§ On the Motion for going into Committee of Supply.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he wished to call the attention of the House to a practice which existed with regard to the public expenditure, which practice he had discovered on referring to the financial account for the year up to the 31st March, 1855. He found that a very considerable expenditure had taken place in excess of the Estimates which had been voted by that House. The point which he wished to submit to the House was one of dangerous principle. The House passed a considerable portion of time in discussing the Estimates, and if any power existed by which those Estimates could be indefinitely increased, the House would at once perceive that it would cease to have that small check it at present had upon the public expenditure. For instance, if an Estimate of £1,000,000 were granted, and £1,500,000 were spent, it was clear that, the utility of going into the Estimates was very questionable. In order to illustrate his position, he wished to call the attention of the House to one simple example. The subject he alluded to was that of the Naval Stores, and the Naval Estimates, He found that that House, on three different occasions, in the last Session, voted the aggregate sum of £2,827,000—the first Vote was £1,142,000—the second, £697,000 in July, and then there was a further Supplementary Estimate of £988,000, making a total of £2,827,000. Now, he found that the actual amount expended was not less than £3,262,000, making an excess of expenditure over that sum of £435,000, and that without either the direct or indirect authority of that House. He therefore trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would explain to the House how that had arisen. He was, to a I certain extent, aware how that arose. The Appropriation Act, passed at the end of each Session, expressly provided that the whole amount should not be exceeded. That provision had not been adhered to. There was, however, in the Act another provision, by which the Treasury might apply any surplus under one head of expenditure 525 to another. That was an objectionable principle. If, under such an authority, £500,000 could be applied to any purpose without the sanction of the House, of what use became its authority? Millions might be so applied without its consent. In the present instance the Government had twice come to the House with Supplemental Navy Estimates; and yet the total amount voted by the House for that head of expenditure had boon exceeded by £500,000. The House had very little practical control over the public expenditure, and if such a course were allowed to be taken that little would be lost, and the Estimates would become an unnecessary and unavailing form.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that the first Vote he should have to propose would be a Vote to cover the excess of expenditure of the year. Of course it would be his duty, when he moved for that Vote, to state why and how it occurred, and he thought it would be more satisfactory to the House to postpone that explanation until it came regularly before them.
said, that as negotiations for peace were to take place in the course of a few days—it appeared to him that it would be much more conducive to the public interest if the proposed Vote for the navy for twelve months should be delayed until they knew the result of those negotiations. He hoped that those negotiations would be short, whether they resulted in peace or not; and he would recommend that the Votes should be taken for three months, or less amounts, on account. He did not in the slightest degree wish to deprive the Government of any power they might require for preparations for carrying on the war with vigour. He did not wish them, during the negotiations, to relax their preparations; but if a Vote for the navy, or any other department of the public service for war, should be taken, and peace should take place, he was very much afraid that the country would be saddled over the whole year with the war expenditure. He observed in the Estimate that there was an increase proposed for the navy of 6,000 men over the Vote of last year. The Government would give some reason for that increase. Last year they had opposed to them two great Russian fleets, one in the Baltic and the other in the Black Sea. The fleet in the Black Sea had since been entirely destroyed, and not a single Russian flag existed there now. 526 That increase, therefore, appeared to him to be most extraordinary, but he hoped the Baltic fleet would recover the lost renown of the navy, and not, as the last two years, do nothing. The country would not grudge any amount that was necessary for carrying on the war with vigour; but he could not see the necessity of the proposed increase, when, with the fleet of last year and the year before, the Russians were afraid to come out. He should not offer any opposition to the Vote, because it had been said that the shortcomings of the fleet and the army had been caused by the parsimony of the House of Commons. He also found an increase for the marines, although the number of men was precisely the same, namely, 16,000. The increase was £10,150. He found, likewise, that the postages of the navy were charged to the civil service, and why that was he could not see. He wished, also, to call attention to the Estimate for coast guard and riggers. He meant the extra cost of paying these men beyond regular wages they received as seamen and petty officers. No doubt they had been of the greatest use when the war broke out, but after the fleet had been in training for two years, he could not see the necessity of continuing those men at so large a cost in the service. The cost of the extra pay of these two classes of men was for the present year proposed to be £67,074, and for the three years it would amount to £164,000. He thought that expenditure would be more advantageously applied in the shape of bounty to able-bodied seamen. He would also call attention to the vast increase of admirals. When the arrangement of 1846 was made, there were then 153 admirals, of whom fourteen were employed, and four of them were in the dockyards, where the services of admirals were not required. On referring back to the year 1853, the year before the war, he found that the number of admirals then was 268, of whom fourteen were employed and 254 were idle. By the present Estimate he found the number of admirals to be 314, of whom only eighteen were employed on service, and three or four of them were in the dockyards; so that there were 296 idle. He did not know how many ships of all sizes were afloat, but he believed there was an admiral for every ship, however small. It seemed to him perfectly monstrous that this charge should be thrown upon the public. There 527 could be no necessity for it, for only eighteen, or, in point of fact, only fourteen admirals were required for employment afloat. He would advert, likewise, to the increased cost of half-pay and pensions, amounting to £23,000 in the present year over the last. He could not conceive how this increase had taken place. It was remarkable how tenacious this half-pay and pension list was in keeping up its amount; for in the last ten years there had only been a diminution of £51,000. This dead weight of the navy amounted in the present year to £1,297,000; and he hoped the right hon. Baronet would give some explanation of the necessity of increasing the half-pay by the amount of £19,000 in the present year as compared with the last. With respect to the good-service pensions, it appeared to him that great injustice was done to the officers of the navy. By reference to page 93 of the Estimates, it would be found that a nobleman of high family and of very little service had received a good-service pension, though he ventured to say that of between 500 and 600 post-captains, nine out of ten had performed more meritorious services than that noble Lord; and he was bound to say that there were many lieutenants who, he would not say had displayed more gallantry, for he doubted not the noble Lord's valour, many of whom had been in action and exposed to the fire of the enemy; and yet those poor men were passed over with their small pittance of half-pay. He also wished to direct attention to the name of an hon. Captain in the next page of the Estimates, whose services were not of a nature to entitle him to a good-service pension, while so many deserving men were left without one. These observations were not made with a view to oppose the Estimates being framed on the most ample scale, for there was no doubt that the more we expended now in the vigorous prosecution of the war, the speedier that war would end.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee, Mr. Fitzroy in the Chair.
§ (1.) £204,982 1s. 5d., Excess of Expenditure.
§ SIR C. WOOD
rose and said: I now rise, Sir, to propose the Navy Estimates for the year. The first Vote which I shall put into the hands of the Chairman is a Vote not in reference to the service of this year, but one to which the hon. Baronet opposite 528 has already called the attention of the House. It is a Vote for excess of expenditure for the year ending on the 1st of April last; and I think that the fact that I have to put this Vote into the Chairman's hands is a complete refutation of the general observations of the hon. Baronet, that any expenditure can be incurred without the sanction of this House. The hon. Baronet, or any other person who gives the matter a moment's consideration, must see that in a large expenditure of some £8,000,000 or £10,000,000, it may not always be very easy to measure the amount of expenditure so precisely that there shall be no excess in one year, or no surplus in another. The Estimates are framed the year before all the money is needed, according to the best opinion that can be formed in the department of the probable expenditure. It will inevitably happen that sometimes there is a surplus, which is carried to the account of the Exchequer, and sometimes there is an excess of expenditure, in which case it becomes necessary to submit to the House a Vote to cover it. But with respect to this particular excess which occurred in the course of last year, I shall satisfy the hon. Baronet that it is in point of fact hardly to be called an excess of expenditure, though it appears technically in that shape, and though it is necessary to submit a Vote to the House for its amount. Hon. Gentlemen who attended the Committee on Navy Estimates last year may remember that the right hon. Gentleman who then occupied the situation I now have the honour to fill, recalled to their recollection the great changes which he made in the constitution of the Admiralty Department in 1832. He entirely abolished all the subordinate boards, and, in point of fact, carried into execution important improvements and measures of administrative reform far greater than have ever been hinted at in modern days. When the authority of Sir G. Cockburn is quoted by some hon. Gentlemen as indisputable in all matters relating to the Admiralty, it should be recollected that all these beneficial improvements were steadily opposed by him. Among them was the introduction of a far better system of accounts. The navy debt had accumulated largely, and money was voted, which was not brought to account. The right hon. Gentleman introduced a system of book-keeping, with double entry, similar to that practised in commercial establishments; and from that time forward 529 the accounts of the Navy have been strictly audited and put on a more satisfactory footing. This improved system went on for upwards of twenty years of peace without room for objection; but when the time of war came the expenditure was nearly doubled, and there now appears, in the first year of the war, to be an excess of expenditure in the navy department of £204,000. But the fact is, that this excess of expenditure is not owing to a greater sum having been spent on the whole than that which the House voted, but to the accounts having been worked up so closely that a large expenditure of £300,000, which in ordinary circumstances would have been defrayed in the course of this year, has been brought to account in the course of the past year. If any hon. Gentleman will refer to the printed paper "Naval Receipts and Expenditure," they will see it there stated by the Accountant General that this excess is entirely owing to the greater accuracy of the system which has been introduced of bringing the accounts to a close within the year; that, notwithstanding the pressure of business consequent upon the war, expenditure has been included in the account arising out of disbursements made by paymasters of the fleet exceeding £300,000 beyond that of the prior year, which is chiefly owing to the system of rendering monthly, instead of annual accounts, and to the great exertions made in the Accountant General's department to examine and pass the whole of the accounts relating to the year which it had not hitherto been found possible to accomplish in any one year since 1832—and the Commissioners of Audit entirely corroborate the statement, and bear their testimony to the efficiency of the system. Instead, therefore, of taking blame for this excess of expenditure, it arises from a circumstance highly creditable to the department. This new system has been greatly facilitated by a change lately made in the mode of paying ships off when they come into port. In former times, little pay passed into the hands of the sailor during the time of his service, and when a ship came into port the books were sent to be examined, and the amount of pay due to be calculated, by clerks some taken from the office of the Paymaster General and some from that of the Accountant General. A considerable delay frequently took place before the amount due to the sailor could be calculated, but within the 530 last two or three years the system has been changed, and now the payment of the men is made by the paymaster of each ship. He keeps his books regularly made up, and thus each ship of the Baltic fleet, both in 1854 and 1855, was paid off in a very short time after she came into port. There was no delay or difficulty of any kind, and every man was set at liberty either to go on leave or to enter another ship within a couple of days at the utmost. I am glad to have this opportunity of bearing my testimony to the great exertions of the Accountant General of the Navy—one of the best public servants whom the State possesses—in introducing and perfecting this system, and I am equally glad to bear my testimony to the energy and zeal which the paymasters of the fleet have displayed in undertaking and successfully carrying out this important and beneficial change. Connected with this subject is a further change which we propose to effect in the mode of making payments in the dockyards. In consequence of substituting payment by paymasters of ships for the old system, a great portion of the duties hitherto performed by the pay-clerks in the dockyards has been done away with. We propose to relieve them of the remainder of their duties, to recall them to their respective offices in London, and to substitute for them in each of the principal dockyards an officer, to be called an accountant, who will, in addition to paying the seamen's allotments, have intrusted to him the payment of the dockyard wages. This duty is at present discharged by the storekeepers, to the great interruption of their other work; but I believe it will be very much better done by an accountant expressly confined to the monetary transactions of the yard. This change will also, I hope, enable us to carry out a great improvement in checking the disbursements for the yard wages. As far as mere day pay is concerned all is plain and straightforward enough, but when the payment for task and job work is to be calculated, considerable accuracy and attention is required to prevent a loss to the public. The first Vote, therefore, which I shall ask the Committee to sanction will be £204,000 for excess of expenditure in the last year. This sum is, in point of fact, £100,000 less than the amount brought to charge for the first time in the course of the current year, instead of being left over, as it would have been in former times, to be charged in the Vote of the succeeding 531 year. I now come to the Estimates of the year itself. It is quite true, as my hon. Friend behind me stated, that the Estimates are based upon the supposition of the war being continued. The preparation of the Estimates began at a time when the prospects of peace were not so flattering as they may now be, but, at all events, I maintain we are perfectly right in presenting to the House war Estimates. When I come to propose the Votes, the House will see that I do not ask for Estimates for the whole year, but I hope the House will sanction a war Estimate for such a time as will cover the greatest possible delay in determining whether we are to have peace or war. The best security for peace is to be ready for war. If we show any hesitation, or any unwillingness to carry on the war, depend upon it our enemy will avail himself of our apparent weakness; but show that yon are firm, that you are ready, if negotiations for peace should fail, to carry on war as it has not yet been carried on, and I believe our chance of obtaining peace will be much improved. I appeal, therefore, with confidence to every Member of this House—not only to those who have so nobly supported the Government throughout this war in their endeavours to bring it to a successful end, but also to those who are most anxious for peace, to support us in these Votes; because by so doing they will be most effectually promoting that end at which they are so earnestly aiming. But even should we obtain peace, hon. Gentlemen must not flatter themselves that in the first year of peace any considerable reduction can be made in our naval expenditure. If my hon. Friend will refer to the debate which took place on the termination of the great war in 1816 he will find a very curious statement made by the then Secretary to the Admiralty, showing that in the first year of every peace during the preceding century the Estimates were larger than in the last year of war. The change in the system of payment of the ships which I have just mentioned diminishes to some extent the necessity of such an increase of expenditure, but yet my hon. Friend must see that the reduction of the number of ships afloat necessarily entails a heavy expenditure at the moment of reduction. Ultimate reduction is of course effected by diminishing the number of men, but as those who are discharged are entitled to the balance of their pay, there is necessarily, in the first 532 instance, an increase of expense. I propose to the Committee to vote an addition of 6,000 to the number of men now serving in Her Majesty's fleet, making 76,000 altogether, but I shall only ask for this number of men for a period of three months. Before the expiration of that period we must know whether we are to have peace or war—and shall be in a condition to decide on the future requirements of the country. This increase of men necessarily entails an increased sum to be voted for wages, and there is also a slight increase caused by some addition to the rates of the pay of various classes of officers. I will not go into this question at present, as I propose, before I close the observations which I shall address to the Committee, to present to them in one view the measures which have been recently adopted or which are proposed in the present Estimates for improving the condition of the various classes of officers and men in Her Majesty's navy. The hon. Gentleman has referred to the extra pay to the men from the coast guard and revenue cruisers and to the riggers from the dockyards now on board Her Majesty's ships, and has objected to their being so employed. Of course, when we are able to reduce the force afloat, the first persons who will return to their ordinary avocations will be the coastguardsmen and riggers; but, so long as we are increasing our force, it would be most injudicious and unwise to dismiss these men, who are tried and good sailors, and to replace them by men who have received no training. The increase in the expenditure for the marines is due principally to a change which has been introduced during the present year. We have not increased the total number of marines, but we have greatly increased the number of that valuable corps, the marine artillery, who, being more highly trained, receive a higher rate of pay. The experience of last year at Sweaborg, and on other occasions on which these men have been employed in working great guns, and especially mortars, both on shore and afloat, has shown the wisdom of this change. Of the sum stated in this Vote I propose to take only a portion on account. Instead of £3,200,000 I will take a couple of millions only. At the same time, I will not flatter the Committee by saying that I believe that this sum will be all that will, even under the most favourable circumstances, be required during the year. The next Vote is one of £1,434,730 533 for victuals for seamen and marines. In this Vote there is an increase of £60,649. The increase arising from the addition to the number of men would have amounted to about £120,000; but from that there is to be deducted a decrease of cost, arising from the diminution of the price of provisions since last year; leaving the net increase at the sum I have stated. In this Vote also I propose to take only a sum of one million on account. That sum will be required because the contracts are made early in the year, and cannot be postponed or made week by week as the provisions are required for use. In the next Vote—£138,399 for the Admiralty Department—I do not think it possible to make any diminution, because, even after the war is ended, there will be a large number of accounts to settle and a great deal of correspondence to wind up, which will render it impossible that we should immediately dispense with the services of the large number of temporary clerks who are now overcrowding our rooms. There does, in fact, appear to be a small diminution since last year; but that arises principally from the replacement of old clerks, who have retired, by young ones, who of course receive lower salaries. In future years the salaries of these gentlemen will be advanced, and there may then appear to be an increase of expenditure, as there now appears to be a diminution. This variation, however, is trifling, and depends upon accidental circumstances. The postage, to which the hon. Member has referred, is a matter for which the Admiralty is not responsible. The Treasury thought it desirable that the postage of all the departments of Government should be included in one Vote, in order that the whole expense on that account may appear at a glance. The next Vote is £20,000 for Naval Coast Volunteers. In that there is a considerable reduction. The number of men who have entered has been much smaller than was expected. I think it is possible, however, that this establishment may be turned to more account when the number of sailors employed in the navy is reduced at the conclusion of peace; and I am therefore unwilling to adopt the course which some persons have suggested, and to put an end to the system which was recommended by a committee of most able officers who inquired into the subject of manning the navy during the time that the Duke of Northumberland was at the head of the Admiralty. 534 The next Vote is £58,982 for the scientific branch. In that department there has been an increase of expenditure, to which I think the country will willingly assent. The first item is for an increase in the salary of the Astronomer Royal. It is now twenty years since Mr. Airey was appointed to that position at a smaller salary than his predecessor had enjoyed. While he has filled that office he has distinguished himself by various improvements in the constitution of the Observatory and its apparatus. He has shrunk from no labour, and has constantly undertaken work not connected with the Observatory. The character of that establishment now stands as high as that of any other similar establishment in Europe. The catalogue of stars which the Astronomer Royal has prepared has been appealed to without hesitation as the most complete and perfect one which, exists. He has applied galvanism and photography to the taking of observations, and has been at much trouble in connection with the measures which have recently been adopted for communicating the direct time to the mercantile marine. He has also taken part in many scientific inquiries; and it is only right that the country should in some manner express the sense which it entertains of the value of his services. The other principal item of the increase in this department is a sum of £4,200, required for procuring and erecting at the Royal Observatory a more perfect astronomical instrument called an equatorial. The equatorial now in the Observatory is inferior to those possessed by any similar establishment of any reputation in Europe, and even to one which has been erected by a private gentleman in the county of Sligo. There is at present an opportunity of obtaining a very perfect object-glass 13 inches in diameter, and the Astronomer Royal has proposed to me to take a Vote for its purchase and for the erection of the necessary machinery and building for its use. To that Vote I am convinced the House will most willingly assent. The next Vote is £153,795, for Her Majesty's establishments at home. The greater part of the increase in this Vote has been rendered necessary by the pressure of work in the dockyards; but it also includes an item which, as it may provoke some opposition, I think it right to explain. We found that there are in the navy a considerable number of Roman Catholic officers and soldiers, 535 and we thought it was but fair that they should, when in port, have the opportunity of attending the performance of Divine worship according to the rites of their own Church. We have, therefore, at each of the ports, caused to be prepared, in a ship in ordinary, accommodation precisely similar to that which is provided for the service of our own Church, and in these ships Roman Catholic priests have performed service hitherto without remuneration. I propose to the House that we should at each port pay a Roman Catholic chaplain for the performance of service to the officers and seamen of the fleet who hold that faith. An impression having existed that there are in the fleet no great number of seamen of the Roman Catholic persuasion, I desired a return to be prepared, showing the number of officers and men who attended the celebration of Divine worship according to the ritual of that Church at the three great ports. I find that yesterday there attended the Roman Catholic service at Sheerness 2 officers and 59 men, and at Portsmouth 120 officers and men. The average number of those who have attended that service at Plymouth since Christmas, has been 26 officers and 197 men. It is exceedingly undesirable that the men should land in port, as such landing generally leads rather to attendance at public-houses than at a place of public worship; and I believe it will be very conducive to the discipline of the service, as well as to the moral character of the men, that they should have the opportunity of attending this service. I, therefore, trust that the sum required for that purpose will be granted by the House. The next three Votes are for the salaries of officers and wages of seamen in the yards at home and abroad. I do not think it is possible to reduce the sums paid for wages. Hon. Gentlemen are aware that during the last year much building has been done by contract; but that is not as satisfactory a mode of executing the work as in our own yards. We find that even the largest contractors seldom have an extensive stock of material on hand, and consequently much of the timber that is put into even the smaller vessels is not sufficiently seasoned. More than that, very few contractors have kept time and delivered the vessels at the period at which they promised them. Two of the largest firms on the river, with whom we had contracts, have failed in the last two or three months, and I am afraid that the vessels 536 in their hands will not be ready at the time contracted for. Independently of the greater punctuality insured by such an arrangement, I cannot but think that, both as regards the soundness of the materials used and the superior character of the workmanship, the interests of the public will be best promoted by doing the work as much as possible in our own dockyards, instead of giving it out on contract. The amount of repairs necessary to be executed on ships returning from the Black Sea and the Baltic, during the last two years, has been so large that building has inevitably been to a certain extent suspended; but, as the Committee will no doubt be of opinion with me that it is by no means desirable that in this country the building of improved classes of ships required to contain all the result of modern skill and science should fall into arrear, I trust that they will sanction, for next year, the expenditure which is proposed in the present Estimates. The only item in respect of which I can entertain a well-founded hope that there will be a reduction before the close of the year is that which refers to our establishments in Constantinople and the Black Sea. An immediate reduction is scarcely to be expected, for the Committee will not fail to bear in mind that, if peace should be concluded, we shall have to withdraw the whole of our army from the Black Sea, and, for that reason, the amount of work thrown on the establishment at Constantinople will in the first instance be necessarily very great. For this reason it may be necessary to increase the expenditure on account of transports. The next Vote is for stores, and it will be seen that upon this item there is a reduction of about £500,000, chiefly owing to the large supply which we now possess of some essential articles of stores, the means of purchasing which the House of Commons placed last year at the command of the Admiralty. The main article is that most necessary commodity—hemp. It was but natural to expect that the war would interfere with the regular and abundant supply of Baltic hemp, and, under these circumstances, an offer was made to the Admiralty of a large quantity of Italian hemp, which has been received, and which has proved of excellent quality. 500 tons of Hungarian hemp was also offered to the Admiralty, and it was thought advisable to accept them, not only that we might insure an ample stock of so essential an article, but because 537 it is desirable to extend the area of supply, and so secure the double advantage of a larger market and a cheaper price. In 1854, Baltic hemp was sold at £66 per ton. 6,600 tons of the Italian article have been purchased since then, at about £52 per ton, and the result has been that Baltic hemp has fallen to £44 the ton. In other words, a reduction of more than £20 per ton has been effected in the price of the Baltic hemp by the act of the Admiralty in buying the Italian commodity, which turns out to be of a very good quality. We have now nearly doubled the stock we had in hand at the beginning of last year, and are therefore independent of any unfavourable contingency that may hereafter arise. Having this supply in our stores, we should not suffer inconvenience, even though the sources heretofore open to us were now to be closed. Copper is another important commodity, of which, that it might be at hand in any required quantity for the purposes of the dockyards, we last year laid in so largo a stock that we can afford to make a considerable reduction in the supply now demanded. The item which relates to the purchasing and repairing of steam machinery for our steamships is necessarily a very heavy one, for, independently of works that may be hereafter projected, we shall have to pay a large sum for vessels already ordered. It is to be understood, therefore, that this Vote does not refer merely to future objects, but that a large portion of the expenditure is due on account of work which, though in a very forward state at this moment, will not be actually completed so that payment can be made before the close of the present financial year. The large increase in the number of steamships frequenting the Baltic renders it unavoidable that there should be a proportionate augmentation of the expenditure on account of coal. However, I mean to ask for something less than appears on the face of the Estimates. I am not in a position to make a sweeping reduction, but I propose that, instead of £3,500,000, as originally intended, we shall take under this head a Vote for £3,000,000. I come now to the Vote for new works, improvements, and repairs of building in our dockyards and other establishments. I need scarcely observe that the introduction of steam is causing a complete revolution in the construction and cost of the navy. Fully one-third of the expense of a new ship is now due to the machinery, and I think I should be justified 538 in computing that a screw ship of ninety guns will cost in the proportion of three to two, as compared with a sailing vessel. It is obvious that such a system of naval architecture demands extraordinary means and appliances, and renders it necessary that there shall be factories, and new machinery of a costly and complicated character, in all our dockyards. In this respect, we have heretofore had rather too much regard to economy, and I am sure that naval men, who have a practical knowledge of such subjects, will concur with me in thinking that we have rather fallen short of than exceeded the demands of the service. The increased size of vessels renders it necessary also to enlarge the proportions of the docks; and in four of the yards we are at the present moment incurring considerable expense for the purpose of extending the docks in such a manner as to enable them to accommodate the longer vessels which the general use of steam has introduced. For some years back it has been the wise practice of successive Boards of Admiralty to promote as much as possible the introduction of machinery into the dockyards. This desirable object will be materially promoted by the Vote we mean to submit this year, and I am particularly anxious that the Committee should bear in mind that a large item is due on account of that Vote for machinery, which will improve the work done in the yards, and, by economising labour, eventually diminish the cost of production. Another item in this Vote is for the building of marine barracks at the head-quarters of the various divisions of Marines. This is an expenditure which I doubt not the Committee will approve, for the marines have done good service to the country, and I cordially concur in the hope expressed by the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me in office, that no Government will take so injudicious a step as to reduce the numerical strength of that valuable branch of the service. They have at all times been most useful as far as the discipline of our ships is concerned, and on many occasions, recently, as well as formerly, they have proved that they are not inferior to sailors afloat or to soldiers on shore. The sanitary arrangement of these barracks will necessarily involve some slight additional expenditure, but this consideration will not, I am sure, prevail against improvements which modern science and experience have shown to be desirable. The next Vote is for the medical supplies of the navy, and 539 under that head I propose the same Vote as last year—£65,000. On the miscellaneous votes I do not know that it will he possible to make any considerable reduction. They are very nearly the same as last year, the only material increase being that occasioned by legal proceedings arising out of a state of blockade. I now come to the Vote for half-pay. Here there is an increase, which was inevitable under the circumstances, and which will, I trust, be a sufficient answer to my hon. and gallant Friend near me (Captain Scobell), and satisfy him that we have not been niggardly in the promotions we have made in consequence of the war. The increased expenditure under this head is simply attributable to the fact that a number of officers have been promoted for gallant services since the commencement of hostilities. On this account alone, upwards of 100 lieutenants have been promoted to the rank of commander; and, although there may be in consequence a greater number of commanders on the list than can at the present moment be employed, there is no one, I am sure, who will deny the justice and expediency of giving to these officers the advancement to which, by their merits, they are manifestly entitled. On these and some other items I shall make some further observations by and by; but I leave them for the present and pass on to the other Votes. I come, then, to the good-service pensions. The hon. Gentleman animadverted upon the bestowal of these pensions upon two officers in particular; seeming to think that the pensions had been conferred upon them, not for service, but because they were members of aristocratic families; and, although he did not mention their names, nobody, referring to the Estimates, could fail to identify the individuals to whom he alluded. It would, therefore, be needless delicacy on my part to withhold the names of those two officers, while I give the reasons for our bestowing these rewards upon them. The first of them is Captain Keppel, who has seen more active service than almost any other officer of his rank; and, if my hon. Friend behind me were to poll the entire navy, he would find its unanimous opinion to be that there is not a better, more gallant, or more deserving officer in the service. Captain Keppel has distinguished himself on every occasion in which his services have been called into requisition, the most recent instance of this having occurred during his command of the naval brigade before Sebastopol, and, if such a mark of honour is 540 to be conferred at all, I declare I do not know an officer on the list to whom it could be more appropriately given. The second officer to whom my hon. Friend referred is Lord Clarence Paget. It is true that Lord Clarence Paget has not seen the same amount of service as Captain Keppel; but there are two officers, Lord Clarence Paget, and the officer whose name stands on the next page, Captain Henderson, whose sea-service is of about the same duration, to whom good-service pensions have been given for the same reason, namely, that both were excellent and most deserving officers, and both have been compelled to return home from ill health contracted in the service. Lord Clarence Paget served in the Baltic last year, and was then sent to the Black Sea. He was employed on shore in various ways by Sir E. Lyons until his eyesight completely failed him. I believe that he has irrecoverably lost the use of one eye, and was in imminent danger of also losing the use of the other; and being, moreover, as excellent an officer as there is in the navy, we thought a good-service pension would not be ill bestowed if it were awarded to him. The same remark applies to the case of Captain Henderson, who is not open to the objection of belonging to an aristocratic family, and therefore cannot be said to have received his pension for the reason to which Lord Clarence Paget's has been so unjustly ascribed. Captain Henderson is an officer of very fair service, although not longer than that of Lord Clarence Paget; he was selected by my predecessor in office for the command in the West Indies, where he acquitted himself with admirable judgment, discretion, and skill. He was compelled to return home from ill health, and it was my duty to allow him to leave without being previously relieved, in order to save his life. Under these circumstances I deemed him not undeserving of a good-service pension. After these explanations, I hardly think that the Committee, or even the hon. Gentleman behind me, will regard these pensions as having been improperly or unfairly bestowed. In the next Vote, for pensions, there is a slight increase, in consequence of the extension of the boon of a higher rate of pension to the widows of officers dying from ill health contracted in the service; but the main increase in this branch of the expenditure is owing to a change that has been made in the mode of paying to seamen their Greenwich out-pensions. The seamen will be placed this 541 year on the same footing as the army in regard to these pensions, which will be paid to them in advance instead of at the end of the quarter. The next Vote is for civil pensions and allowances, and amounts to £147,685. This item so entirely depends on the health and mortality of the service, and the rules which regulate its distribution are so fixed and unchangeable, that there is very little variation in its amount one year as compared with another. The next Vote, which is for the transport service, is very large; and, although I propose to take a smaller sum than that which appears on the Estimates, namely, £6,971,537, inclusive of the charge for prisoners of war—yet, if it should so happen that peace is shortly concluded, the whole of our troops will in that case have to be brought home from the shores of the Black Sea, and it must be obvious that there can be little or no reduction in this vote. The freights of most of the vessels have been reduced, and on that account a smaller sum will be chargeable than was required last year; but, on the other hand, the sum taken for coals has turned out to be inadequate to meet the demands of the service; and in the case of many of the other items, such as those for the fitting of the transports, bedding for the troops, forage, &c., the amounts taken have also proved insufficient. Therefore, looking to the larger force that we now have in the Black Sea than we had before, we propose to take a larger sum, which the experience of last year has shown to be requisite. In like manner there will be a slight increase in the Vote for the maintenance of prisoners of war, because we have more prisoners to keep now than we had last year; we have to bear the expense not only of those who are in this country, but of those who are at Constantinople. As long as these persons remain prisoners of war they must be maintained; the account can only be checked when it comes in, and it would be unwise not to make an ample provision under this head. The Committee may, perhaps, like to know the amount of service which has been performed in the course of the past year by our transports; and I shall, therefore, read the number of the troops which have been conveyed by sea within that period. The numbers of men moved are as follows: To the Black Sea from Europe.—British from England, 50,000; military corps from ditto, 5,000; Foreign Legion ditto, 5,000; French from 542 south of France, 26,000; Sardinians from Genoa, 19,000. Total, 105,000. To the Mediterranean.—Militia from England, 5,000. In the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.—British from the Mediterranean, to the Black Sea, 20,000; French in the Black Sea, 5,000; Turks in ditto, 58,000; Turkish Contingent, 22,000; British in the Black Sea, 20,000; Kinburn expedition, 3,500. Total, 138,000. Troops moved elsewhere, invalids, &c., 46,000. Total number of troops moved within the year, 294,000. And I am happy to say that with the exception of the burning of a single vessel, this vast amount of work has been performed without a disaster. It is only fair that I should bear testimony to the exemplary conduct and care of the masters of the transport ships, whether belonging to the Royal Navy or to the merchant service, for it was mainly owing to their great skill and diligence that the service has been so satisfactorily accomplished; and it afforded me much pleasure to hear the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford) speak so highly as he did the other night of the admirable state of our transport service. The only other Vote is that for the packet service, on which there is a small increase in consequence of contracts ordered by the Treasury for the conveyance of mails to Shetland and Orkney. I have now gone through the various items comprised in those Estimates; and I am not aware that I have omitted calling the attention of the Committee to any material points in the proposed Votes, with the exception of such as relate to improvements in the condition of several classes of officers and men. I said that I should postpone any remarks upon this subject till I could present to the Committee, in a single view, the causes of the additional expense in the shape of pay, retirement allowances, and pensions, which appears in the Estimates. To do this fairly, however, I must revert to a period some little time back, because, what we are doing now, and what has been done in the course of last year, is merely the sequel and consequence of a series of measures which have been in constant progress during the last eight or ten years. Whatever Government may have been in power during that period, a continuous improvement in the condition of every class in the navy—from the Admiral to the cabin-boy—has been steadily going forward from year to year during that period. I might, indeed, go further back, but it will, perhaps, be enough to 543 enumerate the various measures which have been adopted since 1845. It is much the fashion for hon. Gentlemen to tell us night after night that the officers and men of the navy are neglected and uncared for by the Admiralty; and I dare say that those who make these assertions do so sincerely believing them to be true, from not having taking the trouble to inquire into the facts. I feel it, therefore, my duty, in justice, not so much to myself as to those boards which have preceded me, to go through the various improvements which have been made in the condition of every officer and every man in the navy. My hon. Friend behind me referred to-night, as well as the other evening, to the number of admirals, but he mixed up with the active list the reserved list of admirals, of which the vacancies will not be filled up. The number of admirals upon the active list was fixed by Order in Council, in 1851, at ninety-nine, and at the same time ten reserved service pensions of £150 a year were assigned to such admirals as were willing on receiving this acknowledgment of their services to retire from the active list. With regard to the captains, by Order in Council the number of officers to be permanently retained on the active list was fixed at 350—the reduction to that amount being gradual, as officers attained the head of the list. I know that my hon. and gallant Friend opposite complains that his name appears on the reserved list. [Admiral WALCOTT: I did.] But unless some such course were adopted, it would be impossible to bring the number of officers down to a number consistent with what it would be possible or right to maintain in a state of peace. To use, perhaps, a strong term, besides being deceitful, it offends the common sense of the public to see a large number of admirals and captains on the active list, when it is perfectly well known that a very small number only can be employed. What was done was this.— A reserved list of admirals was made, consisting of captains who had reached the head of the list without having served a certain fixed period as captains. They become admirals, rising in rank, but with the pay only of rear-admirals. The number of such admirals is not limited. There are at present about seventy, but there will, necessarily, be fewer promoted in this way, as the number of names on the captains' list is reduced. Besides the reserved admirals, there is also a list of retired rear-admirals and captains. This list consists of 544 200 officers of the two ranks. By two Orders in Council of 1846 and 1851, it is provided, that any captain fifty-five years of age, and often years' standing on the captains' list, may take this retirement, if there is a vacancy. The option is given to them according to seniority. If—as is now usual —such officer is on the half-pay list of 12s. 6d. per diem, he receives 18s. per diem on his retiring; and then he may rise to 20s. per diem, and ultimately for a limited number to 25s. per diem. There are, therefore, two modes by which captains may go upon retired lists. If they reach the head of the list without a certain amount of sea-service, they take the half-pay of 25s. a day as rear-admirals; and if they choose they may retire, after ten years' service, with pay, rising from 18s. to 25s. a day. In the course of the present year a change has been made in the mode of paying captains. Instead of being paid according to the rate of the ship in which they are employed, they are henceforward to be paid according to their standing on the captains' list. It may be desirable, on account of the importance of the command, to employ a captain of high standing in a small ship, and I think it would be a great injustice to give the lower rate of pay. It is therefore now provided that captains shall be paid according to their standing in the list, in whatever class of ship they may serve; and, at the same time, we have raised the pay of the lower class of captains, that is, of all below the first 170, because we thought it not adequate to meet the expenditure which in these days they may be called upon to incur. With regard to the next list, that of commanders, the number in 1851 was fixed at 450. A certain number were placed on the reserved list, and fifty were promoted by selection to be reserved captains, with the lowest rate of half-pay as captains. At the same time fifty additional retirements were given to commanders by seniority, making, with the fifty retirements already given in 1840, 150 retirements for commanders. They receive the lowest half-pay of captains. I do not think that by these measures adequate retirement has been provided for this rank of officers. There should be large means of retirement for officers of the rank of commander, because it is the rank in which there is the greatest natural tendency to accumulate far more officers than can be employed. The number of lieutenants employed in the navy is very much larger than the number of commanders. It is, however, this step from 545 lieutenant to commander, which is most anxiously looked for. It is impossible, and would be unjust to deny the step to many most meritorious officers; and yet there is a very limited power of employing officers when they have received their well-earned promotion. Many of them must inevitably be put on the shelf for want of the means of employment. They grow old in this rank, and cannot hope to gain promotion to the active list of captains. Indeed, many of them could not hope to render efficient service if promoted. It is for these reasons most essential to provide longer terms of retirement for the rank of commanders than for other ranks in the service. We have, therefore, proposed to add, subject to the sanction of a Vote of this Committee, fifty more to the number, to be promoted by selection to be reserved captains, and 150 more to those rising to the same rank by seniority. There will, therefore, be 250 commanders who rise to the position of reserved captains by seniority, to be reduced ultimately to 200; and 100 who will be promoted to that rank by selection. It is arranged that those appointed by selection shall not be appointed all at once, but at the rate of fifteen per annum until the whole number is completed. With regard to lieutenants the number was fixed by Order in Council in 1851 at 1,200, and the number is about that at present. Power was also given in 1851 to promote fifty by selection to be reserved commanders, with the lowest half-pay of commander. That was felt to be a great boon, and I propose to double the number. This increased retirement for commanders and lieutenants is the principal source of increase in the half-pay Vote; but I think it only just and fair to the officers, while it is equally fair and beneficial to the public. [Mr. WILLIAMS: Hear, hear!] In 1846 half-pay was given to mates after three years' sea service if they were unable to obtain or were unfit for service. Before that time, if disabled by ill health, they were discharged without any half-pay at all. With regard to midshipmen, a great change was made in 1850, rendering indispensable an examination at the end of four years, and two years' sea service, subsequent to passing that examination, is required before they become mates. I come next to the class of masters. A more meritorious class of officers does not exist, and they have not been neglected by successive Boards of Admiralty. In 1846 a regulation was made 546 that the time as master should count as lieutenant's time to qualify for promotion to the rank of commander. In 1855 it was arranged that masters should be paid by service and not by rate, their full pay was raised, their half-pay was raised, and ample means of retirement were given. If they were qualified for first or second rates they retired after fifteen years with the rank of commander, after twenty years with that of captain. In the present year it is proposed—and the proposal only waits the sanction of the Treasury, and an Order in Council—to increase further the pay of two classes of masters. I should also mention that in 1852 half-pay was given to second masters if unfit for service or unemployed, in the same manner as to mates. The next class are the engineers. They have been in a very anomalous position, incidental to the comparatively recent application of steam to the navy, and they naturally desire to be placed on a permanent footing. A measure is prepared, and waiting only the sanction of the Treasury, which places them substantially on the same footing as masters. They are divided into classes like masters; they will have the same pay; they will be entitled to the same half-pay; they will have similar pensions granted to their widows and families, and will wear a similar uniform. An Order in Council was passed in the present year, increasing to a certain extent the full pay of chaplains. An Order has been also lately passed, increasing the half-pay of naval instructors, after fifteen years' service, and giving retirement after twenty years' service. With regard to medical officers, in 1855 inspectors and deputy-inspectors had an advantage in point of time granted to them towards retirement; staff surgeons received higher pay in certain temporary situations; assistant-surgeons had an additional 1s. a day, were placed in the wardroom mess, and are to have cabins when possible. There has been a great change made in the condition of secretaries and paymasters. Paymasters used to be paid by percentage, which led to great abuses. They have been placed on a rate of pay amounting in some cases to £600 per annum, with half-pay of 10s. 6d. per diem, and an addition of 2s. on retirement. For assistant paymasters and clerks there is a new scale of pay, with half-pay if they are unfit or unemployed. It has also been determined that pensions shall be given to the widows of officers who die from disease contracted in the service. With regard to 547 the marines, non-commissioned officers have been appointed adjutants or quartermasters to the dockyard battalions; increased retirement allowances have been given to colonels, colonels who are second commandants, lieutenant-colonels, and captains; the fixed list of general officers has been placed upon the same footing as that of the army; the retired list has been revised; gratuities and pensions for good service have been extended to this force; and in the course of last year two artillery companies have been added, the officers and men of these companies receiving increased pay. But the care of the Admiralty has not been confined to officers only. In 1853 the pay of all warrant officers was increased from 20 to 25 per cent, and it was provided that special pensions should be awarded to them in case they were rendered incapable of service by ill-health or other causes. In 1849 the petty officers had new ratings in all ships, and in 1853 they were divided into three classes, with higher pay, gratuities, and pensions. With respect to the seamen, a new rating has been introduced—that of leading seamen; with additional pay at the rate of 2d. a day above the rating of A. B. and with exemption from corporal punishment, except by sentence of court-martial or for mutiny; good-conduct badges have been adopted, and a higher rate of pay has been given to men who enter for continuous service. Arrangements have also been made for enabling seamen to allot their pay to persons who are not members of their families—in fact, to whomsoever they please. When a ship is brought into harbour to be refitted, leave of absence is now given to the men for a month or six weeks, during which time they receive full pay, and they thus have the opportunity of visiting their families and friends without the loss of pay or of time, and they are not exposed, as was formerly the case, to the risk of being caught up by crimps. An uniform system of minor punishments has been established throughout the navy, and a "defaulters' book" is kept in each ship, in order to provide a check on them. Some hon. Gentleman referred the other day to the clothing of the seamen; and I may, therefore, inform the Committee that the prices of clothing have been revised and reduced, and hon. Members will find in Vote No. 1 of this Estimate no inconsiderable sum proposed as an annual charge upon the public, in order that our sailors may be furnished with good clothes at a 548 lower price than their actual cost. The provisions issued to the seamen have also been improved both in amount and quality. A great improvement has been made with regard to the admission of seamen into Greenwich Hospital. Formerly, owing to carelessness on the part of the admitting officers, a great many men obtained admission into that institution who, I believe, were not entitled to its benefits; but it is now provided that none shall be admitted but those disabled by wounds, unless they have the recommendation of at least ten years' good servitude. Another change has been made, which may seem of little importance, but which has proved a great benefit to the sailor: the examinations for pensions are now conducted at the out-ports. Formerly, all persons entitled to pensions were compelled to come to London for examination, and had to find their way here as well as they could. Under that system great hardships and expense were entailed upon them from which they will now be relieved. An hon. Member, the other night, impressed upon us the importance of introducing boys into the service, and seemed to complain that the subject had not received proper attention from the Government. If, however, hon. Gentlemen will look to the Estimates, they will find that the number of boys voted separately for the navy was last year increased from 2,000 to 10,000. But I may observe that it is not desirable to increase too rapidly the number of boys, beyond what can be gradually absorbed into the service, as they grow up to manhood. The system of novices entered for the service is also working extremely well, and I am sure that naval officers must observe with surprise the skill and discipline to which youths have in no long time been brought, who were but lately at the ploughtail. Great improvements have been effected in the condition of persons in all ranks of the service, from the admiral to the boy who has just entered; and I think the Committee will do, not only the present, but former Boards of Admiralty the justice to admit that they have not been negligent in the discharge of their important duties. There is no class in Her Majesty's navy whose condition has not been improved by the considerate attention of those who have presided over the administration of that branch of the public service, aided by the liberality with which this House has met the demands that have been made upon it. I now turn to our civil establishments. In 549 1847 all the regulations relating to the dockyards were revised, and restrictions were adopted with regard to the admission and promotion of artificers. The Admiralty now require from the superintendents of the various dockyards an accurate and faithful account of the manner in which that duty is discharged; and the same course is pursued in the case of the victualling-yards, factories, and workshops. These subjects have been carefully considered by a committee appointed by the Board of Admiralty, and during the last ten years there is not a single branch of the naval service, afloat or ashore, abroad or at home, which has not been the object of revision and improvement. In some instances additional expenditure has undoubtedly been entailed by this process; but the House of Commons have, in successive years, most liberally met the demands which have been made upon them in order to effect these improvements, and I think an ample return is to be found in the present condition of our navy. I do not believe that at any period in the history of this country our naval establishment has been in a state of greater completeness and efficiency than at the present moment. Look at the improvement and development of steam power as applied to our fleet. Why, last year not a single sailing ship of war appeared in the Baltic,—all were either paddlewheel or screw steamers. All the line-of-battle ships which are not screw steamers have been withdrawn from the Black Sea, with one exception—that of a vessel left as a depôt ship; and only three or four sailing line-of-battle ships are left afloat in our home ports, except as store-ships. This change has, of course, been attended with considerable expense, but it has added enormously to the efficiency of our naval force. Look, too, at our officers. Have they not deserved well of their country wherever they have been engaged in operations? Have they not maintained, and even increased, the ancient reputation of our navy? The Russian Black Sea fleet, it has been truly said, has been swept from the sea. It is true there may be two or three steamers at Nicholaieff, or in the river Don; but every Russian ship of war in the Black Sea has been burnt, sunk, or destroyed by us or by the Russians themselves. We have destroyed all the vessels that were employed to convey Russian stores and supplies. From Odessa to the Straits of Kertch, and throughout the Sea of Azoff, not a Russian vessel of 550 any size above a small boat remains. Along the entire coast the destruction of stores by our fleet was enormous, and there were performed in various instances exploits worthy of the proudest days of the British navy. At one point 200 sailors landed in the face of from 3,000 to 4,000 Russians, beat them off, and destroyed an immense amount of stores of corn stretching for miles along the shore. One consequence of all this—and that a most important one—was an exorbitant rise in the price of provisions to the Russian Government. Only this morning I received a communication which shows how completely the means of communication have been interrupted. It is there stated that while wheat was selling at 15s. per quarter at Taganrog, it was 30s. a quarter at Berdiansk, a circumstance which can only be accounted for by the impossibility of keeping up a communication between the two places. My hon. Friend (Mr. Williams) says the Baltic fleet came home having done nothing. I believe, on the contrary, everything was done that could have been reasonably expected. At Sweaborg, to which reference has been made, I believe everything that was inflammable was destroyed—nothing that could be burnt escaped destruction. For five days the conflagration was raging, and everything combustible in the place must have been reduced to ashes. It is impossible to tell exactly how many of the enemy fell, but I believe that in one explosion not fewer than 1,000 men were destroyed. Indeed, nothing could exceed the skill of the arrangements which were made for this operation, or the gallantry and precision with which the fire was maintained from the mortar boats and rocket boats on this occasion. So at all the other ports of the Baltic Sea, no Russian ships were allowed to swim; public buildings were everywhere burnt; every vessel that made its appearance, and was a fair subject of hostility, was either taken or destroyed, and yet all this was done with a proper regard to private property. I confess I do not think that these services deserve the sort of mention which the hon. Gentleman has made of them. I think they were most able, skilful, and effective services. It is said, why was not Cronstadt attacked? On this point I may state that we had not, with regard to small vessels, the strength on which we at first calculated. An agreement had been made between the French and English Governments to send a certain number of 551 gun boats, mortar boats, and floating batteries to the Baltic. Afterwards the French Government changed its views as to the best mode of carrying on the war, and they sent their floating batteries to the Black Sea; but, although we had the number of gun boats and mortar boats originally intended, yet the whole number originally agreed upon was not sent owing to circumstances and the change of purpose that I have mentioned. In every other respect, however, what we meant to execute was performed, and I am happy to be able to say that, throughout all these operations in both seas, the most perfect cordiality existed between the naval commanders-in-chief, the officers and men of the two countries. They rivalled each other only in their desire to discharge all the duties imposed upon them, and in their zeal for their respective services, the only jealousy—the only difference—being which of them should be foremost in any undertaking which they had to accomplish. In the commencement of last year the Government was most anxious to provide ample means for carrying on the war more vigorously and efficiently than previously, and, therefore, I gave orders, after having obtained the sanction of a Vote of the House of Commons, to provide a larger number of vessels of small draught of water. Gentlemen must see how great an advantage there is in having such a force employed in shallow waters, and therefore I ordered a very large number of gun boats and gun vessels with a light draught of water. In 1854 there were constructed and bought thirty-four gun-boats. This year we have constructed in this country 152, besides others in the Mediterranean; so that if peace is not concluded we shall have about 200 gun boats of one kind or another ready for service. The construction of these gun boats has answered remarkably well, and in the Black Sea as well as in the Baltic they have performed most effective service. A naval officer told me that he could compare the movements of these gun boats to nothing so well as to the graceful evolutions of a skilful skater on the ice. I have also taken measures to provide a sufficient number of mortar vessels, having given orders for the construction of 100 of them, and we shall also have ready eight floating batteries; so that, if it is necessary to undertake another campaign, the number of vessels which the Government will be able to send will be such as I think will enable us to carry on 552 the war even with our own resources in such a manner as will be perfectly adequate to cope with whatever force the enemy may bring to meet us. No one is more anxious than I am that peace should be established, for the sake of Europe and ourselves; but if we are to carry on the war, I think the Committee will agree with me that measures ought to be taken for doing so with the greatest vigour and efficiency. If, unfortunately, peace should not be made, we shall be ready, as soon as the sea shall allow us to commence operations, with 350 British pennants floating in the Baltic, and 100 in the Black Sea. So far as human means can do so, we have taken measures to insure victory. We know well that victory is not always to the strong, and God forbid it should be so in an unrighteous cause; but in a struggle undertaken from no selfish motive, in a war waged against the grasping power of Russia, and for the protection of an ancient ally from the domineering aggression of a powerful neighbour, I trust we may appeal to the Almighty Disposer of Events to look down with favour on those human means which it is our duty not to neglect, and I hope we may, not without confidence, implore Him to bless our arms with victory. The right hon. Gentleman then moved a Vote of £204,022 to meet the excess of expenditure on the sum voted for the year ending the 5th of April last.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
Sir, I have listened to the statement of the Naval Estimates of the year, made by the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, with that attention to which it is entitled. I very willingly give the Board of Admiralty their due praise, for a careful summary and review of matters, so important to the efficiency of the service, and so imperative at the present crisis. From the commencement of the war, I have been the advocate of its prosecution with vigour and resolution. I rejoice to find that the errors of the past have been accepted as warnings for the future. From the fact of the provision of a description of vessels calculated to promote the efficiency of the Baltic fleet, I augur achievements equal to those of the palmiest days of the heroic Nelson, should the war, unhappily, be prolonged.
I never have been one of those who thought lightly of the services of that expedition. It invaded the waters of Russia, insulted her coasts, and despoiled Finland of a formidable fortress. It prevented that 553 fleet of twenty-eight ships of the line from weighing anchor, on which the gallant Admiral, the late Commander-in-chief in the Baltic, pronounced only a few nights since the highest praise, when he mentioned, that, in the summer previous to his arrival, it had put to sea and manœuvred in the presence of the Czar, forming two lines of battle; and, when the signal was given by him for the weather-line to break that to leeward, so compactly had they formed, that only one ship succeeded in forcing her way through. The Emperor at once promoted her captain to the rank of rear-admiral. Although the gallant Admiral stated, in a late debate, that his own fleet was badly manned, I am firmly convinced that, had the Russians put to sea and engaged him, he would have been enabled to write a similar despatch, to the characteristic letter sent home by Admiral Hawke to the Admiralty, "The enemy's ships were very large, and so took a great deal of drubbing." No less is the estimation with which I regard the great and valuable services of the Black Sea fleet. But I cannot believe that, with the indomitable courage displayed by Russia on shore in defence of her country, her navy was afraid to put to sea.
Sir, I had other observations to offer on the subject of the Estimates, but my recollection of their tenor has been interrupted by the personal, and, I regret to say, unworthy allusion to myself by the First Lord of the Admiralty, when he stated that I considered myself aggrieved by the transfer of my name to the reserved list, leaving the inference that this was my sole cause of complaint against the Board. I know of no alternative, more full of pain to any officer, than when it lies between a silent endurance of depreciation, or a personal indication of merit. In the old proverb, for the word "discretion," I would substitute "modesty," "is the better part of valour." I will, therefore, merely mention that, in the year 1823, I was enabled, by God's goodness, to perform a service, designated by my commander-in-chief as "brilliant;" and for it he recommended me to the Board of Admiralty for the Order of the Bath. This was confirmed by His late Majesty, when Lord High Admiral; and the same was submitted to the Sovereign: the limitation as to the number of the Companions was the sole cause why the distinction was not actually at that time conferred. A 554 minute of the Board of Admiralty in 1846 renewed that recommendation.
My charge against the Board is this:—I never intermitted any exertion to gratify the laudable ambition which urged me to serve my country afloat. From the year 1823—immediately on my recovery from a severe illness of several months, the result of my exertions in the performance of that service to which I have alluded—until the year 1852, when I was, against my will, placed on the reserved list of admirals. I reiterated in vain, throughout a period of nearly thirty years, my applications for employment on any station and in any description of command. Those letters lie in the records of the Admiralty as my undoubted witnesses. I therefore considered it a most unjust act to place me on the reserved list, where I should be effectually debarred from active service, from winning any fresh honour, or adding to the existing claims for the Order to which I had been already recommended.
These, Sir, are my grounds of accusation against the Board of Admiralty, whose conduct would prejudice, and is unworthy of, any Government. Had they considered that from age or infirmity, which I emphatically deny, I was ill-fitted for service, though the good of my country might have been consulted by my displacement from the active list, yet its sense of justice demanded that at least I should be decorated for my past action in the manner their predecessors had deemed my due.
I greatly regret so far to have trespassed on the indulgence of the House, but hon. Members will, I trust, sympathise with my feelings, and believe that I would have avoided the topic had not the right hon. Baronet forced me to reply, by making a personal allusion to my position, and withholding every word of praise or consideration for my past career. I would not disparage any merit, much less that of a brother officer: I love my profession too dearly; but I may ask, without offence, if several of them were given the command of ships successively in peace-time, when few vessels were in commission, how was it possible for those less fortunate to serve their sea-time on the active list? Sir, I can honestly say, that never did I feel in a long life more pain than being necessitated in this place, and at this moment, to address hon. Members on my own behalf.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he was sorry the hon. and gallant Gentleman 555 should have felt that he had anything to complain of at his hands. The hon. and gallant Member should recollect that it was not his (Sir C. Wood's) doings that he was placed on the retired list.
§ MR. CAYLEY
said, he begged to inquire of the First Lord of the Admiralty what were the advantages he proposed to confer on that deserving class—the masters of the Royal navy?
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that what he proposed to do for the masters was to raise the pay of two of the classes.
§ MR. H. BAILLIE
said, he trusted an opportunity would be taken to improve the system of education at present adopted in the navy, by having a better class of naval instructors. He thought the naval instructors should be able to give instruction in French. It would require their numbers and their pay to be increased, no doubt, to carry out an efficient system of education. The subject he considered was well worthy the attention of the First Lord of the Admiralty.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he wished to make some observations upon the Vote before the Committee, inasmuch as the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty appeared to misunderstand what he had said before Mr. Speaker left the chair that evening, with reference to the excess of expenditure. He thought that the explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman was quite satisfactory. The point to which he (Sir H. Willoughby) directed his comments was, however, one altogether apart from that statement. He found in the expenditure of the year an item amounting to £654,000, which sum had been expended without the sanction of the House. That was his objection. Under the single heading of naval stores he found that £435,000 had been expended, in addition to three Estimates presented, and which amounted in the year to £2,827,000. He wished, therefore, to point out that it was an unusual stretch of power on the part of the Executive to lay out £435,000 upon a single item of naval expenditure without any authority of that House. It mattered not from whence the money came—he knew it came from the excess of Supply in other parts of the Estimate—the question was, whether the Executive were authorised to make that expenditure? He knew that the Appropriation Act gave certain power to the Lords of the Treasury, with the approval of Her 556 Majesty, to make certain changes in the expenditure of the public money; but he thought it was going a long way for the Government to spend nearly £500,000 upon naval stores without the authority of that House. The principle he contended for was this—if the Government could expend the sum of £500,000 without the authority of Parliament, they could also spend millions. He wanted to see whether this power ought not to be placed under some control. It was idle now to discuss this particular Vote. There was no use in asking whether the money had been properly expended or not, for it was gone from them. He thought that the conduct of the Government in that respect was an interference with the functions of the House of Commons; for if the principle upon which the Government acted was generally admitted, it would be utterly impossible for them to exercise their function of controlling the public expenditure.
said, he must beg to express his gratification that the attention of the Committee had been called to that list which deprived the country of the services of so many gallant officers. It was impossible for the human mind to imagine a greater absurdity than that list. A man was told, at the expiration of a certain number of years, that because he was not on active service he should be placed on a list that would render him ineligible to give his country the benefit of his valour and naval ability. Why, let them carry that system to the extreme, and they might have every efficient naval man in the kingdom on that list. That was a perfectly possible case. He had never heard, either from an official of the Admiralty or any other person, what he could call a defence of the reserve list; but if anything could be said in favour of a system which presented such manifest disadvantages, he trusted the House would hear something on the subject from some Member of the Admiralty before the discussion on the Estimates closed.
§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
said, he had supposed that some Member of the Admiralty besides the First Lord would have risen to reply to the arguments put forward by hon. Members; but as some non-official Members of the House had prolonged the discussion, he would take the same liberty as they had done; and as the naval profession was not so numerously 557 represented in that House as were the army and militia branches of the war service, the few naval officers who had the honour of a seat in Parliament should do the best they could in defence of the honour and rights of the navy. The First Lord of the Admiralty had spoken at considerable length, and had done what was the last thing he (Captain Scobell) would have ventured on but for the example of the right hon. Gentleman—namely, touched somewhat in detail on matters which had been very fully discussed a few nights before. However, as matters stood, it certainly would not do to let the First Lord of the Admiralty have his say, and allow that say to remain unquestioned; for from such a course it might be inferred that there were in the conduct of the naval affairs of the country no matters for criticism, much less for contradiction. In the first place, the First Lord, when speaking of the operations in the Sea of Azoff and the Baltic, had not spoken of what the French had done, he had not even mentioned that they had fired a shot. Now it should be remembered that the French had a force in the Baltic and Black Sea as well as we. The French should not only get their merit for this, but the force they had in those seas might lessen the number of ships that we might otherwise require there. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of our being in a position to have 350 pendants in the Baltic and 100 in the Black Sea when the season should have arrived. Now he (Captain Scobell) was not saying that we had had too many ships afloat, but it should be remembered that the Russians had not now a single cock-boat afloat in those seas, and therefore our preparations might be a little overdone. He was, however, referring to large ships. Let the Admiralty have as many small ones as they liked, for he would be for sending out small ones instead of such ships as the Conqueror and the Marlborough, which, though well enough suited to the Western Ocean, drew too much water for the Baltic, and were unable to approach sufficiently near to the points which our commanders wanted to reach. The right hon. Baronet had spoken of the advantage of screws. Well, the screws had not been proved very much yet, and therefore naval officers were not at present in a position to judge of the immense effect which that class of ships would have in naval warfare. He was glad, however, 558 to hear the First Lord speak of the advantage of boys in the navy, because no one who did not go to sea in his youth could be a sailor—and the proposed increase of that class would prove highly beneficial to the navy. The right hon. Baronet had opened the question about the coast-guardmen. It was true that the coast-guardmen were old sailors, but their services were required on the coast. At the same time, he did not blame the Admiralty for having taken them at the commencement of the war, sooner than leave the ships unmanned; he believed that without them the Admiralty would have been very short of hands. However, it should be remembered that the pay of the coast-guardmen who served in the navy was 4s., or at least 3s. a day; and though the other men might not say much about the matter, the House might depend upon it that they did not like the coast-guardsmen to be receiving three times as much pay as they did. The whole mistake lay in the Admiralty not giving bounty. If they gave bounty they would get seamen enough, and the extra expense that had been incurred by the over pay during the last three years, since the coast-guardmen had been employed, would have paid 35,000 seamen a bounty of £5 each. He must deny the assertion that had been made, that it was improper to bring forward the subject of bounty—the error was in not giving it. The right hon. Baronet said that to remove the coast-guardmen would create inefficiency in the fleet, and that observation proved that the Government were obliged to resort to that method of getting men to mix with the landsmen. Something had also been said about cadets. He wished to impress upon the First Lord of the Admiralty the necessity of keeping down the number of cadets. They could not strangle the old admirals and captains, they must put up with those officers as long as they lived. 2,000 cadets had been admitted since 1845; perhaps he was a little over the mark, but 1,800 or 1,900 had been, at all events. Now not many more than one-half of these had been made lieutenants of; so that the true mode of lessening the number of officers would be by not admitting so many cadets. He considered that an average of fifteen cadets per annum would be quite sufficient for the next ten years. The right hon. Gentleman had charged him with having made erroneous statements in the debate of Thursday night. He 559 would not now re-open that debate, but he would say, that despite of the First Lord of the Admiralty's authority, his judgment, and his importance, he (Captain Scobell) would repeat every statement that he had made on that night. The right hon. Baronet had said something about Sir George Cockburn, who was one of the first naval officers of the day, and one who had devoted his services and abilities to the duties of his official position as First Lord of the Admiralty; but the right hon. Baronet should remember that Sir George Cockburn had, in his will, expressed his disapproval of the manner in which the Admiralty was conducted. The right hon. Genman (Sir C. Wood)—God grant that he might live long—would, perhaps, favour the community by stating his views on the Admiralty question in his last will and testament, for he believed that many a man hid his real opinion while he was in office. With regard to promotion, he had to complain that all the vacancies created by the falling of naval officers in the trenches before Sebastopol had not been filled by the promotion of their subordinates in trench duty. In some few cases they had been so filled; but in too many the contrary course prevailed. The right hon. Baronet had endeavoured to strengthen his case by the reading of a letter. Now he (Capt. Scobell) had a heap of letters, and his correspondents had no fee nor reward to expect from him. Why, a Lord of the Admiralty was in a position to get letters by the hundred in support of his conduct. No naval officer on active duty would be mad enough to write complaints to the First Lord of the Admiralty. Yet because the right hon. Gentleman had one letter, he said, "Oh, nothing is the matter. In fact, so perfect is the system, that discussion on the matter is thrown away. Everything is going on well; and never was there such contentment as that which prevails amongst the officers of the navy." But in reply to that, he (Capt. Scobell) would say, that he had in his possession letters which showed such discontent in the navy, as the right hon. Gentleman could not imagine. Indeed, he had himself been astonished to find such strong discontent amongst the bulk of the naval officers. Those who were employed said nothing; but it was impossible that there could be satisfaction while one man got three ships in a certain time, and another could not get one. The Admiralty should share their patronage, not only in promotion 560 but in employment also. With respect to the smaller vessels, he thought that the Admiralty should have found better names for these craft than Clinker, Cracker, Pincher, and such like names. Now, there was something in a name, and sailors did not like to be put on board vessels with such names. Next, as to the employment of transports, which was rather a terrific affair, he thought that a great deal of money had been uselessly spent in that way. He believed that the rate of hire paid for the transports was about 40s., or in some instances as high as 50s. a ton per month, and there must be from 100 to 150 transports somewhere in the Black Sea and Baltic. Now, in the case of a vessel of 2,000 tons, the hire would be about £4,000 a month, or £48,000 per annum, besides the coaling. Thus for two years' hire of a transport of this tonnage they paid no less a sum than £96,000. What were the men-of-war about? Why could they not carry stores? After the Russian fleet in Sebastopol harbour had been sunken, why could not our men-of-war have done the duty of transport ships? If peace were restored our troops could be brought home by them at a comparatively trifling expense. The French carried almost all their troops in men-of-war, and thus saved a great deal of money. He approved of the system of rewarding the workmen in the dockyards, and wished it to be extended to the army and navy. The ships the Admiralty built were noble ships—nothing could be finer; but, as he had before said, he thought small vessels would be more effective for present purposes. As to the Victoria Cross, he congratulated the country and he congratulated the service on the establishment of that Order of Merit. They might depend upon it that decoration would incite the officer and the man much more than any other which could have been adopted; and it was to him a source of astonishment that it had not been adopted before, but "better late than never." He was glad it had been done; and in his heart he believed that the time would come when that Order of Merit would be more valued than the Order of the Bath by the military and naval man; because when the Victoria Cross was conferred on men they would say, "I myself got it," while the present medals were given for the action of an entire army. Hundreds and thousands of men had got the Crimean medal who had never been under fire. If ten 561 ships went out to action, and five endured the whole brunt of the battle, still the crews of the whole ten would under the present system get the same medal, even though one-half of the ships had novel-been engaged. That was properly understood by the men as well as by the officers; and consequently the medals were valued but little. With respect to the Order of the Bath, he had received letters from officers containing very severe criticisms in respect of the manner in which the honours of that Order were distributed. Some of those letters, if the statements they contained were correct, would show that the greater merit was passed over while the less was rewarded. With respect to the changes to be made in the commanders' list, he thought the right hon. Baronet's motive very good indeed, but he (Captain Scobell) made some remarks the other night on two classes of retired captains, which the right hon. Baronet had evidently misunderstood. One class was made of men, many of whom had been nearly forty years commanders, and they were put on the retired captains' list, and got l0s. 6d. a day as their highest retiring allowance. Now after three years they ranked as high as colonels in the army; but they never got more than the 10s. 6d. a day, though colonels got 14s., 15s., and 16s. a day. Why should such a difference be? The other class was the one in the constitution of which he thought the hardship lay, for they were taken by choice, and not, as in the other case, according to their position on the commanders' list, by seniority and service. As to the increase in the wages of seamen, a penny a day was not much, and he hoped the Admiralty would turn their attention again to the subject, with a view of putting the men in such a position as would attach their minds to the service.
§ SIR MAURICE BERKELEY
said, that in reference to what the hon. and gallant Member for Bath had said on the subject of no other member of the Admiralty Board having spoken after the First Lord, he would remind the hon. and gallant Member that the naval colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman had gone over the Estimates before they were presented to the House, and that those Estimates should be taken as coming from the colleagues of the First Lord as well as from himself. It was, therefore, unnecessary for the naval members of the Admiralty to go over the same ground as that which had been taken 562 by the head of the Board. The hon. and gallant Member for Bath and other gallant officers had spoken on the subject of I "bounty" to seamen. On that subject he had a very strong opinion. He did not believe that if, at the beginning of the war, they had offered a bounty of £5, they would have got one more seaman than they had at present. The House should remember that able seamen were not walking the streets, or to be found at the plough-tail; they should bear in mind that able seamen were in great request in the mercantile navy. On an offer of £5 by the Admiralty, the merchants would be obliged to offer £10; and the consequence would be that seamen would receive the £5 of the Admiralty in one hand and the £10 of the merchant in the other, and except the Admiralty laid on an embargo on merchant shipping they would sail away in ships. So long as merchant ships wont to sea, so long would the services of seamen be required in the mercantile navy; and it was therefore he considered that the offering of bounty would not have produced an additional hand, but would have caused great dissatisfaction amongst merchants. He had been surprised to hear the hon. and gallant Member for Bath say that Her Majesty's ships were badly manned and deficient in discipline.
§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
What I said was, that the Black Sea fleet was well manned, but that the Baltic was not.
§ SIR MAURICE BERKELEY
That was rather extraordinary, seeing that the ships in the Baltic consisted of the better part of the Black Sea fleet. He was further surprised to hear the hon. and gallant Member suggest that the men-of-war should be employed as transports. Why, it was well known to naval officers that nothing disarranged the affairs of a ship or interfered with the discipline of a man-of-war so much as when a raw ship's company was mixed up with a body of troops. Besides, in order to make room for troops on board a man-of-war, she must discharge half her crew, and so, he supposed, it was intended that ships should come home, land half their companies, and then return to fetch the troops and stores. He was quite sure that the freer men-of-war were kept from strangers, the better it would be both for the discipline and the comfort of the crews.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, that before making any remarks on the proposed Estimates, he wished to know whether 563 the right hon. Baronet had been correct in saying that the number of seamen and marines to be voted for the present year was greater than that voted the year before last, as he (Sir C. Napier) imagined there was a decrease?
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
replied, that the number of seamen, marines, and boys, voted in the year alluded to was 70,000, while the Vote for the present year was 76,000, an increase consequently, of 6,000.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he must congratulate the Government on the statement which he had heard from the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, that there was to be a sufficient fleet of gun-boats and mortar vessels for the Baltic during the present year, and he gave the Government the highest credit for making such preparations at last. Having said that, he wished to make a few observations respecting the Admiralty, although he knew very well it was quite useless for any naval officer in that House, or out of it, to criticise the conduct of the Admiralty or the construction of the Board. The moment such criticism was attempted, up started in defence—first, the First Lord, then the first naval Lord, then the Secretary, and so on through all the Members of the Board in that House. However, he would say, that it was impossible for the duties of the Admiralty to be well performed while one-half of the establishment was at Somerset House and the other half at Whitehall. When the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) reformed the Admiralty, it was, no doubt, his intention that the whole establishment should be at Somerset House, but he (Sir C. Napier) heard that it was the ladies of the department who objected to the transfer, as they considered Whitehall more fashionable and aristocratic than the Strand. Every one connected with the department, whether First Lord or the junior clerk, must know how impossible it was to carry on naval duties in separate buildings, and yet there was no reason why the inconvenience had not been remedied, only that the Board of Admiralty did not choose to do it. The surveyor of the navy was an officer of great importance, and he had to be telegraphed for from Whitehall to Somerset House four or five times a day, so that during the last five years the surveyor of the navy had positively lived in a cab—perhaps, not slept in it, but he was always riding backwards 564 and forwards from the one establishment to the other. One house had certainly been taken from a junior Lord, but it took five years to effect that change, and how much longer it would take to get possession of the other house for the public service it was impossible to say. Some very splendid buildings had recently been erected at Somerset House, but if the money which had been spent there had been applied to extend the Admiralty, the whole establishment could have been removed to the latter place, and room left at the former for the Inland Revenue and other departments. He might be told, as was sometimes said, that the foundations of the Admiralty were unsound, but was it not; possible to find an engineer who could drive in a few piles and make a foundation? He would take away the houses of the first Lord, and of the first sea Lord, and of the second sea Lord, and would, in addition, extend the Admiralty into the gardens behind, which would then afford sufficient room for the whole establishment. The right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) once proposed a reformation of the Admiralty, which the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood) said was opposed by the late Sir George Cockburn. That was true, and Sir George Clerk also opposed it, because they foresaw what had really taken place, that there would be no responsibility upon any one. According to the Act of Parliament, he believed there were only two persons who could legally sign at the Admiralty. But both the secretaries signed letters, two Lords signed letters, although the Act of Parliament prohibited it. He had received letters signed by the secretaries, by two Lords, and from a clerk named Prosy (a laugh); from Mr. Grant, the head of the Victualling Department; from Mr. Dundas, the head of the Stores Department; and he thought from others; all of which was contrary to the Act of Parliament, and ought to be prevented. There were at present six Lords of the Admiralty. The first Lord had the general surveillance of all departments. The senior naval Lord took charge of the ships and the surveyor's department. One Lord had charge of the Victualling Department nominally; another had charge of the stores and the medical department; while the civil Lord had charge of the Accountant General's Department. That excellent officer, the late Sir George Cockburn said, that each Lord was, to a certain degree, responsible for his department; but 565 it happened often that a commander-in-chief received letters of a contrary nature. If the Naval Department was to be properly constituted, the Controller of the Victualling Department should be responsible for his department, as should the Controller of Stores, the Accountant General, and others, for their respective departments. That would enable the country to dispense with three Lords of the Admiralty, and if a first Lord and two others were left to attend to the discipline of the fleet, they would have, in his opinion, the public service much better conducted. The First Lord of the Admiralty said on a former night, that nine-tenths of the matter referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Bath (Captain Scobell) had nothing to do with the navy, and instanced beef and pork, as if the navy was not fed upon beef and pork. Some Lords of the Admiralty, when first appointed, did not know a brig from a frigate, and the naval Lords were necessarily occupied in teaching them their duties; thus all that the heads of departments did was to sign papers, or the whole machine would stop. But the Board of Admiralty always told the House everything went on in beautiful order. Every First Lord of the Admiralty told the House of Commons that everything in the navy was carried on in the best manner possible. There was the right hon. Baronet the present First Lord praising himself. There was the right hon. Baronet, the late First Lord, who sat on the bench behind (Sir F. Baring) praising himself; but if you could get any of the officials at Somerset House to speak their minds, they would tell you that nothing could be more confused than the way in which matters were managed. They would tell you that under such a system, it was impossible that the business could be properly carried on. He expected there would be a stir after what he was saying. He saw the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty opposite taking notes; but it was his duty to tell the House the truth. Let any hon. Member, if he had a friend in Somerset House, ask him his opinion privately. He had himself met the previous day one of the gentlemen in a railway train who had been in Somerset House; and his exclamation was, "Thank God I can now speak the truth!" Sir George Cockburn's was a better plan than the one now followed. That gallant officer recommended—and he (Sir C. Napier) had also often recommended—that the Rear Admiral of 566 Great Britain, who held at present a sinecure appointment, should be placed at Somerset House at the head of the Victualling Department, that the whole correspondence of that department should pass though him, and that he should be entirely responsible for its conduct. At the head of the Store and Surveyor's Department should be placed the Vice Admiral of Great Britain, who also held a sinecure appointment, and who ought also to be entirely responsible for the management of those departments. Those he believed, were substantially the suggestions of Sir George Cockburn, and one great advantage would undoubtedly result if they were acted upon. Everybody knew how essential it was that the outports should be frequently visited. At present, when the Admiralty paid such a visit, it was nothing more than a party of pleasure, and the Board ran through the dockyards as fast as they possibly could, in a manner which was certainly not calculated to elicit accurate information as to what went on. Now, if the Rear Admiral of Great Britain were sent down to the out-ports, he would be senior in rank to all the Admirals in command there, and would go through the different offices, the victualling, the medical, and other departments, spending, perhaps, a week, or ten days, in each place; the Vice Admiral would do the same thing; it would not be necessary for them to drag down a whole Board with them, with a Secretary tacked on to their tail; and those persons would send for the various officers, and would enter into a thorough examination of each department inspected by them. Such a visit would be productive of real benefit, and would lead to much greater economy in that portion of the national expenditure. He had conversed frequently with people who had been Lords of the Admiralty, and though he could not allude to them by name, all seemed to agree that the Board, as at present constituted, was most inefficient. There were more complaints against the Board of Admiralty than all the other boards put together. Look at the way in which private ships and ship yards are managed. Our great shipowners had servants who thoroughly understood their business, and their whole system of management was far better than that of the Admiralty. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) had quoted the other night from a letter of his, published twenty-six years ago, when the right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) was at the head of the Admiralty, 567 in which he said that the welfare of the navy depended so much upon the manner in which it was administered, that we had only to refer to the discipline of our ships, and if they were found in a high state of efficiency—well built, well found, well officered and well manned—it might be surmised that the navy was conducted by just and experienced men. But the right hon. Gentleman should have quoted further. He went on to say that if, on the other hand, we saw a general relaxation of discipline, no emulation, no zeal, and the generality of ships in bad order or in no order at all, we might pronounce without hesitation that the Admiralty were unjust and partial in their selections for command, that promotions were conferred from political considerations, and that there was a total exclusion of meritorious old officers. He did not mean to say that the navy was in this condition now, and he acknowledged that the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) had done a great deal to improve it. Even now, however, its affairs were far from being administered as they ought to be, and there was not a Lord of the Admiralty who did not know that as well as he did. If he mistook not, the senior naval Lord, with whom he had often held conversation upon the subject, would agree with him upon that point. But he thought he had said enough about the Board of Admiralty. Not that he entertained the smallest hope that it would have any effect upon that House. Members of the Board would doubtless get up and say, as had been always said when the naval administration was impugned, "the navy was never better conducted than at the present moment." He was not prepared to deny that great improvements had taken place, but there were many defects yet to be remedied. Look, for instance, at the money wasted in building vessels which were afterwards unfit for use. Some time ago the Admiralty spent very large sums of money in building iron ships. Where were they now? All gone. Then the late Government built, he believed, six or seven iron floating batteries, which were to resist shot. 500,000l was spent upon that experiment and when the batteries were built, and found to resist thirty-two pound balls at 400 yards they were pronounced successful, but the moment sixty-eight pound shot was directed against them from the same distance they went to "shivereens," Let the House, however, only order the subject to be examined into by a Committee, and from the 568 cases that he could bring before them he should be infinitely surprised if they came to the conclusion that the management of the navy was satisfactory. With regard to the construction of the Board of Admiralty, he would propose to appoint a substitute for the First Lord, by placing at the head of the Admiralty a commander-in-chief of the fleet, with a captain of the fleet under him; and under them the Hear Admiral and Vice Admiral of Great Britain should act, receiving their orders whenever necessary. But if the Government should continue obstinate and refuse to adopt his plan, upon the notion that all naval officers were unfit to take the first station at such a Board, why, then, let them appoint the right hon. Baronet at the head of it, and if they pleased let them take two other Lords from the benches opposite, but let there be a certain number of naval Lords who should sit by themselves for strictly naval purposes. The First Lord of the Admiralty had stated several plans of improvement, some of which were certainly good, and others were had. In the first place there was the subject of the retired list. He had himself long ago proposed a plan, which was carried out by Sir Robert Peel's Government, and it was this—that when there were 100 officers above sixty years old on the top of the captains' list, they should be allowed to retire with the rank of rear admiral or a pay of £400 a year; and when there were more than 100 officers above the prescribed age, the latter should retire with the rank of captain on the same pay. After Government had done this, several officers accepted and went on the retired list. In old times, when a new First Lord came in, he made out a new list, and many admirals had to be passed over, which was the cause of great discontent, as he well knew, for his own father was among the number. The Duke of Clarence when Lord High Admiral had felt the cruelty of that proceeding, and took several men who had retired against their will and placed them once more on the active list. Well, then came another First Lord of the Admiralty, and by him all those who had been restored from the retired list were taken off, and again put on the retired list. If the Government had followed the system he recommended no man would have gone off the list without his own consent. But there was another plan which he had proposed, and which he thought better in all 569 respects, both for the individuals and for the service itself. There were a great many admirals on the list who were too old for service. Now, his plan would be to do away with all distinctions between vice admirals and rear admirals, and to call them, all alike, admirals, and pay them £500 a year; and when the Admiralty wished to employ an admiral they could select whomever they pleased, and from whatever rank they pleased; that plan might be easily accomplished without costing the country any money whatever. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had made an alteration in the pay of the captains. That was a suggestion of Sir George Cockburn's, and he was glad it was carried out. There was an improvement also in the treatment of the masters, but still there was not sufficient encouragement to that valuable class of officers. If a master should perform a gallant action, it is true he may be made a lieutenant, but he does not take rank according to seniority. Now he (Sir C. Napier) thought that if a master had performed a gallant action he ought to be made commander. The master was a most important officer, always on the spot when the ship was in danger, and he should be properly estimated. Then there was another matter of complaint—though the navy was never better carried on—which was the difficulty sailors had in getting their dues. There would be fifty or sixty sailors at a time waiting in the hall of the Admiralty to get their dues, for hours at a time. Then there were the dockyards, where there was jobbery on all sides. The Members for the borough were expected to obtain all sorts of appointments. He had recommended the appointment of a superintendent, which he was glad to find was now done. He was glad to see, too, that an increase of pay was given to boys. That was a matter of great importance—men had to be drilled, and do not come out of a ship without costing £60, and virtually cost a great deal more than the expense of lads on board the apprentice ships. If men were well treated, they always preferred the Royal Service to the merchant service. He found in his experience that the men were greatly influenced by a bounty—they consider it as prize money. At present they sent men to be fitted out at the slop-shops, but sailors did not like slop-shops, they liked to buy their own clothes—they liked to be like the old sailors, and get their clothing warm and comfortable. 570 If the war continued, the sailors would not be content without bounty, now they knew that the soldiers got it. It had been said that it would be better to increase their pay—that they drank away their bounty money; but at present when they came on shore they receive gratuities, and they were much more likely to drink gratuity money than bounty money, with which they would buy clothes. He always considered gratuity money a very bad plan. He gave credit to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord for what he had done, and hoped he would persevere. The First Lord had told them that promotions were not given by political influence. If so, it was a most extraordinary thing, and he believed he could give a few instances to the contrary. He hoped in tracing these plans he had said nothing which could offend any one. He saw hon. Gentlemen opposite taking notes; he had endeavoured, and trusted that he had not alluded to them in any terms which he ought not to have used, and if he had spoken loudly it was only because, in that House, people must speak loudly if they wanted to be heard.
SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, the hon. and gallant Admiral had, in the course of his remarks, alluded to the system of retirements in the navy; and as it was a plan which he (Sir F. Baring) had had to carry out when at the head of the Board of Admiralty, and thought that those who discussed it had taken an unjust view of it, he trusted the Committee would allow him to explain the real grounds of that arrangement. In the first place, let them consider what was the state of the admirals' list which he had had to deal with. It was a matter which no one who had ever attended to the naval affairs of the country, or held a responsible office at the Admiralty, could have looked into but with the most uncomfortable feelings. It was no fault of gallant officers that they grew old; but unfortunately it came to pass that from year to year the average of their age increased, and promised to leave the country ultimately with scarcely an admiral under seventy years of age. His memory did not then serve him to mention what the exact average of their age was when the arrangement was considered. It was such as might pass muster in times of peace, but for active service and in a state of war it threatened to become a serious inconvenience. He must contend that they could have taken no steps—that they could have done nothing effective to remedy the 571 evil, that would not have grated upon the feelings of many gallant officers. Well, he had to carry the plan through, and he hoped that no word dropped from him when he proposed it which threw the slightest imputation upon those gallant officers who were then removed from the active list. Let the Committee look for a moment at the history of promotions to the rank of admiral. In olden times the Crown exercised the power of promoting to the admirals' list, and when they came to the promotion of admirals by the will of the Crown, as represented by the Admiralty, those officers were set aside who were thought unfit for active service. That was done to a considerable extent, and naturally enough it produced the greatest dissatisfaction. But let it not be supposed that that dissatisfaction was created by the power being exercised by civilians sitting at the Navy Board. For example, there was the celebrated case of Lord Howe. He exercised that power, and set aside a large number of admirals, stating that they were inefficient. What took place? The cases were brought before the House of Commons, and canvassed there; and Lord Howe and those who defended him found themselves in the position of being obliged to prove that those officers were unfit. Then followed considerable discussion upon that point; that it was quite true A., who had been set aside, was unfit, but that B., who had been left, was still more unfit. Well, such discussions were, of course, most painful to the officers personally, and also highly inconvenient to the public service. The Duke of Clarence, then at the head of the Board of Admiralty, altered the rule. He gave up the right of the Crown to promote admirals—a power which had been resumed by the Crown subsequently. At the same time he placed upon the retired list those officers who had not served a certain number of years in active service whilst captains; and that arrangement was the same that was now in force. That regulation was carried into effect by Order in Council. Now, they were told that civilians were utterly incompetent, and did not consider the service of the navy or the feelings of its officers; but be it remembered that the Duke of Clarence was himself a naval officer; that at the time he was at the Navy Board Sir George Cockburn was also there; and that if there were any blame whatever, if there were anything harsh or grating upon the 572 feelings of officers, by the arrangement then made, that arrangement was made by a Board which was especially a Naval Board, with a Prince of the blood, who had received a naval education, at its head. After the Duke of Clarence quitted the Board the names were replaced, and several plans were tried with the view of improving the list; but, unfortunately, it was found, when the question came before the House of Commons, that, notwithstanding all the efforts that had been made, the list was still, he would not say inefficient, but not such as an active list ought to be. The Committee would recollect that a Committee had been appointed, and that that Committee, so strong was the feeling on the subject, had divided against the Government. He (Sir F. Baring) was a Member of the Committee; but he thought the matter had best been left to the Government. Her Majesty's Government, however, was beaten, and the Committee therefore, forced the scheme on them. It was not, under these circumstances, the scheme of a civil Lord of the Admiralty; it was forced on the Government of the day by the Committee. But what were really the facts? By the old plan—the plan to which it was proposed to return—officers who had not served for a certain number of years, were still continued on the active list; they had no increase of pay, and, by the practice of the service, had no employment, and were what was technically called "dotted admirals," stopping the way for other and younger men, and preventing the active list from containing the number of able seamen that it ought to contain. It was, he (Sir F. Baring) admitted, painful enough to him to adopt the recommendation of the Committee, as he had to bear all the brunt of it; but he believed it was the only thing to be effected, after long and anxious consideration. Since that time the admiral's list had been gradually improving. When he took office, the last admiral promoted had been thirty-seven years a captain; he believed that now the junior admiral had been a captain of twenty-four years' standing; such was the improvement in the promotion. The hon. and gallant Admiral opposite had said, "You will not employ men, and then you place them on the retired list." He (Sir F. Baring) admitted it was a hard case in several instances; but it was impossible after a long war to arrange appointments in the service so as to employ all persons 573 who were fitted for employment. But, on the other hand, if he was told that it was political influence which placed admirals on the retired list, he would ask the Committee to look at the fact; there were one Duke, four Earls, two Barons, three Honourables, four Baronets, besides Members of Parliament and men of good family on the retired list, and he would put it to the Committee whether, if political influence had any effect, or if things were given through interest, these officers would be neglected. Some friends of his own were among the number, and he thought he was quite right in placing them on the retired list, as they had declined, from various motives, to enter active service. He (Sir F. Baring), under these circumstances, implored the Committee not to run back into the old evil of having again such a list of admirals as that at times the Government would not be able to rely upon them for the performance of their duty—not from want of skill or inclination, but from advanced age and from being so long ashore. There had been various schemes proposed—among them a scheme of age, namely, to remove all officers above seventy; but he believed that would give most offence of all others, while it would remove from the service some of its most gallant and active officers. The same offence would be given if a scheme as regarded health were adopted. He (Sir F. Baring) believed the existing plan to be the best that had hitherto been devised for the purpose; but if a better one should be discovered he would have no objection whatever to a change in it. Until then, however, he trusted it would be adhered to. Before he sat down he might allude to an allegation made by the gallant Captain on a former occasion, and repeated by the gallant Admiral opposite that night. They had declared that the promotions of the First Lord of the Admiralty were systematically given away for political purposes or from favouritism. But he trusted that the House would not give entire credence to these charges. He did not believe them to be correct. His right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty had, on his part, denied them most emphatically. It was disagreeable to speak of himself, but if he did not take notice of the charge when on his legs, his silence might be misinterpreted, and he therefore must declare, so far as he was concerned, his promotions were not given away for political purposes, and his endeavour was to promote for the good of the service.
§ MR. H. BAILLIE
said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he would lay all the papers connected with the movements of Admiral Stirling in the China Seas before the House? Captain Whittingham had already published a statement on the subject, to the effect that Admiral Stirling joined Captain Elliot with the flag ship and other vessels, forming an overwhelming force, for those seas, on the 7th of June; that that squadron remained off De Castries Bay until the 27th of June, exactly twenty days; that on the 27th of June they received orders to sail for the south; that during those twenty days they bad never attempted to search for the Russian squadron; and that they had afterwards learned of a Russian prisoner that as late as the 27th of June one-half the vessels of the Russian squadron had got through a passage which had not been reconnoitred by Admiral Stirling.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that before answering the question of the hon. Member, he would wish to say a few words on other matters which had been brought forward in the course of the discussion. He trusted that his hon. and gallant Friend behind him (Captain Scobell) was convinced that the letter to which he had alluded was not written by him, but was written years ago, and addressed to the right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham). The hon. and gallant officer had likewise complained that a sufficient number of boys were not employed in the navy. If he had looked into the Estimates, he would have seen that during the past year the number of boys had been increased by 2,010. With regard to the hon. and gallant officer opposite (Sir C. Napier) he had stated several assertions which would not bear examination, and quoted from himself (Sir C. Wood) certain expressions respecting which he could only say that if the hon. and gallant officer's other authorities were not better, they would not be worth much. As regarded the offices of the Admiralty being divided between Whitehall and Somerset House, a Committee had sat in 1850, and that Committee had decided that it was necessary for the business of the country that the senior naval Lord and the secretary should have houses at Whitehall as well as the First Lord. The hon. and gallant officer had also objected to slops for the seamen, but a Committee of petty officers and seamen had sat on board the flag-ship and 575 chosen, without reference to price, that which they considered best, and their choice was that which had been adopted.
§ LORD HOTHAM
said, he would not offer any opposition to any portion of the Estimates; but with reference to the alteration in the appointments to dockyards, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to assure the Committee that the admirals and captains superintendent, to whom those points had been abandoned by the Government, for the purpose, he (Lord Hotham) apprehended, of getting rid of all political feeling, would in their instructions have it made a point of honour as well as a matter of duty to abstain in like manner as the Government from making their appointments from political considerations. If that was done the Admiralty would render a great service to the country, and obviate a fertile source of complaint and recrimination at every recurring election for dockyard boroughs.
said, he hoped the present absurd system of placing a man at the head of a most important department of the State, like the Admiralty, whose antecedents and education unfitted him for the office, would soon be abandoned. It was a grievous as well as an absurd anomaly to place a civilian at the head of the Board of Admiralty. If reasons were adduced to supersede the arguments on that head, he (Mr. Bentinck) would give it up; but, until then, the practice was an anomaly so gross that it was in vain to refer to other abuses at the Admiralty while it existed.
In reply to Mr. H. BAILLIE'S question, as to whether the dispatches relating to the squadron under Admiral Stirling would be laid before Parliament,
§ Vote agreed to; as were also the following Votes—
- (2.) 76,000 Men, for three months.
- (3.) £2,000,000, Wages, on account.
- (4.) £1,000,000, Victuals, on account.
- (5.) £138,399, Admiralty Office.
- (6.) £20,000, Royal Naval Coast Volunteers.
- (7.) £58,982, Scientific Departments.
- (8.) £153,795, Naval Establishments, at Home.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to what he considered to be the unfair distribution of public expenditure as between England and Ireland, and to the continued neglect 576 by the Government of the great resources of Cork, which peculiarly fitted it for a naval station and dockyard for the building and repairing of vessels. The hon. Member said that, although England and Ireland were said to be an united nation, that oneness consisted in unity of taxation, but was not so plain and palpable in any other respect. When the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gladstone) sought to impose the income tax on Ireland, and the friends of Ireland represented her inability to bear that additional burden, owing to the fearful ordeal she had just passed through, it was answered that, if we consented to bear the same burdens as England, and to contribute our due proportion to the national exchequer, we should have a perfect right to a fair share of the public expenditure. The income tax was imposed, and in 1854 produced nearly £600,000, in all probability would produce £600,000 this year, and would shortly reach £1,000,000. But not one of the promises then held out to quiet Irish Members had been performed. On a former occasion, when this question was raised by Mr. Serjeant Murphy, the right hon. Member for Portsmouth, the then First Lord of the Admiralty, stated that the establishment of a steam factory at Cork, however convenient it might be for the mercantile marine, was not required for the navy. He (Mr. Maguire) contended, however, that the naval service required the maintenance of an efficient establishment, at Cork, where there actually did not exist at present the means of soldering a tin kettle. It was not long since the Atlantic, having come in with a broken shaft, had to be towed across to Liverpool, because there was no means of repairing it in Cork Harbour. That, to be sure, was a merchant vessel; but a few days since, one of Her Majesty's steam sloops on the station had come into Cork Harbour, crippled in the same manner; and she too was obliged to be patched up, and sent across to England for repairs, because there were no facilities in Haulbowline, although it was the depth of winter. How, too, had this great naval station been upheld for years? After a great deal of remonstrance and complaint an Admiral was restored to Cork Harbour; but he hoisted his flag in a "jackass" frigate; and although for a short time the harbour was honoured by the presence of the Ajax, a really fine ship, yet at present it rejoiced in the 577 Conway, which, if not quite a "jackass," was certainly not beyond a "mule." The Admiral had at his disposal a small brig for the instruction of boys, a pleasure yacht, and perhaps a small steamer. If a vessel were in distress on the coast, the Admiral had not the means of sending her assistance; in fact, there was not under the British flag a more helpless officer than the Admiral on the Cork station. The hon. Member proceeded to say; I now come to the Estimates before the Committee, and I will show how fairly Ireland is dealt with. I may say, for myself, that I offer no opposition to any Estimate, and that, as an humble Member of the House, I have always lent every assistance to the Government to get all they demanded for the public service, leaving the responsibility of the proper or the improper use of those resources to them. The right hon. Gentleman now asks the Committee, amongst other items, for a sum of £3,663,000, for naval establishments at home and abroad—for wages at home and abroad—for new works and repairs at home and abroad—and for works done by contract, such as steam vessels, gun boats, &c. I ask English Gentlemen how much of that large expenditure of the public money do they suppose is to be expended in Ireland? Would they say £500,000?—or £100,000? Nothing of the kind—only £4,500! Is this fair, or just, or honest? Is it a proof of the existence of that Union of which we hear so much when we are called on to make sacrifices? Talk of Irish reciprocity—why it is English reciprocity with a vengeance. This is just the same game which has been played with Ireland since the Union— "Head I win, harp you lose." I pronounce it to be gross and monstrous unfairness. Let me glance at some of those items a little in detail. Under the head of naval establishments at home, you asked for a sum of £153,795. Of this sum there are just £1,226 for Haulbowline, as a victualling department. £36,494 are asked for the same establishments abroad. I now come to a large item, "wages to artificers, labourers, and others employed in Her Majesty's establishments at home." This, including £167,500 for steam factories, and other expenses, amounts to £1,190,000; and of this there is £675 for Haulbowline—in other words, for all Ireland. So that, for staff and wages, the Estimate proposed is exactly—for I have totted the items up—£1,490,511. Of 578 this, there is a total of £1,901 for Ireland. I then come to a most important item, under the head of "new works, improvements, and repairs." It amounts to £864,332; and of this vast sum there is asked for Ireland just £2,463. The details of this munificent Irish expenditure are worth noticing. There is £446 for a roof over the coal yard, £993 for dredging and building a wall, and £1,024 for "ordinary and particular repairs and painting." The first item is asked for, because it is convenient to the service—because the largest vessel in the navy may lie along side Haulbowline and take in her coal. I saw one of the largest ships in the American navy lie along side, in the famine year, and when that noble ship was crammed with food for a starving people. As to the last item, it is absolutely necessary in order to keep the works and stores from rotting away. There is one other Vote to which I shall allude, and I think it puts the disregard of the claims of Ireland in a still stronger light. For the purchase and repair of steam machinery, and for steam vessels building by contract, the demand is £1,300,000. Here is the Government seeking extraneous aid, in order to meet the requirements of the public service, the resources of her own dockyards and factories being insufficient for the purpose; and yet there is no attempt to render the capabilities of a great Irish port—one of the finest and safest in the British dominions, available in an emergency of the kind. Of this I hold Ireland has a just right to complain, and I do most earnestly protest against it. If the Motion made in 1851 had been successful—if the promises so often made had been held sacred—the Government would have less reason at this moment to seek for aid from private dockyards. I contend that Ireland has as fair a right to a fair share of the advantages of this expenditure as Enggland, and that Cork has as just a claim as any dockyard in England. I do not stand here as a beggar, to ask for alms; I stand here to demand a right. I do not petition for assistance to any private enterprise; I simply claim a share of a public expenditure. And I might add that if Irish Members would only take my advice, and act on my plan, they would very soon bring the most indifferent Secretary, or the most supercilious Premier to fair terms. I assert that Ireland is entitled to every consideration from England. She gives sailors to her fleet and 579 soldiers to her army; she fights her battles and upholds her empire, and if she bore the brunt of danger, as she undoubtedly did, she had a right to justice and fair play. This continued refusal of justice was a gross violation of the promises of the Union; for amongst other inducements held out at the time was that of making Cork not only a naval station, but a naval dockyard, such as Portsmouth, Plymouth, or any other English naval port. But there were four steam factories now in England, and not one in Ireland; seven naval dockyards in England, and not one in Ireland; seven or eight complete naval stations in England, and in Ireland only one—and that one a mockery to the service, and an insult to the national pride. The hon. and gallant Member for Bath (Captain Scobell) felt peculiarly sensitive about the names given to the vessels of war, such as Clinker, Thumper, and such others; but I am not so sensitive, and provided I see a respectable flag ship and an effective force of vessels on the Cork station, I do not care whether they be Clinkers or Thumpers, or even Puss-in-Boots—so we have the substantial justice, I would be quite satisfied. The First Lord had stated that with all the efforts the Admiralty had made with respect to providing sufficient steam vessels and machinery, they had still fallen short—that with all the costly expansions of the existing factories, still they could not do all they required. If so, surely this was a conclusive reason why a factory should have been erected in Haulbowline. In stating what he had done, the right hon. Gentleman had made out the strongest case for Ireland; and I hope therefore that he will at length consent to consider the capabilities as well as the just requirements of Cork Harbour. There was another matter respecting which complaint had been made, that of not allowing the Admiral to remain a sufficient time in the port. It was the practice to remove him before he thoroughly understood the resources of the harbour, and could exercise such an influence as experience creates. But this is a minor matter when compared to the neglect of which not I, but the public of the south of Ireland, have a right to complain. I will mention two facts which, to my mind, display in a striking manner the character and importance of this neglected port. In the month either of December or January, a violent gale prevailed, and in some 580 twenty-four or thirty hours as many as 350 vessels of every class and every nation, sought refuge in Cork Harbour. The other fact is this—in the autumn of the year 1853, the late First Lord of the Admiralty with the other Lords of the Admiralty, visited Cork Harbour. Soon after his arrival the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) laid the foundation stone of the Admiralty pier; and at the very moment that the gun which proclaimed the ceremonial sounded over the waters, which was at dead low tide, one of the largest and deepest vessels in the navy was entering the harbour. Even unprofessional men can appreciate the importance of a harbour into which the largest vessel afloat may safely enter at all hours and at all states of the tide. The vessel which then entered at dead low water was the St. Jean D'Acre, a vessel that draws as deep a draught of water as any vessel in the navy. And, I ask, why is a harbour of this description to be systematically neglected?—more than that, why is Ireland to be denied every advantage which was promised at the time of the Union, now in the fifty-sixth year of its existence? A glance at the records of the two last years would show what sacrifices Ireland had made, by land and by sea—what strength she had added to the army and navy of England—and how whenever, in the most terrible struggles of the Crimean campaign, an Englishman bled an Irishman bled also. Her fine militia had furnished thousands of brave men to the line, and was still continuing to do so. She has given her men and her money and her blood to England; and on her part I demand that which she has been hitherto denied—simple justice. I am fully aware that nothing can be done at once by the right hon. Gentleman, or his colleagues, in office; but I do call on him to hold out hope which I trust may not be afterwards falsified, that within the next twelve months something will be done, by which Ireland may receive at least one practical illustration that the Union is a reality, and not a sham.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he should decline to follow the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Maguire) into a long discussion about the Union with Ireland, or about the comparative revenues and expenditure of Ireland and England, which were matters not much to the purpose. The hon. Gentleman and himself would start with very different notions as to the objects for which this naval 581 expenditure was to be incurred. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the great object of the expenditure of public money was not the public service, but its distribution to different parts of the kingdom. Now, he (Sir C. Wood) happened to live in the north of England, and there was no dockyard in the north of England; but it certainly never occurred to him to think that Yorkshire and Lancashire were ill treated because there was no dockyard on the coast of either county. If the hon. Gentleman did not go to the length of asserting as the principle upon which this expenditure was to be justified, that it should be equally distributed all over the country, there was not much in his argument; but if he meant to lay down such a principle as that, it could not be admitted for a moment. He (Sir C. Wood) really did not think that to adopt such a principle as that would be to consult the real advantage of Ireland itself, which must be regarded together with that of the whole of the country. What the Government had to decide was, where it would be most convenient for the service that the dockyards should be erected. Some dockyards were established abroad, in the West Indies or in the East Indies, because it seemed to be most convenient, on the whole, to have places where ships might be repaired there. He certainly thought it would be much wiser to apply a large portion of the expenditure to complete the existing dockyards than to begin new establishments, at a time like this, which must for some time be imperfect, either at Cork or elsewhere in Ireland, or in the Humber, or in the Mersey, or in Scotland, or anywhere else in the United Kingdom. He could assure the hon. Member that he was far from underrating either the beauty or the convenience of Cork Harbour. He had recently visited it for the first time; but he thought the hon. Gentleman must be a little mistaken about the vessel which he had mentioned. He was not at all aware that she arrived with broken shafts in Cork Harbour, or that there was any difficulty in getting her safe home. It was always the intention of the Admiralty, as soon as the vessels came home from the Baltic, that when they were repaired they should be dispersed to different parts of the United Kingdom for the purpose of raising men. That had been done, and at the present moment there was a ship of the line at Dublin, two ships of the line and a frigate at 582 Cork, and a steamer at Waterford. He hoped they would succeed in raising men; but although he would gladly bear testimony to the number of recruits raised in Ireland for the army, he could not say an equal proportion of Irish recruits were raised for the navy. With regard to the removal of the Admiral, the good people of Cork perhaps thought they could teach the Admiralty their duty on such a matter; but he (Sir C. Wood) trusted that he should on all occasions be found to do his duty fairly and properly, looking only to that which he believed to be most conducive to the service, and most advantageous for the whole country.
said, he thought the hon. Member for Dungarvon (Mr. Maguire) was rather unreasonable in expecting any change in the system usually pursued towards Ireland by the British Parliament. The hon. Gentleman might, no doubt, easily obtain a Commission to inquire into the capabilities of the harbour of Cork, but he would not take much by his Motion. Had he forgotten that the Commission appointed to select the best harbour on the west coast of Ireland fixed upon Holyhead? England had recently been in difficulty, but Ireland had not made the the war her opportunity. Perhaps at some future time she would be in a position to bring her claims more strongly before the House. He contended that the Legislature had no right to tax Ireland, except for her own benefit. The taxes collected in England found their way back to the pockets of the people by means of the Government expenditure, but those raised in Ireland were entirely withdrawn from the country, and then the Irish were reproached for their poverty.
§ MR. JOHN M'GREGOR
said, he had listened with great satisfaction to the opening statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty, than whom no Minister of State had ever been more anxious to do what he considered right and just. Until the present unhappy war was brought to a termination—he hoped an honourable one—no great change could be expected to be made in our administrative system. He might be permitted to say, however, that great injustice had been done and great folly committed by the Admiralty in not taking advantage of Cork Harbour. He examined that harbour many years ago, and was able to pronounce it admirably adapted for naval purposes. In the last war Cork was the great rendezvous of 583 our commercial fleets when waiting for convoy; but now, with the miserable exception of Spike Island, there was not a Government establishment there, and the sum of £250 a year was all that was laid out on one of the finest harbours in the world. A much larger sum had been expended on a wretched harbour in the island of Jersey.
§ In reply to the First Lord of the Admiralty,
§ MR. MAGUIRE
I do not intend to propose any substantive motion, for it would be idle; but I must say a word or two in reply to the right hon. Baronet, whose answer to my proposition was one of the most flimsy and fallacious I ever heard uttered, especially to a demand based on reason and justice. The right hon. Gentleman said that, because there was no naval dockyard in that part of the country in which he resided, Ireland had no right to complain of not having one. But my complaint is this, that while there are seven dockyards in England, there is not a single one in Ireland; that while there are four steam factories in England there is not one in Ireland. Then the right hon. Baronet talks of the most convenient place, which he says Cork is not. This I deny, and I venture to say, so would dispassionate naval men. At any rate, a steam factory at Cork would be convenient for the repair of ships driven into the harbour in distress, not to say for ships intended for that very station. Then the First Lord, sitting at his desk in Whitehall, may communicate in one minute with the Admiral at Queenstown; so that inconvenience, so far as it may arise from want of direct and immediate communication, has been put an end to by the electric telegraph. The right hon. Gentleman rather sneers at Ireland, and hopes that her contribution to the navy will be larger than it was. Now, I tell the First Lord a fact—that no less a sum than £300,000 a year is annually paid, at Haulbowline and the Custom House at Cork, to the wives and families of sailors serving on board Her Majesty's fleet—so that that part of the country which suffers most from neglect has the strongest claims on the consideration of the Admiralty. It would be quite as well if the Admiralty would be advised by somebody; for if they had taken advice, and sent a proper number of gun and mortar boats to the Baltic, there would not have been two fruitless expeditions to deplore, and England would not be going out of the war, with the 584 prestige of France so high as it is, and her own next to destroyed.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he objected to the sums included in the Estimates as "allowances to Roman Catholic chaplains." He regretted that he had not been present when the First Lord of the Admiralty made his statement, that he might have learnt upon what ground he justified the proposition.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that the item was a new one, which he was fully prepared to defend, and he had before stated his reasons for including it in the Vote. There was a great number of Roman Catholic sailors in the fleet, and although divine service was performed every Sunday in all Her Majesty's ships according to the rites of the Church of England, the Roman Catholic sailors were not required to attend such service. He thought it was most desirable that all sailors engaged in the fleet should have the opportunity of attending on the Sunday the service of the religious body to which they might be attached, but at the same time it was not advisable to land them in a town, and turn them loose there to seek their several places of worship. He remembered that when Sir William Parker commanded the Mediterranean fleet, he allowed the Roman Catholic sailors to; land at Malta in order to attend divine; worship, and he found that the number of Roman Catholics in the fleet increased immediately to an amazing extent, but when measures were taken to compel the men who landed to attend service the numbers at once fell off. He (Sir C. Wood) had directed that temporary fittings should be placed in some of the ships in ordinary at the principal naval stations, and that the Roman Catholic officers and seamen should be allowed to attend divine service according to the rites of their Church every Sunday on board those ships. It could not of course be expected that Roman Catholic clergymen should officiate on such occasions without some remuneration, and the sums included in the Vote were proposed for their payment. He had been informed that yesterday, at Sheerness, two officers and fifty-nine seamen attended the Roman Catholic service; at Portsmouth, 120 officers and men were present; and the average attendance at Devonport was upwards of twenty officers and nearly 200 seamen. He hoped, therefore, that the Committee would assent to the Vote.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he very much objected 585 to any such Vote. He would not trouble the Committee to divide, as he was not aware, till the Estimate was put into his hand, that such a Vote was to be taken. But the question involved a great principle, and was not a mere question of expediency. That principle was that this was essentially a Protestant country, and that the Sovereign was bound by oath to maintain the Protestant religion. He was decidedly opposed to the principle of supporting the Roman Catholic faith by grants of money. The present Vote was no more to be justified than the grant to Maynooth. He must content himself on the present occasion with protesting against it, as it had come upon him by surprise.
§ MR. M'CANN
said, he wished to know whether the hon. Member for North Warwickshire objected to have the country defended by Roman Catholic soldiers and sailors, or whether he thought Her Majesty was in any way injured by their services? Did the hon. Gentleman think that the Roman Catholic sailors demanded anything from their country in this case to which they had not as good a right as their Protestant fellow countrymen who joined them in defending their common country against its enemies?
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he did not believe that any injury was done by doing their duty to their Sovereign. He felt proud of the services which had been rendered to the country by Irish and Roman Catholic sailors and soldiers, and his sense of those services was not diminished when he discharged what he thought a duty to his Sovereign in objecting to the Vote. If the hon. Member thought that the Roman Catholic religion ought to become part of the established religion of this country, let him take the sense of the Committee upon that point. The question involved in the Vote was, whether the Sovereign was bound to support other churches besides the Established Church of the country? Dissenters had an equal claim with Roman Catholics in such matters, and numbers did not at all affect the question. The real point was, whether they were bound to support all sects, more especially that sect to prevent the domination of which the family of the present Sovereign had been called to the Throne?
said, he thought it desirable that the Committee should avoid religious discussions. He was far from undervaluing the services of Roman Catholics or from questioning their patriotism, 586 gallantry, or loyalty. On the contrary, he was ready to acknowledge that, in those respects, they were quite equal, though he would not say superior, to their Protestant fellow subjects. He rose principally to remark that there were other nonconformists besides Roman Catholics, and he should not have objected to the Vote if it had been extended to all sects.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, he begged to ask if the right hon. Gentleman, having departed from the principle formerly acted upon, would have any objection to extend the system now in operation, and give an allowance to Presbyterians?
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he had no objection, but there was this difference between Roman Catholics and Presbyterians—the latter did not object to attend on the services of the Church of England, whereas the former did, and that rendered a grant in the present case necessary.
§ MR. VANCE
said, he wished to know how far this innovation was to go? A Roman Catholic priest was to be paid for performing services to Roman Catholic sailors in port. Were we to go further, and have a priest on board when vessels were afloat? The Vote was a dangerous innovation, and they ought to know where it was meant to stop.
informed the hon. Gentleman that it was not competent for a Member of the House to propose any addition to the Estimates.
§ Vote agreed to; as were also the following Votes:—
- (9.) £36,494, Naval Establishments abroad.
- (10.) £1,190,309, Wages to Artificers, &c. at Home.
- (11.) £109,913, Wages to Artificers, &c. Abroad.
- (12.) £3,000,000, Naval Stores, on Account.
- (13.) £864,334, New Works, &c.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he objected to the amount of the Vote for Keyham, and wished to know how much more would be required?
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, at one time he had shared in the opinion of the hon. Member as to the expenditure for Keyham, but he had seen reason to change his opinion, and now believed that the establishment at Keyham would be most useful, and the completest establishment 587 of the kind that ever existed in the country. He believed that at one time the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) had also doubts as to the necessity of the expenditure, but that he was now of a different opinion.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he wished to observe upon this Vote that he did not think enough was being done to provide docks and basins for large steamers. If the war continued, the wear and tear would be very great, and we should want much more room than we had at present.
said, he took some credit to himself for the progress made in the works, and fully concurred in the opinion of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir C. Wood).
§ Vote agreed to; as were also the two following:—
- (14.) £65,000, Medicines on Account.
- (15.) £88,972, Miscellaneous Services.
- (16.) £655,421, Half-pay.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he wished to know why there was included in the Estimate a charge of three guineas a day for the salary of an Admiral of the Fleet when there was no such officer to receive it?
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that if there were not an Admiral of the Fleet at the present time to receive the salary the amount would be paid into the Exchequer. It was, in his opinion, desirable that the office of Admiral of the Fleet should be maintained as a reward for distinguished service.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he wished to ask how it came to pass that while in the year 1853 there were only 254 admirals unemployed, there were at the present moment 296 in a similar position?
§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
said, he thought it was rather hard upon the senior admirals that an Admiral of the Fleet was not appointed. There were several field-marshals.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that there was no increase in the number of admirals on the active list. They still remained at the number of ninety-nine. The increase in the reserve list was owing to the number of captains, who, having attained a certain standing, instead of going to the top of the captains' list, went on the reserved list as an admiral. When placed on the reserved list they might rise in rank, but acquired no increase of pay. Their numbers must, as a matter of course, fluctuate from year to year.
§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
said, he wished to point out what he conceived to be an anomaly. A captain of three years' standing ranked with a colonel; a captain under three years' standing, with a lieutenant colonel. The half-pay of a captain of three years' standing was 14s. 6d. a day, but a colonel received 17s. The half-pay of a captain under three years' standing was 10s. 6d. a day, but a lieutenant colonel received 13s. 11d. a day.
§ SIR CHALES NAPIER
said, he wished to know what harm would have been done by allowing all the admirals to remain on the same list, without wounding their feelings by having two lists? The Admiralty would still have had the power to select any officer they pleased for any command; and on their coming ashore they might have gone on half-pay at their real rank. The Government would thus have saved money; while they would not have wounded the feelings of deserving officers.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he must complain of the increase in the reserved and retired lists. In 1853 the reserved list was fifty-five; in the present Vote it was eighty-one. In 1853 the retired list was 113; in the present Vote it was 133. He understood that when an admiral died all the others in the three ranks were raised, and the post captain, the oldest on the list, took the rank of rear admiral. If that were acted upon, there ought to be no increase of admirals, but a great diminution of post captains, and he did not find that decrease in proportion to the increase of admirals.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, the retired list was fixed at 200. A certain portion of the retired rear admirals received 25s. a day. There were now twenty-nine of that class, but they would shortly be reduced to twenty-five. A certain number were retired rear admirals and captains, who either received £1 or 18s. a day. Any captain fifty-five years old, and of ten years' standing on the list, might voluntarily accept that retirement. It was offered in turn to every one. The number now happened to be 198, as there had been recently two vacancies, but the number fixed was 200, and that number was never exceeded. The number of officers on the reserved list was not fixed, and might vary. For example, last January the first two names on the list of captains were the hon. J. G. Cavendish and Charles Talbot. There was a vacancy on the active list of admirals. The gentleman with the aristocratic 589 name, the hon. J. G. Cavendish, had not served his time, and he went over to the reserved list. Captain Talbot had served his time, and he went on the active list. But if there had been three or four captains together who had not served their time, they must all have gone over to the reserved list till they came to an officer who had served his time, and thus the number on the reserved list varied.
SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, he did not think there was much force in the objection that, under the present system, an old officer might be put on the active list, and that a young officer might be placed upon the reserved list. If the Admiralty promoted young officers who had not served for their flags, and placed them on the active list, they would be considered dotted admirals, and would never be called into service.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
said, the House should be made aware that the difference between the circumstances of the reserved and retired lists consists in this important fact—that officers are placed, by their own consent and option, on the retired list; while officers on the reserved list have refused retirement, being ardently desirous for further service in their profession.
§ Vote agreed to; as were also the following Votes.
- (17.) £494,363, Military Pensions.
- (18.) £147,685, Civil Pensions.
- (19.) £6,000,000, Transport Service, &c., on account.
- (20.) £756,487, Packet Service.
§ SIR ERSKINE PERRY
said, that the Government had denuded themselves of a great amount of dockyard patronage, and that as it was to be hoped this was to be a permanent arrangement, be begged to suggest whether it might not be embodied in an Order in Council, to prevent future Governments from returning to the former objectionable system.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that when he held the office of Secretary to the Admiralty, twenty years ago, the patronage of the dockyards was so jobbed by the superintendents that the Admiralty took it away from them. The superintendents now faithfully and honourably performed their duties, and the Admiralty had given them the patronage again. But they would be responsible to the Admiralty, and he intended, so long as he was at the Admiralty, to hold the superintendents of the dockyards strictly responsible for the honest, conscientious, and faithful performance of their duty. He had no intention 590 of taking the patronage away, but it was desirable there should be some check upon its exercise; it was, however, not intended to pass an Order in Council.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
Sir, I must complain that the right hon. Baronet has not answered the question of the hon. and learned Member behind him (Sir E. Perry). [Sir C. WOOD: I said that it was not advisable to carry out his suggestion.] Well, I think it very advisable. There ought to be an Order in Council to put an end to the system immediately. While I was absent at dinner, the salaries of the Lords of the Admiralty were voted, and I should like to know why three of the Lords get £1,000 a year, and the fourth £1,200 a year?
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
Then why should they not all have allowances for a house? What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
§ Vote agreed to; House resumed.