§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
, in rising to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the constitution of the Board of Admiralty, said that he should probably be thought unwise and imprudent in bringing forward his Motion. The First and Second 957 Lords had usually seats in that House. There were also an ex-First Lord in the House, three ex-Secretaries, and four or five lay Lords. Still, notwithstanding those odds against him, he felt it to be his duty to endeavour to persuade the House, if they wished to avoid some serious disaster, to agree to his Motion. The general opinion of the navy was in favour of his Motion. There was hardly a naval officer with whom he conversed, or a commander in chief at one of the ports, or a superintendent of the dockyards, who did not agree that the constitution of the Admiralty might be improved. He had also held conversations with clerks of the Admiralty and of Somerset House, and he believed that if they were polled they also would agree that the navy was not governed as it ought to be. It was, perhaps, necessary that he should explain to new Members the composition of the present Board of the Admiralty. In former days, in the reign of Edward VI., the navy was governed by a Lord High Admiral and a Vice Admiral of England, a Controller, Surveyor, and Clerk of the Acts. This administration was continued until the reign of James II., who was himself Lord High Admiral and Lord General of the Navy. The navy was then managed by the well-known Samuel Pepys. In the reign of William III. the navy was governed by a board. Queen Anne made Prince George of Denmark Lord High Admiral of England, assisted by a counsel of four, one of whom was Vice Admiral of England. After him the Earl of Pembroke became Lord High Admiral with a Council. The navy after that time remained in commission until the Duke of Clarence, afterwards William IV., was made Lord High Admiral. For seventeen or eighteen years previous to that time the navy had been ruled by Lord Melville, and during the whole of that time nothing had been done to promote its interests, or to do away with the shameful system of impressment. He remembered that in 1815 a cornet of dragoons was appointed a Lord of the Admiralty, and Sir G. Cockburn, who was at the Admiralty when this appointment was complained of, stated to the House of Commons that the First Lord of the Admiralty had very little time to attend to the affairs of the navy, which were left almost entirely to the senior naval Lord. This state of things continued until after the Reform Bill, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle was 958 appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, and Sir John Pechell also became one of the naval Lords. He was an excellent officer, and he knew the defects of the system. He (Sir C. Napier) addressed a letter at that time to Sir John Pechell, complaining of the manner in which the affairs of the Admiralty had been managed, pointing out the defects, and urging certain alterations for the improvement of that department. Shortly afterwards the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle brought in a Bill to improve the construction of the Board of Admiralty. Whether the right hon. Baronet had any communication with Sir John Pechell on the subject of his (Sir C. Napier's) communication to the latter, he could not say, but that right hon. Baronet in his Bill proposed the formation of the Board of Admiralty nearly in the way he (Sir C. Napier) had suggested; but he did not carry out his alterations sufficiently far. The Board was now composed of the First Lord, four Naval Lords, and one Civil Lord. It was Sir J. Graham's intention that the Civil Lord should live in Somerset House, and take charge of the duties of the Accountant General, being responsible for signing all papers relative to expenditure; that one of the Lords should superintend the medical and victualling department; another should have jurisdiction of the dockyrds, &c.; a thirs sould superintend the management of the packet service, &c. In fact, each officer of the board was to have the direction of a separate and distinct department. Now, all that looked very well on paper; but the arrangement, however, had not been carried out. Different Lords worked in separate rooms, and there being no concert between them the most contradictory orders were frequently issued. He himself knew of six orders having been issued about the same time by the members of the Board, all contradicting each other. Sir G. Cockburn, who had had eighteen years' experience both of the old and new systems, had expressed opinions on the subject which well deserved the attention of the House. He said, he had no hesitation in stating that the constitution of the Board was most unsatisfactory; first, in the power given to one man to issue orders in the name, and with the authority of the Board. It was true the principal ought to be able to give all orders; but, as matters stood, there was no responsibility upon the party issuing the order, the Board being alone responsible. 959 With regard to the constitution of the Board, he must say that common sense suggested that the person who presided at it should thoroughly understand the duties of his department; but he seldom did understand them. Then, again, the Board consisted of six members, the first and junior Lords, civilians, and four naval Lords, all acting one without the knowledge of the other: much valuable time was lost by such a system in the explanations that constantly became necessary to be made, and a continual state of anxiety, difficulty, and jealousy resulted as a consequence. Those were the opinions of Sir George Cockburn; and here he (Sir C. Napier) must say, that Sir George Cockburn was greatly to blame for not bringing forward his reforms much sooner than he did; but at his death he left the documents above referred to as a legacy to his country and to the Board of Admiralty. It was said that the Board was a responsible body; but he would show, out of the mouth of a First Lord, what was the fact. In his examination before the Sebastopol Committee, the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) stated that he had consulted Lord Spencer, who was once First Lord of the Admiralty, as to the proper mode of conducting the business of this department; and that Lord Spencer told him that when his fellow members of the Board refused to sign his orders, he used to throw the papers on the table and threaten, if they were not signed before he left the room, to go to Mr. Pitt and have all his colleagues turned out. Thus every man sat at the Board with a rope round his neck, and it was in the power of the First Lord to dismiss the whole Admiralty if he liked. As to turning out, he (Sir Charles Napier) might also state to the House that Sir George Cockburn actually turned the late William IV. out of the office of Lord High Admiral, for an act of irregularity committed by him in his office. Sir George Cockburn represented the matter to the Duke of Wellington, then at the head of the Government, and the Lord High Admiral was removed from his post. What was the reason that a single Lord was able to usurp the authority of the entire Board, and his orders were often signed by a colleague without reading them? They had not been told why Mr. Phinn had lately given up the office of Secretary to the Admiralty, but he (Sir C. Napier) supposed that that Gentleman could not conscientiously receive £1,500 a year for simply signing 960 his name to heaps of papers which it was impossible he could read. He (Sir C. Napier) had seen himself instances wherein a Lord of the Admiralty signed a document which he had never read at the request of a clerk. That was the way in which the business of the Admiralty was done. He (Sir C. Napier) knew the working of the system from having himself commanded two fleets; and he had constantly received contradictory orders. A private order was once sent to him by Lord Auckland to take the upper-deck guns out of the St. Vincent, and see how she answered; and when he had obeyed this mandate, another order came out by the next mail, from the senior Naval Lord, expressing surprise at what he had done, and directing him to put the upper-deck guns in again immediately. Considerable difference of opinion existed as to the qualities of the Queen, and he (Sir C. Napier) was directed to take out the squadron to try her. He took her to sea for an experiment, but by the next mail he received a letter from another Lord directing him to send home the Queen immediately. After that, by the following mail, he received another letter, reproving him for sending home that vessel, and expressing regret that she had not been tried. Shortly after, he received a private note from Admiral Dundas, saying, "All the clerks are gone, take this as an order, and send the Queen to Malta directly." The explanation of those contradictory letters was that, after the Admiralty ordered the ship to be tried, somebody in the interest of Sir W. Seymour, who did not wish the trial to take place, got an order from some Lords of the Admiralty to have her sent home at once, and then, when that order had been obeyed, a show of regret was made that no trial had been made. He could state another case, while he was in command of the Baltic fleet. He one day received a letter from the Admiralty directing him to proceed to Wingo Sound, and soon after he received another directing him to open the orders which had been enclosed in a previous letter. He did so, and found that the orders were from the Secretary of State, pointing out what he was to do. In that case he obeyed the orders of the Secretary of State, because he was the highest authority, and also because his orders were the wisest. He accordingly proceeded to Kioje Bay, in order to prevent the junction of the Russian with the Swedish and Danish fleets, a contingency which might 961 have happened had he obeyed the Admiralty orders, and anchored in Wingo Sound. A few days after moving his fleet he received a letter from the Admiralty approving what he had done, and yet long afterwards he was censured by the Board of Admiralty for disobeying their orders. He mentioned these cases to show the confusion which arose from having so many masters. The Lords of the Admiralty meddled with things which they did not understand, and the natural consequence was blundering and confusion. Then, again, he had received private letters from the First Lord giving instructions, and others from the Senior Naval Lord also giving instructions, but differing widely from each other. In the dockyards the same state of things occurred. Sir G. Cockburn, after pointing out the faulty construction of the present Board of Admiralty, had pointed out the mode in which he thought that department should be governed. The gallant Officer recommended that the present Board of Admiralty should be abolished, and that the management of the Navy should be transferred to a flag officer as Naval Commander in Chief, to be assisted by two naval officers, to be called Vice Admiral and Rear Admiral of England, or as might be thought desirable. He also proposed that a leading Member of Parliament should be appointed as Controller of Naval Expenditure, who should be charged with the duty of submitting the Naval Estimates to the House of Commons. The Naval Commander in Chief should decide what ships should be built, repaired, and fitted out, and the quantities of stores to be issued, and those orders the Controller should receive as sufficient authority to warrant the expenditure, although he should be at liberty to make suggestions, and, in the event of any irreconcilable difference of opinion between them, the matter to be decided by the First Lord of the Treasury. Sir G. Cockburn thought it better that the Naval Lord should not be in Parliament, and had anticipated an objection that might be raised against the appointment of a Naval Commander in Chief, on the ground of his being inclined to show undue favour to particular officers. He met that by referring to the Commander in Chief of the Army, who was not found to be unfit for the office because he was a military man. As to another objection, that a Naval Officer might not possess the knowledge and requirements necessary to fit him for 962 a seat in the Cabinet, Sir G. Cockburn replied that it was not necessary the Naval Commander in Chief should be in the Cabinet; but even were it so, many naval officers were quite equal to the position in all respects. That was Sir G. Cockburu's opinion of the Board of Admiralty, and before giving his (Sir C. Napier's) views he would point out some of the evils attendant upon a constant change of that Board. A Ministry which remained in office several years produced Members of the Board of Admiralty who had their own notions of shipbuilding. Each First Lord and those under him had their own crotchets—some being in favour of three-deckers, some for steamers, others for gun-boats. When a change of Ministry took place, the whole Board was altered, new men came in with new notions, or with none at all, quite ignorant of their business, and no one was left to teach it to them, except, perhaps, the second Secretary. Great confusion necessarily ensued, and the House would be astonished when he showed them the expenses of shipbuilding and altering under different First Lords. Millions of money had been squandered in the alteration, realteration, building, destruction, and rebuilding of ships, to meet the whims of the ever-changing Lords of the Admiralty. Some years ago he took the trouble of ascertaining the number of ships which had been built and destroyed between the years 1815 and 1849. We had got rid of 13 three-deckers and 2 receiving ships; 153 two-deckers and 22 receiving ships; 20 fifty-gun ships and 9 receiving ships; 180 frigates, from thirty to fifty guns, and 17 receiving ships; 65 frigates of thirty guns; 418 vessels of all descriptions and 20 receiving ships; making in all 920 ships. During that period there had been built l4 three-deckers, 49 two-deckers, 73 frigates from thirty to fifty guns, 39 frigates under thirty guns; 141 vessels of all descriptions, not including small craft and steamers. In addition to the expense of breaking tip ships, no less than 28 had had their sterns altered under Sir W. Symond's plan, and 26 under other plans; 58 ships had had their magazines altered—some of them three times and 8 of them twice. The expense of cutting down a frigate was upwards of £52,000. From 1821 to 1849 the Estimates for the Navy amounted to upwards of £156,000,000, of which more than £44,000,000 were expended on the dockyards. He did not mean to say that it was not necessary to 963 cut down ships, but he was satisfied that the great number of alterations which had taken place were attributable to the changes at the Admiralty. Any mercantile yard managed as were the affairs of the Board of Admiralty would be instantly ruined. As a remedy for these things he proposed that the chief of the Admiralty should hold his office permanently, independently of any change in the Ministry. He did not go the length of Sir G. Cockburn and Sir G. Clerk, who insisted that that chief should be a naval officer, for he (Sir C. Napier) knew that the prevalent opinion in Parliament was that naval and military men were only fit to be shot at, and that civilians were the only men that knew how to manage the business of the army and navy. Lord St. Vincent made a good First Lord of the Admiralty, though Mr. Pitt said he was not fit to be there. The fact was that he found the navy in a very low state. It was his firmness and character which re-established it after the mutinies of the Nore and Spithead. He restored its discipline. It was said that all the great battles were fought under First Lords who were civilians; but what had those First Lords to do with it? What, in the name of God, had a man taken from the House of Commons, and placed at the head of the Admiralty, to do with the battles? The greatest battle, too—that of Trafalgar—was fought when Lord Barham, a naval man, was at the head of the Admiralty. But he gave no credit to him for that which was really due to Lord Nelson, who would have fought and won that great fight with equal success, whether a naval man or a civilian was at the head of the Admiralty. He believed, with a comparatively trifling alteration in the present system, that the Admiralty would be much more efficient. Sir James Graham did a geat deal, he must confess; he was the first that did reform the Board of Admiralty. The plans which he (Sir C. Napier) had recommended to Lord Melbourne and Lord Althorp had been partially carried out with respect to the registration of seamen, and some other points connected with manning the navy. There was one very important point, and that was the discharge of the continuous-service men. This he thought was objectionable. They were discharged of their own free will, it was true, but the discharge was, nevertheless, objectionable. He understood that there had been an order sent down to 964 Portsmouth to discharge all the first-class boys who were just beginning to be useful—that was to say, with their own consent; but sailors were fond of change—and then all the novices who had been taken from the plough tail and trained into ordinary seamen, were also to be discharged. These men ought not to be discharged at all, but they ought to be taken for five years instead of ten, and when discharged at the end of five years, allowed to re-enter for five years more. He understood that several different orders had been sent down—that, in fact, the telegraph was constantly at work, and that the commanders at the ports hardly knew what to do. He would not deny that the present system looked well on paper—the Navy Board, the Transport Board, and the Victualling Board being abolished, and one of the principal dockyard officers being placed at the head of the victualling, another at the head of the storekeeper's, and a third at the head of the surveyor's departments. Nothing could be more correct, and he believed that when well carried out it would be found to work well. When, however, the Bill effecting this change in the constitution of the board was brought I in, Sir G. Clerk and Sir G. Cockburn said that the real power would fall to these officers without the responsibility. He feared that as the system was worked this was very much the case. There was, he believed, no necessity for having a lay lord, as at present, over the accountant general. That officer should have supreme command of his own department. There should then he officers at the head of the medical, victualling, and surveyor's departments. He would return to the old practice of placing the Vice Admiral of Great Britain at the head of the surveyor's department and store department, who should conduct the whole correspondence with the dockyards, should be responsible for their management, and should from time to time thoroughly inspect them, instead of paying them a visit once a year, as was now the case, a hurried visit, which was more a journey of pleasure than anything else. The Rear-Admiral of Great Britain should have the superintendence of the victualling and medical departments, and should inspect the ships, if necessary. These two Officers would hoist their flags when they went to the outports; their names would carry authority with them and would be respected; and he was perfectly convinced that if this were done enormous sums of money 965 would be saved, and that there would be greater economy and efficiency throughout the entire service. With regard to the Admiralty, the fact was that at present the First Lord was not considered responsible because there existed "a Board." Now, he (Sir C. Napier) would give the First Lord more power, and make the position therefore one of greater responsibility. He had no objection to the present occupant of this office, because the right hon. Gentleman did as well, perhaps better, than any other layman. But he would make him Minister of Marine, occupying an analogous position to that of Minister for War, having under him the vice and rear admirals, and assisted by a captain of the fleet in the duties which, as a civilian, he could not be supposed to understand. [A laugh.] Yes, there were very many duties of this kind; in fact, if they placed civilians at the head of the Admiralty the Government might just as well take a naval officer and make him a bishop. As Minister of Marine all orders would emanate from him, and he would have under him two Secretaries, a civilian and a naval Secretary. The advantages of this arrangement would be that when it was desirable to issue secret orders, no one would know anything about them except the First Lord and one of his Secretaries. And, moreover, every officer would in every case know whom to obey. The Minister, the vice and rear admirals, the captain of the fleet, and the two secretaries would be quite enough to do all the work. In fact, the fewer men you had the better, for then you got more responsibility, and were not bothered by having half-a-dozen people all pulling different ways. The House should remember that it was not until the calamities of the late war that the War Department was remodelled, and they might depend upon it that if something were not done, and done speedily, to improve the management of the navy, we should be visited with a series of disasters. He would remind them of what had befallen the English navy in the war with the United States, when so many of our corvettes and frigates were taken into American ports. He admitted that they were inferior to their antagonists in guns, scantling, masts and yards. But still our ships did not inflict so much injury on the enemy as they should have done. The Americans were, in fact, a young nation, paid more attention to the navy than we did, and were proud to beat their cousins. 966 Immediately after this Napoleon sent out nine frigates, and although five of them were taken, there were no fewer than four drawn battles. Since the war the French navy had got into a high state of discipline, their ships were just as good as ours, and, above all, they could man their fleets when we could not. What we wanted was a better system and better management, so that our ships might be efficiently manned. Unless this were done disasters would surely befall this country, and when once we lost our naval superiority our reign was over. Let the House look at our condition at the present moment. We had no Channel fleet. In a few months we should not have a line-of-battle ship in England, and in case of a sudden war with France and Russia he did not believe the Queen's throne would be worth six months' purchase. ["Oh!oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen might cry "Oh! oh!"; but what should we do? Our ships were not ready—that is to say we had none but trash at different ports instead of having some of our best ships at home—and how then was the country to be defended? He did not wish to say anything which would give offence, he only wanted to open the eyes of the country; and he repeated, therefore, that if France and Russia were to unite together to-morrow this country had not the means of self-defence. He knew from experience the want of system and preparation. He had been in action; he had been beaten; he had had his thighbone broken, simply because his ship was badly manned and the crew badly disciplined. Look at a London mob, which a handful of cavalry could easily disperse. Well, a mob on board ship was not a bit better. When he fell in with the Miguelite fleet, which was double or treble his force, one of the enemy's ships was first boarded by his captain and his son, now no more, and they were hardly followed by a single man of the crew. Yet these were British sailors! And out of the fifty marines only three boarded! Why was this? Because the men were undisciplined, and had no confidence in themselves. True, the Miguelite fleet was taken. [A laugh.] Yes, but by all the rules of warfare it was the British fleet which ought to have been taken. The proper manning of our vessels was of the last importance. As well build forts upon land and not garrison them as man inefficiently our floating forts. If we put badly-disciplined men into them, what in the name of God would they do with 967 68-pounders? Why, they would be afraid to touch them! The First Lord of the Treasury was responsible for all this, and if his Lordship were to stand up in the House and to say that he would not remain at the head of the Government unless an efficient fleet were constantly maintained, he would be supported by the House and by the country. This fleet need not be a large or expensive one, but it ought to be in high order, commanded by young, energetic officers, and thoroughly well manned and well disciplined. If they had a properly-manned fleet that fleet would defy the world. He knew what British seamen were, and he knew that when they got accustomed to each other and to the work, they had a skill and boldness that nothing in the world could face. However, when the sailors they sent out were men picked out of the street for the occasion, their fleet was not well manned. It was said that they could teach a soldier his evolutions in six months; but they could not teach sailors to fight the guns properly and act as disciplined men in any time much short of a year. He hoped the House would agree to his Committee, and he would undertake to show before it that the present state of the Admiralty could not be maintained except at a great risk. He wanted no First Lords on this Committee—no prejudiced persons, but a Committee that would go into the question with unbiassed minds and examine naval officers, and, if they pleased, the Board of Admiralty itself. He knew that many of the present Board of Admiralty disapproved of the system, if they would only stand up and say so, and if the House would grant this Committee he would produce them and many naval officers of experience before it who would fully prove every proposition which he had laid down. The hon. and gallant Admiral concluded by moving for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the constitution of the Board of Admiralty, with the view of rendering it more efficient and better adapted to the various duties it has to perform.
§ MR. BENTINCK
seconded the Motion. It was not his intention to advert to the many points which had been adverted to by his hon. and gallant Friend. If he did so, he could have no claim to the attention of the House; but there was one point on which, although his hon. and gallant Friend had passed it over as hopeless, it was competent for any man to form an 968 opinion, and which was very closely connected with the well-being of the country at large. He alluded to the practice of placing civilians at the head of the Admiralty. He considered that practice to be anomalous, he might say absurd. In saying that, he wished it to be distinctly understood that he was not impugning the abilities of the right hon. Baronet or his predecessors at the Admiralty. So far from that, he admitted the abilities of that right hon. Baronet, for whom he had great respect, and he thought that he and his predecessors deserved great credit, for they had been placed in circumstances of the greatest difficulty; still to the practice he objected, as most injurious to the well-being of the service, and as being absurd. Looking at the other branch of the war service—what, he asked, would be thought of any hon. Member who should stand up in that House, and propose the appointment of a civilian as Commander in Chief? Yet he believed it would be easier to find a civilian capable of filling that high office than one competent to act as First Lord of the Admiralty; and the inconvenience of such an appointment would be much less, as the duties would be more easily learnt. In all other departments it was the profession—if not always the practice—to appoint the man who was best fitted for the post; but how was it possible for a civilian, however great his talents, appointed for the first time to the office of First Lord of the Admiralty, to discharge the duties of that office satisfactorily? This appointment of civilians, then, he looked upon as a great evil; and, with the hon. and gallant Admiral, (Sir C. Napier) he believed that evil to be much increased by the frequent changes of First Lords. A civilian who had been for some years in the office was more competent to discharge its duties than a civilian just introduced at the Board, and whose previous habits had not been such as to prepare him for the very responsible task which he was about to undertake. The House was told that the evil was counteracted by the ability of the permanent servants of the Crown. He believed that nothing could be more meritorious than the services of those permanent officers; but if permanency was in their case attended with such good results, why was not permanency extended to the higher grades? Again, the system of divided responsibility—the system of the orders of one day being countermanded by 969 those of the next—was one under which it was impossible for things to go right. He commended the present First Lord for the course he had adopted on the Motion of his (Mr. Bentinck's) noble and gallant Friend the Member for Sandwich, when the subject of the comparative merits of frigates and three deckers was before the House. On that occasion the First Lord took upon himself a responsibility which others in his position might have sought to evade; but why should the right hon. Baronet, a civilian, be placed in the position of having to decide as to the number of vessels of each class that ought to be built? The system of placing a civilian at the head of the navy was so anomalous, that when it was knocked on the head people would wonder that it ever existed. He (Mr. Bentinck) trusted that, under all the circumstances, the House would grant his hon. and gallant Friend the Committee which he asked for.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
was afraid that the speech of the hon. and gallant Admiral had been so discursive, that he should find it totally impossible to follow him through all the points on which he had touched. The point upon which he chiefly insisted was, that the First Lord of the Admiralty was not a permanent officer. Under our Parliamentary system none of the Members of the Government were permanent, and it would be impossible to have a permanent officer at the head of the Admiralty with a permanent officer nowhere else. It would be an agreeable thing to many, if they could. It was said that the Duke of Cambridge's appointment as Commander of the Forces was permanent, but that was not a parallel case. He was in a totally different position. He was not a Cabinet Minister. The Secretary of State for War, who was the head of the military establishments of the country, was the functionary who answered to the First Lord of the Admiralty, and he was not a permanent officer. The changes which the hon. and gallant officer suggested were no changes at all. According to his plan, the Board of Admiralty was still to be a Board, but it was to be called a Council. The First Lord was still to be First Lord, but was to be called the Minister of Marine. What happened when they had a Lord High Admiral? They had a Council—the very thing that the hon. and gallant Admiral proposed. And what happened then? Sir G. Cockburn complained and a change took place, and they went to the 970 Board again. The hon. and gallant Officer in moving for this Committee, had quoted frequently from his own book on the navy. He did that before, and the result was to send his book through another edition, from the number of copies wanted by the Admiralty and by hon. Members. Probably his reference this evening would lead to the remainder of the stock being sold off. He had cited a letter (quoted at page 84) which he wrote to Sir G. Pechell, but he had omitted to inform the House that in that letter he recommended that the purchase system—a system which in the army the House was rather disposed to question—should be introduced into the navy. The gallant Officer had also referred to a pamphlet written by Sir G. Cockburn—or rather not a pamphlet, but some loose notes which were left by that gallant Officer, but which were unfinished and not intended for publication. Sir G. Cockburn, who was a long time at the Admiralty, had many quarrels, not with civilians, but with the naval officers at the Board, and in consequence of those quarrels he left the notes to which the gallant Officer had referred. But what opinion did Sir G. Cockburn express in that House? In 1820 he said that:—He had no hesitation in stating, and in staking his private as well as his public character on the statement, that it was necessary that the Admiralty Board should remain constituted as it was at present,[Sir C. NAPIER: That was just when he came into office.] Five years later he said:—Speaking from the experience which he had had, he would say that he was sure that any alteration in the Board's present constitution would be injurious to the best interests of the country.Probably, when Gentlemen went out of office, as when they left their commands, they changed their opinions as to what was conducive to the best interests of the country; but those were the opinions which Sir G. Cockburn expressed in that House. If he were rightly informed, in the year 1846 the hon. and gallant Admiral applied to be put on the Board of Admiralty. He could refer to his own pamphlet. [Sir CHARLES NAPIER: The page?] Page 213. This was Lord John Russell's letter to him:—You may remember when you applied to me in 1846 for a seat at the Board of Admiralty, then about to be formed under Lord Auckland (a civilian), and I stated my opinion that your services would be more useful to the public in a naval than a civil department.971 He thought it rather extraordinary that the hon. and gallant Admiral, having applied for civil service under a civilian First Lord in 1846, should in 1857 come down and tell them that it was impossible to carry on the naval affairs of the nation with a civilian as First Lord. He (Mr. Osborne) had a word or two to say about civil and naval First Lords. There had been a great many naval First Lords, and, although their appointments had been received with great approbation by the navy, yet they had generally ended by giving the greatest dissatisfaction. And the Parliamentary inquiries into the administration of the navy had occurred under naval, and all the great improvements had been introduced by civil First Lords. The institution of that gallant body of men, the Royal Marines, the inspection of the dockyards, and the auditing of the accounts, were all due to Lord Sandwich, a civil First Lord, than whom no man had ever been more successful at the Admiralty. These improvements were opposed by the Controller of the Navy, who was always either an admiral or a captain. Of the administration of Lord Keppel, a distinguished naval commander, Lord Shelburne said, that "peace was necessary since the discipline of the navy had become so bad." Lord Howe became First Lord in 1787, and in 1788 debates occurred both in that House and in the House of Lords, with regard to the favouritism exhibited in his promotions. Mr. Fox said in that debate—He approved Lord Howe's conduct while at sea, but his merit and ability vanished when the naval Lord got on shore.Lord St. Vincent, whom the hon. and gallant Officer had referred to as a successful naval First Lord, was the most unfortunate man who ever took office at the Admiralty. A Motion was made in that House calling him to account, because, to reduce the Estimates, stores had been sold to France. In the course of the debate on that Motion, in 1804, Mr. Pitt, in one of his celebrated speeches, said:—I am apt to think that between Lord St. Vincent, as a commander and as a First Lord of the Admiralty, there is a very wide difference. He is much less able in a civil than in a warlike capacity.[Sir C. NAPIER: What did Mr. Fox say?] Mr. Fox on that occasion voted against Mr. Pitt, but he did not say anything in favour of the civil capacity of Lord St. Vincent. [Sir C. NAPIER: Yes, he did.] Then the hon. and gallant Admiral ought to be ready with his quotation. Lord 972 Barham had been thirty years Controller of the Navy, and he was made First Lord to get rid of him at the Council, and he (Mr. B. Osborne) believed that his Lordship never sat at the Board. The gallant officer was guilty of a little inconsistency in speaking of Lord Barham, because, while asserting that the First Lord of the Admiralty had nothing to do with fitting out fleets, he claimed for that officer the credit of having equipped the squadron which won the battle of Trafalgar. He should maintain that the duties of a First Lord of the Admiralty partook as much of a civil as of a naval character, and he might add that, with the exception of the case of Lord Barham, nearly all the great naval actions which had been fought upon the part of this country had been fought under the administration of civilians. A civilian had been at the head of the Admiralty when the victories were won in 1794, when that great victory was gained under Rodney, and the battles of the Nile and of Copenhagen had been achieved under similar auspices. The hon. and gallant Admiral must not forget that the efficiency of a fleet depended very much upon the selection of a proper officer for its command; and he very much doubted whether the appointments which had been made under the direction of naval First Lords had been so satisfactory as those which had been made by civilians, with perhaps a single exception. He might also observe that the greatest improvements which had ever been introduced into the navy had originated under the administration of civilians. In the year 1834, for instance, Sir James Graham had effected a saving in the service of £1,200,000 by a consolidation of the different Boards of Admiralty, and had introduced—that which had never previously been the case—that system of auditing the naval accounts to which they were now subjected. He (Mr. Osborne) by no means desired to lay it down as a rule that a naval man should never be appointed to fill the office of First Lord of the Admiralty. Far from it, he should wish to see a naval man, who was fitted for the position, occupy it as well as anybody else; but what he objected to was that the House should be asked to stultify itself by coming to a decision that a naval man alone should be placed at the head of so important a department. The hon. and gallant Admiral had thought proper to indulge in several remarks with respect to the constitution of the Board of Admiralty, 973 and had stated that his (Mr. Osborne's) late colleague, Mr. Phinn, had resigned his office because he objected to being obliged to sign letters which he could not read. Now, he was in a position to say that Mr. Phinn had resigned for no such reason. He could not have had, as the hon. and gallant Admiral seemed to think, a conscientious objection to signing letters which he never read, inasmuch as he did read those letters. [An intimation of dissent from Sir C. Napier.] The hon. and gallant Admiral might shake his head, but, unless he could inform him that Mr. Phinn had stated to him the contrary, he (Mr. Osborne) must maintain the accuracy of what he had just said, and he might add that Mr. Phinn had retired from the Admiralty because he preferred returning to his profession to continuing in the office which he held in that department. The hon. and gallant Admiral, however, had gone on to talk about the circumstance that private letters had been written, but he (Mr. Osborne) felt astonished that the gallant Admiral should have made any allusion to that subject, considering the use which he had upon a former occasion made of the private letters of his (Mr. Osborne's) right hon. and gallant Friend Sir M. Berkeley. The hon. and gallant Admiral had also contended that a permanent officer should be attached to the Admiralty; but he seemed to have forgotten that there actually was such an officer in the person of the surveyor of the navy. And what was the opinion of the gallant Admiral of the officer who now held that situation? Why, at page 151 of his own work he observed that no better man as a Surveyor of the Navy could be found than Sir Baldwin Walker. The hon. and gallant Admiral went on to add, in not very elegant phraseology, "Give him rope enough, and I will answer for it he will save the service hundreds of thousands." [Sir C. NAPIER: Sir B. Walker is not First Lord of the Admiralty.] The hon. and gallant Admiral seemed determined to keep up a tirade against him (Mr. Osborne); but he, however, did not incommode him, though, no doubt, he thought he did. Sir B. Walker, it was true, was not First Lord of the Admiralty, but then he was a permanent officer connected with the department; and while he remained so, no mistake in the building of vessels would happen through want of professional knowledge. To pass, however, to the 974 book of the gallant Admiral, he was glad to find it there statedThat the well-being of the navy depended so much upon the management of the Minister at the head of the Admiralty; that in order to be acquainted with the merits of that functionary and of the Board generally it was only necessary to see whether the ships were in an efficient state, well commanded, well officered, and well manned.Well, what, he would ask, was the present state of the navy? He believed that it had never been more efficient. Referring even to that fleet which the hon. and gallant Admiral himself had commanded, and which he was so fond of maligning, he perceived that it had been spoken of by the Russians themselves in language the most complimentary. In an extract which he had taken from the Marine Journal, and which related to the movements of the fleet in Barro Sound, he found it stated that the Duke of Wellington had taken the lead in entering the Sound, and had been followed by the rest of the fleet, which had anchored in the most splendid order. The extract went on to add that the vessels had proceeded through portions of the Sound where no Russian pilot would have ventured to take deep-sea ships. Such was the nature of the Russian testimony as to the efficiency of the fleet which had been under the command of the hon. and gallant Admiral in the Baltic, and he was astonished to find that the hon. and gallant Admiral should have seized the present moment to give expression to the opinion that, in case of invasion, the throne of the Queen of England would not be worth six months' purchase. Indeed, if he had not been aware that the hon. and gallant Admiral entertained notions somewhat wild and extravagant upon the subject which he had that evening brought under the notice of the House, he should feel ashamed of one who, in his position, could venture upon such a remark. While we had a navy in so efficient a state as that which we now possessed, with such men directing its management as Sir R. Dundas, Sir M. Berkeley, Captain Milne, and Admiral Eden, who would never cease their exertions if they thought that the throne of the Queen of England was in the slightest danger—he felt assured that the House would see how little foundation there was for the alarm of the hon. and gallant Admiral, and how little necessity existed for a Motion to alter the constitution—or rather to change the name, for that was what the hon. and gallant Admiral 975 really proposed—of the Board of Admiralty. He trusted, therefore, that the House would, by a large majority, reject the Motion, which, if carried, could in no way tend to the benefit of the public service.
§ SIR GEORGE PECHELL
said, he thought it was quite clear that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down carried a good many guns, and that he had used them somewhat unsparingly against the hon. and gallant Admiral who had brought forward the Motion. Although he did not concur in all the sentiments expressed by the hon. and gallant Admiral, yet he thought there were some grounds for his Motion. He doubted very much whether any weight ought to be attached to the opinions of Sir G. Cockburn, because he held a seat in that House for seventeen or eighteen years, and never said a word with regard to the constitution of the Admiralty when that subject was brought forward on the Motion of Sir Charles Napier. In his enumeration of First Lords, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Osborne) had omitted to mention Earl de Grey, who was one of the best civil First Lords of the Admiralty which he (Sir G. Pechell) recollected. He regretted, moreover, that the hon. Gentleman had not gone more fully into the history of the civil administration of the Board of Admiralty, and had not brought his observations upon that head down to the Boards of Admiralty of the present day. The Duke of Northumberland when at the head of the Admiralty, an appointment he (Sir G. Pechell) had hailed with the greatest satisfaction, although he was directly opposed to him in political opinions, had a glorious opportunity of accomplishing those necessary reforms which others had been frightened from attempting. The noble Duke should, for instance, have resisted the abstraction of their half-pay from the poor officers in Greenwich Hospital, and should have taken an independent course apart from all political consideration. Complaints had been made that Englishmen were always found exclusively at the Admiralty. It would, however, be more correct to say, that the current had run in favour of Scotchmen rather than Englishmen. Lord Melville was First Lord of the Admiralty for sixteen years, the Earl of Minto for six years, and the Earl of Haddington for five years. Irishmen certainly did not appear to have held the chief post; there was, however, one famous 976 Secretary from that country who ruled supreme at Charing-cross for near a quarter of a century. He contended that a naval officer should not be disqualified for the post of First Lord of the Admiralty. [Sir C. WOOD: Hear, hear!] The Duke of Northumberland might not have owed his appointment altogether to the fact that he was a naval officer, but still it was a step in the right direction, and he highly approved of the constitution of the noble Duke's Board—not so much of the men themselves as of their being all naval officers. In Lord Melville's time, four out of the seven Lords of the Admiralty were civilians, and they were therefore strong enough to outvote the naval Lords upon all questions. Such a state of things could not be satisfactory either to the profession or the public. He was ready to admit that the last two or three Boards of Admiralty were well deserving of the thanks of the country. Of "present company" he did not like to speak, but the services of one officer who was absent ought not to be omitted upon a discussion affecting the constitution and character of the present board. He referred to Sir Maurice Berkeley, who had been captain and Admiral for forty-three years, and who had been for thirteen years and four months at the Board of Admiralty, and who in every respect was fitted to take the chief command at the Board. He knew the zeal and activity of that hon. and gallant Officer in manning the fleet and in carrying out reforms and improvements in the food, clothing, and pay of seamen, and it was satisfactory to know that those improvements had greatly promoted the efficiency of the service. The present Government was stated to be in favour of reform and retrenchment, and whether those principles would be carried out at the Board of Admiralty remained to be seen. He thought the constant shifting and changing of the Board of Admiralty calculated to prevent the First Lord from knowing the best men for particular commands, but whether his hon. and gallant Friend (if he got his Committee) would be able to induce the House to recommend an alteration of the present system of forming Admiralty Boards, he would not venture to assert.
§ MR. KER
said, he thought this was not the most favourable time for bringing forward such a Motion, as the navy had greatly distinguished itself in the late war. 977 He wished, however, to draw the attention to the facilities offered under the existing system to foreigners for obtaining detailed information with regard to plans and shipbuilding in the Government dockyards. The problem was not yet solved how large and how broad our men of war ought to be, and it was very important that some reserve should be exercised as to the experiments in progress. A very distinguished person was expected to arrive shortly on a visit to this country. He was very much interested in naval affairs, and would no doubt visit our dockyards, to which he should be the last to object. But he objected to facilities being afforded to foreigners to obtain plans and drawings of ships, which, when put into the hands of an imitative people like the Russians, would enable them to build them almost as well as we could. In 1852 he met at St. Petersburg a gentleman employed in the Russian service, who showed him a large design of the Duke of Wellington line-of-battle ship, then in the course of being built in this country. He thought that means should be taken to prevent such designs from getting into the possession of foreign countries. A Russian, like a Chinaman, was very expert in making models from designs, and could turn out as perfect a piece of work with an axe as an English carpenter could do with all his tools.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
Having been unaware of the precise manner and terms in which the hon. and gallant Member (Sir C. Napier) proposed to introduce his Motion for securing the better administration of the Admiralty, I am unable to direct my observations to the subject in that way which I should have desired. Concur I do in many of the observations of the gallant Admiral, but not in all. I consider it of the highest importance that the naval authorities should pay close attention to the progress in science and the improvements made in the fleets of foreign countries. I agree in opinion with the noble Lord the Member for Sandwich in the advantage of a Board to assist the Admiralty in improving the construction of our vessels of war, but then it should not be restricted, as he has proposed, to naval officers, but composed of experienced and scientific men, who should receive the suggestions and consider the inventions of those who have turned their attention to improvements in naval architecture and other inventions pertaining to the naval 978 service—men able to determine and direct to the best advantage the inventions submitted to them from time to time by those who devoted their whole thoughts to the improvement of naval architecture. When it was remembered that towards the close of the last European war we had nearly 1,000 men-of-war in commission, there was nothing surprizing in the fact mentioned by the hon. and gallant Admiral (Sir C. Napier), that we sometimes found ourselves at a disadvantage with the Americans, because it was manifestly impossible to have the whole of such a vast number of vessels efficiently manned, and it was not to be expected that a small ship should be able to contend successfully with a larger. But what a British vessel could do when fairly matched was shown by the Shannon frigate, which, under the command of Captain Broke, beat an American frigate in the short space of fifteen minutes. Such examples of British courage and seamanship showed that there was no danger to our supremacy on the seas. I regret the hon. and gallant Admiral should think we were open to invasion, but I am comforted by the reflection, that in the event of a hostile force approaching our shores—a contingency which I confess I do not regard as very probable—we could in a week encircle our coasts with an ample number of steamers sufficiently armed, and there was not a seaman connected with our mercantile marine who would not be glad to join our standard. It has given me great pain to hear that the late Admiral Sir George Cockburn, whom I had always deemed a high-minded man and an able officer, possessing the highest qualifications, had not the manliness—I can use no other word—when he occupied a seat in this House, to express the sentiments which he regarded as of importance to the interests and welfare of his country, but had left them in memoranda to be made known after his death. Sir George afforded another instance of how differently men in office and men out of office thought and acted. Sir, nothing can astonish me more than the statement of the hon. and gallant Admiral (Sir C. Napier), which I trust to be far from correct, that the Naval Lords of the Admiralty sat at the Board as it were with ropes round their necks. All I can say is, that if they have not the courage to speak their sentiments when they supposed the interests of this country to be in danger, that I hope the rope will be tightened 979 until they were strangled. I do not believe, however, that there is one man in my profession who could be guilty of such dastardly conduct. Undoubtedly there has prevailed in the service from the period of my admission into the navy up to the present time a distrust of the motives on which the patronage of the Board of Admiralty has been bestowed, whether in promotion, employment, or the recommendation of officers to the Sovereign for honours. This painful feeling can only be removed by making the Naval Lords of the Admiralty responsible with their political chief on every occasion for the exercise of that high trust. They necessarily would be regarded by the profession as the competent authority in all matters of detail, and naturally would weigh the personal recommendation of the individual, unbiassed by party favour or interest of family connection. As the case stands now, officers are appointed and reappointed to ships and commands. In some instances these die, and thus the profession not only loses those who have acquired experience, but actually loses also the services of their survivors, who had been so debarred from opportunities of service. I trust some change will, ere long, take place in this respect. I do not care one straw whether the Head of the Admiralty is a naval officer or a civilian, provided he impartially devotes his whole time and energies to the improvement of the service and the promotion of our national interests.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, that several hon. and gallant Members had entered very minutely into an argument as to the merits of a naval or none-naval First Lord. On that point he would say as few words as possible, because he believed the present system worked, on the whole, most advantageously for the country. What he wished to remark was that the House ought not to be led away by the opinions of Sir George Cockburn—a man who, although a high authority, and one of the greatest naval officers England ever produced, was well known towards the latter end of his life to have exhibited a certain impatience of control and an uneasiness at the criticism of other members of his Board. He lamented that so great a man should have ever left such an unfinished and, he might add, unreasonable plan as that which had been described, as a legacy to his country. The tone and temper of the document showed that it had been written under the influence of strong excitement 980 and amid circumstances incompatible with the frame of mind in which any man ought to draw up a scheme to remodel our whole naval administration. There was one paragraph in Sir G. Cockburn's pamphlet which at once showed that the work could not be consulted with propriety in reference to any changes in the Admiralty. After stating that he was obliged to abandon various measures from the opposition of one or other of the members of "this disjointed ruling body,"—an opposition, too, springing from parties having no professional knowledge on the matters under consideration, and whose objections were therefore based on what had been suggested to them by some irresponsible person out of doors, Sir George Cockburn went on to say that, indeed, during his long seat at the Admiralty Board, the annoyances to which he had been subjected from these causes had kept him in a perpetual state of anxiety and perplexity, and had required the exercise of the utmost forbearance on his part to admit of his retaining a position so little consistent with the efficient conduct of the multifarious affairs of the navy. As a naval man, he (Lord C. Paget) knew under what circumstances this passage was penned, and that this great and good man was suffering under what amounted almost to mental aberration, in consequence of the disputes which then prevailed in the Admiralty. He, for one, would never admit that a naval officer was unfit to administer the navy, or to fill the office of First Lord; but after a careful study of past history on this subject, he could not find that during a purely naval administration the service had derived any peculiar advantage. In fact, our bygone naval administrations had, on the whole, been unsuccessful. Those who served in the navy and had had experience of the admirable arrangements for arming, equipping, and fitting out our ships must feel that a deep debt of gratitude was due to the present Board of Admiralty, and also to the right hon. Member for Carlisle, whom he begged to thank for the very flattering manner in which he had spoken of his (Lord C. Paget's) humble services. Under these circumstances, he should be sorry to see a Committee formed to displace the existing machinery, which had worked so well.
§ MR. WARRE
hoped that good faith would be rigidly kept with the continuous-service men of good character who wished to remain in the navy, and that the House 981 would not grudge any extra charge which such a course might entail upon the country. The hon. and gallant Admiral who spoke of the throne of Her Majesty being in danger went entirely on the hypothesis that France and Russia might combine to assail this country. That, it was to be hoped, was but an improbable event; yet if it unfortunately occurred, and we had an inadequate force at home, it was obvious that our shores would be in considerable jeopardy. [Sir C. NAPIER: Hear, hear!] Burke had, in 1786, warned this country of what the French were doing at Cherbourg, and the French had never, since the age of Louis XIV., lost the system of naval and military conscription; nor had they ever lost sight of Napoleon's scheme of invasion. The internal communication of France was now by the railroad system so improved that she had the power of manning very rapidly a powerful and formidable navy, and she possessed great powers of obtaining men. It was all very well to rely on a steam navy, but a navy was no good without men; and he felt that it was true wisdom and economy to keep our navy well manned, for which reason he strongly recommended that good faith be kept with our "continuous-service" men.
§ MR. LINDSAY
said, he had not heard from the Secretary of the Admiralty any answer to the reasons put forward by his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir C. Napier) for the appointment of a Committee. He should support his hon. and gallant Friend because he believed that the present management of our navy required an inquiry. Even if the system were unsusceptible of improvement, an inquiry could do no possible harm. Great expense was incurred in our dockyards by the continual alterations of ships; nor could they lose sight of the various contradictory orders issued by the Admiralty; nor of the fact that no change had been made in the constitution of the Admiralty; and yet when we were suddenly involved in a great war with Russia, everyone must feel that there was something radically wrong in that department. A great change had been made in the administration of the army. He thought a great change could and ought to be made in the administration of the navy. He admitted there were some able men at the Admiralty; but what was the use of that, unless the opinions of those men had their due weight? Believing that an alteration ought to be made in the constitution of the 982 Board, he would vote for the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he wished to say a few words in reference to some remarks of the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Warre), with respect to the continuous-service men. He begged to say that no order had been given for the discharge of continuous-service men, and no men of that class who were men of good character had been discharged, except upon their own request. Some men of bad character or physically unfit for further service had been discharged, but even including all such men the number discharged did not exceed 100. An order, however, had been sent down to the ports that all seamen, whether entered for continuous service or not, who wished to leave the service should be permitted to do so. That he could not admit to be anything like a breach of faith. Taunts had been thrown out of contradictory orders being issued upon this subject, but he could state positively that no contradictory orders had been issued. He should not imitate the hon. and gallant Admiral in going back to the constitution of the naval administration in the time of Edward the Sixth, nor did he think this the proper occasion to enter upon the subject of manning the navy, which he regarded as entirely distinct from the question as to the composition of the Board of Admiralty which the hon. and gallant Member for Southwark had raised. The hon. and gallant Member for Sandwich (Lord C. Paget) had given a very just explanation of the memorandum of Sir G. Cockburn which had been so much referred to. That gallant Officer had not agreed very well with all his colleagues at the Board of Admiralty, and it was evident from the tone of the memorandum that it was written under feelings of some irritation. The proposition that there should be a naval Commander in Chief, with a civil officer below him, was simply a repetition of the old arrangement for the army of a Commander in Chief and the Secretary at War, which had been lately abolished as inconvenient. The hon. and gallant Admiral's proposition had been shown by the Secretary to the Admiralty to be little more than a nominal change from the present system, and it mattered little whether the head of the navy was called First Lord or Commander in Chief, as the civilian First Lord was advised in 983 all naval matters by the senior naval Lord. He did not mean to contend that naval men were or ought to be incapacitated from presiding over the Admiralty, but he said it was not necessary that the First Lord should be a naval man. Indeed, even in command of a fleet or of an army, how much there was which was not of a naval or a military character. The truth was, a great portion of the business transacted at the Board of Admiralty required little or no naval knowledge—such as the purchase of timber-stores, victuals, building materials—all of which matters, it was evident, needed no naval knowledge. Take the late campaign in the Crimea. Why, the chief failures were in such matters as required no military knowledge—such as the supply of stores and provisions, the construction of roads, and the medical department. If this was so in the field, how much more was it the case in the administration of the department at home? The hon. and gallant Officer proposed that the principal Officers should be rendered independent of the Admiralty; but he (Sir C. Wood) believed that the present system was much the best. At present the principal Officers had their separate departments, and in matters of detail acted for themselves. If any matter of great importance arose they referred to the Lord superintending their department, and if the matter was of still greater importance it came before the whole Board. It was quite impossible that the whole Board could attend to every matter of detail, neither was it desirable. When any matter of great importance had been brought before the whole Board and had been decided upon, its execution was always left to the Lord in whose department it was. The hon. and gallant Officer proposed to create officers, with the title of Vice-Admiral and Rear-Admiral of Great Britain, to give orders about stores and such matters; but that was done now by junior Lords of the Admiralty, and the public services would not be promoted by any mere change of title. The proposed change would be purely nominal, except that it would deprive those officers of the opportunity they now enjoyed of consulting their colleagues whenever any matter of difficulty arose. Then, again, with respect to the proposed changes in the mode of governing the dockyards, apart from the Admiralty, he was not disposed to regard it with favour, believing 984 that the present system of visitation tended to the public advantage by keeping the Board of Admiralty acquainted with what was going on, and rendering it necessary for the dockyard authorities to be prepared to meet those periodical inspections. For himself, he must say, he thought the best form of government for the navy was a board of naval officers, presided over by a chief, whether a civilian or a naval officer did not matter much so long as he possessed a competent knowledge of public business; and such a board, he believed, was preferable to the scheme of the hon. and gallant Admiral, from which, in fact, it differed little save in name.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
, in reply, said, the Secretary to the Admiralty had taunted him for not alluding to his advocacy of the sale of commissions in the navy, but that had nothing to do with the present question. He had also taunted him with having offered to serve on the Board of Admiralty under Lord J. Russell's Government; but the fact was that he had written to him for his services generally, and it did not follow that because the noble Lord had written to him to say that he could find him a more fitting place than a Lordship in the Admiralty, he had applied for such a post. The hon. Secretary to the Admiralty had not acted wisely in taking advantage of his (Sir C. Napier's) observation that the Queen's Throne would be in danger if a particular combination took place. He had simply made use of that expression to show to the country the inefficient state of our preparations. He was very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for reading an article from a Russian paper, because it showed that the enemy gave him a great deal more credit than the people who governed him. The hon. Gentleman said he was the last man who ought to complain of use being made of a private letter. Sir Maurice Berkeley made use of his private letters, but, as Sir Maurice was not present, he avoided saying a single syllable on the subject. The hon. Gentleman had referred to it, and he therefore felt bound to say that, after the manner in which he had been traduced, he thought he had done perfectly right in taking every possible step to show the manner in which he had been treated. Lord St. Vincent, in a letter to the Admiralty, used the expression that he had long been acquainted with the dulness of the Lords, and he 985 thought a similar letter might have been written by him to the present Board. He had very little more to say in favour of his Motion. The change he proposed was very trifling. He only wanted the Lords of the Admiralty to attend and do their duty. What was the use of them if they were never present at their posts? They ought to see with their own eyes instead of trusting everything to their subordinates. No man could read through all the documents which the Secretary of the Admiralty had to sign, and he had heard that Mr. Phinn resigned the appointment because all the business was left to him to do by the hon. Gentleman opposite.Motion made, and Question put, "That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the constitution of the Board of Admiralty, with the view of rendering it more efficient, and better adapted to the various duties it has to perform.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 35; Noes 152: Majority 117.