§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
said, he rose pursuant to notice, to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the state of the naval administration, and the efficiency of the service in all the grades belonging to it. He trusted that as the House had just displayed such great commiseration for 407 those who had been the victims of our judicial system, they would by the same rule extend their spirit of clemency, and now evince at least a, little pity for the numerous body of officers whose cause he was about to plead. From his experience of men in power he believed their great faith was, that they invariably held the existing state of things to be only what was just and proper. He would, therefore, appeal to Gentlemen on both sides of the House to allow the question which he was about to raise to be dealt with by a Committee. For if things were found to be perfect it would be most satisfactory to the Government to have that declared in the Report of a Select Committee; while, if the case were otherwise, and if, as he (Captain Scobell) thought he could show, cruel hardships had been inflicted upon a large number of officers, why, then, he would appeal to the House, would it not have used its discretion wisely in dealing with such injustice? Already, towards the close of the last Session, he had attempted to move in the matter, but by the amiable manœuvre sometimes had recourse to, the discussion was brought to a close without a Vote being taken. His treatment on that occasion he did not hold to be personally disrespectful to himself, but he must say he held it to be a great insult to the navy of England. If the House of Commons had not patience enough to listen to the complaints of the navy, why, then, let them take to Beer Bills and such trivial matters. However, he was replied to by the First Lord of the Admiralty, whose errors on that occasion he was unable to address himself to, but on the present occasion he would take an opportunity of correcting. The right hon. Gentleman, at the head of the Admiralty, appeared to think that the officers of the navy were very admirably treated by the Board of Admiralty, and, in reference to the inquiry that took place on the subject, in 1848, the right hon. Gentleman said it was one conducted by as fair and as able a Committee as had ever been appointed. Well, in the first place, it was eight years ago when that Committee had sat, and their Report, together with the evidence taken, occupied 1,000 pages. He (Captain Scobell) believed that he was one of the few Members of that House that had read that Report from beginning to end. It was most voluminous, and referred to dockyards, contracts, shipbuilding, and a thousand things of that sort. That Committee was, 408 no doubt, a very able one; but it was an extraordinary circumstance that there was not a single naval officer a member of it. Now he must assert that in that respect the navy officers upon that, as well as other occasions, were treated exceedingly ill. But, as able and as elaborate a Report as that Committee had made, it was a curious fact, that at the end of it they recommended further investigation, and therefore his present Motion was not without justification. In August last the First Lord of the Admiralty, in reply to his Motion on Naval Government, said that "the House of Commons was apt at one time to take a view totally different to that which they took of a subject on another. The House of Commons would perhaps say at one time that they could not do enough for the naval profession, while at another they might complain of the advancements or promotions made." He, however, knew that the country loved the navy, and wished it to have fair play. The House, as well as the country, wanted to see real merit pushed on at a quick rate; and inexperience and inefficiency advanced by very slow degrees. But the right hon. Gentleman again said, "what, would you have the Admiralty commission ships for the mere sake of employing the officers?" Certainly not, such a notion was ridiculous. He (Captain Scobell), however, contended that when ships were commissioned, the Admiralty should give the able men every chance of getting fair play, and not allow themselves to be influenced by family or Parliamentary interest. The right hon. Gentleman then said, that "if any one man could devise a better system of promotion than that which existed, he would be a public benefactor." Well, upon these terms he (Captain Scobell) offered himself as a public benefactor. If the House would but grant him the Committee which he asked for, he would undertake to suggest the establishment of a much better system than any that had been in existence during the last fifty years. Although he had not been afloat for a considerable time, he had watched all naval subjects most carefully, having always the welfare of that service greatly at heart. The right hon. Gentleman also said, "it was indispensable to promote young officers for distinguished services." Well, no one would find fault with such a course. What, however, was complained of was, the promotion of men undistinguished by any services at all. The right hon. Gentleman again said, "that if he 409 (Captain Scobell) took the aristocratic names in the navy, he would find that, with the exception of Lord Dundonald, they were almost exclusively on the retired list." Now, that assertion, he bad no hesitation in saying, was preposterous, and he would show that it was so. He would first take the admiral's list, and see what time elapsed from their being promoted from the rank of midshipman or mate to that of post captain. There was first a Fitzroy, and he was thus advanced in four years. Then there was a Percy, who was so promoted in two years; a Cadogan, in five years; a Radstock, in three years. [Sir C. WOOD: But that was fifty years ago.] Yes; but the system had not changed since. Then there was a Gordon promoted from mate to post captain in four years and three-quarters; a Crofton, in three years and a half; a Berkeley in four years; a Dundas in three; a Fitzclarence in two and three-quarters; a Stopford in three and three-quarters; and a Grey in four years. Now, take the other side of the picture, and see how it fared with those who had nothing but merit to depend on. There was Pigot served ten years; Brown, twelve; Stroud, thirteen; Hornby, sixteen; Dillon, sixteen; and others equally in proportion, whose names it was not necessary to trouble the House with, but the average time was, that while the favoured class attained the rank of midshipman to post captain in three years and three quarters, the unfavoured was twelve and one-fifth, or nearly four times the period. The Earl of Dundonald had, no doubt, won honours, not because he was an aristocrat, but that he deserved them. He won them at the cannon's mouth, and there was not a finer career in the British navy, taking him from his youth, than that of Lord Dundonald. He (Captain Scobell), however, believed that on a late occasion he was not handsomely dealt with, in not being called into the presence of the Admiralty, or the Committee, who had before them a plan of his for the benefit of the country. Then, if he took the list of post captains, the result would be just the same. Aristocratic names got on rapidly from the list of commanders, while others advanced but slowly. He would take the first twenty from each class of names, and what was the result? The aristocratic names arrived from the list of mates to that of a commander on an average of three years, and the whole twenty served, 410 in the aggregate, seventy-four years, while the other class attained the same rank on an average of thirty-three years, and served, in the aggregate, 700 years. A gallant officer, now one of the Lords of the Admiralty, and who, during the last two years of war, had done signal service to his country, had, when out of office, declared that the Executive would never do anything to effect a reform in the naval service, and that men in office, or expecting office, were "tongue-tied." The question then arose whether, since 1844, the remedy had been applied. He thought not. He considered the constitution of the Admiralty, in the first place, most faulty. In the last four years and a half they had had four First Lords of the Admiralty, and three of them were civilians. Now, how could an office, the head of which was subject to such rapid changes, work well? Or how could its affairs be conducted properly by men who knew little or nothing of the profession which they governed? They might as well expect him (Captain Scobell) to make a good Judge or an able physician at a moment's notice. The great principle abroad now was, "the right man in the right place;" but they were surely not carrying out that principle by putting a civilian at the head of the Admiralty? The present First Lord had been Chancellor of the Exchequer—head of the India Board—and now ruled the navy. Which of these three places is he the right man for? They had been told, on high authority—that of the First Lord of the Treasury—that the army ought to be commanded by a soldier, and that it would be wrong to place the patronage of the army in the hands of the Treasury bench. Surely the same rule applied with equal, if not greater force, to the navy, and the direction of the fleets of Great Britain should be given to a sailor, as much as that of her armies to a soldier. Why was that system of distributing patronage which, if it were to be adopted with regard to the army, would be open to such great objection, to be persisted in in the case of the navy? The manner in which the patronage in the navy was dispensed was anything but satisfactory; many promotions were made from motives of mere favouritism, and he was afraid that there were some officers—not many perhaps—who had got on so rapidly, from one rank to another—and that, too, in a time of peace—that they were really not fit for the situations which they now filled. Such 411 rapid promotions were unfair to the officers themselves, for they did not give them time to learn their duties. A solemn and remarkable circumstance occurred upon the death of Sir George Cockburne, who was an Admiral, and seventeen years in the Admiralty. When Sir George Cockburne died he left a paper, with his will, in which he denounced the constitution of the Admiralty, although when living he had never opened his mouth on the subject. The words used in this paper, upon this point, were as follows—namely, "I have no hesitation in stating I consider the present establishment of the Board most unsatisfactory, and the least efficient for its purposes that could possibly be devised." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe), before he had attained to his present high position in the Government, condemned this system of public patronage, and observed that our statesmen were not identified with the public interests. A noble Lord, some time ago Secretary for Foreign Affairs, said that if the army was, like the navy, subject to Government control, it would be the hotbed of jobbery and trickery. The hon. Secretary to the Admiralty was a soldier. He (Captain Scobell) did not complain of him, but he did not think that it was paying a high compliment to the navy to appoint a soldier to such a position. He had pronounced the system of the Horse Guards to be "rotten." The navy was in as bad a state. He remembered a lieutenant general (the Earl of Mulgrave) at the head of the Admiralty, and a Cornet of Dragoons (the late Duke of Beaufort when Marquess of Worcester) once a Lord of the Admiralty. The late lay Lord of the Admiralty was bred a soldier. The private secretary to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, (Sir J. Graham) when first Lord of the Admiralty, was a soldier also. Is all this seemly? He considered that he had made out a case for the inquiry for which he asked. He had also received numerous communications from naval officers who were personally unknown to him; and he could assure the First Lord of the Admiralty that, however well the favourites with whom alone he habitually came in contact might be satisfied with the existing state of things, the feelings entertained in regard to it by five-sixths of the officers of the navy were those of disappointment and chagrin. To these suffering men an 412 inquiry into the state of the navy list and the system of promotion would give the greatest delight. From a Return which he obtained towards the close of the last Session of Parliament, and the results of some further investigations, he had compiled some important facts in regard to the different classes of officers which he would state to the House. In the year 1800, with 167 line-of-battle ships, in commission, and 120,000 seamen and marines, there were ninety-nine admirals, of whom twenty-five were employed. In 1855, with forty-four sail of the line and 50,000 seamen and marines, there were 100 active and 216 retired admirals, of whom eighty were from sixty to ninety years old. From Jan. 1, 1850, to 1855, there were forty-four active admirals made, and 141 retired from not being six years afloat. It was very proper that a man, after a long period of service, should be promoted, but it was a great hardship for the majority to be told that the had not served the required six years as a post captain; although they might have been asking for employment all the time that they had been on shore. An example of the present system was, that of four officers promoted to the rank of admiral last year one, who was made an active admiral, was seventy years of age, while three who were only between fifty and sixty years of age were placed upon the retired list. The remedy for this state of things would be to count a man's years of service not in one, but in all grades; a course for the adoption of which there was the greater reason, because it was in the lower ranks that a man learnt the most of his profession. Of post captains he might tell much the same story as he had related of admirals. There were upon the list many men bearing aristocratic names who had got on excessively fast, while the holders of such common names as Johnson, Kidd, or Brown got on equally slowly. In the years 1847, 1848, and 1849, fifty officers were made post captains, of whom thirteen had served as commanders only from two to five years, while seventeen had served in that rank from thirty-two to seventeen years, and of these fourteen had medals. In 1846, 100 captains were allowed to retire. They had most of them been some thirty years or more commanders, and their half-pay was 10s. a day. They retired with the rank of a lieutenant colonel, and colonel, in the army, and an additional 6d. a day half-pay. A marine officer of similar rank obtained, upon his retirement, 413 a half-pay of from 14s. to 17s. a day. Was that just to the navy? There was also another list on which the more favourite and younger commanders were retired, and they received an addition of 2s. or 2s. 6d. a day to their half-pay. In the years 1847, 1848, and 1849, eighty officers were promoted to the rank of commanders. Of these forty-three had served as lieutenants only from two to seven years, while twenty-three had served from twelve to fourteen years, and of these eleven had medals. There were now 549 officers, on the commanders' list, of whom only 196 were employed. Some of the best men were shelved on this list, and never got further. A memorial had been lately addressed by the commanders to the Admiralty, and he hoped that it would receive the serious consideration of the First Lord, and that his advocating that memorial would not injure their temperate claims. The lieutenants were also a most numerous body of officers, and the state of their list was most disheartening. He knew that nothing could be done to improve the condition of the old men, except a step in a retired rank, with the half-pay of that rank; but he wished to avoid the continuance of such a state of things for the future. He could mention many cases in illustration of the heartless treatment to which naval lieutenants were subjected, but no case was more glaring than that of Mr. John Green, a most deserving officer, who, having entered the service in 1800, and distinguished himself by his gallant bearing in several engagements, was appointed to a lieutenancy in 1809, and, never having received a single step of promotion from that hour to this, had the honour of being a lieutenant at the present moment. There were in a similar position some 600 or 700 other officers—men whose promotion had been brought to a deadlock, and whose service as lieutenants ranged from thirty to fifty years. Last Session he called the attention of the House to the fact, that there were then afloat twelve first-lieutenants, each of whom had on an average been a midshipman and lieutenant for thirty years. He was happy to add, that the allusion he had made to their cases had not been without its effect, for all of these officers had been since promoted—a circumstance which he had learnt with extreme gratification, and for which much credit was due to the First Lord of the Admiralty. Were it not that he feared to trespass on the attention of the House, he could read a list of officers 414 whose service averaged from fifty to fifty-five years each, but who, not having family interest or political influence, had failed to obtain that advancement to which, from their merits, they were entitled. It was to be hoped that the claims of these ill-used gentlemen would receive the attentive consideration of the Admiralty. By a late order from the Horse Guards officers in the army and the marines were, under certain circumstances, allowed to retire with a stop in rank and half-pay. Now, why should not that order be extended to the navy? He found by a return which he had obtained, and which included the whole of the year 1854 and half of the year 1855, that during that time 216 midshipmen had been admitted into the navy. Now, what would be the consequence of such a proceeding? Why, that some half of this number would be post captains in some half-dozen years, while the others would not reach that rank for thirty years to come. Indeed, some of them would never be higher than lieutenants. As for himself he never had asked, nor never should ask, any office or favour from any Government; but justice compelled him to plead the cause of his brother officers. He had heard that some proposition would be adopted by the Admiralty for benefiting old officers of the navy. He hoped the case was so; for any officer who, from infirmity, or ill health, was unable to serve when called upon to do so, should no longer have his name on the "active" list. Such men should pass off and make room for others who could do duty. The first fifty active commanders—had been in the aggregate 2,000 years in the navy; which gave an average of forty years' service for each of them. An examination of the list of superior officers of other grades would show similar results. It was a miserable thing that one-tenth of the entire number of officers who entered the navy should be enjoying the honours of promotion, while the other nine-tenths were suffering from want of employment and want of notice. His Motion finished by asking that the Committee he wished to have appointed should inquire into the efficiency of the service in all its grades; and of course "all its grades" would include the seaman. During the last war, though the Government pressed for seamen (he thanked God impressment was at an end), they gave the seamen who entered after being pressed, bounty. Of course those who entered without being pressed 415 got bounty too; but now, though England was again at war, no bounty was given to the seaman. And what was the consequence? Why, that the first time our fleet went to the Baltic, though it might have been fit to meet the Russian fleet, it certainly would not have been so to meet an equal American or French naval force. He held in his hand letters from men who could not be mistaken on that subject. Indeed one flag officer had said to him, "I would not accept a command in the Baltic fleet, for I would be afraid that I should lose my reputation." On board that fleet there were "lubbers," dockyard-riggers, a few revenue servants, and some coast guardsmen, whose presence there had injured one service to benefit the other; but there was a great want of able seamen, because no bounty was given. The coast guardsmen afloat had 3s. or 4s. a day pay, whilst the entered able seamen had but one. The extra pay to the former for three years would pay a £5 bounty to each of 35,000 seamen. There were landsmen, too, whom the Admiralty fondly imagined they could convert into skilful mariners in a single year. He wished the First Lord of the Admiralty would go to sea for a year, if only to discover how little of a seaman he would be at the end of that period. It was merchant seamen that were required to man Her Majesty's fleets. To such he would offer a liberal bounty; but he would not give sixpence for a landsman, for the true qualities of a seaman were only to be acquired in youth. Let us retrace our steps—do justice to the navy, or we should rue the day when another war might come on with a more active naval power than Russia. As to Russia as a naval power, she was not to be compared with some other countries which might be our enemies. If her fleet in the Baltic, where we last year had 100 pennants waving over steamers, had ventured to come out, we should have blown her ships to atoms; but if, unhappily, we should be at war with America, who had some 20,000 English seamen in her service, what steps must we take to get them back? Sailors did not willingly turn their backs upon their country; but their very calling gave them general ideas of nationality, which illiberality on our part would convert to our prejudice. In the last American war it was notorious that many British seamen fought against then own flag, and yet we now took no steps to prevent a recurrence of such lamentable 416 conduct. It must be remembered that, although the United States was comparatively unprepared for naval war at present, seeing how rapidly we had constructed a fleet of gunboats, it could not be doubted but that in two years' time she could produce a most formidable fleet. During Lord Derby's Government a Commission was appointed to inquire into the subject of manning the navy, which even in time of peace recommended a small bounty to be given, but no attention had been paid to the suggestion. He charged, advisedly, the late First Lord of the Admiralty with an act of injustice, and want of judgment, in not having at the beginning of the present war procured good seamen, as he might, by the offer of a bounty, such as was given to soldiers. It was a difficult matter for an independent Member of the House to propose remedies in a case like the present; but he would suggest that the bounty should be £5 in money and £4 in clothes: and he would further suggest that some certain sum—say £1—should be added to the annual pay of a seaman after six or seven years' service. The increase might perhaps be more or less, but that was a matter of opinion. That plan of progressive pay was adopted in the civil service, and there was no reason why it should not be acted upon in the naval and military services. Then, again, although the allotment of prize money had been lately altered, he thought it might be still more extended in the seaman's favour. With regard to punishments, without discussing the propriety or necessity of flogging seamen, he was clearly of opinion that no lash ought ever to fall on the back of a petty officer, and, unless for mutiny or some other grievous offence, no A.B. should be flogged. An Act, in the passing of which he had made the proposition, was now in force to prevent petty officers from being flogged; but he believed that some captains, perhaps, evaded that Act, by first degrading the officer, and then flogging him. [Sir C. NAPIER: No, no.] Well, perhaps not. Then, again, the Articles of War were continually read on board ship, and although they were not acted upon in all cases, yet were most alarming to seamen, who heard the penalty of death awarded to one-half of the offences mentioned in them. He would suggest that an alteration should be made in that respect, and that the penalty of death should only be attached to those more serious offences 417 for which alone it was now inflicted. He was sorry he was not able to read to the House the Articles of War and the Naval Instructions, but he had applied for the latter to the Secretary of the Admiralty, who, no doubt, acting upon the directions of his superiors, had refused to supply him, a naval officer, and a Member of the House, with a copy. He could not think that was a proper way for the business of the country to be carried on. The Admiralty was a despotic government—a very despotic government. In despotism Russia could scarcely equal it. He knew it well. A naval man must mind what he wrote and what he said. He could not give an open opinion upon an open question. It was a harsh government, and all naval men, but the favourites, felt its harshness at some period of their service. He knew nothing officially of the last three First Lords of the Admiralty, but the only man who received him most kindly was the late Duke of Clarence (William IV.). His Royal Highness was a naval man, entered into naval feelings, knew the service, and, if he dismissed an applicant without granting his request, at all events he received him kindly, and feelingly, as an officer and a gentleman. He (Captain Scobell) had nothing to reap from this Motion. He was a retired officer, and could get on no further. But his strongest feelings were bound up in the welfare of the navy, and the advancement of his brother officers and brother seamen. If there were not sufficient grounds for inquiry, so much the better for the authorities; but they knew that, if the Committee were granted, officers would come forward and give evidence of the harshness and coldness exhibited by the Admiralty towards the great body of naval officers for a very long period. He did not blame the men, who met in Cabinet Councils and exchanged favours, the East against the West Indies, the Customs and Colonies against the Army and Navy, but he was convinced the sooner the system was destroyed the better for our country and our countrymen. Before they negatived this Motion, they would, he trusted, take it into their most serious consideration. The civil service and the army had received abundant attention. The navy, however, had been passed over; yet, if we were involved in a war with a naval country, and did not maintain our supremacy of the ocean, the glory of England would have passed away, and all the armies we might raise could not restore it. He committed 418 the case of the navy to the hands of the House of Commons, the representatives of the people, with the hope that they would do it justice.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
Sir, in seconding the Motion submitted to the House by the hon. and gallant Officer, I may express my belief that every hon. Member present will agree in opinion with me that he has brought his subject forward with considerable ability and in a very temperate manner. Now, Sir, the Army, the Ordnance, and the Commissariat Departments having been subjected to the censorship of administrative reform, I should regret that a needless indulgence were to exempt the navy from a like ordeal. I approach the Motion now before the House, it is true, with diffidence and a sense of personal difficulty; but I must not, on this account, permit myself to be deterred from the expression of how sincerely I deplore the system of discouragement offered to naval officers. I concur, speaking generally, in all the views and opinions which the hon. and gallant Officer has promulgated, and if in part I differ, it is to such an inconsequential extent that I will not trouble the House by treading over ground already trodden. What I claim for the navy is, that some better security for the administration of its patronage shall be established than that which can he obtained by the present faulty system. Let the present absolute power of the First Lord of the Admiralty, to give employment, to promote, and to recommend to the Sovereign for decorations to the Order of the Bath be made subject, at least, to the check of professional opinion—let no employment, promotion, or reward in decoration be conferred until they have been submitted to the naval advisers of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and their approval or rejection formally placed on record. This will be no other than an act of justice, and one of sterling good for the service. To neglect the claims of old officers was not to encourage the younger, or provide for the future. In vain have tried officers repeated their readiness to serve their country, be the station never so unhealthy, the danger never so hazardous, the command never so unequal to their just pretensions—and what reply did they obtain to offers made in the frank zeal and warm energy of a sailor's heart? A cold curt answer, administered in dull routine and undiscriminating formality, utterly devoid of consideration and sympathy, and so ingeniously devised as to 419 prevent the future application and break the spirit of honourable ambition, as though the importunity was unwelcome—nay, impertinent—and the natural desire of advancement inherent in man was in the sailor a just cause for reproof. The voice of the country fully condemned this destructive system, irreconcilable with justice and sound policy, calculated, I will say, to paralyse exertion and damp all ardour. Why, Sir, many an officer, who would have won distinction under his Sovereign's colours, had been compelled to seek a kindlier reception in the mercantile navy. Many a gallant officer, from the culpable and cruel disregard of his claims, had returned to his family with crushed feelings and a broken spirit; but let me not be misunderstood—far be it from me to incur a prejudice unfounded, or suspicions I do not deserve. Let me say this, that I neither disparage the service, nor grudge the good and better fortune of any brother officer. In singleness of purpose, I rise to lift my voice against the system of discouragement unworthy of a country which professes to love independence of character, to reward the discharge of duties, and boasts that it opens the door of advancement, without consideration of birth or means, to the best and worthiest of her sons. Nevertheless, in instances innumerable, it is a fact established that unless a naval officer had the advantage of high connections, or could command political interest, or could evoke the compassionate consideration and sympathy of the Members of this or the other House of Parliament, he might hope on, and on, for ever. Still I repudiate the phrase so often quoted of fighting under "the cold shade of the aristocracy." I only bespeak impartiality for good and meritorious service, remembering, as I do, that this coronet was the reward; and the rolls of the nobility, in their turn, ennobled by the names of men like Mulgrave, Howe, Duncan, Rodney, Hood, Bridport, St. Vincent, Saumarez, Exmouth, Collingwood, and Nelson. My desire is only that the naval Lords of the Admiralty should be constituted, in fact and reality, the responsible counsellors of their political chief, as those best fitted to sympathise and to encourage, to deal gently with the disappointed, and to award justly by the successful; in a word, to propose to themselves but one motive of thought or action to secure the welfare of the whole profession, and consult without partiality for every individual 420 member in it. I may not live to see it. I may not and I care not to benefit by the tardy justice and success of right, but I feel assured the day is close at hand when claims will be impartially considered, and the one beaten path to employment, promotion, and recommendation to the Sovereign for honours will be by good and meritorious service. I will only add the words of Mr. Burke, which were most appropriate—Of all the public services that of the navy is the one in which tampering may be of the greatest danger, which can be worse supplied upon an emergency, and of which any failure draws after it the longest and heaviest train of consequences.I thank the hon. and gallant Officer for having brought forward his Motion in so able and temperate a manner, and I give to it my hearty support, because I believe, if carried, it will inflict no loss on any of the national interests, whilst it will confer incalculable benefits upon my brother officers; and I therefore, should he press his Motion to a division, will be ready to follow him into the lobby.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the Naval Administration, and the lists of officers, patronage, promotions, and retirements, and the efficiency of the Service in all the grades belonging to it.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
Sir, though I cannot concur in the conclusion of the gallant Admiral to go into the lobby in support of this Motion, I entirely concur in almost every sentiment he has uttered, and cordially join with him in complimenting my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Scobell) on the able and temperate manner in which he has brought forward this subject. Now and then my hon. and gallant Friend has had a sly hit at the First Lord of the Admiralty, for which I assure him that I will bear him no grudge, and he has done himself, in my opinion, great credit by the speech he has just delivered. I do not think, however, that he has shown much grounds for the Committee he proposes. He says to us, "Have a Committee, and, if you are right, so much the better for you; if you are wrong, the wrong will be set right." This is not reason enough for the serious step of appointing a Committee of this House. I think, before a Committee is appointed, he is bound to show the existence of some practical evil for which a remedy is required, and I think I shall prove that the subject has been fairly inquired into by an 421 able and impartially-constituted Committee in the year 1848, and that their recommendations have been carefully carried into effect. My hon. and gallant Friend says there were no sailors on that Committee, and that soldiers are always put on Committees in any matters relating to the army. But the Committee was appointed to inquire into the affairs of the Army, the Navy, and the Ordnance, and there was not on that Committee a single soldier, a single sailor, or a single artillery officer. That Committee was presided over by the present Duke of Somerset, whose authority is deservedly high in this House; it contained some of the most eminent Members from all quarters of the House, and I do not remember ever to have seen a Committee entitled to more weight from the ability and character of its Members. My hon. Friend says that the Committee, after going into the lists of the navy, recommended that further inquiry should he instituted into the subject. But he will forgive me if I say that he is wrong in that assertion. The Committee, towards the end of their Report, say that "a more minute inquiry may with advantage be made into the whole system of contract and dockyard labour," thus limiting their recommendation to a further inquiry into those particular subjects. My hon. and gallant Friend commenced his speech by answering a speech I made last Session. But, after hearing my hon. and gallant Friend to-night, I am disposed to re-assert everything that I then stated, and I do not think my hon. and gallant Friend has shaken in the least the validity of the arguments I then used. I said then, and I say it again now, that, although there may be certain occasions on which such a course may be advisable, it is not desirable that this House should constantly interfere with the administration of any public department. It is in the very nature of all popular assemblies to be somewhat changeable in their opinions. They are too apt to be swayed by temporary circumstances, and to take different views of the same subject, according to the feeling of the moment. But if the course pursued in reference to any class of persons is to depend upon such variable views, it necessarily leads to hardships and injustice. It is far better, and more just to all parties, that a more even and more uniform course should be adopted. When one of the most able Committees appointed of late years by this 422 House has gone into this subject and recommended a course to be thenceforward pursued, it would not be wise to disturb the arrangements thus recommended if they have been carried into effect. Having had some experience in Parliament, and having been connected with the Admiralty some years ago, I can recollect that on this very subject of the promotion of officers three or four changes have occurred in the feeling of this House. At the end of the war, when our navy had swept every other flag from the sea, and when there were no ships of war upon the ocean but those carrying the British flag, a very large number of officers were necessarily employed. At the end of the war the number of men voted was between 140,000 and 150,000, and the number of officers was, of course, in proportion. Peace came, and in three years the number of men was reduced from 140,000 to 42,000. Subsequently, in the year 1835, the number of men employed was reduced to 26,500. These numbers in all cases include seamen and marines. It is evident that the same number of officers could not be required for 42,000 or for 26,000 men as had been employed for 140,000. Nevertheless, in 1830, there were, within a very small number, as many officers of all ranks, after fifteen years of peace, as at the close of the war. Not without some reason, the House of Commons complained that a disproportionate number of officers had been kept up. In consequence some restriction was placed on the promotion of officers. One officer was to be promoted to each rank, on the occurrence of three vacancies in the number of that rank, and this rule was acted on for some years. Before long, however, the feeling of the House underwent a change, complaints were made of the undue slowness of promotion, and in 1837 or 1838 Motions were brought forward calling for a change of this system. A Joint Commission of naval and military officers was appointed, who reported on the whole subject, and the rule of 1830 was relaxed. In 1847 the feeling of the House was, that the rule ought not to have been relaxed, and the rule of "one in three," as it is called, was restored. In 1848, the Committee, to which I have before referred, most ably presided over by the noble Lord the Member for Totness, now the Duke of Somerset, recommended a strict adherence to that rule, and it is now enforced by an Order in Council; excepting, however, special promotions for 423 distinguished service. The re-establishment of this rule was, however, accompanied the introduction of a large measure providing for the retirement of officers of different ranks. It was framed, and it was carried out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) with great success. This measure, however, principally affects one branch of the service, and is, therefore, I think, inadequate to meet the fair demands of the service generally. I propose to carry it further with respect to commanders and lieutenants. My gallant Friend complains, that many gallant officers who had distinguished themselves in the war, some of whom have since received a medal for their services, have been passed over and left unemployed. He proceeds to complain further, that this is entirely owing to the favour shown to those who possessed aristocratic or political influence. I will advert to the latter assertion by and by. I confine myself now to the number of officers who have not been employed, and I say, without fear of contradiction, that it was perfectly impossible to employ even the greater part of the officers who had served during the war. In truth, it never could have been contemplated even at the time. When, at the close of the war, the number of officers to which I have referred existed, large promotions had been, made as a reward for past services. In the year 1815 1,000 promotions to the rank of lieutenant were made. I ask my hon. and gallant Friend how it was possible, with the reduced numbers of the fleet, that any reasonable proportion of the officers in question could over be employed again? These promotions were therefore, in fact, given to enable these officers to enjoy pensions in the shape of half-pay. I repeat that, with the number of officers of different ranks at that time, and the number for whom there was employment, to have employed all those officers was a perfect impossibility. In 1817 there were 4,000 lieutenants on the list, and 400 only were employed afloat. Supposing that these 4,000 officers had lived, and had been employed in their turn during the usual term of three years of sea-service, without favour, favouritism, or partiality, what would have been the result? It would have taken ten terms of three years to employ them all, and assuming their average age to be twenty, the last batch of 400 left to be employed would have been forty-seven years old, and would 424 have been twenty-seven years on shore. The case of the commanders was worse, since they were still more numerous in proportion to the number employed. At the end of 1817 there were 800 commanders on the list, and the number employed was then forty. To employ them in their turn, would have taken twenty terms of three years. The last batch of forty would have been fifty-seven years ashore, and, assuming the average age of these officers at twenty-five they would have been eighty-two years old. Will anybody who gives the matter his consideration for a moment, say that it was possible by any arrangement with the number of ships then in commission, to employ the whole of those 800 commanders? It is obvious that, with the small number of ships which were required in the first years of peace, there was no room for more than a very small proportion of officers on the list of the navy. When my hon. and gallant Friend says that these officers ought to have been employed, and that it is unjust that old officers were not employed, does he mean that ships that were not required for the defence of the country ought to have been commissioned in order to give employment to these officers? He complains of this question, which I put to him last year, as an absurd one. I confess that I do not sec what other means there were for doing what he says would have been right. I do not, therefore, deny the fact that many old officers who cut out ships and performed other services during the war and who were on the list of lieutenants and commanders were not employed, but I assert that it was perfectly impossible to employ the greater portion of them until a period of life when it would be an insult to employ them in the rank they held. The non-employment of these persons cannot, therefore, be regarded as a case of hardship and neglect. My hon. and gallant Friend states that there was no promotion for officers after the war; but so far from this being the case, promotion went on for some years during peace as rapidly as it did during the war, and in 1830, when peace had been concluded fifteen years, the number of officers on the list was very nearly as large as it was at the end of the war, and although some check was given to promotion in 1830, the number of officers had very little diminished even in 1835. In 1830 the number of post-captains on the list was 850, while there was not employment 425 for more than fifty, a fact winch is, I think, abundant proof that there had been no desire on the part of the country to neglect the war officers. But the number of officers employed must bear some proportion to the requirements of the service, and I do not think, even taking the present list, that it will be found that any greater reduction has taken place than was necessary. There are now ninety-nine admirals on the list, of whom only eighteen are employed (and this, it must be remembered, is a time of war); 396 captains, of whom 140 are employed; 569 commanders, of whom about 200 are employed; and 1,200 lieutenants, of whom not quite 900 are employed. Thus the number of officers employed bears a very small proportion to the number who have been promoted, and it is obvious that promotion has taken place far beyond the demands of the service, even in time of war. I do not say that this ought not to be so; on the contrary, I think the promotions ought to have been made, in order that officers may be fairly rewarded for their past services, and it would be most unjust and impolitic to deprive them of that inducement to exertion which is given by promotion. The number now on the list is beyond that recommended by the Committee of 1848, for they recommended that the number of captains should be 350, of commanders 450, and of lieutenants 1,200. The actual number on the captains' list is 396, that on the commanders' list is 569. The number of lieutenants has been reduced to about the amount recommended by the Committee; because, although the list contains only 1,180, the number of 1,200 is a little more than made up by officers who have actually been promoted, but who, being on foreign stations, have not had an opportunity of passing their examinations, and cannot be placed on the lieutenants' list till they have done so. Until a few years ago, also, the number of captains employed was between fifty and sixty, while the number of commanders employed afloat was under 100. I have now, I hope, stated sufficient to show that promotion has taken place beyond the requirements of the service, having been intended, and most properly given, as a reward for past services; and I trust that the House will be of opinion that in this respect the successive Boards of Admiralty and the country have not been neglectful of the claims of officers. But the hon. and gallant 426 Gentleman says that promotion has been most unjust and partial. Now, Sir, it is very easy to make, and very difficult to prove, that assertion, but I did not hear it with surprise, because whenever you adopt the principle of selection you will be open to the charge of favouritism. If, on the other hand, you adopt the principle of seniority, the certain result will be inefficiency in the higher ranks. I am not now defending the abuses of the system of selection, but I assert that, if it is properly carried out, it gives you the best officers. Everything, of course, must depend upon the selection being properly made, and it is the bounden duty of every Board of Admiralty not to allow themselves to be swayed by any partiality or improper motive. But it is impossible to escape such a charge. It is very natural for disappointed people to make a charge of favouritism, for no man likes to think he has been passed over because some one else is better than himself. I defy the most honest administrator of patronage not to lay himself open to that charge, because in many cases there may be four or five candidates for an office any one of whom is competent to fill it. In several cases I have hesitated long between four or five applicants, and when I have made my selection, I fully admit that if the choice had rested with the gentleman on my right hand, and he had taken the second man, or if it had rested with the gentleman on my left hand, and he had taken the third man, on the list, I could not have said that either of them would not have had good grounds for the choice which he made. One only, however, must be selected, and it is so gratifying to the self-love of the disappointed men to suppose that favour and not merit led to the selection of that one, that it would be absurd to expect that they should not make such a complaint. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said, there were few admirals on the list under sixty years of age. It is quite true; but the list is gradually improving in that respect. You must, however, remember that if you promote lieutenants and commanders by seniority you cannot possibly have young admirals. I am surprised at the suggestion made by my hon. and gallant Friend, that admirals and captains should be subjected to a medical survey, to see which of them were fit and which unfit for service, for I cannot imagine any proceeding more insulting to officers of that age and station. I have not 427 unfrequently heard it suggested that all officers should be placed in retirement after a certain age. I do not think that this would be advantageous for the service, as even age is a very uncertain test of efficiency—and any limit which I have heard named would have excluded some of those officers who have done the best service. But I am firmly convinced that the most unpopular and galling regulation to old and gallant officers would be, that if the Admiralty entertained a doubt of their fitness, they should be ordered to appear before a medical board, and be surveyed as to their capability of further service. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says, that patronage is invariably bestowed from political reasons; I do not mean to say that such things may not have occurred, but they are the exceptions, and I maintain that the Government generally has not been influenced by such motives, and, speaking for myself, I declare that in no employment I have given or promotion I have made have I allowed political influence to bias me in the slightest degree. I hold in my hand a list of the promotions of ten captains and ten commanders, which I have made since I have been at the Admiralty, and I had never before heard of the name of one of them. To the best of my recollection, too, I never have had an application in favour of one of them. Looking to the extent in which officers serving in the Baltic and Black Sea obtained promotion by special services, and knowing how hard officers on other stations felt it not to be employed at the seat of war, I have thought it right not to overlook the claims of the latter, and generally the officers I have promoted have been officers of other stations who have been recommended for their service, or by the good state in which their vessels were brought home. I have made no promotions without consultation with the naval Lords of the Admiralty, or without their full concurrence, and I believe that those who have been promoted were the best officers on their respective stations. My hon. and gallant Friend has misunderstood what I said last year about aristocratic influence. What has been stated by way of complaint was, that aristocratic influence procured employment and promotion for some men, while others were not employed or promoted; and I observed in reference to that complaint, that, inasmuch as admirals placed on the retired list were placed there 428 in consequence of not being employed, then if the assertion made were true, there would be a great number of the aristocracy on the active list and very few on the retired. But the fact is precisely the reverse. It is difficult to draw a line for aristocratic influence, and therefore I took the Peers on the two lists. Taking the number of Peers on the active list of admirals, I find the names of three—Lords Dundonald, Radstock, and Cadogan. I turn to the list of reserved and retired admirals, there I find Lord Carysfort, Lord Byron, the Duke of Northumberland, Lord Egmont, Lord Spencer, Lord Hardwicke, Lord Colchester, Lord Talbot, Lord Waldegrave, Lord Leven, Lord Somerville, eight or ten Peers placed on the reserved or retired lists, simply because they had not been employed. If aristocratic influence had been the sole passport to employment, would these officers have been passed over? The best proof, however, that the appointments and promotions are generally properly made is the general efficiency of the navy. I do not mean to say that faults are not occasionally committed, or that there may not be at times some partiality or abuse of patronage, but I maintain that those instances have always been the exceptions, as is proved by the general efficiency of the navy; and I maintain that the navy never was in a more complete state of efficiency in all respects. I am, I confess, astonished to hear the hon. Gentleman, a sailor, throw a slur on the efficiency of the navy in any quarter of the globe. I certainly know not on what occasion the nary has failed in any service they have been called on to perform. I will not refer to the admirals or older captains. They may be supposed to have attained their rank by war service. The selection, however, for employment of these officers who have done their duty so well, is pretty good proof that merit and not favour led to their being appointed to the command of fleets and of ships. But I will refer to the younger officers who must have been both promoted and selected for employment in recent years. Look at their admirable performance of the duty of transporting troops, and indeed their excellent execution of every service required of them. Could anything be more brilliant than the exploits of Captain Lyons and of Captain Osborn in the Sea of Azoff? Could anything be better than the conduct of lieutenants, the list of whom is too long to enumerate, who have been promoted for special service in the 429 Black Sea? Has any service ever been more honourable than that of the officers and men of the naval Brigade? What can have been better in all respects than the conduct of the officers and men of the whole Black Sea fleet, from Sir Edmund Lyons, its Commander-in-chief, to the brave seaman Trewavas, who cut the hawser of Ghenitch Bridge under the heaviest fire; or Shepherd, who rowed himself alone down the harbour of Sebastopol, till his progress was intercepted by the numerous Russian boats, whom he had some difficulty in avoiding?
Has the service of the Baltic fleet been less honourable to the officers employed there? Could anything be more creditable to everybody employed in it, than the arrangements and the execution of the bombardment of Sweaborg? Could more skill and gallantry be displayed than that shown in many of the attacks upon forts and in the harbours and fiords of the Russian coast? Where have our officers and men failed, when they have had an opportunity of attempting any service?
I know of no instance, in which they have not deserved well of their country. If, then, it is true that on all occasions such young officers, who, it is now said, were promoted and appointed for the purpose of patronage, have acted in such an able and glorious manner, is not that the best proof that the administration of the navy has been on the whole sound and good? I claim no credit for this myself. The credit is due to those who promoted and selected these officers. A year ago, when I accepted the office of First Lord of the Admiralty, I found, to the honour and credit of the right hon. Gentleman who had preceded me, the machine perfectly ready and in complete working order; and that is a proof that those who had administered the affairs of the navy had administered them well. I will quote on this point the words of an authority to which my hon. Friend, as well as the Committee, may be inclined to pay attention:—The well-being of the navy depends so much on the manner it is administered, that to be acquainted with the merits of the Board of Admiralty, we have only to observe the condition and discipline of our ships. If we see good ships built and those ships in high order, well commanded, well officered and well manned, the officers and men diligent, and doing their duty with zeal and alacrity, we may reasonably conclude that the navy has been conducted by just and experienced men.These are the words of the hon. and gallant 430 officer whom I see opposite to me (Sir Charles Napier). I am willing to abide by any one, or by all of the tests which he there proposes, and if the ships are I good, the officers and men good and efficient, I claim the testimony of his opinion that the Admiralty has done its duty well in administering the affairs of the navy. I will now shortly go through the recommendations of Lord Seymour's Committee, and show how far they have been carried into execution. The recommendations of the Committee of 1848 were, that there should be permanent lists, comprising a certain number of officers of each rank, and that this number should be attained partly by placing some officers on retired lists, partly by limiting the promotions, till the necessary reduction of numbers had been made. It would, of course, be unwise to have on the active list of admirals a very large number of officers who never could have any chance of being employed; but not even the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself can complain that ninety-nine or 100 is too small a list; neither can he say that 350 captains are too few to have on the active list of captains. In avoiding one evil there is always the danger of running into another, and if a number of officers whom it is impossible to employ are added to the active list, the amount of discontent and heartburning would be greatly increased; and I think, therefore, that the regulation of 1848, which limits the numbers to be permanently maintained on the list, is a wise one. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, while allowing that some promotions were made by merit, and he was good enough to do the Admiralty the justice of praising the promotion of some twelve old lieutenants, whose claims he mentioned last year, contended that these were only a small part of the whole. But what is the fact? If he would take the trouble to look over the list of promotions during the last two years, he would find that of sixty-six promotions from the rank of commander to that of captain, thirty-five were special promotions for distinguished services; and that, of the 142 lieutenants promoted in the same time to the rank of commander, 110 were promoted for distinguished services. These were all special promotions, made solely on the ground of some distinguished and gallant service, by the Board, and most of the other promotions are those of old and deserving officers, who have been promoted on the ground of long and meritorious service. I quite agree with him, 431 however, that the case of the commanders is one which deserves consideration. I quite concur in the commendation which the hon. and gallant officer has bestowed upon the tone of their memorial to the Admiralty, and I shall have to propose to the House, when the Navy Estimates come before them, a measure of retirement, which will, I trust, fairly meet the case of the commander. The list of commanders is one which is always liable to be overburdened by the number of officers accumulating on it. There are about 1,200 lieutenants in the navy, and 450 commanders; and though there is employment for nearly all the lieutenants, there is employment for a small number only of commanders. But the step to this rank from that of lieutenant is the one which is most anxiously looked for, and the one which there is the greatest number of opportunities of earning by gallant service. It would be unjust not to give them their well-merited promotion; and yet, though I always feel bound to reward the gallant conduct of lieutenants by making them commanders, my pleasure is alloyed by the knowledge that there is but little chance of employment for them as commanders for some time at least. During the past year, the actual number of lieutenants promoted to be commanders exceeds the whole number of commanders employed in sea-going ships. The House will judge from this simple fact how many more commanders there must be on the list than it is possible to employ. Officers unemployed naturally become discontented; some turn to other pursuits, and become unfit for service, and many grow too old to serve. It is necessary, therefore, to provide large means of retirement from the commanders' list, and I only wait for the sanction of the House to a small increase of expenditure to apply a measure which would to a great extent remove the not unfounded complaints of officers who are now placed in a rank in which it is impossible that they should be employed. The terms "frightful" and "disheartening," which have been used by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, might well have been applied to the lieutenants' list at the time that there were upon it 4,000 officers; but since then it has been so reduced, partly by retirements and partly by promotions, that it has about reached the limit fixed by the Committee of 1848. I propose, however, to provide for the retirement of fifty additional officers from this list. My hon. and 432 gallant Friend has complained that the admission into the navy has been indiscriminate and unjustifiably large. While it is satisfactory to be able completely to answer, it is a little provoking to have to listen to such a statement—a statement which is utterly and completely unfounded. Were it true, there would necessarily be in the navy an excessive number of mates and midshipmen. So far, however, is this from being the case that, while the number of mates and midshipmen allowed the ships in Commission, according to the reduced complement, is 1,085, the number actually borne on the books is only 408. The number of cadets allowed is 360; and, there being a deficiency in the mates and midshipmen, sixty-seven cadets more than that number are borne. Taking, however, as it is fair to do, mates, midshipmen, and cadets, together, the service is 600 short of the number which ought to be borne upon the establishment. The reason for keeping the numbers so low is to avoid as much as possible the admission of officers whom, on the conclusion of peace, it would be impossible to employ. I trust that, after this statement, my hon. Friend will not repeat his assertion of the excessive entries into the navy. With regard to the condition of the masters in the navy, there cannot be a more meritorious class of officers, or one more deserving the consideration of the Admiralty or of this House. I do not, however, agree in the view advocated by the hon. Member for Aylesbury, that the appropriate reward for them is, except in very special cases, to promote them to the rank of commander. I have already shown the House how overloaded the list of that rank of officers is, and, in fact, it is desirable to adopt any other means, rather than this, of requiting their services. I will not now go through the measures which have been adopted for improving the condition of various classes of officers—of engineers, chaplains, naval instructors, surgeons, paymasters, and others. I shall necessarily have to refer to them when I move the Navy Estimates in Committee of Supply, but I must advert to the observations which my noble and gallant Friend has made in reference to the condition of the seamen, and his complaint that we have given no bounty for entry into the navy. My hon. Friend warns the House against any arguments which I may address to it, as coming only from a civilian. He contrasts the system pursued in the army of giving bounty to 433 the recruits, with that pursued in the navy. I can assure him that as to his comparison between the administration of the army and that of the navy, I will not enter into an argument, but will confine myself to a statement of results. My hon. and gallant Friend complains that, while the bounty paid to the army had been increased, no bounty has been given to the navy. The course adopted by successive Boards of Admiralty has been, not to give bounty, but to improve as to pay, food, and other advantages, the permanent condition of the seamen. I think that in doing so they have adopted a right course; and, so long as seamen can be obtained without bounty, I shall be unwilling to give it. The increase of bounty in the army has produced in too many instances only an increase of drunkenness; and I am of opinion that the improvement of the permanent condition of the sailor is a much better inducement to him to enter the navy than giving him a sum of money as bounty. To test the system by its results, has the measure succeeded? Is the navy short of men? Is the army short of men? The army is notoriously short of men, but the navy is full. There can, therefore, be no better proof of the advantage of the system pursued in the navy, and I hope that these facts are more convincing than any argument. My hon. and gallant Friend said that it was unjustifiable and wrong to take the costguardsmen and riggers for service in the fleet. For that complaint there is no foundation, as it was a condition in the engagement of those men that, if required, they should serve afloat. The great object of employing as coastguardsmen and riggers men who had been discharged from Her Majesty's ships was, that there might always be at hand a body of men by calling on whom much might be done towards manning ships at a moment's notice. To object to the employment of these men in our fleet on such an occasion is simply to defeat the very object for which they were placed in that situation, and would deprive the ships of many of their best petty officers and able seamen. I will not refer further to the plans for improving the condition of various persons in the navy. Hon. Gentlemen are apt to take up singly the case of different classes; but I must remind them that all such measures require to be prepared with great care, lest in benefiting one class of officers you may do an injustice to others. The hon. Gentleman asserts that nobody but a 434 naval officer can properly discharge the duty of First Lord of the Admiralty. It is a mistake to suppose that the duties incidental to the office of First Lord of the Admiralty are in any large proportion such as a naval man alone is competent to discharge. I took the trouble at the Board to-day to note the questions which came before us. Fully nine-tenths of the questions that pass under our consideration relate to matters on which a civilian is quite as well qualified to pronounce an opinion as the best sailor afloat. The supply of salt meat, for instance, is a subject that has of late engaged much of our attention; and will it be said that, being a civilian, I am incapable of arriving at a sound decision on it? There are other questions—such as those relating to the purchase of stores, of hemp, tallow, iron, and timber, to the victualling of the navy, or to the furnishing it with medical supplies, which constantly are to be considered. Surely, this is a kind of business that does not exact much naval knowledge in the man who transacts it. I might quote many other such cases of purely civil matters, as questions of legal proceedings, the construction or repair of buildings, in which no naval professional knowledge can be of any service. Moreover, it should be remembered that six Lords sit round a table to administer the affairs of the navy, and of these four are naval men, so that the First Lord is never left without the guidance of professional opinion. With respect to the charge of being actuated by personal or political considerations in the conferring of appointments and promotions, I can in all sincerity declare that I am not conscious of having ever permitted my conduct to be influenced on such questions by either political or personal considerations. For this I take no credit to myself. If I had acted otherwise I might indeed have enjoyed the favour of a few, but I should have suffered irremediably in the estimation of the service at large; whereas, by steadfastly adhering, as I have, thank God, been enabled to do, to the resolution I made on taking office, of being swayed by no other consideration than a sense of what was due to my Sovereign and my country, I have the satisfaction of knowing that throughout the navy men will respect my motives, however they may be disposed to call my judgment in question. In conclusion, I can only repeat that the conduct of the Admiralty is best illustrated by the condition of the navy. To this test I do 435 not hesitate to appeal. Whether as regards ships, officers, or seamen, at no period of any war was the British navy in a state of more complete efficiency, or better prepared to meet any enemy that may be arrayed against it than at the present moment. By this criterion I am content that the administration of the Admiralty shall be judged; and if the House believe that such is the condition of the navy at this moment, I ask of them to mark that opinion by resisting the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member.
§ COLONEL BOLDERO
said, he thought that the navy was much indebted to the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Scobell) for bringing forward his Motion, and he was sure that, whether public opinion should be confirmed as to the system of promotion in the navy, or whether it should turn out that it was beneficial to the officers, the appointment of the Committee must do great good. He did not agree with his hon. and gallant Friend as to the manning of the navy. It might appear presumptuous in him to speak upon such a subject, but from what he had seen, heard, and read, he could not help thinking that the manning of the navy was most satisfactory. We were fitting out a fleet which would be ready for the spring, superior to any that Britain had ever equipped—and he had not beard any observations made by men able to express any opinion upon the subject at all reflecting upon the character or efficiency of our seamen. He thought the system propounded by the hon. and gallant Member was objectionable, and that it was unnecessary to give bounties for the navy, for, owing to the great pains taken by the present and two preceding Governments, the position of the men was vastly improved. He believed the pay of seamen in the Royal navy was now equal if not superior to that of the merchant service, and at all the large mercantile ports great difficulty was experienced in getting good sailors, the men having entered the navy through the inducements offered by the present system. The right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood) had referred to the Commission which inquired into the systems of the army and navy, and remarked truly enough that the Commission never recommended any alteration in the mode of appointing officers by the First Lord of the Admiralty, but he should have gone on further, and he would have seen what was recommended to be done in the medical department. The Commission 436 recommended, in distinct terms, that the superior officers of the medical department in the navy should be placed on the same footing as the superior medical officers of the army, but that had never been done. This circumstance it was especially which led him to support the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. He was happy to say, that the efforts which he in common with others had long made for the improvement of the condition of the assistant-surgeons of the navy had been crowned with success, and those officers were now placed in a proper position. Indeed, more had been done for them than was asked. Their pay had been increased by a shilling a-day, in addition to those advantages which the long perseverance of their advocates in that House had at last gained for them. But there had been grievous error in not carrying out the recommendations of the Commission with respect to the superior medical officers of the navy. First, with regard to pay. The surgeons from the period of their first entrance into the navy up to ten years' service had their pay gradually increased, but from ten years' service until twenty years there were no increased emoluments. Those ten years, it must be remembered, were the best years of life. The surgeons had acquired the experience of ten years' practice in all kinds of diseases in all climates. They were a peculiar class of men, highly educated, practising a scientific profession, and, unless they were placed upon the same footing as the surgeons in the army, they would, at the very time when their services were most useful to the service, most likely retire from the navy and settle, as many had done, as physicians, surgeons, or as civil practitioners in the cities and towns of the kingdom, where their skill and experience, gained in the public service, would enable them to gain a competent subsistence. To retain such men should be the object of the Board of Admiralty, and the way to keep them was to hold out proper inducements. Then, again, as to promotion, the Commission wished to place them on an equality with the army officers, but nothing of the kind had been done yet. An inspector of hospitals in the army ranked as a brigadier-general, while an inspector of hospitals in the navy only ranked as a lieutenant-colonel—two grades lower. Now, it was an obvious question to ask, why it was that two educated men of the same rank in sister services should not enjoy the same ad- 437 vantages and privileges? They had lately seen a list of distinctions conferred upon medical officers in the army and the navy. Dr. Hall, the head of the Army Medical Department in the East, received the distinction of K.C.B., while Dr. Deas, the naval medical officer of similar rank, was only made C.B. This difference arose from their respectively ranking as brigadier-general and lieutenant-colonel, and thus one error led to the perpetration of another. But while in the Army Medical Department one inspector of hospitals was made K.C.B., five deputy-inspectors were made C.B., and two staff surgeons of the army were also made C.B.'s, the head of the Naval Medical Department in the Black Sea, whose services were of the same character, both ashore and afloat, as those of the Army Inspector, alone was made C.B. No other naval surgeons were distinguished, because there was not in the navy a distinct class of staff surgeons as in the army, although the country would not forget the noble and willing assistance they had rendered to the wounded and suffering troops on shore. He should support the Motion in the hope that it might be the means of doing justice to a class of men who he considered had great reason for complaint.
§ SIR MAURICE BERKELEY
said, the hon. and gallant Member for Bath (Captain Scobell) had picked out, from a list of 300 names, some dozen persons belonging to the aristocracy, whose promotion, he said, had been gained by interest and favour, and not by merit. Now, it certainly was not pleasant to speak of one's self, but he would ask the hon. and gallant Member for Bath to look at his (Admiral Berkeley's) services, and see if he had not fairly won his promotion by those services. So far from his having any interest in those days, his father was a staunch opponent of the Admiralty by whom he was promoted, and his father never asked a favour for his son in his life. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had also alluded to a friend of his, the hon. Admiral Richard Dundas, who commanded the fleet in the Baltic last year, and was pleased to point him out as one who had gained his present station through interest, and not through his own merit. Now, he most positively asserted, and he could appeal to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) for confirmation of the statement, that no one ever asked for the appointment. He was the 438 Person who recommended Admiral Dundas to the right hon. Baronet. The right hon. Baronet took great pains to trace the career of the gallant Admiral. He obtained the opinions of men of high rank, among others, that of Sir William Parker, as to his fitness for the appointment, and Admiral Dundas, in consequence of character, and not from interest, was appointed to the command of the Baltic fleet. He wished to say only one word with regard to the manning of the navy. He regretted that naval officers should stir in that matter. They ought to know they were treading on very delicate ground with British sailors. The fleet had been manned without bounty, and supposing bounty had been offered, without embargo, it would have been of no use whatever. In the last war, when recourse was had to bounty and press, an embargo was laid on merchant ships not to go to sea until the men of war were manned. The effect was greatly to embarrass trade. No such plan had been resorted to during the present war, and he was happy to say the fleet, at the present moment, was thoroughly manned. When it was remembered that in two years we had increased the number of men for the navy by 24,000, he thought little fault could be found that bounty had not been given, and the mercantile marine thereby distressed. The hon. and gallant Member for Bath had also quoted some words which he had used on a former occasion when a similar Motion was before the House. Sitting on the Treasury Bench, he was just as anxious for his profession as when he was an independent Member. There was a time when, like most naval officers, he thought the Secretary of the Admiralty ought to be a naval man, but he could only say, with twelve years' experience of the working of the Admiralty, he had completely changed his opinion. Without wishing to disparage the two naval officers who in that period had filled the office, he must say he never wished to see a naval man as Secretary to the Admiralty again. Gentlemen talked of, but hardly knew what were the duties of the Secretary to the Admiralty. There was nothing naval in them, and if they knew the constitution and working of the Board they would perhaps change their opinion, as he had done. He had risen to make those few remarks because he was convinced his hon. and gallant Friend would not wish to say anything to annoy Admiral 439 Dundas, and would not again assert that he (Admiral Berkeley) had been pushed forward through interest, and interest alone.
said, it might almost be inferred from the speeches of the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the hon. and gallant Member for Gloucester (Admiral Berkeley), that the Board of Admiralty was perfect. Now, he differed altogether from the First Lord of the Admiralty, and thought there were very strong grounds for demanding such an inquiry. Why, the right hon. Baronet had himself stated that out of 800 and more captains he could only find active employment for fifty. Now, that was an evil, and a very great evil, and supplied him (Mr. Lindsay) with a reason for seeking an inquiry. On looking into the subject he found that at the present moment there wore some 2,425 officers, from flag officers to lieutenants borne on the Admiralty books, of whom, only 1,232 were employed. That, too, was an evil, and a reason why he should vote for inquiry—an evil of which the right hon. Gentleman himself had complained, and complained with great justice—namely, that he could not find employment for half of those on the active list. He (Mr. Lindsay) would maintain that they were perpetrating an injustice towards those gentlemen in allowing them to enter into a service where they had nothing to expect unless they had Parliamentary influence or high connections. But what was the cost to the country of such a system? Why, he found that the half-pay of 993 active officers, who were inactive, cost £186,186 10s. a year. The retired list cost the country £298,172, making a total of £484,358 10s., for which no active services were rendered. Surely that also was a very important subject, and worthy of inquiry. If the Government refused the Committee, the rumours out of doors about favour and patronage would be considered too true. In 1817 the House voted 19,000 seamen and marines, while the number of officers on the active list, from flag-officers to lieutenants, was 5,891. He could understand the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) when he said that it was impossible to find employment for all those officers, but we should take warning from the past, or we should have the same excess and the same discontent in the service when the present war ceased. The right hon. and gallant senior naval Lord of the Admiralty had 440 spoken somewhat approvingly of the exercise of the patronage of the navy. Now he (Mr. Lindsay) had by him a rather curious statement, which he could not avoid mentioning to the House. When Her Majesty visited Portsmouth in 1842, she was attended by nine admirals, whose united years of service, from the time of their receiving their commissions as midshipmen down to that moment, was only fifty years. Now he did not want to say anything disparaging of those gentlemen—for aught he knew they might have shown considerable smartness in their boyhood—still there they were, nine of them all admirals, clustering round Her Majesty, whose united years of active service were only fifty. On the other hand, he found to the flag ship at Portsmouth there were four lieutenants whose united periods of service amounted to fifty-six years; and in the Victory, seven lieutenants whose periods of service reached to 131 years. In the face, then, of such facts of these, how could they refuse an inquiry which must result in a considerable saving to the country, as well as prevent the recurrence of a vast amount of discontent and dissatisfaction?
§ MR. BASS
said, that attention had not been called to the objectionable mode in which the original appointments to cadet-ships in the Royal Navy were made. No person had a chance of obtaining one unless he were possessed of political or family influence. A friend of his had obtained a positive promise of an appointment for his son from the late Lord Auckland when First Lord. He devoted two years to the special education of the young man; in the meantime Lord Auckland died, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) succeeded him; and the young man was removed to his list. Soon after a son of a Member of that House and a near connection of another were appointed to cadetships. Repeated applications were made in favour of the young man he referred to, but without success, the right hon. Baronet stating he could not undertake to carry out all the promises of his predecessor, and at length his name was removed from the list, after he had wasted three years in the pursuit. He objected, therefore, to the irresponsible character of these appointments; a young man had no chance of one without family or Parliamentary influence. He feared the right hon. Baronet the present First Lord would not convince the country that promotion in the navy 441 was carried on without any regard to favour or patronage. The general opinion was, that they were granted, not to political, but to party influence. Soon after the celebrated dinner at the Reform Club, in which the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) took a prominent part, he was obliged to listen to a conversation, carried on in the precincts of that House. A Gentleman of consideration in that House, said—" At last it is all out. We have long known that promotion in the navy was only given to Whigs and Radicals, but Sir James Graham has at last fairly confessed it." He believed that to be an unfounded aspersion, but he should support the Motion, because a good deal of dissatisfaction prevailed, and because he thought inquiry ought to be made.
SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, that having been referred to by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, he wished to say a few words in explanation. It was quite true that it was very difficult to get a cadetship in the navy at the time when he was at the head of the Admiralty; but the reason of that was, that there were so few appointments to be made. He had no recollection of the particular case of the gentleman who had received the promise of Lord Auckland. Lord Auckland had left him a list which it would have been impossible for him to work off even if he had confined himself to it. He was, in fact, obliged to make selections; and as to the alleged promise, he would observe that Lord Auckland was in the habit of writing very kind letters which assuredly did not amount to a positive promise. In his own selections he gave the preference to the sons of officers who had special claims on account of their own services, and was not influenced by political considerations. The only persons to whom justice was not done in these debates were the unfortunate First Lords of the Admiralty, who were accused of jobbing and the most scandalous exercise of their functions. Without intending any discourtesy, he must say that if the House believed all that they had heard on that subject from the hon. and gallant Gentleman who brought forward the Motion, they believed what he did not believe. He certainly ought to know his own motives for making promotions, and he positively denied that promotions were made by himself on any other ground than what he considered the public service.
§ MR. BASS
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not understand him to find fault with any of his proceedings. He was sure no man could have acted with more integrity than the right hon. Member, but he held in his hand a written promise from Lord Auckland to give a cadetship in the navy to a friend of his.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he had hoped to have brought forward his Motion for a Committee to inquire into the operations of the Baltic fleet, in 1854 and 1855, that night, but he now found it was a good deal too late to attempt it. It was some time since he had the pleasure of hearing a debate in that House, and after hearing the Lords of the Admiralty get up and praise themselves as they have just done, he must confess he thought things had changed since he was last in Parliament. The right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty had referred to part of one of his (Sir C. Napier's) letters, written upwards of thirty years ago, but it certainly was not applicable to the navy of the present moment. The right hon. Gentleman had not read the whole of it to the House. Hon. Members who had read Junius would no doubt recognise the style of that author—for his (Sir C. Napier's) letter was taken from that writer. He forgot the precise words which followed the passage quoted by the right hon. Gentleman, but they were to the effect that if they saw bad ships, the navy without discipline, promotions made only from political influences and interests, they might then judge that the administration of the navy had been carried on by corrupt men. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that one in three of the promotions he always gave to the sons of old officers, and he hoped it was correct, but he had always understood that the promotions of one in three were given by the First Lord to whoever he pleased, and generally from political motives. If the right hon. Gentleman had discontinued that system, he begged to congratulate him and the country. The right hon. Gentleman then talked of never promoting an officer without consulting the Board of Admiralty. It was monstrous to hear the right hon. Baronet talk thus. He was, however, delighted to hear it, if it was true, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would stick to it. He thought the question of bounty ought to be settled at once. A Bill had been passed, providing that when war was declared, if Her 443 Majesty called upon the seamen, and they came forward within a certain time, they should receive a double bounty, and that a bounty should also be given to the men in actual service. When he was in Parliament he saw the folly and danger of that; and he, therefore, brought in a Bill to prevent the men actually employed receiving the bounty unless a war took place. The Ministry, however, did not allow his Bill to pass. But what was the consequence? When war was declared the other day, they could not issue the Queen's Proclamation without every man entering the service receiving the bounty, and the consequence was that no Proclamation was issued at all. When he took the command of the Baltic fleet, he thought it right to inform the First Lord (Sir J. Graham) that that fleet was not manned in the way it ought to be. He had no hesitation in saying that never did a fleet go to sea manned as our fleet was in 1854. That fleet was not to start from England until March, when bad weather was expected, and it was quite unequal to contend even with the enemy it went in search of. He managed to scramble into the North Sea and into the Cattegat. It blew a heavy gale of wind, and—would the House believe it?—such was the state of the crews that half of the ships could not furl their sails. Was that a state for a British fleet to be sent to sea in? Many people said he was wrong for crying down the navy. He was not crying down the navy, but endeavouring to prevent the recurrence of those evils. What would have been the state of things if our Baltic fleet had met with an enterprising enemy in the Gulf of Finland? Let it be remembered that the Russian fleet was twenty-eight sail of the line, besides frigates and steamers, though it never went to sea, except for the purpose of affording the late Emperor the spectacle of a naval sham fight. So well were the men trained to their guns, and so well in fine weather did they sail in double line, that only one ship, commanded by a Scotchman (Captain Moffatt), was able to break through the line, whereupon there was an exclamation, "Bravo, Moffatt," and he was appointed to the flag of a Rear Admiral in the Russian service. Now, the last of our Baltic ships manned was the Nile. On the first Sunday the men went to divine service—the clergyman and officers were in the poop, the men were on the quarter-deck—to the captain's astonishment; 444 the men took off their hats and showed their bald heads, at the same time putting on spectacles. Some of the men positively did not know their captain. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Admiral Berkeley) had undoubtedly made great exertions to man the fleet, but he remembered that before he was appointed the men entered at Tower Hill were so bad that at his request the then First Lord (Sir J. Graham) sent two Lords of the Admiralty to the Tower to see what sort of trash was brought on board ship. The right hon. Gentleman, however, instructed those two Lords not to be too particular. That was not the way to man ships; and he was happy to hear from the right hon. Admiral opposite that the fleet was now well manned. Still he thought it dangerous to give a large bounty to the soldier, and to clothe him, and yet to send the seamen to sea without bounty to enable him to clothe himself. Now, this trash that he had told them of went on board without shoes or stockings, whereas if they had had a bounty, they would have been able to comfortably clothe themselves. When so much money was lavished away in this country, surely some might be spared to furnish a bounty to the seaman, who felt a pride in being well dressed. He would say something for the coastguard men and riggers. Those who went out in that fleet deserved the greatest honour and credit. They did everything in their power to discipline the landsmen, and had it not been for their exertions the fleet never would have been got into the good order in which it was when brought home. While he had the honour of commanding the fleet, he never saw greater zeal displayed in bringing the men into a state of discipline. The admirals and captains also deserved the greatest credit, and he was happy to see an act of justice done by the present First Lord of the Admiralty to Admiral Chads, who, though dismissed without cause, when he came home, was now rewarded by an appointment at Cork. In conclusion, he begged to say that, not not being able that night to bring on his Motion for a Committee of Inquiry into the operations of the Baltic fleet in 1854 and 1855, he should propose it on the Motion for considering the Naval Estimates.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, he thought that the hon. and gallant Admiral's speech was intended for his Motion, and not for the one that was before 445 the House. [Sir C. NAPIER: No, no !] If it were not, he would ask, why he introduced the story of the Nile, and the bald heads, and spectacles? He would take leave to read to the House a Report sent by the hon. and gallant Officer to the Admiralty, in reference to the very ship referred to, and he would remark that, if all the statements of the hon. and gallant Officer in respect to the Admiralty rested upon the same authority, he would leave the House to form its opinion of their correctness. Here was a Report of the Baltic fleet in 1854, at the very time the hon. and gallant Admiral commanded. He would hand the paper over to the hon. and gallant Officer if he wished it. No, upon second consideration, he would not pledge himself to do so, because he did not know what use he would make of it. Now, let the House hear what he had said about the Nile—the ship manned with bald heads, and spectacles. The ship was commissioned on the 6th of February, 1854. Here was the Report of the inspecting officer, transmitted to the Admiralty by the hon. and gallant Officer:—Nile—Commissioned the 6th of February, 1854. Very fairly manned, and in a very creditable and satisfactory state as to gunnery, considering short time fitted out. Inspected the 20th of June, 1854.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, he wished to know whether he was to understand that the hon. and gallant Admiral would consider a ship well manned if the crew were men with bald heads and spectacles? [Sir C. NAPIER: What is the date of that Report?] It was made in June. [Sir C. NAPIER: Oh ! that was six months afterwards.] No doubt. But would six months put on wigs or take away spectacles? A similar testimony was borne in the case of the Majestic; and there were other cases on the list which he would not trouble the House by reading now, but which he would state when the hon. and gallant Admiral brought forward his Motion; and he could assure the House that those cases did not at all bear out the case of the hon. and gallant Admiral. He did not think it necessary to go at greater length into the question now before the House; for, in his opinion, no answer had been given to the speech of his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty. When a more convenient 446 opportunity presented itself he (Mr. B. Osborne) would be able to show, without referring to recent times, that whenever any able man was First Lord of the Admiralty there was great discontent, not only in the country, but in the profession. The hon. and gallant Member (Admiral Walcott) had quoted words of Mr. Burke, and had warned the House not to tamper with the British navy; but the hou. and gallant Gentleman who had introduced the motion had used language calculated to tamper with the British seaman and had almost implored of him not to join the service. He (Mr. B. Osborne) in his turn besought the House not to tamper with the British navy, for he was convinced that it had never been in such an efficient position as it was at present.
§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
, in reply, said he must complain that the First Lord of the Admiralty had confined his remarks entirely to the state of the navy, or to what had been done by himself within the last year, whereas he (Captain Scobell) had expressly stated that his observations were directed to the whole system as it had existed during the last fifty years. He had not attacked the right hon. Gentleman's administration, the mischief had been done during the forty years of peace. With respect to the manning of ships, when the hon. and gallant Admiral who had lately commanded the Baltic fleet stood up in his place, and stated that the fleet was not well manned, that, he thought, ought to counterbalance all the contradictions of the First Lord. Notwithstanding all that the First Lord had said, he still contended that, though there might just now be a lull, favouritism did exist, and would continue to exist unless the inquiry which he asked for were granted. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) had thought proper to say that he did not believe him when he said that the patronage of the Admiralty was exercised with favour; but he would tell the right hon. Gentleman that there never was a time when it was exercised without favour, and if he would go into the library with him he would show him in the lists the names of men who had been pushed on during his (Sir F. Baring's) term of office with the most amazing and unprecedented rapidity. The right hon. and gallant Admiral the Naval First Lord (Admiral Berkeley) was mistaken in thinking that he had intended to attack Admiral Dundas. All he had stated was, that he had got on 447 with extreme rapidity, and, seeing that he had only been three years and a quarter in rising from the rank of a midshipman to that of a post captain, he submitted that he was justified in making the observation. He would only say, in conclusion, that he hoped the House would exonerate him from the charge of bringing forward the Motion upon any other than public grounds, and a desire to do justice to, what he believed to be, an injured body of men.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 80; Noes 171: Majority 91.