HC Deb 26 April 1858 vol 149 cc1722-3

brought up the Report of the Committee of Ways and Means.


wished to know if the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the late First Lord of the Admiralty, was prepared to state to the House that the arrangement with respect to the gunboats at Haslar was entered into with the sanction of the Board of Admiralty, more especially of the naval officers composing it; and whether it was made by his own directions or after consultation with his civilian colleagues in the Admiralty. The object of his question was to ascertain whether the money had not been laid out without the sanction of a majority of the naval Lords, and against the opinion of the naval officer at Haslar. He apprehended that the answer would show that there ought to be some more competent control than that which now existed over the expenditure of the money granted to the Admiralty.


thought he had given a very distinct answer to the question of the hon. Gentleman upon a former occasion. The process of hauling up vessels was not a new one; it was discusssed when he was at the Admiralty twenty years ago, and different plans had been proposed in the office of the Director of Works, who had charge of the engineering department of the Admiralty. Nor was the question one upon which a naval officer was more competent to give an opinion than a person who had never been at sea. For his own part, he thought that the Haslar slip was a very convenient mode of preserving the gunboats, and in that opinion every Member of the late Board of Admiralty concurred. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that he had not been in the habit of giving orders without consulting his colleagues. He did not consult either the authorities at Portsmouth or Haslar, but he did consult the Admiralty, and the work was done by the order of the Board. He had never heard any objection from any one until after the thing was done. As to the method being imperfect, he admitted that the method of launching the boats when wanted was not satisfactory.


denied that the question was as to the launching of the boats; it was whether the boats were hauled up at the proper place. He had before stated that the wrong place had been selected, but if no other place could have been found, the plan was the most ingenious ever devised. He had made inquiry how far the boats would have to go when they were launched, and he found that the first boat would have a distance of 700 feet to traverse, the second 40 feet more, the third 80 feet more, and so on. He believed that the Admiralty would only be able to launch the thirty boats in twenty-eight days. If the £5,000 asked for was only to complete the housing of the boats now launched he should not object to the Vote; but if it were intended to ask for money to haul up the other gunboats he should oppose it. He wished to impress upon the Admiralty the necessity of obtaining possession of a piece of land near the Quarantine Ground at Malta. He was informed that Lord Lyons and other officers were strongly of opinion that the opportunity ought not to be lost. The harbour at Malta was very circumscribed, and the importance of Toulon as a dockyard and arsenal made it desirable to enlarge our harbour at Malta as much as possible. He might perhaps take this opportunity of mentioning that he had in his hand a letter which showed how nicely the Admiralty looked after our ships on the south coast of Africa. The writer said that they had had no coals in his ship for the last two months, and that the Miranda had not coals enough left to cook the men's dinner. If the Admiralty kept our steam cruisers without coals they might as well have sailing vessels on the coast of Africa.


could assure the hon. and gallant Admiral that the £5,000 asked for was not intended to build slips for more gunboats, but would be applied in improving the means of launching those now hauled up. A vote was intended to be taken for purchasing the land near the Quarantine Ground at Malta, alluded to by the hon. and gallant Admiral.

Resolution agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. FITZROY, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, and Mr. HAMILTON.