HC Deb 18 April 1856 vol 141 cc1182-4

asked what were the arrangements which had been made for the attendance of the House of Commons at the naval review? It was rumoured that the First Lord of the Admiralty had placed at the disposal of the Mouse of Lords a vessel of sufficient size to accommodate the wives of the noble persons invited. No such provision had been made for the wives of Members of the House of Commons; and report stated that an application which had been made by the Speaker, on behalf of the House, for the use of the Himalaya—a large and commodious vessel—had been refused. Why should not Members of the House of Commons have an opportunity of taking their wives as the Members of the other House had?


wished to ask if the Perseverance, the ship allotted to the Members of the House of Commons, was the same ship that capsized? If so, he hoped the Admiralty would supply her with a sufficient number of life-boats. There had been quite enough money wasted in the sad reality of war, without spending more on this show. He saw no good result that would attend it, but much evil. He found serious questions arising in people's minds; they asked what this great show was for, and why this immense flotilla was not prepared long since, when it might have been of service in the war? What was to be done with all these gun- boats? He, for one, would rather not see the review, and he agreed with the remarks that had been made some weeks ago. However, if there was to be a show, and if Members of the House were to be sent down to see the show, he thought they ought to have a more suitable ship than the Perseverance.


asked whether it was really the intention of the Government that a very large number of gun-boats should be expressly fitted out in order to attend at this naval review?


did not think it would be satisfactory to any Member of that House to be precluded from taking his wife with him. He had made arrangements for taking his wife and two other ladies of his family.


replied, that it had been necessary to prepare, for the carrying on the war, a large fleet. Fortunately peace had come upon them, and the sending out of that fleet was not necessary. He could not think that it would be ungratifying to Members of the House of Commons to see the means which the country had at its disposal for the carrying on of the war, if that calamity had continued to exist. Until the ratifications of peace had been actually exchanged it would not be right to put any of these numerous vessels out of commission, and therefore it was not correct to say that any great expenditure had been incurred for this review. Gun-boats had been completed since the treaty of peace had been signed, but they formed a necessary part of our intended naval operations, and, of course, preparations with regard to the fitting up of other gun-boats would be discontinued as soon as peace was ratified. The hon. Gentleman was not quite correct in stating what had taken place. The right hon. Gentleman in the chair knew that he had never applied to him (Sir C. Wood) for the use of a vessel and been refused. With regard to the accommodation of Members and their wives and families, he must remind the House that some limit must be placed, for he could assure them that if there were not, it would require all the unemployed ships in Her Majesty's service. As to the proper arrangements for this naval review, he had been, to a considerable extent, guided by what occurred at the last. With regard to providing accommodation for Members and their wives, it must be remembered to what an extent 658 Members with their wives and families would go; but with regard to the Peers, they were not so numerous and therefore it was possible to extend to them the compliment of inviting their wives without incurring any great inconvenience. As to the ship Perseverance, to which the hon. Gentleman alluded, it was true that this was the ship which had been selected for the accommodation of Members of that House by the Government. The hon. Gentleman would seem to imply that the Admiralty had some malignant intention in engaging the services of this ship; but this could not well be implied, unless the vessel was to carry only the Members of the Opposition. It was correct that the Perseverance had met with an accident in coming out of dock, but since then she had made six voyages across the Bay of Biscay, and it was reported officially that she had gone through her work most creditably and satisfactorily. Therefore he could not suppose that in a vessel which had six times encountered the roughness of the Bay of Biscay there could be any danger in the Members of that House sailing in her to Spithead.


said, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to imply that, if females were permitted to accompany Members of that House, there should be more than one. For his own part he thought one wife enough.


ought to have stated that, on the day in which the naval review would take place, the train would leave the Waterloo Station at 7 o'clock A.M., and take the Members of the House of Lords and Commons down to Southampton, where each House would find that a large vessel was appropriated to its service. A small steamer would be in readiness at Southampton to convey the Members to the vessel. There would be refreshments on board, for the Admiralty could not think of sending the Commons to sea without some creature comforts on board. The train would leave Southampton at 6 P.M. for London. Tickets would be issued, but in the railway carriage Members would pay their own fares home. However, with the leave of his hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Williams), there would be no charge for refreshments.