did not rest satisfied with the interference of the Peace Congress. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Lambeth had referred to the estimates of 1835. These estimates had been framed for a particular occasion, and were not what the country could generally rely upon. [Mr. W. WILLIAMS: I referred to estimates of 1834.] He would first refer to those of 1835. The number of men voted for that year in this country was 27,000, while in the present year the number voted in France was 25,000 men; 1188 and when they compared the different demands which were made in our naval force for the protection of our colonies and our home shores, as compared with the demands made on the force of our neighbours in that respect, it would clearly be inexpedient to reduce our force to 27,000, while France alone voted 25,000. With regard to his estimates, he had got a comparison between the increase of expenditure in this country and in France since 1835,36, and he found that in France the estimate in that year was 2,549,272l., while in 1851 it was 4,284,960l., showing an increase of 1,735,668l. They would naturally expect to find an enormous increase in the expenditure for the English Navy since that time. But it should be remembered that at that period the estimates for the packet service were not included in the Navy Estimates. Comparing, however, the Navy Estimates of 1835 and 1836 with the present year, he found that in the year 1835, the naval expenditure was 4,271,674l., and that in 1850 the amount was 5,598,302l., showing an increase only of 1,326,628l.; while the increase in France was 1,735,668l. It was thus seen that the increase in naval expenditure had been greater amongst their neighbours than amongst themselves. With regard to the actual money-vote, he admitted it was larger than that of last year. That arose from several causes, such as several parties receiving higher pay; in the case of the Arctic expedition double pay had been given; and also from the circumstance of there having been a great tendency to increase the scale of pay from the employment of small vessels. There was another cause—viz., the new arrangements with regard to victualling crews, and the alterations respecting grog. The new arrangements, the carrying out of which had no doubt caused additional expense, had likewise the effect of transferring what was before on the victualling department of the ship to the pay department, and consequently the sum which appeared under the head of "Pay" was larger than in former years. The result of the new arrangement had been to introduce considerable improvements in the system of pay and victualling, both of which were brought nearer to the usage of the merchant service and to foreign service. He thought the change would be of great benefit to the service; and he was happy to inform the House that it had been received in the spirit in which Parliament had effected it—a very friendly 1189 and grateful spirit throughout the Navy. As far as the information extended, which he had received from various commanders, he had reason to know that the arrangement had been extremely well received, and he had even been told that the list of minor punishments had been diminished in consequence of its operation. The change, therefore, as far as experience yet went, was satisfactory. In the next two votes, which were for the Admiralty, there was an increase, arising from the gradual increase of clerks' salaries. Although at first there was an apparent increase in that respect, in the end it was an advantage to the service, because a diminution under this head arose from the superannuation of the older clerks. It would be easy, by superannuating half-a-dozen clerks, to reduce the cost of this department; but it would not be a real diminution of expense, for the actual allowances would increase in more than a corresponding degree, and would much more than counterbalance any advantage arising from the decrease in the present vote. Very few had retired during the last year, and that was the simple reason why the Admiralty establishment had become more expensive. The vote No. 4, for the Register and Record Office of Seamen, did not appear in the present estimates, having been transferred to the Board of Trade. This vote would appear in the Miscellaneous Estimates. He now came to vote No. 6, of 134,699l., for Her Majesty's establishments at home—in other words, for the expenses of the dockyards. There was a reduction of 15,000l. in this expenditure in the present estimate; and considerable reductions had been going on during the last few years. The number of labourers in factories, &, including hired workmen, was 13,214 on April 1, 1848; on the 1st of March, 1851, they were 10,862, being a reduction of 2,352 hired labourers in the dockyards. With regard to this part of the expenditure he believed that, unless anything turned up, the Government would be able gradually to make further reductions in these establishments. He had seen calculations which were made on the supposition that the votes 7, 8, 9,10, and 11, all were connected; he did not agree in this view, but even if it were so, the reduction in the last two years was considerable. The reduction in these items for the year 1851–2 would be, as compared with the year 1848–9, no less than 1,256,271l. But the actual expen- 1190 diture in the latter year was somewhat greater than in the votes, while the estimates of the ensuing year would be wrong upon the other side. The reductions made in the charges for building ships had been reduced upwards of one-third during the last two years. The vote for stores was much lower than it had been for a great number of years. The vote was less by 41,806l. than it was last year, and the vote had been getting lower for a number of years. He should not claim any credit if it were effected by leaving the stores incomplete; but he had reason to believe that the stores were as well able to meet the demands of the Navy as they needed to be, and as they had been for a long time. And any reduction which had been effected was real, and would not have to be made up in future years. There was a reduction of 41,450l. in the vote for new works. The dead weight, or half-pay, had fallen off by about 28,000l. The more ships there were in commission the fewer officers there were upon half-pay; and, on the other hand, if there were few ships in commission the half-pay would be larger. The only fair way of calculating, was to consider all officers entitled to half-pay to be on half-pay; on this calculation, a reduction of 19,059l. had taken place in the half-pay, and this reduction was gradually going on. The increase in the vote for the packet service arose from the anxiety of the Government to give the means of additional communication to the public mercantile interest. They had in the course of the year made provision for the Post Office service of the western coast of America and the Brazils, and also with the Cape of Good Hope, by steam-vessels from Plymouth. He could not suppose, that although 45,000l. additional was required for the packet service this year, any objection would be made to that on the part of the public. That increased expenditure had taken place for the purposes of commerce, and not for those military services for which the other portions of the votes were appropriated. The net decrease on the naval estimates for the ensuing year, as compared with the past, was 181,093l., which would have been greater but for the additions to the sailors' pay and provisions. If it were not for the increase in consequence of these alterations he might have had a diminution of a quarter of a million compared with last year. He had now had the honour of being con- 1191 nected with the Admiralty for two years, and the Committee would not think he was acting wrongly if he stated the result of his administration. He was anxious to do so, not that he might take the credit of the reductions that had been made, but because it was due to the House and the country to know the real truth, as inaccurate reports had gone forth. He did not look to the amount of estimates in any given year. The real criterion was the actual expenditure. The actual expenditure for the past year could not be given with exactness, because the year would not terminate until the 31st of March; but we were so near that day that he had no doubt he should not be very far wrong. The actual expenditure of 1848–9 was 7,955,000l.; the actual expenditure of 1850–51 was 6,362,500l.; which was a reduction of 1,592,500l. If he deducted for the expenditure which had been transferred 92,500l., a sum larger than the truth, lie found that the reduction effected during his two years of office had been 1,500,000l. that, he must think, was not a small sum to have reduced in one branch of the public service. He did not wish to compare himself with those who had gone before him at the Admiralty; but as the able and economical Administration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon under the Administration of the late Earl Grey, was often referred to in terms of deserved eulogy, he begged to be permitted to compare his administration of two years with that of the right hon. Gentleman, who had acquired a great reputation for his economical administration of expenditure. He would take the whole of the right hon. Baronet's administration. In 1830 the Naval expenditure was 5,768,800l.; in 1834–35 the right hon. Gentleman had reduced it to 4,626,800l., so that in the course of four years, during which period the right hon. Gentleman had presided over the Admiralty, he effected a reduction of 1,142,000l. He had deducted the charges that had been transferred during his (Sir F. Baring's) two years of office, and he would also deduct a sum of 142,102l. for the coast guard, which, if he recollected rightly, was transferred by the right hon. Baronet upon the Customs. During the administration of his right hon. Friend, there was therefore a reduction of 1,000,000l. in the Naval expenditure; he would then venture to 1192 suggest to hon. Members, when they heard the abuse that was poured on the Admiralty for profligate expenditure, that the present Government had reduced the expenditure 1,500,000l., and that during the two years he had presided over the department the reduction had been greater than had ever before been made in the previous twenty years, and he believed that by a little attention to the money passing through their hands they might be able in future years to reduce the estimates still further. He looked with some degree of doubt at the attempts that he saw recommended in other quarters to reduce very largely and very suddenly the naval force. An attempt of that kind was made a few years ago, and the result was that his right hon. Friend the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was Secretary of the Admiralty, had to defend the course of the Government, as he did in a very able speech, and his defence was, not that they had spent less, but more, than their predecessors for the Navy; for the charge against them then was that they had cut down the Naval force too much. When he (Sir F. Baring) was Chancellor of the Exchequer, the late Sir Robert Peel used to observe that their estimates had increased very much, and held out some expectation of reducing them; but when the right hon. Baronet came into office, although he believed an attempt was made to reduce the Naval estimates, it soon took a turn the other way, and in 1845 they began again the course of a large increase in the expenditure of the Navy. He thought these ups and downs in the finances of the Navy were not politic. He had been exposed to much abuse, and had not gained much reputation; but he believed that those who came after him would find that a considerable reduction of expenditure had been made, and that at the same time the establishments of the country had been kept up in as full and good a state of efficiency as ever. The administration of the Navy had been conducted upon an economical, but not a niggardly, system; and at the same time there had been much improvement in the condition of the common sailor—not a cheap process, but one that was no trifling advantage now, and would, he believed, hereafter be of great service to the Navy. The packet service had also been extended to give accommodation to the commerce of the country; and those 1193 lines of steam communication which had been proposed by himself and his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, many years ago, when they were in different offices, had been increased and extended in the estimates he now submitted to the House. The right hon. Baronet then concluded by moving the first vote.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That 39,000 Men be employed for the Sea Service for the year ending the 31st day of March, 1852, including 11,000 Royal Marines and 2,000 Boys.
§ Mr. HUME
was about to interfere with very little of the address which they had just heard. The point was, whether they were at this time warranted in voting that number of men. When the separate votes came, they would be called upon to vote for the estimates, and that would he the time to consider the different points. He had waited with anxiety to know what reasons the right hon. Baronet could assign for continuing the number of men at the present rate; and the only thing like a reason was, that we must not be indifferent to what passed across the Channel. It was singular, and he did not know whether the right hon. Baronet was aware of the fact, that when a reduction of a number of men was proposed in the French army, it was held that the number should not be reduced too low, because the English kept up so large a number. Thus it was, that there was a circle within a circle—the French kept up a large number of men because the English did it; and the only excuse that could be given for our doing it was, that the French did it. But this was not the usual way in which votes of this kind were dealt with. In the first place, he rather expected when he interrupted his hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth, who spoke before the Speaker left the chair, that they would have from the Chancellor of the Exchequer some explanatory statement of what the country was to expect from the budget before they were called upon to vote these men. They had not yet heard whether it was intended to propose another budget; but of this he was sure (if he might judge from the opinions abroad and at home) that the budget which had been laid before them could never pass that House. He was anxious to have had a statement upon that point, because before the voting of the supplies he had always held that they ought to have the means pointed out to meet them. It was, however, convenient for the Government to 1194 adopt another course; in that way they would get the advantage of the House, and those who were really anxious to see the expenditure reduced would be left helpless. He wished his hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth had told them what the United States was doing. The President had stated in his address that they had two millions of tons of commercial shipping capable of being converted to warlike purposes; so that of all places in the world they should look to what America was doing with its navy. They traded over the whole world equally with England; not to so great an amount, but they might do so ere long. If ever England had a rival, that rival would be America, and he was anxious to see how their navy stood. He found that no sooner was the war over in America, than they cut down their establishment. The report of the United States Minister, Mr. Graham, Secretary to the Admiralty, states that the whole establishment of the navy is seven line-of-battle ships, twelve frigates, twenty-one sloops, four brigs, seven steamers, and five store-ships—total, 56; of which thirty-nine only were in commission. On the stocks they had only four line-of-battle ships, and two large frigates. Now from the returns which he (Mr. Hume) had had laid on the table last year, it appeared that this country had seventy-four men-of-war which were never at sea; that they had launched a number equal to the whole navy since the termination of the war, and allowed their vessels to rot in ordinary; being at the expense of building, materials, and keep, and yet they were going on building more, without having been able to employ those which had already been built. The expenses of our dockyards were very great, and about two millions of it was expended in pulling ships to pieces, and building ships to rot and waste. The personnel of the navy of the United States was in 1842, 688 captains, 97 commanders, 327 lieutenants, 68 Serjeants, &c. The American President, finding that even those numbers were larger than necessary, recommended that the 688 captains should be reduced to 600, the 97 commanders to 80, the 327 lieutenants to 300, and in the inferior departments he recommended proportionate reductions. Now, if a country like America, with a population, according to the last census, of 24,000,000 (increasing at the rate of 1,000,000 every year), with a splendid commerce, and without a debt, was so economical in its naval establish- 1195 ments, how foolish were we, encumbered with an enormous debt, and subject to depressing taxation, to act so extravagantly in maintaining our national defences! It appeared from the evidence of Sir George Cockburn, that we kept up 191 vessels; and for what object? That we might place Cephalonia under blockade Surely the Government ought to favour the House and the country with some reason for asking for the maintenance of so terrible a force. Why had they a fleet of eight or ten sail of the line in the Mediterranean, the only service which it had performed being the attack upon Greece? They should not allow the vote to pass without having some reason for it. He saw that on the 3rd of March there were 1,642 petitions, with 136,696 signatures, presented to the House for reductions in taxation, and yet, in the face of that, there was a proposition for this number of men, and the expenditure must be in proportion. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, claimed credit for a great reduction, but he should have remembered that the right hon. Baronet opposite, the Member for Ripon, made his reduction of one million out of five millions; whereas the right hon. Gentleman had made his out of nearly eight millions; and he should also remember that all that increase to eight millions was laid on by himself—or at least by his Government. Earl Grey's Government was reducing and improving every year, and that Government certainly deserved great credit for the economy and improved efficiency of the Navy. He had no quarrel to pick with that until 1837 and 1838; at that period the charges were extravagant, and the waste enormous. The excess of expenditure after the levying of the income tax was also enormous; the estimates increased to 27,000,000l., while the entire produce of the income tax amounted to 26,894,000l.; so that if they had not had the income tax to throw away, they would not have so increased the establishments. He had been ready to give Sir Robert Peel the margin he wished for, but he was only saying that if the income tax had not been continued, and if the Government had not been left with so much money in its hands, the enormous increase in the establishments in 1848 and 1849, from what they were in 1833–4–5, would never have taken place. Sir Robert Peel, certainly, devoted 1,000,000 for a steam navy; but, unfortunately, the Admiralty did not know how to use money, and one vessel was laid down 1196 before another was built, and when finished the vessels were inefficient. In 1835, 1836, and succeeding year, the average number of men borne on the Navy estimates was 29,638; and if that number was sufficient to carry on the services of the country triumphantly, then would any man say it was not amply sufficient now? Therefore, unless he had an answer, he should submit to the House a resolution for bringing down the number of men to 30,000, the average of the years he had named. He had cherished the hope that something would have been done in reducing the African squadron this year. What was the state of things when the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon was in office? Why, there were 14 vessels at the Cape of Good Hope, and on that station. But in 1845 the number of men was increased to 40,000, and what did we find? That there were 28 ships of war on the coast of Africa and the Cape of Good Hope; and in 1848, the number of men being increased to 43,000, they found that there were no less than 37 vessels where there was formerly only 14. Surely the time was come, after a 20 years' trial, for abandoning a foolish and abortive blockade that endangered our friendly relations with other Powers. The French Government had directed its Minister to open a correspondence with our Government to know if France could not be released from her engagements with regard to the African blockade; and the United States were doing the same. Here, then, were two countries that we had persuaded to join us very much against their will, because we endeavoured to bolster up our own folly by dragging them along with us; and let not the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary of State tell them any more that our treaties with other Powers prevented the withdrawal of the blockade squadron, for that difficulty was now removed. He (Mr. Hume) should test the House that evening, because with the reduction of that squadron, and the reduction to an adequate amount of the Mediterranean squadron, which was ready there to do mischief instead of good, 30,000 men would be found amply sufficient for every necessary purpose, instead of the proposed vote of 39,000. He would ask the 270 country Gentlemen (only about 14 or 15 of whom he now saw in their places) who voted for the Motion of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire for the relief of agricultural distress—he would ask these Gentlemen, who complained that the House was indif- 1197 ferent to that distress, whether they meant to be honest? Because if taxation was to be reduced, it was only to be reduced by cutting down the enormous establishments of the country. In 1835, of all classes of ships in commission we had 167, and 26,500 men, and the Navy was never in a better condition; but in 1845, when the men were increased to 40,000, we had 234 ships; and in 1848, without a single reason to call for it, a further increase raised the number of men actually borne on the estimates to 44,500, and the number of ships was 256, showing themselves all over the world. Was that a state of things to be suffered, with the people of England at this time in distress? He said in distress, because, though wages might be good and bread cheap, he remembered having seen strange things in his time. It was very true that just now the manufacturing and artisan classes were tolerably well off, and provisions cheap; but he had seen three or four reversals of such prosperity in his time, and it was not at all impossible that he might live to see another—such, for example, as that of 1843; and he should like to know what would the country then say to the representatives who had permitted the present expenditure to proceed? As to representatives, indeed, there could not be a greater reflection upon our representation than the manner in which the House had allowed the country to go on for several weeks past without a Government, letting the people of England be bandied about between three sets of men, no one of which could form a decent Administration. Lord Stanley had failed to form an Administration, and, he must say, had not paid a very great compliment to hon. Gentlemen opposite in telling them that out of the whole 270 there was only one of them that was fit for office. But why could no one be found to take the places of the noble Lord and his Colleagues? Was it not because the House of Commons—the taxing organ of the country—was not properly organised in its materials, and because the Government was not carried on in accordance with the wishes of the people? He warned the noble Lord—that was a point that ought to be carefully seen into. But why, he repeated, out of 270 of the "country party" could they not find fifteen or sixteen Gentlemen capable of filling the Treasury benches, more particularly when they knew that all the clerks, who did the real work in the offices, remained stationary in any case, 1198 and only nominal heads were wanted. He admitted that there ought to be a head with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Punch represented a certain person going for "the Old Doctor;" and when he first heard of the Duke of Wellington being sent for, he felt convinced that the result of it all would be, "As you were." Why, in 1840 all the improvements proposed for the Army were stopped by that illustrious personage; and every improvement, whether with regard to pilots, lighthouses, or any other matter, was sure to be stopped by him. He was surprised, then, that Her Majesty had sent for such an individual. [An Hon. MEMBER: You were not sent for.] Her Majesty had not been advised to send for him (Mr. Hume). He had paid attention to events for the last thirty years, and he thought he could have prescribed for the country much better than the other old doctor had done. The country looked upon them as a set of dolts, and they were the laughingstock of Europe, because they could not find men of one class capable to carry on the Government as well as men of another. Taking the matter at the worst, here was a question brought forward—no matter how—called the Papal Aggression. That was the point at issue; and no one regretted its introduction more than he did, because he felt that if the measure were passed, it would be impossible to carry on the affairs of the country without almost a civil war in the sister island, the people of which he was so anxious to see conciliated. He had been told that he was not present at the division; but about 350 hon. Gentlemen—an overwhelming majority—voted for the introduction of the Bill with the clauses in it which he considered very oppressive. Now his whole life had been devoted rather to remove than to impose restrictions; and he should rather resign his seat with pleasure than do anything to subvert religious freedom or equality. But what was our present situation? He would counsel the noble Lord to take courage in his situation, and do either one thing or another—either bring in a Bill that would satisfy the country, or throw up the question altogether. At all events, let not the time of the House be wasted, and the business of the country be brought to a stand-still. They might go on in this way throwing away the best part of the Session for three weeks longer, aye, and for more than that, and yet nothing would be done. Much as he deplored the revival of the "No-Popery" cry, he said, 1199 as a country with representative institutions, the Government ought to have had recourse to a general election, and let the voice of the country determine the issue. He wished to show the world that a representative government could he worked, and need not he brought to a dead-lock. And of what use was it now to give a vote one way or the other? If they rejected this vote of 39,000 men, what would be the consequence? The Government would probably say, "We can't carry on, and we won't carry on, the administration." The House said, "You must and you can carry it on—nobody else will do the work." He wished to address himself to the country Gentlemen opposite. Within a few days a Potectionist meeting was held in his own county (Norfolk), and he regretted to find that the speakers at such meetings were cheered and encouraged by men of high rank and of the first talent in the country, while one Gentleman accused the Parliamentary reformers in that House with wishing to dethrone the Queen, and to promote rebellion and revolution. He must say, that such violent and calumnious language no nobleman of high character ought to suffer to pass uncensured. It was stated at these meetings that they would never be satisfied until Protection was brought back. Now, he had made an estimate on this subject, and taking the consumption of wheat at 70,000,000 quarters, at 60s., that amount would have produced 210,000,000s. for the owners and occupiers of land. The same quantity at 50s,wouldrealise 170,000,000l., leaving the difference of 40,000,000l. to be spread, not among the agricultural districts simply, but all over the country. At 40s. per quarter, which was rather above the present price, it would realise 140,000,000l., showing that 70,000,000l. on the sale of corn formerly went into the pockets of the farmers and landowners, which, under the present reduced prices, was withheld. He did not complain of this, although his own income was dependent on agriculture, because it was only an act of justice that their fellow-subjects, who had so long been heavily taxed on their bread, should be relieved from so oppressive a burden. But what he wished to show was, that if this 70,000,000l. sterling was taken upon the price of corn alone, the additional loss by the reduction in the price of stock and in the value of farm produce of all kinds, would increase the 70,000,000l, 1200 to 100,000,000l. sterling, the amount which had been estimated by his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow as the sum to be saved to the country by free trade in corn. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had twitted his hon. Friend with "what has become of that 100,000,000l. a year?" He (Mr. Hume) answered, that neither the owners nor the occupiers of land pocketed it, but it was spread over the whole mass of the community, and the reduction in prices had made the mass of the people comparatively comfortable. If, therefore, corn was at 38s., as it had been for the last few months, it showed a saving to the people at the rate of 77,000,000l. sterling annually. Now, he admitted that the country generally, and the agriculturists particularly, wanted relief; and how was it to be obtained? Let the fourteen hon. Gentlemen opposite join him in passing his budget. He should undertake to reduce the establishments of the country without impairing any of their efficiency, and give them a margin of 10,000,000l. to deal with. The Chancellor of the Exchequer estimated the next year's expenditure at 50,247,000l. Now, he (Mr. Hume) proposed that instead of 19,500,000l. for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, and Miscellaneous items, they should come back to the standard of 1834 or 1835, namely, to from 12,000,000l. to 14,000,000l. That would give a margin of about 5,500,000 to begin with. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's surplus was 2,500,000l. He was reminded of the 28,000,000l. interest of the debt. Faith must be kept with the public creditor; yet, by proper economy and retrenchment, means could be found to pay their debts honestly, and put them in the course of liquidation without much difficulty. Next, as to the civil list, and that he was told he should not deal with. Now, he did not wish to reduce one farthing of what Her Majesty received; indeed, he honestly said he only thought Her Majesty at present, receiving only 60,000l. out of 385,000l., was allowed too little, the greater part of the allowance being frittered away upon gorgeous liveries and useless parade. Why should an ambassador have a gaudy coat, that cost 100l. covered with gold lace. Then there were the forty-five lords and ladies in waiting, the slips of the aristocracy, who attended on great days, or took a tour once a month or twice a quarter, and received their pay regularly. The Crown revenues, worth about 2,700,000l. a year, 1201 were taken up to the extent of more than 1,600,000l. for expenses. Let them sell the property, and it would form a fund to pay the civil list. Let the Lord Chamberlain's, the Lord Steward's, and the Master of the Horse's expensive establishments be kept within proper bounds; and he called upon the Committee not to sanction a return to the folly of George IV., who put these people all in livery, dressed them like trumpeters, and was not content till he cut out their coats himself. The assessed taxes fell heavy on the country gentlemen, and they ought to be reduced, first, to afford them relief, and then to promote the employment of the people. He would provide 396,000l. from the Crown revenues to begin with; and why should they not sell the Crown lands with as little difficulty as they were selling landed estates in Ireland? Then there were the expenses of the courts of justice, diplomatic pensions, salaries, and allowances; and they could see if the item of 2,864,000l. for these branches was not capable, as he thought it was capable, of a reduction of at least 800,000l., not by reducing the salaries of those who worked, but by removing those who did not work. Then the collection of the revenue cost between 3,000,000l. and 4,000,000l., and half of that amount, at least, ought to be saved. In the Customs department, ten or twelve Commissioners were employed to do the work of two; and as to the Excise Commissioners, they had been much reduced, and the gentleman at the head of that department he could entrust with the additional duty of collecting the revenue of the Customs, and give him a single assistant, and he (Mr. Hume) ventured to say they would hear of no complaint from the trading community as to the management of the Customs. That House had not been fairly dealt with by the Government. It had twice passed a resolution that the whole of the revenue of the country should be brought to account; yet about 7,000,000l. a year never came into the Exchequer, or came under the control of the House. Out of that 7,000,000l. he reckoned that 1,000,000l. might be easily saved. In 1821 he recollected bringing forward the case of certain collectors of assessed taxes, showing that they had been going on collecting from the public money which was never accounted for; and in the city of London a sum of 220,000l. was found to be lying in the hands of the collectors, which would never have been heard 1202 of if he (Mr. Hume) had not detected the circumstance. The complex manner in which many portions of the revenue was at present collected would admit of large and important reductions, and afford consequent alleviations of the burdens of the people. He held in his hand a return which it would be well for hon. Gentlemen opposite to look to a little. It was called for by Lord Seymour, and it showed that the actual cost of all her colonies to Great Britain was 2,928,000l. And that was the expense of our colonies at a time when they were demanding self-government, and to be permitted to bear their own expenses. And there was hardly a single colony in which dissatisfaction—he would not say disaffection—did not exist in consequence of our refusing them the privileges they demanded. There was another item of importance. The Miscellaneous Estimates amounted to more than 3,000,000l., and it was impossible to deny that, with care and attention, we could not save an important part of that sum. The Resolution which he had to propose, was to the following effect:—That in accordance with the prayers of numerous petitions for relief from the burden of taxation, and with the view of affording relief to the distress now existing amongst the owners and occupiers of land, it is the duty of this House, before voting any sum on account of the Army and Navy estimates, to take into its serious consideration in what manner and to what extent, the number of ships can be reduced; and with reference to the squadron on the coast of Africa, for the suppression of the slave trade, it is the opinion of this House that it should be entirely dispensed with, as being altogether useless, and occasioning in its support an unavoidable and heavy expenditure. With regard to the Navy estimates, the average number of seamen and marines from the year 1835 to the year 1839 having been under 30,000, and this House not being aware of any reason for an augmentation of the number, considers the vote now proposed excessive in amount.
informed the hon. Member that his Motion could not be put, as it pledged the House to a certain resolution which it was not competent to propose in Committee. The Committee could only adopt, reject, or limit the Vote.
Motion made, and Question put—
That 30,000 Men be employed for the Sea Service for the year ending the 31st day of March 1852, including 11,000 Royal Marines and 2,009 Boys.
§ MR. MACGREGOR
said, he believed every Member of that House ought to have a difficulty in coming to a vote on a 1203 question of expenditure without being acquainted with the means of meeting that expenditure. With regard to the statement of the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, he (Mr. Macgregor) would certainly bear testimony to the great care and prudence which had been exercised in respect to the naval estimates and the naval dockyards. He (Mr. Macgregor) gave the right hon. Baronet full credit for his zealous exertions in reducing the naval expenditure. But he believed the entire system was faulty from the beginning to the end; and especially as to the dockyards, he thought that the 2,012,107l. which had been spent on them might be reduced at least one-third of that amount. And yet with all the expense the naval docks could not be in a more deficient state of management than they were at present. No private company could, without ruin, send ships to sea on the same system as that by which our naval docks was regulated. With respect to the actual number of ships of war, he found that we had a greater numner of ships of the line, and with larger tonnage, than the whole number and tonnage of every State in Europe. And when it was said that so large a marine force was necessary for the protection of our commercial navy, he believed that our commercial fleet could protect itself if there were not a single ship of the line belonging to the country. He contended that there were mercantile firms which had ships able to defend themselves against any enemies. He knew of one firm that owned twenty splendid ships sailing from London to India, which had a larger tonnage—about 22,000 tons—than the whole of the Danish fleet. There was—besides several other large shipowners—one firm on the Clyde, the tonnage of whose ships was greater than that of the whole American navy. Our mercantile fleet, if armed, could alone terrify every other navy in the world, except, perhaps, that of France. France had 40 ships of the line, and we had more than double that number. The whole navy of France amounted to 220 sailing vessels and 102 steamers, making a total of 322 ships. With regard to her naval officers, France had two admirals, 10 vice-admirals, 20 rear-admirals, 100 post captains, or commanders of ships, and 230 captains of the second class who commanded frigates, 650 lieutenants of marine, 550 midshipmen, and 300 subordinate officers, making a total of 1,862 officers. The 1204 maximum number of men was by ordinance fixed at 27,000, or 25,600 seamen and marines, and 1,400 engaged on land service. What have we in actual service? 12 admirals, 7 commodores, 58 captains, 82 commanders, and 381 lieutenants, receiving in all 101,482l.; while we have, not in service, no less than 140 admirals, 399 captains, 669 commanders, 1,390 lieutenants, 236 masters, and 670 chaplains, pursers, surgeons, &c, or, in all, 3,504 admirals, captains, and other officers, receiving 506,711l. for doing nothing. I do not blame them, for I believe they would all rather be afloat in commission. But this is not all we have—1,029 major-generals, colonels, and other officers of marine, receiving about 140,000l. for doing nothing; and in addition, 80 retired admirals, and 94 captains receiving 69,5322. During the seven years from 1832 to 1838 inclusive, the average amount of our naval expenditure was 4,474,747l. In 1839 it increased about 1,000,000l. above the expenditure of 1838. In 1842 it increased above the average of the same seven years no less than 2,165,416l., and it continued increasing until in 1848 it amounted to 8,157,287l. He must give the right hon. Gentleman at present at the head of the Admiralty credit for great reductions since that time. The estimate for the year ending April 5th, 1851, deducting 58,928l. for the Arctic Expedition, and 9,772l. for registering seamen, amounted to 5,839,652l. The estimate now before the Committee was 5,727,259l., being a net decrease of 112,3952. But still there was an excess over the seven years from 1832 to 1838, inclusive, of 1,252,512l. That excess might be accounted for in part by the additional expense of the steam ships-of-war; but he (Mr. Macgregor) was of opinion that nearly all those steam ships would turn out to be utterly useless. He believed that the progress in improvement and power of steam-ship building was proceeding so rapidly that not ten out of the whole of the present steam fleet would in 1860 be found efficient vessels. That was not his own opinion merely, but it was founded on the opinion of the first steam-ship builders in this country. He should be the last to vote for any other than an efficient navy; it should always be of sufficient strength for purposes of defence, but not for purposes of aggression. Now, unless we had the fleets of the whole of Europe combined to attack us, our pre- 1205 sent fleet was much more than sufficient for all needful defence; but, believing that there was an impossibility of any such attack taking place, he did not see why we should keep up a force equal to that of the whole of the Powers of Europe together. His constituents, who amounted to about 400,000 persons, felt themselves pressed with the window tax and other burdens, and they were perpetually demanding relief. He should not be doing his duty to them, or to the other taxpaying subjects of Her Majesty, if he did not express his opinion that the estimates of the present year were much higher than they ought to be, and might be reduced to 5,000,000l., or even below that amount. He thought that there had been much mismanagement in connexion with the dockyards. The dockyard at Deptford ought, he believed, to be abolished, because the great increase of steam vessels in the Thames had made its navigation so difficult and dangerous that they must afford more room for colliers and other shipping of that description elsewhere; and there was no other place where room could be provided for them except in the space now occupied by Deptford dockyard. That change could be made with the greatest advantage to the public service. Let them also abolish the dockyard at Chatham. The dockyard at Pembroke had been most scandalously managed, not under the present First Lord, and the expenses there had been one-third more than they should have been. It was at a distance, and abuses were therefore less likely to be noticed; but the facts which he could point out in reference to Pembroke dockyard, for many years, were such as would astonish the world. With respect to Chatham, he said they had no occasion to maintain that as a building establishment. At the three dockyards of Portsmouth, Woolwich, and Devonport, there had been most extraordinary mismanagement, arising from the ignorance displayed in connexion with the docks and shipping. He could tell the Lords of the Admiralty that the ships built at those docks were often rendered inefficient, because they interfered with the form and models; but if they would allow the ships to be built according to proper designs, they would find ships of the Royal Navy might then go to sea like those of private firms, and would be efficient for all purposes. With regard to another port at the mouth of the Thames, he did not think they ought to keep Sheerness as a 1206 building yard, but retain it merely for the purpose of repairing, and refitting, and nothing else. If, then, they could abolish the ill-managed docks at Deptford, Pembroke, and Chatham, they could make great reductions in the naval expenditure, while they could also maintain a formidable Navy. He believed that the country would soon begin to look thoroughly into the naval expenditure, and while it would support the Government in maintaining an efficient Navy, it would not consent to have one of extravagant magnitude, and of bad management. The difficulty he experienced in agreeing to the vote of 39,000 men was this: would the House pass the income tax in its present shape, or in any shape at all? He was not certain that it would, and that being the case, and financial affairs generally being involved in such difficulties and confusion, he could not vote away money until he knew where it was to come from. The national obligations must be paid at all hazards, and he would rather undergo any difficulties than not pay the 28,000,000l. annually necessary for that purpose. But it was by a diminution of expenses that he looked forward to a reduction of taxation. Various interests might clamour for themselves, and for his part he wished to see the taxes on malt and tea reduced; but he could not hold out to the people of this country the hope of a single shilling's reduction in either of those taxes unless there was a great diminution in the expenditure. He thought they should not vote for 39,000 men; he saw no necessity for keeping up so formidable a force, and he believed they might very safely reduce the amount to about midway between what it was when the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon was First Lord of the Admiralty and the number at present proposed. Next year they might make a still further reduction. The time was come when they must seriously examine the whole of their finances. In the present state of progress, with steam presses, steam railroads, and steam ships, and the consequently increased intercourse with all parts of the world, they could not go on much longer without taking a comprehensive view of our whole system of taxation. It was with such a conviction on his mind that he found himself unable to vote for so large a number as 39,000 men for the naval service. He came to this conclusion with great reluctance, and not from any desire to offer a factious opposition to the First Lord of the Admiralty or 1207 any other Member of the Government; but, in acting as he was about to do, he felt he was only doing his duty to his constituents, and to all Her Majesty's taxpaying subjects.
§ MR. COBDEN
said, the question before the Committee was, the vote of a sum of money equal to the income tax, to the malt tax, or to the whole of the assessed taxes, with the addition of the soap and paper duties. For it could not be concealed for a moment that, if they voted the number of men, it was quite in vain to think afterwards of reducing materially the vote of money in the Navy. He was convinced, from three years' experience in Committees on Navy, Army, and Ordnance estimates, that it was a delusion to think of effecting any considerable saving in the expenditure of the Navy, unless they could reduce the amount of the forces. Going back to 1835, and looking at all the reductions ever effected, they would see that the number of men voted had been generally a fair test and index of the amount of money spent. There might be exceptions, arising from large occasional outlays. This test applied to the reductions made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon, when he exercised his most useful sway at the Admiralty from 1830 to 1834, for while he effected a reduction in the expenditure from 5,687,000l. to 4,726,000l., the reduction in the number of men was from 32,000 to 26,000, being nearly as great a percentage as that of the money. It was not difficult to assign a reason for this. In dealing with the Navy, they were dealing with the largest manufacturing concern in the kingdom, or perhaps in the world. It was a large manufactory of shipping, employing upwards of 10,000 persons, the greatest proportion of whom were skilled artisans—the most extensive business in England, or probably in the world, taken as an individual concern employing labour. It was a maxim which nobody would dispute, that the worst of all manufacturers was a government. Whether a government undertook to build ships, to manage woods and forests, or to establish national workshops, it was a well-understood maxim, that a government would do all those things worse than an individual would do. Hence, it was easy to see the reason why in building ships, a government necessarily wasted a great deal of money. There was a constant outcry against the profligate and wasteful expenditure in the dockyards; and people jumped to the conclusion that 1208 it might be cured by looking into it. A Committee had been engaged in doing this a whole Session. They had finished their inquiry more than two years since; and, if any good was to result from it in the management of the dockyards, they ought to have had the benefit of it now. Yet the outcry against the profligate expenditure was as great as ever; nor would he pretend that anything done in that Committee was likely to lead to a considerable change in the mode of conducting business in the dockyards. Every person they examined protested that everything was done under their charge better than private individuals could do it—whether they were superintendents of shipbuilding, boiler-makers, or manufacturers of gunpowder. They were likely to entertain that opinion, because they were never brought to those means of conviction, which showed private individuals that they were making mistakes. In the dockyards there was no annual stock-taking, no balance-sheet, no individual capitalists to be ruined. The Admiralty came to that House for two or more millions when they wanted it; and this country was not likely to be ruined very easily, or it would have been ruined long ago. Having a long purse to pull at, and not being involved in the consequences of their own blunders, they went on at the dockyards making the same mistakes they had done ten years ago; and it was his firm conviction that, as long as Government continued to make ships and boilers, and to carry on this great manufacturing business, they would have the same percentage of waste they had had before, and which was now going on. He therefore always looked to the force employed, and inquired if by any means a reduction could be made in that force. If they could reduce 10,000 men, they would reduce the amount of money in the same proportion, and also the same percentage of waste, or rather they would reduce the waste more, for small establishments were managed with a less percentage of waste than large ones, inasmuch as they required fewer superintendents. At present our dockyards were political institutions from beginning to end. There was not an individual connected with the Admiralty, from the First Lord down to the humblest labourer or shipwright, who did not become a political instrument in the hands of somebody or other. Either he was looking to the Secretary of the Admiralty for advancement, or somebody else was watching over his in- 1209 terest because he had political influence in the borough. There was not an individual in the employ who was not trying to cultivate this secondary influence; consequently the superintendents had not the power of managing as they ought; and, generally speaking, the parties engaged, down to the lowest shipwright, were independent of the men who ought to have the power of disposing of them, and dispensing with their services. He, therefore, looked to other means of reducing the expenditure, and asked if it was necessary to keep up the number of 39,000 men? In 1835 they had 25,000; why keep up 14,000 more now? This was no Motion of the Peace Society for the abolition of our Navy; but he wanted to know why 25,000 men would not suffice as well for the Navy now as in 1835? Were any circumstances alleged to show that the country was in greater political or national danger than in 1835? There were then some grave international questions unsettled; there was a serious boundary question with the United States; a dispute with Russia involving a threatened war; and there were diplomatic quarrels looming with France, respecting the affairs of Tahiti and Syria. All those were now disposed of; there were no boundary questions—nothing which could excite hostilities from any quarter. Where, then, was the necessity for keeping up this amount of force? He knew but two reasons why we should keep a Navy at all—because we were a maritime people and had shipping, and because we had coasts to defend from some enemy. We did not keep them to go and commit depredations on other people; the object was to protect commerce and to protect our shores. He believed that a great deal of exaggeration prevailed as to the occasion for the Navy to be employed in defence of our commerce. Generally speaking, where we had trade we had international treaties, ambassadors, consuls, and so on. It was a remark constantly made in the newspapers of the United States of America, that they never saw one of our ships on their coast; and in the larger portion of the continent of Europe they had ambassadors and consuls to rectify any mistakes that might occur. In the ordinary state of things, therefore, there was no necessity for keeping up a large number of ships of war. He did not say that a class of small ships were not necessary as a kind of police in time of peace. In this respect they would do well to imitate the example of the United States of 1210 America. The Government of the United States did not keep up any fleet except for commercial purposes. They had no line-of-battle ships at sea, or even in commission. The only one they had at sea was withdrawn about twelve months ago from the Pacific. They had only one vessel of 54 guns employed; the majority of their vessels were from 10 to 15 guns, which they used as a police force in time of peace. He was ready to admit that England had political relations which the United States of America had not. But even in that point of view our policy was objectionable. To what country did they usually look for a justification of the large armaments they kept up? The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty invoked the example of France as a precedent for keeping up a largo Navy. But was it not singular that in the bureau on the French Navy our example was quoted as a justification for keeping up a large war Navy in France. The following extract from the Ordre, of February 19, would show that what he had stated was correct:—The naval returns of England, published at the commencement of 1853, contain the names of four ships of the line, and six frigates provided with screw apparatus of from 350 to 450 horsepower. It mentions, besides, that three new ships of the line, of 80 guns, with screw power, are on the stocks—namely, the Agamemnon, the Sanspareil, and the James Watt. In fine, the English journals announce the approaching launch of the Agamemnon at Woolwich, and of the Sanspareil at Plymouth, and the immediate commencement of a fourth vessel on the spot which the Sanspareil thus leaves vacant. The Committee of Naval Inquiry has been, we are informed, much occupied with such a state of things, to which unexpected events might assign extreme gravity.If this was an accurate statement, the example of this country stimulated the increase of naval armaments in France. If it was inaccurate, why did they so frequently quote the example of France? Statements had been made in the course of that debate as to the preparations going on in Cherbourg. Now he would quote an extract from the Times Paris correspondent, under the date of the 6th of March:—The bureaux were yesterday occupied with the Bill for granting to the Government a credit of 6,800,000 francs for the continuance of the works for the defence of the port and roadstead of Cherbourg. Numerous objections to the measure were raised, particularly on account of the form in which the Bill has been submitted to the Assembly. Some Members were in favour of postponing the Bill until the finances of the country should be in a more prosperous state. Messrs. Maissiat and Collas, members of the naval com- 1211 mission, warmly defended the Bill, and, in support of the necessity of the works proposed, alluded to those which the English were now carrying on, and which were at a distance of little more than five leagues from the coast of France. Admiral Cecille pointed out the immense advantage which it would be to the Navy to place Cherbourg beyond the danger of an attack from the enemy. He was of opinion, however, that the land defences might safely delayed until a more favourable moment, as by means of railways troops could be readily sent for the defence of the town in case of need.He might also read extracts from the speeches of M. Thiers and M. Lamartine to show that they measured their own navy by the standard of England. They were satisfied with keeping up two-thirds of our force; but if we went on to augment our Navy, they must keep theirs in a relative position. And when they quoted the example of France, let them see what the effect of these large armaments was upon the finances of France. Why, that the finances of that country, whilst they were strengthening their navy at a frightful cost, were in a state of confusion that the wisest and ablest men of the country saw no possibility of escape from the financial difficulty. Was it not possible, when they saw France building ships of war at such a frightful cost, because we did so, and when we built ships of war because France did so, that some arrangement might be made between the two countries by which this supreme folly, this child's play of beggar-my-neighbour, could be done away with. He should ask the approval of the House to a Motion which he would submit to it, for the purpose of directing that negotiations be entered into between the Governments of the two countries with the view of preventing these rivalries of force between the two countries, and proposing a mutual reduction. England was in a position to make the first advance without the possibility of her motives being misinterpreted—because the superiority of her naval power was acknowledged. A proposition that would prevent two civilised nations who were professing amity with each other from arming themselves to the teeth and preparing for battle like savages or wild beasts, was worthy of the serious consideration of the House; and if the House applied itself with sincerity to the task, it might effect the greatest benefit on the civilised world by accomplishing so humane and beneficial an object as the reduction of these armaments. Let it not be forgotten that they were now voting a sum of 5,700,000l. But that was not all, for though they separated the 1212 packet service from the Navy, he regarded the 800,000l. on account of that service as coming under the denomination of the naval service, because the vessels engaged in the packet service were in reality most formidable war steamers. Cunard's ships were capable of carrying the heaviest guns, and there were not such formidable boats in the Royal service. He therefore considered that what they were now virtually voting was not 5,700,000l., but 6,500,000l., which the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated as the cost of the Navy. There was but 19,500,000l. which came before the House to be voted, and of that sum, 15,500,000l. was for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance. Now, they were asked to vote more than a quarter of the whole sum; and if they voted this without any scrutiny, without any reduction whatever, how was it possible for them, with any consistency, to vote for a reduction of the taxation of the country? Unless they reduced the expenditure they could not reduce the taxation. Hon. Gentlemen who sought to transfer the burden from one set of shoulders to another set of shoulders, would fail in accomplishing that object. There were no persons in the country who would bear more taxation, and to try and relieve it by throwing it on the shoulders of somebody else was quite idle. The only way to do it was by reducing the expenditure—by reducing the number of men to 30,000, which in 1835 was only 25,000; and it it was with that view and that conviction that he supported the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said: I will only enter into the question of the number of men for the Navy, and not into the grave charges which have been made with respect to the management of the dockyards and other places—matters which belong more properly to the department of the Admiralty. Still less, Sir, am I disposed to go over the vast field travelled by the hon. Member for Montrose, who not having been sent for on a late occasion, has, notwithstanding, followed the example of Lord Stanley, and explained what his policy would have been had he been sent for; and what measures, had he taken office, he would have proposed in the capacity of the head of the Government. I shall not follow the hon. Gentleman into that very extensive field. I shall speak merely of that which is the most important subject before the House, the number of men we should vote for the Navy, and I will not 1213 disagree with the hon. Member for the West Riding, that the sum total of our naval expenditure is very much decided by the number of men voted. I cannot at the same time admit, with the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding, that because there is an outcry now against the wastefulness in the dockyards, and because there is an outcry now against the political patronage, which he says affects every person who is employed in the dockyards, that, therefore, we are to presume that those accusations are well founded. On the contrary, I believe that a great deal of wastefulness and abuse has been corrected for many years past; and I believe that with regard to patronage, great improvements have been made of late years in the mode of these appointments. As for the outcry on these subjects, we know that long after an abuse has ceased, the same outcry will continue, because many years ago, when there were a great number of sinecures, great complaints were made on that subject, and an Act of Parliament was passed whereby the whole of the sinecures were abolished, and yet there is as much outcry now nearly as at that time, and we have continued complaints now of the existence of a great number of sinecures. Now, with respect to the number of men, I beg the House to consider that what we are now proposing is not a number increased beyond the average which we have now kept up for about ten years. In 1841 the number of men voted was 43,000; and so on for the succeeding years, 43,000, 39,000, 46,000, 40,000, 41,000, 42,000, 40,000, 39,000, 39,000. Those have been the numbers in past years. Therefore we are not proposing, as the House might suppose from the statement of the hon. Member, at this time a very large increase in the number of our Navy; but I do think that there are some general considerations which should induce the House not to make any considerable reduction in the numbers of that amount. I cannot but consider that of late years, and since that period when my right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon was at the head of the Admiralty, there has taken place a very great change in naval affairs, and one which must make a very great change in any war in which this country may in future be involved. Since that time the whole of the construction of large war steamers has taken place both in this country and in France, and by other naval Powers, and we have seen of late years— 1214 not having been engaged in those wars ourselves—to what purpose these large steamers and railways have been employed in carrying on rapidly those operations which would take place at the commencement of a war. We have seen many thousand men transported in a few days from France to Civita Vecchia, and landed in the neighbourhood of the intended seat of warlike operations. The time that operation took was exceedingly short; and the men were transported without any difficulty. Last autumn, when there was an expectation of war between Austria and Prussia, 20,000 men, I think, were conveyed from Vienna in forty-eight hours to the frontier of Bohemia, and in the course of a fortnight 70,000 men were collected on that frontier. Now, these things show that in case of war an enemy would be able, in the first place, to transport to his coast a number of men in a few days, which formerly would have taken months to collect; and, allowing for accidents of wind and weather, they would be able in a few hours to transport these men thus collected to our shores. Now, Sir, these changes in the art of war appear to me to place this country much more in the position of a continental country than it ever was before. We do not altogether resemble a continental country, but still we must look a little as to what means all the continental countries take for their own defence. We see that they keep up enormous armies. We see that in addition to those armies they keep a prodigious force of militia. Even the United States of America, whose example the hon. Member for Montrose has quoted so much, I believe they have now a million of men enrolled as militia in the United States. I am now talking of the military means of defence. Now we have not adopted the means which have been taken by Continental Powers, or even by the United States in this respect. We have not got a large army; subtracting from our whole army the troops in India and in the colonies, and our army, as compared with that on service in France, or even any of the second-rate Powers on the Continent, is a very small army. Nor have we thought proper to adopt the plan of having a large militia force. There is very great difficulty in adopting a plan for a militia force in this country; difficulties and objections which, I think, would made the adoption of any plan founded on the former plan for the militia exceedingly ob- 1215 jectionable if it was brought before this House. But admitting that you might have a militia force, you have not one at present, and therefore you are in this country obviously, and in the knowledge of all the world, without a great army and without a. militia force, and therefore I say if that is the case, take care at all events that you have an efficient naval force. Do not part with that great arm of defence that you have, and do not expose yourselves to this, that for the first six months of war you might be utterly unable to send out a sufficient force to meet the hostile operations of your enemies. The hon. Gentleman mentioned France; and certainly the more powerful naval armaments of France, and the many wars that we had had with France, induces one naturally to turn one's eye rather to that Power than to others. But there are other Powers. We might be at war with Russia and Austria, and at the same time engaged in a friendly alliance with France. In that case, also, we ought to be able to have a sufficient naval force to meet any aggression which might take place. I cannot—though I certainly do not give way to the apprehensions that have been expressed, and the estimates that have been made of the means by which, if France were at war with us, they might immediately laud 50,000 or 100,000 men on our shores; but still I do not think it is at all out of the question that in case of any war arising with France, there might be an attempt made by a very considerable armament to land troops in this country; and I should be very sorry that, in that case, we had no means to prevent them, if possible, from effecting any successes. But, Sir, there is another way in which we might be met, and a way that was pointed out by a very intelligent naval officer, the Prince de Joinville, in a pamphlet, which you may remember he published some years ago, and that was by having small detachments and continual small expeditions to vex our coasts and interrupt our trade. Now, I beg the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding to observe, that injurious as those operations might be—hurtful as they might be to our trade, and our wealth, and our resources in former times—the late change that we have made in respect to the corn laws makes such operations far more injurious than they would otherwise be. For the last two or three years we have had eight or nine million quarters of grain imported into this country. Now, think 1216 what a loss it would be to this country, being in the practice of having a part of our food, to the amount of eight or nine million quarters, coming from foreign countries, if in the event of a war we had no naval force, and were unable to obtain that food. I am, therefore, of opinion that, necessary as it was to have a naval force to protect our trade in all former wars, that a nation which, like ours allows a free importation of grain, and which is now in the habit (and it is a practice which may continue) of importing 8,000,000 or 9,000,000 quarters of grain annually, is still more under the necessity of having a naval force than a nation which does not derive so large a quantity of food from foreign countries. It is obvious that the more our trade is extended, the more you require the naval force in case of war to be extended also. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding alludes to the armaments made by France, and says that it is not necessary for us to keep up a larger force than France, and that we might have an agreement with them by which this force might be mutually reduced. But we have—besides the necessity of defending our own coasts—we have the necessity of defending our trade, not with nations in the state of the United States of America, with which our commerce may be carried on without risk of interruption, but with many small States, some of which are very imperfectly civilised, and others of which are very little in the habit of keeping good faith with regard to the property of our merchants that reside in their territory. Therefore France is not at all under the necessity of keeping up her naval force to the amount that we are obliged to keep ours up. I think that we are obliged to keep up a naval force for that purpose, besides the purposes of defence which we are obliged to look to. I own, therefore, that I cannot think that the proposal to keep up 39,000 men in the present year is at all excessive. And with regard to the general defence, let me observe that in the year 1845, when, to all appearance, we were on the most friendly terms with France, there arose a cause of difference, upon which the sense of honour and the susceptibility of the two nations were very much excited, and it required the moderation shown in the greatest degree by both the Governments of France and England to prevent hostilities breaking out on that occasion. But the result was that the 1217 Government of this country, on considering our means of defence, thought we were very ill prepared for those hostilities, and immediately a very large increase was made in the naval expenditure of this countrs, and the expenditure, which had been 6,466,000l. with the packet service, was raised immediately to 7,344,000l. Next year, in 1846–47, it was 7,920,000l. The expense of last year was very much below that—it was 6,362,000l., being rather more than a million less than the expense in 1845. Now if that was the ease—if the Government of 1845 thought we were in considerable danger at that time, and thus increased the expenditure, and if we have now reduced the expenditure by the amount of a million—I think it is some symptom that it is not a very extravagant expenditure that we now propose. The hon. Member for Montrose has introduced the question of the African squadron. I shall not go into a general discussion of that subject; but this I must say, that I think this House has reason to be proud of the vote to which they came last year, that that squadron should not be abandoned. It was then represented to them that our efforts were entirely useless—that the slave trade was increasing—that it was quite impossible that we should be able effectually to prevent it, and many other things—that vessels were built that would carry on the slave trade so successfully that the efforts of our cruisers would be defeated. Well, the House approved of the continuance of that squadron; and, among other consequences of that vote, the Brazilian Government, seeing that the Parliament and the Government of this country were in earnest, have passed laws to prevent the slave trade; and the immediate consequence was, that the steamers held by slavedealers in Brazil were immediately sold, I am glad to say, at a very great loss, and many of the slavedealers were ruined. The captures became more numerous; and, in an account which arrived within these two days from the Brazilian consul at Rio Janeiro, there is this passage:—I have also enclosed a return, showing the number of slaves landed on a certain portion of this coast during the six months ending December 31, 1850. showing that, in the latter half of the year 1850, the total number of slaves landed on this extent of coast was 5,108; while the number during the latter six months of the three years 1847, 1848, and 1849, averages upwards of 24,000.1218 So that the last year was very little more than one-fifth of the average of those landed in the corresponding period of the three preceding years. Now, I say, this circumstance is encouraging to the Government of this country to proceed in this great work. It is one in which we have been many years engaged; and every one, I think, must admit that it would cover us with shame and humiliation if we had left that great work unfinished, and allowed the slave trade to begin again, and to be carried on to the extent which it was before. Great exaggerations are made with respect to the cost of this slave squadron. I think that it cannot be denied that, even if you abandoned the attempt to put down the slave trade, you must keep a squadron on the coast of Africa at those parts where the slave trade does not exist; you cannot allow your legitimate trade to be destroyed by pirates; and I doubt much whether you would find that you have saved more than 200,000l. or 250,000l. per annum, making the utmost retrenchment which you could, and allowing the slave trade to go on. Now, if that is the case, as I believe it is, seeing that we have made in the last year more progress than we had done for many years before—seeing that there is a prospect, on the coast of Brazil, of putting an end to that trade, and if it is put an end to on the coast of Brazil, there will then be only Cuba left—seeing this prospect before us, I trust that, whatever other retrenchment this House may, make, they will not make a retrenchment of that part of our naval force which is required for the suppression, and, I hope, the final extinction, of the slave trade. That, I think, would he a glory to this country, that having, by its own efforts, put an end to the slave trade and slavery in our own dominions, and having, by its example and effects on all nations, put an end to the slave trade of many other countries, that we should finally put an end to the slave trade in Brazil and Cuba, and thereby have the satisfaction of saying that England had been the cause of the slave trade being abolished all over the world.
§ MR. M. GIBSON
said, he could not allow the observation of the noble Lord, that the recent free-trade policy of this country rendered it more than over necessary to keep up a large naval force, to pass without making a reply. He was entirely at issue with the noble Lord on the question; for he considered that their free-trade policy having increased the com- 1219 merce of the country, a greater number of sailors and ships were employed, and consequently it increased the defensive resources of the country in case of emergency. Furthermore, that policy, by increasing their intercourse with other nations, had given those nations an interest in the continuance of peace; so that, instead of calling forth an increased naval force, the policy of free trade was calculated to bring about a diminution of it. The question before them was one of degree; it was a question as to how much naval force the country required. Now, the circumstance of there having been an increase in steam vessels, rendered it the less necessary to have the same number as in former years; for less men were required to man steam vessels. The gallant officer below him the Member for Gloucester had said, that he would be able to fit out a fleet of 100 steamers in less than two months' time. If that were so, it considerably weakened the argument of the necessity of keeping a large number of men employed in case of necessity. The Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose proceeded on the argument, that it was not necessary to employ a larger number of men now than was the average of the five years after 1835, which was 30,000 men. The noble Lord had referred to the subject of Brazil, and the necessity of maintaining the African squadron. Now, when he (Mr. Gibson) brought that question forward, he said there were different parties in Brazil; and if the Government of this country did not interfere with Brazil, so as to interfere with the progress of public opinion, which, to a large extent, was for the suppression of the slave trade, they should see the slave trade checked by the operation of public opinion in Brazil itself; and he contended that the formation of opinion in Brazil itself against the slave trade was the only means by which that trade could be abolished. Now, it was his belief that the effect of their interference, of their menaces, and their vexatious irritations, had been the postponement until the present time of the successful operations of the anti-slavery party in Brazil. Those Brazilians who professed themselves in favour of the abolition of the slave trade were, in consequence, viewed as persons who were indifferent to the independence of their own country, inasmuch as the people saw that abolition was being forced upon Brazil at the cannon's mouth. He could not, therefore, give the African squa- 1220 dron credit for having effected such desirable results. On the contrary, he considered that the policy of this country, in reference to Brazil, had been the means of deferring for a longer period than it would otherwise have been deferred the formation of an effective and powerful party in Brazil in favour of the suppression of the slave trade; and he maintained that the fact that Brazil had taken steps to suppress the slave trade, ought not to induce hon. Members to vote against the Amendment of his hon. Friend.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had raised a point which had already been frequently raised in that House, and which, although it might at first sight appear plausible, would, on mature reflection, be found entitled to very little weight. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he attributed the recent exertions of the Brazilian Government upon that subject to a disposition which had arisen in the Brazils to put down the slave trade, in consequence of our having removed that irritation which our former interference had produced in the minds of the people of that country. But let him (Mr. Cardwell) ask what were the facts of the case? In former times we had been feeble in our efforts for the accomplishment of that object, and the Brazilian Government had remained inactive. But in the last Session of Parliament a solemn Motion, based on the report of a Committee, had been brought forward in that House, and the most strenuous efforts had been made to induce the House to reverse its policy upon the subject. But the House had taken another, and, he would venture to say, a far wiser and more enlightened, course. It had solemnly affirmed that policy. And what had taken place, in consequence in the Brazils? A degree of vigour and activity had been imparted to the operations of Her Majesty's fleet on the coast of Brazil such as had not existed there before. And what had been the result? One of Her Majesty's vessels, acting, he believed, not without an understanding with the Brazilian Government, had taken possession of a Brazilian vessel engaged in the slave trade on the coast of Brazil; and then the guns of a Brazilian fort had been opened on our vessels; but we had bombarded and silenced that fort. What had been the next consequence? Why, the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Brazil, having been cross-questioned in the Chamber of Depu- 1221 ties, had given an explanation of what had taken place; and although I shall quote his words from memory, I believe I shall be correct as to the purport of the language he used. He said—With regard to the insult that has been offered to our country, we will endeavour to give the best account of it; but let me tell you this—if you believe that you can succeed in maintaining the slave trade, when a country like Great Britain has solemnly recorded her determination to prevent it, you are greatly mistaken.Such had been the declaration made by the Foreign Minister of Brazil to the excited Chamber of Deputies; and it appeared from a statement in the Times newspaper that that declaration had been received with applause. The consequence had been, as the noble Lord at the head of the Government had just told them, that our efforts had succeeded so far in suppressing the 3lave trade along the coast of Brazil that the amount of slaves which had since been imported into that country had scarcely reached one-half of the average of former years. That was the language of fact. The language of the right hon. Gentleman might be plausible, but he hoped that the House would come to a more sound conclusion than that at which the right hon. Gentleman had arrived; and that, after having found that their strenuous co-operation and assistance had enabled the anti-slavery party in the Brazils to obtain a pre-eminence, at least for the time, they would continue that co-operation and assistance. He believed that in that case they would still receive the cordial support of the anti-slavery party in that country. He entirely agreed in the generous sentiments which had fallen from the noble Lord. Whether, if that were the beginning of that vast undertaking, we should in these days have had the courage to engage in it, was more than he could undertake to decide; but now that they were engaged in it, and had such great prospects of success, he earnestly hoped that we would not give up such useful exertions in so good a cause.
said, that the evidence he had given before the Committee of that House afforded, in his opinion, the best argument in favour of our retaining a large body of seamen. He had said in the course of his evidence that 100 steamers, fitted to act as auxiliaries, might be found among the merchant service in case of a war. But he had not said that he could find the men to take these vessels 1222 to sea. In his belief, the number of men proposed in that vote was not too large, considering that these men would be the nucleus for crews which could efficiently use guns; and it was absolutely necessary that we should possess such a nucleus, in the present state of gunnery among all maritime nations. Formerly we might have manned our ships from the merchant service with the best possible seamen; but we could not do so at present in the high state of perfection to which gunnery had been brought. He would venture to say that ships manned with what were called seamen-gunners—and they were the great majority of those at present employed—would beat double the number of ships manned by crews unacquainted with gunnery.
§ MR. PLUMPTRE
said, he felt it his duty to support the vote proposed by the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty. It was true that his constituents were at present suffering considerable distress, and that they were very naturally, and very properly, anxious for economy in the public service; but he believed that by following the course recommended by the hon. Member for Montrose, he should be adopting a penny-wise and pound-foolish policy.
§ MR. S. CRAWFORD
said, he should support the Amendment because his constituents had sent him there to promote reduction of expenditure and taxation. The Whig party had come into office as advocates for economy in the public service; but they had since departed from their professions upon that subject.
said, he must vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose for the same reason as the hon. Member for Rochdale who had last spoken; although he could not vote for it on any of the grounds assigned in its favour by the hon. Mover, who had done everything in his power to make the vote a perfect emetic to him. The first defect he noted in those grounds, was that the House had been informed, that the President of America had stated there were two millions of tons of shipping belonging to the republic capable of being applied to warlike purposes, of which there could be no doubt a large proportion were steam boats. Now, if only half this should by any conjunction of events be employed in combination with a coalition of European Powers, how it would let loose the imprisoned angels the Absolutist powers might at any time hare lying bound in all 1223 the rivers from Hamburgh to the Neva, and what an important accessory this would he to war. He did not see in this an absolute ground for reducing the naval armament of this country, and must therefore rest his vote upon the reason he had begun by stating. At the same time, he believed, that the defence of this country rested more with the Foreign Secretary than with the First Lord of the Admiralty. Our ancestors had always to a great extent rested the defence of the country upon creating friends for themselves in foreign countries by supporting liberty abroad; but if we could not succeed in preventing Absolutism from ruling throughout the continent of Europe, we should be deprived of that source of strength and support. The hon. Mover had also attacked the budget. Strange as it might appear, this was the first time he (Col. Thompson) had been able to raise a voice in that House to assert, there was a growing party in the House and in the country which was disposed to say, "If you love us, give us an income tax; and if you love us much, make it perpetual." Everybody knew that the working classes in this country were taxed, in some instances at as much as eleven times the rate of the rich; and when a Chancellor of the Exchequer produced a budget, not to remove this—not to balance it by laying the taxes to a certain extent at eleven times the rate on the rich as on the poor, but merely to apply an equable rate to a certain portion of the taxation—this was the way he was received by those who professed to advocate the interest of the working classes. A grand stand was made on the injustice of taxing temporary incomes; the simple cause of injustice being, that the taxation was temporary. The working classes wanted only a little more time and reflection to find out, that an income tax was a tax for peace and not for war, and that the resistance to it was only the struggle of the rich to cause the taxes to be paid by the poor. The hon. Mover had further insisted on introducing the vexed question of the African squadron. On this subject he had only to say, that his constituents were the descendants and representatives of men who had been mainly instrumental in putting down slavery and the slave trade; and it was not likely they should now be in favour of removing the African squadron, which had clearly done much in putting down a great evil, and with every appearance of being entirely 1224 successful in the end. He hoped he had succeeded in persuading the House, that if he voted for the Amendment, it was not from being led captive by any too seductive reasons of the Mover.
§ MR. HUME,
amid some laughter, declared his conviction that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bradford must have been asleep during the delivery of his (Mr. Hume's) speech, as he had not uttered one syllable with respect to the income tax. [Colonel THOMPSON: Hear, hear!] When he spoke of the 2,000,000 of tonnage in America, he spoke of the mercantile navy. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman had declared that he would not vote for the Amendment for any argument which had been adduced in favour of it, perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman would tell the House why it was that he intended to vote for it.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 61; Noes 169: Majority 108.
|List of the AYES.|
|Alcock, T.||Meagher, T.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Marshall, J. G.|
|Blake, M. J.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Moore, G. H.|
|Brotherton, J.||Mowatt, F.|
|Clay, J.||O'Brien, Sir T.|
|Clifford, H. M.||O'Connell, J.|
|Cobden, R.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Crawford, W. S.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Osborne, R.|
|Duncan, G.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Ellis, J.||Pilkington, J.|
|Ewart, W.||Power, Dr.|
|Fagan, W.||Reynolds, J.|
|Fergus, J.||Rufford, F.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Sadleir, J.|
|Fox, W. J.||Salwey, Col.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Scholefield, W.|
|Grattan, H.||Scully, F.|
|Greene, J.||Smith, J. B.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Sullivan, M.|
|Hastie, A.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Henry, A.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Heyworth, L.||Thompson, Col.|
|Higgins, G. G. O.||Waddington, D.|
|Hindley, C.||Wakley, T.|
|Jackson, W.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Kershaw, J.||Williams, J.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Williams, W.|
|Lennard, T. B.||TELLERS.|
|Lushington, C.||Hume, J.|
|Maher, N. V.||M'Gregor, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Bagshaw, J.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Baines, rt. hon. M. T.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Baird, J.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Baring, rt. hon. Sir F.T.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Barnard, E. G.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Bell, J.|
|Bellew, R. M.|
|Ashley, Lord||Berkeley, Adm.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Langston, J. H.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||Lawley, hon. B. R.|
|Blair, S.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Locke, J.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Lockhart, W.|
|Calvert, F.||Loveden, P.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Mackie, J.|
|Cardwell, E.||M'Taggart, Sir J.|
|Carter, J. B.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Martin, J.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Masterman, J.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Matheson, A.|
|Cochrane, A.D.R.W.B.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Collins, W.||Miles, W.|
|Corry, rt. Hon. H. L.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Morison, Sir W.|
|Craig, Sir W. G.||Morris, D.|
|Currie, H.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Mundy, W.|
|Disraeli, B.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Dodd, G.||O'Brien, Sir L.|
|Douro, Marq. of||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Drummond, H.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Dunne, Col.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Parker, J.|
|Edwards, H.||Patten, J. W.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Peel, F.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Pendarves, E. W. W.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Peto, S. M.|
|Evans, W.||Plowden, W. H. C.|
|Evelyn, W. J.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Price, Sir R.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Fitz Patrick, rt. hn. J. W.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Ricardo, J. L,|
|Forster, M.||Ricardo, O.|
|Freestun, Col.||Rice, E. R.|
|French, F.||Rich, H.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Romilly, Col.|
|Gordon, Adm.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Greenall, G.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Greene, T.||Scrope, G, P.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Seymour, Lord|
|Grey, R. W.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Grogan, E.||Smith, J. A.|
|Hardcastle, J. A.||Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.|
|Harris, R.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Hastie, A.||Spooner, R.|
|Hatchell, rt. hon. J.||Stanford, J. F.|
|Hawes, B.||Stanley, E.|
|Heathcoat, J.||Stanley, hon. E. H.|
|Henley, J. W.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Stephenson, R.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Heywood, J.||Thornely, T.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Townley, R. G.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Hotham, Lord||Tynte, Col. C. J. K.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Howard, hon. E. G. G.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Howard, P. H.||Walter, J.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Kildare, Marq. of||Westhead, J. P. B.|
|Knox, hon. W. S.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Wilson, J.||Wynn, H. W. W.|
|Wilson, M.||Wyvill, M.|
|Wood, rt. Hon. Sir C.||TELLERS.|
|Wood, W. P.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Wrightson, W. B.||Hill, Lord M.|
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (2.) 1,435,723l. for the Wages of British Seamen and Marines in Her Majesty's Fleet.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty was in error when he stated that the estimates of the present year exhibited a saving of a million and a half as compared with the years 1848–49. The excesses of late were to be attributable to the present Government. If the right hon. Gentleman had referred back to 1844, he would have found that the estimate of Sir Robert Peel's Government was 36,000 men, and that the cost was 266,000l. less as compared with the present year.
SIR F. T. BARING
said, that he had made his comparison with the year 1848–49, because that happened to be the year in which he had taken office.
§ Vote agreed to, as also was
§ (3.) 500,632l. for Victuals, &c.
(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding 138,625l. be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Salaries of the Officers and the Contingent Expenses of the Admiralty Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1852.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
complained that the vote was larger than that of last year. He believed that the free-trade system, and the faulty measures of the Government, would conspire to make the expenses of the Navy much greater. Economy was the order of the day, and therefore (although he was not disposed to question the capability, respectability, and efficiency of the officers of the Admiralty) he would propose a small reduction. He was aware that whatever dropped from him was regarded as vox et prœterea nihil; but for all that, he was sure he would not give dissatisfaction out of doors if he were to propose the reduction of the salaries of the Lords of the Admiralty. As bread and beef were so cheap, he would propose to cut down the salary of the First Lord to begin with. Taking into consideration the low price of wheat, fish, and other edibles, he would propose that the salary of the First Lord of the Admiralty be reduced to 3,500l. The two lay Lords of 1227 the Admiralty, who would get sea-sick at the Nore, and who could not go to the mast head if their lives depended on it, got 2,000l. a year under the present system, but he would suggest that they should be struck off altogether. The Secretary of the Admiralty received 2,000l. a year, but taking into account the very moderate price at which pens, ink, and paper, were now to be obtained—that official would he very well treated if he were to receive 1,500?. a year, and he (Colonel Sibthorp) begged to move that a reduction be made to that amount. The second Secretary received the enormous salary of 1.000L a year, for probably doing the duty of the first; but that was a bad arrangement, and he would suggest that the second Secretary he entirely done away with. He would also sweep away the Solicitor, who bagged no less than 1,600l. a year, and who was, no doubt, no better than other gentlemen of his cloth. It was monstrous that such salaries should be given to lawyers, secretaries, and people of that kind, by a nation which could only afford to give a miserable pittance of a few pounds a year to soldiers and sailors, who had had their legs and arms, and every thing shot off them in defence of their country. The expenses in this department were most exorbitant. The Government pretended to love economy, and yet they gave thousands a year in this department to men who had nothing else to do for their salaries except to eat, drink, sleep, and read the newspapers. The reductions which he had specified he now begged leave formally to move. If he was seconded, he would divide the Committee.
Afterwards Motion made, and Question put—
That a sum, not exceeding 134,025l. be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Salaries of the Officers and the Contingent Expenses of the Admiralty Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1852.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that the excess in the amount of the present estimates over those of 1844, amounting to 11,800l., though the number of men was about the same, required some explanation.
SIR F. T. BARING
said, he had already explained that the reason of the gradual increase was the gradual increase of salaries from greater length of service. Another reason for the increase since 1844 and 1845 was the introduction of steam, 1228 rendering it necessary to employ additional officers.
regretted that the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln had proposed so great a reduction in the vote, and trusted he would consent to modify his Motion, in which case he might be enabled to support it. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Admiralty could not but allow that some reduction of expenditure might be made under that head, and that a larger staff was maintained at the Admiralty than was absolutely required. This he might be allowed to state, inasmuch as it was in evidence before the Committee on Official Salaries, which proved that the services of one Lord might safely be dispensed with. The right hon. Baronet, in his evidence with reference to the duties of the fifth civil Lord, certainly gave a long catalogue of duties; but he (Mr. Fitzroy) asked any one conversant with the matter, how many hours in the course of a month a Lord holding that position would find it necessary to attend for the actual performance of those duties? The hon. Member for Montrose had ridiculed the idea that fifteen men could not be found to form a Government, when all the business was, in point of fact, transacted by permanent clerks; but this was strictly true with respect to the Admiralty department, which perhaps possessed better clerks and more efficient permanent heads than any other. It was absurd to keep up an office with a salary of 1,000l. a year, to look after a department superintended by an efficient public servant who had filled the post for more than half a century. The right hon. Baronet, after defining the theoretical duties of the different Lords, was asked by the hon. Member for the West Riding as to the practical discharge of the duties which devolved on this Lord. He was asked whether he went through the accounts; and the answer was, that he did not, but that he superintended that department. This was somewhat unintelligible. Either a man did superintend the accounts or he did, not; but the statement was that he did not practically take any part in the supervision of the accounts, though he superintended them. The original arrangement was rather an experiment of blending two or three boards in one, and a great deal of official business was immediately thrown on the civil Lord in consequence. But it must not be forgotten that since that time a new office had been created, which re- 1229 lieved that Lord entirely from all duty except signing his initials now and then; and how many months or weeks would be occupied by this, those conversant with the administration of public business could answer. The duties of the civil Lord might be combined with those of the medical and victualling department, and the whole of them might be efficiently performed by the sacrifice of one hour a day. Public officers ought to be well paid, but they had no right to pay a man well, and leave it optional with him whether he would attend to his duties or walk about the streets. Having filled the office himself, he could state that any man could perform the duties of the two at the sacrifice of not more than one or two hours every day. He hoped therefore that the Committee would express an opinion with respect to keeping up so large a staff.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had let out some secrets respecting the Admiralty. If they went on, the Committee might get some more information. Without pretending to the accuracy of knowledge of the hon. Gentleman, he thought it quite clear that for the last ten years the vote of the Admiralty establishment had been gradually increasing. In 1841–42 it was 121,844l. It was now 138,625l. He did not think that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had given a satisfactory explanation why it had crept up—the number of men being quite as great, if not greater, in 1842 than now. The increase was not confined to the Admiralty establishment. It was the same in the dockyards, the vote for which, in 1842, was 122,000l. It was now nearly 135,000l. There seemed a tendency to get back to that state of things which the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon set right in 1835–36. He (Mr. Henley) was surprised to find a person like the hon. Member for the West Riding state that it was impossible to make any reduction of the expense in the details of management without reducing the number of men, and that too, in the face of, and immediately following, the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty, that there had been a reduction in two years of 1,500,000l. in the general expenses. He (Mr. Henley) confessed that when he found the hon. Member for Montrose proposing to strike off nearly a fourth part of the whole efficient force, and, when he did not succeed, throwing the cards up, he was induced to 1230 suspect he was not sincere in proposing it with any hope of carrying it. It seemed to him very like throwing out a tub to the whale, and saying, "See what great reductions we propose!"
§ MR. COBDEN
thought it would be in the recollection of the Committee, that what lie had said was, not that it was impossible to make any reduction, but, that it was impossible to make any material reduction of expense without a reduction of the forces. The hon. Gentleman who bad just sat down said, that there had been a reduction of 1,500,000l. without a reduction of the force; but the fact was, that in 1848 there was a reduction of from 4,000 to 5,000 men. He (Mr. Cobden) stated that there might be occasionally disturbing causes, such as building steamboats or the like; but if the hon. Gentleman would go through the Navy, Ordnance, and Army Estimates, for a series of twenty years, he would find his statement correct, that, taking a series of years, the number of men was an accurate test of the amount of money expended. He thought, too, that upon reflection, the hon. Gentleman would recall the imputation of insincerity which he had ventured, in a moment of forgetfulness, to make against the hon. Member for Montrose. That hon. Gentleman had, to his knowledge, often proposed similar Motions during the last ten years; and, although he might not have succeeded in carrying them at the time, it had generally happened that in the course of a few years what he proposed was carried into effect. And he (Mr. Cobden) would venture to predict that the reduction his hon. Friend had proposed on that occasion would be carried out before long, and probably with the aid of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire.
§ MR. HUME
disclaimed the charge of insincerity, and said that the hon. Member for Oxfordshire and his Friends, who were constantly crying out for a reduction of taxation, and yet when they had an opportunity of lessening the expenditure did not embrace it, gave a pretty strong proof that they were not sincere. And, he would tell the hon. Gentleman, moreover, that those who voted for large establishments, and yet demanded a reduction of the taxation by which those establishments were supported—in other words, those who refused to diminish the expenditure before reducing the taxation—did not, in his opinion, adopt a very honest course. He begged to tell those hon. Gentleman also, 1231 that when they considered the situation in which they were placed in consequence of the reduction which had taken place in the price of the produce of the soil, they would probably find it their interest before long to join him in reducing the expenditure of the country.
§ MR. S. CRAWFORD
said, that if the hon. and gallant Member went to a division he would support him. And he hoped at the same time that he would endeavour to carry out the principle of reduction with respect to other salaries.
§ MR. HENLEY
explained that his observations with regard to what had fallen from the hon. Member for the West Riding had reference to what that hon. Gentleman had stated two years ago, and not to what was the number of men in the Navy in the year 1848. With respect to the hon. Member for Montrose, he (Mr. Henley) begged to say, that he had no intention of accusing that hon. Gentleman of a want of sincerity. What he intended to say was, that the hon. Gentleman could have no expectation of carrying his Motion.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, that the hon. Member for Lewes, having himself been a Lord of the Admiralty, had admitted that a reduction of one Lord was necessary; but he (Colonel Sibthorp) went further, and considered that in these days of economy and distress they might with strict propriety be reduced two.
MR. HENRY DRUMMOND
said, the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member applied only to one service, whereas it ought to be applied to all the different branches of the service, Navy, Army, and Ordnance. The hon. Member for the West Riding had referred them back to the year 1838 as a standard; but the propriety of the force to be maintained was not a question of chronology but of expediency. There was no abstract amount of force that could be determined upon. The amount to be kept up depended upon what were the probabilities of a hostile force coming against us. Did any Gentleman in sober sadness believe that there was the same chance of a greater force coming against us now than in the years 1835 and 1838? There were certain portions of the estimates which seemed to him to be very slightly passed over, but which in his opinion ought to be explained. He referred to certain details such as occurred in page 12. 1232 After putting the two assistant surveyors at 800l. per annum each, there came these items:—Four draughtsmen to the surveyor; one first-class, from 350l. to 500l.; one second-class, from 250l. to 350l.; and two third-class, from 150 to 250l. Then, and soon after, there came, first draughtsman, 250l.; second ditto, 150l.; then, first writer and calculator, 150l.; second ditto, 80l.; then, assistant engineer, 500l.; after that, director of engineering and architectural works, 1,000l.; then, chief assistant to the director of works, draughtsman to the director of works, and clerk and draughtsman to the director of works. Now the whole of these offices sounded very queer, and concerning which the House ought to receive some explanation. Then, there was another item, not only applicable to the service of the Admiralty but applicable to all the public departments, and that was "Public Buildings and Repairs." He believed the largest and most extravagant expenditure on account of these items came under the direction of the Woods and Forests. These charges also required explanation.
SIR F. T. BARING
said, that, with regard to the details which had been referred to, those of them which had been introduced since 1845 or 1846, he ought not to be called upon to explain, except as now holding the office of First Lord of the Admiralty. The principal part of the increased expense of the establishment had, as he had already explained, arisen from the creation of the steam navy. With reference to the particular items mentioned by the hon. Member for West Surrey in regard to engineering works, architectural works, and other works, he had no doubt that the persons appointed to those various departments were required to superintend and check the great expense of the works going on in the public buildings and in the dockyards. For such purposes there must be some establishment. There was one officer appointed as assistant to each establishment; and, although they were called hard names, yet they were in effect clerks; and he did not think that the sums set against their names was very large. The hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln had proposed the reduction of his (Sir F. T. Baring's) own salary. He was afraid he must leave that entirely to the decision of the House. The question had been already. discussed, and that relieved him from any difficulty he might otherwise feel on the subject. He should, therefore, abstain 1233 from any further observations upon it. With regard to the number of Lords of the Admiralty, the hon. and gallant Gentleman was mistaken in supposing that there were two lay Lords, unless he included the First Lord. There was only one junior lay Lord on the board. The hon. Member for Lewes had referred to the evidence given by him (Sir F. T. Baring) before the Committee on this subject. It was true, he was asked whether he thought a reduction could be made in the number constituting the board; and his answer was, that he thought it would be very unwise to make any reduction. It happened, perhaps owing to his previous experience in other offices, that he interfered much more in the business of the civil Lord than was usually done by the person holding the office of First Lord; but, as a general principle, he did not think it advisable to cut down the number of the junior Lords: he thought that the House would act unwisely if they were to adopt the course intimated by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewes.
§ MR. HUME
asked, whether it was intended to remove that portion of the Admiralty Department which now occupied rooms in Somerset House either to the Admiralty itself or to some convenient place near Whitehall, where all the business might be more conveniently transacted? He understood that it would very soon be absolutely necessary to make the removal.
SIR F. T. BARING
said, the rooms now occupied at Somerset House by the Surveyors of the Admiralty would soon be required by the Board of Excise; and, if his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer were prepared to give the Admiralty a house nearer Whitehall, he should be quite ready to transfer the Admiralty surveyors to it without any loss of time.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 193; Noes 34: Majority 159.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said that, in proposing the Amendment just negatived, he had only performed his duty; and, as he had not been supported, could only say, he had no confidence in either side, and should leave the House.
§ (5.) 48,635l. Scientific Branch of the Naval Service.
§ MR. HUME
complained of the high price at which the Nautical Almanack was sold. In his opinion, a publication so important to the safety of life and property 1234 ought to be within the reach of every class. If the price were lowered, more money would be made of the work; the more they reduced the price the more copies they would sell.
§ Vote agreed to; as were—
§ (6.) 134,699l., Naval Establishments at Home.
§ (7.) 23,654l., Naval Establishments Abroad.
§ (8.) 676,416l., Wages to Artificers, &c. at Home.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum not exceeding 676,416l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge of Wages to Artificers, Labourers, and others employed in Her Majesty's Naval Establishments at Home, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1852.
§ MR. HUME
said, that the American Government had five vessels on the stocks, and they had stopped their progress. It appeared to him that in our naval architecture we were certainly building to waste: he therefore pressed his suggestion that the American system should be followed, of not building more ships than were required for service. In 1848 there were 208 vessels in ordinary, 235 in commission, while about 70 were building. Since 1838, 266 vessels had been built, of 620,000 tons, at a cost of 4,848,000l. Within the last twenty years there had been 319 ships built, at a cost of 5,190,000l. This was pure waste—the ships not being wanted. We had at the same time expended 805,000l. on our dockyards. Surely it was high time to put a stop to this extravagant expenditure. In a fit of economy an Order in Council had been issued to limit the number of artificers employed in the dockyards to 2,469, but it appeared to be useless to issue any Orders in Council of that sort. In 1848 the number of artificers had increased to 3,772. In 1833 the quantity of oak consumed in our dockyards for shipbuilding was 18,000 loads; in 1834, 15,900; in 1841, 24,000; and in 1847, the quantity had been increased to 33,888 loads. Not less than 279 vessels had been broken up in dockyards within a few years. In fact, no such destruction of work and waste of wages had ever been known as were to be witnessed in our dockyards. Our shipbuilders in the dockyards were employed in building ships and pulling them to pieces. With the view of putting a stop to this extravagance, he should move that the vote be reduced to 400,000l.
Afterwards Motion made, and Question put—
That a sum, not exceeding 400,000l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge of Wages to Artificers, Labourers, and others employed in Her Majesty's Naval Establishments at Home, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1852.
said, that though the statement respecting those ships made a great display on paper, the ships would not make a very good show at sea, and no nation had vessels of so small a size as England. It was very well to say we have this number of ships, and we must not build any more; but fifty sail of the line was a small number, and if a general action was to come on it would be absolutely necessary to have another fifty to replace those disabled in action. In consequence of our having been at peace so long, there were no doubt many ships that had never been at sea, but that was no reason why they should be relied upon, especially if they were not in a fit state. It should be remembered that if they were building ships they were not launching them; they kept them on the slips, and it was hardly necessary for him to point out the disadvantage of too much haste in building. If a ship was run up in a hurry, or upon an emergency, she very soon rotted and was found little worth at sea. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose seemed to think that a good deal would be saved by giving up building for themselves, and getting ships built in merchants' yards. In order to show the fallacy of this, he would refer to two 72-ships of the first-class, both still extant. One of these, the Blenheim, built in a Government yard in 1813, cost 59,249l.; and the other, the Benbow, built in a merchant's yard, cost 68,070l. The Benbow was rotten and condemned, while the Blenheim had had a Screw put into her, and was still a good and efficient ship. The Defence was built in a Government yard for 62,524l., and the Dublin in a merchant's yard for 66,993l.; and a reference to other ships would show the same result. As to the number of artificers employed, the returns before the House would show that much more work had been done by fewer hands during the last two years than was done before that time. He should be sorry to see building in our own yards given up. One result of such a step would be that it would become absolutely necessary to hire men when ships came in for repair, and that at an increase of expense.
§ MR. HUME
said, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman had referred to a ship which had been built in a private yard, and had proved defective; but if that were so, it was no excuse for the Admiralty, who were just as responsible, having their own surveyor over the work. What he (Mr. Hume) proposed was, that a certain number of artificers should be kept in our yards, but that on extreme occasions, when additional ships were necessary, the contracts should be taken in private yards. As for fifty sail of the line, it would be long enough before the gallant Admiral would see that number. To propose to the country to pay for them would be ridiculous in these days.
§ SIR G. PECHELL
said, there were great complaints as to the unnecessary work carried on in the building yards, and he was anxious to see a remedy for that evil. As a specimen of the mode of doing business in the docks he might refer to the case of the Tremendous. Some four or five years ago she was condemned as rotten, and was about to be broken up. Having been brought into Chatham, she was, somehow or other, saved from destruction; she was then razeed and sent out, and came back under a new name—the Eagle, he believed, being then considered a very fine vessel. Last year a vessel called the Wellington was called rotten, as they wanted to get rid of the Wellington; but a body of dockyard officers, who went to make a survey, reported that it was no such thing, for that the Wellington was quite sound.
§ MR. PLUMPTRE
asked if there had been any reduction of the wages of artificers? The agriculturists had reduced the wages of their labourers at least one-sixth.
could only say in reply that the wages of artificers were regulated by those given in merchant builders' yards. It was indeed found that shipwrights and artisans generally were not to be had at wages so low as formerly. He could refer to documents to show that four ships built in Her Majesty's dockyards were cheaper by the sum of 141,953l., than equivalents built in private dockyards.
§ MR. MACGREGOR
did not see what necessity there could be for such an amount of naval force as was contended for. Almost every nation on the Continent, except Russia and Belgium, was in a state bordering on bankruptcy; and what was the naval strength of Russia? It was not more than 1237 equal to the ships of two of our most eminent shipping firms. Instead of expending such large sums on our naval establishments, he would rather see them reduced, and relief given to the public, the agricultural interest included, by a reduction of taxation.
§ MR. HUME
said, that whatever were their opinions they should be correct in facts. Now, he held in his hand the report of a Committee upstairs, by which it appeared that while 220,000 tons had cost 22l. per ton when built in Her Majesty's dockyards, 44,000 tons had been built in private establishments at 16l. 14s. 2d. per ton.
§ MR. COBDEN
remembered that when Sir Henry Ward was excusing the high estimates brought forward, he told the House that there was so much to spend for sailing vessels on hand. But to go on at the present moment building more ships of the line when they had such a fleet of steamers, appeared to him a great evil. He had heard military men say, that in the event of a war breaking out it would be a contest of steam, and if they had thirty or forty practicable vessels, such as were used in the Post Office service, they could dispense with the line-of-battle ships. It came out before the Committee that there were 500 steamers and coasters which might be made available for carrying large guns, and it appeared that the Government lost sight of these and other resources when they went on building line-of-battle ships. It was what no country ought to endure, unless they had more money than they knew what to do with.
said, that when other countries were building line-of-battle ships, not as formerly, but with screw propellers, and when they propelled these ships with 940-horse power, we should be but ill prepared if we did not take steps of a similar kind. A propeller was useless in an old stern, and it would be more expensive to put new propellers in old ships, altering them for the purpose, than to build new ones.
§ MR. S. HERBERT
did not consider it fair to institute a comparison between the cost of vessels built in the dockyards, and those built in private yards. They might get a ship built cheaper in the merchant yard than in the dockyards, but the question was whether the one was as well constructed as the other in regard to strength. He had no doubt that practically ves- 1238 sels were built at a less cost per ton in merchant yards than in the dockyards; but they had this to consider, that ships generally built in private yards were of a smaller class, and could be built at a cheaper rate than vessels of larger tonnage and greater strength. He thought certainly that they had overrated the necessity of maintaining a large Navy. It was the opinion of some parties, that all future warfare would be conducted by means of steam vessels. He (Mr. Herbert) thought it would be very unwise to discontinue the present mode of construction of vessels, for they knew that the machinery of steam vessels was of delicate construction, and, on a proper trial, they might not prove suited for the purposes of war. He did not say that it was necessary to increase or even to maintain the present number of line-of-battle ships; but he thought that some of them should be furnished with screw propellers in case they should be required. The problem as to whether steamers were the kind of vessels best suited for the purposes of war, was one which could only be solved in practice, but one which he hoped would never be solved in our practical experience.
§ MR. COBDEN
said, that the gallant Admiral the Member for Gloucester had stated, that the screw could not be applied to the present line-of-battle ships; whereas the right hon. Member for South Wiltshire had recommended that the screw should be applied to some of those vessels. It ought to be settled whether they could apply the screw to the old vessels before they built new ones, for it was far from right to be going on building vessels which they would never require.
§ MR. HENLEY
inquired if they could ascertain the proportion which the cost of the machinery and plant used in the dockyards bore to the expenditure, and whether the interest of it were calculated in estimating the cost of vessels built?
§ MR. COBDEN
stated, that the machinery and plant were counted as nothing. The dockyards were provided with these, and they were never considered as forming any portion of the cost of the vessels, and yet they put the vessels in competition with those of the private merchant, who had all his machinery and plant to provide. He (Mr. Cobden) could prove that the price of an article stated in that House as the cost price could never be credited, as it was utterly fallacious.
§ SIR G. PECHELL
said, it would be in- 1239 teresting to know the result of the experimental squadron.
Sir F. T. BARING
said, there would be a report soon on the subject, which would be laid on the table.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 68; Noes 127: Majority 59.
§ Vote agreed to, as was also
§ (9). 35,956l., Wages, Artificers Abroad.
§ The House resumed. Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ The House adjourned at One o'clock.