§ On the Motion that Mr. Speaker should leave the Chair, in order that the House might resolve itself into a Committee of Supply,
§ COLONEL BOLDERO
rose, to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice. He was sorry to intrude himself upon the House when they were expecting 818 such an important debate as that which was about to follow; but he had a duty to perform in advocating the interests of the naval profession, and he therefore trusted that the House would excuse him for persevering in his Motion. Every one must be desirous at the present time of rendering the naval service as efficient as possible in all its branches. This country now possessed the finest ships in the world, and they contained every accommodation for their officers and men, and yet the Admiralty hesitated to give the assistant-surgeons that accommodation to which their position and their profession entitled them. The fleet was far better organised than it had been during the late war, and he thought that the medical department of the fleet ought also to be placed in a better position. The sailors of the present day were a superior class of men to those engaged during the last war, and they ought to be properly cared for. What reason was there for not placing the medical department of the Navy upon the same footing as that of the Army, or of the East India Company, or of the mercantile service? They had even lowered the qualification of the medical students who were admitted as candidates. In 1850 every medical candidate for the Navy was required to have walked the hospitals for two years, and to be able to undertake the charge of 150 patients; but now eighteen months was considered sufficient, and the number of patients was reduced to 100; and similar reductions had been made in the periods during which he should have attended botanical and other lectures. This was not a time, it appeared to him, to lower the qualifications of medical men in the Navy; on the contrary, he believed that this was especially the time when we ought to raise them as high as we could, in order to procure the very best men that either the Universities, England, Ireland, or Scotland could send us. Why should the position of an assistant-surgeon in the Navy be worse than that of a surgeon in the Army? Surely Government had no interest that this should be so, especially when it was remembered how much more difficult it was to make a perfect naval surgeon than a perfect amity one. A surgeon in the Army might learn his duty at once, but not so a surgeon in the Navy, inasmuch as both time, experience, and knowledge of a sailor's life were requisite to enable him efficiently to discharge the duties of his position. Every soldier cost the country 30l. a year, and every sailor cost the 819 country upwards of 45l. a year; so that if there were any difference made in the provisions for the preservation of their health, that difference ought to be in favour of the sailor. As to casualties, the soldier's place could be supplied in six months, whereas an able-bodied seaman's would take as many years. No one was received as an assistant-surgeon on board a man-of-war if he were less than twenty-four or more than twenty-six years of age; and gentlemen thus admitted were compelled to associate for three years in the cockpit with boys sixteen or eighteen years old. The result was, that the élite of the young and more adventurous members of the medical profession shunned the Royal Navy, and sought employment in the Army, or in the East India Company's service. He must complain that the Resolution which had been passed by the House in the year 1850, with a view to remedy that evil, had been evaded by successive Boards of Admiralty; and he feared that they would not receive any satisfactory assurance upon the subject from the right hon. Baronet at the head of the present Board. But he felt himself bound to call upon the House to give to their own recorded Resolution their continued and earnest support.
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, whereas the House passed a Resolution on the 8th day of April, 1850, to the effect, "That the accommodation provided for Assistant Surgeons on board Her Majesty's ships of war is inadequate and insufficient for securing the full benefit of their professional services," the Admiralty regulations, since the passing of the aforesaid Act, have not been in the spirit of, nor have they fulfilled the intention of, the said Resolution,—it is the opinion of this House, that the above Resolution should be forthwith carried into effect,' instead thereof.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend and the House generally that nothing can be more opposed to my feelings than to treat with the slightest disrespect that learned and most useful profession which he has taken under his protection. My hon. and gallant Friend, not satisfied with stating his own case, has endeavoured to anticipate the answer I am about to give him. The subject has been repeatedly discussed in this House; and in the year 1850 we had the advantage of hearing from my hon. and gallant Friend a long speech with respect to it, very nearly identical with that which we have heard to-night, and my hon. and gallant Friend may very fairly anticipate that my 820 reply to his remarks will possess little of novelty. I can, in fact, only give him the same answer which all my predecessors, after mature inquiry and while in the possession of official knowledge, have thought proper to give to similar questions. I have to state that I have investigated the matter, and that I have found on the part of my predecessors a most sincere and anxious desire to carry fully and fairly into effect, as far as possible, the Resolution which my hon. and gallant Friend induced the House to adopt in the year 1850. I hold in my hand a report of the Surveyor of the Navy, Sir Baldwin Walker, which was made after the Motion was carried, with reference to the difficulties in the way of giving full effect to the Motion; and that report details those difficulties so clearly that I cannot, I think, do better than read it to the House. Sir Baldwin Walker said:—The gun-decks of ships of the line are now most inconveniently lumbered with cabins, inclosing many of the guns, thereby preventing the ship from being at all times in a state of readiness for action, which is the most essential point in a man-of-war. Since the war, cabins have been added for the chaplain and naval instructor, and for an additional lieutenant. Should it be deemed necessary to have a cabin for the assistant-surgeon, it can only be done in ships of the old class, by interfering further with the efficiency of the ship, or by one of the officers of the present establishment being displaced; but in the new ships of the line, where cabins are built on the orlop, arrangements may be made for an additional cabin. The heavy armament of ships of the present day has rendered an increase necessary in the complement both of officers and men; and it is found that the space occupied by the cabins, the mess, and sleeping places of the officers on the different decks, leaves barely sufficient room for the accommodation of the crew; for not more than fourteen inches in breadth can generally be obtained for each man's hammock to hang under the beams.This was the state of affairs in the year 1850. But I beg the House to recollect that we are now discussing this question at a moment of peculiar interest. The complement of men in the ships of the Royal Navy, which was then a peace complement, is now a war complement; and a number of officers of greater rank than assistant-surgeons have been added to each crew. There is now for each line-of-battle ship a commander, as well as a first lieutenant, and there is also a naval instructor in each shin. But, above all, the introduction of screw machinery has greatly reduced the accommodation of the crew. A very large portion of the hulls of vessels is occupied by that machinery. Then, again, 821 I should state to the House that at this particular moment a very great impediment is offered, by the want of sufficient room, to the adoption of an arrangement to which I attach great importance, and which I hope it will be in my power before long to bring under the consideration of the House. I contemplate an alteration in the mode of paying the men. I contemplate the adoption of a system which will increase the number of clerks in the paymaster's office, and I hope to be able to mature a plan for the payment of the men in the Navy similar to that which exists in the Army. I propose that the men shall be paid in full every quarter, so that an end may be put to that most noxious system of long arrears of pay which has a degrading and demoralising effect upon the seamen, and, as I believe, materially interferes with the efficiency of the service. That is an object of paramount importance, and if such a change be introduced, a considerable increase must take place in the number of clerks at present assigned to the paymaster's office. I can state to my hon. and gallant Friend that there has been an honest endeavour on the part of different Boards of the Admiralty to give effect to the Resolution adopted by the House in the year 1850. The medical system has since been divided into two classes; all those assistant-surgeons who are above three years' standing now mess in the wardroom, and have a separate cabin, whenever by any possibility such an accommodation can be provided for them. I cannot think there is much hardship in junior members of the medical profession messing and associating with mates in the Royal Navy, many of whom, I am sorry to say, from the slowness of promotion, are of an age greater than that of the assistant-surgeons. I need not remind the House that these mates are drawn from every class of society in this country, and very often from the very highest class, and I cannot, therefore, think that it is any degradation to young surgeons to associate with such gentlemen. My hon. and gallant Friend says, that the qualification for surgeons in the Royal service has, of late, been lowered. I must deny that altogether. The examination is now more stringent than it ever was before. It was formerly in the hands of one individual; it is now, in the Navy as in the Army, in the hands of a Board; and although the required period of attendance at the hospitals has been lowered, the examination has become more strict, and the standard of acquirements 822 is at present higher than ever. But is it true that there is no competition among young surgeons for admission to the Royal Navy? Is there a reluctance on the part of medical gentlemen to enter the Royal service? Quite the contrary. In the course of the present year there have been no fewer than, I think, 109 applications for appointments of this description, and thirty-five gentlemen have been so appointed within the year. At this moment there is no deficiency in this branch of the service; we have no complaint to make of a want of a sufficient number of assistant-surgeons in the Navy; and we have every reason to be satisfied with the competency and the abilities of the gentlemen selected for the office. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that, if I had the slightest apprehension that the crews of Her Majesty's ships were exposed to the treatment of ignorant and empirical practitioners, there is no effort that I would not make to remedy so great an evil. But in my conscience I do believe that the gentlemen who, under the present system, are appointed to discharge the duties of assistant-surgeons in the Royal Navy are fully qualified for that most useful service in which they are engaged. The opinion of the Board of Admiralty of the present day upon this subject is identical with the opinion of the three or four Boards which preceded them. Everything has been done which, consistently with the discipline and the comfort of the ships' companies, could be done; and I do hope that, after the statement I have now made, either my hon. and gallant Friend will not press his Motion to a division, or that, if he should persist in doing so, the House will agree with me in opposing it.
§ MR. M. CHAMBERS
said, it appeared to him from the speech of the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, that the case of the assistant-surgeons was hopeless, unless that House interfered in their favour. With regard to the class of men whose interests were now under discussion, it should be remembered that they were men who had received a superior education, and in the course of their studies must necessarily have acquired much varied and useful information. Before they could pass the College of Surgeons they were obliged to produce certificates of being twenty-one years of age; of having been engaged during four years in the acquirement of professional knowledge; of having studied practical phar- 823 macy during six months; of having attended at a recognised hospital or hospitals in the United Kingdom the practice of physic during one winter and one summer session; of having attended, during three winter and two summer sessions, the practice of surgery at a recognised hospital or hospitals in the United Kingdom; of having studied anatomy and physiology by attendance on lectures and demonstrations, and by dissections; of having attended lectures on the principles and practice of surgery; of having attended lectures on materia medica, and lectures on midwifery; and of having attended a course of lectures on the practice of physic and chemistry. In addition to this the regulations of the Admiralty with reference to the admission of candidates for the office (as it was called) of naval surgeon were stringent in the extreme. Among other things, they provided that no person should be admitted as an assistant-surgeon in the Royal Navy who should not produce a certificate from one of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of England, Edinburgh, or Dublin, or from the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, of his fitness for that office; nor, as a surgeon, unless he should produce a diploma, or certificate, from one of the said Royal colleges or faculty, founded on an examination to be passed subsequently to his appointment of assistant-surgeon, as to his fitness for the situation of surgeon in the Navy; and in every case the candidate producing such certificate or diploma was to undergo a further examination, touching his qualifications in all the necessary branches and points of medicine and surgery for each of the steps in the naval medical service. Previously, also, to the admission of assistant-surgeons into the Navy, it is required that they should produce proof of having received a preliminary classical education, and that they possess, in particular, a competent knowledge of Latin; also, that they are of good moral character, the certificate of which must be signed by the clergyman of the parish, or by a magistrate of the district; that they have served an apprenticeship, or have been engaged for not less than six months in practical pharmacy; that their age be not less than twenty-one years nor more than twenty-six years; and that they are unmarried; that they have actually attended a hospital in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Manchester, or Bristol, for eighteen mouths subse- 824 quently to the age of eighteen, in which hospital the average number of patients is not less than 100; that they have been engaged in actual dissections of the human body twelve months, the certificate of which from the teacher must state the number of subjects or parts dissected by the candidate; that they have attended lectures, &c., at established schools of eminence, by physicians or surgeons of the recognised Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in the United Kingdom. In addition to the tickets for the lectures, certificates must be produced from the professors, &c., by whom the lectures were given, stating the periods (in months) actually attended by the candidates. The time also of actual attendance at a hospital or infirmary must be certified; and the tickets, as well as certificates of attendance, age, moral character, &c., must be produced by the candidate previously to his examination. Although the above were the only qualifications which were absolutely required in candidates for the appointment of assistant-surgeon, a favourable consideration was given by the Board of Admiralty to the cases of those who had obtained the degree of M. D. at either of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Dublin, Glasgow, London, or Aberdeen; or who, by possessing a knowledge of diseases of the eye, and of any branch of science connected with the profession, such as medical jurisprudence, natural history, natural philosophy, &c., appear to be more peculiarly eligible for admission into the service. By the rules of the service no assistant-surgeon could be promoted to the rank of surgeon until he should have served three years (one year of which must be in a ship actually employed at sea), and could produce a diploma from one of the before mentioned Royal Colleges or the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons. By these Admiralty regulations, then, these assistant-surgeons were required to be men of excellent education, of intelligence and industry; and, after having passed a strict examination before the College of Surgeons, or before the Board appointed by the Admiralty, they had the great advantage of being allowed to go on board one of Her Majesty's ships, and of being turned down into the cockpit among young men, no doubt, of gentlemanly habits, but not of the age nor the pursuits which fitted them to be associates of medical men. He had recently received a letter from one of those sufferers, detailing the annoyance 825 of the daily life of one of the junior assistant-surgeons, which he would read to the House:—The naval assistant-surgeon is messed with the midshipmen, and dependent on their society, being totally excluded for the first three years of servitude from the lieutenants' mess, of which the chief engineer, chaplain, naval instructor, and second lieutenant of Marines, an ensign in the Army, are members at once. He is denied a cabin, which is accorded to the carpenter, gunner, and boatswain. His hammock having been un-slung from its position in the dark close cockpit, in common with the midshipmen (boys of from twelve to eighteen years of age), at half-past six or seven o'clock, he next proceeds to make his toilet and wash upon his sea-chest (a multum in parvo of a certain regulation size, supposed by Admiralty order to contain all the equipments of the medical officer, uniform, books, and instruments, &c.). Those operations in ships of the line he has to perform in the presence of the midshipmen and others of his mess, and in smaller vessels frequently under the gaze of the whole crew. After this comes his morning duty, in the details of which, in all except ships of the line, he is subjected also to the scrutiny of the crew. Then comes breakfast in a small confined dark berth, among thoughtless wild boys, varying in number from eight to twenty-five, not at any time peculiarly observant of etiquette. Between visiting his sick, reports, and walking the deck (for read he might as well in a 'bear-garden'—I once attempted it, but was glad to recover my books, denuded of their covers and titlepages), he kills his time till noon, the service dinner hour for the men and 'young gentlemen,' in which oategory is ranked the assistant-surgeon. In like manner is spent the day till eight o'clock, when the hammocks are 'piped' down by the boatswain, the lights put out for the crew and midshipmen, after which the wretched assistant-surgeon, having been accustomed to a life replete with reading, intellectual research, and social improving converse, now disgusted and disheartened, climbs into his hammock to reflect (until he finds himself 'cut down' and his head bumping against the deck—the facetious trick of some wanton midshipman-messmate)—to reflect on the little chance he has had during the day of doing good for himself or fellows, debarred as he is by his false position from the society of the wardroom officers, his more fitting equals, with whom at least he could interchange ideas, in consequence of his age and education.In the debate of 1850 he observed that a benevolent Lord of the Admiralty of the time stated that it was absolutely necessary that the junior assistant-surgeons should serve a three-year apprenticeship in this way—that they should not be admitted into the wardroom until after a three years' probation of that description. And why not? Was it that they were unfit to associate with the wardroom officers? If such were the opinion of the Lords of the Admiralty, it certainly was not that of the Navy—at least to judge from the conduct 826 of the officers of one of Her Majesty's ships, who had recently taken the assistant-surgeon on board their vessel by the hand and invited him to join their mess, thus placing him in his proper position. One very important part of the question was the low position in which assistant-surgeons in the Navy were placed as contrasted with assistant-surgeons in the Army Part of our Army was about to be sent abroad, and if any regiments were embarked on board one of Her Majesty's ships, it would not be very pleasant for the officers of either service to find that, while the assistant-surgeon of the vessel was put down in the cockpit among the young midshipmen, his equal in rank—the military assistant-surgeon—would mess and associate, as a matter of course, with the other officers, his friends and companions, and, perhaps, even with the captain. But what had the Board of Admiralty done to promote the comfort and convenience of the naval assistant-surgeons? In 1850 a Resolution was passed highly honourable to the House, but which had not been properly carried out by the Admiralty. The Lords of the Admiralty issued a general order that the assistant-surgeon should have a cabin, "whenever it was practicable." Oh, that word "practicable!" How much it meant and how little it effected. It gave every person an opportunity of making an excuse for not doing that which was wanted, and accordingly, in the present case, the captains of the Royal Navy had drawn from it a sort of discretionary power with reference to the granting of cabins, and the result was that little or nothing had been done for the accommodation of the assistant-surgeons. One of the arguments against the Motion was that if cabins were allotted to assistant-surgeons, they would prevent the fighting of the ships; and another was the want of space. Now, it was a singular circumstance that since this question was first mooted cabins had been given to other officers. Space had been found for them, though it could not be found for assistant-surgeons. He had heard in mentioned also that the valet of a noble Lord, who was recently sent on a scientific mission in one of Her Majesty's ships, had been provided with a cabin for himself, though one could not be given to the assistant-surgeon; and that on another occasion a cabin had been conceded to a lady's maid. Was that right, or was it wrong? ["Oh, oh!"] Surely he might crave the indulgence of 827 the House when he spoke upon a subject which affected the interests of humanity. It should be one of their first objects to place assistant-surgeons in a proper position, so as to secure to the crews of Her Majesty's ships the best possible assistance. He did not desire to trespass too long on the attention of the House, but this was no light matter. [Cries of "Question."] No doubt hon. Gentlemen were anxious to get to the Eastern question, but this, he contended, was part of the Eastern question, as affecting deeply the efficiency of our Navy, on which the ultimate success of all our operations must depend. They should man their Navy well; but in order to induce seamen to enter the naval service, it was necessary to inspire them and their friends with the conviction that when sick or wounded they would be treated skilfully and humanely. He begged to be allowed a few words more. It was an important fact, that seamen preferred the packet and merchant service to that of the Royal Navy; and one of the reasons he conceived to be, that they had not confidence in the medical officers. It was equally well known that young surgeons invariably gave the preference to packet, merchant, and even emigrant ships, and entered the Royal Navy only in the last resort. He would not trouble the House with any further observations, but would conclude with saying that he hoped the accommodation afforded to assistant-surgeons would speedily be put on its proper footing.
said, he thought the House of Commons was not the fit place to debate the details of the naval service, which were best left to the Admiralty to decide upon. He was sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had shown so little knowledge of the subject as to have been imposed upon by such a letter as that which he had read to the House. In the first place, the writer of that letter stated, that the assistant-surgeons messed in the cockpit with the midshipmen, to which he had to answer, that in no one ship in Her Majesty's Navy was there a mess in the cockpit. Next, as to the assistant-surgeons being obliged to keep books and instruments in a box, the size of which was regulated by the Admiralty, he could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that this assertion was altogether without foundation. Their books and instruments were kept in the sick-bay, which he (Admiral 828 Berkeley) considered was the proper place for the assistant-surgeon to go, if he wished to read and study without interruption. Whoever had written that letter to the hon. and learned Gentleman had imposed on him most grievously. The hon. and learned Gentleman next said that, since this subject was started, cabins had been allotted to other officers; but that was not the case, for no cabins whatever had been allotted to any other officers since that time. With regard to the next allegation, about the valet-de-chambre, he supposed that the hon. and learned Gentleman alluded to a frigate having been fitted out to convey a nobleman on a special mission; but surely the hon. and learned Gentleman could not complain that a noble Lord, sent in a frigate on a peaceful errand, should have a cabin allotted to him for his servants. Then came the greatest enormity of all—that a lady's maid had been accommodated with a cabin; and all he could say to that was, that he should very much like to have seen the hon. and learned Gentleman helping the lady's maid into a hammock. He could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman, that no man had a greater anxiety than himself that the assistant-surgeons of the Navy should be properly accommodated, and as the hon. and learned Gentleman had mentioned an instance, without giving the name of the ship, where the wardroom officers had invited the assistant-surgeons to their mess, he would only answer, that instances had come to his own knowledge, where assistant-surgeons had excused themselves from messing with the wardroom officers, on the ground of its being too expensive.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, that many of these assistant-surgeons were constituents of his, having been educated at the University which he had the honour to represent; and he was bound to say, that the communications which he had received from them on the subject of their treatment, agreed in substance, though not to its full extent, with the account which had been read by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. M. Chambers). He was sure that persons in their position were entitled to receive from the Admiralty every consideration, and he trusted that whatever subject of complaint they had would be attended to and remedied without delay.
said, he was prepared to give a cordial support to the Motion. Twelve years had now elapsed since he submitted a similar Motion, which was met 829 with arguments precisely similar to those which had been advanced, with very little force, as it appeared to him, on the present occasion. He had himself served, both as a mate and as a surgeon, on board a ship, and from personal experience he could appreciate the feelings of gentlemen who, having been educated for a liberal profession, found themselves subjected to anything but liberal treatment. [A laugh.] Hon. Gentlemen might laugh, but he hoped there could be no objection to regard the medical as a liberal profession. He could assure the House that, throughout the whole of the profession, there was a feeling that the assistant-surgeons were not treated as they should be. So strong, indeed, was this feeling, that when he represented the wrongs of the assistant-surgeons and the mates, some years ago, in that House, he received a letter from a body of those officers, thanking him for his services in their behalf. So unworthily were the assistant-surgeons used, that no medical men would enter the Navy who could procure employment elsewhere. It was idle to defend the present system by reference to the limited space on board ships. Captains and commanders had often three times as much space as they required. The captain might very fairly be called upon to surrender one-half of his accommodation. He wished that the Admiralty would allow him (Mr. Hume) to go on board the ships of war, and he would undertake to find plenty of room for everybody.
said, that though the hon. Member for Montrose might congratulate himself on receiving letters from the assistant-surgeons and mates in the Navy, he had no doubt the captains and officers were of a very different tone of thinking. He (Mr. Stafford) should protest against the imputation thrown on the assistant-surgeons, that "if they could get employment elsewhere, they would not enter the Navy." Now, he should say that, judging by their skill, their activity, and their zeal, he believed them to be as attached to their profession as men could be. An imputation had also been cast on the late Board of Admiralty; but he should say, that everything had been done by that Board that was compatible with the interests of the service, to ameliorate the condition of the assistant-surgeons. He altogether agreed in what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, and should therefore vote against the Motion.
§ MR. BRADY
said he considered that great injustice was done to the country 830 and to the naval service by the regulations now adopted. He was perfectly satisfied that, unless some alteration was made in those regulations, the naval service could not be as effective as it would otherwise be. He believed that the assistant-surgeons employed in the Navy were so situated that they were not only degraded in a social and professional point of view, but they were not afforded those opportunities of cultivating their profession which they ought to have. It was of the greatest importance that the medical profession in the Navy should be sustained and supported by Government, as he believed that incompetent persons might otherwise be appointed, and that the greatest injury might consequently be inflicted upon the service. As one of the representatives of the people, he held that Parliament should at once take the question into serious consideration, and fix it on a better basis than that upon which it stow stood.
said, the regulations of the Board of Admiralty were well known, and assistant-surgeons applying for admission into the Navy were perfectly acquainted with them, therefore they could not plead ignorance of the conditions under which they had to serve. Those who disagreed from the regulations in force had nothing to do but to retire and employ their services in another direction. The hon. and learned Member for Greenwich (Mr. M. Chambers) had endeavoured to show that young men belonging to the medical profession had to undergo great hardship. Of course they underwent hardship if they went to sea, and it was entirely out of the power of the House of Commons to prevent them, in that case, from being exposed to very great inconvenience. In fact, he saw no power the House could possibly possess of preventing assistant-surgeons from undergoing the hardships to which other young men in the service were subjected. If advantages were given to assistant-surgeons which they did not now possess, those advantages must be taken from the accommodation supplied to the men, and he did not think the House would feel inclined to give assistant-surgeons increased accommodation at the expense of the proper working of the ships in Her Majesty's service. He disagreed from the belief expressed by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), that accommodation could be taken from that at present allotted to the captains in the service, and he considered that if any space on board ship were appropriated to the assistant-surgeons, it 831 could come from no other source than the space allotted to the common seamen. The Lords of the Admiralty were animated by an earnest desire to make the service as agreeable as possible to gentlemen of the medical profession, and, generally speaking, he believed members of the medical profession were perfectly satisfied with their present position.
§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
said, he thought, as this was a question of detail relating to the naval service, it would be exceedingly unwise for the House of Commons to set a bad precedent in taking out of the hands of the Admiralty arrangements of such a nature as those which had been discussed. The medical profession in the Navy had been compared with that of the Army; but he believed the comparison was an improper one, inasmuch as in the Army plenty of space could at all times be procured, while in the Navy a limit must necessarily be fixed upon it. If assistant-surgeons in the Navy were put to mess with persons who were not gentlemen, he could then fully understand the arguments which had been put forward; but the fact in reality was, that they messed with the mates and masters' assistants, who were young gentlemen of the same position as themselves. It was absolutely impracticable in all ships in the service to carry out the plan suggested for the adoption of the House; and, if it could not be better carried out universally, it would be much better not to adopt it at all. It might certainly be carried out in guard ships, and in ships in harbour; but, speaking from experience, he was perfectly convinced it could not be carried out universally throughout the service. In the majority of ships there were already too many cabins, and it was a most unfitting moment in a time of war to attempt to increase the cabin accommodation on board ship. If the privilege of admission into a cabin were granted to assistant-surgeons, he felt there were other persons equally entitled, who would at once put forward their pretensions to the same rights.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 216; Noes 104: Majority 112.
§ Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."