§ On the motion for going into Committee of Supply,
said he would take that opportunity of calling the attention of the House to the administrative system of the transport service. In doing so, he would studiously avoid all irrelevant matter, and all points with which he knew the House to be familiar. He would make no reference to what had passed before the Committee now sitting upstairs, and still less would he attempt to anticipate any decision at which that Committee was likely 1017 to arrive. He would deal with the subject impartially—would avoid all personalities, and endeavour to be just, nay, generous, so far as the circumstances of the case would permit. The subject was a most important one, as was proved by the fact that in the past year there had been no less than 8,663,000l. voted for the transport service, and when it was considered that a well-arranged transport service was essential to the good conduct of the war, the House would perhaps be inclined to favour him with its attention while he shortly adverted to the subject. Before going further, however, he felt it his duty to refer to some remarks made by a noble Earl in another place, who had used very strong language in reference to the transport service, and whose remarks were all the more forcible because he was considered a great authority upon maritime questions. That noble Earl was reported to have said—He would venture to assert that in the whole service of the Crown there had hardly ever been evinced a greater degree of profligate extravagance in the expenditure of money, carelessness and ignorance in the making of contracts, slovenliness in their employment of vessels, and confusion and mismanagement as to their departures from and arrivals in the ports of this country. In the region where they were employed their utility had been marred by the utter want of arrangement in everything that concerned the business of embarking, carrying, and landing cargoes, so familiar to all persons engaged in mercantile concerns in this country. When first the war broke out, and it was thought necessary to have a large quantity of shipping in readiness, ships came forward so quickly that the whole trade of the country seemed to be laid for the moment at the feet of the Crown." [See 3 Hansard, cxxxvi. p. 1963–4.]In part of that statement he (Mr. Lindsay) agreed; but with reference to that part which stated vessels of every description were placed at the service of the Government, and in such great abundance, he thought the noble Earl had made a great mistake; for when the war commenced, and the Admiralty issued notices for tenders, very few offers, he believed, were received of suitable vessels. The noble Earl went on to state—Government made engagements with the owners of the transports on terms that astonished the merchants, and showed them to be utterly ignorant of the manner in which business of this kind ought to be conducted. The tonnage was bargained and paid for on the builders' measurement, though every one was aware that that was merely nominal."—[Ibid. 1964.]By that statement the noble Earl gave the 1018 public to understand that the owners of ships tendered them on the smaller and the Admiralty paid them on the larger tonnage. That was not the case, for the Admiralty went about tendering in a clear and distinct form, requiring owners to tender on the gross tonnage of the ships; and they were correct in doing so, because there was then less chance of fraud than if the tenders had been made upon the smaller tonnage; and, as the price was proportionate, the country in no way suffered from the course the Admiralty took. He thought, also, the noble Earl had, without mentioning his name, done great injustice to Captain Milne, who had the charge of taking up the transports, and than whom a more able servant the Crown did not possess. The noble Earl said—He would suggest that the surest and most economical plan to follow in hiring steamships was to make a contract with the owner, including the price of coal, but taking the power of deducting say 50s. for every ton of coal supplied to him."—[Ibid. 1968.]He was surprised to hear the noble Earl make such a proposition as that, and the effect of it had been that an erroneous impression had gone abroad that the Admiralty had paid a higher price than they ought, whereas the cheapest course had been adopted of getting vessels by advertising for tenders; they had been equally wise in agreeing to provide the coal, because the owners could not have provided it upon such advantageous terms as the Admiralty. The noble Earl had also made a remark with regard to the engaging the service of the screw steamer the Telegraph, and had made it appear that she was engaged expressly for the purpose of conveying roasted coffee for the use of the troops in the Crimea. His words were—The Government being anxious to remedy this crying evil as speedily as possible, hired a ship to proceed to the Crimea with roasted coffee. For this purpose the Telegraph was engaged, a screw steamer of 500 tons register and 900 tons builders' measurement, which had cost its owners 28,000l., and the Government agreed to pay for its use 2,500l. a month, which would in ten months give the full value of the vessel. She was loaded with coffee, and about to start, when General Simpson, who was to have gone out in her, saw her and declared that he would not go in her. He did not—nor did the ship itself; for they loaded her so deeply with coffee that the water ran in through the water-closet tubes, and they were obliged to take her into dock."—[Ibid. 1969.]Now, this vessel was not engaged for the purpose of carrying coffee. She was en- 1019 gaged for an entirely different purpose. And though the price was high—so high that the Admiralty refused her more than once—still the owners would not make any abatement, as the French Government were quite prepared to take her at the price they required, or even on higher terms. She was, however, much wanted by the British Government, and was expressly engaged to run with despatches between the Crimea and Constantinople, or any other place in the Black Sea, and not to carry stores. The Commander in chief was very desirous to have a vessel for that purpose, and Captain Milne, in his anxiety to save money to the country, rather than she should go out empty, sent out the coffee in her. It was not, therefore, fair that, while that gallant and indefatigable officer was studying economy, he should be censured and charged with waste and mismanagement. He (Mr. Lindsay) could not lay the case fairly before the House unless he was just to all parties. Having said this much in justice to the Board of Admiralty, he feared he could say little more in favour of their conduct. In order to place before the House what might be done for these transports, it would be necessary to state the amount of the tonnage engaged. From the returns issued up to the 2nd of January, it appeared that steamers of the aggregate tonnage of 123,350 tons were then engaged, and taking for the subsequent addition the low estimate of 26,650 tons, there were probably now engaged something like 150,000 tons. The return of sailing vessels showed a tonnage of 91,140, to which they might probably add 8,860, thus making 100,000, or altogether, including both descriptions of ships, sailing vessels and steamers, 250,000 tons, which must be admitted to be an enormous transport fleet. He had shown that the steamers could not have been obtained at lower prices, but he would now show the House where there had been enormous waste. He would allow a steam vessel ten days loading, twenty days for her passage to the Crimea, ten days landing, and twenty days passage home in ballast, or sixty days in all. A steamer, therefore, ought to make six voyages per annum; and allowing two tons measurement for each infantry soldier, steamers having a tonnage in the aggregate of 150,000 tons ought to carry to the Crimea 75,000 soldiers each trip, or 450,000 in twelve months. In addition 1020 to these, there were 100,000 tons of sailing vessels, and allowing to them forty-five days for their passage out, forty-five for their passage home, ten days loading and ten days landing, they would make three voyages each in the year; and as they would carry 50,000 per voyage, they would take in the whole 150,000 infantry. Of cavalry there might be carried out by the steamers 15,000 each trip, or 90,000 every year; and by the sailing vessels there might be conveyed 10,000 per trip, and supposing them to make only two voyages in the year, 20,000 per annum. It would appear, therefore, that there were regular transports engaged which would carry out 550,000 infantry, or 110,000 cavalry per annum, with all their provisions accoutrements, and a large quantity of stores besides. Upon a former occasion an hon. and gallant Member had contradicted some statements which he had made with reference to the conveyance of Turkish troops. He had now some facts to submit to that hon. and gallant Gentleman. Allowing ten days for the embarkation of Turkish troops at Constantinople, five days for the passage up from thence, ten days for disembarking at the Crimea, and five days for the passage back, or in all thirty days, these vessels, if employed in that service, would be able to make twelve voyages per annum, so that they could carry with ease in the course of the year 1,992,000 Turkish infantry, or 300,000 Turkish cavalry, He made these statements to show how little, comparatively, had been done with the enormous amount of shipping at their disposal, and how badly that little bad been done. He would now trace the progress of a ship, and for the purpose of illustration he would take the Golden Fleece, a steamer of 2,000 tons, which cost the country about 7,000l. a month; he thought that vessel would be a fair specimen of the rest. She left Leith Roads upon the 11th of March, 1854, with her Majesty's 4th regiment; in ten days she arrived at Malta, and disembarked them all well immediately after arrival. Shortly afterwards she embarked the 2nd battalion of the Rifle Brigade, about 200 Sappers and Miners, and twenty horses, also Lieutenant-General Sir George Brown and staff. On the 6th of April she arrived at Gallipoli, but did not land the troops for three days, no arrangements having been made for receiving them. She returned to Malta on the 12th of April, and, 1021 after waiting about a week, left with the Grenadier Guards, a company of the Cold-streams, and twenty horses. She called at Gallipoli, and received orders to proceed to Scutari; but no arrangements were made for receiving them there, which caused considerable delay before they were disembarked. After remaining there some time she took Sir Richard England and staff to Gallipoli, and returned with Sir George Brown and the Rifle Brigade. She remained at anchor off Scutari or the Golden Horn until the army was ordered to Varna—a period of about six weeks, during which period a large steam fleet was lying perfectly idle. She then took the Rifle Brigade on board for the third time, and landed them at Varna, and in succession afterwards the Grenadier Guards and several regiments of the line. She landed the first British troops both at Gallipoli and Varna. About the end of June she received orders from Admiral Boxer to return to England, and took nothing home but a large quantity of empty provision casks, which the captain could not get removed from the ship, and which had been accumulating from the time when the ship commenced to issue Government stores. Notwithstanding repeated applications, he could get no authority to land or destroy them, though perfectly worthless, and taking up valuable space on board. He had many other instances of a similar nature which he might adduce, but really the history of one ship was the history of them all. Another ship actually arrived off the Alma the day after the battle, but, although the captain reported that he had a number of surgeons on board, their assistance was not availed of at a time when surgeons were so much wanted, until twenty-four hours after her arrival. It had been said in another place, that there had been no detention of these transports. He was surprised that such a statement should have been made. There were now two large vessels lying at Deptford—the Germania and the Hermes—which cost the country 12,000l. a mouth. The Admiralty chartered them a month before they arrived at Deptford, but he believed that they received no pay until they arrived and were ready to embark troops. The very day that they arrived at Deptford they were ready to receive troops. They had been lying there now three weeks, and supposing that they should remain there another week, there would be 12,000l. totally lost 1022 to the country. All that time they had been lying there for the ostensible purpose of fitting up berths for the soldiers, which might have been easily done in two days. It was in such matters as these that the public money had been wasted, and he had no hesitation in saying that out of the 8,000,000l. which had been voted for this service 2,000,000l. at least had been totally lost through unnecessary delays. It was, therefore, the duty of the House of Commons to endeavour to ascertain the cause of all this sacrifice of the public funds. He did not say that the fault rested with the Admiralty solely; he attributed it to the whole system, which struck him as being decidedly wrong, and as requiring a thorough revision and a thorough reform. The War Office, or the Ordnance, or the Commissariat sent word to the Admiralty that they wanted a certain amount of goods or a certain number of troops sent out. The Admiralty took up ships, but when these ships went down to Deptford they found that the troops or the Ordnance stores were not ready. What he should like to see was this—that when these different departments sent word to the Admiralty that they required vessels, they should state the exact time when the troops or stores would be ready, and be kept to the time given. There was another cause of great delay. Each of these different departments sent some one to stow their goods, and the most ludicrous instances occurred of wrangling between the various officers as to where their stores should be stowed. These departments ought to have nothing to do with stowage; they should send the stores alongside the ship, but not he allowed to go on board. The Admiralty or the Transport Board should be responsible for stowing and carrying the goods from England to their destination in the Crimea, and for their delivery to the proper parties. They would then have much less delay; they would not have such constant complaints of goods being damaged and stowed in improper places, and they would have some responsible party to whom to look. He was aware that the Admiralty were making great exertions—feeling, as they must, that there was something wrong—to remedy the evil; but he could not approve the course they had adopted. In his opinion the great cause of the evil had been the want of some responsible head, of some one to whom to appeal, of some one whom they could blame when things went wrong. 1023 The Admiralty had appointed a Transport Board. Now, he had no faith whatever in boards. It was merely shifting responsibility from one shoulder to the other. It was only increasing the evils which all were now most anxious to avoid. What he would recommend would be, to have one person—the gentleman who filled the situation of Chairman of the Transport Board would be a very competent person—to direct, and make him, and him alone, responsible to the Minister of War. They would then know what they were about. Having said thus much with regard to the loading and sailing of these ships, he thought it might be interesting and possibly advantageous if he said a very few words as to the mode in which the Admiralty conducted their business with reference to accounts. On the 24th of October, 1854, an account was rendered for messing of officers and for a hawser supplied to the Government officers in the Mediterranean, all properly vouched. On the 4th of December another account for the same hawser, and also for messing other officers, was rendered, and after repeated applications a letter was received, dated the 9th of February, stating that, "on the 2nd instant the account was sent to the Accountant General's department for payment." The amount was called for on the 5th, 9th, and 12th of February, but had not then reached the Department. On the 17th and 27th of February, and on the 6th and 8th of March, it was again called for, when the persons applying were told it was detained at the storekeeper's department. On the 16th of March, upon again applying, they were referred to a deaf and dumb person, so that all communication had to be in writing. He did not complain of the Government employing a deaf and dumb person. He was sorry to say there were some high in office who had ears and would not hear, and eyes and would not see, who were just as bad as this unfortunate deaf and dumb man. But as this deaf and dumb person held a very responsible situation at the Admiralty for the passing of accounts, he so doubted the statement of a person thus afflicted being placed in that position that he asked for the original document of the deaf and dumb man's writing, and he now held it in his hand. In reply to the inquiry of the person calling for the account, the deaf and dumb man said—I have been sending the last three days to look for the claim and cannot find it. You ought 1024 not to have included the rope in the same claim; it obliged us to refer to the Storekeeper General, and the claim is most likely with him." "But"—wrote the party calling for the accounts—the rope was sent up about three months before, and it could not be paid. Can we have the messing by sending another account, minus the rope?The answer from the Admiralty deaf and dumb clerk was—The messing requires the vouchers, which are with the claim. The office is being cleared out and got in order, and I hope your claims will be found and got forward, but it is too great a waste of time specially to go looking for them.Another claim for messing was forwarded on the 9th of January, 1855, accompanied by the certificates all properly signed and in order. After repeated applications, the person applying was informed, on the 6th of March, that the account was lost. It was again applied for on the 8th, when it was stated to have been forwarded to the War Office, and on the 16th of March the deaf and dumb clerk gave the following reply—We cannot pay for officers we know nothing of, so we sent the voucher to the War Office, and have not yet got their reply.In the first instance, an account, after being rendered nearly five months, was stated to be either with the Storekeeper General, or else, if in the office, would possibly be found shortly, as the office was being cleared and put into order (they might presume not before it was needed), and the applicants were politely informed it would be too great a waste of time specially to look for particular accounts which had been carelessly mislaid. That was a state of things to which the country ought not, and would not, submit—a state of things which, he was sorry to say, had entailed on us a very great amount of disgrace with other nations. He would endeavour to illustrate the administrative system generally in the same plain way. Three or four years before he had the honour of a seat in that House his firm had a claim of 3l. 5s. 6d. against the Admiralty for some freightage on stores. The account was rendered in the usual form, but in about six weeks' time it was returned for amendment because the 3l. 5s. 6d. was not written in words. The account was amended and returned, and in about ten days one of his clerks came to him and said he should have to go to Deptford and Woolwich, and Somerset House and the War Office, and he did not know where besides, before it would be paid. 1025 As he found it would take his clerk the greater part of each day for a week to collect the account, and that while he was so employed they might lose a great deal more by his absence—indeed, the 3l. 5s. 6d. would scarcely cover his salary, the account was left uncalled for, and he supposed to this day it was unpaid. About four years ago he had another account—he did not remember in which particular department, but he thought it was in the Admiralty—for upwards of 2,000l. The account was rendered, and for six weeks it was not passed. The loss of interest on 2,000l. for six weeks was a consideration, so he determined one morning instead or coming in early to business, to wait for Government hours, and to get to the Admiralty by half-past ten o'clock. It was a fine summer morning, and after a good deal of jostling, for no one knew him—and if they had, perhaps they would not have cared—he got into a room in which were three desks, and at one of the desks was a gentleman, seemingly very much at his ease, for he sat on an easy chair, with his leg cocked over the arm of another easy chair, whistling to himself the tune of "Peter Dick," keeping time to it on the desk with a ruler. He walked up to the gentleman and said, "Can you tell me anything of this account?" His reply was, "No; I can't say. I don't know anything about it. It has not come to me yet." While speaking to him, in walked another gentleman, who should have been the occupier of one of the empty desks, with his hat cocked on one side and a gold-headed cane in his hand. He did not object to gentlemen cocking their hats on one side or carrying gold-headed canes, if they would attend to their business. Addressing the gentleman who was whistling "Peter Dick," the new arrival said, "I'm off by the eleven o'clock boat to Gravesend. I don't suppose I shall be back before four. You'll keep me all right." The gentleman who had come in then departed, and his whistling friend then said that, perhaps, the account was in his charge. Upon that he (Mr. Lindsay) replied, "I hope, then, when it reaches you, you will not be going down to Gravesend;" and to that observation, having recieved rather an impertinent answer, with which it was not necessary to trouble the House, he made no reply, and left the office; but as he so, he could not help saying to himself, "I hope the time may come when 1026 I shall be able to assist in rooting out these Peter Dicks, who waste so much treasure, and who have aided in bringing so much disgrace upon the country." But what was the original source whence these evils had arisen? It was the existing system of patronage which created these Peter Dicks, and there were too many of them, both high and low. The time, however, had arrived when such men must be rooted out. The country wanted, and it would insist upon having, competent men employed in their places. He, as a man of business, felt no hesitation in saying that there were at the present moment many men engaged in Government offices in the receipt of salaries varying from 80l. to 500l. a-year, who not only did no real service to the country, but to pay whom their respective salaries without allowing them to go near the offices to which they were attached, would, he firmly believed, cause a great saving of the public money. But there was, happily for the country, though unhappily for themselves, another class of persons in the public service, consisting of very able, industrious, and energetic men, who were paid salaries far too small considering the duties they performed. In his opinion it was too often forgotten by the Government that talent and industry were as marketable as any commodity, and that if they required those qualities they must pay for them; and one step in advance would be to sweep away at once and at all hazards these Peter Dicks, and add the salaries they had received to that of those industrious men. No doubt could exist in the mind of any one that the time had arrived when administrative reform had become absolutely necessary. What he meant by that expression was, that it was necessary the Government should be made to keep pace with the progress made by those they governed. It was necessary that the mode of conducting business in Government offices should be assimilated to that which existed, and which succeeded so well, in the great banking and mercantile establishments throughout the country. If the Government did not institute a thorough administrative reform, people out of doors would not rest satisfied, because they felt that the present system was rotten at the core, and that the inefficiency of the men who carried out that system was the means of squandering, millions of the public money, and that much of that distress and misery which had befallen our noble army in the 1027 East had arisen from want of that reform which he now wished to urge upon the Government.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
Sir, before my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty addresses any observations to the House in reply to what has fallen from my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth, perhaps, as I have been referred to, I may be excused if I offer a few remarks to the House. I shall commence my observations by referring to one or two remarks made by my hon. Friend towards the close of his speech. My hon. Friend has stated that administrative reform is necessary, and in dealing with that observation I shall confine myself to the subject of the navy. I do not mean to say that administrative reforms in other departments might not be made, for I am disposed to think that they are necessary, and have been felt to be necessary, and that various Governments have endeavoured to apply remedies; but, not to enter into that subject, I think that, as regards the navy, I may say without vanity that the remarks of my hon. Friend would have been much more applicable twenty years ago than now. At that time I used my best endeavours, acting on the part of the Government of Lord Grey, and with his concurrence, to apply an efficient cure to what then appeared to me to be abuses in the administration of the naval department, and I think that the remedy then applied has served to maintain the efficiency of that department at the present day. My hon. Friend, in referring to our general system of administration, has said—and I hope he did not apply the observation to the naval departments—that it is rotten at the core. Well, Sir, that is a harsh expression. He has likewise dwelt particularly on the system of patronage as an indication of rottenness, and on that point I may say that it does so happen that the present accountant general of the navy, Mr. Bromley, one of the most able servants the country possesses, was only twenty years ago a humble clerk in a dockyard, with a salary under 200l. a year. I, at that time, observed the merits of that gentleman, and his character was also reported to me as being most exemplary, and before I left office in 1834, I had the pleasure of promoting him to a higher situation in the department than the one he then held, and by his talents and excellent conduct that gentleman has in the meantime risen from the humble 1028 position I have mentioned to be the accountant general to the navy, receiving pay and allowances amounting to 1,400l. a year; and he has attained that position wholly and solely by his own merit. That gentleman, I repeat, has risen to his present position, not by favour, but by merit exclusively, and I firmly believe that a more meritorious and able public servant than Mr. Bromley cannot be found. He is known to several Gentlemen on both sides of the House, and I can appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) as to the manner in which he discharges not only the duties of his office, but in which he has contributed his assistance to the improved administration of several other branches of the Civil Service. My hon. Friend (Mr. Lindsay) has commented at some length upon the fact of there being a deaf and dumb clerk employed in the Admiralty. Well, Sir, the appointment of this gentleman was originally made from charitable considerations, and he has fully justified it by his services and attainments. His conduct was so meritorious, and his talents were of so high an order, that when, before I left the Admiralty on the formation of the Transport Board, I referred the question of appointment to those officers who were most capable of forming a correct judgment, that same deaf and dumb clerk was recommended to me as the most eligible person that could be employed, and he was accordingly promoted. The misfortune of being deaf and dumb is not in itself a disqualification, as the hon. Member appears to consider it; for one of the most distinguished civil servants, a son of Sir W. Napier, has the misfortune to labour under these natural defects, and is yet known to be most efficient and worthy of the highest praise. I am sure that my hon. Friend is the last person to speak with levity of so great a calamity, when, as in the present case, it is combined with talent.
said, he had not intended to cast any reflection upon that gentleman's abilities. All he wished to do was, to explain the Government system of dealing with accounts.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
Very well; but I think that the two cases I have mentioned, that of the accountant general and his deaf and dumb clerk, show that the patronage of the Admiralty has not gone by favour. Now, I come to the subject 1029 of accounts. My hon. Friend has stated that the system of accounts is a disgrace to this country, and to the advanced science of the age in which we live. Now, Sir, I will challenge a comparison between the naval accounts and those kept in any merchant's office—even in that of my hon. Friend, and I have no hesitation in saying that it will be found that they are posted up as closely, and are kept upon a better system, than any accounts kept by any banker or merchant in London. At the same time, the House will bear in mind the extent of the transactions, and the various items involved, and also the system of auditing used as a security for the public money; and I say that, notwithstanding these impediments, the navy accounts are posted up more closely than those of any banking or mercantile firm. Then, as to the accounts being a disgrace to the country, I can only say that the system was originally copied from the admirable system which existed in France; that, since it has been adopted in this country, the accounts have been examined by the French Government; and Sir John Briggs, to whom the merit of that introduction is due, has told me that he had the proud satisfaction of hearing them express the opinion that the system of accounts adopted in this country was as perfect, if not more so, than their own. Well, then, I ask the House, can that system be fairly spoken of as a disgrace to the country I shall now, having dealt with that portion of the speech of my hon. Friend, apply myself to the other topics upon which he has touched. My hon. Friend has said, that the number of steamers employed was very great. I admit that, and I must say that he has been just as well as generous; for, although bringing charges himself, he has fully answered many which have proceeded from other quarters. My hon. Friend has said, and has truly said, that when the war broke out, and the urgency was extreme, the tenders were high; but he well knows that the price of a commodity is regulated by the supply. My hon. Friend has also complained that there was a want of a well-regulated system, and he has shown that, with the number of ships, steam vessels and sailing vessels, a greater number of voyages outwards and homewards might have been made, and an infinitely larger service might have been perforated, than has been perforated. But the House must remember what has been 1030 really done during the last twelve months. We have been conveying, a distance of 3,000 miles, from 58,000 to 60,000 troops of all arms, upwards of 6,000 horses, a large train of artillery, all the guns for large field and battering trains, all the forage and the rations necessary both for the fleet and the army. We have also been conveying more than 15,000 French troops from the south of France, with their horses. We have also conveyed from Varna to the Crimea 40,000 Turks and 6,000 horses, and we have undertaken the constant supply of what is necessary for that force by steamers from Constantinople to the Crimea. Last summer, also, we conveyed to the Baltic 15,000 men, making in all somewhere about 100,000 men conveyed, and somewhere about 8,000 or 9,000 horses, besides keeping up the supply of daily rations for somewhere near 100,000 men, conveyed a distance of 3,000 miles. The hon. Member asks, likewise, why we did not move the steamers backwards and forwards; but the necessity of the service renders it impossible. No doubt expenses are incurred and demurrage arises; but when was an army ever trusted upon a foreign shore without being furnished with the means of embarkation? When the Duke of Wellington with his brave army maintained that position of Torres Vedras which has covered his name with immortal glory to the latest time, he was never content without having always in the Tagus the whole amount of transport necessary for the re-embarkation of his army. So also in the China war and the Burmah war. If you invade a country and send your forces to a remote territory, ordinary prudence and caution will teach you the necessity of keeping the means at hand of re-embarking your troops. The naval commander in chief was pressed in the months of June, July, and August, to send back some of the steamers; but the British army was then in Bulgaria, and the resolution was taken to remove that army to the Crimea. So far from being sent back, the steamers were, in the exercise of the discretion vested in the admirals, detained, and they effected, with signal success, that great operation of removing the army from Bulgaria to Eupatoria without the loss of a man or a horse in that expedition. Then there was the advance of the army from Eupatoria to Balaklava, and the occupation of the Chersonesus in front of Sebastopol. Time was occupied in that movement, and it was not thought expedient while it was 1031 in progress, and while the issue was at all doubtful, to send the steamers back. The House will remember that the British army had only one port of communication with the sea. That was a very small port and harbour, and the ships were without the means of landing, or of placing in store, anything sent in the nature of supplies. There were no appliances in the way of cranes or wharfs, and this involved the necessity of keeping a large portion of the stores on board ship. Then, with the number of sick, were continually arising demands for removing them from the Crimea to Constantinople, and even more distant stations. Then other and serious demands were made upon the transport service. Our great allies, the French, having an abundance of troops, but not having such a command of steamers as we have, it fell upon us to furnish them with the means of transport, and nearly 20,000 men were sent from Marseilles on board British steamers to the Crimea. Much later, my noble Friend now at the head of the Government, in pursuance of a treaty with the Sardinian Government, has been obliged to furnish the means of transport for conveying 15,000 Genoese from Genoa or Spezzia to the Crimea. Then came the great operation of removing 40,000 Turks from Varna to Eupatoria, who were removed in a period so short, that nothing could exceed the admiration of Omer Pasha, except his gratitude. Upon the whole, regarding the hon. Member as a severe judge, I cannot but hope and think that the House will come to a different conclusion relative to our naval operations. So far from thinking they have been badly performed the greatest credit is due to the British fleet, and particularly to Sir Edmund Lyons, for the manner in which they have executed the arduous and various duties confided to them. My hon. Friend has spoken of a detention of ten days in the river of two steamers, and he speaks of the internal fittings of these steamers as being easily performed; but we have found the fitting out of steamers to be no easy matter, and to occupy much time. My hon. Friend has truly spoken of Captain Milne as a meritorious officer. I do not think that the service that has been performed could have been accomplished without the energy and ability of that officer, to whom the country is greatly indebted. If it were possible for any one man to have continued to manage the transport service, Captain Milne would have done it; but, not think- 1032 ing it possible for any one officer to manage so vast a service, I thought it prudent to recommend the appointment of a Transport Board. Upon principle I agree with my hon. Friend; I am not friendly to a division of responsibility in boards; but when the House remembers that the transport service involves contracts for 5,000,000l., I think they will agree with me that in such large transactions there is safety in multiplying the checks upon contracts of so large an amount. It therefore appeared expedient and salutary to combine a naval and military officer and an officer of the merchant service in the Transport Board. This board will only exist during the war; the term of office is so limited; and with the end of the war will terminate the existence of the board. When the magnitude of the service has been considered, and all that has been done has been duly weighed, I think that the dissatisfaction stated by my hon. Friend will not be shared generally by the House or by the country.
§ MR. ALCOCK
said, he rose, pursuant to notice, "to draw the attention of the House to the state of the war in the Black Sea." We were now pretty much where we were when the war broke out, and had made little or no progress—a state of things which he attributed, in a great degree, to the absence of that extraneous assistance which this country ought to have had, and might have had, if the proper steps had been taken with reference to the Caucasus. That independent country, which had the power and the disposition to assist us, which was as large as England and Wales, and four times the size of the Crimea, was held in check by a line of fortresses along the whole frontier between the Caucasus and Russia. Now, if we had but taken Anapa, and thus acquired the command of the Straits of Kertch, we should have gained an important military station, and the Circassians would have been prepared to show their sympathy for their co-religionists the Turks, and for their compatriots, the Tartars of the Crimea. Anapa gave to Russia the entire command of the Caucasus, and, once in our possession, we should have been assisted by the irregular horsemen of that country, inferior to none in the world, and much more than a match for the Cossacks. What an important advantage it would have been to the allied forces in the East to have been aided by 50,000 of these horsemen! To the parts of Russia south 1033 of the Caucasus there were only three modes of approach—one by the sea, at present totally cut off; another by a central pass in the Caucasus; and the third by the Caspian Sea. Now, with the communication by water in the hands of the allies, Schamyl could have had no difficulty in closing the mountain pass; and if once we had possession of Anapa, an important diversion might have been created in that quarter. Why this had not been done he could not conceive; and if Lord Aberdeen had been a Minister of Russia, and had accomplished as little in this way as he had done for England, he would have been in Siberia long ago. Then, again, the House was asked to grant a loan of 1,000,000l. for the co-operation of 15,000 Piedmontese, but for a fourth part of the sum we were about to give to Sardinia the allies might have had the assistance of 40,000 Persians. He must repeat that it was the duty of the Government to have attempted the capture of Anapa, and our not having the command of this position was one of the reasons why we had made so little progress in the war.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Lindsay) had referred to the general state of the departments connected with the civil service of the country. It was impossible for anybody who had watched the course of events recently not to have seen that, upon the one hand, immense exertions had been made by Government and by the country to carry on the war in which we were engaged; and that, upon the other hand, in spite of the exertions which had been made, there had existed, and there still existed, in the country a great and growing dissatisfaction at the failures which had taken place. These two facts, though seemingly irreconcilable, might be easily reconciled by the consideration of one simple point. There was an old saying, that "A dead fly made the ointment of the apothecary stink," and in the same manner small failures brought continually under the notice of the people threw discredit upon great transactions. He was confident that many of the failures which had taken place would have been passed over more easily, would have excited much less attention, and would have been excused as the natural incidents of so great and novel an undertaking, if it had not been that circumstances attending other adventures in which the Government had been engaged had given the people an 1034 unfavourable impression of the state of the public service generally. He was, therefore, most anxious to impress upon the Government the importance of losing no time, for their own sakes and for the credit of the country, in introducing such improvements into the civil service as would secure for it a better name than it had hitherto possessed. He was not one of those who were disposed to join in a general outcry against the civil service. That service possessed many merits and had connected with it men capable and willing to perform any amount of work that might be thrown upon them. He was conscious, however, that there were many defects in the organisation of the civil service, which rendered the talent and industry employed in it much less valuable than they ought to be. There was one point, however, to which he was particularly desirous of calling the attention of the Government, with a view to obtaining better economy and efficiency. By regulating the admissions into the service, the promotions made in it, and, what was still more important, the distribution of the work connected with it, a considerable sum of money might be saved, and far greater efficiency obtained. There were a large number of men receiving salaries varying from 80l. to 300l. a year, who, to use the language of the hon. Member for Tynemouth, were hardly worth their salt; while, upon the other hand, there were other men employed whose assistance was most valuable and who did an immense amount of work. What he principally complained of was, that the young men employed in the civil service were set to copying merely, for the first four or five years, and that when they were called upon to write a simple letter, they found themselves incompetent to do so. There was a great difference between serving and experience. There were many who had taken University honours, or received a very excellent education, who went into Government offices, but were kept so long at mere copying that the powers which they possessed upon entering were soon lost. He thought that there ought to be such an arrangement of the offices, that the young men on entering should be able by practice to keep up their knowledge, and he believed that the result of such a change as this would be to attract to the Government service men of a much superior order than could be expected, when the only prospect held out was a miserable 1035 salary, and work much beneath the education they had received.
§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
said, he wished to make a few remarks on the subject of the transport service. He did not, however, wish to speak harshly of the errors of the past; he preferred looking forward to the prospect of our learning from those errors wisdom for the future. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) had mentioned a single instance in which he had advanced a man on the score of merit; but he (Captain Scobell) wished to see that ground of advancement universally adopted. During the last four years there had been at the Admiralty four First Lords, there had been several changes in the junior Lords, and there had been three or four Secretaries. How could a Board work well with such numerous and rapid changes? He confessed he felt surprised that the English transports in the Black Sea had not volunteered to carry out a greater number of French troops; and he believed that if those transports had been properly managed, they would have performed double the work they had done. The great source of the failures in the transport system was, that there had been no person to superintend the stowage of the different vessels. The consequence of that want of superintendence was, that no one knew where anything ought to be put, and of course no one could know where anything was to be had on the arrival of a ship at its destination. Most hon. Members would have heard the anecdote of the vessel loaded with boots being despatched from Balaklava to Constantinople for shoes—[Sir J. GRAHAM: That is altogether untrue.]—and in other instances, which were well authenticated, vessels had been sent for goods of which there was an abundance at the time at Balaklava. But the worst feature in the whole of the transport service was the miserable provision, or rather want of provision, for the conveyance of the sick and wounded. These poor men were huddled together in the vessels in a manner worse than cattle. With respect to the comparative advantages of employing a board or a single individual, he would observe, that although an individual could not himself do everything, there was no reason why he should not have the assistance of others, without the establishment of a board; and it appeared to him that greater efficiency would be secured by entrusting the supreme management to 1036 one person than by dividing it among several.
§ MR. CAYLEY
said, the denial by the late First Lord of the Admiralty, of the anecdote to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had last spoken had referred, ought to have been made five months ago, when all such statements were said to be untrue; but there was no mismanagement to which the country would not now give credit. The right hon. Gentleman admitted mismanagement generally, but he always defended particulars—apparently acting in every special case upon the maxim of the demagogue Wilkes, never to defend himself against a charge upon the hustings, but to deny it in toto. He certainly placed confidence in the dispassionate statement of the hon. Gentleman who had introduced the subject, notwithstanding the denial of everything by the right hon. Gentleman. Lord Derby's Government, which consisted of untried men, had been turned out to make room for the right hon. Gentleman, who was, par excellence, the great administrator of the country, and his friends, although they had no followers, solely on account of their supposed administrative abilities; and the public had now had an opportunity of judging of those abilities. He acknowledged the right hon. Gentleman's administrative power so far as method and order were concerned; but those were not the only qualities required for conducting a war successfully; and those very checks which the right hon. Gentleman so much admired had been the curse of all our operations. It was in consequence of them that our army had been starved to emaciation and death; and yet the right hon. Gentleman still defended them. A friend of his, who had gone out to the East from one of the public offices connected with the war, disbelieving before he went the statements made by The Times and the rest of the press with regard to the condition of the army, had written to say that he could not now but acknowledge the truth of most of those statements, while, at the same time, he added that the curse of the place was pen and ink. It was not very often that the House had practically the power of very minutely analysing the estimates, but when they saw so large a sum as was proposed asked for the transport service alone, it became the duty of the House to examine into the details. The amount of work done they could only judge from what they saw before them. When the 1037 Navy Estimates were moved, the first estimate had not been passed up to ten o'clock at night, and as he understood from one of the Lords of the Admiralty there was no likelihood of the transport service coming on that night, he had from indisposition quitted the House. The transport grant was, however, agreed to, and this was his excuse for troubling the House on the present occasion. The whole tonnage connected with the transport service by the papers before them was as follows: 42,000 tons for the navy, 18,000 for the army, 19,000 for the ordnance, 7,000 for Malta, and 8,000 tons for the French—in all, about 94,000 tons, exclusive of 158,754 tons of coals. The charge for this was no less than 2,600,000l., or 25l. per ton, and this year to be doubled, the ordinary charge just now for freightage to Australia, 17,000 miles instead of 3,000 miles, being only 45s. per ton. He did not pretend that this was an accurate estimate, but the only approximation that could be made from the figures before them. Now, who was responsible for all this? In his opinion it was the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) then First Lord of the Admiralty. He considered that one of the gravest charges brought against the conduct of the transport service was the mode in which the coaling of the vessels had been conducted. Look at the cases of the Emperor and the Arabia, as showing the great want of system that had prevailed at Constantinople in coaling the vessels, and the enormous expense that the country had in consequence been put to. In some cases the coaling of the vessels cost 10l. or 11l. per ton, although coals were only 4l. per ton at Constantinople. One would have imagined from the profuse expenditure of public money, from the number of ships employed and lying idle in port, that there would have been abundance of land transport in the hands of the commander of the forces, to import forage for horses, but this was one of the most terrible privations to which the army in the Crimea was exposed. The horses died for want of forage, which was lying in the ships in Balaklava harbour; and the soldiers wanted food, clothes, and ammunition, and could not get them for want of land transport, and the gross and scandalous mismanagement and confusion its Balaklava harbour. When the horses were ill there was no medicine to be found, though it was lying there or being bandied 1038 about from port to port, from the month of June. One would have thought there would have been economy in the use of the fodder when it was scarce; but instead of that, one-half of it was wasted from the want of nose-bags. Lord Lucan asked Lord Raglan's permission to send to Constantinople for provisions for men and horses, but all sorts of obstacles were thrown in the way, when all facilities should have been afforded. With regard to the want of horses and mules for land transport, the propriety of purchasing mules in Spain was suggested to the Government in March. This suggestion was not adopted until three months afterwards; the first batch of 300 mules was sent off in August, and the second batch was not sent till the middle of December, for want of sea transports; while a great number of ships, according to the evidence of the Earl of Cardigan, at that time remained unemployed at Balaklava. Then, again, the horses had been conveyed under an ill-digested system, and great numbers had died; whereas, under the Hull system of conveyance, it was well known that but few casualties happened, and that the horses were landed in good condition. There had also been a great want of horse medicine; large quantities were taken out and had arrived in June, but these were not discovered until January. What security had they, that the new transport board would prove more efficient than had the Board of Admiralty? Captain Drew had been mentioned as a practical man, connected with the board, but he believed he was between sixty and seventy years of age; and, indeed, it appeared to be one of the conditions of this war that it should be conducted by old men. He thought that, since the appointment of the new transport board, circumstances had occurred which were not very creditable to their arrangements, especially with regard to stowage of transports. In the case of the Telegraph it was clear that great negligence had existed, and he considered that experienced stevadores should be always present at Deptford and Portsmouth to superintend the stowage of transports. It was well known that the troops had not been properly supplied with ammunition. Even four or five days after fire was first opened upon Sebastopol the supply of ammunition fell short, and Captain Shakespeare stated that during the affair of the 25th of October, at Balaklava, he was for 1039 an hour without ammunition for his guns, and yet the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) defended the system of retaining the ammunition on board the ships in the harbour of Balaklava. A near and dear relative of his (Mr. Cayley's) had been a month before Sebastopol in October, he had fraternised with all classes of the armies, officers, soldiers, Jack Tars, Zouaves, and Turks, and from him he had received most lamentable accounts of the condition of the troops, showing that, even at the end of October, the soldiers were wasting away, that the officers were dispirited, and that there was a want of confidence in head-quarters. Those accounts were of so melancholy a nature, and appeared to him so important, that he hesitated as to whether he ought not to communicate them to the noble Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell), who was then the leader of the Government in that House. He decided otherwise, however, and he offered the information to The Times newspaper, stating to the conductors of that journal, in general terms, the contents of the letters he had received. The Times newspaper had afforded such full information on the subject of the war that he felt it right to offer his information to that journal, if its conductors required additional evidence as to the state of the army. A great deal had been said about The Times newspaper; and, although the press generally had afforded very valuable information with respect to the conduct of the war, he would refer to The Times in particular. For a considerable period The Times had been held up to odium as misrepresenting the state of things in the Crimea; but he would like to know who now thought The Times had made such misrepresentations? Was there any one who did not now believe that the Commissioner of The Times, and the other newspaper Commissioners, had been the means, under Providence, of saving our army from actually perishing? He believed that, had it not been for the representations made by the press, the whole of our army must have perished, for they would not have received the succours which had been sent out from this country in consequence of those representations. The Times had not only been accused of misrepresentations, but it had been accused of making those misrepresentations from improper motives. He did not think he was committing any breach of confidence 1040 in stating that the answer he received to his offer to communicate to The Times the information contained in the letter of his correspondent was this—We don't require any additional evidence. We have the evidence of every person who writes from the Crimea, and of every person who arrives in this country from the Crimea. We have ample evidence of all which your letters appear to contain.This, be it remembered, was at the end of November. But the editor of The Times went on to say—The task is so odious, of inculpating persons at head-quarters, although the evidence appears to us complete, and if the facts can be substantiated, it is at this juncture so doubtful whether, upon the whole, the public service would not rather be disserved than served by the exposure, that we refrain from availing ourselves of the communication.This occurrence took place at least a month before The Times began what were called its attacks upon Lord Raglan. He thought it only just to make this statement with respect to The Times newspaper. The Times had never been civil to him. When he had brought forward questions in that House, The Times had generally given him "the cold shoulder," and had treated him rather cavalierly, but he had considered himself bound in justice to make this statement. He believed, from information he had been enabled to gather, that there had been a great waste of money in the transport service, and that, if practical men had been employed in its superintendence, at least one-third of the amount which had been expended might have been saved. He regretted on this occasion the absence of some hon. Gentlemen who usually assume to exercise a very vigilant supervision with respect to the public expenditure. He believed that if the expenditure of this country for the war was compared with that of our Allies, it would be found that our expenditure far exceeded, in proportion, that of the French Government. But why should it do so? Every material of war was as cheap here as there, many much cheaper. The people of this country did not grudge any expenditure which was necessary for carrying on the war, for they were desirous to prosecute it vigorously, and to bring it to a successful issue, but they wanted their money's worth for their money. For his own part, he did not think the people did get their money's worth, for the shortcomings and neglect of the late Government, at the commencement 1041 of the war, had led to attempts to atone for their procrastination by a profuse, he might almost say, a profligate expenditure subsequently. The cost of feeding our army was of course considerable—but it was stated that, on average, it had amounted to as much as 1l. per day; yet the firm of Baines and Co., of Liverpool, had offered to furnish the army with provisions by contract at the rate of 3s. 6d. per head. In this proposed contract it was offered to supply daily to each soldier a pound of bread, a pound of beef or pork, a pound of preserved potatoes, a pint of ale, and half a gill of spirits, and they calculated that to enable them to do this four steamers of 1,200 tons burden each, besides four more for conveying fresh meat from the shores of the Black Sea, would be amply sufficient. Surely, then, the necessity for that amazing amount of tonnage which the Government had engaged might be seriously doubted. It might have been perfectly competent for the Government to require from contractors a month's supplies for the army to be furnished in advance, and still private enterprise might have provided a cheaper and safer mode of feeding our troops and preserving them from starvation. Mr. Green, of Blackwall, stated that while the Resolute was in the Government service she was about three months in port, and two months at sea; and yet the House was told by the right hon. Member for Carlisle that there had been no waste of tonnage. In all the operations of the war nothing seemed to have been done in time. The Government ought to have known that rapidity of action so indispensable in war—which was an affair of a word and a blow—was utterly incompatible with that cumbrous system of checks of which the right hon. Gentleman was so enamoured. They seemed to have imagined that the mechanical law might be true in war, that what you gained in velocity you lost in power. If there had been any exception to the rule of "too late" in the policy of the Government, it was that they had made Lord Raglan a field marshal when they received the telegraphic news of the battle of Inkerman, without waiting for the details, when it turned out, after all, to be the soldiers' and not the general's battle; and they had also made Mr. Samuel Morton Peto a Baronet because he proposed to construct a railway from Balaklava to the camp, instead of waiting till he had first executed his task, and then conferring 1042 this honour upon him. Her Majesty's ships went out without any preparations having been made for the rapid embarkation of guns and of cavalry; and in that state of things Mr. Roberts, the commander of Her Majesty's Ship Cyclops, invented a most ingenious and simple plan of pontoons, which was greatly approved, but not adopted until at his own expense he had provided some; when they were adopted, and enabled that rapid embarkation to take place at Varna, which had been so much admired. In fact, no service of greater importance bad been rendered by any individual during the war than that which was thus performed by Mr. Roberts, and it had been presumed that he would be promoted. Whether he had received his promotion or not he (Mr. Cayley) was not aware, but certainly a better officer than Mr. Roberts could not, he (Mr. Caley) understood, be found in Her Majesty's service. On the whole, then, the responsibility for the management of the transport service must be brought home to the Admiralty; and to the inefficiency of that service must be ascribed the most serious calamities which had befallen the army in the Crimea. It was not our business to criticise or condemn the conduct of either Captain Christie or Admiral Boxer, who were both servants of the Admiralty. It was their masters, the Board of Admiralty, that this House should visit with its severe reprobation. War was as distasteful and repugnant to him (Mr. Cayley) as it could be to the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), and yet, by some inscrutable design of Providence, it seemed to sub-serve in the political world ends analogous to those effected by storms it, the natural world—by clearing the atmosphere from accumulating impurity. If war, then, must be waged, it ought, at all events, to be conducted with energy and vigour. For after all it was nothing—appeals to justice failing—but a struggle to know which was the strongest. It was a trial of strength; and it had better be tried out, than by any indecision in the matter, give rise to frequent repetitions of the same struggle. This, however, had not hitherto been the case; and it was to be hoped that the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston), taking warning from the errors of those who had preceded him, would insist upon every department being carried on with efficiency. It would be some compensation for the calamities of the war if, out of the chaos resulting from of- 1043 cial incompetency, from obsolete pedantries and drivelling formalism, there should arise a system of order, efficiency, and vigour—a system that would stand the test of practical experience, and prove something more than a solemn sham and a gigantic imposture.
said, that when the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) stated that he had sanctioned the formation of a Transport Board, because the superintendence of the business of the transport service was too arduous a duty for one man to discharge, he had—unconsciously, no doubt—laid bare the real secret of the errors and inefficiency of that board. A division of labour involved a division of responsibility—the one could not be obtained without the other. So long as they continued this system of divided responsibility, so long would they have the duties of the service inefficiently performed. He was glad to have heard it stated in the course of the debate that administrative reforms were contemplated; he trusted that amongst those reforms they would have to reckon the discontinuance of that system which had existed in this country from time immemorial—namely, that of placing civilians at the head of the naval and military departments. They might rely on it, so long as that system was maintained, that the duties of neither the one nor the other would be efficiently conducted. He cared not how great might be the administrative ability of any individual, if he was not thoroughly conversant with all the details of the profession over which he was appointed to preside—whether it was from his habits, his education, or his pursuits—all his efforts on behalf of the service must prove abortive. The present system was to place men at the head of the army who were not capable of managing a corporal's guard, and at the head of the navy persons incapable of taking charge of a coaster. He could mention the following cases as illustrative of the position which he had assumed; and he would do so the more readily as he saw the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle in his place. It would be in the recollection of the House that upon a former occasion, when the right hon. Baronet the late First Lord of the Admiralty having replied to a question which had been put to him—and he (Mr. Bentinck) would direct particular attention to the fact, that the statement was volunteered, and showed that the right hon. Baronet considered the fact of im- 1044 portance—well, having so replied to the question put to him, the right hon. Baronet proceeded to say that he would take that opportunity of adverting to certain rumours that were in circulation relative to the loss of the Prince transport, outside the harbour of Balaklava. The right hon. Baronet then referred to certain reports in the newspapers, to the effect that the Prince had been lost in consequence of her chain cables not having been properly clinched; whereupon he informed the House that the chain cables of the Prince had been properly clinched, and that the loss of that vessel could be attributed, therefore, to no such cause. Having taken a great deal of interest in the matter, he confessed at the time he was not a little surprised at such a statement coming from the right hon. Baronet; still he hesitated, not feeling himself fully informed, to take notice of it. However, only a very few days ago, he happened to obtain possession of a document which confirmed in the fullest manner the impression which he entertained at that time. It would appear that so far from the facts being as stated by the right hon. Baronet, he was himself completely misinformed upon the subject. He held in his hand a description, a sketch of the manner in which the chain cables of the Prince were clinched, which he would be most happy to place in the hands of the right hon. Baronet or any other Member, and it would convince them that the chain cables were clinched in so imperfect a manner as to account for the loss of the vessel. In corroboration of that fact it was stated that the Perseverance—a vessel which had been performing lately certain rather curious gyrations in Woolwich Dockyard—had her chain cables clinched in a similar manner to the Prince; but on the news of the disaster relative to that transport reaching this country, the attention of the authorities was directed to that fact, and the chain cables of the Perseverance were clinched in an efficient manner. Now, he need not remind the House that the right hon. Baronet had had the most ample means of obtaining information upon this subject; however, naturally taking the report drawn up for him as correct, he made no further inquiries. But if the right hon. Gentleman had been a professional man he would have asked one more question, and which would have relieved him from the necessity of making such a statement to the House of Commons—he would have said, "Show me how these chain cables were clinched." 1045 Now, that, perhaps, might be a trifling instance of the consequences of their system; still, trifling as it was, it showed that even if a man were as distinguished for his talents as the right hon. Baronet it was impossible for him to conduct the affairs of a service with which he could not, by any possibility, be conversant. As he had said, therefore, he hoped that when this millennium was come about, the first of these administrative reforms would be made in this direction. But he also understood the right hon. Baronet to have dissented from some statements with respect to a cargo of boots and shoes that had been alluded to. Now, although he was unable to contradict the right hon. Baronet, he might mention another case of mismanagement, which did go to prove that such an occurrence was by no means impossible. The Kangaroo transport had started from Varna for Eupatoria with the rest of the fleet, a portion of the Coldstream Guards being on board. When the troops landed at Eupatoria the Kangaroo was ordered round to Balaklava with the knapsacks of the regiment. She proceeded to Balaklava, but from thence she was despatched upon some other duty, without the knapsacks having been landed, and she returned to Balaklava in about a month, the knapsacks still on board, but the whole or nearly the whole of them were broken open, and their contents removed or destroyed. Now, though the story of the boots and shoes might be denied, there could be no doubt whatever as to the accuracy of the statement he had just made.
said, the hon. Gentleman had chosen a very unfortunate case in illustration of his argument against entrusting the administration of the army and navy to civilians, because it so happened that the right hon. Baronet who lately presided over the Admiralty, did make every inquiry into the point whether or not the cables of the unfortunate Prince were clinched. They were not clinched, but the former owners of the ship, and the men who lashed the cables round the masts, put in their affidavits to show that they were well lashed and properly secured. The right hon. Baronet, therefore, knew as much of the circumstances as the hon. Gentleman. Again, the hon. Member for the North Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Cayley) complained of the Admiralty, because Mr. Roberts, the late master of the Cyclops, had not been promoted. He 1046 had the satisfaction of assuring the hon. Gentleman that that excellent officer had obtained—and entirely through the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham)—one of the best situations which could be held by a master in the navy.
§ MR. JOHN MACGREGOR
said, nothing was easier than to find fault with the heads of departments, but it was very difficult for the heads of departments to prevent mistakes on the part of their subordinates. What was wanted was a reorganisation of the departments in such a way as to put an end to the blunders which Ministers of State could not possibly prevent. Several irregularities in the mode of conducting business had taken place, and the manner in which the various supplies were put on board ship for the East never could be justified. Articles which ought to have been shipped in one vessel had been stowed in several. He was convinced that any contractor would have managed matters very differently, and would have taken care that necessary articles never should be missing. He did not blame the Minister at the head of any department for the mismanagement, but he maintained that there should be a different organisation of the departments. He thought the country would be grateful to the hon. Gentleman who had brought this matter forward; and he hoped they would all join in helping any Government—not the present one especially—that would exert themselves properly, and oppose those who would not endeavour to bring about an honourable peace.
§ MR. H. BROWN
said, he had some experience in the transport service, and had not heard a single fact adduced, in the course of the present discussion, on which the House could arrive at a conclusion. The hon. Gentleman who had brought the measure forward had not pointed out a single remedy for the evil of which he complained. He believed the great fault of the system pursued by the Government was, that they paid for time, instead of for services performed. The French Government made the essence of the contract the service, and therefore the work was done well and quickly. He had now several vessels in the service of the French Government, and he could speak to the superiority of their system. The French Government gave a premium of 1l. a ton if the passage was made in a given time; and the result of this arrange- 1047 ment was, that the captain and all parties concerned were directly interested in the speedy accomplishment of the voyage. Look at the emigration service. There the Government adopted the service system, and not the time occupied, and the difference was shown by the fact that, while the cost of transporting emigrants 16,000 miles to Australia was only 10l. a head, exclusive of provisions, the cost of sending each soldier to the Crimea was 150l. In fact, the cost of transporting troops was five times that of transporting emigrants, while the accommodation was not as good by one-third. He knew the case of a vessel that lay in Dublin for thirty-five days to take in sixty men and thirty-two horses—the cost of the ship while lying at Dublin being at the rate of more than 22l. per man. Another vessel to which he would refer was chartered to sail from Liverpool for the Crimea. Great delay took place, but at length this vessel, which was of 841 tons, took twenty men and fifteen horses, at a cost of 125l. for each man, and 300l. for each horse. He could give hundreds of similar cases, of which we might well be ashamed. He was astonished to hear the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) say that the transports lying at Balaklava were there in case they should be wanted for the re-embarkation of the troops, for in the House of Lords some nights ago the War Minister stated the very opposite. Everything connected with the transport service had been conducted in the most shameful and disgraceful manner, and he did not think the hon. Gentleman who brought forward the question had at all overstated the case.
said, he had not intended to address the House, but, after the "bumptious" speech of the Secretary to the Admiralty on a previous occasion, he could not help saying a few words, though he observed that the hon. Gentleman was not now present. The hon. Gentleman had challenged any one to deny that the Admiralty had not been the best managed of all the departments. Now, he believed that it was to the mismanagement of the transport service all the miseries of the campaign in the Crimea were owing. He wished to make a few observations as to the transport service, and more particularly with reference to one vessel which had been mentioned—the Kangaroo. As the discussion was on, he wished to put it to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, whether the 1048 officers were to be compensated for the loss of their effects. There was one officer in particular who lost to the value of 200l., and was compelled to go to the same expense over again. He did not think it fair that those Gentlemen should be permitted to lose the value of those things, and that the culprits, whoever they might be, should go scot free. He was one of those who attributed the whole mischief and misery of that army to the transport service, and he charged the whole of the evil at the door of Admiral Boxer. Would it be believed that instead of removing that officer altogether, the Government merely changed him to another station, where he would have every opportunity of making things worse? The right hon. baronet (Sir J. Graham) could have easily learned that a number of transports were lying idle at the Bosphorus doing nothing. At a time when their services were so much required there were sixty at least lying idle there. When a man at the head of a department had acted so improperly, the Government, instead of removing him, placed him in a situation where he would be capable of doing more mischief.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
I am sorry, Sir, to say that the absence of my hon. friend the Secretary of the Admiralty is owing to the death of a near relative, and therefore I do think that before hon. Members indulge in such observations as we have just heard they should take a little trouble to ascertain whether there is any just ground for them. The hon. and gallant Member has made an unjust attack upon Admiral Boxer, for every report which the Government have received shows a considerable improvement in the state of the harbour at Balaklava since the appointment of Admiral Boxer to that post. I will not detain the House at any length, or wander into those points which have occupied the attention of hon. Members, but which have little or no connexion with the transport service; but, on the whole, I must express my thanks to the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Lindsay) for the testimony he has given with respect to the efficiency of the management of the transport service, and especially of the officer under whose charge the transports were taken up; and I will say, that a better public servant than that officer the Government or the country does not possess. Some observations have been made with respect to the high rate at which the troops have been conveyed, but the House will 1049 recollect that shipowners taking a cargo for their own benefit are able to convey passengers at a much lower rate than a vessel conveying troops, and which takes nothing else. So, in the like manner, if a vessel is employed to go backwards and forwards, conveying troops between particular places without delay or stoppage it might be done at much less trouble and cost. If men could be moved like pieces on a chessboard, then there might be some ground for complaint. But what was the fact here? The officers in command in the Black Sea wished to retain the transports in case their services were required for moving troops from one port to another; and, although complaints are made of vessels of large size being kept idle, the practical effect was, that they were rendered available for the purpose of conveying the troops from Varna to the Crimea. Then, again, with respect to the vessels detained there, they were detained not at the wish of the Admiralty or any other authority at home, but because it was the desire of the generals that they should be available for any service the necessity of which might arise. Whatever complaints may be made with respect to the ships which are now lying in Balaklava harbour, all I can say is that the best judges are those who were present upon the scene of operations, and they may deem it necessary that they should have the power of moving the troops at all times at their command. It is very easy to bring forward general accusations. Such accusations are very difficult to answer until they are brought to the test; but I boldly assert that not one single specific charge which has been brought forward has turned out to be correct. What was the case with respect to the assertion regarding the boots and shoes? It was utterly false. Then, again, there was an equally erroneous assertion with respect to the stowage of the medical stores in the Prince. It was alleged that the medical stores were placed below the Ordnance stores, whereas the assertion turns out to be utterly untrue, for the Ordnance stores were placed at the bottom of the hold, and the medical stores above them. They were, therefore, perfectly accessible, and there was no reason why they should not have been landed at Scutari, except the anxiety of the captain to proceed to the Crimea. Whenever there has been a specific charge it has been contradicted, and I do think that a little more inquiry would 1050 have prevented much misapprehension upon the Subject.
said he must apologise for having referred to the Secretary of the Admiralty, but was quite unaware of the cause of his absence.
§ MR. G. DUNDAS
said, he could give the First Lord of the Admiralty an instance of stores being improperly stowed. The Tynemouth was engaged to take out some heavy guns to Malta and shot to the Crimea. The shot was stowed on the top of the guns, and the guns were in the Tynemouth at the present moment.
§ The House then went into committee pro formâ and immediately resumed.
§ The House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock till Monday next.