§ MR. SPEAKER
then called upon Mr. Henry Keating to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice, with respect to the Naval Administration of the late Government, when
§ MR. DISRAELI
said: The hon. and learned Member will perhaps allow me to interpose for one moment between him and the Chair; but I see that the Motion of which he has given notice, is a Motion of an important and very peculiar nature. It is a Motion which is, in fact, a censure upon the late Administration, and especially upon the late Board of Admiralty, who are alleged to have acted in a manner "calculated to reflect discredit upon that Department of the Government, and to have impaired the efficiency of the service." I can hardly suppose that he would, at this hour of the night, a quarter past eleven o'clock, wish to make an ex parte statement. I can assure him that the late Government are perfectly ready and anxious to meet any charge which can be made against any branch of the Administration 1291 for which they were responsible. If I am not regular in making these observations, I will conclude with a Motion that this House do now adjourn, to place myself in order. But with regard to the administration of the Admiralty, I cannot refrain from observing that I should be prepared to appeal to the fleet now at Spithead as a proof of the efficiency with which that department of the Administration was conducted.
§ MR. HENRY KEATING
If the right hon. Gentleman has any intimation to give to me as to any course which he thinks I should pursue under present circumstances, I, for one, should be most happy to hear any proposition which the right hon. Gentleman has to make; but I should submit to you, Sir, that it is scarcely in order for him to anticipate the subject-matter of my Motion, and to do that which he apprehends I am about to do—to make an ex parte statement. I trust, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will confine himself strictly to asking me any question he may think it right to put to me, or to making any proposition he thinks it right to make to me. And if he has no question to put to me, I hope he will allow me to proceed with the Motion, which I should be allowed by the rules of the House to do, as I am in possession of the Chair.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I believe I was strictly in order for rising to move that the House should now adjourn; but I did not wish strictly to obey the rule. What I wished was to ask the hon. and learned Member— [Cries of "Order!"]
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, he must appeal to Mr. Speaker to state whether the right hon. Gentleman was in order in interposing a Motion for adjournment, when the hon. and learned Member for Reading (Mr. Keating) was already in possession of the Chair.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the right hon. Gentleman was not in order in making a Motion for adjournment, after he (Mr. Speaker) had called upon the hon. and learned Member for Reading to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I was not going to make that Motion, and, therefore, it is not necessary for me to apologise to the House. I rose to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether he thought it fair to bring forward a Motion such as that of which he has given notice at an hour when it was 1292 impossible to listen to anything hut the charge he made.
§ MR. HENRY KEATING
I have great pleasure in answering the question the right hon. Gentleman has put to me. I should be extremely sorry to have the slightest appearance of doing anything unfair, especially upon an occasion which involves a Motion of no ordinary importance. At the same time, the right hon. Gentleman will recollect that I, as a private Member of this House, am in a very considerable difficulty, for if I put off the Motion, I know not when I can bring it on; and, having given the notice, I think I am bound to go on with it. If the right hon. Gentleman can assist me in fixing it for an early day, it will give me great pleasure to accede to his request; but if the only power that can give me such a day—the Government—declines to do so, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will do me the justice to believe that I have scarcely an option, but to proceed even at this late hour.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I would suggest that the hon. and learned Member should appeal to the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell), to give him an early day for the discussion of this Motion.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
expressed his hope that the noble Lord would be able, consistently with his views of public duty, to allot a day for the discussion of this question. As a Member of the late Government, he wished to say that he did not shrink from the discussion.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I have to say that the Government business now before the House is of such vast and pressing importance that it is impossible for me to assign a day within a short time for the discussion of this Motion.
§ MR. HENRY KEATING
said, that he begged to assure the House that he brought forward this Motion under a very deep conviction that the Report of the Select Committee on Dockyard Promotion, recently laid on the table, rendered absolutely necessary an expression of the opinion of that House upon the important facts which it contained. When the hon. Baronet the Member for Marylebone (Sir B. Hall), originally brought this subject before the House, he stated in a clear and able speech that an alteration of a very important kind had been made by the late Board of Admiralty, in an unusual if not an irregular way, in reference to the cancellation of an important circular issued by their predeces- 1293 sors in the year 1849, and regulating the mode of promotion in the dockyards, in conjunction with a previous order issued in 1847. And the hon. Baronet stated upon that occasion that he had reason to believe that that proceeding was adopted by the]ate Board of Admiralty with a view to the coming elections, and for political purposes. Upon that occasion he stated several eases, which, if he had a Committee, he said he thought he could undertake to prove, and he also alluded to certain personal matters which were not important on the present Motion. A discussion of sonic considerable length followed his speech. Hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House were heard also at considerable length. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford), who was particularly interested in the Motion, made a very able and impressive statement; but, notwithstanding that, the House—the Government assenting—thought the matter one of such deep importance that the Motion of the hon. Baronet was assented to, and a Committee was appointed without a division. That Committee, chosen as it was from Members on both sides of the House, and comprising men of station, great knowledge, and considerable Parliamentary experience, was exceedingly well qualified for the discharge of the duty assigned to it. It was presided over by a noble Lord (Lord Seymour) whose talents for the conduct of business would be readily acknowledged, and whose exalted rank and long acquaintance with official life rendered him eminently qualified to preside over such an investigation. He added one further qualification to these—that he was the able and untiring Chairman of the Committee which sat, in 1848, upon the subject of the Army, Navy, and Ordnance Estimates. That Committee conducted the inquiry which had been committed to them in a very able manner, and faithfully discharged their duty to that House and the country. The public at large regarded their proceedings with the greatest possible anxiety. Their inquiry involved the interests of the Navy—the arm upon which this country must always rely in her hour of peril whenever it should arrive; and as this was evidently a subject of the highest moment, he did not think he exaggerated or misde-scribed the state of public feeling with respect to it, when he said that there never was a Committee of that House the proceedings of which were watched with more intense interest by the people 1294 generally. After sitting for many days, and examining a great number of witnesses, that Committee made its Report; and, confining itself strictly to the terms of the reference which had been made to it, contented itself with finding the facts, and not giving any opinion whatever upon those facts. In his judgment, the Committee acted most wisely in so doing. The inquiry committed to their charge was not only of an important, but of a very delicate, nature; and he thought, when the terms of the reference to that Committee were considered, it would be seen that they exercised a wise discretion under the circumstances in which they were placed, and that it would have been too much for that House to have expected that the Committee would go beyond the letter of that reference to pronounce any opinion on a matter of so much delicacy, and of such grave importance. The terms of that reference were—That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the circumstances under which a 'circular sent to the superintendent of Her Majesty's dockyards, dated September 26, 1849,' was cancelled on the 19th day of April, 1852, without any order or minute of the Board; also, to inquire into the circumstances under which a letter addressed by Sir Baldwin Walker to Mr. Stafford, as Secretary to the Admiralty, in which letter Sir Baldwin Walker tendered his resignation, as Surveyor of the Navy, was withheld from the Board; also, into the circumstances connected with the appointment of Mr. James Wells, as master smith in the dockyard at Portsmouth, the subsequent cancelling thereof, and the appointment of Mr. George Cotsell in his stead; and generally into the exercise of the influence and patronage of the Admiralty in the dockyards and Government departments connected with the several Parliamentary boroughs.The terms of that reference were quite general. There was no question put to which the Committee could give any answer; there was no precise point raised on which they could give an opinion, and therefore, as he had already said, it appeared to him the Committee exercised a wise discretion in solely reporting the facts, leaving the House, which had directed that those facts should be elicited, to dispose of them as they thought proper. That Report was laid upon the table, and, to be fully appreciated, required a very minute acquaintance with the evidence upon which it was founded. As a masterly analysis of that evidence, he had no hesitation in saying that that Report was one of the ablest documents ever laid on the table of that House. He believed if hon. Members had read the evidence upon which it was founded—evidence necessarily of a discursive, 1295 complicated, and difficult nature, they would agree with him that, as an analysis of evidence, the Report was such as he described. The Report merely finding the facts placed the House in this position. They had, without even a division, referred matters to that Committee, and the facts directed to be inquired into had been stated. Whatever hon. Members on either side of the House might think about those facts— whatever conventional Parliamentary idea they might entertain with regard to those facts—he believed they were considered important and startling by the country at large. And it was with a deep conviction that the expression of opinion on those facts, so reported by the unanimous voice of the Committee, involved the credit of that House, that he ventured to solicit their assent to the Motion he was about to make. He had endeavoured to frame that Motion in a sincere desire to avoid giving to it the appearance of personal hostility to any individual whatever. He need scarcely disclaim for his own part entertaining any such feeling; for, perhaps, the only element of fitness he possessed for the task which he had undertaken was, that he had not the slightest personal acquaintance with any individual mentioned in the Report of the Committee; and he could assure hon. Members it was foreign to his feelings and his nature to wish to convert that which he thought was a great public question into a matter of personal reflection. He thought he had framed his Resolution in terms which did not approach anything like personal hostility, and he undoubtedly entertained the opinion that to enter into the departmental arrangements of the late Board of Admiralty, and to seek out where the responsibility was to be laid—how it was to he apportioned—ill what way and to what extent the members of that Board were to be held responsible, did not comport with the dignity of that House, nor with the position which they ought to assume on an occasion of this importance. In addition, it seemed to him the feelings of the people of the country would be that they were not at all concerned with the precise part taken by any particular individual, but only with the system which the Report disclosed. It was against that system, and that system alone, that the present Resolution was directed; and he must be allowed to say the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) was greatly mistaken in supposing that the Resolution was levelled at anything more than the exposure of the sys- 1296 tem which unfortunately was adopted with reference to dockyard promotions by the late Board of Admiralty. At that late hour of the evening he should proceed as shortly and succinctly as possible to lay before the House a statement of facts which seemed to him to call upon the House to assent to the Resolution which he proposed; and if those facts were not sufficient, the House ought not to be influenced by any comments upon them. The House were aware that in the year 1847 the state of the dockyards attracted the serious attention of Lord Auckland, who was then at the head of the Admiralty. There was, no doubt, looking at the terms of the circular which was then issued, that the state of the dockyards at that time was extremely unsatisfactory, partly, if not mainly, attributable to the circumstance of political influence controlling promotions in the dockyards. The circular recited the cause of its issue:—Their Lordships will not entertain any general charges of indifference to expense on the part of the officers, or of inertness on that of the men; and they are equally unwilling to dwell upon representations made to them of the effect of political feeling, in some of the yards, upon the course of promotion, though they can conceive nothing more dangerous to their discipline, if true, or more detrimental to the public interest. They wish to look forward, not to look back; their object being to introduce a system that may inspire every man with the belief that his conduct will be known and appreciated by his superiors, and that, however humble his position originally, his future fate depends upon his own exertions. Their Lordships see too much reason to apprehend that such is not the present state of feeling in the dockyards; but that the rise from shipwright to leading man, and from leading man to inspector, is regarded rather as a matter of accident, or favour, than as a reward due to merit, and to be dispensed upon plain and equitable principles. They feel that wherever such an impression prevails, subordination must be weakened; and they have, consequently, resolved to lay down one fixed and intelligible rule of promotion for all classes, as the best foundation of that more vigilant and intelligent superintendence which they regard as indispensable.The circular laid down certain rules for the entrance of apprentices to the dockyards, and for the promotion of all parties found in those yards; but it would occupy much less time if he read that part of the Report of the Committee which gave the effect of the circular:—The Lords of the Admiralty state their determination to introduce and maintain a system of promotion, under which every man who shall have once entered the service of the dockyards, may learn to look to his own exertions as the only means of future advancement. With the view of giving effect to this determination, the circular 1297 contains a scheme, according to which, whenever a vacancy offering an opportunity for promotion shall occur, the principal officers of the dockyard are directed to select three names of the persons who, after examination, shall appear best qualified to fill the vacancy, and they are required to submit these names, with a full report of the respective merits of the candidates, to the superintendent of the dockyard. The duty is then imposed on the superintendent of investigating closely these returns, and of satisfying himself as to their perfect impartiality; after which he is authorised to reduce the number of candidates to two, by striking out the name of that candidate whom he considers least qualified. The report of the superintendent, containing his opinion of the merits of the candidates, with the original documents annexed, is then to be forwarded to the Admiralty; and the Lords of the Admiralty announce their intention to be guided by these reports in the selection of one from the two names submitted to fill the vacancy. In laying down this scheme of promotion, the Lords of the Admiralty reserve to themselves the right of making any further inquiries which they may see fit; but they state that they will in all cases seek the advice and concurrence of the superintendent before their choice is finally notified. They call upon the superintendents and the principal officers of the dockyard to assist them in working out this plan honestly. They further assert, that by the surrender of their own patronage they have given proof of their sincerity, and have removed everything which can warrant a suspicion that preferment will he the result, not of services, but of political favouritism. They conclude by observing, that the good or bad working of every system must depend, in a great measure, upon those who are entrusted with its administration, and they can only express their determination to mark with their severest displeasure every attempt to thwart their intentions, and to reward those who shall cheerfully second them by every proof of their favour and approbation.The Board of Admiralty by the force of that circular gave up absolutely all patronage with respect to promotions in the dockyards. It preserved to itself undoubtedly the patronage in original appointments or first entries, but it parted completely with the patronage of promotions, beyond the single reservation of selecting one of two names sent up by the superintendent of the dockyards. In making that selection, they would unquestionably consult the persons they made the judges of merit, namely, the superintendent and principal officers of the dockyard, and according to the spirit of that circular they were bound to regard only the merits of the parties, and not to allow of any political interference. The House would bear that in mind, as it was made extremely clear by the subsequent construction put upon the circular, and the mode in which that construction was carried out. In the early part of 1849, on the death of Lord Auckland, the right hon. 1298 Baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) succeeded as First Lord of the Admiralty; and it would be an act of injustice, in looking over this Report and evidence, not to pay to that right hon. Gentleman the tribute which he so richly deserved, and it could be paid to him with the greater propriety that he was now out of office. During the whole course of his administration, that right hon. Gentleman seemed to have had one object, and one object alone, in view—the good of the public service. Looking neither to the right nor to the left—treating, to use a phrase in one of his letters, friend and foe alike—dispensing the patronage without reference to anything but the merits of individuals, he discharged his trust in a manner which reflected upon him the greatest possible honour. When the right hon Baronet was called to administer the affairs of the Admiralty, in consequence of a reconstruction which had recently taken place in the department of Surveyor of the Navy, a corresponding change with reference to the routine of the dockyards became almost absolutely necessary. And, as one of the great matters in consideration would be what seemed to him to have been a most unjustifiable interference with the department of that high officer, it was right that the House should be reminded what his functions were, and what was his responsibility, as fixed by the letter of Lord Auckland's administration, recognised and adverted to by the Report of the Committee of 1848, to which he had alluded—
here rose and said: I beg leave to call the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Conolly) to order. His conversation is so loud, his interruption is so great, that, interested as I am in the present discussion, I beg leave to call him to order.
§ MR. CONOLLY
rose from the Opposition side, but did not proceed further than to address the Speaker, being met by loud calls to order.
§ MR. KEATING
resumed: It was right that the House should be reminded of the functions of the Surveyor of the Navy, and he found that the Report of a very influential Committee, which sat in 1848, referred to them, and stated that the proper application of the sums voted by Parliament for the Navy department depended greatly on the superintendence of the Surveyor of the Navy, and that to him was committed the whole control of the dockyards, be being required to decide upon the amount 1299 of work and number of artificers necessary. Such being the duty of the Surveyor of the Navy, his responsibility was, of course, great in proportion. When the right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth assumed the head of the Admiralty Board, a change was suggested by Sir Baldwin Walker, which convenience had rendered absolutely necessary, and which was subsequently adopted by the First Lord of the Admiralty. The change was this—that the reports of the superintenden ts should be sent direct to the Surveyor, instead of being first sent to the Admiralty, and that the Surveyor should then make what was called his "submission" on them. To carry out this object, the circular of September, 1849, was issued. Undoubtedly, that was not technically a Board Minute, but it was a Minute, approved by the First Lord of the Admiralty, after discussion with the members of the Board—was countersigned by the Secretary, issued to the dockyards, and acted upon from September, 1849, until the 19th April, 1852; and when he said that the circular of 1847, carried out in its provisions by the circular of 1849, had secured as much as possible the object intended, he stated that which was fully borne out by the evidence. He might allude to the Minutes of evidence taken before the Committee of 1848, in which Sir Henry Ward, then Secretary to the Admiralty, being asked by the present First Lord whether the circular of 1847, as carried into effect by Lord Auckland and the Board of Admiralty, had given satisfaction to the working men, read a letter from Admiral Sir John Louis, superintendent at Devonport, dwelling upon the good effects of the new system of promotion on the habits and morals of the men affected by it. When the circular of 1847 was issued, the men in the Royal yards were in a state of great disadvantage as compared with workmen in private yards. Before 1847, political influence did enter into consideration in arranging promotions, independently of the merits of the men, and this circular proposed a change of system, in order to counterbalance the larger pecuniary rewards of private dockyards, which had obtained for them a decided advantage over the Royal dockyards. Among the officers who had given the most decided testimony to the entire success of the experiment were Captain Milne, Captain Richards, Admiral Sir Thomas Herbert; and even the Duke of Northumberland, himself, was strongly in 1300 favour of consulting the Surveyor of the Navy as to the plan carried into effect by the circular of 1849. Admiral Parker, Commodore Seymour, Commodore Eden, and every officer called before the Committee who had anything to do with the working of this circular, bore the most complete and unqualified testimony to its success. In these witnesses there was one exception, and a very characteristic one— that of an electioneering agent for the borough of Devonport, who seemed to have been led away by his partisan feelings, for he stated that not only had the circular which produced such excellent results been insufficient for the object proposed, but that political influence was more rife, or certainly as rife, in the borough of Devon-port after 1847, than it had been before; that nobody but Whigs were promoted, the utmost proportion of Conservatives being two out of thirty-six. The House would recollect that these promotions took place under the direct superintendence of the Commodore Superintendent, Commodore Seymour, a gentleman whom the electioneering agent to whom he had alluded, Mr. Beer, pronounced to be a Conservative; but, to the honour of the gallant officer in question, he said that nobody had discovered what his politics were from the manner of dispensing patronage. Mr. Beer also stated a course of proceeding which must have been unknown to a succession of superintendents, and he charged the administration of the right hon. Member for Portsmouth with every species of political corruption that could well exist in a dockyard; he said they had created superannuations wantonly and needlessly, for the purpose of getting an opportunity of making appointments; but he certainly was most unhappy in his selection of topics. This gentleman charged against that administration that they not only created superannuations needlessly, but that they actually superannuated men who were Conservatives, whilst they retained men who ought to have been superannuated, because they were Whigs. He might refer, as an instance, to the case of a man of the name of Honey. The House would see what credit was to be attached to the witness's (Mr. Beer's) statements when they were told how he came by his information, which, he said, was furnished to him in order that he might make some use of it at the hustings. Mr. Beer stated—Amongst them, looking through the list, I see that there were two men brought up for super- 1301 animation, one of whom was called Honey, and the other was called Axford. They were both over sixty years of age. Honey had always voted for the Conservatives, and Axford was a very active partisan of the Whig side; Honey was told that he was too old, and that he must be superannuated, and Axford was kept, though he was seven years older, and, as I am told, the inferior workman of the two; and it is a fact, that those two men were brought up for superannuation at the same period.At what date was that?—Honey, I think, was superannuated on the 10th of March, 1849, and he complained a great deal about it at the time, and insisted upon it, that he was a better workman than the other.Who was the Superintendent at the time?— Sir John Louis.Does not the Superintendent of the yard attend at the examination of the men named for superannuation?—I do not know.Your impression is, that men have been unfairly superannuated?—I should consider that if Honey is as good a workman as Axford, if age had anything to do with it, Axford ought to have gone, because he was seven years older; and I consider that if they were equally good workmen, a very gross injustice was done in that case.Do you know of your own knowledge the state of the health of those men, or their fitness comparatively for superannuation? — I do not know; I speak of the reports that were brought to me.Lord Hotham: You know this from Honey's own complaint?—Yes, he complained a great deal about it.The Chairman; What superannuations were there during the nine months that Lord Derby's Government were in office?—I do not know.That would be a question in which your friends at Devonport would be greatly interested, would they not?—Yes, but I do not remember; in fact, it is probable that I should not have known so much of the superannuations at the time of which I have spoken, except that they were furnished to me for the purpose of making some use of it at the hustings at the election. A great deal is said at the time, whichever party is in power, about political patronage; and I was anxious to be in a situation to show the effects of Government patronage before that period.He (Mr. Keating) was informed that these examinations took place in the presence of the superintendent, of two surgeons, and of other officers; and Mr. Beer was therefore, in effect, charging these gentlemen with a conspiracy for the purpose of superannuating one man, and retaining another of more advanced age and le3S ability in the public service. Another case was that of Burt and Oram, as to which Mr. Beer stated:—I was consulted upon it, Burt was a man who had always voted with the Whigs, I believe, until the last election; and, at the last election, he voted for one or both of the Conservative candidates; but, from a communication made to me, it appeared to have not been generally known. He called upon me one day, and told me that an order had been received in the 1302 dockyard to send a man to Portsmouth to learn the planing machine; that he had been sent for by Mr. Edye, and he had been recommended for the situation; and he expressed himself in this way, 'I hope you will not interfere to prevent my getting it. 'I said I should not; if I had known it at all I should not have interfered at all in the matter. I said, 'You speak to me as though you were recommended. I understand from another source that you are not recommended.' Then he said, 'I assure you I am; it must be a mistake of yours; Mr. Edye sent for me, and examined me as to whether I would like to go, and told me that he would recommend me:' and I said, 'If you make inquiries, I think you will find that after you were sent for, another man was sent for, and he, I believe, is on his journey to Portsmouth at this moment.' I have never seen him since; and he found, on returning to the yard, that although he was sent for, and promised to be sent, the other man was sent.It happened, however, that Commodore Seymour instituted an inquiry on the subject; he had the two men before him; and he came to the conclusion that the appointment had never been promised to Burt, and that Oram had been appointed in consequence of his merit, which was unquestionably superior to that of his competitor. The circular of 1847 itself presupposed that the system previously in use in the dockyards with respect to political influence was bad, and established another for the purpose of getting rid of it. Not only did the testimony of every witness who could be supposed to know anything of the matter contradict Mr. Beer, but he was contradicted by facts that admitted of no dispute. The efficiency of the dockyards was impaired by the system that prevailed prior to 1847, and the circular of 1847 was written for the purpose of bringing the Royal dockyards as nearly as possible to a par with the private yards. What was the consequence? That between the years 1846–47 and 1851–52 there was a saving of 139.000l. in the annual expenditure for wages; the number of men was reduced from between 12,000 and 13,000 to between 9,000 and 10,000, and as large a quantity of work was obtained from the latter number as had been obtained from the former. He thought, therefore, looking at the evidence, it would be extremely difficult for any hon. Gentleman on the other side to contend that the circulars of 1847 and 1849 did not answer the purpose for which they were issued. Indeed, with respect to the circular of 1847, there was evidence entitled to the greatest possible weight from them—the evidence of the Duke of Northumberland and the late Secretary of the Admiralty, who made it 1303 their excuse for rescinding the circular of 1849 that they wished to return to the system of 1847, though how far they did so return would he seen presently. This was the state of things at the beginning of March, 1852, when the late Administration came into office. Immediately upon the accession of the Earl of Derby to power, he stated in another place his intention to dissolve Parliament. It was upon the 31st of March, 1852, that a gentleman distinguished in these proceedings, Mr. Grant, a clerk of the Admiralty, and private secretary to the late Secretary of the Admiralty, found himself at Somerset House; and being there, he went to the Surveyor of the Navy, Sir Baldwin Walker, and made to him, according to the statement of that functionary, the following extraordinary proposition:—About the 31st of March, 1852, Mr. Grant came to me from Mr. Stafford with a request that I would not submit the names of the persons to be promoted into the vacancies for foreman and inspector of shipwrights in Devonport dockyard, as Mr. Stafford's political friends were dissatisfied; he wished to promote some of their party. I felt annoyed at receiving such a message, and requested Mr. Grant to inform Mr. Stafford that I had been upwards of four years in the department; that I had not allowed political motives to influence my submissions to the Board with respect to promotions in the dockyards; and that I was not going to commence jobbing for him or anybody else; and I requested that such a proposition should never again be named to me. Mr. Eden, of my department, entered the room during the conversation, and heard what I said to Mr. Grant.From the tenor of Mr. Grant's evidence, it was clear that the state of that gentleman's recollection as to what took place on the occasion referred to, was such as scarcely entitled him to be placed in comparison for accuracy with Sir Baldwin Walker, who was perfectly clear where Mr. Grant had only a belief, and whose statements, also, were corroborated by Mr. Eden. The late Secretary to the Admiralty had stated before the Committee that he had not sent Mr. Grant to make this communication to the Surveyor of the Navy; and that statement was confirmed by Mr. Grant. He (Mr. Keating) had no doubt that Mr. Grant had not been sent on this mission, but it was wholly inconceivable that a clerk in the Admiralty should go to the Surveyor of the Navy and make a proposition of this sort if he had not ascertained, in some shape or way, that the proposition would not be unpalatable to some of the highest authorities at the Admiralty. On the day but one afterwards, the following letter was sent to Sir Baldwin Walker:— 1304Dear Sir Baldwin—I find that great dissatisfaction exists among my political friends as to the present arrangement of appointments and promotions in the dockyards, as there is a very general impression that all those things are dispensed among our political opponents, insomuch that there seems no alternative but to resume the system which existed previous to September, 1849. I need not tell you that no one considers the blame, if blame there be, to rest with you; but you are thought too far removed from politics altogether to understand the small intrigues which go on in these places. For myself I hate the notion of patronage altogether, and the change of the existing arrangement would only expose me to perpetual annoyance and trouble; but in any case your wishes would always have great weight with me. In the perfect frankness with which I now state the case and ask your opinion, I hope you will perceive the sincere respect, with which I remain, dear Sir Baldwin, yours, &c,AUGUSTUS STAFFORD.The letter of Sir Baldwin Walker, in reply, was of a very sturdy character:—My dear Sir—In reply to your letter respecting the great dissatisfaction which exists among your political friends, as to the present arrangement of appointments and promotions in the dockyards, I can only refer you to their Lordships' circular of the 27th November, 1847, by which you will perceive that, unless these regulations are withdrawn, and fresh ones substituted, advancement on political grounds is totally impossible, if the Superintendents of the dockyards perform their duty. It is needless for me to disclaim having favoured any political party, for you will clearly perceive, on reading the existing regulations, that merit alone can obtain advancement. With reference to that part of your letter in which you state that there seems no alternative but to resume the system which existed previous to September, 1849, I have to observe that it was only reverting to a system which had always been in force prior to 1845, and was then discontinued, I have reason to believe, on personal grounds. It is for their Lordships to decide whether they will rescind the order of September, 1849, which has been the means of causing an annual reduction in the wages of the dockyards of upwards of 10,000l.; but if it is, of course the Surveyor will be deprived of that control which is so highly necessary, and can no longer be responsible for keeping the establishments under the estimates. I have now stated the case frankly, and I beg you to believe me, my dear Sir, very faithfully yours,B. WALKER.Now, subsequently, the late Secretary to the Admiralty took credit to himself for having asked Sir Baldwin Walker for his opinion on this matter; and certainly the opinion of Sir Baldwin Walker was expressed in the most distinct terms, about which there could be no mistake. It appeared, however, that that opinion was asked rather as a compliment than with any intention of acting upon it. Sir Baldwin Walker afterwards waited upon the Secretary to the Admiralty, and a discussion took place between them as to the 1305 tendered resignation of Sir Baldwin Walker. It was desirable that the House should understand that the Surveyor of the Navy had no patronage, properly so called, and that his function was to forward the names sent him by the Superintendent, giving his own opinions on them, to which opinions, no doubt, the Admiralty paid due attention. It was impossible to conceive how the object of getting rid of political influence in the dockyards could be attained by the cancellation of the circular of 1849. Sir Baldwin Walker had an interview with the Secretary to the Admiralty on the 5th April, and a warm discussion took place. It was on that occasion, that, according to Sir Baldwin Walker, the Secretary to the Admiralty said that there was no use blinking the question, for that he was so pressed by Lord Derby and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he could not help himself, but must have recourse to some change in the system of promotions. According to the Secretary of the Admiralty, the words given by Sir Baldwin Walker were not exactly the words used on that occasion. The Secretary to the Admiralty says that the words that he used were, as near as he recollected, that the Government of Lord Derby and of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not allow political promotion to go among their enemies, any more than any other Government would. Now, he did not think it material to inquire whose version— Sir Baldwin Walker's or the Secretary to the Admiralty's—was accurate. It signified little which was accurate, because, as the Report said, all that was the least material in the matter was, that the names of these two distinguished personages were mentioned in a discussion in which the Secretary to the Admiralty wished to constrain Sir Baldwin Walker to adopt a system which he disapproved. The opinion of Sir Baldwin Walker on the point of promotion ought to have had great weight with the hon. Gentleman; and the hon. Gentleman asked him his opinion, and not only received his opinion, but also his most positive assurance, that the change would affect his control over the dockyards, and consequently their efficiency. With regard to the undue influence which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stafford) alleged had been used in the dockyards against the Government, the circumstances were these: The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stafford) said, that he had been informed that certain persons in the 1306 Surveyor's office, whose names were afterwards mentioned, had acted from political bias, and that by their means, and not through the means of Sir Baldwin Walker, situations had been obtained in the dockyards. Now, Sir Baldwin Walker, when called, stated that this could not be so, because no person at all in his office had influenced his submissions. The Secretary of the Admiralty said that this might be true, and yet that these parties, having communication with the dockyards, had been enabled to have the right names sent up. Well, he (Mr. Keating) asked, if that were so, how could repealing the circular of 1849 prevent such a system, as the names had then to be submitted to the Admiralty? There were persons in the hon. Gentleman's office who knew better than the hon. Gentleman could do about the details of the department—he meant the parties whom the hon. Gentleman eon-suited; and they must at least have been fully aware of the effect which the cancellation of the circular would have upon the object which the hon. Gentleman said he had in view. One reason for giving this control to the Surveyor of the Navy was, that he alone could judge what vacancies were to be filled up. The Captain Superintendent of a particular dockyard, of course, could only know what passed in his own domain; the Surveyor of the Navy was the only person who had the supervision over the whole of the dockyards, and who could regulate the wants of one by means of the excess of another. Now, although the repeal of the circular of 1849 could not effect the hon. Gentleman's object, yet it would be accompanied, and was accompanied, by the cutting off of all communication with the Surveyor's office, and thus deprived the Surveyor of the control over the filling up of offices which he could alone satisfactorily exercise. He (Mr. Keating) did not believe the hon. Gentleman was at all aware of the effect of this proceeding; he had, no doubt, been told merely that the repeal of the circular would effect a certain object, and had taken the matter for granted; but those who counselled him were wiser than the hon. Gentleman, and therefore, whilst he acquitted the hon. Gentleman, he could not acquit his advisers of a knowledge of the effect of the cancellation of the circular of 1849. The Duke of Northumberland had stated that he thought the consultations with Sir Baldwin Walker were still continued; but, with the exception of 1307 an instance in which the papers, by some chance, found their way to the Surveyor's office, and when the Surveyor made certain submissions, which were, however, disregarded, the intercourse with the Surveyor's office was entirely cut off, and the control of the Surveyor was taken away. Commodore Eden admitted that the superintendents often wished to have the vacancies in their yards filled up, because the more hands the lighter the work; but added that they ought not to be filled up without the leave of the Surveyor, because the proceeding might not be for the interest of the service. Now, of these vacancies there were between 200 and 300 at the time of the preceding Government leaving office; and, therefore, there was good and sufficient reason why the cancellation of the circular should take place, followed up as it was by the cutting off of the communication with the Surveyor. In 1848–9, in consequence of the Report of the Committee to which he had referred, there was a vast number of superannuations, and the establishments were reduced, and the appointments were very considerable. In 1852, the superannuations were nearly 200, or more than the average of the four preceding years, including the exceptional 1848–9; and there were 735 appointments. This corroborated what Sir Baldwin Walker said, as to the large number of vacancies existing when the preceding Administration went out of office. Sir Baldwin Walker said that these vacancies were kept partly for the number of apprentices who were coming out of their time in 1853. Yet, without consulting him, they were all filled up, and in 1853, when 161 apprentices had finished their period of service, there were only thirty-four vacancies left to give them. This was an illustration of the mischief to the service, as the consequence of a step taken upon such slight consideration, and without the sanction of the Surveyor. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stafford) admitted in evidence that it was for the Lords of the Admiralty to rescind the circular, and said that he consulted the First Lord respecting the cancelling of the order, and that he could not have cancelled it if the First Lord had refused his assent. The Duke of Northumberland, when questioned by the Committee with reference to his consultation with the Secretary of the Admiralty, on the subject of rescinding the circular of September 1849, stated that he had not considered one way or another 1308 the expediency of rescinding it, but that the Secretary of the Admiralty had complained to him of the difficulty he experienced in the discharge of his duty, owing to the whole of the appointments and the patronage of the Admiralty being in the Surveyor's office, and being used against the Government. He (Mr. Keating) said that this was an entire mistake, because the Surveyor had not a single appointment, nor any patronage whatever in his hands. The noble Duke further stated that he always refused to interfere from his want of experience; and on being asked whether, when he was told of the patronage being used in favour of his political adversaries, he instituted any inquiries at the time, his Grace's answer was, "None whatever;" and he also added that he never knew, during the whole period that he held office, whether the patronage was in the hands of the Surveyor or of the Secretary of the Admiralty— that he never knew anything about it— that it was never brought to his knowledge. All that he (Mr. Keating) could say with regard to the evidence of the noble Duke was, that the impression which it left upon his mind was one of deep regret, that, occupying so responsible a position, he should have handed over to the Secretary of the Admiralty, without further inquiries, the control of the patronage of his department, and should now seek to disconnect himself from the course that had been pursued by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stafford). The Duke of Northumberland said—On every occasion when it was mentioned to me by Mr. Stafford, on his representations I objected to interfere. I would not interfere because I had not had sufficient experience; but he afterwards represented to me that Mr. Parker's circular had been written by him, and was not a Minute of the Board, and that he as Secretary had the same power to revoke it as Mr. Parker had to issue it; he said also that he would do so on his own responsibility.And the Duke further said that on that ground, and that ground only, did he give authority to cancel the circular. The Duke further stated that he relied entirely upon the assurance of Mr. Stafford, that he had power to cancel the circular of 1849 irrespective of any order or Minutes of the Board, and that he on several occasions refused to interfere to cancel the order— that he was unwilling to interfere—that he did not wish, without more experience, to do anything in the matter. He had no hesitation in saying that upon such evidence it would have been impossible 1309 properly to suspend the function of the meanest clerk or lowest porter in the Admiralty. It would have been perfectly unjustifiable to have done so without some better information than that on which this important circular was cancelled. The hon. Secretary to the Admiralty stated that he had the assent of the First Lord for the issue of the circular of the 19th April, 1852; and that could not be denied, because it was recognised in the Minutes of the Board. [Cries of" Divide, divide!"] Hon. Gentlemen must be aware it was quite necessary, in a case of this kind, for him to advert to the evidence and the circumstances on which he relied. He would ask, how was the circular of 1847 regarded by the Board of Admiralty? It was distinctly stated that the object of cancelling the circular of 1849 was to revert to that of 1847. Now how was that? The first case which he wished to detail to the House was the case of Ridgway at Chatham. That person was reported against by Captain Richards, who said he was not a fit man to be promoted. Ridgway had previously attempted to gain promotion from the right hon. Member for Portmouth (Sir F. Baring), by means of an application through his constituents in that borough; but the right hon. Baronet sent immediate directions to the dockyard at Chatham to reprimand Ridgway. These were his claims to promotion, and yet the Board of Admiralty sent down an order to promote him. [Cries of "Divide, divide!"] He should begin to think shortly that hon. Gentlemen opposite were not desirous of hearing the circumstances of the case. The case of Ridgway was a strong case. ["Oh, oh!"] If hon. Gentleman could prevent its being heard, so much the better for them. It was a distinct violation of the circular. Captain Richards wrote to the Secretary to the Admiralty, calling his attention to the impropriety of that appointment, stating all that had occurred, and all the particulars of his disqualification; notwithstanding which an order was sent down that the promotion should go forward, and if he was found incompetent he might be reported to the Board. But Captain Richards, considering the manner in which his letter was treated, declined to take any further notice of the matter. That case was followed by another of a similar description, where an incompetent man was appointed, the service was damaged, and the circular of 1847 was distinctly violated. There were ten cases at Chatham in which 1310 that circular was violated. At Devonport there were twelve similar cases. At Dept-ford several instances occurred, in one of which a person who had been previously discharged for drunkenness, was, by an order of the Admiralty, directly promoted, against the recommendation of the superintendent. There were eight cases at Woolwich, differing in this respect, that undoubtedly the letter of the circular of 1847 was not violated. Now he contended that in every one of these cases—thirty or forty in number—the circular had been violated for political purposes. The Secretary to the Admiralty had stated that in most of these cases in which he differed from the superintendents, they were cases of the recommendation of unworthy persons—
§ MR. BOOKER
rose to order. The hon. and learned Gentleman had broadly stated that individuals of blemished character were promoted merely for the sake of political purposes. [Cries of "Order, order!"and "Chair, chair!"]
§ MR. KEATING
resumed: The word3 of the Committee's Report were these:—There can be little that these results have attended the appointments adverted to by witnesses well qualified to give an impartial opinion on this subject. Officers of high character in the Navy, distinguished alike for professional abilities and unblemished honour, observed the course of promotion in the dockyards during the last summer with apprehension, with feelings of humiliation, with dismay, and even with disgust.That statement was amply borne out by the letters of Commodore Seymour, Admiral Parker, and Captain Richards, which had been put in evidence. It had been proved also that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty stood at the ticket-office at Devonport, with the Government candidates for that borough, as the workmen came out of the yard; that he entertained the political friends of the candidates there, the expenses of his trip and of the dinner being charged to the contingencies fund. It could not be doubted that such proceedings tended to impair the efficiency of the service, and to bring discredit upon the Government. However that might be regarded by hon. Gentleman opposite, these matters were viewed very seriously throughout the country at large, and he believed they were calculated not alone to damage this or that party, but to bring the entire Government of this country into discredit. Under these circumstances, he called upon the House to confirm the Resolution of which he had given notice.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That, referring to the Report of the Select Committee on Dockyard Promotions, and the Evidence upon which it is founded, this House is of opinion, that during the administration of the late Board of Admiralty, the patronage of Dockyard Promotions, and the influence of the Admiralty, were used and exercised for political purposes, to an extent and in a manner calculated to reflect discredit upon that department of the Government, and to impair the efficiency of the Service.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I rise, Sir, to move the adjournment of the debate; and I do so because the extraordinary course which the hon. and learned Gentleman has thought it fit and becoming in him to pursue, has precluded the possibility of any fair discussion of his Motion, or any fair reply to the charges which he has advanced. Sir, I cannot congratulate the hon. and learned Gentleman on the course he has taken. Perhaps he may be learned in the law; but it is clear that he has a very limited sense of justice. Not even his short experience in this House can for a moment excuse the unjust course he has adopted, or the gross impropriety—[Cries of" Oh, oh!"]—the gross impropriety which I believe almost, and I had hoped quite, every man in this House would condemn. The hon. and learned Gentleman at one time when he was interrupted, spoke of the importance of this subject. Very true, the subject is important; but the more important the subject, the more fatal was that admission to the decorum of the course which he has thought proper to take. The hon. and learned Gentleman may have had only a short experience in this House; but he has had long experience in a Court of Justice, and there he must have learned, and he ought to know, that the more important the subject, the more imperatively necessary is it that that subject should be adequately, fairly, and justly discussed. In a speech of more than two hours, he has criminated hon. Members— he has brought heavy charges against the Board of Admiralty, and that at a moment when he knew it was physically impossible that he should have any answer to the accusations he was bringing forward. Sir, I, for one, and I believe many others, were prepared to discuss the question. I begged the Government to appoint a day for its discussion. I said then, and I repeat it now, that as a Member of the late Government I do not shrink from this question. I was prepared, had I been permitted, to contend that the Board of Admiralty, as 1312 constituted under the Administration of the Earl of Derby, is entitled to the gratitude, and not to the censure, of this House; ["Oh, oh!"] This, I maintain, I was prepared to contend for, and I would have done so, but for the course which has now-been taken, and which I hold to be a greater outrage on the principles of justice than any course that I ever remember to have seen followed. If I had had time, it would have been my duty—and I believe others would have followed me—to take grave exceptions to the Report of the Committee. I am aware that it was presided over by a noble Lord of great ability, and of long experience in this House, and that it consisted of Gentlemen with whose honour and character I should be the last person to find the slightest fault; but I think that that Committee, influenced by what bias or by what circumstances I cannot say, were led to make a report which is open to grave exceptions, the tone of which is bitter and severe—a tone of bitterness and severity which I would have endeavoured to show is not borne out by the evidence. I would have shown that, while they profess to give no opinion, they throw out sarcasms and insinuations which are far more severe, and far more difficult to grapple and to deal with, than any direct accusations would have been; and I am sorry to say that their Report, however unconsciously it may have been on their part, is open to the grave objection of being characterised rather by party prejudice and party bias, than by that judicial impartiality which ought to have been its first and chief characteristic. I shall not attempt to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman through his long two hours' speech about "beer and honey." But had I had time I would have commented upon the manner in which that Report refers to my hon. Friend the Member for North Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford), and would, I trust, have been able to show-to the House—what is of more importance to the public—that the hon. Member for North Northamptonshire is harshly and partially dealt with in that Report. With regard to the Duke of Northumberland also, the First Lord of the Admiralty, say what you will, no one can have read the Report, or listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, without feeling that while they profess to attack my hon. Friend the Member for North Northamptonshire, the real object of crimination is the nobleman who presided over the Admiralty. Sir, I had the honour to be a 1313 Colleague of the Duke of Northumberland; lie was in office at a time when it was essential to increase and to improve the naval defences of the country; and I am free to say—I know what I am saying—that there never was a human being who was more anxious to benefit that noble service, and to increase its efficiency, than the Duke of Northumberland. There is one point, though it is a minor one, on which I would have felt it my duty to complain of the Report. It is said that the Duke of Northumberland abandoned the whole of the civil patronage of the Board of Admiralty to his Secretary. Sir, it was no such thing. It ought to be known by the public that all the minor appointments through successive Boards of the Admiralty were in the hands of the Secretary, and never were administered by the First Lord. The time forbids me to go on, but I have in this book the means of showing that no First Lord of the Admiralty in recent times ever administered the patronage of the minor appointments in the dockyards; and I would have shown that even in regard to these minor appointments in the dockyards the Duke of Northumberland was influenced throughout by a laudable anxiety that they should be carried out in a manner that would benefit the naval service of the country. Sir, I must allude to one harsh and unjust passage in the Report which refers to the Duke of Northumberland—a passage which, I must say, I heard with regret and astonishment;—One officer, of high standing in the Navy, and supreme at the Admiralty, had power to check these proceedings. An appeal was more than once made to him; he intimated his disapproval, but he declined to interfere. His rank and station in the country, his position in the Government, his connexion with the gallant; service of the Navy, were deemed to be securities for the administration of a department confided to the Duke of Northumberland.I ask the right hon. Baronet opposite, the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether, in his opinion, the administration of that great department really turns upon the appointment of joiners, caulkers, sawyers, and smiths? He will tell you that it does not, but that there are other great subjects connected with the administration of that department which it is more important to consider and determine. How has the Duke of Northumberland administered the patronage which was really his? What was the composition of his Board of Admiralty? Did it show party feeling; did it show political bias? What were his in- 1314 structions to Admiral Fanshawe? Did they show political bias? Let me appeal again to the composition of the Committee which he appointed to consider the subject of the manning of the Navy. Were they party appointments? Who was the Chairman of that Committee? Sir William Parker. Why was he appointed? Because he was one of the most distinguished officers of the British Navy. He had been a Lord of the Admiralty under the Whig Government, and he differed from the Duke of Northumberland in politics. In addition to Sir William Parker, the Committee was composed of three gentlemen whose politics were entirely opposed to those of the Duke of Northumberland, of one whose politics were similar to his own, and of one who was of no politics at all. Again, the most important portion of the patronage of the First Lord of the Admiralty is the appointment to the commands of vessels. How did the Duke of Northumberland dispose of those appointments? I have here a list of every appointment he made, and if time permitted I could show that, to his honour and the advantage of the service, in the great majority of instances he paid no heed to the politics of the men whom he appointed; but that with regard to those I whose politics he did not know, the greater number were of the politics of his opponents, a minority only being of the same-political opinions as himself. Two of the very first appointments he made were Captain Hamilton and Captain Locke—officers of great distinction, who were promoted solely for their professional merit, and who were opposed in politics to the Duke of Northumberland. I contend, therefore, that in the exercise of patronage, with regard to which a charge has been brought against the Duke of Northumberland, there never was a First Lord of the Admiralty more free from any imputation of political bias than his Grace; and in saying that, I do not even except the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring), to whose conduct while at the head of that department I am ready to do the fullest possible justice. But the services rendered by the Duke of Northumberland to the Navy were not limited to these considerations. Had time permitted, I would have referred the House to the Committee for the manning of the Navy, and to the fact that on the notice paper for this evening the name of the present First Lord of the Admiralty stands at the head of two Bills for the manning and improvement of 1315 the Navy. For these two Bills—and I am sure the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) will not contradict me when I say it —you are indebted to the Committee conceived and appointed by the Duke of Northumberland when First Lord of the Admiralty. I believe no greater service was ever rendered to the Navy by a First Lord of the Admiralty than was rendered by the Duke of Northumberland when he appointed that Committee to consider the subject of manning the Navy. Let it not be forgotten also that the noble Duke drew up with his own hand the instructions for that Committee. I would likewise, had time allowed, have referred to one of the first matters which occupied the attention of the late Government, namely, the state of the fisheries on the coast of North America. That is one subject connected with my own department, with reference to which I could have shown the effective assistance which Her Majesty's Government derived from the vigorous and able administration of the Admiralty at that period under the auspices of the Duke of Northumberland. I will not longer detain the House. It is impossible, at this late hour, to go into the merits of the case, and my object in rising was to protest against the injustice of the course which has been taken by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, and to state that had time permitted I could have proved to the satisfaction of the House and the public that the Board of Admiralty, over which the Duke of Northumberland presided, was entitled to the gratitude, rather than to the censure, of the House and the country.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I wish to say one word upon the Amendment which has just been proposed. As far as I can understand, there seems to be very little prospect of this debate being renewed, and I think, therefore, that there could be nothing more unjust or unfair than to allow it to drop as it stands. I trust my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) will not persevere in his Motion for the adjournment of the debate, but will ask the House to vote at once upon the question. At the same time I acknowledge that we shall go to a division under the greatest disadvantage, the Motion haying been urged at considerable length and in great detail, without the possibility of a sufficient reply being made. I have only one observation myself to make upon my late colleague the Duke of Northumberland. The noble Duke has been inferentially charged with a num- 1316 ber of very paltry accusations upon this and other occasions. All I can say myself is, that I believe there never was an instance in which more energy, more ability, and more devotion were brought to the administration of a great office, than were brought by the Duke of Northumberland to the administration of the Admiralty under the late Government. Let me remind the House that that nobleman was only ten months in office, that he was hardly absent from a single Board meeting, and that, in that brief space of ten months, he protected your colonies, defended your coasts, and manned your Navy. Allow me to remind the House, also, that these three great operations were conceived and mainly conducted by himself, and that with his own hand he wrote the instructions which guided the Committee for examining the subject of manning the Navy, and which, on being laid on the table, were read with approbation by every Member of this House. Sir, the man who has been actuated by such a high sense of duty, and proved himself capable of performing such deeds, will not be crushed by factious attacks of this kind. I trust my right hon. Friend will withdraw his Amendment, and ask the House to give its decision at once upon the merits of this great question.
Sir, the right hon. Baronet who moved this Amendment began by telling us of his great love of justice, and by blaming other Members of this House for not proceeding in a manner consistent with that sense of justice; but he proceeded himself to attack the Report of the Committee, of which I had the honour to be Chairman—a Report carried unanimously by Members belonging to both sides of the Houses and in attacking that Report he did not bring forward the exact point upon which he wished to condemn it. Now, Sir, if we are not to have this debate adjourned, I want to know how the right hon. Baronet is to prove his case? He says the Report is unjust and unfair, and he quotes that part of it which refers to the Duke of Northumberland having given up the civil patronage of the Navy. Why, Sir, those were the very words which the Duke of Northumberland himself used to the Committee, and I have yet to learn that it is wrong to quote a witness's own words in evidence of his opinions and practices. I ask the right hon. Baronet if that is the way he proves that the Report is unjust and unfair? He then went on to state other points, with reference to which 1317 he said very generally he was prepared to prove that the Report is unjust and unfair; but when I watched with attention to see whether, with regard to any of those points, he would attempt to show that the Report was contradictory to the evidence, I noticed that he never even attempted to adopt that course. Now I want, in justice to this House, to say that when I presented the Report in question to the Committee, I told them that I was anxious, above all things, that every word of the Report should be fully borne out by the evidence. The Committee concurred with me, and we went through the evidence most carefully, comparing it with the Report. The result was, as I said before, that the Report was unanimously adopted by a Committee composed of Members belonging to both sides of the House; and I am prepared to show that it is rather under than overstated. I think it is necessary that this debate should be adjourned, in order that we may go into the whole subject; and therefore I shall vote for the Amendment.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 79; Noes 95: Majority 16.
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he believed that an adjournment at that moment would be most prejudicial to the interests of the country, and not creditable to the House. Charges of a grave character had been made against the late Board of Admiralty, which, as it appeared to him, it behoved Gentlemen opposite to answer, and against the Committee that had sat upon the subject, which were, he believed, most undeserved. He was anxious, therefore, that the question should not be stifled, and he thought it would be undesirable, after what had occurred, to get rid of it by an adjournment.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
said, that having brought the subject forward on a former occasion, and having moved for a Committee, which the House was pleased unanimously to grant; and having been a Member of that Committee which had presented a Report to the House founded upon the Minutes of Evidence given before them; — he had determined not to take any part in the discussion which might arise upon the present Motion, unless some hon. Member should find fault with the Report of the Committee, in 1318 which case, he should feel that he was doing his duty to rise up and defend himself and his colleagues from any attacks that might be made against them. His right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich had not only referred to the Report in terms condemnatory of its purport, but had actually stated that it was based upon party feeling, and partook of a party character. He (Sir B. Hall) must deny any such allegations. If the right hon. Gentlemen would read the evidence, and compare the Report with that evidence, he would find there were full and ample grounds for every single word contained in the Report, and that even its very phraseology was, in many cases, the phraseology used by the witnesses upon the Committee; whilst in the margin of the Report, figures were placed in order to show the exact questions and answers which justified the statement put forth in the document. But when the right hon. Gentleman said that the Report was the emanation of party feeling or political bias, he seemed wholly ignorant of all the material facts of the case. It was true that having moved for the Committee, that Committee was necessarily nominated by himself (Sir B. Hall); but not until he had expressed a desire that the nomination should not rest with him, but that the selection should be made by the Committee of Selection, or the General Committee of Elections. This was objected to, and the Committee was agreed to by the late Secretary of the Admiralty and himself, as being the fairest selection that could be made, and was unanimously assented to by the House. The five Members composing that Committee represented the various shades of political opinions of the House. They agreed to the Report unanimously, and from the first day they commenced their duties to the very close of their labours, there was not the least difference of opinion in the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman had, therefore, no right to make the assertions he had uttered, because there was not the slightest ground for any such imputations. But how-could the right hon. Gentleman justify his own conduct, and what would the public make of such conduct when it was made known? The right hon. Gentleman had moved the adjournment of the debate, in order that the whole question might be fully discussed. Such was the ground of his Motion; and yet as soon as he finds the noble Lord the Chairman of the Committee prepared to defend the Committee 1319 from the unjust and ungrounded attacks made upon himself and his colleagues, the mover of the adjournment goes into the opposite lobby and votes against the Motion which he himself deliberately submitted to the House. He (Sir B. Hall) should vote for the adjournment of the debate if the Motion was again put, as it probably would be, and as he had done already; because he desired to have an opportunity of showing that the Report of the Committee was not only just, but that it was founded on the evidence of men of the highest and most unimpeachable character. But he would not vote for the adjournment of the House as proposed by his hon. Friend the Member for North Devon, because he would not be a party to thus shelving a question which was worthy of the fullest investigation, and which in justice to a Committee unanimously approved and appointed by the House, ought to be gone into and considered after the unjust assertions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he thought that there were two points, at least, on which there could be no difference of opinion. One was, that after the course which the debate had taken, there must be very considerable discussion on the subject; and the other was, that it was impossible that that discussion could take place then [two o'clock in the morning]. He, therefore, thought that the House would do well to adjourn the debate. An appeal had been made to the Government to give a day for this discussion; but it was impossible, owing to the pressure of public business, that that could be done. On Tuesday next, however, the Motion of chief interest appeared to be that of the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. E. Ball) upon a question certainly of not very pressing importance— the malt duty. He would, therefore, suggest that the hon. Baronet who had proposed the adjournment should arrange with his hon. Friend to give up Tuesday next to this debate.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he could understand very well that the course of the debate had not been so satisfactory as had been expected by hon. Gentlemen opposite. There was great complaint now that the statements made must be answered; but there had been no such complaint on the other side when a statement was made past midnight by the hon. and learned Member for Reading, with the moral con- 1320 viction upon the part of the hon. and learned Gentleman that no answer could be given to him at that hour; that his manifesto of spitefulness would remain unanswered; and that not a single Member of the late Government would have the opportunity of replying to him. For himself, he should not countenance any attempt to evade the discussion of the main question; and if hon. Gentlemen opposite pleased to sneak out of the position in which they had placed themselves, he could only say that, upon his side, he challenged a decision upon the Resolution which they had proposed.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, that the charge of the right hon. Gentleman, which had been conveyed in such elegant expressions, came with an ill grace from him, seeing the line of policy which his friends had adopted. Sneaking indeed! why, the right hon. Gentleman's own colleague, the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), moved that the debate be adjourned, and then voted against his own Motion. That fact alone would show the country which side was anxious to shirk the discussion of this question.
§ MR. E. BALL
said, he must express his surprise at the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) saying that the subject of his Motion was unimportant. He must decline to give up the advantage he now possessed, of bringing on that Motion on Tuesday next.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ The House divided:—Ayes None; Noes 172.
§ Question again proposed. Debate arising; Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned.
§ The House divided: —Ayes 70; Noes 98: Majority 28.
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, he wished to move as an Amendment, to strike out the latter part of the Resolution, and insert in its stead words to the effect that it appeared that during every administration of the Board of Admiralty, its patronage and influence were used for political purposes; and that the Report of the Chatham Election Committee stated that there was no instance of an election taking place in that borough in which the Government candidate was not returned. That was the whole truth, which had been elicited by late discussions. Government had not been 1321 deprived of any patronage, and he, for one, should oppose any proposition for depriving it of any.
To leave out from the word 'founded' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'it appears that, during every administration of the Board of Admiralty, the patronage and influence have been used and exercised for political purposes; and that the Report of the Committee on the Chatham Election states that there is no instance of an Election in that place not terminating in favour of the Government Candidate,' instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, that, considering the high character and standing of the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond), he should hardly have stooped to be made a bridge for the late Board of Admiralty to escape by. For, since the truth must be spoken, it was not the Duke of Northumberland and the late Secretary for the Admiralty, who were on their trial—it was the character and conduct of that House. They had deputed a Select Committee, composed of Members of both sides of the House, to examine into the truth of certain allegations; they had made their Report; and then the late Secretary for the Colonies (Sir J. Paking-ton) came down at two o'clock in the morning, deprecated a debate, and moved an adjournment, which he eventually voted against, and took that opportunity of bringing forward egregious charges against the Select Committee. He would not say a word against his predecessor at the Admiralty (Mr. Stafford); he thought he had been ill used by his party; they made use of him, and then, when they found he could not be of any further use to them, they threw him over, and fell down and worshipped the Duke of Northumberland, who they hoped might yet be of service to them. ["Oh, oh!"] At least he believed that would be the opinion of the country tomorrow. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer had used the words "sneaking out." Now, the right hon. Gentleman had on many occasions shown himself a great proficient in that art; but he (Mr. Osborne) would ask him, if he did not wish to sneak from this debate, to use the little influence he might yet exercise with his party to bring this matter to an open discussion. He hoped he would use his influence with the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. E. Ball), who, he believed, was still one of 1322 his few followers, to give up Tuesday next for this purpose. Let not hon. Gentlemen opposite seek to avoid this discussion by the sneaking Amendment of the hon. Member for West Surrey. By so doing, they would not whitewash the character of the Duke of Northumberland, but would damage that of the House in the eyes of all honourable men.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
said, they had got into a difficulty, and he did not see how they were to get out of it, unless they had a full discussion of this very important question, for the country would otherwise not be satisfied. There had been grave charges against the late Board of Admiralty, and against the Committee, and for both reasons it was desirable that they should have discussion. The hon. and learned Member who brought forward the question no doubt commenced it at a late hour. He did so, because of the difficulty of getting a day. There were those in the House who might get them out of the difficulty. It was in the power of the Government, and he hoped out of regard for the character of that House the Government would grant a day. With that view he should move that the debate be adjourned. VISCOUNT PALMERSTON said, that, for his own part, he regretted that the question had ever been brought forward, as he thought it might have rested with the Report of the Select Committee. As, however, it had been brought forward, he would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite if it was not essential for the character of that House, and of the party they represented, to work this debate out fairly and deliberately. It was evident that their object was to weary out the House, and insist! on having a division, which it was evident, if taken at that late hour in the morning, and when it had been universally expected' that a division would not take place, could settle nothing. If the division was against: the Motion, as was probable in the then state of the House, there would be nothing to prevent those who supported it from bringing it forward in another form. He would, therefore, put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite to agree to the very reasonable proposition of the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Pakington), that the debate should be adjourned. It had been put to the Government to find a day for the discussion; but his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) had stated to him, before leaving the House, that this was impossible in the present state of public business. He would 1323 make another appeal to the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. E. Ball) to give up next Tuesday for the purpose. In all probability there would yet be many Tuesdays open to him to bring forward his Motion. At all events, let the debate be adjourned to any day they pleased, and some arrangement might be afterwards made for taking it.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he thought that the course which the Government had indicated was the best that could be pursued. Let a division be taken, and then let those who brought it on renew it in a different form, if they were defeated. It was true he had moved the adjournment of the debate; but his friends felt that that would not be a satisfactory solution of the difficulty in which they were placed, of either concluding a debate without the possibility of discussing the question, or of consenting to an adjournment to which they saw no period. The request which he made in the early part of the debate, that the Government would name a day, was refused; and in the difficulties in which they were placed, the party with whom he acted thought it would he very undesirable to adjourn the discussion to an indefinite period. He had wished to withdraw his Amendment, but it was refused, and under the unusual circumstances he felt bound to vote against it.
§ MR. E. BALL
said, he wished to give another reason why the House should accede to the suggestion of dividing at once on the main question. The present Secretary of the Admiralty entirely exonerated his predecessor in office, and said it was desired to screen his superior by throwing the odium upon him. He asked hon. Gentlemen, could there be a more severe reprobation and condemnation of the Report of the Committee? The Report pointed to no one so much, so strongly, or so bitterly, as the predecessor of the present Secretary of the Admiralty.
said, another division would leave them just in the same position; he therefore hoped the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire would give way. There was no Motion for Tuesday week; and if the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire would take his Motion on that day, this might be taken on Tuesday.
§ MR. HILDYARD
said, be bad earnestly urged upon his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Keating), at half-past ten, to postpone a question of this gravity, since it could not be decently or decorously discussed. 1324 He had thought proper to persevere, and it would be a very salutary lesson to take the division now, and leave the hon. and learned Gentleman to revive the question on another occasion.
§ MR. CUMMING BRUCE
said, a great deal of blame, also, attached to Her Majesty's Government for not using any effort to bring home to the hon. and learned Gentleman the unfairness, injustice, and impropriety of bringing forward his Motion at the late hour he did. He hoped the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire would not give way, and that the suggestion of dividing on the main question would be adopted.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 64; Noes 98: Majority 34.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
said, he must deprecate at that late hour a division on the main question. He should still press for an adjournment of the debate.
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
said, that the House ought, in common justice, to be allowed to come to a decision on the question, which had occupied so much of their time. At least the debate ought to be renewed at some time when they could come to a decision upon it.
§ MR. CRAVEN BERKELEY
said, he believed that the hon. Member was not in order in moving as an Amendment that the debate be now adjourned; and he, therefore, begged to move, as an Amendment, that the other Orders of the Day be now read.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he would suggest that the hon. Gentleman might agree to adjourn the debate to this day.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he was extremely anxious that the House should take such a course as would be satisfactory to all parties. He agreed with the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Hildyard), and thought that the hon. and learned Member for Reading (Mr. Keating) should not have pressed his Motion at the time he did, but have brought it on at a more favourable time. If, however, any Motion were now made for the adjournment of the House, he should be ready to acquiesce in it, regarding it as equivalent to a negative on the Motion.
§ MR. HENRY KEATING
said, it was certainly true that the hon. Member for Whitehaven had suggested to him not to 1325 bring on his Motion after ten o'clock; but the lateness of the hour at which he had brought it forward was occasioned by hon. Members opposite, who had evidently been speaking against time.
§ LORD JORN MANNERS
said, he felt bound to say, after that observation of the hon. Member, that the speeches which occupied so much time on the Factory Bill proceeded from the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on his own side of the House; and he had yet to learn that one of the most important subjects, affecting the condition of the great mass of the working people of this country, was art unfit subject for discussion.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the House do now adjourn."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 100; Noes 59: Majority 41.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Four o'cloek.