§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee of Supply upon the Navy Estimates.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, that it was now his duty to propose to the Committee a considerable increase in the Naval Estimates already voted. The Committee would remember that when he had the honour of proposing the adoption of former Naval Estimates the declaration of war had not been made. Still, the state of public affairs at that moment was such that Her Majesty's Government thought it expedient to propose a very considerable augmentation in the number of seamen, and also a large addition to our naval force. Circumstances were now materially changed, for war had actually been declared. He thought that, for the purposes of this discussion, he might make three assumptions, which he apprehended would not be considered by the Committee as either gratuitous or unreasonable. He should assume in the first place that the war in which the country was now engaged is a necessary war; in the second place, that war having been declared, it is expedient to conduct it with vigour and energy, in the hope of bringing it to a speedy and honourable conclusion; and, lastly, that the servants of the Crown, in whomsoever it might be that that House should place, its confidence, should, as the executive, be entrusted with the administration of the means voted by them. Having thus 1312 shortly prefaced what he was about to address to the Committee, he should proceed at once with the details of the Estimates. The first Vote which he proposed to take was an addition of 461,700l. on account of wages of seamen and marines. When he last made a proposition for the increase of our naval forces, he submitted to the Committee the policy of adding 10,000 men to the entire number of seamen afloat. He did not then anticipate that it would be possible to raise the entire increase proposed within the first six months, and he therefore laid before the Committee an estimate for an increase of 5,000 men for the whole period of twelve months, and an additional sum for a further number of 5,000 men for the last six months of that time. Since war was declared—or, rather, since, in the opinion of the Government, war seemed to be quite inevitable—increased exertions had been made to levy the whole additional number of men sanctioned by Parliament within the shortest possible time; and he had now the satisfaction of stating to the Committee that at the present time—that was within a month from the commencement of the financial year—the Government had been able to add 11,000 men to the Navy, in addition to the number voted last year. They had done this partly by acting upon a Statute which gave the Executive Government power, when the services of the State required, to call upon the coastguard for a reserve of men to serve afloat. Government had availed itself of that power, and he could state to the Committee that out of the additional 11,000 men, 2,500 had been drawn from the coastguard; while 8,500 had been raised by voluntary enlistment since the 1st March. He should, perhaps, in justice to his gallant Friend the Member for Gloucester (Admiral Berkeley), state that this success was in a great measure attributable to his efforts. The exertions of Captain Henderson, the Comptroller General of the Coast Guard, had been above all praise; nor should he forget to mention that the services of a young officer, Commander Phillimore, who had visited, he believed, every port in the kingdom, had also largely contributed to the favourable result he had announced. He thought it due to a young officer to mention this meritorious conduct. Something had been said with respect to the capability of the coast-guard to perform active service afloat. Now, on that point he had the satisfaction of holding in 1313 his hand a letter from his friend Commodore Seymour, who was Captain of the Fleet under Admiral Napier, in which the former, speaking of the Baltic fleet, said:—My visits of inspection enable me to form an opinion of the qualities of the ships' complements. The marked superiority of the coast-guardmen, where they are in any numbers, over other portions of the ship's company is striking. They fill many of the highest of the petty officers' ratings, which without them it would be difficult to find properly qualified officers to fill. Taking them as a body, notwithstanding that some are verging beyond the prime of life, and that their vocation on the coast has robbed them of some of that quickness that should belong to men-of-war's men, they retain qualifications indispensable to the efficiency of the fleet, and they are well conducted.This was a most satisfactory statement, and fulfilled the anticipations which he had formed, that the coast-guard would in time of war be found a most efficient reserve for the Navy. The first item of 110,000l. in the Vote No. 1, to which he was about to ask the Committee to agree, was then accounted for in the way he had described, in order to meet the expenses for twelve months of the 5,000 seamen whose wages had in the last estimates been taken for only six months. The next item of 51,700l. was in order to meet the extra pay beyond seamen given to the 2,500 coast-guardmen and seamen riggers now employed in the fleet. There remained an item of 220,000l. for men, which was connected with the question that it was most important for the Committee to decide. He had now to propose that, in addition to the 10,000 sailors and 3,000 marines voted in March last, the fleet should be further increased by 5,000 men. At this moment, indeed, the fleet was somewhat in excess of the entire number of seamen voted by the Committee, because the Government had been able to raise 11,000, while the Committee had only voted 10,000 men. We had, indeed, now a large fleet of nineteen sail of the line in or on its way to the Baltic, and we had also ten sail of the line in the Black Sea. In no quarter of the world had the forces of the British Navy been diminished to make this effort, but, on the contrary, an augmentation had absolutely taken place at some of the most distant stations. Still he thought it was not consistent with the honour and with the independent position of this great country that we should have so large a force exposed to the dangers of war, and to every kind of vicissitude on distant stations all over the world, with- 1314 out having also a reserve at home. He did not think the Committee would be of opinion that an additional force of 4,000 men to complete the home reserve was an extravagant thing to ask for. If the Committee concurred in the opinion of the Government on this point, then, at the present rate of wages, 220,000l. would be required to pay that additional force. There remained, in connection with this vote, to give some explanation of the course they proposed to pursue with regard to the officers and men of Her Majesty's ships Erebus and Terror, who served with Sir John Franklin in the Arctic expedition. He had already stated that, considering no account of the officers and men serving in that expedition had been received for eight years, he thought the time was come when the payment of a double amount of pay to their relatives should cease. If, however, happily these gallant seamen should still be alive, the course now taken would be no bar to their claim when they arrived at home. Supposing them, however, to be lost, he thought the public had acted most generously to their surviving relatives in giving them double pay for eight years. He therefore proposed to close that account on the 1st April last, and for this purpose to take a Vote for 80,000l.
The next Vote was one necessarily contingent upon the preceding, for it related to the provision of victuals for the additional seamen and marines. The first item of 50,000l. related to the 5,000 men whose expenses had only been voted for six months, but had been actually incurred for twelve months. Then came another sum of 50,000l. which required some explanation. The Vote in March last was taken upon the presumption that the cost of the principal articles of provisions would continue the same that it was then. Experience had, however, shown that this was not the case. He would take, as an illustration of the rise in price which had taken place, the single article of wheat. The natural price of wheat in the Mediterranean was, generally speaking, considerably lower than in England; but the Russian Government having prohibited the exportation of grain from the north coast of the Black Sea, and the Neapolitan Government having taken a similar step with regard both to the ports of Naples and of Sicily—the natural granary of the Mediterranean—the price of wheat and flour had risen considerably. And indeed, generally speaking, the extra demand for the prime necessaries of life consequent 1315 upon war had caused them to be rapidly rising in price; and as he was most anxious that, as far as foresight could secure this result, these estimates should cover the entire cost of our naval forces for the ensuing year, he thought it most prudent to take a Vote of 50,000l. to cover the rise in price which had taken place. The next Vote was only a small one; it was for 5,000l. to provide for the additional expenses of the establishment at Whitehall and Somerset House. The increased duty thrown upon the clerks at both these establishments since the declaration of war had been so overpowering, that their attendance at the office had frequently been prolonged till nine o'clock at night. Of course it was utterly impossible that the clerks could be permanently worked in this manner; and it was absolutely necessary to make some addition to their number. The next Vote was one for 2,000l. to provide for the additional cost of Her Majesty's establishments at home. This was required by the necessity of making additional provision at Haslar Hospital, and also by the increased expense of some of the victualling establishments, where, on account of the transport service, very onerous duties had been suddenly cast upon the employé>s.
The next item was for a sum of 47,000l., for wages to artificers, &c., employed in the several naval, victualling, and medical establishments at home. The Government had not thought it expedient while we were yet on the threshold of war to add to our existing establishments for shipbuilding, and the general operations of the dockyard would continue much the same as before. Still, from the rise in the price of provisions, it was found that the rate of wages in the dockyards was now inadequate as compared with the price of labour elsewhere. He had thought it more expedient to relax the fetters placed upon the earnings of the men employed, than to make an addition to their wages. They would now be paid in proportion to the work they did, and not by day. The consequence was, that their earnings would be considerably increased, and to cover this he proposed to take an additional Vote of 50,000l. The next item, which was a small one, related to Malta, the establishment at which place had been somewhat increased, in consequence of the large number of steamers which now repaired there. The next Vote was one of 697,331l., for naval stores for the building and repair of ships. The first item here was one of 160,000l. for the 1316 purchase of fuel and coal for Her Majesty's steamers. When the Committee remembered that, of the nineteen sail of the line in the Baltic, thirteen had the great advantage of a screw propeller; and that out of the whole number of fifty or sixty pendants now in that sea, a large proportion were moved by steam, they would readily imagine how large a quantity of coal was required, and how expensive the supply of such a force must necessarily be. When they added to that, that we were obliged to send a supply to the most distant stations, even to China and the Cape, where steamers were employed, they would see that the expense under this head must be very great. Still he was convinced that, when they regarded the efficiency of the public service, it was true economy to expend this large sum of money upon coal; for not only did the employment of steam power enable a given service to be performed by a numerically smaller force, but it secured its performance in a more regular and in a better manner. The next item of the Vote was 40,000l. for the purchase of stores required to replace those issued to the fleet. Then there was one of 252,674l. for the purchase and repair of steam machinery. This expenditure was rendered necessary by the efforts which the Admiralty were now making to apply that power, which experience had proved indispensable, to all the ships of the new construction as they were launched. The conclusion having been arrived at that it was expedient to have a reserved force at home, the Government determined that all the vessels of that fleet should be furnished with steam power. They had further thought it necessary, besides providing a number of vessels to servo as transports for the conveyance of supplies to the fleet, to purchase a considerable number of small vessels for service as a coast flotilla, especially in the Baltic. Amongst the additional vessels acquired were three vessels of war which were building on Russian account, and which, when war was declared, were seized, in conformity with the rights of war, on behalf of Her Majesty. It would be necessary to fit those vessels at a considerable additional cost beyond the terms stipulated for the Russian Government, the contract entered into with the builder of the machinery having, however, been cut short by the war; the Government had felt that they were bound to take care that the interests of the builders should not suffer, and a new contract 1317 had been arranged, the balance being carried to account, and the difference in cost would be made good by Her Majesty's Government. The next Vote was one for new works and improvements, including the expense of now buildings at Haslar, for the enlargement of the hospital, and new stations for the repair of vessels of war. Since the peace a very considerable portion of Haslar Hospital had been applied to the reception of lunatic patients. Every preparation had been made for their comfort, and the establishment was in every respect so perfect that it was thought better not to interfere with the existing arrangements, and to enlarge the accommodation as now proposed, so that the number of beds might be made up to what it stood at during the last war. The next Vote was for medicines; and on this point he should confine himself to remarking, that every possible care had been taken to make provision for the exigencies of the medical service in the ships at sea, both in the Baltic and the Euxine.
He had now gone through the principal heads of account immediately connected with the effective force. The amount asked for the purposes of the effective naval service was 1,457,031l.; there were also some items of expenditure which, although included in the naval estimate, belonged rather to the army and ordnance services. The Vote for freight of ships was no less than 3,096,700l. In answer to questions which had been put to him on previous occasions, he had already stated the extent of service which had been performed in the conveyance of troops. They had sent, since the 8th of March, when he last spoke, a force of about 22,000 men to the seat of war, and he believed that altogether a force of nearly 25,000 men had left our shores. They had sent 2,500 horses, and arrangements had been made for the despatch of nearly double that number. When the Committee considered the distance, the shortness of time, the competition necessarily arising between the demands of Government and the wants of trade, and also the fact of the French Government coming into the English market fur freight, it would be admitted that the effort had been a great one, and he must add that the cost had been great in proportion. Yet all their efforts would have been rendered useless if they had hesitated as to the payment of the requisite sums of money. The first item, for the freight of transports on 1318 monthly pay, including both steam-vessels and sailing ships, or for the purchase of the same, amounted to 2,610,200l. This sum covered the hire of eighteen steam-vessels and eighty-six sailing transports, eleven of the steam-vessels being for the transport of infantry, and seventy-five sailing ships for that of cavalry. All the available steam-vessels that were at command in the first instance were employed to convey infantry from this country, but none of them had been considered available for the conveyance of cavalry. It had not been thought practicable to convey horses safely in steam-vessels, unless the height between decks should be at least seven feet six inches, or exceeding that measurement, and generally the height was less than that which he had mentioned; moreover, excepting in steam-vessels propelled by screws, the main deck only was available for horses; and in paddle-wheel steamers the main deck was interrupted by the machinery. Therefore, the employment of steam-vessels for the conveyance of horses was limited to screw vessels having a height, between decks, of seven feet six inches, or more. It was obvious, therefore, that the number of steamers fulfilling the necessary conditions for the transport of horses was very small; they had, however, succeeded in taking up one which would embark on Monday next 235 artillery horses, with the officers, men, guns, and ammunition waggons of the detachment. He had also stated yesterday that they were about to extend the experiment by taking up the Himalaya, which would convey to the seat of war an entire cavalry regiment, all the horses, men, and officers, with their complete establishment, within a time which he would not venture to predict, but which he fully anticipated would be an almost incredibly short one. If they were desirous that these efforts should be made, and if they wished to put forth the whole strength of this country in the war, to show what it was capable of doing, and what we had the means of doing, he believed, even should the war be brought to a conclusion in the course of six months, that this effort would not have been thrown away. He believed this to be a demonstration to the civilised world that our powers were not paralysed, nor our arms fallen short of their wonted strength; but, on the contrary, that we had called all the science and all the inventions of modern times to our aid, and that we could 1319 command, in defence of our national position, to a greater extent than any other country, all the appliances of art and inventive skill. More than all, he wished the world to see that in that assembly, representing as it did one of the first and freest nations in the world, and perhaps a greater amount of power than any other assembly, whatever might be their differences in other matters, when the honour of their country was concerned, and the safety of its institutions imperilled—and in peril they would be whilst we were engaged in a great war, until that war was brought to a happy and honourable conclusion—all minor differences vanished, and as one man they would come forward to say that the war must be conducted with vigour and energy, and brought to a speedy issue, not regarding the expense that must. be incurred, but bent with one heart and soul upon providing all the means necessary for maintaining the safety and reputation of the country.
As regarded the transport of cavalry, he might take that opportunity of saying that they had received from Mr. Cunard the most zealous and praiseworthy assistance, though his steamers, not being quite lofty enough between decks, were not so much available for cavalry. For this purpose they had been compelled to take up sailing vessels to a very large amount, seventy-five having been engaged; and in addition to the ordinary cost of obtaining them by open tender in a free market, under the competition to which he had already referred, there bad been the cost of fitting them for the peculiar service of cavalry transport, which was perhaps the most expensive of all possible fittings. Still they had thought that if this expense were incurred, it was desirable that the application of money should secure the utmost possible efficiency in every respect; and with regard to the artillery, the right arm of the military service, it was of the greatest importance that each transport should arrive at its destination in the most efficient condition. By the advice, therefore, of the military authorities, this subdivision had. taken place—that each artillery transport carried out two officers, forty-eight men, fifty-two horses, and four gulls, all ready for service on the moment of landing, and each having no occasion whatever to wait for any support. For this purpose vessels of 650 tons had been freighted, as no smaller ship could convey the force he had men- 1320 tioned; and, in addition to the whole number of sailing ships, two steamers, as he had already stated, were to be sent. He had the pleasure of informing the Committee that Lord Raglan, in the course of his short stay at Malta, saw the first division of the artillery transports arrive, and with regard to this first division he made the gratifying observation that not a single horse had been lost. On the arrival of the second division it might be fairly anticipated, considering the percentage of loss ordinarily sustained in such operations, that the number of horses killed or injured would be unusually small. It might be satisfactory to the Committee to state that the whole force of transports had been engaged for the Government for the entire year, on the principle that during the entire year the whole force, estimated to amount to 27,000 men, should have the means of conveyance from place to place within itself, so that no difficulty would arise in respect to the removal of the British forces throughout the whole of the coming year. For the purpose of more rapidly conveying in the first instance a portion of the force, they had taken up fourteen steam-vessels connected with the packet service merely for the single trip to Malta, the contract terminating with the arrival of the ship there. The uninterrupted maintenance of the packet service was of the highest importance, and every arrangement had been made to secure its maintenance, so that the packet-ships might return to their ordinary duties as speedily as possible. The sum of 108,000l. merely covered the trip of a number of these steamers from England to Malta. With respect to all the sums on the paper, he should be happy to give, on the proposition of each Vote, every explanation that might be required. He did not think it would be necessary, from what appeared to be the temper of the Committee, that he should make any earnest appeal to them with respect to the moral effect of unanimity on this occasion, and he thought he had seen symptoms which might lead him to believe that the Votes he was about to propose would be cordially responded to. A passage occurred to him, from one of our poets, which be thought was descriptive of the present condition of our country. They would remember the expression———this pale, this white-fac'd shore,Whose foot spurns back the ocean's roaring tides,1321And coops from other lands her islanders,This England, hedg'd in with the main,This water-walled bulwark, still secureAnd confident from foreign purposes.He said that it was our duty to keep it "still secure and confident from foreign purposes," and that it was our naval force which fulfilled that condition, and he therefore appealed in confidence to an English House of Commons, in time of war, to consent to an increase of our naval force, and, by so doing, to exhibit to the whole world that we were determined to maintain our naval supremacy.
§ MR. BAILLIE
said, that public opinion had been so often and so generally expressed against that system which made political influence the only means of attaining to honour and promotion in the service of the State, that Her Majesty's Government had, in his opinion, very wisely and judiciously, in the course of the last Session, taken the initiative, in that Bill which they had introduced for the regulation of the future government of India, in providing that a certain number of Government appointments should be annually set aside for public competition. Her Majesty's Government had thus admitted the justice of the principle of competition, and he saw no good reason why that principle should not be carried out in every branch of the public service. He could not understand why admission into the Royal Navy, that branch of the service which was, perhaps, the most truly national, and upon the efficiency of which the safety of this country might be said mainly to depend, should be obtained exclusively as a reward for the political services which an individual might have rendered to the Minister of the day. Let the Committee consider for a moment the system by which a naval cadet was enabled to obtain admission into the Navy. Hon. Members were aware that the patronage of that branch of the service was vested theoretically in the Admiralty Board. Practically, however, the First Lord had that patronage at his disposal; for although certain appointments in the Navy were annually distributed by the junior members of the Board, yet by far the greater portion of those appointments were in the gift of the person who was for the time being at the head of the department. How, then, did the First Lord of the Admiralty generally distribute the patronage which was at his disposal? He believed it to be the general practice to set aside a few appointments 1322 annually as a reward for distinguished service, and that was a mode of dealing with the patronage of which he thought nobody could with justice complain. The greater portion of the appointments, however, which were in the gift of the First Lord were distributed, not as a reward for distinguished services, but, as he had said before, as a reward for useful political services rendered to the Government of the day. The First Lord of the Admiralty had a list, and upon that list any Member of Parliament who had made himself serviceable to the Government as a constant supporter of their policy, might apply in person, or through the Secretary of the Treasury, to have the name of a candidate placed. The name, as a matter of course, was inserted, but as the number of applications frequently was greater than the number of appointments which were at the disposal of the Admiralty, the First Lord was, of course, compelled to select from the list a certain number of persons for promotion. In making that selection, he very naturally chose those persons whom, upon inquiry, he found had been recommended by those who had rendered the most efficient service to the Government. Thus, the appointments in question were strictly of a political character; and not only were they completely controlled by political influence, in fact, they might be called "doubly distilled" political appointments; but the most stringent rules of the Navy were violated in making them. He believed it, for instance, to be a stringent rule of the service, that no cadet should be appointed after the age of fourteen, yet he knew cases in which, in consequence of the political influence which had been brought to bear, cadets had been appointed whose age had reached sixteen or even seventeen. He did not mean to say that any injury was likely to accrue to the service from the fact of cadets of that age being appointed; but he had referred to the matter merely to demonstrate what he considered to be the profligacy of the Minister in acting in contravention of rules framed for the promotion of the efficiency of the service, for the purpose of the securing a political ally, or of obliging a political supporter. Now, how, he would ask, was the system of which he complained likely to work? Let him suppose that the members of one political party should remain in office for a period of fifteen or twenty years, would it not follow, under these circumstances, almost as a matter of 1323 course, that all the appointments which might be made during the time would be conferred upon the adherents of that political party? He did not wish to cast upon the present Government in particular an imputation to which the system to which he had referred—a system which had long prevailed—was, perhaps, more properly liable. At the same time, he felt it would be impossible to deny that, in consequence of the long period during which the Whig party had held office within the last twenty-six years, the result was that the Navy was at the present moment almost exclusively filled with the adherents of that party. Upon a recent occasion, the First Lord of the Admiralty had expressed his satisfaction at the circumstance that the two great fleets which England had lately sent out were commanded by two staunch Reformers. He (Mr. Baillie) regarded that as an imprudent declaration upon the part of the right hon. Baronet, because it had served to call the attention of the public to the real state of the case. It was not sufficient for the right hon. Baronet to have stated that Admiral Dundas had, by his long services as a Reformer in the House of Commons, established a claim to the gratitude of the Reform Club, as well as to the command of one of our fleets. He ought to have gone further; and to have stated that in the short period during which he had been in office, it had fallen to his lot to appoint many admirals to commands who, by a similar fortunate coincidence, were also staunch Reformers. The right hon. Gentleman might have mentioned that he had appointed Admiral Houston Stewart, the Reform candidate for Greenwich, to the command at Malta; Admiral Stirling, the Reform candidate for Chatham at the last election, to the command in India; Admiral Plumridge, the Reform Member for Falmouth, to a command in the Black Sea; Admiral Parker, a staunch Whig, to a command in Devonport; Sir William Carroll, to a command at Cork; Sir Edmund Lyons, who might not have done much service in the cause of Reform in the House of Commons, but who served as a diplomatist in Greece, to a command in the Black Sea; and, lastly, Sir Charles Napier, to be Commander in Chief in the Baltic. But that was not all; for out of the sixty captains who had received appointments in the Navy within the last twelve months, he believed he might go through the whole list with a somewhat similar result. Now he did not mean to 1324 insinuate that the right hon. Gentleman had been induced by merely political considerations to make those appointments, for if that were the case, the right hon. Gentleman would, at a moment like the present, be guilty not simply of an offence, but of a very great political crime. He was ready to admit that the right hon. Gentleman, in making those appointments, had been actuated by no other motive than a sincere desire to promote the good of the public service; but what he desired was, to draw the attention of the Committee and of the Government to the state of things to which he had adverted. The inference he drew from the facts which he had stated to the Committee was, that the Navy was at the present moment so exclusively filled by the supporters and adherents of a particular party that it was not in the power of the right hon. Baronet to relieve himself from the charge of political partiality by being enabled to appoint efficient officers connected with the party which was opposed to him on politics. No such exclusive system prevailed in the Army as that which existed in the administration of the Navy. The Commander in Chief was not a political officer, and had never been required by any Administration to dispense any portion of his patronage for the purpose of sustaining the influence of a particular party. During the last twenty-five years the Army had been under the administration of the Duke of Wellington, of Lord Hill, and of the present Commander in Chief. But whatever might have been the political opinions which those distinguished men had previously professed, no sooner had they received their appointments than they deemed it to be their duty to distribute the patronage of the Army upon a principle entirely independent of political considerations. The discipline in the Army was far superior to that which was enforced in the Navy. In the Army, commissions were given by public competition at Sandhurst; and those who had thus obtained their appointments had proved themselves to be the most efficient officers in the service. That such was the case had been proved in the late war in India. When Sir Robert Sale had been obliged to fight his way with a small force through hostile tribes in India, he had committed the defence of the fortifications at Jellalabad to the officers of the 13th Light Infantry; and it was to those officers who had obtained their commissions at Sandhurst that the work of directing the erection of 1325 the fortifications was committed. The manner in which they had performed that duty had been the means of saving the force under Sir Robert Sale's command, and of maintaining the honour of the English troops at a time when the prestige of our arms was about to fail. He had no accusation, so far as the appointments in the Navy were concerned, to make against the present Government; but when he remembered that the plan for the reformation of the Civil Service had that evening been postponed, he felt bound to state that, unless Her Majesty's Ministers were to give some assurance that they would take the question to which his observations more particularly referred under their consideration at an early day, he should deem it to be his duty to bring the subject in a specific form under the notice of the House.
said, he was anxious to bring back the Committee to the question before them. He was sorry that the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie) should have taken this opportunity of bringing forward the subject on which he had spoken, because he wished that their decision on the present occasion should appear worthy of the assembled House of Commons in the unanimity of their proceedings on this highly important measure. The country, he might say, had been the author of this war—he meant that the mass of the people had urged on Her Majesty's Government to undertake it, though no man in that House more regretted its necessity than he himself did. Under these circumstances, instead of cavilling at small minutiæ connected with the details of the service, he was in hopes that the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty would have been met by all the unanimity of feeling which such an appeal was calculated to elicit, and that they would all have joined in showing their anxious desire to support measures intended to preserve the honour and interests of the country. They were now called upon to add to 18,000,000l. of Naval and Military Estimates already voted a further estimate of 5,000,000l. or 6,000,000l. more; but having undertaken the war, sound policy imperatively required that means should be provided to carry it on in the most efficient and vigorous manner. It was impossible to say what amount might come to be required as the events of the war made progress, but Ministers had 1326 brought forward Estimates which appeared to them amply sufficient to cover all the expenses that could be anticipated with probability at present. As such they ought to grant the sum demanded at once, without grudge or cavil, with the view of showing confidence in the Administration, and resolution to maintain the principles on which they embarked in the contest. He congratulated the Committee on the regulations adopted with regard to neutral property, which would take much from the horrors of warfare, and impart a more civilised character to the contest than had distinguished many previous struggles. He was anxious, so far as his vote went, to give his entire support to the Vote which had been proposed, so that we might show to the nations of Europe that we were willing, as we were able, to carry out the objects we had in view in a proper and becoming spirit. He thought the measures that had been taken, and particularly the manner in which the fleets had been manned and sent out to the Baltic and Black Sea, reflected the highest credit on the Administration. Believing that an impression had been made suitable to the occasion, be hoped the Committee would give proper support to the means required in conjunction with those of our French allies, to carry out those measures which were demanded, not only for our own safety, but for that of the whole civilised world.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
said, with respect to the Estimate which had been laid upon the table, he gave it his unqualified support. He thought it was admirably adapted to meet the exigencies of the moment, and he trusted the very sanguine expectations which the First Lord of the Admiralty had formed from a consideration of it would be fully realised. At the present moment we were cheered on by enthusiastic feelings; we were cordially disposed to give to our old and faithful ally the support we were bound to render him in this exigency, and he had no doubt our efforts would be crowned with that success which we had a right to anticipate from our engagement in a just and righteous cause.
§ SIR GEORGE PECHELL
said, in common with the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) and many others, he had studiously avoided urging the Government to carry on this war, for he thought at one time, like many others, that it might have been avoided. However, such 1327 had not been the case. He thought the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Baillie) had imputed political motives to the Board of Admiralty, in the appointments they had made, which, if true at all, had reference quite as much to the preceding as to the present Government. He (Sir G. Pechell) was pleased to hear the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty render full credit to the effective steps which had been taken to man the Navy on this emergency by his hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Admiral Berkeley). Considering the great exertions his hon. and gallant Friend had made towards that end, the right hon. Baronet had but done him an act of simple justice. Nor should the claims of Mr. Smith, the originator of the screw propeller, so extensively used in the fleets of the Black Sea and the Baltic, on the gratitude of his countrymen, be forgotten or lightly appreciated on the present occasion. He thought that gentleman not only deserved the thanks of the country, but also some substantial testimonial for the great exertions he had made, during a period of fifteen or sixteen years, in bringing his valuable invention to perfection. He cordially concurred in the Vote which had been proposed, and trusted it would contribute to the success of our naval armament at this great crisis.
§ SIR JOHN WALSH
said, that in the few observations which he should make, he should address himself to the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty in a spirit which he trusted would not disappoint the expectation expressed by the right hon. Member that the Committee would readily, cordially, and unanimously concur in the vote for the support of Her Majesty's service. He would remind the Committee that in the last great war, a party numerically strong in that House conducted that war to a successful conclusion, and that a very weak Opposition, during the whole of that Protracted contest, continually carped and cavilled at all the exertions the Government made to carry it on. He was sure it was not the intention of hon. Gentlemen on his (the Opposition) side of the House—at least he could say it was not his own intention—to follow the example set by the Opposition during the last war. Hon. Members on his side of the House did not subscribe to the doctrine laid down some nights ago by the hon. Baronet the Member for Morpeth (Sir G. Grey), that because they had refused to repose a general confidence in the 1328 Government it was incumbent on them to offer a factious opposition to their measures at this momentous crisis. That would not be the principle on which Gentlemen with whom he usually acted would conduct the Opposition, if, indeed, Opposition it could be called, on this occasion. They would always arrogate to themselves the right of scrutinising any measure or suggestion of the Government, if they believed a regard to the interests of the public service demanded it; but they would not have recourse to any of the claptraps of economy by which the feelings of the people of England had been excited in former days for the purpose of obstructing the policy of the Administration at that time in power. Whatever department of the Government might have exhibited a want of energy, he did not think that charge could be brought against the present First Lord of the Admiralty. It appeared to him that all the steps which the right hon. Baronet had taken in his department to meet the existing emergency afforded additional proofs of that administrative capacity which was so justly attributed to him. It was an effort worthy of all praise, that two such fleets as had been despatched to the Baltic and the Black Sea had been manned entirely on the principle of voluntary enlistment. Remembering that at the conclusion of the American war, when our population and our wealth were so much less than at present, we had a fleet numbering 110,000 seamen and marines, and that in 1813, at the end of the great revolutionary war, we had 140,000 seamen enrolled, he thought the First Lord of the Admiralty had made no unreasonable demand upon the country in the vote he had proposed. With respect to the vote of 244,000l. odd, for the purchase of steam-vessels, gunboats, &c., it appeared to him that both in the Baltic and the Black Sea it would be most desirable to increase the force of the steam flotilla, or a flotilla of vessels having a very small draught of water; for in the Baltic there was every facility for such a flotilla carrying on both offensive and defensive operations. The same observation applied very much to the Black Sea; for at the months of the Danube and in the Sea of Azov, from the shallowness of the water, vessels of a large draught would be almost useless. He rejoiced to find that the right hon. Gentleman had taken into his earnest consideration the important subject of the transport of our troops, and more particularly of our cavalry 1329 and artillery, by steam power, and that he had determined upon making an experiment in the conveyance of a large number of horses to the seat of war on board the Himalaya. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would take into consideration the importance of time in all these operations; he believed that he was not wrong in stating, that if the horses were sent in sailing vessels, from the time of leaving this country to the time of their arriving in Turkey, and their being in an efficient state for service, a period of three months would elapse. This was a matter of great moment, and he was convinced that the experiment about to be made would prove the great advantage to be derived from sending the cavalry by steam instead of by sailing vessels. The accommodation on board steamers was, in some respects, better than in sailing transports, and he believed that, by using this mode of transport, a saving of not less than two months would be effected. The importance, indeed, of transporting troops and horses by means of steam could not possibly be overrated, for the whole success of this campaign might be considered in a great measure to depend on the rapidity with which we could convey our cavalry and artillery to the seat of war. He gave the vote proposed by the right hon. Baronet a very cordial support, and he hoped the right hon. Baronet would take in good part the suggestions he had thrown out, made as they were with a sincere desire to contribute to the success of our arms in the impending conflict.
§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
said, he thought the subject of the transport of cavalry was about as much out of place on the present occasion as the discussion with reference to naval cadets. The real question before the Committee was the Navy Estimates, and to that point it would be more convenient to direct their attention. When he first entered the House in 1851, the English Navy was a very small one. He rejoiced to see that it was now a very considerable one. He congratulated the Board of Admiralty on the position they had attained, and that they had got twenty-eight sail of the line under weigh, and under sail, to meet the enemy. At the same time, he liked to give credit where it was due, and he must say that it was the late Administration who made the first movement to place the Navy in its present condition. He was glad to hear the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty say 1330 that he meant to have a reserve of ships to supply any further wants the Navy might require. That was a very wise and necessary course; for, if ships were to be sent to batter against stone walls, they must get considerably cut up and crippled, and other ships would be required to take their places. He himself had been engaged in blockading Cronstadt for three years, and he knew that all the harbours in the Baltic were very narrow and exceedingly strong. And let not the Committee think we were now in a better position than we were in then; although the Russians had fewer ships then than they now had. No doubt, our ships and men would do all that could be done, but he hoped the Douse of Commons and the country would not be too sanguine or urgent. Somehow the press and the public had run away with the idea that England never possessed so large a fleet as at present. That was a mistake. In 1790, in the then expected Russian war, there were thirty-six sail of the line lying at Spithead, many of them three-deckers; and after the first two years of the war of 1793, there were 101 sail of the line in commission. To be sure, two of the ships we now had might be equal to three of those as regarded tonnage and heavy metal, but larger efforts than were now making must be made if necessary. Remarks had been made upon what was called the inactivity of the Black Sea fleet. Speaking as a sailor, he could say that if the ten line-of-battle ships in that sea (only two of them were screws) had taken to occupying that sea during the winter, their number would not now have been ten; some of them must have been shipwrecked. He might remind the Committee that that great naval leader, Nelson, never kept in sight of the port he was blockading. When Lord Colling wood was blockading Cadiz, he was constantly close to the mouth of the harbour; but when Nelson came he hove the fleet to, and drifted off about fifty miles, quite out of sight of the enemy, who then came out and were met at Trafalgar. A rumour had reached him that Russia had on the Danube and in the Baltic a number of fast iron steamers, built in this country, drawing very little water, which carried four and six guns each. If that were true, he must warn the Committee that these would be very formidable vessels. As to Captain Jones, he did not think he could have done more than he had done. The only fault he (Captain Scobell) had to find 1331 with him was, that he had called a steamer he instead of she, rivalling the nautical blunder of the late Secretary of the Admiralty, who denominated a vessel "it." He was delighted to think there was a prospect of defeating the enemy, who had forced us into the war; and there could be no doubt that the result of any action that might take place would be a glorious victory to our flag. No question of expense should be allowed to stand in the way of manning the fleet with the best seamen that could be got. He believed there was a Bill in contemplation for the encouragement of seamen to enter the Navy, and he had no doubt if it offered them bounty, its effect would be to draw men under the flag twice as fast as before.
§ MR. BANKES
said, he could not concur with the last speaker in thinking that the subject of the transport of cavalry was foreign to the topic which was at present occupying their attention. They were perfectly aware that great difficulties had occurred, with respect to which no blame whatever could be imputed to the naval service; but to which, nevertheless, it was very desirable that the attention of the Committee and of the Government should be called. Neither did he agree with the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) in thinking that the subject of the appointment of naval cadets should not have been introduced into the present discussion. It was a matter of praise to those who administered the affairs of the Navy, that the House of Commons could calmly and deliberately give its attention to every minute circumstance with regard to that service; and, therefore, he did not think that the lecture of the hon. Member for Montrose was absolutely called for by what had been stated by the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie), although he did not bring forward the subject precisely at the time when he had originally intended. He confessed, for his own part, that he could not regret the observations of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, because they gave him an opportunity for saying that, whatever might have been the practice with reference to late appointments to naval cadetships, there was a very fair chance of the country now having the services of excellent Conservative officers. Nor did he quite concur with the hon. Member for Montrose in saying that the nation had forced the House and the Government into the present war. He held a more pleasing view 1332 than that. It was that the nation had gone with the House and the Government into the war, which he trusted, therefore, would not terminate, as other wars had terminated, in consequence of the country becoming tired of it before the House and the Government had seen reason to close it. The war had been felt on all sides to be a painful necessity. The nation had not pushed the House, nor had the House dragged the nation into it; but unitedly, deliberately, and sadly, they had entered upon it; and having done so, he trusted they were determined not to desert the country whose rights they were bound to protect, but to carry on the war with vigour, and to conduct it to a speedy and successful issue. He was highly gratified to learn the readiness with which volunteers had been found to supply the large naval forces that had been required. He was particularly happy to find, also, that so large a number of men had been obtained from the coast-guard service. Living in a maritime county, he had enjoyed many opportunities of seeing the services of the persons engaged in that particular branch; he had derived great advantage from their acting as a police; and it gave him additional pleasure to express his admiration of them when he remembered that a large proportion of them were Irishmen. He felt a disappointment, consequently, in learning that in Ireland itself there had not been that readiness to volunteer into Her Majesty's service which had been so happily effected in other parts of the kingdom. It was stated that the tide of emigration from Ireland had rapidly increased since the declaration of war, from a fear entertained by the people that if they remained in the country, they should be pressed or induced to enter the naval service; and the consequence was, that large numbers of able-bodied men entered into emigrant ships, and exposed themselves to every sort of peril and misery, and in many cases even to death itself, in order to avoid the fancied hardship of entering the glorious naval service of England.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
said, he hoped he might be permitted to take that opportunity of doing an act of justice to a gallant officer for whom everybody who knew him must entertain the highest respect, who had formerly occupied a seat in that House, and was the friend of many hon. Gentlemen now present—he alluded to Admiral Dundas. He had 1333 heard with great surprise, and had read with great pain—a feeling which had also actually been experienced by his gallant friend—the attacks which had been made upon Admiral Dundas, imputing to him supineness of conduct, want of energy, and other faults, which, if true, would have been disgraceful to a person holding the position which he occupied in the naval service. Without troubling the Committee with more than a few words, he might say that he thought the position which Admiral Dundas had occupied had been one of a most difficult nature. It had been his duty to keep his fleet in order during a time of quiet, and when every man under his command was anxious to go into action. Under these circumstances, he had been accused of not having displayed that activity which, as the officer commanding the fleet, he ought to have exhibited. Now, the facts of the case were simple enough, and they ought to be known by the public, otherwise the attacks which had been made upon Admiral Dundas might receive more credit than they deserved. He had recently seen a letter, dated 14th April, written by Admiral Dundas to a mutual friend. In that communication the hon. and gallant officer said:—The declaration of war reached me on the 10th. The French Admiral is waiting for his orders, and as soon as we receive them we shall act mutually and in concert. In the meantime I am taking all the precautions I can, and doing all I can in the service of my country; and I shall act at the very first moment.He then went on to say that his fleet was in the highest order, and was only equalled by that of the French, and that they were doing all they could to "coax" the Russian ships out of their harbours. He proceeded:—"If they come out, depend upon it I shall be able to give a good account of them; but they don't seem inclined to move." And then he added, with that generosity of sentiment which so well became him, "I hope my friend Napier will be more fortunate in the Baltic." What had been the result? Admiral Dundas received the declaration of war on the 10th; he set to work immediately afterwards, and in a few days he was able to give an account of some of the Russian ships, as had that evening been announced to the House by the First Lord of the Admiralty. Now, it was to be hoped that when statements such as those which had appeared in a 1334 portion of the press were put forward, the public would read them with some degree of suspicion; that they would not be too ready to condemn honourable and gallant men in their absence upon an arduous duty, but that they would believe that the same spirit would actuate the officers who were placed in command of our fleets now which determined their conduct upon previous occasions. So far as Admiral Dundas was concerned, he had given a good and an early account of his services, and he hoped that the only feeling which would be entertained by the public in regard to this matter would be one of disgust towards those who were ready to cry down men placed in an honourable but most difficult position.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, that he rose for the purpose of saying a few words in reply to the speech of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie), and in order to correct some of his statements rather than to complain of the tone of them. The hon. Member seemed inclined to find fault with the manner in which he was pleased to consider the appointment of naval cadets was at present managed; but the hon. Member would find, upon inquiry, that in the opinion which he had formed on this subject he was much mistaken, and that no such blame as that imputed could be attached to the distribution of the patronage connected with these appointments. With regard to the rules and regulations in force relative to them, there might probably be some ground for improvement, but, as to the strict and accurate enforcement of such regulations by the Government, it would be found that they had been most rigidly observed and carried out. The hon. Member had asserted that by certain political influences, acting through the Secretary of the Treasury, not only the present Government, but former ones, had deviated from these regulations, and had appointed young gentlemen as naval cadets who were above the age required by the rules of the service. Now, the rule in relation to the age of the candidate for these appointments was that no youth should be appointed a naval cadet under the age of twelve, or above the age of fourteen; and it was his firm opinion that neither the present nor any other Government had ever knowingly appointed a boy of fifteen years old as a naval cadet. One of the regulations was that every candidate for the appointment should present to the Admiralty, among 1335 other documents, his baptismal certificate, which of course would prevent any but a wilful mistake as to age, and such mistake, he felt assured, had never been made. No instance of the kind had been adduced; it had merely been said that the Secretary of the Treasury had the power of interfering. Now he could assure the hon. Gentleman that, whatever might be done by the Secretary of the Treasury in his own office, he was religiously kept out of the Admiralty Department, and that so far as the present Board was concerned, the existing regulations with respect to the appointment of naval cadets had been fairly administered. He had himself been able to oblige some hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House by filling no vacancies upon their recommendation; and he could assure the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, that if he had a boy about the required age, who wished to enter the Navy, and who promised to make an able officer, as the son of such a father could not fail to do, he would be glad to place a cadetship at his disposal. But the hon. Gentleman had likewise found fault with the appointment of the admirals, and had spoken as if those officers were chosen on account of their politics. Now, he thought it would not be denied that Sir Charles was selected for his undoubted pre-eminence in his profession. He believed the same remark applied to Admiral Houston Stewart. A despatch had been received that day from Lord Raglan, in which the arrangements made by Admiral Houston Stewart were very highly extolled. That, surely, was a proof that Admiral Houston Stewart was selected, not on account of his politics, but because he was an able and efficient officer. Such, in fact, was the principle upon which the Board of Admiralty had acted in all the recent appointments; and if it happened that most of the admirals were distinguished in political life, it was nevertheless true that they had been chosen because they were distinguished in their profession. If hon. Members knew the Admiralty as well as he did, they would know that the Admiralty always, and without any exception, selected those whom they considered the best men for the work that was required to be done; and in the conduct of the patronage of this part of the Government he felt bound to say most emphatically, that no consideration of politics, no party motive, or no personal favouritism, ever interfered with it in any way, or influenced its ope- 1336 ration in the least. The Admiralty felt the vital importance of strict impartiality in these matters, and, he again reiterated, appointed to the best of their judgment the best men. With regard to the foul and malignant aspersions which had been cast upon the gallant Admiral who commands our fleet in the Black Sea, all he could say was that it was very easy for "gentlemen who live at home at ease," to talk about what they did not understand, and talk with that random insolence which so universally accompanied ignorance of this kind. He could not sufficiently and strongly express the indignation which he felt at the conduct of these wicked impostors in knowledge, and at the wretched and outrageous lies—["Hear, hear!"]—he begged pardon for using such a word in that House—which these men did not think it beneath them to propagate and invent against an officer of the highest ability and courage, whose flag, wherever it might wave, he felt quite sure would never be tarnished or disgraced. He thought, and he felt assured that the House of Commons thought so too, that the conduct of these anonymous scribblers, writing, as no doubt they did, for a particular and base object, could not be too severely condemned or too publicly repudiated, and he hoped that that House would not patiently listen to, or in any way by their countenance encourage, such base aspersions and calumnies on an absent and a gallant man.
said, he was anxious that it should not be supposed that the sentiments uttered by the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, as well as by the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, did not find an echo on that side of the House. He had observed, with great satisfaction, the manly determination of the Government to uphold the character of those officers who would be well able, if present, to assert their own cause. There had certainly been laid upon the table papers with reference to particular transactions, which fairly opened up the question if any hon. Gentleman chose to take it up. It would then be seen whether Admiral Dundas had obeyed his orders or not, or whether those orders were the most judicious that could have been issued. Meantime he hoped they would not even by their silence lend their sanction to those unworthy calumnies which had been circulated with respect to these officers. Whatever might be the conduct of Admiral Dundas in future, it should always be remembered 1337 that he had rendered Besika Bay a place of historic interest to the latest generation, By his admirable arrangements there he had proved that the fleets of the two most powerful nations in Europe could preserve the most perfect amity. He spoke with some little authority on this point, as he had the honour of visiting Admiral Dundas's flag-ship there, and he had seen enough to convince him that if it had not been for the most excellent arrangements it would have been quite impossible to maintain amity during so long a period of inaction. There was not a day that passed, there was not an arrangement with regard to the transmission of mails, or stores, or provisions, or even the intercourse between the junior members of either service, that might not have given rise to some ruptures, and they all knew how gratifying even the rumour of such a rupture would have been in a certain quarter. He thought that the triumph of Admiral Dundas in this instance was not less glorious than any of those he might hereafter achieve, and any one who read the ordinary channels of communication, or the intelligence of private friends in the fleet, must know that, up to the hour at which the last news was despatched, there was not the slightest sign of discord, but the most perfect amity. He thought the same praise ought to be given to the French Admiral, and it was quite right that the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty should have spoken out in so manly a manner when laying those papers on the table. He had challenged the House to take up these papers, and it now remained to be seen whether any hon. Gentleman would accept that challenge.
§ MR. COBDEN
said, there was one point connected with the conduct of the war upon which he would like to make a few observations. He had seen with unfeigned satisfaction the beneficent revolution which had taken place in the system of maritime warfare since the commencement of hostilities with Russia. We had abandoned our extreme belligerent rights over neutrals, which we exercised with such injustice and rigour in the former war. He considered that every credit ought to be given to those through whose instrumentality changes so praiseworthy and important had been effected. He thought we had, by the suspension of the system, and by the known understanding between England and America, dealt a deathblow to privateering—that system of chartered piracy on the ocean. Now, he wanted to suggest to the 1338 Government. whether we could not even go one step further, and exempt from capture all private ships of the enemy, unless they were taken in the act of breaking an effective and declared blockade. His attention was drawn to this subject by seeing in the newspapers an account of the capture of a Finland vessel, which was brought into Portsmouth. The name of the ship was the Froja, and she was under the charge of Captain Weekmann. The account stated that the captain was part owner of the vessel, that the whole of his fortune was embarked in her, and that by her capture be was reduced to ruin. It added that he offered no obstacle or resistance to her capture, merely remarking that the fact of her being taken was a bad job for him. Now, he would ask, in the first place, what was the difference in fact, or as an act decided by the rules of justice, whether we captured Captain Weekmann's ship, cargo, and crew, and took them from him by a revenue cruiser sent out front Portsmouth, or whether we took them from him by a privateer, with a regular letter of marque from the Crown. Let them apply another test. Suppose that Captain Weekmann, instead of having his salt in his ship, had been fortunate enough to have it stored safe in a warehouse in Finland. In the latter ease, most assuredly if any of our marines had landed and robbed his warehouse of that salt, would they not have been severely punished, and if acting under such an officer as the late Duke of Wellington, they would most likely have been hung up for it. Now, what he wanted to suggest to the Government was, that we should treat the private property of the enemy with the same respect when it was afloat which we paid to it when it was on shore. If we went back to not a very remote period, we found that armies were in the habit of plundering wherever they went, and of supplying the cost of the war at the expense of individuals; but that system was no longer regarded as consistent with civilisation and justice, and in the present war a regular commissariat supply for our troops was admitted to be as necessary as our ordnance supply. All he asked was, that Government would take into consideration whether it would not be advisable to go one step further than we had gone. We should still be going hand in hand with the United States, for Mr. Jefferson, sixty years ago, laid down the principle which he was now contending for, and the same fathers of the American Revolution, who were advocates for the abolition of 1339 privateering, were also advocates of that further step which he now recommended. He did think it would be a gratifying thing for England to be the first to state that she would not henceforth recognise the right of capturing these poor unfortunate Finland ships with cargoes of salt, going from Lisbon to the Baltic, in order to salt fish for the next year's consumption, He had merely put this question as a matter of justice, but it might be argued also on the ground of expediency and of interest. We were the greatest maritime people in the world. He had heard it stated by a great City authority, in the presence of the Prime Minister, that, from inquiries he had made, he believed that England had always property afloat to the value of 80,000,000l. What, then, was the effect of the system which we pursued with regard to the capture of merchant vessels upon our own trade? At the present moment our ships leaving our ports were obliged to insure against war capture. For the Baltic the rate of insurance was 3 per cent.; for the eastern part of the Mediterranean it was 2 per cent.; and generally to all parts of the world it was from 10s. to 16s. per cent. One of the largest shipowners in England, a Member of that House, who he hoped soon to see taking a leading part in such discussions, told him yesterday that he had paid 2½ per cent. for the insurance of a cargo from India. He had made a calculation, and he found that we were probably at the present moment paying a tax for insurance against war capture of 2,000,000l. or 3,000,000l. per annum upon the whole of our foreign trade. Thus, then, for the miserable Finland ships we took laden with salt we were paying in the shape of insurance twenty times as much as those vessels would sell for. This, too, was only while the war was with Russia. Suppose we went to war with a people who bordered the sea-coast, and who could chase and harass our merchant vessels, what would be our insurance then? But he would not put it as a matter of interest—it was a question of justice. He would like to see England take the lead in repudiating a system which was inconsistent with the civilisation of the age in which we lived. He would like to see her announce to all the world that henceforth we should make no seizures of merchant vessels belonging to the enemy, unless they were caught while attempting to break a blockade, or otherwise actively engaged in hostility against us. There was one other point connected with the conduct of the war to which he 1340 desired to allude for a moment. It could not have escaped the attention of hon. Gentlemen that when the First Lord of the Admiralty communicated to the House the intelligence which had been received from Odessa, there was a unanimous expression of gratification at the announcement that no injury had been done to private houses and property. It seemed that no attempt was made to bombard the town of Odessa. That was what they must all have expected from Admiral Dundas, and he hoped that the same rule would be acted upon elsewhere. Let it be understood that no attempt to bombard or injure peaceful, commercial, and unfortified towns, would meet the approbation of that House and the country. He might here quote the authority of the late Duke of Wellington. They all knew that when he carried on his campaigns in Spain, he never would allow a town to be bombarded, even when he had to capture it. He suffered great losses frequently by not bombarding towns, but he would not be a party to the destruction of an unarmed city; it was gratifying to find that we had begun the present war in the same humane spirit. With regard to the war itself, it would differ from all that had gone before it if it answered in its end the purposes of its beginning. Most likely before many months had elapsed the original objects and motives of the war might be merged in something quite different; but, at all events, it would always be something to glory in if we could say that in this war we had done a little for the cause of civilisation, by carrying on hostilities more in accordance than heretofore with the interests and feelings of humanity.
§ LORD HOTHAM
said, he concurred in most of the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for the West Riding, who had just spoken, but he rose more for the purpose of protesting against the attacks which had been made upon Admiral Dundas than adverting to the manner in which the war ought to be carried on. The hardship of these attacks was not more manifest than their impropriety, inasmuch as they were made by persons who could not possibly know the orders under which he was acting. They were also the more to be condemned, because they were not made upon the Government who were there to defend themselves, but upon an honourable and gallant officer who was not present. He wished to be understood that his remarks were made in reference to attacks which appeared in the public press, be- 1341 cause it had not come to his knowledge that any hon. Member in that House had cast imputations on Admiral Dundas. He was himself apprehensive that the tone of these newspapers might have found an echo in some hon. Members, and he had attended there night after night in order, if any such discussion took place—although it belonged more especially to the Government to defend the character of its officer—to show that no differences of opinion would prevent his vindicating the character of an absent and honourable man. Having no political relations with the Government, he was the less unwilling to stand forward in defence of the character of an officer employed in a very responsible and onerous duty.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
said, he could not understand why the correspondence of Admiral Dundas, which had been laid before the House of Lords, and been published also in the public press, had not been placed upon the table of the House of Commons. He should like the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty to explain how such an omission had arisen. They ought to know why those vessels that went to Circassia and brought troops back were not intercepted before they took the troops on board and sent back to the nearest port. He had been very glad to hear the observations which had been made by various hon. Gentlemen in defence of Admiral Dundas. He thought the feeling which prompted hon. Gentlemen to get up and defend any man unjustly attacked did them great credit—he did not say any man attacked in his absence, because if they were not to canvass the conduct of absent men they must be debarred from canvassing the conduct of almost all naval and military officers—indeed, of every one who had not a seat in that House, or who was not present. The point was, not to attack any man's conduct in an unjust spirit. He had had the honour of Admiral Dundas's acquaintance, and he might say friendship, for thirty years. If there was blame anywhere, it must lie at the door of the Government; and, indeed, he could not but allow that the public had some cause to be astonished when they contrasted the orders which they had been told were given to the commanders of the French and English fleets in the Black Sea with that which had really been effected there. It had been asserted over and over again that the Black Sea was to be placed entirely under the com- 1342 mand of the allied fleets, that the Russian flag was to be swept out of it, and that was the only way in which the policy of the two Governments could be carried into effect. Whether all this was possible, considering the dangerous nature of the Black Sea, it was not for him to say; but certainly it had not been done—the Russian flag had not been done—the Russian flag had not been swept out of the Black Sea, and the Russian ships had been able to perform military operations of great importance in spite of the allied fleets. No doubt it was difficult to keep a large fleet in the Black Sea in time of winter, but he had been informed on no mean authority that Sinope was a place where a large fleet might lie in any weather. The anchorage, he was told, was extremely easy; the wind never blew home, and, indeed, he believed that it was perfectly capable of being made into a naval station quite as good as Sebastopol. Now if the combined fleet had been stationed at Sinope they would have been opposite Sebastopol and have kept watch there. He should like to know from the Government whether any Reports had been addressed to them on the state of the harbour at Sinope, and, if so, whether they had any objection to lay them before the House? He had heard the news which had arrived to-day with great satisfaction, but further details were necessary before the importance of the operations could be properly comprehended. No information had yet been given as to what forts had been destroyed, what guns dismounted, and whether the vessels burnt were line-of-battle ships, large steamers, or merchantmen. [Mr. B. OSBORNE: Merchantmen.] Well, if they were merchantmen, the value of the operations was certainly considerably diminished. They would have been more efficient, too, had they been undertaken earlier. Throughout the war, however, we had always managed to be a little too late. He had just received information from a correspondent at Constantinople, dated the 20th of last month, in which it was stated that a Russian flotilla had just left Odessa, and had arrived at the mouth of the Danube. The passage of the Danube, it was said, by the Russians had been undertaken simply to secure to the flotilla an unmolested entrance into the river. The Turks were exclaiming against the treachery of the English and French Governments. Omar Pasha was writing letter after letter, calling for the speedy assistance of the allied troops, and it was 1343 asserted that, if the Russians made a further advance, insurrection in Bulgaria was certain. But there was danger of insurrection, he believed, in another quarter. Russian officers, it was stated, were openly organising the Montenegrins to attack Turkey; and, as the Montenegrins were of Slavonic origin, the danger of an insurrection among them spreading was much greater than among the Greeks, for the Slavonic Christians in the Turkish empire were to the Greek Christians as ten to one. He believed that the conduct of this Government with regard to Montenegro was ultimately the cause of the war, for if it had not been for the interference of England, Omar Pasha would have thoroughly put down the insurrection which last broke out there, and would have disarmed the population, as he had formerly disarmed the population of Lebanon. Prince Daniel was, however, spared by our interposition, and preserved to do good service to the Russian cause in the present crisis. How could Russia suppose that we should resist her aggression on Turkey when she had just seen us interfering to prevent the Sultan putting down those who had risen in revolt against him? An hon. Baronet (Sir J. Walsh) who had spoken in the course of this discussion had urged the necessity of employing gunboats and small vessels to act in the shallow waters at the mouth of the Danube. That was a subject deserving attention, and when he was in that part of the world last year the absolute necessity of some such vessels had been pointed out to him by officers in the fleet, and it was argued that, as no preparations of the sort had been made, there could be no serious intention on the part of the Government to go to war. It was to be lamented that we had not taken such measures that, when war was declared, we could immediately and efficiently assist the Turks. It should have been "a word and a blow." Instead of sending our troops first to Malta and then to Gallipoli, then to Constantinople, and a few to Varna, we ought to have sent a large force straight on to Varna, and we should thus have given important support to Omar Pasha, and have prevented, too, the great bloodshed which had taken place within the last few weeks. He perfectly agreed with all that had fallen from the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) as to the necessity of mitigating the horrors of war as much as possible, and nothing could do 1344 this more effectually than vigour and promptitude of action. For instance, if we had done as he had pointed out, all the horrors which had been enacted in the Dobrudscha would have been prevented. He trusted, however, that, notwithstanding all this dilatoriness, Admiral Dundas would soon have the opportunity of vindicating his character, of making a brilliant reply to everything which had been said against him, and of covering himself and his fleet with glory.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, as the case at present stood, Admiral Dundas had no occasion whatever to vindicate his character; but if he had followed the advice which the noble Lord (Lord D. Stuart) would have given him, and remained at sea last winter, the gallant Admiral would have had need to do so; for scarce a ship would have been fit for service, and half his crew would have been in hospital. It was the business of Admiral Dundas and that of the French Admiral, with whom he had acted in the closest alliance, to preserve his ships and crews in the most perfect condition for the time—when it should arrive—to do efficient service. But during the whole of the winter it was not possible that the time had come for it. He (Mr. Drummond) must repeat, what he had said on a former occasion, that the most arduous task of the Government during the present war would be to vindicate the character of the officers employed. The Duke of Wellington used to say that nothing contented this country so much, or made the people so happy, as a good butcher's blow—that they thought, unless their Generals or Admirals gained a battle by a mass of slaughter, nothing was done, and that they had not money's worth for their money. The country ought to give its naval and military commanders more of its confidence. He disliked the interference of diplomatic men. He thought that as soon as the first cannon was loaded diplomacy should cease. He remembered the mischief done in the Peninsular war from this cause. He remembered the intermeddling of Mr. Frere, and the sacrifice of Sir John Moore. If Sir John Moore was lost from any cause, he was lost by the gabbling gossip of the London press. It was those men who were continually irritating that sensitive and high-minded man, who was always thinking what the press would say about him instead of the fate of the troops committed to his care. He (Mr. Drummond) hoped that the House 1345 had read the correspondence of General Godwin, who was another victim of the press. From the first moment General Godwin took the command in Pegu to the day he left it he was attacked and run down by the Indian journals. Lord Dalhousie (the Governor General) certainly did his best to support him. General Godwin proved that he alone was fitted to command, for he alone was master of the country, and knew it well because he had served there before; yet he was made the victim of the most unmitigated slander of the Indian press, from the moment he assumed the command until he left it—and no sooner had he left it than he died—an awful warning. The correspondence ought to be in the hands of our officers, to teach them to preserve their course with a single eye to the discharge of their duty and obedience to their orders, without any reference to "our own correspondent," and the gabbling purveyors of slander for London papers. The principal thing was to look to the Government. It was not because Admiral Dundas was absent that he (Mr. Drummond) objected to these attacks, but because he was a commander, and because the attacks were made upon him by persons utterly incompetent to form an opinion on the question. It is not because a man happened to have a seat in that House, that he was consequently a master in military and naval matters, and an authority on every subject in which he fancied himself competent to speak. If any objections were taken to the course pursued by the commanders, it was the Government who ought to be attacked, and not the commanders, present or absent.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
I am most unwilling, Sir, to obtrude myself upon the attention of the Committee at the present time, lest I should be unconsciously betrayed into controversy on an occasion when I feel much rather disposed to congratulate the House, and I may say the country, on the unanimity which has prevailed upon the present subject. But I would first of all apply myself to some observations which have fallen from the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord Dudley Stuart), as he has referred to some correspondence to which reference was made on a former occasion, and which the Government are about to lay on the table. The Motion for the production of that correspondence was made last night. I have the papers now with me; but before the close of the evening 1346 they will be printed, and I repeat, what has already been stated by the hon. Member for North Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford), that, if there is any ground for accusation arising out of these papers, I hope a Motion will be founded upon it. I say with that hon. Gentleman further, that if blame attaches to any one, it attaches to the Government under whose orders these officers act. For myself, I must say that I know not a single instance, during the twelve months in which Admiral Dundas has been exposed to circumstances varying in their nature, but all circumstances of peculiar difficulty, in which he has not ably, faithfully, and, I think, creditably fulfilled his instructions. I am bound to say that the most cordial understanding has throughout existed between Admiral Hamelin, the French Admiral, and himself; and this has been maintained, though tried by the circumstance to which the hon. Member for North Northamptonshire has referred, circumstances of very peculiar difficulty, combining operations with fleets in the crews of which there were still, perhaps, some lingering remains of ancient rivalry, where the ships lay almost yard-arm to yard-arm, and in no case with a quarter of a mile of water between them, still in such circumstances the intercourse between the fleets was almost hourly, with no occupation and no amusement, yet, owing to the admirable tact of the Admirals, aided by the excellent conduct, of the officers and the good feeling of the crews, I have not heard of a single quarrel of any description; but there has been throughout the two fleets the most cordial union, which I believe to be the best omen for their future success. But whatever credit may be given to the officers and to the men generally, I conceive that the greatest credit is due to the two Admirals. I am not aware that against Admiral Dundas any charge has been preferred in this House which either his friends or the Government are called upon to vindicate; and though I do not pretend to say that I do not consider it part of my duty to read what is said in the daily papers with regard to these transactions, still I am not aware of any accusation of any weight that has been preferred against him. I believe the attacks that have been made have been confined exclusively to one newspaper, and that not one by any means of the highest character. To suppose that an officer in the position and standing of Admiral Dundas should be required, either by himself or by his friends, to meet 1347 attacks of this description, is, I must say, to forget altogether the position which Admiral Dundas occupies. The noble Lord (Lord D. Stuart) has also referred to the conduct of Captain Jones, but the papers to which I before referred will, I think, satisfy him upon that point, or, if not, many other opportunities will arise of discussing it. I may next refer to the observations the noble Lord made on the capabilities of the port of Sinope, a position which he thinks ought to have been occupied by the fleets in preference to that of the Bosphorus. Sir, I have such respect for this House that I do not know there is any subject too great or too small to be brought under its notice, which is not worthy of its attention, or with which it is not competent to deal. With respect, indeed, to the future mode of conducting the war becoming a subject of discussion in this House, I think the public interests would be seriously endangered by such a course. The duty of the executive Government must ever be, with regard to prospective operations, not to betray them by premature discussions, which would be equivalent to the crime of disclosing the Queen's counsels, to the advantage of the enemy, and to the serious injury of the country. But with reference to past transactions there is not by any means the same objection, and the blue books upon these subjects have been laid upon the table, and opportunity has been afforded, with reference to past transactions, to raise any objections to the conduct of Government which any Member of this house may think fit to prefer. We have had much discussion indeed, but no substantive accusation. But with reference to Sinope, I do not allude to the disaster at that place, I am speaking on the question whether Sinope would be a preferable station for the fleet to the Bosphorus, the noble Lord, who is generally well informed, appears to have forgotten that the whole combined fleets, under Admirals Dundas and Hamelin, were moved from the Bosphorus to Sinope. Eighteen sail of the line were taken there and anchored there. That particular roadstead was tried as winter quarters, and the Admirals, after trying it, gave their conjoint opinion that it was a dangerous station, in every respect inferior, with reference to watching the Russian fleet, to the Bosphorus; that being further to westward than Sebastopol, it would be easier for the fleet to reach Constantinople from Sebastopol than from Sinope, so that if the 1348 combined fleets had anchored at Sinope, the safety of Constantinople would have been endangered. The noble Lord seems to be of an opposite opinion; but on a subject of this kind he will pardon me if I tell him that I have a greater reliance on the opinions of Admirals Hamelin and Dundas than on his. Then the noble Lord says we are always too late. That may be true with respect to the declaration of war. If the noble Lord thinks that we postponed that declaration too long, and that we ought to have declared war at an earlier period, he may call upon this House to decide between us; and if this House thinks the Government has been wrong, he may seek from it an expression of our condemnation. But I venture to hope—and shall continue to do so till this House expresses an opinion to the contrary—that the Government has followed the opinion of the country, that every effort was rightly made till the last moment that was consistent with the honour and interest of this country to postpone that declaration. We did postpone it till the last moment that we thought was Consistent with the honour and dignity of the country; and I have yet to learn that the people of this country, or the representatives of the people, think that we have erred in judgment in so doing. And if we were not too long in postponing the declaration of war, I deny that we have failed in vigour since that declaration. War was not declared till the 30th of March. At this moment we have 20,000 men landed at Gallipoli and Constantinople; we have nineteen sail of the line assembled in the Baltic, before the ice has been broken up, and the French and English united force is nearly double that of the Russians in the Black Sea. Is this procrastination? The noble Lord says, why have we not a flotilla of gun-boats in the Sea of Azov, or for operations in the Danube, where there is a difficulty for the operations of larger vessels, owing to the bar at the mouth of the river? I shall tell the noble Lord why. It is because it was impossible to do everything at the same moment of time. It was of the last importance, as far as the Admiralty was concerned, that we should prepare, arm, man, and despatch nineteen sail of the line to the Baltic. We have done that. I take no credit for it, for without the active and zealous support of my colleagues at the Admiralty, the thing would have been impossible. I may name in particular the services of my hon. and 1349 gallant Friend the Member for Gloucester (Admiral Berkeley) and Captain Milne, whose efforts—whose almost undivided efforts—have been given to that vast work, and without which it would have been impossible to send out such a fleet in such a short period of time. And yet the noble Lord, on the very day that we have heard of this naval success at Odessa, comes forward and reads a letter from Constantinople, to which he attaches credit, and which alleges that certain naval armaments have passed from Odessa to the Danube. Well, Sir, I am not in a position to deny that. It is impossible for me positively to aver that it is not so, but I must say that all presumptions are against it. The declaration of war was only known at Beicos on the 10th of April. The French Admiral was not, indeed, so soon informed of it—it was only known to both fleets on the 14th, and we now know positively that in eight days afterwards Odessa was attacked; and I can only say that no such armaments have been heard of at the Admiralty. The hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie) began this discussion in a tone which I regret—he said, that though it might be unwillingly on my part, yet I had distributed the patronage of the Navy on political grounds. Sir, whatever pain was inflicted on me on account of what fell from the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, was more than compensated for by the generous observations of the right hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Bankes) and the hon. Member for North Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford). Sir, I must say that, though I may have have erred in judgment, I have always endeavoured to distribute the patronage of the Navy fairly. I am not aware of the political connections of all the admirals who were enumerated by the hon. Member for Inverness-shire; I chose them on account of their fitness—in more than one instance I chose the junior admirals, at the request of their superior officers; and I hope that, notwithstanding all our political differences, those gallant men, placed in trying and difficult circumstances, whatever may have been their past political conduct, or their present political connections, yet if they conduct themselves gallantly, faithfully, and honourably, no disparagement will be thrown upon them from any quarter in this House. I have only to add, that I feel extremely grateful to the Committee for the manner in which they have received the propositions of the Government. I do not arro- 1350 gate to the Government, from the unanimity of the Committee, any mark of approbation or confidence in the Government. Many other opportunities will arise for questioning our policy, or impugning our motives; but I do not think this is a fitting opportunity, and I cordially thank the Committee that they have not chosen so to consider it.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I have listened with attention to the remarks of the right hon. Baronet, and I certainly cannot reconcile them with some recent observations of the right hon. Gentleman. If the right hon. Gentleman wished to preserve the unanimity which has characterised our proceedings hitherto, I think he might have refrained from defying the House to bring forward a vote of want of confidence in the Government.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee that in all I said, nothing was further from my intention than to assume a tone of defiance.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I certainly would not have risen had I not been under that impression. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that all the documents connected with these transactions were now upon the table; that no vote of want of confidence had been proposed; and that under these circumstances he was entitled to assume that the conduct of the Government was approved of by the House of Commons and by the country. Those, Sir, were the observations which I understood the right hon. Gentleman to make, and I rose merely to guard myself against its being supposed that I participated in his opinion. Sir, the country is now at war, and, whatever we may think of the causes of this war, I believe the opinion of both sides of the House is, as I have on a former occasion stated, that the war having been entered into, Her Majesty ought to have our zealous support. Under these circumstances I do not think it is the duty of any hon. Gentleman opposed to the Government to propose a vote of want of confidence. If the Opposition had been of opinion that we ought to go to war, while the Government was in favour of remaining at peace, then it would be our duty to ask the House of Commons to decide on these contrary policies. But as there is a general understanding, whatever may have been the causes of the war, that it is now inevitable and ought to be pursued with vigour, we should be taking a most im- 1351 proper course if, because in our opinion the war might in its origin have been avoided, therefore we should ask the House of Commons for a vote of want of confidence in the Administration. The right hon. Gentleman commenced his observations to night by saying he assumed that every one believed the war was necessary. Far from agreeing in that assumption, I must be excused for begging that I may not be included in his category. I must say now, as I have said before, that I do not think the war was necessary. The war, perilous and expensive as it is, is a war entirely to be attributed to one man; it is entirely to be attributed to the character, career, and anterior conduct of the individual who is the Prime Minister of this country. This is my opinion, and I have expressed it before. I had not, however, the slightest wish to express it again to-night; but when the right hon. Gentleman assumes the tone that he has on this occasion, I must guard myself from misconception. I must, with great regret, say I have seen no reason whatever to change that opinion. I think that if Lord Aberdeen had not been Prime Minister of England, England would not have been at war with Russia, and that all those results which are necessary for maintaining the balance of power in Europe might have been attained without incurring the danger and great expenditure in which this country is now involved. As I am on my legs, I would say one word with reference to the Estimates that are now waiting our consideration. It is only two short months ago that the financial statement was made. It was made one month before the termination of the financial year—a very unusual, and I consider a very unnecessary course—a course only to be accounted for by remarkable circumstances. What were those circumstances? The Government, as we understand, knowing that they were about to engage in a great struggle, acknowledged the necessity for a very considerable increase of expenditure. Her Majesty's Ministers thought it was the most frank, the most honourable, and the most honest mode of proceeding, to anticipate the usual period of placing before the country their financial condition, and at once to let the House of Commons and the country understand that a great and extraordinary expenditure had been incurred, and that consequently very great sacrifices were expected, and were necessary. It was understood that 1352 upon the whole the Government, in taking the remarkable step of making the financial statement a month before it was necessary, had shown confidence in the country and in this House; and their frankness was appreciated, in order that we might prematurely understand our position. What was that position? We were told that the revenue was in a state of prosperity; we were told that we had a surplus of 3,000,000l., but that in consequence of the perilous position in which we were placed, we had to incur an increased expenditure of 6,000,000l.; so that the country was prepared for an absolute deficiency of 3,000,000l. upon the coming year. The country, therefore, was asked at once to make a considerable sacrifice by virtually doubling the income tax; and I now ask the Committee whether that sacrifice was not made with unanimity, and, I may add, even with confidence in the Government. Well, two months have only elapsed—it is only one month since the financial statement was made—and now we are asked for supplementary Estimates to the amount of 5,600,000l. If it is necessary for the honour and interest of the country that we should vote 5,600,000l., the House of Commons will certainly not hesitate to vote it; we are prepared even to go further for such objects; but surely Her Majesty's Ministers two months ago ought to have formed some more correct estimate of the demands for the public service than they appear to have done. I should like to know upon what grounds they supposed, only two months ago, there would be an increased expenditure on account of the war to the amount of 3,000,000l. sterling, whilst now we find, only two months after that estimate, that the amount required is 8,600,000l. This, mind you, was an estimate made in a state of war, when it was not very probable that it would not be exceeded. But if there was at that period such a want of data on the part of the Government, such an absence of authentic materials, that it was not in their power with any certainty, with any exactitude, with any approximation to accuracy, to place before the House the real state of our affairs, and the basis upon which they made an appeal to us for an increase in the burdens of the people, why have precipitated the financial exposition? Why, when they might have waited another month, and by that time have obtained more accurate data, have precipitated the financial statement, and told us that the 1353 probable amount required of increased expenditure would be only 3,000,000l. sterling? But eight weeks have scarcely passed before we find that estimate nearly trebled, and trebled under circumstances which will not allow us to indulge in the fallacious expectation of supposing it to be excessive. I think these are circumstances that could hardly have passed unnoticed. It is a very remarkable thing that we should have had the financial statement anticipated unnecessarily. Such a proceeding is inconvenient to the public service; it is awkward and inconvenient to the Minister of Finance himself, because it obliges him to give us only an estimate in respect of the last month in the year; while it is inconvenient to the House, and injurious to the country, if through such anticipation, we are unable clearly to understand our position, clearly to comprehend our increased liabilities, and the amount of the increased sacrifices and burdens to be imposed upon the people. I think, therefore, that it ought to be explained to us, why, instead of a deficiency of 3,000,000l., there is a deficiency of nearly 9,000,000l. We have heard that the Government have great plans. The noble Lord the Leader of the House, when he sacrificed with so much emotion the darling policy of his life, and gave up the measure for which he condescended to become a subordinate Member of the present Administration, said he could not take upon himself the responsibility of breaking up a Government that was responsible for the war in which the country was involved, and for the measures which they had prepared in order to carry on that war with vigour and success; and the House, even those who sit opposite to the noble Lord, responded to that feeling, which they believed was a genuine and patriotic feeling. Though the noble Lord was in a difficult and painful position, he was justified in making this great sacrifice, being responsible, as he said, for the war, and for the well-matured plans which had been prepared, as he informed us, to carry it on with vigour, and, as we all hope, with success. But these plans could not have been devised, these plans could not have been matured, without the Government going into some calculation of the expense. I give the noble Lord and his Colleagues credit for supposing they had great plans, for it is the only way in which we can account for these Estimates. I give them credit for having, with painful 1354 thought and with a due sense of the responsibility of their position, mastered the whole subject—for having matured plans which they believe will ultimately bring about results satisfactory to the country and its great interests. But in devising and maturing these plans they must have been aware that great expenditure was necessary. It is quite impossible that any circumstances can have occurred within the last eight weeks that should have rendered it necessary to increase the Estimate from 3,000,000l.—an Estimate framed after long and mature calculation—to one of 9,000,000l. If that be the case, if the noble Lord and his Colleagues had these great plans, which I sincerely believe they had, for carrying on the war with the requisite vigour and energy, and with the hope for success, why were we not told frankly, a few weeks ago, of the position in which we were? I want to know why the financial statement was anticipated by one month? It was not necessary to anticipate it by a month; on the contrary, in the circumstances in which we now find the Government were placed, it would have been of the greatest advantage that it should have been postponed to the last moment, in order that they might have had the most authentic data upon which to form an estimate of the probable expense, and of the demands upon the country. Instead of that the Government anticipated the necessary duty which they were obliged to fulfil; and their disadvantage, as well as ours, is proportionate. They come forward and tell us, upon the 5th of March, instead of the 5th of April, that we are about to be involved in a great struggle, that there must be very increased demands upon the resources of the country, and that they must for six months double the income tax. Now, if they had postponed the financial statement until the proper, regular, and usual time, four weeks ago, surely Her Majesty's Ministers, coming forward on the 5th April, thus completing the financial year, would have acted more fairly to the country than by first making a statement in March, and then coming forward with a new appeal to the House in May, and that so outraging, I may say, all the Estimates which have before been submitted to us. I want to know from the Government, therefore, what was the use of making the financial statement a month before it was due? What was the use of the Chancellor of the Exchequer offering us in his Budget an 1355 estimate of the resources of, and demands upon, the country for the last month of the year? What was the use of his coming forward at so critical a period, when it was necessary that the country should have the most distinct and definite idea both of its responsibility and of its resources with all the disadvantages of the financial year not being concluded? And to do what? To burden time country with a large increase of taxation—a taxation which the country was prepared to bear for a great object—but at the same time to offer to the House the most delusive estimate of the responsibility which it was incurring ever yet offered to the consideration of the House of Commons. I consider that it would be but courteous to the House that this should be explained. I think, instead of the First Lord of the Admiralty referring us to those blue books which he has before treated with such indifference, and telling us that, because we had not brought forward a substantive Motion upon those blue books, we entirely approve of time conduct of the Government—I think, upon an occasion like this, when a supplementary Estimate exceeds in amount the original Estimate of the Government, it would have been more appropriate if the Government had frankly explained the reasons which had induced them to take this course and to make this appeal. The very reason that this House is ready to support them—the fact that there is a determination to maintain the honour of time country and to support the dignity of the Crown—are additional reasons why they should have pursued such a course. These are circumstances quite unexplained. I, therefore, as I have previously stated, do not understand why the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have anticipated the financial statement by one month. His only reason, he stated, was that the country might clearly understand its position; it now turns out that the country did not understand its position from that statement, but, upon the contrary, that he completely misled and bewildered the country. If the financial statement had been made at the end of the financial year, we should have been four weeks nearer the truth than we were at the end of the month of March. I conclude that Her Majesty's Government will not deny that, upon this day month, the 5th of April, they must have been completely masters of the circumstances that have rendered it necessary for them to come forward and make this enormous 1356 appeal for the support of the House. If upon the 5th of April, the conclusion of the financial year, they were completely masters of the circumstances that rendered it necessary for them to make this increased and enormous demand upon the resources of the country, would it not have been better to have made the financial statement at the usual time, and thus to have put the House of Commons and the country in complete possession of the facts, and thus have prevented time great mass of delusion and unintentional deception which has taken place? When we remember the extraordinary statement made at an extraordinary time, as the basis of the claim for increased taxation, I must say that the conduct of Government does require explanation. The proposition of the Government to double the income tax, by the mode in which it was put, was one which I do not think could have been justified unless it had been accompanied by a statement of the position which, in the opinion of the Government, was complete and accurate. Why, if there was a necessity for an increase of our burdens—if there was impending over us an increased expenditure, not of 3,000,000l., but of 9,000,000l., and if the Government at that time, or at the end of the financial year, were, as they must have been, in complete possession of the facts, I want to know whether they were justified in proposing that increase of taxation which they brought forward? If a month ago they could have known they would want 5,600,000l. beyond the previous Estimates, were they justified in bringing forward that peculiar, that modified, and, I will now call it, that mutilated financial proposition which they offered to the consideration of the House, as the means, and the sufficient means, by which the war was to be carried on? This is the question I should like to have answered. But, after all, there is another very important consideration. What is the use of a financial statement? What is the use of the Ministers of the Crown coming forward and making a financial statement to this House? The use, the precious use, of that constitutional ceremony, if I may so call it, is, that a free people should clearly understand the liabilities they incur in supporting a policy which they approve. It would be a very great disadvantage that the Government should involve the country in a war, and not come forward and ask from the House, in clear language, and 1357 with a definite meaning, the resources required to carry on the war with effect. I should think, if they neglected, unreasonably, that duty, they were acting in a manner highly unconstitutional and improper; but this I say without reserve, that I think it much preferable that the Ministry should involve the country in war, and should neglect clearly to let the people know what is the responsibility they are incurring by sanctioning their policy, than that they should prematurely come forward, offering estimates and making financial statements which lead the country and the House of Commons to conclude that their position is the contrary to that in which they find themselves. I should not have risen to-night had it not been for the peculiar views which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) introduced into his remarks, and having risen I have felt it my duty to express these opinions. I believe they are not solitary opinions upon this side of the House; and I think they have been expressed upon a subject with regard to which the country expects explanation, and has a right to demand it.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, the whole of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down appears to me to have arisen from a complete misapprehension of what was said by my right hon. Friend near me (Sir J. Graham). My noble Friend the Member for Marylebone (Lord D. Stuart) thought fit to say we had delayed too long the declaration of war; upon which my right hon. Friend, naturally, and almost unavoidably, remarked that that was a question which it would be exceedingly proper to have brought before the House. If the Government had unduly delayed the declaration of war to the injury of the public interests, that, my right hon. Friend said, was a question upon which my noble Friend the Member for Marylebone might have asked the opinion of the House. Thereupon the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) starts up: he considers this is a defiance to himself and to his party, and he is exceedingly angry with my right hon. Friend. Now it certainly appears to me that his anger was quite uncalled for, seeing that no defiance was intended to the right hon. Gentleman or his party. My right hon. Friend did not refer to those who are opposed to us in general policy, but he peculiarly remarked upon the very handsome and liberal manner in which all had declared their adherence to the proposed Votes of this 1358 evening. The right hon. Gentleman, however, takes occasion thereupon to reiterate his opinion that the Whole cause of the war is to be found in the fact of the Earl of Aberdeen being Prime Minister of this country; and that his holding that high office is the cause why the Emperor of Russia has persisted in his aggressive claims upon Turkey. That is a question of which the right hon. Gentleman may be fully convinced in his own mind, but he has no proof whatever of the statement. He is wholly unable to support by any document the statement he has made. It may be his private opinion, it may be the conviction of his own mind, and I am sure I do not envy him the enjoyment of that conviction. But I do not mean to provoke him to place before the House, in the shape of a Resolution, any such private opinions of his own. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman thinks that, although the Emperor of Russia is very ambitious—that although he is much bent upon plans of aggression—if he had known that the Earl of Derby would have been Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman Minister of Finance, as in 1852, he would have been so struck with terror, and so frightened with the intelligence, that his unjust aggression upon Turkey would have been at once withdrawn—that Prince Menchik off would have retired from Constantinople, and the Sultan would have remained in undisturbed possession of his invaded provinces. That, no doubt, is the entire conviction of the right hon. Gentleman; but I cannot say that I entertain it myself. Though I find fault with the Emperor of Russia, I cannot but admire the determined spirit of his character; and I believe that even the circumstance of the right hon. Gentleman being Minister of Finance, even with the promise of the mysterious plan to which we had some dark allusion a year and a half ago, would not have deterred the Emperor of Russia from arming his subjects and sending them on an aggressive march against the Sultan. This, then, is the only conviction which the right hon. Gentleman has to state on this occasion with regard to the cause of the war. We have had the whole matter debated upon the blue books; it has been debated upon a full review of all the despatches that were written. I certainly do not wish to revive on this occasion any of the arguments then used Members of this House, and the right hon. Gentleman among them, were 1359 fully entitled to make any observations and to enter into any discussion upon the subject. That discussion was continued for a considerable time; and it ended without any proposal of reflection upon the Government. The Gentlemen who sit opposite recorded their opinions by the speeches which they made; and it will be for the historian in future to read the arguments upon either side. Certainly, I do not wish to raise a discussion that appeared then to have been closed. But the right hon. Gentleman, referring to the business which is to come on upon Monday, complains very much of a plan of finance having been proposed two months ago which is not in conformity with the demands we now make upon the country. The right hon. Gentleman seems again to have been under some misapprehension, which I do not think is shared by Members of this House. He said the Chancellor of the Exchequer two months ago stated the general demands which would be required for the purposes of the year, and it was expected that no further demand would be made. On the contrary, I think when the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that he proposed for half a year to ask for a double income tax, it was the general opinion of the House that his demands would not stop there; that demands would be made for preparations then going on. There were few, if any, I think, sanguine enough to say, "We have now come to an end of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's demands—the expenditure of the country will not be increased beyond." But there was a little circumstance in the calculation which the right hon. Gentleman has entirely omitted. Sometimes skilful algebraical calculators omit some small figure, by which the equation goes entirely wrong; and in like manner, the right hon. Gentleman in his political calculation has omitted one very small and trifling circumstance, namely, that since the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his statement we have gone to war with Russia. When my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his statement, we were making preparations for war; and, with regard to those preparations, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that it was necessary to enact the double income tax for half a year. But negotiations for peace had not then ended. There have been repeated occasions in the history of this country, particularly during the last century, when great armaments were pre- 1360 pared, and when, after those great armaments had been prepared, some means were found for preserving peace, on which those armaments were discontinued or reduced. It was possible that this might again be the case. Some were more sanguine on this point than others; and my noble Friend at the head of the Government was, perhaps, the most sanguine of any person in the country in thinking that peace might be preserved. There was a hope that peace might be preserved; and there was one Government which seemed to share the hope of my noble Friend; the Government of Austria continued, even after it seemed almost impossible to avoid war, making propositions, which, if they had been accepted, the Emperor of Russia might have spared Europe the incalculable horrors and evils of war. We were among those who entertained a different opinion as to the probability; but still we should have been anxious, even at the last moment, to have desisted from all our preparations, and to have terminated the painful suspense in which we were engaged by maintaining the peace of Europe. My belief is, that, although we might have resisted the aggressions of Russia sooner than we did. If Lord Derby had been Minister, and thereby have precipitated war, my opinion is, that the people of this country would not have been thoroughly convinced that it was necessary to support the Government in the war, unless they had seen that the Government had exhausted every effort to maintain peace. Well; but the right hon. Gentleman says:—"If you had been able to calculate all the demands which war might bring upon you, why bring in a partial estimate of the finance for the year—why make the financial statement in the month of March, which might have been delayed until the month of April?". That may appear a very reasonable question. But my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave his reasons for it very clearly. They were very simple, very practical, and very sufficient reasons. He said, "If you delay until the month of April my proposition to increase the income tax, the Bill which has to be introduced cannot be passed until the month of June, and all the preparations that are necessary—all the papers that have been sent out in order to collect the increased income tax—will be delayed, and the revenue which I ought to receive in the month of October will be delayed until the end of 1361 this year or the beginning of the next." That was a very sufficient financial reason for proposing the increase of the income tax from the 5th of April. At the same time I think my right hon. Friend did not disguise the fact, and certainly the House was perfectly aware of it, if war actually took place with Russia, that, in the circumstances which accompany war, those burdens must be increased which we have hitherto supported, and that the demands made for extra expenditure would be insufficient. No ships containing troops and stores had then left our shores, and therefore he thought that until the month of May he might safely ask for only 3,000,000l.; and that sum would have been sufficient if war had not commenced. Then, again, with regard to the number of men for the Navy. We could not ask for the present increased number unless the declaration of war had taken place. But, however, as I have said, I do not propose to anticipate the discussion which must take place on Monday, when my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will show to the House exactly what are the demands of the country at the present time. Every one knows that, in undertaking a great war of this kind, while there are demands which can be foreseen, there arise many other demands which are not foreseen, and expenditure arises on every side, and in every shape, to increase the general burdens of the country. It was, therefore, quite right that my right hon. Friend, in the month of March, should ask for that temporary and provisional increase of the revenue of the country, and it is also right that in the month of May he should lay before Parliament the present prospects of the country, and his view of what is required in the present situation of affairs. I do not know that there was any other statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite to which it is necessary to give any answer at this time; but there were some observations made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Cobden) which cannot altogether be passed over. The hon. Gentleman is gratified with the character which we have given to this war, mitigating by a great degree the severity with which war usually presses on trade and commerce. I am very glad that we have been able, consistently with our duty, to adopt in a more mitigated sense the provisions of that international law which hitherto have been enforced with the greatest strictness by 1362 this country beyond all others. I am very glad also to think that we have discouraged the use of privateering, being of opinion that war ought to be carried on by the acknowledged and legitimate forces of the several States, and not by private individuals making what the hon. Gentleman justly calls piratical attacks upon the ships and property of the State with whom we may happen to be at war. And, Sir, when this has been said, I think the hon. Gentleman must consider that with respect to going any further than we have done, it is very doubtful, even in the view which he himself would take, being an advocate of peace, whether it would be consistent with that object that we should go to the extent which he proposes. The hon. Gentleman says, and the argument has been used repeatedly before, why attack private property, even of belligerents, on the seas, when you respect it on land? A cargo of salt is considered fairly liable to seizure at sea, while if it were in a warehouse on land, it would be respected. But if we were to go to that length, the consequence would be, that trade between two belligerent Powers would be carried on as easily as in the time of peace. [Mr. COBDEN: I made an exception in the case of a blockade being enforced.] Well, but in the general case of a country having many ports—though it was not so with Russia—they could not all be blockaded, and therefore the result would be, that the trade between the belligerent Powers would not be interfered with. Let us consider whether, if that were the case, we should not deprive ourselves—whether belligerents would not be deprived of the means of bringing war to a close—whether we should not be more likely to have protracted wars if the inconveniences arising from wars were limited? When a great number of classes in the country feel no pressure from war, they will have no desire to put an end to it; for it is on account of those evils and inconveniences that men feel desirous to put an end to that unfortunate state of things. The considerations are many, but I only mention one or two. We prohibit the carrying of articles contraband of war. We do not allow pistols, swords, or cannons to be carried to the port of a belligerent; but if we are to allow merchant ships with their crews to cross the seas, we are keeping up the nursery of seamen of that country with which we are at war, and enabling them to fit out fleets with that warlike store which is the most useful 1363 and powerful of any store, namely, the men who are able to equip, navigate, and fight those ships. I think we have gone as far as is prudent to mitigate the evils of war. If we go beyond what we have at present done, instead of bringing on peace, which is the object of all legitimate war, we may produce a chronic state of war which would be a great evil to Europe and to the world. My noble Friend the Member for Marylebone, in alluding to some transactions in which this country was engaged, said, if we had but taken part with Turkey and allowed Omar Pasha to subdue the Montenegrins, Turkey would be in a far better situation, and would not have at this moment to dread the attack of the Prince of the Montenegrins and his bands. But there is one important consideration which escaped my noble Friend on this occasion. The Government of Austria, not then in concert with Russia, acting in the view of Austrian interests, said, "We cannot bear war on our frontier, carried on by the Sultan of Turkey and the Christian inhabitants, who, practically, are the free inhabitants of Montenegro." I believe that one reason why Austria could not bear that war going on was, that she foresaw Russia would interfere on behalf of the Montenegrins, and she would have a most inconvenient and harassing war on her frontier. That conjecture may be wrong, but, be it as it may, Austria said clearly, "We will not bear this war on our frontier, and if Omar Pasha, on behalf of the Sultan, enters Montenegro, in order to subjugate and destroy that people, we shall send in an army to oppose the Sultan's force," Supposing we had interfered, and instead of advising the Sultan, as Lord Malmesbury did in the first place, and as I did when I succeeded to the Foreign Office, not to send a costly expedition to Montenegro, had advised the Sultan to persist in his determination to go to war with Austria, what should we have had at this moment? We should have had Russia and Austria combined in war against Turkey. Would Turkey have been better off? Would it be an advantage to Turkey that Austria as well as Russia should be opposed to her in arms? Is it not a great advantage to Turkey that Austria is now in an expectant attitude, dreading the ambition of Russia, and ready, if necessary, to oppose in arms the consequences of that ambition? There is nothing, I think, in the whole course of these negotiations which has been so benefi- 1364 cial to the cause of Turkey—so beneficial to the cause which we defend as this—that Austria has not felt that sympathy with Russia that might have been expected—that, on the contrary, she has felt the interests of Austria to be involved in the further aggrandisement of Russia. She has, far from using her influence in promoting the views of Russia, been using all means to resist the aggression of Russia, and thereby given the greatest assistance and protection to Turkey. I think, therefore, my noble Friend is entirely mistaken in his views of the policy of this country with respect to the quarrel between Turkey and Montenegro. Let me say again that, although the Government of Austria has not taken that part which I should have wished, of interfering in the very commencement of these transactions in putting herself by our side in order to enforce the views we have entertained on this subject, the feelings of Austria on this subject are quite in accordance with those of England and France. They have been defined in a protocol, in which those sentiments are declared; and my belief is, that if the aggression of Russia should be pushed to the extent to attempt the destruction of Turkey, that Austria will appear in arms, in order to resist the aggression. I am quite sure if, instead of taking the course which produces such a result, we had provoked, defied, or incited Austria to interfere on the part of the Montenegrins, we should have committed an act of the worst possible policy, and, after all, it is to the union of the four Powers against this unprincipled attack we must look to ensure the safety of Europe, and to end all this vast expenditure and those difficulties which are attendant on a declaration of war.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, there is one point in the noble Lord's speech so remarkable that I cannot help noticing it. I complained that the Government anticipated unnecessarily by a month the making their financial statement, the result of which was that they offered to the House a deluding Estimate and a deceptive Budget. That is the point of which I complained. The consequence is, that within eight weeks of that statement being made, and within four weeks only of the time when, if custom had been followed, it need have been made, we are called upon to vote a sum of nearly 6,000,000l. in the shape of a supplemental Budget. What does the noble Lord say? How does he 1365 account for it? What is his vindication of the conduct of Ministers? I listened with surprise to the statement of the noble Lord who, with evident self-complacency, established my case. He says—"The right hon. Gentleman forgets this important circumstance, that between the financial statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the present time a great event occurred, namely, the declaration of war with Russia." I say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to have made his financial statement at the usual period, that is after the lapse of the financial year. When did the declaration of war take place? The end of the financial year was on the 5th of April. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might have made his statement on the 8th, 10th, or 12th of April. The declaration of war was, if I mistake not, on the 27th of March. That proves the great expediency of not having a premature statement from the Minister of Finance. Surely Ministers, who in the beginning of March called attention to the state of the finances, must have had a tolerable appreciation of what would occur in the end of March. But that was an additional and irresistible reason why the financial statement should be made at the usual time, and that we should not be placed in the position in which we are; that Government should have waited until they could put a comprehensive and veracious statement before the country. But what is the course of the noble Lord? With these irresistible facts staring him in the face, of the behaviour of the Government, he says the Chancellor of the Exchequer wanted to get 3,000,000l., and he could not get it unless he made the proposition for the doubling the income tax, at the beginning of the month of March. So, at the beginning of March, with war impending, according to the repeated declarations and warning of the Ministry, the attention of Parliament is formally called to the finances of the country. Our resources and burdens are estimated for a great and impending struggle; and for what reason? That the Chancellor of the Exchequer shall be able, by calling all this vast and deceptive machinery into play, to raise 3,000,000l. Whoever heard of such a peddling vindication offered for the conduct of a Minister. If he could have got 10,000,000l., and could have put the country in a strong position, by appealing to the general sympathies and resources of the country, and to the confidence of Par- 1366 liament, or if he could have raised a large loan, and made arrangements that, whatever happened, he was prepared to meet it, I could understand the statement of the noble Lord; but that such an unprecedented course should be taken to realise such a contemptible result, so that before eight weeks are passed we are obliged to consider supplementary estimates of this amount, is most surprising.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
The right hon. Gentleman may consider 3,000,000l. a very small sum. It appears to me, no Finance Minister we have had since the income tax was introduced has thought it immaterial that it should be brought forward early in the year. On the contrary, at one time Sir Robert Peel said, if the income tax expired the proposal to renew it must be made late in the Session, and would lead to great inconvenience. When we propose to double the income tax, the same argument is applicable. To say that the Government will not make a financial statement in the month of March because it only makes a difference of 3,000,000l., is surely not a prudent course. The right hon. Gentleman speaks of 3,000,000l. as if it were half-a-crown. He says, what does it signify whether 3,000,000l. are paid into the Exchequer? As the right hon. Gentleman thinks so lightly of 3,000,000l. it is evident that he is no longer Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, that the noble Lord had made a most ingenious statement to the Committee, but it was quite clear he was not Chancellor of the Exchequer, because he talked of the income tax as if it existed only for a year, and had not been made permanent for a number of years. The noble Lord had made a very ingenious answer to his (Mr. Henley's) right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli), but it had no more to do with bringing forward the Budget in the beginning of March than it had to do with the Emperor of China. In 1853 the income tax was voted for a number of years, and he believed the assessment then made ran over the whole six years, unless parties appealed, so that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would get his money precisely at the same moment, whether the doubling the income tax was brought forward in the mouth of March, or April, or May. As there would be no payment under it until after the month of October, whether it was 7d. in the pound or 14d. in the pound, the only difference to the Government was in calculating the 1367 difference in the number of pennies. He did not know that he should have risen to make those observations but for a remark of the noble Lord on a different subject, which was entitled to some notice. The noble Lord made a statement which he was surprised to hear made, adopting the words of the hon. Member for the North Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Cobden) that privateering was piratical. Private vessels of war acting under direction of the State had never been termed piracy before, and coming from the noble Lord, in his position, he considered it was very awkward. Now, private persons, acting under authority from the State, could not have such a term applied to them; and if the word were used in reference to such persons, how could the Queen's revenue vessels, capturing private property, be exempted? for private vessels of war, acting by the authority of the Sovereign, could no more commit an act of piracy than revenue vessels could: It was a very subtle distinction. The whole question was very difficult to understand. By the usage of nations it was termed an honourable occupation in time of war for war vessels to seize private property on the seas, whilst the taking private property on land was always denounced. As to relaxing the ordinary practice in time of war, and giving up part of what was called the rights of belligerents, this country had now for the first time given up that which was the acknowledged law of nations, and which, as a maritime nation, this country had maintained very jealously. However attempted to be saved by protest, he doubted whether we should ever be able again to exercise the power the Government had given up, and which he feared was of great value to us. Considering our maritime position, it was an enormous and valuable privilege, and he was afraid what the Government had done had deprived us of it for ever. If all other nations chose to take the same course, we might not suffer by it, but at present we had only got the assent of some few nations to it. He was very glad to hear that Government meant to stop where they had stopped, and did not mean to go any further in that direction. He believed what they had done was so far questionable, that it would have a tendency to prolong war, inasmuch as the inconvenience of war often prevented people running into it. He thought the country had some reason to complain of the very large amount of these Estimates.
1368 He would not say that in the month of March the Government did not give some intimation that fresh demands would be made, but certainly nothing was said to lead the House to suppose that an increase of the Estimates more than double that required then would be asked for. He did not think the House had been treated with candour on that occasion, because it was quite impossible the Government could not have been aware then—having undertaken to send troops abroad—that something like these Estimates would be necessary. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had been in the market. to borrow money since, and, no doubt, could borrow on better terms than if it had been known they were going to spend 6,000,000l. more money; but that was hardly honest towards the people who were going to lend the money.
§ MR. LAING
said, it was clear the right hon. Gentleman, who had last addressed them, looked on privateering as one of the good old Conservative institutions of the country. He thought the great majority of the country, far from taking that view, looked with approbation on the steps taken by the Government towards establishing a more civilised system of warfare. As a pure question of interest, it was advantageous to put an end to privateering; and he hoped to see the principle carried out to the full extent pointed out by the hon. Member for the West Riding. It was with regret he heard the noble Lord say it was necessary to maintain the practice of seizing private property afloat, with a view to bring war to a conclusion, by the inconveniences which followed in its train. It was quite clear that precisely the same principle applied to the confiscation of private property on shore. If it were necessary to seize private ships to stop the importation of the material of war, namely, seamen, it might be just as necessary to massacre all the male population in the enemy's territory liable to be drawn for the conscription. There was historical precedent for the barbarous murder of the whole male population capable of bearing arms, but no one would think of following it. They had made a great step in the direction of not carrying on war against private property, by abolishing the mischievous system of privateering; but he hoped it would be carried to the full extent of preventing the seizure of private vessels, unless they were detected in evading an effective blockade. He thought they had been mystifying a very plain matter with respect to these 1369 Estimates, and that it was almost a misfortune to have Chancellors of the Exchequer of such extreme talent and eloquence, because the effect was that finance became the battle-field for the display of their acknowledged abilities. According to his recollection, in making his financial statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer never pretended the Estimates then given were final and conclusive, but stated distinctly if the war proceeded, Supplementary Estimates would be presented before the close of the Session. Under those circumstances, surely the Committee might fairly be asked to wait until the next evening of their meeting, when the whole financial condition of the country would be brought under their consideration.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, that one of the principal doctrines laid down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a former financial statement was, that the country should defray the expense of the war out of the revenue of the year. There could not be a single Member of that House who must not therefore have been surprised at finding that the right hon. Gentleman, during the recess, had been obliged to resort to means for "raising the wind." It would have been infinitely better if the right hon. Gentleman had adopted a more open course of finance than he had done; but as the question was to be brought before the House on Monday, he would not say anything further upon it. There was, however, a single sentence in the one large item of the Estimates which he wished to have explained. The item was this:—Freight of transports on monthly pay, including steam-vessels, or for the purchase of the same, 3,096,700l. Had any steam-vessels been purchased, or had the whole sum of 3,096,700l. been expended in the hire of vessels? This was an important distinction, because if Ships had only been hired, it would be a pure outlay of so much money at the expense of the country; but if ships had been bought, then the money to the extent of the purchases might be considered as capital still available by the country.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, he thought he could give the hon. Baronet the most conclusive explanation. There was no doubt that although the steam power at the command of the Government was very great, yet the cost was most enormous, whether for ships of war, or for transports. Now, by the desire of the House of Commons—for the House and the country had, 1370 in that respect, run almost beyond the natural desire of the Government—the most expeditious means were adopted for despatching the largest possible force in the shortest possible space of time to the seat of war. The Government had been almost driven to employ large steamers of 1,800 tons burden to take out some 300 or 400 troops. Large as was the power of the country to supply steamers, infinitely greater than that of any other country, yet when the Government appeared in the market, and asked in the course of six weeks for no less than eighteen steamers of 1,600 and 1,800 tons burden, to take troops, stores, and provisions to Malta, a demand to such an extent must have run up the price of freight enormously. He had, however, to inform the hon. Baronet that the Government, finding this demand for shipping to be so great, and the cost of hiring ships in the market so enormous, and being convinced that the demand for shipping would be continually increasing, and the cost also proportionably enhanced, had determined to provide themselves with means to transport troops, stores, and provisions; and for that purpose the sum in question did cover the cost of purchasing three iron steamers of the largest class, and also a sum towards the further purchase of two more steamers, so that the Government would have the power of transporting 8,000 men in their own ships.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, he rose for the purpose of giving his support to the opinions expressed by the hon. Member for the West Riding, in reference to the practice of making war upon the private property of individuals. If this were a proper and a just war, he hoped that he was not to be considered bound by the fiction which prevailed that every man in Russia was his enemy. A notion appeared to be entertained that, because England was at war with Russia, every man in Russia was to be regarded as the enemy of every man in England, and that every man in England was entitled to rob him of his property. He would not be a party to any such doctrine as that; for it was a doctrine which it did not become this country to maintain. Let the war—if war there was to be—be confined to military operations. Let it be a war between the Government forces of Russia and the Government forces of England; and as they had desisted from the principle of carrying on war on private property upon the land, let them also abandon 1371 it in reference to private property upon the waters. What an anomaly was it that a merchant vessel on the stocks was not a lawful prize, and that any officer who interfered with her would be liable to all the consequences of making an illegal seizure; but that the moment she was launched into the water she became a lawful prize, and might be lawfully captured by our cruisers, and condemned by the Board of Admiralty. He admitted that piracy was not a proper term to apply to privateering, when it was carried on with the sanction and under the authority of the Government, because the privateers in that case must be required as auxiliary ships of war; but he confessed that he did not see any distinction in principle between a man-of-war plundering a merchant vessel on the high seas, and a privateer doing the same thing. What he maintained was that they had no right to do it at all. The Government had no right to grant a monopoly of prize-making to any one class of Her Majesty's subjects. If one man was to rob, let all rob. But what he said was, that they ought altogether to desist from the practice. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) said that it was done for the purpose of producing a pressure on the enemy which might make him give up the war. The Finlander's ship was seized, and the Finlander's salt was taken, in order to induce the Finlander—who, by the by, was not allowed, he believed, to return to his own country—to exercise some kind of pressure, some sort of indirect influence, upon the Emperor of Russia, by which he might be induced to give up his ambitious designs. Now, he thought that was a very unlikely result to take place as a consequence of capturing a poor Finlander's ship. As an Englishman, he did not feel it right that the British Navy should be employed in the inglorious task of carrying the ships of the poor Finlanders into port as prizes. What was the salt thus seized intended for? For the purpose of salting the fish which was caught during the summer, and was to become the sustenance of these unfortunate people during the winter. What was the condition of the Finlander? On the one hand, he was reduced by conquest, and compelled to live under the rule of Russia; on the other hand, he was robbed of his property upon the high seas by the enemies of Russia. It seemed to him that these unfortunate people were between two fires. They were oppressed by the Empe- 1372 ror of Russia at home, and if he came upon the high seas, they were robbed of their little property by the cruisers of this country. And why? They had no power whatever of influencing the Emperor of Russia. And the only result was that a portion of the property of the poor Finlander was put, by the authority of the Court of Admiralty, into the pocket of some private individual in England. He would take that opportunity of asking the right hon. Baronet a question with respect to some of the prizes which had been taken. He thought that some of the Orders in Council had been rather hastily drawn up, or were somewhat imperfectly understood; for he was told that vessels had been captured by our cruisers, which, according to the regulations of the French Government, could not have been seized, and, further that no fewer than five of them were the bonâ fide property of British merchants residing in the City of London. If this were so, it seemed to him to be a strange mode of producing a pressure on the enemy. And he thought that in the present condition of the world, with our extended commercial relations, and the partnerships in ships and cargoes which must necessarily exist between the merchants of this country and the merchants of other countries—of Russia amongst the rest—it would be impossible to carry out the old plan of confiscating the merchant vessels of the enemy, without inflicting serious injury upon our own merchants at the same time. Conceive what would happen if this country were at war with the United States, and our cruisers were to capture the merchant vessels of America. Why, they would be capturing the property of the merchants of Liverpool and of the north of England quite as much as that of the merchants of the United States. No doubt, in former times, trade was much more restricted, and those relations of agency and partnerships, which had grown up during an extended peace, could not be pleaded then to the same extent as they could now; but he thought the time had arrived when the Government ought to consider the propriety of carrying still further that principle of non-intervention with personal property, which the hon. Member for the West Riding had pressed upon them. if he were correctly informed, the Orders in Council had been so drawn—it might be an unintentional mistake—as that our cruisers had power to seize vessels which 1373 the French cruisers could not capture, and that, on the other hand, the French cruisers had power to seize certain ships which the English cruisers could not touch. So that, in point of fact, an English and a French vessel, cruising in company, will always be in a condition to capture the vessels of the enemy, although they had pretended to grant the indulgence of allowing them to sail with impunity up to a certain time. He wished, therefore, to know whether this information was correct; and, also, whether it was true that the Government had given orders to release some of the prizes, on the ground that they had been improperly seized under the Orders in Council.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, he would first answer the last question which had been put by the right hon. Gentleman—namely, whether any orders had been given to release any of the prizes which had been taken. He was aware of but one such order which had been given in the case of a prize which had been taken in the Channel by one of the revenue cruisers, and had been taken into Portsmouth. That capture was in contravention of the Order in Council. That Order provided that Russian merchant vessels, bound to Russia from British or French ports, and the cargoes of which were taken on board before the 10th of May, should not be captured. The revenue vessel did make a capture of that description, and brought the prize into port, but an order had been given for the release of that ship. With reference to the Orders in Council regulating the capture of the enemy's ships, corresponding arrangements had been made by the two countries, and they had been put into the form of a convention, which, he believed, had been signed, and which would be laid before Parliament. There was perfect reciprocity established between the two countries On the subject, and the intention on the part of the two Governments being to act in this upon identical principles and in an identical manner, corresponding orders had, he believed, been given to their respective cruisers. if there had been any mistake in the interpretation of intricate regulations, it had been unintentional, but the principle was that which he had stated, and the intention was the same on the part of the two Powers. He availed himself of this opportunity to correct an error which he had made, he believed, in answer to a question put by the 1374 right hon. Gentleman on a former evening. He (Sir J. Graham) had said, with reference to the extension of time granted by Her Majesty in Council to Russian ships to leave ports in the Colonies, that that permission had not been granted by France. He now found that he was misinformed when he made that statement; France had given the same permission on the suggestion of this country.
§ LORD ADOLPHUS VANE
said, he wished to ask the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether he had read a letter which had appeared in a morning paper, in reference to the detention of a horse-transport at the Mother Bank, in consequence of the wind being unfavourable for her proceeding down Channel, and suggesting the great saving of time that might be secured by the employment of steam-tugs. He should be glad to know, also, whether the Estimates were intended to include every means of applying steam power to the transport of cavalry proceeding to the East? He thought the Government ought to thank the Conservative Members of the House for the support which they had given them in reference to the supplies required for carrying on the war; and he could not help saying that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had adopted the suggestion which had been made from that side of the House at an earlier period of the Session, he would have negotiated his loans under circumstances still more favourable to the country than he could do now.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, he had read the letter to which the noble Lord had referred, and he begged to say that it was not possible to provide steam power to all the horse-transports in the way alluded to; but that arrangements had been made to provide steam power in the Gut of Gibraltar, where unfavourable winds might detain them for a long time, and also from Malta to the Dardanelles. With reference to another observation which the noble Lord had made, he might observe that, although he could not venture to offer thanks to any portion or section of the House, he had at an earlier period of the evening endeavoured, on the part of the Government, to thank the House generally for the large portion of support which on the present occasion had been given to it.
§ The several items in the Estimate were then put and agreed to as follow:—
§ (1.) 5,000 additional men for the Sea Service.1375
§ (2.) 461,700l., Wages to Seamen.
§ (3.) 200,000l., Victuals for Seamen.
§ (4.) 5,000l., Admiralty Office.
§ (5.) 2,000l., Naval Establishments at Home.
§ (6.) 47,000l., Wages to Artificers at Home.
§ (7.) 1,000l., Wages to Artificers Abroad.
§ (8.) 697,331l., Naval Stores, &c.
§ (9.) 7,000l., New Works, &c.
§ (10.) 30,000l., Medicines and Medical Stores.
§ (11) 6,000l., Miscellaneous Services.
§ (12.) 3,096,700l., Freight of Ships.