§ (1.) 53,700 Men and Boys for eight months.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
Mr. FitzRoy, it is necessary to explain, for the benefit of those hon. Gentlemen who were not Members of the last Parliament, that the Estimates which I propose are the same as those which were submitted in the last Session, and that on each head of these Estimates a certain sum was voted on account; and the sums I shall now propose are the difference between the sums voted on account and the total sum necessary for the service of the year. A sheet has been delivered to hon. Members containing an account of the whole sum required, detailing the amounts taken on account, and also the sum to be voted to-night. I hope that, with this paper in their hands, and with the general Estimates also before them, hon. Gentlemen will clearly understand the course which Her Majesty's Government propose to take. In moving sums on account, it is not usual to make any general statement relative to the Estimates of the year. It was thought better that any general statement should be deferred until the Estimates were moved for the whole sum required, it being the rule that the voting of sums on account does not preclude a general consi- 415 duration by the House of the whole sum when the balance is applied for. These Estimates were fully considered by the Government in the early part of the year, and so far as the navy is concerned nothing has occurred to make any change necessary in the sum for which we ask. It is right to state, however, that with regard to the expenses incurred in the movement of troops it will be necessary at some future time to submit a Vote for a further sum. We had not, at the time when the Estimates were prepared, received that full intelligence of events in China which has subsequently reached us; and it has been found necessary to send out troops to China, and the Estimates of the cost of sending out those troops will be presented to the House in a separate estimate. With respect to the expenditure for naval purposes, it will not be necessary to ask for a further sum on account of the operations in China. It was the intention of the Government to maintain what is called a home squadron, or, as it is sometimes called, a squadron of evolution; but by giving up that squadron for this year, the means have been provided without an additional vote for carrying on the war in China. Last summer the reliefs had been provided for those ships whose service in China was on the point of expiring, and I had in consequence commissioned ships to take the place of those ordered home; and piracy having increased in the shallow waters, I ordered seven or eight gun-boats to proceed to China for the purpose of suppressing it. With that exception there has been no increase to the naval force sent out to China until after hostilities broke out; but Sir Michael Seymour has very properly detained the vessels that were to have been relieved, except the Winchester, the crew of which had suffered from their protracted stay. Therefore, for purposes of naval expenditure I shall not ask the House to vote any further sum of money; the only demand rendered necessary by these hostilities will be for the transport and the lodging of troops for China.
It will, perhaps, be desirable that I should enter rather more fully than usual into the present state of our naval resources. Sir, nearly twenty years ago, when I had the honour of holding the office of Secretary of the Admiralty, it was my duty to address your predecessor in answer to the great attacks that were made upon the Admiralty of 416 that day for their neglect of the navy. They were charged with having starved the navy by their niggardly economy. Today I may not be improbably exposed to a charge of a different description, and I may have to defend the Government against the charge of a lavish expenditure for the navy. Upon that occasion I think I succeeded in showing that the Admiralty had paid a due regard to the efficiency of the navy, and I hope to be equally successful on the present occasion in showing that the Admiralty have not carried reduction beyond the point which a due regard to the just expectations of the country that the expenditure should be diminished, combined with the interests of the navy, requires. It is usual, as the first step in moving the Estimates of the year, to compare them with those of the preceding year. Upon this occasion such a comparison will be of less value, because there has been a change from a state of war to one of peace. But it is as impossible to reduce these Estimates all at once from a war to a peace expenditure as it is to raise your establishments all at once from a peace to a war footing. The first Estimate of last year was £19,600,000; the reduced Estimates was £16,298,000, while the naval Estimates for the present year for all branches of the service are £8,109,000. There is therefore a reduction over the first Estimate of last year of £11,500,000, and over the second of £8,188,000—that is, a reduction of more than half even upon the reduced Estimates of last year. The expense of the coastguard must be added to the Estimates of 1856 as it is included in 1857. No doubt the cessation of a demand for the transport service has to be taken into account; but the reduction on the naval service alone is not less than £3,430,000. In some respects, I confess, I should have been glad not to have carried reduction quite so far; but we could not forget that the country had for two years borne the heavy charges of the war without murmur or complaint, and we therefore thought it fair and due to carry reduction as far as we could without injuring the efficiency of the service. I have no doubt that now, as in 1839, the House and the country will be jealous as to the efficiency of the navy, and we should be justly called to account if we sacrificed the efficiency of the service. I hope to satisfy the House that we have done no such thing. Expenditure for many articles required during war 417 cannot be stopped at once. Contracts were entered into for the supply of timber, &c., which it is necessary to execute though the war came to an end; many works also were commenced under the pressure of the war which must be carried on to a completion. In future years, therefore, some further reductions may be made. I do not propose these as permanent Estimates, and as incapable of any future reduction. I cannot, however, hold out the expectation that we shall be able to reduce the Estimates to the level of former years. We have learnt many lessons during the war, and one of them is that we were not adequately prepared when war broke out. I hope and trust that we have now a long period of peace before us. No one can be more anxious than myself that this should be the case; but we can have no better security for the permanence of peace than the knowledge that we are now prepared for war. That we were not adequately prepared for war when war broke out was just as well known to other nations as to ourselves, and I remember a shrewd observation made by an intelligent foreigner, that if he had to give advice to any foreign country that was going to war with us he should advise them to strike a great blow during the first two years of the war. At the end of the first two years of the last war, when other countries felt the strain and pressure of the war, we were better prepared, and had a larger army and fleet, and were more able and willing than at first to carry on the war. Let us, then, during peace, show that we are in reality prepared, and let foreign countries know that they cannot strike a blow at us during the first two years of war. This will be our best security for peace. Another consideration deserving of attention is, that in all probability any future war will be a more serious war than the last. So far as their navy were concerned the Russians did not venture to send their fleet to sea; but we know what great exertions are now being made to equip them. The Russians get their lines of ships from us and a great deal of their machinery made in this country, and they have many Englishmen employed in their manufactories at home. In a few years, therefore, it is probable the Russian navy will be in a very different position from what it was during the war. We are, happily, in a state of intimate alliance with our nearest neighbours; and long may that alliance continue, for the benefit of both 418 countries. No man, however, can foresee what may happen at any moment. France has been paying the greatest possible attention of late years to the efficiency of its navy. We have recently seen the efforts made in the same direction by our trans-Atlantic kinsfolk. And, though I trust that peace may long be preserved throughout the world, yet I think we—the first maritime Power in the world—should be greatly to blame were we to neglect those preparations which we find other nations are making, and which would enable us to meet any adversary who may be opposed to us should hostilities unfortunately break out. Another consideration is that the army and navy are nowadays far more expensive than they used to be. The additional expense of a steam navy compared with a sailing navy is, perhaps, greater than hon. Gentlemen may be aware of. Upon this subject I shall have to dwell more at large, and I only allude to it at present. These are the principal reasons why I do not think it possible to come down to the low level of our former naval estimates.
With these preliminary observations I come at once to the present Estimates. They are, as hon. Gentlemen know, divided into two great branches—the effective and non-effective Votes. The latter, consisting chiefly of half-pay and pensions, regulated almost entirely by Act of Parliament, are very little subject to the discretion of the Admiralty, and cannot be increased or diminished by them. The non-effective Votes are about £1,300,000 and there is an expenditure of about £200,000 for miscellaneous services. The effective Votes, in round numbers, amount to £6,500,000, and are pretty equally divided between men and material. The first head includes wages of seamen, victuals, and expense of the coast-guard. The second includes the wages of labourers and salaries of officers, the purchase of stores and the expense of the dockyards. The first item of charge is, of course, the men; and the first Vote, Sir, which I shall put in your hand is the number of men to be voted for the remaining portion of the year—the same number, of course, which I proposed in the early part of this year,—namely, 38,700, inclusive of 5,700 coastguard men. Including boys, the total number of seamen voted in 1849, 1850, and 1851 was 28,000; in 1852 and 1853 it was 33,000; in 1854, 48,500; in 1855, 54,000; at the beginning of last year we took a Vote for 60,000, which we reduced 419 subsequently to 40,000, and in which a further reduction has been made of 7,000. We bore at the end of 1854–5 the full number of men voted; 6,000 more men were voted by the House, but before it became necessary to raise them the preliminaries of peace were signed, and the men were actually never levied. About 54,000 men were borne on the Estimates, and therefore the actual reduction was about 14,000. A more difficult task than the reduction of the men I never had to perform. In former times, when ships were paid off as a matter of course the matter was comparatively easy; but now, with the disposition of the best men to remain in the service, the task of reduction is not only the most difficult, but also the most painful one I ever had to discharge. Preceding Boards of Admiralty have done much to improve the condition of the seamen in every way; the best men are now unwilling to leave the navy; and I hope the House will forgive me for saying, that I have been most unwilling to pay them off. When the Arrogant was paid off not a single man quitted the service; and when the Duke of Wellington with 1,100 men was paid off, 210 only were discharged. No ships have been commissioned for the last fifteen months except those absolutely necessary for reliefs, and the gunboats sent to China; and I was unable before the 1st of April to effect a reduction to the number voted by the House. At the beginning of the month we had 8,000 men over the number proposed to be voted for this year; and I was obliged to have recourse to much stronger measures, even allowing the continuous-service men to take their discharge, if they wished to leave the service. It is true there is a considerable number of ships ordered home and on their passage. The complement of those ships is about 8,000; and when they arrive in England our object may be accomplished; but at the rate of proceeding adopted last year—that is, not discharging those men who were anxious to remain—we have been unable in the course of the year even to approach the reduction we have to make for the permanent service of the country. The House will observe that the difficulty arises, not in the reduction itself, but in effecting it within the given time. I believe that 33,000 men, or thereabouts, will adequately provide for the service of this country during peace; but I do not think we can safely reduce our peace establishment 420 much below that number. As I have already intimated, the transition from a war to a peace standard is a question of time. Those men, however, who have been discharged—men, that is, if they were of good character—have all left the service of their own accord. No man of that class has been discharged except at his own request. I hope before long that we may bring down the number nearer to the force which we call upon the House to sanction for the year; yet I am indisposed to get rid of any man without his free consent, and, therefore, if at the end of the year I may somewhat exceed the prescribed strength, I hope I shall receive the indulgence of the House. I am most anxious to keep faith to the strictest letter with the British seaman, and not to inflict hardship on any man who came forward to serve his country in time of war, and who may now desire to continue in the navy. These observations, of course, apply to the immediate period of a reduction from a war to a peace establishment. I have not the least doubt that, when once you have made the descent to a peace establishment the system brought into play before the war may resume its ordinary and even course. Then you will have no difficulty in so regulating the entries as to maintain whatever number may be adequate for the navy. I feel confident that the experience of the last war and the precedent which has been set of showing every consideration to the men, not only while in the navy, but when leaving it, will produce an excellent effect, and tend on future occasions, should an increase of men be demanded, greatly to facilitate new entries. With regard to the force permanently to be kept up, the number we propose is 33,000—the same number as that voted in 1852 and 1853. The amount of our force ought to be determined partly by the protection required for our trade and commerce in every part of the world, and partly by the naval strength of other countries. Hon. Gentlemen know that our commerce extends over every quarter of the globe, and that there is hardly a coast or a port to which it is not requisite from time to time to send our ships of war to look after and protect British subjects and their property. Scarcely a mail arrives from a distant part of the world by which we are not assured by our consuls of the valuable assistance and security—to say nothing of the confidence—afforded by the presence of our navy. Indeed, there is 421 hardly a foreign town in the remotest regions in which British merchants have not settled, in which trade is not carried on by British capital; and it is obvious, therefore, that the peace and tranquillity of those towns are essential to the interests of British merchants, and to the prosperity of the British community. It is, of course, impossible precisely to estimate what may be the value of the protection extended in any particular case. The service which our ships of war afford to our merchant ships at foreign stations, in different parts of the world, is of the greatest pecuniary value to this country; but the number of those ships of war is not sufficient to meet the numerous demands that are made upon them by the consuls in the different ports, backed by the representations of the merchants trading there. I think, moreover, it is exceedingly desirable that we should have this, and every year, a home squadron for the practice of our naval officers. At present, almost the whole of the ships of the Royal Navy are scattered throughout the world, and they have scarcely over an opportunity of acting together. I have no doubt that the hon. and gallant Admiral (Sir C. Napier) will say that our fleet would require considerable drilling before they could act in a body. And if that is the case, it is evidently desirable that there should be squadron evolutions at home almost every year, for the practice of our naval officers. But the demands upon the navy are this year so great that we have no vessels at home. It is the practice of other nations in ordinary times to make their navies perform evolutions periodically, with the view of preparing them for war. The Russian navy performs evolutions at sea twice every year. When the Grand Duke Constantine visited Toulon the other day, eight sail of the line were sent to sea for inspection; but I am afraid that when his Imperial Highness comes to this country we shall not have more than a couple of ships of the line at home. In ordinary times we ought to have on our shores an adequate naval force ready to be sent out upon any expedition. We stand at a great disadvantage with regard to other nations, so far as the immediate manning of our navy is concerned; because, while ours is a voluntary service, other nations can, by their system of compulsory service, put on board their fleets, in a very short time, a number of men much larger than we could hope to 422 bring together in the same space of time by our volunteer system. I have, however, no doubt that, if time allowed, in the course of two years we should have not the slightest difficulty in adding to our navy as many men as might be required—but it is when the emergency arises that the difficulty is felt; what we want is, not that that number of men should be put on board at the end of two years, but in two months or in two weeks. Russia and France can do that. Their system of compulsory service enables them almost immediately to make up great navies. No doubt in times of extremity we ourselves should be justified in resorting to impressment; but surely we ought to do everything in our power to prevent the necessity of having recourse to a measure of that description, and I think that this country will not grudge any reasonable expenditure that may be necessary for the purpose of preparing ourselves, to put our navy on equal terms with our opponents at the commencement of a war, and at the same time to avoid impressment. I have already mentioned that the Russian soldiers are half soldiers and half sailors. They are always liable to be withdrawn from their barracks in order to be put on board. The men in the French navy are discharged after serving three or four years. They then enter into the commercial navy, but they are liable to be called back to service in the Imperial navy. I think I stated last year that a commission of French officers reported that 40,000 men eminently qualified might be called out for immediate service in the French navy, and that 20,000 more, not quite so prepared, but competent seamen nevertheless, might be made available in case of necessity. Of course the French authorities could not lay their hands upon the whole of those 60,000 men at once; but suppose they could only put a small proportion of them on board at once—say one-half, or even one-third—France would at once have a very formidable navy with trained crews in a very short time. I thought it quite necessary last year to take steps for the formation of a reserve naval force for this country; but I do not think that that is enough. I do not see how we can depend upon being prepared to meet the exigencies of war without maintaining a very considerable fleet permanently at home. If such a fleet be maintained, I have no doubt that partly by the seamen already employed, partly by the coast re- 423 serve, and partly by those who I am sure will in a time of war enter the navy as readily as those who entered it at the commencement of the last war, we shall be able to put to sea a fleet that will defend the honour and maintain the safety of this country. Of course it is impossible to say exactly what should be the number of men in the home squadron of which I speak, but evidently a considerable number must be voted to supply any such force.
With regard to the marines, I have to observe that we propose 15,000 as the number for this year. My right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) stated two or three years ago that having raised the number of marines to 16,000, he should be very unwilling to see them reduced below that number. We have, however, this year reduced them by 1,000. We felt it impossible to reduce the seamen employed to the full extent that we had proposed, and I thought it was only fair to reduce the marines by 1,000. I propose, nevertheless, that the number of marines should never be reduced below 15,000, because I believe that it would be most unwise and impolitic to maintain less than that number. Everybody knows that 15,000 is a larger number of marines than we have been accustomed to maintain; but inasmuch as we have now a new coast-guard service, it will be necessary to maintain a corresponding number of marines in reserve to be put into the vessels that are to be manned by the men from the coast-guard. These men are employed during peace in garrisoning our great ports; and when war breaks out, they are put on board the Royal Navy. I am happy to say that the coast-guard service that I had the honour of proposing last year has worked most admirably. Ships have been stationed at the different ports, and a large proportion of the men have been found fit for sea service. The regulations at each station are such that the men have expressed themselves highly satisfied with their service, and so far from that representation which was made some months ago about many of them leaving their service being true, I am glad to say that, according to the reports I have received, only one man has been found throughout the whole of these stations to have left the service in consequence of the regulations. We have entered 800 men from the navy into the coast-guard service during the last year; the greater number (about two-thirds) of 424 them having been petty officers; the rest of the men had served in the navy not less than five years, and had good characters from their commanding officers. By these means, therefore, the country will have at its command some of the very best description of men for time of war, and I have every reason to suppose that, as the system is gradually extended round the coasts of England, we shall be able to form a reserve to the full extent that I have anticipated. We shall have, in fact, in a very short time nearly 8,000 effective men in that service. Add to these the Royal Naval Coast-guard Volunteers, and our reserve force will be found to be placed on a very satisfactory basis. My right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) never did anything more beneficial for the navy than when he established these Naval Coast-guard Volunteers. It was difficult during the war to devote the time necessary to the training of these men, or to find officers for the purpose; but the House will be gratified to learn that most satisfactory reports have this morning been received from two of the stations where these volunteers are placed. I shall read short extracts from these reports. The first, from Captain Randolph, of the Cornwallis, at Hull, says—The whole number assembled has been seventy-one, of whom ten have completed their period of drill and been discharged. These ten are efficient at loading and firing both great guns and rifles with all precautions, and all have fired shot from six-pounder and thirty-two-pounder, generally with remarkable precision. The progress of the remainder has been equally satisfactory for their respective terms of drill, and it is not a little proof of the interest taken in it by themselves that not one complaint of inattention has ever been made by any instructor. Indeed, the volunteers have expressed unanimously their wish to improve themselves and their satisfaction with what they have seen of the service.Captain Frazer, of the Pembroke, says:—By 5 p. m. on the 2nd of April we had received on board 285 out of 301 summoned, and on the following morning they commenced their drill in the great gun, small arm, and cutlass exercises. 1,400 rounds of ball cartridge were also fired at 200 yards range, and the practice was nearly as good as that of our marines. The conduct of the whole party was, throughout the time they were on board, most exemplary. Not a single complaint was made from or of them, and they left the ship, I may almost say, with regret By 4 p. m. on the 2nd instant we had received on board 252 out of 284 summoned. As far as I have experienced, I may safely say the general conduct and good feeling shown by the volunteers could not possibly be more satisfactory or encouraging.425 We have not had time to ascertain fully the results at all the stations, but I have no hesitation in saying, that if this system be carried on as it has been begun, we shall, ere long, have organized a body of men who, accustomed to a sea life and trained to the use both of great guns and small arms, will on any emergency that may occur be of the most essential service in the defence of their country. I do not know that I need say more as to the number of men; I trust that the statement I have made both with regard to men on active service and the reserve, has been such as to justify the expectation that the navy will be maintained in a state of becoming efficiency and vigour.
I shall now refer to the subject of the dockyards, factories, and establishments generally, including material, building, repairing, equipping. The extra men employed in the dockyards during the war have been almost entirely discharged, and the establishments, with the exception of the factories—which are increasing day after day—are now being reduced to what they were before the war. With regard to the class of ships that ought to be built, I know there is considerable difference of opinion among naval critics. Some officers are for large ships, and others are for building nothing but small ones. My belief is, that it is necessary we should build a certain number of both. We have, during the war, built a large number of the smaller description of vessels for service in shallow water. It must be admitted that these latter vessels are very efficient for any description of duty within reach of shore, they cannot carry stores to any great distance, and are not calculated for cruising, or capable of remaining long at sea; but for service near the shore, no description of vessels can be more efficient than they are. Nevertheless, it would be unwise not to continue building a certain number of ships of a large size. We must look to what other nations are doing in this respect. It is plain that no great naval engagement could be maintained in the middle of the Atlantic between line-of-battle ships and gun-boats. The French are building large and more powerful line-of-battle ships than ourselves; the United States also are building ships and frigates larger than any we have. I will not say whether they are likely to succeed in their models and designs, or whether they will in reality be as powerful vessels as they are said to 426 be by the Americans themselves; but, at all events, we ought not to be left without the means of meeting such vessels, should the necessity of doing so ever unfortunately arise. Gentlemen may, perhaps, like to have a statement of the number of ships possessed by us in former times compared with others. That I am able to supply, at least with regard to our nearest neighbours, the French; and I am sure it will be the wish of the House that we should have at all times a more powerful navy than any other nation of the world. We may not be able to be superior to them all, but, at any rate, unless we are prepared to descend from the high position we have hitherto held as the first naval Power in the world, we should be superior to any one nation—some would say to any two nations—in regard to the numbers and power of our ships. The following is a comparison of the numbers of English and French ships of the line—
In this list I omit our block-ships, which, though very efficient for certain purposes, could not keep their place in a cruising or blockading squadron. With regard to frigates the comparison is—
English. French. In 1793 115 76 1817 131 72 1840 89 46 1857 42 (screw) 40 (screw)
The numbers before 1857 are sailing vessels, in 1857 only steam. At this time, I think, that sailing vessels ought, almost, to be left out of consideration, for I do not think that, except in case of urgent necessity, any nation would dream of sending a sailing squadron to sea. At present we have fity-one screw-ships of the line; nine of these are block-ships, and only fit for a peculiar service. With regard to American frigates we have nothing equal in point of size to the Merrimac, or to such American corvettes as the Niagara. We have nothing of that description in existence. I will not give an opinion as to whether such vessels are really necessary or not, but it is clear that we should not be without them when they are possessed by other nations, and therefore I have ordered one or two of this description of vessels to be built. We hope to improve upon the vessels they have built. It is, perhaps, not desirable to build a great 427 number of very large ones, but it would be manifestly improper not to keep up our relative position with other countries. Now, the House, in order to do this, must be prepared to incur expense. The expense of a steam fleet is necessarily much greater than that of a sailing fleet. Everybody knows how great the cost of the improved ships of our mercantile navy is; and, of course the vessels of the navy must be improved in size and equipment in the same proportion. But this can only be done at increased cost. I will give the House a comparison of the cost of three different kinds of sailing and screw ships. The Queen, a sailing ship of 116 guns, cost £100,000; the Duke of Wellington (screw), 131 guns, £170,000. The Albion (sailing vessel), 90 guns, cost £95,000; the Agamemnon (screw), 91 guns, £144,000. The Vernon (sailing vessel), 50 guns, cost £63,000; the Liffey (screw), 51 guns, £129,000; the cost, in the last case, being more than twice as much for a screw than for a sailing vessel of the same number of guns. It is said, however, that a small number of steamships can do the work of a larger number of sailing vessels; but I do not think that that is so; since the introduction of machinery into the equipment of a man-of-war, the chances of her breaking down and being unfit for service have very much increased, and I doubt whether if you put a less number of steamers on a station than you formerly had of sailing vessels, you would have, as a rule, as great a number of vessels out of them ready for service. This is the case with all steam vessels, whether belonging to the public or to private merchants. And in reference to the frequent attacks which have recently been made on the Admiralty on the score of accidents happening to these ships, I have returns with me, from which I could quote if necessary, which prove that the number of accidents to steamers in the Queen's service is infinitely less than those which occur in the merchant service. For instance, out of 326 Government steamers employed during the last five years, only twenty-three have met with accidents; while out of 297 steamers belonging to private firms employed by us as transports, during fifteen months of the Crimean war, forty-six were fined for delays caused by accidents. Perhaps I may be permitted to allude to a statement made by an hon. Member the other night as to the screw of the Urgent having been broken and having knocked 428 away one of the iron plates in her bottom, which I could not answer then, but which I am now able to pronounce to be an entire fabrication. Since the vessel came into port I sent down to ask whether any accident had occurred to her after leaving England, and the answer was, "Decidedly not." Her Commander, in a report addressed to the Admiralty the other day, says—
English. French. In 1817 192 46 1840 110 91 1857 42 (screw) 37 (screw)I consider the Urgent to be a strong and well-built ship, and fit for the service on which she is employed. She is remarkably stiff, and sails uncommonly well with her present establishment of masts, yards, and sails. She stays well, is lively and buoyant, and a good seaboat, but takes time and space to wear in. She is certainly not overmasted, and does not appear to have too much top weight; indeed, I am almost inclined to ask permission to land twenty tons of ballast.I do not mean by saying that accidents are more frequent now than they used to be to impute any blame to builders and engineers. They are inseparable, perhaps, from the period of transition in the adaptation of steam power to naval purposes through which we have been passing; and I hope that before long, when engineers have ascertained accurately what proportion of power is required for the screw, and what class of machinery is best fitted for certain purposes, we shall have fewer accidents than occur at present. Some persons appear to think that when an accident happens to the machinery of a Government steamer the Government are to blame, and we are told that we ought to buy our machinery from the private engineers, if we cannot make it ourselves. The fact is that the Government do not construct a single engine themselves; they are all constructed in private yards; therefore, if any accident happens to the machinery of a Government vessel, it is not any Government department which is to blame, and gentlemen who find fault with Government, comparing, as they suppose, the mistaker of good work with the absence of errors in private yards, are really pointing out cases where private manufacturers have failed in putting good work into good vessels.
The next item of expenditure is the Stores; and the increase in this is occasioned by the necessity of replacing the stores which were used during the war. Of timber, for instance, we used in 1856 exactly twice as much as we did in 1852, and it is necessary now to replace what we withdrew from the stores. A new item of expenditure is coal, a new and very 429 large item, which of course, in old times, did not appear on the estimates. The greatest pains are taken to restrict the consumption of coals. The next item is the cost of new works in the yards. The introduction of steam power has caused considerable increase in the yards. In addition to carpenters and shipwrights we are now obliged to have engineers. We must have the means of repairing accidents in our own yards, and there is increased expense, not only in the number of workmen, but in the quality of work done. The repair of the machinery is now more expensive than any repairs which a sailing vessel could need; and the Committee will be able to judge how much greater the cost of our yards must be, when I tell them that the horse-power of the steam vessels in our navy afloat, in ordinary and building, is 102,470. But there are many things required in our dockyards for the various departments of the service which we have not got. In the course of last year I went over to see the French dockyards, and I can assure the Committee that the works which they are carrying on there exceed everything which we are doing. The yard at Cherbourg is as large as Portsmouth, Devonport, and Keyham put together; and the basins there are as large as all our basins put together. Of course, the facilities of equipping ships depend upon the power of bringing them close to the quays from which all their stores can be put on board at once; and, as they have 180 acres of basins in all their yards to our thirty-four acres, their facilities for fitting out vessels on an emergency are infinitely greater than anything which we possess. The inner basins at Cherbourg alone are thirty-three acres. There was a time when the yard at Keyham was considered an unnecessary expense; but when my predecessor went down there, he found that it was not large enough, and he had to enlarge it, and I, in my turn, have had to make additions. The lengthening of our docks has become necessary from the increased length of which we have been obliged to build our vessels since the introduction of steam power. Soon after we bought the Himalaya it was necessary to dock her for certain repairs, but there was not a single dock in the yards into which she could be got, and we were obliged to break off the head of our newest dock at Keyham, in order to dock her. If when the Merrimac was over here her commander had asked permission 430 to dock her, there would only have been two docks in the kingdom which could have received her. The United States have sent over their new corvette, the Niagara, to assist in laying down the Atlantic telegraph, and it may be necessary to dock, in order to make certain arrangements on board to fit her for the duty; but there will be only one dock in the country into which she can go. The same is the case, too, with regard to some of our new vessels. More than this, it is almost impossible to repair a vessel near her screw without taking her into dock, and therefore the introduction of so large a number of screw vessels into our navy has infinitely increased the necessity for docking. These are the principal causes of the largeness of the amount which I shall ask the House to vote. There are some slight increases in different Votes, arising from the high price of provisions, and other causes, which I shall be happy to explain when we come to the Votes to which they refer; but I have now put the House in a position to compare the state of our navy with that of the navies of other countries which may be our rivals; I hope they will be no more—and by which we cannot allow ourselves to be beaten in the race for naval glory. We may not be able to compete with foreign nations in the number of men whom we can bring into the field on land, but I should be sorry to see the day when we could not send to sea a fleet superior to that of any other nation. A similar feeling is, I believe, unanimously entertained by the country, and I can solemnly declare that I do not believe I have asked for a single sixpence more than is necessary to enable us to maintain and send to sea such a fleet as shall effectually maintain the honour and safety of the country.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
Sir, it would be of no avail for me to address the House with reference to a reduction of nigh three millions of money in the effective service of the navy, comprised in the Estimates on the table of the House; the Government having, after mature consideration, adopted that Estimate. There is no part, however, I believe, of the public service, which the nation is more disposed to support than the navy, provided that its administration be adapted to secure the best interests of the country. The First Lord of the Admiralty has certainly introduced them to the House in an intelligible and comprehensive form; let me, how- 431 ever, impress upon him the necessity of accommodating the numbers, the strength and armament of our navy, to the capabilities, the improvements in science and augmentation known to exist, or in progress, in the fleets of other maritime countries, in order that in the event of an unexpected rupture we might not discover ourselves to lie at a disadvantage, in an arm which is England's peculiar immemorial, nay, natural safeguard. I hear with satisfaction from the right hon. Baronet, that there is to be a squadron of evolution. He ought to keep a force of not less than twelve sail of the line in constant active service, irrespective of frigates and sloops, which would enable us within a week, in any emergency, to fit and complete for sea double that number of ships. Nothing is more essential to the best interests of the service than the maintenance at sea of a squadron of evolution, in which officers of all ranks might be instructed in the management of their ships, and especially in the evolutions of fleets and squadrons. The exercise should be conducted during the six summer months with all the ships which could be collected of all classes, large and small, on the home station, which ships should join in the Bay of Biscay to increase the number, instead of lying at Malta, Lisbon, or Gibraltar. In 1845, at the suggestion of one of our most distinguished and intelligent naval officers, Admiral Bowles, then a Lord of the Admiralty, it was determined to ascertain how speedily two ships of the line then lying dismantled, the Bellerophon at Portsmouth and the Calcutta at Devonport, could be prepared for sea in the most perfectly efficient order for service. Not a whisper was permitted to escape of this intention. The necessary order was despatched from the Admiralty on a Sunday night. Both ships commenced on the Monday morning, and by the Wednesday evening the one at Spithead and the other in the Sound at Plymouth were ready for sea. Let us handle our ships thus—let us infuse this spirit into officers and men, and England's supremacy on the ocean will at no time be endangered; but it will be to no purpose, although we shall equip the most formidable array of floating bulwarks, unless they are alive from stem to stern with first-rate practical officers and zealous efficient crews thoroughly up to their work. To secure this paramount object and answer the country's just expectations, it is indispensable to hold out due and certain 432 reward to meritorious officers who exhibited zeal and proficiency in the discharge of their duties. As regarded the seamen, the promises we made to them must be rigidly and honourably kept sacred, in order to inspire them with confidence in the fulfilment of our side of the agreement, while in all fairness we challenge them to carry out their engagements with equal strictness and ready will. With respect to the continual-service men, I hope the First Lord, in any arrangements he may make, would remember that we called upon those men at a moment of emergency, and therefore we are bound to deal with them with such fairness as will inspire our seamen with confidence in any promise which we might make to them in future. Looking to the great extent of our commerce, the remoteness of many of our most valuable dependencies and the uncertainty of the duration of peace, I trust that the House will, at all times, be careful to maintain an adequate fleet—on this depends the prevention of national disaster; on this depends the supremacy of England, with which lives or dies England's security. I wish for no parade of ships, officers, or men, but I protest against deficiency, because, for want of an efficient navy, we may lose a glorious opportunity of striking an effectual blow at an enemy, and crushing him by a decisive stroke in the very infancy of a war. For the efficient training of the coastguard men, I suggest that to every block-ship there should be attached a frigate or sloop, in which the officers and men of this force should be sent to sea to learn their duties. Unless some such plan is adopted, they will at the breaking out of another war be as inefficient as they were found to be by the gallant Admiral, late Commander in Chief of the Baltic fleet (Sir C. Napier). I re-recall to the recollection of the First Lord of the Admiralty the suggestion I often have given as to the necessity of providing a uniform for the service of the navy, and extending to them in regard to it the same protection as was given to soldiers by the Mutiny Act. I likewise earnestly desire to see the power of nominating midshipmen and cadets restored to captains of ships. That was the system in the olden time, and it worked most advantageously for the midshipmen in obtaining for them a paternal and vigilant guardian in the captain under whom they served. A ship ought to be stationed at Portsmouth and Devonport, on board which the cadets 433 would enjoy the same advantage with respect to training, as were already afforded to boys to be brought forward as seamen. To these subjects I directed attention in the last Session of Parliament, and I now most earnestly desire to draw the notice of the House to them.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, that although £8,000,000 seemed a large sum to vote for the navy, yet after the explanation of the First Lord of the Admiralty, he could not say that these Estimates ought to be reduced one farthing. On the contrary, he thought they were much too low, because every word which had fallen from the right hon. Baronet went to show that this country was not in a proper state of defence. It was true that we had forty-two sail of the line, while France had forty, but we could not on an emergency lay our hands upon 40,000 seamen, as could at any time be done by France. For the lowness of the Estimates he did not, however, blame either the Admiralty or the Prime Minister; he blamed the House of Commons. We had the same men we had in 1853, including the coast-guard now under the Admiralty, and if a war were to break out we should be as ill prepared for it as we were in that and the following year. After twenty or thirty years' consideration, the Government had at length taken the coast-guard under the jurisdiction of the Admiralty, but this was not done in the manner it ought to have been done. In all the ports where at present there were inefficient ships, efficient ships ought to be substituted, in which the coast-guard and naval volunteers should be from time to time employed. The present system was a bad one; for if, unfortunately, war should break out suddenly, the first thing to be done would be to order those ships into port to be paid off, and commission a fresh set of ships and get them ready for sea. It was a well-known fact, that ships in commission did not wear out at all sooner than ships in ordinary; in fact, he believed that they lasted longer, and therefore he thought that the very best three-deckers and screw frigates ought to be substituted for the ships now in use. He would go further than that. Every naval officer knew that there was no body of men more efficient than the marines, and he would suggest that half of those now kept on board ship should be employed in garrisoning seaport towns, and their place on board filled up by able seamen, so that in case of a war a con- 434 siderable fleet might be manned almost immediately by able seamen. What was the relative position of England with regard to France, as far as naval force was concerned, at the present moment? The First Lord of the Admiralty had told the House that France had forty ships, and we only forty-two; France was equal therefore to us in ships, and superior in the means of manning them; she had an army of 300,000 or 400,000 men, and we had but 20,000 in Great Britain. What would the consequence be if a war were to spring up? Why, there would be an invasion immediately. That was a matter which ought to attract the attention of every man in that House, and which ought to impress upon the Government the necessity of keeping up such a reserve of able seamen that, by distributing them through the fleet in conjunction with the coastguard men and naval volunteers, an efficient force might almost immediately be called out for active service. If this country should ever be called upon to encounter the navy of France it would not be on the same terms as during the last war with that country. Howe's victory of the 1st of June, whereby the French fleet was so cut up that they were never able to compete with us again during the war, was owing probably in some degree to the fact that France had just then emerged from the revolution, and that their ships were in consequence deficient both in experienced officers and good sailors. They were in a very different state now. Admiral La Susse, referring to the late war, said—You had kept us so pent up in our ports that we had no opportunity of exercising our men, or keeping up their discipline. It is altogether different now, and you may depend upon it, should another war arise, you will never have another Trafalgar to boast of. We can now get our fleet ready for sea, fully manned and equipped, as soon or even sooner than you can.It was not a question of the bravery of the sailors of the two nations, but it was a question of discipline and bravery against bravery alone. If a British fleet were properly manned it would do more than the fleet of any other nation. But what he wished to impress upon the Government was, that if they sent ships to sea badly manned they could only expect disaster. When the first fleet sailed for the Baltic, he had heard from good authority that only 400 men had volunteered from the merchant service, and the following year 300, and if such really was the case, the 435 country was not in the position which it ought to be in. During the time the right hon. Member for Carlisle was at the head of the Admiralty, a measure was passed for calling out seamen by proclamation, and giving them a certain bounty. How that measure would have worked he could not tell. It had never been carried out, but, for his own part, he thought that the men liable to be called out under that Act ought occasionally to be called out in time of peace. If that were done the men would not think it so great a hardship in time of war, and the ships would be better manned. When he had the command of the Baltic fleet, he had felt the bad effects of the present system. Indeed, had it not been for the dockyard riggers and the coastguard men, he should never have got the fleet to sea. No men did their duty better than the coastguard men, remembering that they had not been used to act afloat, and had been drawn suddenly from service on shore, where they were enjoying all the comforts of home and sleeping in four-post beds. He trusted, therefore, that appointments to that force would never again be the result of Treasury jobbery, but that the men appointed to it would be in all cases really efficient seamen. He also agreed with his gallant Friend opposite that those men ought not always to be kept on shore, but that they should be kept in practice sufficient to prevent them losing their sea legs. He had supposed the case of one Power contending against this country; but take the case of Russia and France united. Russia, certainly, has no screw fleet, but France has, and Russia is now fast getting one also. He believed that at present, exclusive of officers, there were only about 4,000 able seamen in the fleet, and with such a force could we be expected to overcome the navies of those countries? The right hon. Gentleman had said that the "continuous service" was popular—that the able seamen would not leave the service. The result of his experience and conversations he had held with the men was that the best seamen would not enter for a continuous service of ten years. He hoped that that opinion might be wrong, but he feared that such was the case. If they would do so it would, he believed, be better for themselves and for the country. The present system of commissioning ships was also a bad one. At the end of three years, when a crew had been got into a perfect state of discipline, after arriving 436 in port the work of destruction commenced, and the ship was paid off. This was never done during the last war, for during that our ships managed to keep off Brest or Toulon for several years together. He trusted that one of the first steps of the First Lord of the Admiralty would be to do away with that abominable system, which was condemned by every naval officer, and to keep ships in commission as long as he possibly could. The only reason for putting a ship out of commission at the end of every three years was to give the Admiralty more patronage. Now, that object could be accomplished without incurring any of the evils attached to the existing system, and for his own part he would not object to the officers being relieved even oftener than at present, provided the ships were kept in commission. At present it was unfortunately the interest of the First Lord to hinder an officer from serving his time. If he was not a favourite he could not hope to be allowed to do so. The consequence was that many of the best officers in the navy were, without adequate reason, made reserved admirals. To such an extent, indeed, had that mode of dealing with officers been carried, that he was not sure whether the service would not benefit from the active and reserved admirals being made to change places. We had, at the present moment, ninety-nine active admirals, and we ought to have an admiral of the fleet. Why he had not been appointed he did not know. It had always been the custom that the senior admiral should be that officer. Well, the next senior officer to him was Sir Charles Ogle, whose father and grandfather, in their times, were admirals of the fleet. Next, we had twenty-five retired admirals, 105 reserved admirals, and ten pensioned admirals with £150 a year each. We had four Greenwich Hospital admirals. The late Sir Robert Peel gave a retired list. The first condition required to get on that list was when a man got to the top of the list, and had reached sixty years of age. But now a man only fifty-five years of age was put upon the reserved list. For every officer made an active admiral several were placed upon the reserved list, and he had no hesitation in saying that of the reserved admirals many were more vigorous than some of their so-called "active" brethren. [Sir C. WOOD: "No!"] No! Let the right hon. Baronet look there (pointing to Admiral Walcott) for an example. Because 437 that hon. and gallant officer could not serve his time—though he went down on his knees to the First Lord of the Admiralty—though he was well known to be a good and able officer—he was made a reserved admiral. The present system, in short, was like knocking a man down and then punishing him for falling. He was not an alarmist, but he saw the danger the country was in. The First Lord of the Admiralty had told them that France was equal to us in ships, and superior to us in men. It was time, therefore, that something should be done, and instead of reducing the number of our men to 33,000, there ought to be at least 50,000 voted by the House of Commons.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
thought the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty in some respects most satisfactory. He was a reformer and an advocate for economy in the navy as in every other department of the public service; but he thought that, after having induced men to leave their other occupations and serve in the navy for ten years, it would be a positive disgrace if we were to discharge them, when they wished to remain, without giving them a proper gratuity. The right hon. Baronet had made a clearer statement of the condition of the navy than they were generally accustomed to hear from the First Lord of the Admiralty; but he was of opinion, that the House was entitled to receive much more detailed information with respect to the vast sums which were to be expended in the construction of ships of war than it had yet done. He looked in vain in the Estimates for anything like a detailed statement of that expenditure. No less a sum than £2,000,000, embraced under two Votes, was to be expended in the wages of artificers and in materials for building men-of-war. The House did not know how that money was to be spent, and, although he had the greatest confidence in the First Lord and the other members of the Board of Admiralty, he thought the House should be furnished with some information upon that point. He was one of those who thought that line-of-battle ships were not destined in any future war to play the great part which they had done in former wars, inasmuch as the relative powers of smaller vessels were now much greater than those of larger ships. He did not, however, wish to see all the latter burned or destroyed, as it would be still necessary to retain a certain number of them to act as flag-ships, and as 438 the public offices of the fleet; but the number of them should be reduced in comparison with former wars. The First Lord of the Admiralty had stated, that in 1817 we had 117 line-of-battle ships, whereas at the present moment we had only forty-two. The fact was, however, that we had fifty-one, for the nine screw block-ships which the First Lord had excluded from his enumeration of ships of the line were among the most effective of our screw line-of-battle ships. They were the only ships that fired a shot in the Baltic, where the great line-of-battle ships were of no use whatever, and lay off looking on; and he believed, that had Sir Charles Napier been supplied with gun-boats, he might have damaged Cronstadt very considerably. All his own experience went to show that line-of-battle ships were not now so important an arm in war as they formerly were. Formerly line-of-battle ships carried heavier guns than other ships, but now every corvette, sloop, and gun-boat carried heavy guns, and he was convinced that no force of such ships could withstand the legion of gun-boats, sloops, and corvettes which they saw at Spithead last year. He thought, therefore, that instead of increasing our line-of-battle ships to the number at which they stood at the close of the last war, the First Lord of the Admiralty should call together a Committee of naval officers in order to ascertain their opinion as to what class of ships ought to be added to the present strength of the navy, as being the most economical, and at the same time likely to prove of the most effectual service to the country. As reference had been made to the French navy, he might state, that he held in his hand a list of their screw line-of-battle ships with which he had been favoured by the French Minister of Marine. He should not read the names of the vessels which that list contained, but would merely inform the Committee that they amounted altogether to thirty-one, so that the number of our steam line-of-battle ships was nearly double that of our allies. He was of opinion, therefore, that the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty might with great propriety rest upon his oars, and take the opportunity of consulting members of the naval service before he proceeded to add to the number of those vessels. He would strongly urge upon the right hon. Gentleman the establishment of a Committee of naval officers with that view, as they had done in France. He had the best autho- 439 rity for saying that there was sitting at the present moment in France an enquê or commission of that description, the great object of whose inquiry was to ascertain whether line-of-battle ships were or were not the most efficient class of ships which could now be employed. Under these circumstances, he was not about to oppose the Estimates, and he had every confidence in the Admiralty; but he would ask the right hon. Gentleman, before he went on building—for he knew it was the intention of the Admiralty to bring up the screw line-of-battle ships to the number we had before the war. [Sir C. WOOD: No, no!] But, however that might be, all he asked him was, to pause and receive the opinions of naval men on this subject. He should not weary the Committee by entering into technical details to prove why, in his opinion, line-of-battle ships were not the instruments by which in future the fate of empires would be decided. Among other defects, they had not at the present day that amount of stowage which they possessed in the time of Nelson, when a blockade might be made an almost interminable proceeding, and when our men-of-war used to lay off Toulon for four months without moving. Our vessels now could hardly carry four months' provisions on board. The ship which he himself commanded, for instance—as good a one as any in the service—could only carry four months' provisions under hatches. The circumstance of the stowage being of that contracted character would, of course, also operate against our line-of-battle ships affording accommodation for a large number of troops, as was the case in the time of Napoleon, who had observed that if he could only command the Channel for forty-eight hours he would subjugate this country. He might, however, come to our shores at the present day with seventy or eighty ships of the line, and yet not be enabled to effect a landing in the face of that noble fleet of small vessels which the right hon. Baronet had given within the last few years. In conclusion, he should again urge upon the right hon. Gentleman the expediency of nominating a Committee of naval men such as that to which he had adverted, to consider the kind of ships which ought to form the majority of our naval forces.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he thought that the Committee must have listened with great pleasure to the clear statement of the right hon. Baronet. He confessed that he had received considerable satisfaction 440 from that statement, especially from that part where he said it was the determination of the Government not to reduce the strength of the navy. He (Mr. Bentinck) was one of those who thought that the power and safety of the country depended upon an efficient navy. He believed that that unwise economy practised in former years, at the instigation of certain hon. Members, was the principal cause of that reckless extravagance to which the Admiralty had been driven upon the outbreak of the late war, in consequence of the utterly inefficient state in which the navy was found upon the late emergency. He trusted that we should never again see a similar state of things. He hoped that the Government would never again allow themselves to be influenced by such doctrines, professed by a small section of Members for the purpose of creating political capital for themselves—doctrines which might be characterised as the penny-wise and pound-foolish policy. As an example of the result of that unwise economy, the expense attendant upon the Transport service alone during the last war was enormous. If, instead of listening to the remonstrances of that particular school of gentlemen to whom he had just referred, and speaking of whom he might observe that the recent election had pretty well shown that their principles were not much in accordance with those of their respective constituencies—if, instead of listening to the unwise economy which they recommended, it had been the practice of the Government to build even two transports every year during the last thirty years, the country would have been saved the expenditure of many millions of money during the late war. There was only one other subject to which he wished to direct their attention—a subject upon which the House had already pronounced its opinion. The right hon. Baronet might remember that on a former occasion he had called their attention to the want of means for coaling men-of-war in Plymouth. It appeared that there were several plans before the Admiralty at that time. The right hon. Gentleman quite admitted the extent of the want, but said that the Government were not then prepared to undertake the expense of improving Plymouth Sound in that particular. Now, he asked whether, upon a question of such importance, the sum of money required to be expended ought to have been considered? Taking the English navy as a steam navy, and recollecting the enormous expense 441 which the country had recently been put to in establishing it—looking to the contingency of a recurrence of such an emergency as the late war, he submitted that it was most unwise economy on the part of the Government to leave the principal port of the country in such a state of inefficiency. He thought that that was the moment when the attention of Parliament ought to be given to this subject. He hoped that the Government would take immediate steps to remedy the evil.
§ MR. WARRE
said, he wished to have some information as to how soon the Admiralty contemplated raising the number of the coast-guard from 8,000, the point at which it at present stood, to 10,000, which was the estimated amount of that force for the future. He had listened with gratification to the encouraging account given by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the naval coast-guard volunteers, because he knew that in one case the system had not been successful. With regard to the system of a reserved list of Admirals, it might work well, but in some cases it worked ill. A case had lately occurred in which Commodore Trotter, who was actually in command of a station, was, on account of his not having served his time, placed on the retired list. He should also like to know whether the appointment of captains to the eleven men of war which were to be employed upon the coastguard service had been filled up, and in what proportion those vessels were to be employed on the coasts of England, Scotland, and Ireland. If hon. Members would look to the end of the Navy Estimates they would find another illustration of the saying that it was expensive to procrastinate, and that what was done in a hurry was seldom done well. The Secretary for the Admiralty, in asking for a vote of £30,000 stated—I am commanded by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to acquaint you, for the information of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, that my Lords have found that many of the gunboats which were built with great rapidity for the pressing service of the late war have been built of green wood, and are likely to be exposed to great damage by premature decay, unless they can be taken out of the water, and their timbers exposed to a thorough draught of air.He believed that great credit was due to the Admiralty for the display of naval forces at the naval review at Spithead, but when the history of our naval campaign against Russia came to be written, he thought it would be said that the Admiralty ought to have been provided with 442 gunboats at an earlier period, and that the undue haste in which they had been built, had caused them to be unfit for service.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
did not yield to any hon. Member in a desire for the efficiency of the navy. The navy was our true safeguard against danger, but a vast expenditure had taken place upon it, and yet hon. Members were perpetually talking of the inefficient condition in which it was placed. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) must have been at a loss to defend the most extravagant Estimates which had been brought forward since the termination of the French war, when he compared the present Estimates with what they were during the last war with Russia. If they were compared with any year of peace the disproportion would be seen. He would take the year before the war with Russia. The Estimates for 1852–3 were prepared by the right hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. T. Baring) and adopted by the Government of Lord Derby, with an addition of only £113,000 made by the Duke of Northumberland. These Estimates in the last year of peace before the Russian war were £2,175,000 less than the Estimates for the present year, and yet this was the second year of peace. He maintained that there was no necessity for this increase. They were told the navy was in an inefficient state, and that we were unprepared when the last war broke out, and yet there had been expended upon it since the termination of the French war a sum of £250,000,000. Why had not this enormous amount been so expended as to keep the navy in an efficient state? If half this amount had been properly expended we should have at present the most efficient navy that this or any other country had ever seen. He had seen valuable comments in the most influential newspaper in this country upon the administration of the navy. It was said that our ships were built three times over, and this statement was perfectly true. He had no objection to an increase of sailors, but he wished to see some economy in regard to officers. We had 302 admirals unemployed, nine in commission, and three in our dockyards. During the war with Russia only eighteen admirals were required for the whole of our fleets all over the world, and yet we had 302 admirals on the list. In 1851–52 there were only 220 admirals. Why did we want eighty admirals more now than we had six years ago? If he went back to 1837, he found only 148 443 admirals on half-pay, giving us 154 admirals now more than we had in 1837. With regard to the marines, he could not understand why 15,000 marines should be required for 33,000 seamen, when only 16,000 marines were required for 60,000 seamen in 1855–6. In 1841–2, when a difference arose with France, the seamen were raised to 32,500 men; but in that year there were only voted 10,500 marines. This increase of marines was in truth only a surreptitious means of increasing our standing army by 4,000 or 5,000 men. So large a number could not be required for the use of the fleet, and that was the only object for which marines could properly be wanted. The cost, too, of the superior officers of the marines was very great. He found there were no less than thirty-four generals of marines, although he could not remember that a general officer had ever commanded the marines in active service. Then there were seventy-three staff officers of marines, each of whom had to command only 205 men, while the general officers had little more than 400 each, if divided among them. The number of post-captains at present was also considerably larger than in 1852, Their number then amounted to 553, while now it was 586. Of all the items of expenditure that for the dockyards had been the most extraordinary. He could not understand how so much money had been required. During the last five years that expenditure had amounted to £16,036,000. For that sum the number of ships ought to be three times as many as the right hon. Baronet had stated. He wished to know what had become of our ships, because none had been sunk or destroyed, and none had been seriously damaged. In the late war we had an enormous fleet, but no sea fighting. The First Lord of the Admiralty wanted to frighten the House with a comparison between the French and English fleets, but the experience of past wars showed that, with the courage and enterprise which distinguished Englishmen, England had always been, and always would be, superior to any naval power which could be brought against her. During the late war, in addition to the French fleet, there were the Dutch and the Spanish fleets, the joint number of the ships in which far outnumbered those possessed by us. Yet those fleets had been destroyed; and he did not doubt the same result would follow with respect to others in any future war. He thought, therefore, that the present rate of 444 ship-building in our dockyards was altogether extravagant. He found, from the returns before the Committee, that a number of the officers who were receiving half-pay held high official situations, for which they received salaries. Amongst them were three or four Lords of the Admiralty, who were receiving salaries of £1,000 each, besides allowances of £200 for residences. He had always understood that when half-pay officers were appointed to situations with higher salaries their half-pay ceased. It was a perfect waste of time to discuss Votes composed of such vast items. If only one Vote were proposed—to give the gross amount to the First Lord to spend as he thought proper—the result would be precisely the same. He ventured to assert that when the accounts of these seventeen Votes went into the Audit Office, not one would be expended according to the amount voted. Some would be a great deal less, and others a great deal more, and what was left on the former would be applied to make up the deficiencies in the latter. The whole thing was a farce. The Estimates ought to be referred to a well-selected Committee, and he should have made that Motion if one-third of the Estimates had not been already voted by the late Parliament. Believing that it would lead to a great saving of expense, he should certainly make that proposition in the next Session, if he had a seat in the House.
SIR FREDERICK SMITH
did not agree with the gallant Admiral who had spoken, that we could not man a fleet to go to war with France. He had seen our fleet in the different ports of the country, and he had come to a very different conclusion, and he hoped that the First Lord of the Admiralty would be induced to grant the Commission suggested by the gallant Officer (Lord C. Paget), because he believed the report it would give would confirm what had been adopted by the Government. It was clear that if other countries built line-of-batte ships, we must do so likewise. Contrary to the opinion of several hon. Members, he believed the naval service to be popular, and our ships of the best description. The gallant Admiral said, there was no army to defend us in case of invasion. There was generally some warning of the breaking out of war; he believed that neither France nor Russia, nor any other Power, could attack us without our being able to bring the militia under arms in sufficient time to meet the 445 enemy. He must say, that he never saw any Estimates prepared with greater care than those which the right hon. Gentleman had laid before them that night, but he would suggest that in the next there should be a statement of the vessels under construction in juxtaposition with the statement of the sums for construction of docks and other buildings. As to generals of marine there were no such officers. When officers of marine were appointed generals, they became generals of the regular army. With regard to officers on half-pay receiving larger salaries than their half-pay, it should be remembered that the half-pay was for past and the salary for present services. It was clear, therefore, that if you employed an officer in other than naval and military duties, you must pay him for the services thus rendered in addition to his half-pay.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
said, it was possible the Estimates might be quite correct, but the House ought to be quite satisfied on that point. At present they had no means of knowing what became of the money voted. There was no efficient audit. He could not admit the correctness of the policy suggested by the hon. Gentleman opposite of building two transports a year. If that course had been adopted, we should now have had the dockyards full of rotten ships. Ships which would have been good transports twenty or thirty years ago would not be fit for colliers now, when the coal trade has begun to be conducted in screw vessels. As it was, many of our old ships were rotting faster than if they were actually in use, and it would be almost cheaper to burn them; certainly, it would be better economy to sell them than to keep them as they were now. It was remarkable that, according to the report of the Forests Committee, the country actually could not afford to buy its own timber for shipbuilding purposes. We had voted millions years before the late war broke out; and yet when that event occurred, the gallant Admiral below him (Sir C. Napier) was unable to strike the blow, which he might otherwise have done, for want of gun-boats. There was one practice which prevailed, in the navy, and entailed great expense, which he thought should be avoided in future. He alluded to the custom of dismantling ships at the expiration of the term for which they were commissioned. A ship on her return home is generally in fair condition—often in splendid order—and it is easy to keep her so. He thought 446 that if they were then in an efficient state they should be recommissioned "all standing," in place of fitting out other ships at great expense. Sailors had told him that it would make your hair stand on end to see the manner in which the national property was treated when a ship was paid off. Excellent materials, such as good new rope, were cut and hacked to pieces to show how smart the crew are in dismantling their craft. He thought that the constant comparisons made between the French fleet and our own would have a very bad effect. We had free institutions, free discussion, and a free press; we had 200,000 men in our mercantile marine; and we did not think we should be wanting to ourselves, or that we should be found unable to cope with any other nation, if the occasion should arise. Sailors could be always obtained if sufficient inducements were only held out. But the rewards offered when the gallant Admiral (Sir C. Napier) was going to the Baltic were inadequate, and the consequence was, that they were obliged to put any riffraff instead of good seamen on board the fleet, and the gallant Admiral was compelled to put to sea with men, some of whom were not fit to reef topsails. Before the late war broke out, he (Sir J. Trelawny) remembered that gallant Admiral remarking to him in private that the Russians had thirty line-of-battle ships in the Baltic, and that great evil would ensue from the unwise mode of proceeding adopted by England in not being prepared with suitable vessels for a great war. Failure at length came, and the gallant Admiral was illtreated and made the scapegoat for the sins of others. Both the "ins" and the "outs" in that House were, he was sorry to say, indisposed to assist in the reforms which were requisite in our naval administration. The "ins,' because they did not like the trouble of inquiry; the "outs," first, because they had memory and recollected the things they were concerned in when in office, and feared, that if the things that were now done were too sharply criticised, what they had done would be sharply criticised also. Besides, they also looked forward to another taste of the sweets of office. He observed, therefore, that old officials, who had been behind the scenes, and were well acquainted with the subject, were generally silent during these discussions, and left them to those who, like himself, were as ignorant as new-born babes of the secrets of the service, and incapable of selecting the 447 proper objects of attack. One thing that pleased him in these Estimates was, that the labour of the convicts was to be employed to a considerable extent; for he believed that under proper management such labour might be rendered profitable. It was said that these high Estimates were to be justified by the fact of our having two wars on hand; but he has told his constituents that, if he had been in the House he should have voted with respect to the China war with Mr. Cobden; therefore he washed his hands of that, and did not admit the fact of that war as a justification of the present high Estimates. About the Persian war he said nothing, because we had not the facts before us. Without the employment of the coast-guard there could be no doubt that the fleet under Admiral Napier could never have got to sea in time for the first campaign in the Baltic. But in considering the propriety of looking to that force as a regular source for the supply of seamen to the navy on an emergency, it should be remembered that a very good coast-guard man might make a very bad sailor, and if they withdrew the coastguard men who had acquired a knowledge of the localities where they were stationed, and of the people in the neighbourhood, they would again give, as he believed they had in the last war given, great facilities for smuggling. He thought the case of the masters in the navy was well worthy of the attention of the House. There were what were called two lines in the service. However well conversant with his profession—however competent to command or navigate a ship—a man coming up from the lower grades, and arriving at the rank of master, stopped there without any hope of promotion, the higher grades in the navy being reserved for the aristocracy, while in the army a man might rise from the ranks to be a general. We had many useless functionaries in our dockyards. He did not believe that there was any necessity for admirals at the head of the establishment at Chatham, Devonport, and Pembroke. They were not practical ship architects, and did not in any way tend to render more efficient the real business of the dockyard. The superintendent of a shipbuilding yard should be a man practically conversant with naval architecture. The superintendent of a hospital should be a first-rate medical man. The superintendent of a victualling-yard should be a first-rate commissariat officer, not a naval captain or admiral, liable, in his turn or on promotion, 448 to give up his office to a new comer with all his business to learn. For purposes of discipline a port-admiral and flag-lieutenant are quite sufficient. He believed, too, that great waste took place under the head of "old stores;" and he believed that if they had applied to a mercantile firm, they might have got the gun-boats laid up, and properly taken care of, at a much less expense than the sum of £20,000, which was taken for that purpose in the Estimates. He trusted if a Committee were appointed, all these matters would be taken into consideration. He apologized for addressing the House at greater length than they might have thought the occasion justified; but, in doing so, he had fulfilled a promise he had made to his constituents, that he would use his best endeavours to see that the public money was economically expended.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
, in reply, stated that steps were being taken to supply seamen with a uniform dress, on the same terms on which they bought the rest of their clothes. The Government had left the appointment of cadets by captains of ships where they found it. But in reply to the question asked by the hon. and gallant Member for Christ Church (Admiral Walcott) he would state that they intended to establish at Portsmouth and Devonport training ships, where the cadets might be prepared for service at sea, and to which cruising brigs should be attached, so that they would not go to sea without possessing much more instruction than they did at present. It had been said by the hon. and gallant Admiral the Member for Southwark (Sir C. Napier) that not more than 400 men had been received from the mercantile service at the time of fitting out the Baltic fleet last war. He was not then at the Admiralty, but he knew that in two years upwards of 16,000 men and 4,000 boys were added to the naval forces, and he did not know where they came from, unless a great part had come from the merchant service. He quite concurred in the policy of recommissioning ships which were still in an efficient state for service, instead of dismantling them and fitting new ones. The best proof of that was that they were doing it. The Boscawen, which had just returned from the West Indies, had been recommissioned without any repairs or alterations. Although the contrary had been asserted in the course of the debate, it was perfectly immaterial to the First Lord of the Ad- 449 miralty whether he appointed new officers to a ship which was paid off, or appointed them to a new ship. The gallant Admiral (Sir C. Napier) had made some observations on the number of the admirals on the retired and reserved list. The object of that list was to reduce the number of captains so as to get officers of moderate age for admirals. It was impossible to lay down any rule for effecting this object which would not operate more stringently in some cases than in others; but a rule of some kind, having the same object, and necessarily liable to the same defects, prevailed in every service—the French and American, for instance,—as well as our own. And, for his own part, he preferred the rule adopted at the Admiralty to that of these latter countries. The result of the operation of that rule was, that we are now getting admirals of a reasonable age. Formerly, no post-captain became an admiral under thirty years' service; the next admiral to be made would be the first who had attained the rank after being only twenty years as post-captain. The post-captains, instead of being far above 500 in number, as was the case at the time the rule came into operation, were now only 382. When they were reduced to 350, the number fixed by the order in council, some check would be placed upon the operation of the rule for transferring officers to the retired list. The noble Lord (Lord C. Paget) had said that the block-ships were the most efficient ships in the Baltic. It was true that, on account of the light draught of water, they and the gunboats were so in that case; and that they would be so in the case of operations on our own coast. But they would not be safe vessels to send across the Atlantic. They could not keep their place in a cruising squadron. They were admirably fitted for the defence of rivers or harbours, and it was accordingly intended to station them in the Mersey, Shannon, Humber, &c., as training ships for the naval coast volunteers and coastguard men. He had never said, as had been supposed, that we must bring the numerical proportion of our ships to those of the French up to what it had been during the last war. All he said was, that when our line-of-battle ships only exceeded the French by two, that was not the proportion that our fleet should bear. The hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) had referred to the propriety of having a coaling depot at Plymouth. He 450 should be glad to propose one; the only consideration was the money that would be required for its establishment. The heavy expenditure which was now taking place upon our navy was rendered necessary, not to keep up a sailing navy, but to substitute a steam navy for a sailing navy. A similar revolution was going on in the merchant service—changes of the same description were being made in every branch of manufacture. He recollected going though the mill of a friend at Leeds, who told him that not an atom of the machinery he saw there had been in existence ten years before. They must keep pace in the Queen's service with what was going on in the merchant service and in every department of industry throughout the country. His hon. Friend behind him asked about the coast-guard. The Act of Parliament sanctioned the employment of 10,000 men, but he did not think it wise to take a Vote, in the first year for so many, and he only took a Vote for 8,000. If he found the experiment successful he should take a Vote, next year, for the remaining 2,000. It intended to commission eleven ships for the coastguard service. Nine only had actually been commissioned; of these, seven were for the coast of England, one of them stationed on the coast of Ireland, and another on the coast of Scotland. There were also two ships in course of preparation, one of which was intended for the northern coast of Ireland and the other for the west of Scotland, where there was at present no coast-guard whatever. The hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) said he did not see the necessity for so many new ships, and said that none had been sunk or lost. That was true; but the old ones had become obsolete. A complaint had been made that some of the gun-boats had been made of green timber. There was no doubt that in the great hurry in which they were built in the merchants yards, some green timber was used. It was to prevent the necessity of having to use green timber that it was desirable always to keep a large quantity of timber in store. Then the hon. Member for Tavistock (Sir J. Trelawny) had expressed an opinion that it was not necessary to have a superintendent at the various ship-building yards. No doubt a shipwright was the most proper person to superintend the building of a ship, but what they wanted was some person to control the sailors, to superintend the whole 451 of the ships in ordinary, and the rigging of the ships in port, and to give a general superintendence. He ventured to say that no dockyard could go on well unless they had an officer to superintend the whole of the establishment, and the head of no department could superintend the whole. The port-admiral had quite enough to do without going into the detail of the dockyard.
§ Vote agreed to; as were also the following Votes—
§ (2.) £1,349,333, Wages.
§ (3.) £533,922, Victuals.
§ (4.) £84,217, Admiralty Office.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
observed that £1,600, part of this sum, was stated to be the yearly salary of the Admiralty Solicitor, and that £1,000 was paid for his office and assistance of clerks. He should like to know what were the duties which the Solicitor had to perform calling for so large an expenditure. He also wished to have some information about the next item—namely, £4,000 for the expenses of the Marshal of the Admiralty Court, &c.
said, the late Mr. Hume had frequently urged that the official residences of the Lords of the Admiralty should be converted into offices of that department, and as he concurred in that view, he wished to know what had been done in that respect. He thought that the late appointment of the Assistant Secretary of the Admiralty was the most unfortunate that could have been made. To make use of a common expression, the wrong man was put in the wrong place. He had retired, however, and he hoped that the present appointment would be more fortunate.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
, referring to the complaints of the hon. Member for Lambeth as to the Admiralty Solicitor's salary, said that, as legal questions connected with the Admiralty were constantly arising, it was necessary for the Admiralty to have the constant assistance of a Solicitor. The appointment was made several years ago. The salary of the Solicitor included that of the clerk, but it had been found necessary to engage an Assistant Clerk in consequence of the accession of business consequent on the war. So in like manner the expenses of the Marshal of the Admiralty Court were increased by questions relative to prizes. Since last year the house of another naval Lord had been given up for the use of the department, and now the First Lord, along with 452 one naval Lord and a Secretary, resided at the Admiralty. When any pressure occurred he (Sir Charles Wood) was frequently called up in the middle of the night to receive despatches and to give orders, and it was considered advisable that two Lords of the Admiralty should be actually upon the spot. With regard to the late Second Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. Phinn), he was a most efficient and valuable public servant, but he had relinquished his appointment under the belief, as he (Sir Charles Wood) understood, that it would be more advantageous to him to return to practice at the bar. He (Sir Charles Wood) was exceedingly sorry to lose the assistance of that gentleman, but he had endeavoured to supply his place in the best manner he could by appointing to the vacant Secretaryship Mr. Romaine, who had distinguished himself in the Crimea as Judge Advocate.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
asked if it was the intention of the Government, in the plan for the proposed new public offices, to make any provision for removing the civil department of the Admiralty from Somerset House to the new buildings.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
stated that the Surveyor of the Navy now occupied the house in which Captain Milne, one of the Lords of the Admiralty, formerly resided. Mr. Osborne then said, desultory as the criticisms and discussions on the Naval Estimates necessarily were, he had been somewhat surprised and pained to hear the gallant Admiral opposite (Admiral Duncombe) introduce into this discussion an element which, in his (Mr. Osborne's) opinion, had no connection with the question before the Committee. That hon. and gallant Member had taken upon himself to say that the choice of his (Mr. Osborne's) late friend and colleague, Mr. Phinn, was an unfortunate one. He (Mr. Osborne) would venture to say, on the contrary, that the choice was in every respect most fortunate, and there were few persons who had done themselves greater honour and credit than Mr. Phinn during the short time for which, he regretted to say, that gentleman had held office. He (Mr. Osborne) thought the course pursued by the gallant Admiral was most ungenerous, that he had not possessed himself of the facts of the case as he ought to have done before bringing it forward. The office, as he (Mr. Osborne) knew, was pressed upon Mr. Phinn, who did not accept it without 453 great hesitation. Mr. Phinn was not a candidate for the appointment; indeed, he distinctly refused it twice; and while he held the office he discharged its duties in a manner which, had the gallant Admiral been better informed on the subject, he would have been one of the first to acknowledge. Mr. Phinn resigned the appointment in order to resume his profession. He (Mr. Osborne) was unacquainted with that gentleman's private reasons for the course he had taken, but, doubtless, he thought that he could more easily obtain an independency by means of the profession he had originally adopted. What he protested against was the hon. and gallant Admiral's taking advantage of his position in that House to characterize Mr. Phinn's appointment as an unfortunate one. In reply, he (Mr. Osborne) begged to say that there could not have been a better appointment.
observed that the hon. Member for Dovor was so high an authority in that House that he supposed he must consider himself very unfortunate in differing from him. He (Admiral Duncombe) begged to say, however, that he never hesitated to express either in that House or elsewhere any opinion which he entertained. He took no advantage of his position in that House. He stated what his opinion was, and so long as it was his opinion he should state it there or anywhere else.
MR. C. W. MARTIN
, as a very near relative of Mr. Phinn, begged to thank his hon. Friend the Member for Dovor for having defended him so kindly and generously. He (Mr. Martin) believed that the statement of that hon. Gentleman was perfectly justified by the conduct of his relative, who had for some years occupied a seat in that House with credit, who had raised himself to a good position at the bar, and upon whose character from his earliest years he defied any man to cast the slightest imputation.
§ SIR WILLIAM CODRINGTON
observed that the Lords of the Admiralty and other naval officers received their half-pay in addition to their official allowances; and he wished to know why the same principle was not applied to the retired officers in Greenwich Hospital, who were in a very similar position?
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, the subject had been more than once discussed in that House, and was at present under the consideration of the Treasury, but he 454 could not answer the gallant Officer's question until he was informed of their determination.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also
§ (5.) £118,150, Const-guard Service.
§ (6.) £33,091, Scientific Departments.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
questioned the necessity of so large an aggregate amount as £33,091 for the "scientific branch."
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
did not think the charge unreasonable, when it was considered that chronometers were purchased and repaired for the whole fleet.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
observed that chronometers, when carefully kept, would last for thirty years: we ought by this time to have myriads of them.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, he had abstained from making any observation on the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty, which was unusually clear, and which seemed to him to be very satisfactory. All his reasons for the whole scheme appeared to be good. He only rose with respect to a matter of detail in the present Vote. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman what was the object of the expedition to explore the River Tehadda, for he thought, after the experience they had of central African expeditions, they ought not to be too ready to repeat such experiments.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
believed that the expedition in question was wholly unconnected with the Admiralty. It had been recommended by the Secretary of State for the Foreign Department, under the sanction of the Treasury, and was conducted by them independently of the Admiralty, with the view of facilitating the suppression of the slave trade by establishing legitimate traffic. As, however, the Under Secretary was not in the House, he was afraid he could not give them any further information.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, that the loss of life in such expeditions had already been excessive. There was also another matter to which he wished to call his right hon. Friend's attention—namely, the Vote for the survey of the River Thames. For the last twenty-five years, he had been annually hearing of surveys of the Thames, but he had not yet seen any result from these operations.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
admitted that the survey had been going on for some time, and every year it was discovered that the sands were shifting. Consequently 455 a survey which might have been accurate nine or ten years back would not be accurate at the present time.
§ MR. WARRE
did not think that the expedition which had been referred to would be attended with any loss of life. The African river had already been successfully ascended, and one of the native chiefs said that he would be glad to see the Europeans, but unless they came at certain periods it would be vain to expect that any regular course of commerce could be opened.
§ MR. STAFFORD
regretted that the First Lord of the Admiralty was not able to give a clearer answer to the question put to him by the right hon. Member for Carlisle than by stating that the Member of the Government in whose department this expedition originated was not in the House, and that the item, though it appeared in the Admiralty Votes, did not belong to the Admiralty. He should not have noticed this matter now if it had not been that the same thing so frequently happened last Session that he had to appeal to the First Lord of the Admiralty to prevent its recurrence. He was ready to bear testimony to the clearness of the right hon. Gentleman's statement on the Estimates, and he hoped that upon the Report the right hon. Gentleman would give some explanation on this point.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, an Estimate would be submitted to the House for the expenses of the expedition in a fitting form, and that would afford a better opportunity for explanation.
§ MR. CAIRD
thought there might be good reasons, perhaps, in the present state of the finances, for not sending out expeditions in search of guano; but when such an expedition as that referred to by the right hon. Member for Carlisle was approved by the Government, he conceived that the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) had a fair claim in favour of an expedition for so important an object as the discovery of guano. He (Mr. Caird) did not ask for any additional expenditure for the purpose, but he found that foreign surveys were going on in many localities where it was natural to suppose that guano might be discovered, and all he asked was that the Government should give to the officers instructions to make the search for guano one of the objects of their expeditions. In the list of foreign surveys, there was one on the coast of Egypt and the Red Sea, which was a rainless region, 456 where it was natural to suppose beds of guano and nitre might be discovered. It was, therefore, only fair to expect that the officers engaged in explorations in that quarter should be desired to turn their attention to the subject. On the south-east of Africa there was also an exploration going on. Now, on the south-west coast of Africa many large beds of guano had been found, and it might be expected that the expedition on the south-eastern coast would also be successful in finding similar beds, if the attention of the officers were directed to the subject. The right hon. Gentleman had said that in the south-west of the Pacific our officers had instructions to make guano one of the objects of their search, and he believed that, under the directions of the right hon. Member for Carlisle, the officers in the Pacific had long had their attention turned to the subject. The result, however, had not been marked with success, though not because there was no guano to be found, for recently there had been made by the Americans a valuable discovery of guano deposits on two of the Polynesian Islands. One hundred tons of it had been brought to this country, and four sent as a sample to New York. Perhaps if offers of rewards were held out, our officers might meet with the same success as the Americans. There was another expedition in the river La Plata; and from that quarter they might reasonably look for information respecting guano, because there was even a better chance of meeting with it there than on the coast of Patagonia, where some deposits had been found. Without asking for additional expenditure, he trusted that the Committee would impress on the Government the importance of making a search for guano a matter of special instruction to officers engaged on foreign service.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
quite agreed with the hon. Member as to the extreme importance of making a search for guano, and the hon. Member would find in the instructions addressed to naval officers at different times the fullest directions given for that purpose.
§ Vote agreed to.
(7.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £92,224, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Salaries of the Officers and the Contingent Expenses of Her Majesty's Naval Establishments at Home, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1858.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
, referring to the observations he had already made upon the want of proper encouragement to masters in the naval service, said that he had not yet received any reply from the right hon. Baronet. He also took exception to the appointment of the captains superintendent of the different dockyards, and urged that a more practical set of men should be selected for these situations. He thought, for example, that masters in the navy would be well qualified, from their previous habits and general attainments, to discharge the duties required of the superintendents. He wished to get rid of the present superiors, and with this view he should divide the Committee upon the Vote.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
suggested that, instead of dividing against the Vote, his hon. Friend should move as an Amendment to reduce it by the sum paid to the superintendents of the different yards. He hoped, however, that the Committee would not agree to such a proposition, because he was persuaded that a department, to be well managed, must be under the control of an efficient superintendent, and no one was so well fitted for that office in a naval establishment as a naval officer.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
did not object to superintendents, but he objected to the class of men who were appointed to the situation. In order to test the opinion of the Committee on the subject, he should move as an Amendment that the Vote be reduced to £800, the sum paid to the captain superintendent of the Deptford dockyard.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
believed that the proposition, if agreed to, would be very prejudicial to the service.Motion made, and Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £91,424, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Salaries of the Officers and Contingent Expenses of Her Majesty's Naval Establishments at Home, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1858.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 3; Noes 215: Majority 212.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that, notwithstanding the adverse Vote of the Committee, he could not refrain from calling attention to the fact that the Estimate for the seven dockyards in this, a year of peace, exceeded the sum voted in the last year of war.
§ Original question put, and agreed to.458
§ The next Vote (8.) £15,423, Naval Establishments Abroad was agreed to.
§ (9.) £584,390, Artificers at Home.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said: I wish to offer a few observations to the Committee with respect to this Vote. I cannot say that I am at the present moment prepared to propose a reduction of it, and yet I think it my duty to call the attention of the Government and of the Committee to certain circumstances which are made apparent by the Vote. In the discussion which has taken place with regard to the number of men employed in the fleet, my right hon. Friend stated how painful had been his duty in reducing the number of effective sailors. With my noble and gallant Friend the Member for Sandwich (Lord Clarence Paget) I rejoice to hear the assurance he gave to the Committee that perfect good faith had been observed towards the continuous-service men on the part of the Government, and that there was no intention to force them to go on shore without fulfilling, in the most rigid manner, the engagements of the public towards them. The discussion with regard to the number of ships and the class of ships which ought to be built is a very important one, but every consideration with regard to the efficiency of the navy is secondary when compared with that of having at all times available a sufficient number of able seamen to man these ships. Various steps have been taken in successive Parliaments, all having this object in view. The arrangements with regard to the coast-guard, and those adopted with reference to the Naval Coast Volunteers, all have been directed to the attainment of this end; but nothing that has been done appears to me so likely to be conducive to it as the progressive increase in the number of continuous-service men. If I might venture to express an opinion, I should say that I do not think it is so desirable to vote a large number of continuous-service men, who are well trained in every respect to their profession, as to enter, year by year, a large number of apprentices, for the purpose of passing them through the navy in time of peace as rapidly as possible, and thus creating a numerous body of effective seamen. Your object is to have ablebodied men, and to have the power of putting your hand upon them whenever war and the necessities of the service require that they should be had; and that can only be done by giving them early pensions when 459 they retire. I know that such a system would be expensive; but if in time of peace you reduce the number of trained men who have served seven or ten years, there would, I think, be no outlay so good for the public as to grant those men small pensions even in the prime of life. To come to Parliament for such a purpose would be a most legitimate course, and this House, if well advised on the subject, would not, I think, demur to it. But I will not discuss that point now. I only hope that in the gradual operation of lessening the number of men voted during the war, it will be possible to reduce the number of continuous-service men without any breach of faith, and to add to the number of pensioners ready to serve at call and on the shortest notice. If, however, the Government should be prohibited by a forced regard to economy from entering into engagements with these men on their retirement, the matter does not assume the same shape when we come to discuss the system pursued in the dockyards. From Vote No. 8, it appears that the number of artificers and labourers employed in these yards amount to 10,850. And, so far from any reduction being effected, the number voted for the present year is identical with that voted in the year antecedent—that is to say, that, though this is the second year of peace, no reduction whatever has been effected in the number of artificers and labourers. If Gentlemen will look at page 51 of the Estimates, they will find a detail of the men employed, with their occupations; and it will there be seen that it is proposed to keep up as a peace establishment a body of 4,000 shipwrights, being identically the number employed during last year. This brings us naturally to the consideration of the subject mooted by my noble and gallant Friend the Member for Sandwich (Lord Clarence Paget). It is of the last importance that the question which he raised should be decided with reference to the class of vessels, on which this large amount of labour is to be employed. My noble and gallant Friend said he wished this question could be referred to a commission of naval officers. But I know no Commission of naval officers more competent to decide the question than those who constitute the Board of Admiralty. Unfortunately, we have not here a naval officer connected with that Board, to take part in this discussion; but, at the same time, in the absence of any such officer, I must express my opinion that Sir 460 F. Berkeley, Admiral Dundas, Admiral Eden, Captain Milne, and Sir Baldwin Walker form a Commission of naval officers as competent to advise my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty on this great point, which I admit is one of vast importance, as any body of officers that could be collected. I must also say, that I should be glad to see my noble Friend the Member for Sandwich on that Commission of the Board of Admiralty. His personal reputation, his great talents, and his hereditary claims entitle him to give an opinion of the utmost weight upon this question; and, though he spoke somewhat disparagingly of large line-of-battle ships, yet during the last war he commanded one of the largest of them, and no officer engaged in that war gained a more deserved reputation than my noble Friend. The question he has this night raised is one worthy of the most mature deliberation, and so far as I am able to judge, my right hon. Friend at the head of the Board of Admiralty gave a wise and prudent answer to that question. I do not think it would be expedient to stop building line-of-battle ships, and line-of-battle ships of the largest class. Whatever may, in the abstract, be the prudent course to follow in that respect, while the great maritime Powers, our rivals, both in Europe and America, continue to build ships of the largest class, it is not prudent for us, with a due regard to our maritime superiority, to abstain from doing the same. That it is a question of proportion and degree, I concur in opinion with my right hon. Friend; and I agree with him that we ought to have an ample supply of vessels of every class. Certainly at the commencement of the Russian war it was a great misfortune that the building of gun-boats and mortar-vessels had been discontinued. When the war began the great strain upon our efforts was to find a sufficient force of line-of-battle ships to meet the Russian fleet should it come out, which, though it did not include many screw ships, comprised no less than thirty ships of the line, and to that point our efforts were urgently and successfully directed; but the deficiency of small vessels was a most serious deficiency. My right hon. Friend recognizing that deficiency, did make great exertions to supply the want, and at this time we are in the happy position of those who, along with the construction of leviathan ships have also built an ample force of gunboats and other effective vessels of small 461 size. On the technical point I cannot give a positive opinion, though I believe that both on foreign service and in the defence of our own shores these vessels may be employed even against the largest ships; but if we are called to struggle for our naval superiority in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, or still more distant seas, I do not believe it will be possible to supersede the necessity of having large fleets and ships of a great size, as well as those of a secondary class. But to return to the point from which I have somewhat gone astray. I cannot help thinking that the number of 10,800 artificers and labourers in the navy, including 4,000 shipwrights and 760 boiler-makers, whose appointment was much discussed in the Committee on the Naval Estimates some years ago, is too great a number to be retained in time of peace. One of the recommendations of the Committee to which I have referred, in the case of boiler-making, was that these artificers should only be employed in repairs, and that the manufacture of the boilers in these yards should not be attempted. I must take leave to suggest, subject to the opinion of my right hon. Friend, whether in another year, when the pressure from the war is not so great, it will not be matter for serious consideration how far this large Vote may not be susceptible of reduction, with a view to the economy of the public service. There is another point to which I wish to draw the attention of my right hon. Friend. At page 51 there is given a statement of the number and description of the workmen employed in the steam factories at Woolwich, Sheerness, Portsmouth, and Devonport, and there is a detail of the factory account giving the subdivisions of the various dockyards. Now, I should have thought it possible to have given a similar return with reference to the victualling yards, which would have been very satisfactory. By such a statement being given in detail, the House of Commons will be better able to exercise a wholesome supervision over that portion of the Estimates. My right hon. Friend has stated to the Committee no doubt ample reasons why the reduction has not been carried to the point at which matters stood in previous years; but, entertaining the opinions I do, and having due regard to the great importance of keeping up the number of effective seamen at any cost, still I am axious on the part of the public to see that counterbalanced by carrying on 462 the business of our dockyards and factories with a due regard to economy.
§ SIR ERSKINE PERRY
wished to ask a question with regard to the wages paid to the men employed in the yards. He believed his right hon. Friend had been obliged to raise the wages of many of the dock operatives, but had he gone far enough? The labourers in the yards were paid at the rate of 12s. a week, the same rate at which they had been paid for thirty years. On a former occasion the First Lord of the Admiralty had stated that the rise in the wages of these labourers was not on account of the rise in provisions, but on account of their having been placed on job or task work; but in the Admiralty order, the rise in provisions was given as one of the reasons of the increase. The same rise in provisions was still going on; many of the articles of consumption, such as leather, coals, butter, were very much higher in price; and, following out the Admiralty order, there ought to be a still further increase of wages. The Admiralty had been obliged to increase the wages of the skilled labourers in several branches, and it would be well, if before any great clamour should arise, if the Admiralty came to the conclusion that unskilled labourers ought to participate in the rise. His constituents complained, too, that the clerks in the Admiralty who drew up the Estimates adhered so strictly to their old traditions that they never mentioned such a place as Devonport dockyard. It was always unpleasant to the inhabitants of a place to have it called by another name than its own, and if there was any name by which the people of Devonport would dislike their town to be called, it was by that of Plymouth.
§ MR. P. W. MARTIN
said, he had ascertained that in the county of Warwick the average rate of wages for labourers was 12s., which was just what unskilled labourers had in Her Majesty's dockyard; but there was this difference that, in Warwickshire, a labourer's cottage could be had for £4 or under £5 a year, whereas it was impossible to get a decent lodging in Woolwich, Chatham, or Rochester, under £7, £9, or £10 a year. He thought that the case of ropemaker's labourers was deserving of special consideration. He had been told that the smiths in the dockyards had had their wages raised to 15s., because they could not leave the yard in the 463 day time, but were obliged to stay to keep the forges in; but the ropemakers, who were in a similar position, and under the same disadvantage, were allowed only 12s. Hon. Members could form no idea of the distress that now prevailed at Woolwich.
MR. SERJEANT KINGLAKE
, believing that the unskilled workmen were ground down to the lowest possible point, deemed it his duty, as Member for Rochester, to raise his voice for them. The number of men employed at Chatham was 1,778, and the amount voted for them was £106,778, which was about £30,000 less than last year. The sailmakers and ropemakers and spinners, paid in the Queen's yards 3s. 6d. a day, were paid in private yards 5s. a day. Now, if this continued to be so, the country would lose the benefit of the best workmen, and the result would be that ships would be lost through ill-construction; and the country would not be satisfied when it was found that our artisans were ill-paid. Though he was an advocate for retrenchment in the public expenditure, he hoped it would not begin with the wages on which labourers were dependent for the maintenance of themselves and their families.
SIR FREDERICK SMITH
fully concurred in the opinion that the wages paid to the mechanics were inadequate to the labour performed. The smiths in the dockyard at Chatham were very inadequately paid, and they had very arduous duties to perform, as the fires were never put out, and they had few opportunities of going to their homes.
§ SIR GEORGE PECHELL
thought the case of Portsmouth might be added to those of Woolwich, Plymouth, and Chatham. Leaving that subject, however, he rejoiced that the Government meant to retain that valuable body, the petty officers and able seamen. He also wished to bear testimony to the activity, zeal, and abilities of the first naval Lord of the Admiralty (Admiral Berkeley), who had done much to make our seamen well paid and well clothed, and to whom we were mainly indebted for the organization of the coast volunteers. He regretted that he was not present to witness the triumphant reception of these Estimates, and hoped that he would not long be absent from the House. As to building the enormous "screw liners," he could not, as a professional man, express his doubts as to 464 their efficiency. The gigantic guns were very difficult to manage.
§ SIR WILLIAM CODRINGTON
rose to add another dockyard to the list of complainants. He could not agree with those who thought that the wages of artisans in the Queen's yards should not be so high as the wages of artisans in private yards, because there were advantages in the Queen's yards. But the disproportion should not be so great as to place the Queen's workmen at a disadvantage. The wages should be such as to command the best class of workmen; but looking at the wages received by agricultural labourers, he thought they ought to receive more than 12s. a week.
§ MR. TOWNSEND
, as a new Member, rose to address the House, and claimed a patient hearing as the Member for Greenwich. He supported the claims of the artisans in the Royal shipyards (referring particularly to Deptford), and he trusted that the Government would give the matter their serious consideration, as it was impossible for men to support their families on the wages at present given.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he was very glad that the conduct of the present Board of Admiralty had received the approbation of his right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), than whom no one was better qualified to pronounce an opinion on such a subject. In reply to his right hon. Friend's observations as to the non-reduction of the number of artificers in consequence of the peace, he (Sir C. Wood) must remind him that the number of these men borne upon the establishment was not increased during the war. In point of fact, the number of men which he proposed to vote this year was not so large as the number voted in 1845. The addition made during the war was effected by hiring extra artificers of all kinds. In 1845 the number of men borne on the books of the dockyards, exclusive of the factories, was 10,872; in 1848 it was 12,500; in 1849, 10,092; and in the present year it would be 10,850, being slightly less than the number voted in 1845, a year during which no particular exertions were required. As regarded the factories the case was different. The increasing number of steam-ships rendered necessary the employment of an increased number of smiths and artificers. In the case of boiler-makers the increase was still more necessary, from a Resolution which 465 had been arrived at by former Boards of Admiralty to have a larger proportion of boilers constructed in the Government yards, in consequence of complaints that had been made of those supplied by contractors. The only other point which it was necessary to notice was that which had been so strongly urged by the representatives of dockyard boroughs—the payment of labourers; and, from the discussion which had taken place that evening, the House could form an opinion of the pressure which was brought to bear upon the Admiralty in any attempt to reduce the expenditure of the nation. The facts were these:—Before the war broke out, all persons, artificers and labourers, were paid by day-work, but when the pressure of war came, it was found requisite to stimulate exertion by offering payment for job-work. It was also necessary to give additional pay to those who superintended the artificers and labourers, and who were called upon for additional exertion. When peace came, there was a gradual recurrence to the old system, but there was no sudden discharge of the men who had been taken during the emergency of the war. Some three months' notice was given of the intention to reduce the establishment, and that length of time given to men to find employment elsewhere. With respect to those men who were upon the strength of the dockyards before the war, it had been found necessary in some cases—such as shipwrights—to raise the rate of pay if it was desired to retain the best men, and in regard to the wages in private yards inquiries were now being made. But he would remark, that no rule could be founded on the result of these inquiries as to wages, since they varied very much in the several ports of the kingdom. Comparisons had been also made between agricultural labourers and the workmen in the public dockyards. It must be remembered, however, by the Committee that the wages of agricultural labourers were not permanent, like those of dockyard labourers, and, moreover, they had not the advantages of medical assistance and pensions, which gave a great advantage to the latter. As to the rate of wages paid to shipwrights in private yards, it was impossible to ascertain any general rule by which the Admiralty could be guided, but the Government was only anxious to do justice to all persons whom it employed, while at the same time it paid due attention to the interests of the public.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also the next Vote.
§ (10.) £33,383, Artificers Abroad.
§ (11.) £895,450, Naval Stores.
§ SIR GEORGE PECHELL
called attention to the manner in which coals were wasted on board steam-ships in the navy, and trusted the First Lord would take into consideration the means of lessening the consumption.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, that when the Naval Estimates were before Parliament in the early part of the year, the noble Lord the Member for the City of London had pronounced them to be on a very extravagant scale; he could not share in that opinion, but if any extravagance could be attributed to them, it would be upon the present and the following Vote. It did appear to him, that the sum for naval stores was a large one. During the last three years, speaking in round numbers, no less than £8,000,000 had been voted for naval stores, and of that sum £7,000,000 had been voted in the last two years. What he wished the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty to explain was, how the Committee could exercise any judgment upon the subject without knowing something about the stock in hand. They had, however, no means of knowing anything upon that subject. The amount required for the present year was unparalleled in time of peace, and required some explanation. Another question, well worthy, the attention of the Committee was, what became of the "old stores" that were no longer of any use. He had been informed that stores which had been sent to the Crimea, and which had not been used, had been sold as old stores. In fact, he had been told that a deputy-paymaster, in reference to the subject, had said, "Oh! we can live a long time on old stores." If such were really the case, it appeared to him that it was something like buying in a dear market and selling in a cheap one, a process by no means for the benefit of the public. If a principle of economy was to be introduced, the present was the year for commencing it, and the large Vote for naval stores did not appear to him a good commencement. He believed, if the present expenditure were sanctioned, they would have to vote fresh taxes next year. He thought also that it would be desirable to have it expressed in the Estimates how much was actually required for naval pur- 467 poses —he meant war purposes—and how much for miscellaneous purposes.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
was glad attention had been called to the manner in which the stores were disposed of. Several bales of excellent rugs were lately announced for sale as old stores; they were perfectly sound and had only one defect, that it was illegal for the Government to sell new stores, a small cut was therefore made in the centre of each, and they were pronounced to be old stores.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that he hoped to give the hon. Baronet some satisfactory explanation on the subject of stores. He had already stated this evening, that during the war there had been a great consumption of stores, and it was therefore necessary during the present year to take a larger Vote than would be required in subsequent years, in order to place the stores in hand on the same footing that they stood upon before the war. In the item of timber alone, of which it was necessary to keep a large stock for building ships, in the year 1852 the consumption had been 18,734 loads; in 1853, 20,289 loads; and in 1856, 40,000 loads. Now, the shipbuilding timber in store in 1855 had been 63,500 loads, and in 1856, 56,900 loads, so that there was a deficiency of nearly 7,000 loads, which it was necessary to replace. The contracts also for timber, like most other contracts, extended over two or three years, and it would have been most improper on the part of the Government if they had left the yards below their regular establishment of timber for shipbuilding. It was necessary, also, to keep a large stock to have it properly seasoned. The same reasons applied to other articles, such as hemp, canvas, and copper—especially to copper—a very large quantity of which had been used in the construction of gun-boats, and which it was necessary to replace. It was hardly worth while to go into the details of the different items; but that was the reason which applied to all the heavy stores. Every means had been taken to diminish the consumption of coal in the navy, and the most stringent orders had been enforced, as far as they possibly could, both on account of economy, and for the sake of efficiency. All the officers commanding steam-vessels were obliged to keep an account of the number of hours during which they had used steam as their motive power, and the circumstances which had rendered its employ- 468 ment necessary or expedient, and such an arrangement necessarily operated as a check against the unnecessary consumption of coals for propelling purposes. Many steam vessels had in consequence made long voyages under canvas. As an instance of the anxiety of commanding officers to carry the instructions into effect, he might mention that the Urgent had made a large portion of her voyage from Barbadoes under sale, though having troops on board. With respect to the sale of old stores, great quantities of stores were sent to the Crimea which were not wanted for the army, and which, if they had not been sold, would have rotted in the warehouses; they had, however, as far as possible, been employed for the navy. His hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird) had referred to a particular case, in which it would appear that stores had been injured in order that they could no longer be considered as new, and that an excuse might be afforded for disposing of them. He (Sir C. Wood) could only say that he had no knowledge of the facts of that case, and that it was impossible that he could at that moment give any explanation with respect to it. He had received the following letter from the head of the Store Department in the Navy with regard to the alleged sale of stores:—Somerset House, Feb. 14.Dear Sir,—It is not true that while we have been selling provisions returned from the army in the East, we have been purchasing the like stores for the use of the navy; but, on the contrary, we have appropriated to the service of the navy all such articles returned from the army as were found fit for and could be consumed in the navy.—I remain, dear Sir, yours faithfully,THOMAS T. GRANT.The Right Hon. Sir C. Wood, Bart., G.C.B.He hoped that letter would be satisfactory to the Committee as showing that there had been no undue waste of stores in the navy.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he had reason to believe that a quantity of prepared cocoa returned from the Crimea had been sold for the Government at the rate of 40s. per cwt. at a time when they had been paying 79s. per cwt. for unprepared cocoa. He had also been informed, on the most exceptionable authority, that a small quantity of coals, belonging to the Government, worth about £40, had been left behind at a distant station, and had been kept there for three years, while a salary of £100 a year had been paid to the person who had charge of them.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
observed that it was perfectly impossible for the head of any department to answer assertions of that kind without having received previous notice of them. If hon. Gentlemen before making such statements would have the kindness to inform him of them, he would make the requisite inquiries, and then he would be in a condition to give an answer.
§ MR. BOOKER-BLAKEMORE
remarked that the right hon. Baronet had given a satisfactory explanation with respect to timber and coal, but had omitted to state his reasons for reducing the Estimate for steam machinery from £600,000 to £345,000. Was the right hon. Baronet sure he was right in making so large a reduction in one of the most important branches of the navy? He could not understand how, if the Government were honestly determined to maintain the efficiency of our naval armaments, they could propose in the first year of peace to reduce the expenditure for steam machinery. He would earnestly entreat them not to allow any pressure to induce them to cripple our fleet of steam vessels, the chief source of our national strength; but that they would pay the closest attention to what was going on in America and other countries.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (12.) £378,415, New Works.
An HON. MEMBER
asked for an explanation of the vote of £1,000 for the construction of a tunnel under Picola Marina at Malta.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that it had been found necessary to construct the tunnel in order to enable the labourers in the dockyards to pass with facility from one dockyard to another.
§ MR. HENLEY
complained of the large amount which had been expended in the purchase of timber. He believed that some had been used for the purpose of making what were called gun-boat slips, those slips having been considered necessary in consequence of the gun-boats having been built of green wood. He should wish to know whether they had been built by contract or not.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that the greater portion of the gun-boats had been built by contract in the yards of our merchants, where there was not sufficient seasoned timber for the purpose.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
complained that the contractors for removing mud from the harbours and basins were in the habit of discharging it into the tideways.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, he quite concurred with the hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir H. Willoughby) that the vote under the consideration of the Committee was one which required to be closely investigated. He wished to put some questions to his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty with respect to it, to which he had no doubt he would be able to give a satisfactory answer, and which it would, perhaps, be for the convenience of the Committee that he should put at once, in order that his right hon. Friend might be able to reply to them by means of a single statement. The first question which he desired to ask related to the large outlay of £160,000, which it was contemplated to make at Chatham for the first time. He could well understand the prudence of expending even a considerable sum of money upon the repairs of our steam machinery, but he was of opinion that, upon the whole, Sheerness had been most judiciously chosen for the purpose, and the outlay in that quarter having been commenced, he should confess that he was somewhat surprized that a large outlay had also been entered upon at Chatham. He also found £56,000 down for Pembroke, and £30,000 for a new iron foundry at Portsmouth. That was a subject on which he desired to have some explanation; and he should also wish to learn something with respect to the proposition which appeared upon the Votes for the purchase of new land with the view of completing the works at Keyham. He might also remark that the powder magazine at Bull Point had already cost a sum amounting to £147,000, while it was proposed to lay out upon it for the current year a further sum of £25,000. He had hoped that the endless outlay for the breakwater at Plymouth would have been brought to a conclusion before now, yet it appeared that a further sum was necessary for the purpose, while a vote of £20,000 was asked for widening and lengthening the docks at Pembroke. These were matters upon which he thought the Committee had a right to expect some further information.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, he wished, before the First Lord of the Admiralty replied to the right hon. Baronet's questions, to call his attention to the circumstance that, while it was proposed to expend the enormous sum of £600,000 upon different 471 works in England, £1,500 only were to be voted for carrying out a similar object in Ireland. That he (Mr. Maguire) regarded as a policy unjust towards the sister country, and dangerous to the public service. The result of that neglect had been, that one of the finest harbours of refuge—Queenstown—which the united kingdom could boast, had been turned to no account whatever, notwithstanding that Admiral G. Sartorius had given it as his opinion that it was highly expedient that both a naval station and a dockyard should be established in that quarter, instead of having them all in a cluster, when an enemy may sweep down upon them in a night. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle could bear testimony to the advantages which it possessed; for, while engaged—during his official visit to the south of Ireland in 1853—in laying the foundation stone of the Admiralty pier at Queenstown, one of the largest vessels in the empire had entered the harbour at low water. He should, for those reasons, strongly urge upon the First Lord of the Admiralty the propriety of directing his attention to the subject of converting Queenstown into a harbour of refuge. At present, in case of vessels being driven by distress into this harbour, there were no means of assisting them at the command of the Government; the steam-tugs belonging to the merchant service were employed, and it was often a mercy that the vessels were not lost.
§ MR. BOOKER-BLAKEMORE
drew attention to the necessity of making a survey, and taking precautions to protect the commerce, which had so much increased, on the coast of South Wales.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that it was proposed to employ convict labour to a considerable extent at Chatham. A convict prison had been built near the outer wall of the dockyard, and a great deal of work in stacking timber was about to be done by the convicts. Sheerness was situated in such an inconvenient position that he was disinclined to expend money in works there, but a great deal had been spent, and it was necessary to be able to fit and repair vessels that came in there. Some heavy expenses were necessary at Chatham, and he hoped to be able to construct there, as at Portsmouth, places in which the gun-boats could be brought up. Almost the whole of the expenditure for Pembroke was a re-vote, as it was found impossible to execute the works within the year. It 472 was found necessary to widen the dock there to admit the larger vessels now built. The Votes for Keyham were for the most part in execution of the designs already approved. He hoped to provide a place there where the gun-boats might be drawn up, and also to erect barracks for the sailors. With regard to the foundry at Bull Point, that was established in consequence of an understanding when the foundry at Keyham was given up. The Vote for the breakwater at Plymouth was a supplementary estimate. It was found that the force of the waves was so great that the largest stones were lifted and thrown over the breakwater, and it was therefore necessary to alter the construction. The amount already voted was £26,000, the Vote now required was £13,000, and the further estimate to complete the work was £36,000, making a total of £75,000. With regard to the proposal about Queenstown, the works now in progress in the existing dockyards required so large a sum that until they were completed he could not hold out any hopes of undertaking large works in Queenstown harbour. With respect to the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Blakemore) it was intended that one of the coastguard vessels should remain in the Bristol Channel, but lying there was found to be so dangerous that the vessel was ordered to Milford Haven.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
regretted the reduction of the marines from 16,000 to 15,000, as he thought that it was of the last importance that we should maintain, at least, the present establishment of marines. He was of opinion that in time of peace the marines should form the larger portion, if not almost the whole of the garrisons of some of the outports, such as Devonport, Portsmouth, Chatham, and Woolwich. But it was impossible to regard them in this light as apart from the army; and he thought it quite possible that some arrangement could be made with the Minister at War, so that the barracks hitherto occupied by the army at Devonport, Portsmouth, &c. should be given up to the marines. It appeared, however, that a very large Vote was taken for new barracks for the marines, both at Devonport and Portsmouth, and, he believed, at Woolwich, while in the Army Estimates there was also an outlay for additional barracks for the army.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that the marines had very good and extensive barracks at Woolwich, and it was not pro- 473 posed to make any addition to them. With regard to Chatham, it had for many years been considered advisable to enlarge the marine barracks there, and it was proposed to be done by getting rid of a particular class of houses that existed near the barracks. With regard to Portsmouth they were building additional barracks for the army, and could not spare any accommodation for the marines. With regard to Plymoth he had given up to the army the Millbay barracks, and the army had given up to the navy a building and some land adjacent to the marine barracks. There again the present barrack were not sufficient for the army.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, that it seemed strange in a maritime country that the marines should be at Gosport instead of Portsmouth. He would suggest that the arrangement should be to put the troops at Portsmouth in barracks at Gosport, and to locate the marines in the best place for embarkation—namely, at Portsmouth.
§ MR. HENLEY
thought the answer of the First Lord did not go to the point. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) wanted the soldiers taken away from seaport towns and the marines put in their place. The right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood) said there was no room for the marines, because the soldiers were there. But if the soldiers were not there, room might be found. There might be good reasons why the soldiers should be there, but the right hon. Baronet had not stated them.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
had understood the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) to ask why an arrangement could not be made for the army to give up some barracks, and the marines to occupy them. His answer was that the present barrack accommodation was so bad that it was found necessary to erect new buildings.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) had exactly apprehended what he wished to convey. Assuming that in time of peace the garrison at Devonport consisted of 5,000 men 3,000 soldiers and 2,000 marines—it was suggested that henceforth there should be 3,000 marines and 2,000 soldiers. If there were accommodation for 3,000 soldiers and 1,000 were removed, to be replaced by 1,000 marines, he suggested that the 1,000 marines should occupy the barracks of the 1,000 soldiers.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also—474
§ (13.) £20,000, Medicines.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again on Wednesday.