HC Deb 09 May 1854 vol 133 cc38-9

said, he rose to inquire of the First Lord of the Admiralty whether both the Admirals in command of our fleets had not asked earnestly for gunboats; whether Admiral Napier had not asked for iron gunboats to meet those of the Russians, which were made by a house in Liverpool; and whether the house of Scott Russell did not offer to provide in a few weeks the craft wanted; and had not the Admiralty refused to provide iron boats; had it not ordered wooden boats to be built and bought, which wooden boats would draw twelve feet of water, instead of five, like the iron boats; had the Government ascertained whether any gunboats had been, or were being built in the Finland Harbour of the Gulf of Bothnia, and, if so, what number, by the latest accounts; and had the Government taken the necessary steps to efficiently protect the British mercantile flag navigating the Gulf of Bothnia on the Swedish coast?


said, he really hoped the House would pardon him if he exercised some discretion in answering these questions. He did not think it would be possible to conduct a war, if the Government were called upon to lay before the House the requisitions they might have received from the Admirals on foreign stations with respect to what was necessary for the forces. He was much less inclined to answer a question with regard to the propositions which might have been made by any particular house, and the reasons for which a certain contract had not been entered into. Certainly, the strength of Russia in gunboats in the Baltic was formidable, and Her Majesty's Ministers had taken every precaution that appeared to them to be necessary and expedient to meet that formidable force, and the commerce of Great Britain in the Gulf of Bothnia would be protected by adequate means.