HC Deb 07 April 1859 vol 153 cc1511-5

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

(1.) Question again proposed— That a sum, not exceeding £450,000, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, towards defraying the Charge of Wages to Artificers, Labourers, and others employed in Her Majesty's Naval Establishments at Home, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1860.

Question put, and agreed to.

The following Votes were also agreed to:

(2.) £15,000, on account, Wages to Artifices and others, Naval Establishments Abroad.

(3.) £700,000, on account, Naval Stores.

(4.) £180,000, on account, New Works, &c.

(5.) £15,000, on account, Medicine and Medical Stores.

(6.) 22,000, on account, Naval Miscellaneous Services.

(7.) £350,000, on account, Half-pay, &c. to Officers of Navy and Royal Marines.


said, that the First Lord of the Admiralty had intimated his intention of bringing forward some plan dealing with the retirement list, and he wished to know whether anything had been done in respect to that plan.


said, he could only answer the question in the terms in which he expressed himself when he introduced the Navy Estimates. He had a plan in contemplation with respect to naval promotion and retirement; but the magnitude and importance of the subject was such that he could not venture to submit the proposal to the House except after very great consideration. He hoped to be able to bring the subject, with other contemplated improvements in the Navy, before the House shortly after the meeting of the new Parliament.


said, that Parliament had been extremely liberal already in respect to retirement; and the consequence was, that a great many good officers, some much younger than others remaining in the service, had been put out of commission. He, of course, could not tell what the First Load of the Admiralty contemplated, but he hoped that the House of Commons would not agree to give a single sixpence more for retiring allowances, because the steps taken already were ample.

Vote agreed to, as were also the following Votes on account.

(8.) £240,000, Military Pensions and Allowances.

(9.) £80,000, on account, Civil Pensions and Allowances.

(10.) £70,000, on account, Victualling and Conveyance of Troops, Army.

(11.) £300,000, on account, Packet Service.


said, that he should like to see this charge taken away from these Estimates altogether. The Packet Service was much more connected with the Post Office than the Navy, and the money ought to be provided for under that head.


said, he was quite of opinion that the Vote ought not to belong to the Navy Estimates, with which it had really nothing to do. It was formerly connected with the Post Office Estimates, and he confessed he thought it ought to be so still.


said, he thought that whatever department had the management of the packets ought to have the control of the Vote, and it would never do, where the packets were so large, and required so much skill, that the Post Office should have the control of the Vote. He quite agreed that this Vote ought not to be included in the Navy Estimates to swell the amount, but he hoped that the Admiralty would not divest itself of duties so well performed as were the duties of the packet service.


said, that of course he must submit if there was a reason for attaching this Vote to the Navy Estimates, which must then continue to be swelled out by an expenditure with which the naval service had nothing to do.


said, he would suggest that the best way to correct the evil would be to make this vote a Treasury Vote.


said, he hoped to see the day when contract packets would no longer be maintained, but when ships belonging to the Royal Navy would be employed in the mail service under the command of merritorious officers, to whom such employment would be a reward, and a nucleus would thus be formed for keeping up an efficient force of seamen, who would be available in case of necessity. No less than £1,000,000 was now expended annually upon the mail contract service, which might be applied in such a manner as to secure a reserve of able and experienced seamen, who might at once be available in case of emergency. One of the conditions of the mail contracts was, that the ships employed in that service should be fitted in such a manner and should be of such strength as to be capable of carrying the heaviest guns used in Her Majesty's Navy, but he believed that out of the immense fleet of vessels employed as contract packets there was not one which was fitted for carrying guns according to the contract. He hoped this subject would receive the attention of the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, and that an end would be put as soon as possible to the present system of contracts. Such contracts might be advantageous in establishing new communications, but he held that when trade was once opened to any part of the world the continuance of a system of subsidies was most injurious to the public interests. He believed that not one of the companies who supplied contract packets paid back to the Post Office in revenue the amount they received for the contracts. He had seen it stated that £30,000 was paid annually for carrying the South American mails, and that the revenue returned was £32,000; but this contract was merely a rider to another contract of £240,000 for carrying the West India mails, and he should like to know what were the postal returns upon that contract.


remarked, that he did not concur in the views of the hon. Gentleman. If our men-of-war were devoted to the conveyance of letters alone to different parts of the world, the expense of the service would be much greater than under the contract system; while if they were also required to carry passengers, the consequence would be that the packets would become floating hotels, and naval officers would be turned into hotel-keepers. This had been the case under the old system, but he hoped it would never occur again.


said, he was anxious to call the attention of the First Lord of the Admiralty to the valuable invention of Captain Kynaston, R.N., for lowering boats from the quarter and stern of ships when going fast through the water, by which means many lives might be saved. The value of the invention had lately been demonstrated on board Her Majesty's ship Euryalus (the vessel in which Prince Alfred was serving), when, a seaman having fallen overboard off Alexandria, the boat was lowered in a strong wind and heavy sea, the ship going eight knots through the water, and the man was saved. He (Sir George Pechell) wished the right hon. Baronet to obtain, and lay on the table a report of the different trials made of Captain Kynaston's disengaging hooks, and, as rewards were given for valuable inventions for the destruction of life by means of explosive materials and large guns—as baronetages, and perhaps peerages, were the rewards of such inventions, it was certainly expedient that some due acknowledgment should be awarded to those who had projected the means of saving life. Captain Kynaston was suffering from wounds sustained in the Crimea, and his case was in every way deserving of consideration.


observed, that he was afraid the gallant Admiral had misunderstood what he (Sir John Pakington) had said on a former occasion. He had not said that the invention was now under the consideration of the Lords of the Admiralty, but that the experiments upon, and trials of the invention were not yet completed, and that the Admiralty were not yet in possession of any report on the subject. He sympathized most sincerely with Captain Kynaston under his sufferings, which were the results of valuable services rendered to his country, and he also felt grateful to that gallant officer for the endeavours he had made to bring to perfection a most useful invention for the preservation of life. He heartily hoped, for the sake of the gallant officer, that his invention might prove successful, but he was not at present in a position to produce the report for which the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton had asked.

Vote agreed to.