§ House in Committee.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
Sir, I rise to submit to you these very large Navy Estimates. At all times it would be somewhat difficult for a Gentleman who had only been a very few days in a public department at once to take up the Estimates of the Session. But, over and above that, it does so happen that these Estimates are of an unusually complicated character. Many of the items in these Estimates are in fact not only original Estimates, but they have extraordinary Estimates attached to them, and Supplementary Estimates on the top of all. So that, upon several of the Votes, we shall have to consider three distinct classes of Estimates. Under these circumstances I hope I may claim the indulgence of the Committee; and if I fail in giving a proper explanation of the various items, the Committee, I am sure, will feel that it is not from want of the desire to give every possible information in my power, but that it is simply from the fact of my not having yet had time to make myself thoroughly acquainted with the subject. Before I proceed to plunge into this mass of figures I think the Committee will be interested, and that I shall only be doing my duty, if, in a few words, I endeavour to make them thoroughly acquainted with the exact state of 901 our naval force at the present time. I desire to show you what forces we have ready for the defence of our coasts if any unfortunate circumstances should arise in which the honour and dignity of the country demand that we should engage in hostilities. I wish to show what we possess in effective ships, what we possess in reserve, and what we possess in ships building, or in course of construction, and in short to show the Committee what is in reality the present state of our naval property. I will first of all allude to the ships which we have now in commission. It will be for the Committee to decide as to what constitutes a sufficient defence of your coasts. Some will tell you, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Southwark (Sir Charles Napier) is of that opinion— that yon ought never, under any circumstances, to be without a very strong naval force actually in the Channel. Others think that it is much more advantageous that that which you call your home squadron should not be confined to these waters, but should cruise in the Bay of Biscay, which would afford it a more enlarged field of operation. That, however, is for hon. Gentlemen to decide according to their own opinions. My humble opinion as a naval man is, that for all circumstances in the defence of our shores we may consider that vessels anywhere in the Mediterranean and along the coast of Portugal are, to all intents and purposes, available for the defence of our coast in the event of war. Feeling this, I am now going to show you what you have got in commission at home and in the Mediterranean, and these two forces combined, form, in my opinion, what may be called your available force for the defence of your coasts. Now, we have in commission at home twelve sail of the line, all screw ships, and in the Mediterranean fourteen sail of the line; making a total of twenty-six steam ships of the line in commission. Those ships which are on the home station, especially those which have been very lately commissioned, are, of course, not fully manned; but, whatever faults we may find with the scheme of my right hon. Friend opposite, the late First Lord of the Admiralty, with regard to the late proclamation respecting a bounty, if the success of a measure is to be a test of its merits, at least I am bound to say that that measure has been attended with considerable success, as far as it has gone, The ships which have been most recently put in commission are naturally not fully 902 manned, but with regard to the bulk of the great squadron which I am about to enumerate, they may in truth, for all practical purposes, be considered as vessels fully armed and fully manned, with the exception of those which have just been commissioned, and in all respects ready for service. I have paid, then, that we have twelve sail of screw ships of the line in the Channel and fourteen in the Mediterranean, making a total of twenty-six sail of the line in commission. With frigates we are not quite so well supplied. We have twelve screw frigates and one paddle frigate on the home station, making together thirteen; and in the Mediterranean two screw frigates and one paddle, together three. Then with regard to corvettes, sloops, and gun vessels, I should wish to state that, with a view to making these statements perfectly clear to all, oven those who have not an intimate knowledge of naval matters, I have simplified this as much as I possibly could. Hon. Gentlemen who are acquainted with naval affairs know that there are a vast number of intermediate classes of vessels, and to those who desire further information I can give it; but I think it will be more for the convenience of the Committee if I make but these three classifications—line-of-battle ships, frigates, and corvettes, including in the last sloops, and a variety of sized vessels. The Committee will then thoroughly understand what is our actual force in commission. Of corvettes and sloops, then, we have 6 screw at home and 26 paddle, making together 32; whilst in the Mediterranean we have 10 screw and 9 paddle; together, 19. The grand total of our force at home and in the Mediterranean amounts to 106 vessels in commission, besides a force of gunboats which are constantly varying in number, and moving about here and there. In addition to the 106 steamships in commission in the Channel and in the Mediterranean, we have ships on other stations all over the world, for the protection of our commerce and our Colonies; not such a force, indeed, as would be necessary in the event of war still sufficient for all the purposes of peace. In fact the total of our ships in commission, including sailing vessels, is about 200. Now that constitutes what I term our first line of defence, of which the more important part consists of the 26 line-of-battle ships. I come next to what constitutes our second line of defence. At this moment we have nine blockships which 903 are manned by coastguard men, and which though not ships of the line are doing good service to the country by inducing sailors to join the fleet. They are employed in cruising about our coasts. Being vessels of light draught of water, they can get into ports which heavy ships could not enter, and, in fact, they are performing a most useful service as nurseries and recruiting ships for the fleet. I know that my hon. and gallant Friend (Sir Charles Napier) entertains great contempt for these coastguard ships. I believe he considers that they had better be put behind the fire and burnt as useless. [Sir CHARLES NAPIER: No, no!] I can only tell my hon. and gallant Friend that I should be sorry if these ships were not to be taken into consideration as valuable vessels for our coast defences. Some of the lot are in very fair condition; and by a slight alteration in their masting I believe we shall make them very valuable ships indeed. In accordance with what has been often recommended by my hon. and gallant Friend, who is really a very high authority, and whose opinions I am sure are greatly respected at the Admiralty, it is proposed by the Board that there should be placed in the principal ports of the kingdom three efficient line-of-battle ships as the headquarters of the coastguard of those portions of the coast; the coastguard ships being meanwhile retained for the purpose of training and exercising the coast volunteers; it being found that the constant friction of heavy guns on the decks of vessels did a great deal of damage, and speedily unfitted them for the duties of effective ships of war. I cannot, in fact, speak too highly of these blockships, and I trust my hon. and gallant Friend will not be too hard upon them. Besides the handiness of the vessels in getting in and out of port, and their qualifications for drilling the men, it should not be forgotten that the men on board of them are acquainted with everybody in the locality. They do what was suggested to the Admiralty the other day; they give dinners of plum-pudding and roast beef to the inhabitants of the ports on Sundays, and thus induce a number of men to join the fleet. [Sir CHARLES NAPIER: When they come on board to eat the roast beef and plum-pudding.] There is no doubt that these blockships do a great deal of service, and I trust they will not be depreciated as a portion of our reserve or second line of defence. But there is a more powerful 904 reserve than they, which would be available in the course of a very few days in the event of an emergency arising. We have on shore at the present moment, at the various coastguard stations, not less than 3,400 active, first-rate seamen, most of whom entered the navy during late years, served in the Baltic and Black Sea, and afterwards went into the coastguard. Moreover, attached to them is a body of coastguard volunteers, of whom there are at this moment upwards of 6,000 enrolled. Great differences of opinion undoubtedly prevailed with regard to the value of these coastguard volunteers. Some persons say that they will come forward to a man whenever wanted; whilst others say that they will make a poor show; but the result of the experience of an excellent officer, who has been at the head of the coastguard service, is now at the Board of Admiralty, and has paid great attention to this subject — I mean Commodore Eden—is, that you may count upon deriving from this body at any moment—as fast as the telegraph and railway can bring them to your ports crews for twelve line-of-battle ships. This, then, is no doubt a powerful reserve of seamen. Besides these, we have a number of marines and boys who are under instruction, and will soon be ready for service. The general result is, that we have got, first of all the force of ships which I call the first line of defence. We have next got the 9 blockships, which form the second line of defence, and the 3,400 coastguards-men, and the 6,000 coast volunteers, whom Commodore Eden considers you can always rely upon. His opinion is that you may also make certain of each one of the coastguard bringing his Mend under his arm. The next question is, what ships we have got to put them into; and here I must pay a compliment to my right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), because I certainly shall be able to show that the construction of ships during the present year is really something stupendous—something marvellous even for this country. I have attempted to show you what you have in men; I now proceed to state what ships you have to put these men into in the event of an emergency. At this moment you have 10 sail of the line ready for commission; you will have 3 more in the course of the autumn. You have also I under repair; so that the total of your screw ships of the line already built is 40. You have, in addition to these, 10 ships of the line building, and 6 in pro- 905 cess of conversion. Thus the grand total is 56 ships of the line, of which, by the end of the present financial year, we hope that 50 will be afloat. I am now about to depart a little from the usual rules of the Admiralty. I know there is a great dislike on the part of Boards of Admiralty to look into the future. They readily tell you of what has been done; but they are always guarded when speaking of the future, for fear they may not be able to do what they wish to do. I am willing to admit that it is impossible for any Board of Admiralty to tell you distinctly and exactly what it will do in the current year. The navy is subject to many and various contingencies which cannot be always foreseen, but, as a general rule, I believe that if a little more system, a little more method is introduced into these matters, you will arrive at a very fair average of the number of men that you require for your repairs, and, consequently, that you will not he obliged to take the men who are building ships, and put them upon the repairs of others. This is one of the questions which the noble Duke the First Lord and the present Board of Admiralty have taken into their consideration; and believing, as I do, that there will be no serious transfer of hands in the building department, I think I am justified in stating to the House what ships we hope to build in the course of the present financial year. I trust and believe, then, that by the end of the financial year we shall have 50 ships of the line afloat, 37 frigates, and 140 corvettes, sloops, gun vessels, and other vessels of that class. The 50 sail of the line are independent of the 9 blockships. I have now told the Committee, as far as I am able to do so, what is your force of men and what your force of ships; and this constitutes the present preparation for the defence of the coasts of this country, but let no one for a moment suppose that this represents the entire force of England upon the seas. Why, Sir, we have got— I take it from a Return which was moved for a few days ago by my hon. Friend the Member for Penryn (Mr. T. G. Baring)— 159 steam vessels over 1,000 tons each, and 72 between 1,000 and 700 tons each, together 231 merchant steam vessels, most of which might be quickly adapted to carry Armstrong guns, and thus prove a most valuable addition to the defences of the country. There is yet another source from which we can very largely increase our navy at any moment with regard to ships, 906 and that is our commercial yards. Here is another Return which I think will be interesting to the Committee, according to which there are, in addition to the shipwrights employed in the Royal Dockyards about 10,000 shipwrights in Great Britain. Now, it is an old shipwright's maxim that 1,000 shipwrights can build eight men-of-war of 1,000 tons each in twelve months, consequently 10,000, which is the number that we have in the commercial yards in this country, could build 80 corvettes of 1,000 tons in twelve months, or at the rate of between six and seven per month. In the event of our being pressed for ships, then, there is no doubt whatever that, with a certain number of months' start— say three or four—we might build half a dozen of these very heavy corvettes per month in our merchants' yards over and above what we could build in the Royal Dockyards; and your steam machinery is in proportion. My object in stating these facts for the consideration of the Committee is to show what I think the public are extremely anxious to know—whether our navy is really in a state which befits the honour and dignity of this country, and I believe I may answer that by saying that our navy is in a state which befits the honour and dignity of the country. I do not say that we should not, in the event of war, have to call for additional men. I have no doubt that they would be required, inasmuch as at present we are within 2,000 men of the whole number voted. In fact, the Government hare no power to commission any more ships than we have now in commission, but my firm belief as to ships is, that we have enough ready, or nearly ready, in the event of an emergency, to justify us in asking for a considerable addition to the number of men. Having, to the best of my limited ability, stated what is our present condition with regard to the fleet, I shall now endeavour to make these very large and very complicated Estimates intelligible to the Committee. Now, I will ask hon. Gentlemen to turn their attention to that portion of the Naval Estimates which contains the supplementary votes. It will be observed that the four first Votes of the original Estimates have all been taken, and, therefore, it would not be necessary that I should advert to them on the present occasion; but as there are many hon. Gentlemen present who were not in the last Parliament, I think it would be right to give them some information upon Vote No. 1, as 907 to the numbers taken under the original and Supplementary Estimates. The original Vote was for 47,000 seamen; the supplementary Estimate which we are now considering proposes an increase of 8,000 men, making a total of 55,400 seamen, including the coastguard. With regard to marines, the original number was 15,000; and an increase has since been proposed of 2,000, making a total of 17,000. It will, therefore, be seen that the grand total of seamen and marines, including the coastguard, at present estimated, is 72,400. Now, Sir, the first item in this Vote No. 1 is the usual charge for wages; it is, therefore, unnecessary to remark upon that. The second item is £13,000 for an increase of pay to seamen gunners, and this has been inserted in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission upon manning the Navy. Items three and four are to meet the increased pay to officers and chaplains of the Royal Navy. Now I for one, and I believe the feeling to be general, approve of this act of consideration and justice on the part of the late Government towards these valuable officers, but I am bound to tell the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) that I do think he would have pursued a more just course if, while considering their claims, he had also paid attention to the claims of those in every way equally entitled to consideration, namely, the paymasters, masters, and engineers. I trust, however, that the present Board of Admiralty will examine into the position of these officers, and if necessary be able to supply any shortcomings in that respect. The next amount is for good-conduct pay, and allowances to petty officers after promotion. This again is granted in accordance with a recommendation of the Royal Commission. These petty officers were, in fact, in a worse condition with respect to good-conduct badges than when they were the able seamen themselves. Then comes a sum of £31,000 to provide a bounty for seamen volunteering their services in the Royal Navy. Sir, this question of bounty involves considerations very importantly affecting the Royal Navy. There cannot be a doubt that in a great emergency it is perfectly justifiable for the Government to give a bounty as an inducement for seamen to enter the service. Whether that exigency has arisen it is not for me in my subordinate position to assert. But this I do say, that it is perfectly impossible to avoid taking into consideration the case of 908 those seamen who belonged to the Royal Navy before that bounty was given. As far as the army and marines were concerned, no objection has ever been raised to the bounty system. There it has been the constant practice; there has been a gradual but a continuous growth of the corps; every man has received the bounty, which has varied in amount only in accordance with, if I may use the term, the market price, increasing or lessening as the case may be. But in the navy it has not been usual of late years to give any bounty. It has therefore become necessary for Her Majesty's Government to take into consideration the case of those seamen who have not participated in this bounty. By an Act of Parliament passed in the year 1853, I think it was the 16th and 17th of Victoria, it was enacted that if a bounty was offered to volunteers for the fleet, that original seamen should have no right whatever to participate in such a grant. Therefore in the present instance they have no legal claim to participation. But Her Majesty's Government, considering that this is quite a new thing in the navy, and, moreover, the excessive amount of the bounty, and I cannot describe it in stronger colours than by stating the fact that it consists of £10, a suit of clothes, and bedding to every man—
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
Considering the excessive amount of that reward to men, who, although they are able seamen, are really very inferior to the thorough man-of-war's seamen in their ability to perform the various duties of a ship, Her Majesty's Government think the position in which it has placed those men with reference to their comrades already in the service is one not altogether of a satisfactory nature. Now, it is right to say that these men have not uttered one word of complaint. Their conduct has been noble in the extreme. I have been astonished at the fact, that so far as I am aware, there has not been one word of discontent or complaint uttered in any ship in the fleet. Sir, Her Majesty's Government have resolved to deal generously with these men. I am not at this moment enabled to give the details of the measure that is proposed to be carried out. A Privy Council was held to-day, and an Order made upon the subject will be issued to-morrow; but I 909 think it is advisable that I should not enter into any details further than to state that a portion of this bounty, in proportion to the position which these men hold, either as able seamen, ordinary seamen or second-class ordinary seamen, will be granted to them upon certain conditions. I would gladly state those conditions, and the amount proposed to be granted, but I need only say that my belief is, that the been will be received throughout the fleet with gratitude and joy. But, Sir, I must say that I think this general question of bounty is one that any Government ought very carefully to consider before they again resort to it. I cannot see what circumstances occurred in the month of April, when this Proclamation was issued, to justify the proceeding. That Proclamation I think had rather the air of an ukase of the Emperor of Russia than a measure undertaken by the Government of a constitutional country, and I think that Parliament should have been consulted, before a measure so fraught with great and important consequences to the welfare of the Royal Navy was decided upon. Now, Sir, I wish to impart a piece of information which will be found very interesting, and I think I may say very amusing. It is a return showing the difference between the results obtained by the present system of manning the Navy, and those arrived at in the horrible days of impressment. It shows the number of men who were pressed into the service, and the number of those who deserted during the years 1811, 1812, and 1813, which were the three last years of the period during which that system was pursued. There were pressed into the service 29,405, while the number of those who deserted was 27,300. So that the total gain to the country during those three years by impressment was 2,105 men. But in order to bring these men thus compulsorily into the service of the fleet, a force of nearly 3,000 good sailors had been employed on shore as pressgangs. Therefore the country actually lost about l,000 men during those three years under that horrible system. I think it will be admitted that these figures furnish an unanswerable argument against the advisability of reverting to such a mode of manning the Navy. I hope I have given no cause of offence to my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir J. Pakington) in making the remarks I have deemed necessary upon this question of bounty. I can assure him that all the officers of the Navy 910 have felt very strongly that it is a question in which the future welfare of our Navy has been somewhat jeopardised. I trust that no evil effect will arise from it; but I must confess it to be my opinion, that if it had been brought before Parliament, we could have shown reasons why that measure should not have been carried out, at all events in a manner so excessive. But, Sir, I promised I would state to the Committee what had been the success attending it since the 1st of May, when the order was issued. The total number who have entered and received the bounty is 5,730, of which there are 1,437 able seamen. Now, I am bound to say, I think that is a very fair proportion, and therefore, as I have said before, as far as its success is concerned, the measure may be considered to have possessed great merits. Now, Sir, the next vote which we come to is No. 2 in the Supplementary Estimates—the victualling Vote. Here we have the usual charge for the purchase of provisions and victualling stores. There is also a sum for increased rations of biscuit and sugar for seamen and marines when afloat. This is another excellent recommendation of the Royal Commission which the late Government carried out. There is also the gratuitous issue of bedding and clothing to which allusion has been made. Then in Vote No. 3, of the Supplementary Estimates, a sum of £3,000 is asked for to provide for the employment of additional clerks of the Admiralty rendered necessary by the great additional amount of correspondence which so large an increase of the fleet has naturally entailed. Then we come to Vote No. 4—and I beg my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Lindsay) to pay especial attention to this. It is to meet the expense of forming a volunteer reserve corps of seamen, in pursuance of another recommendation of the Royal Commission. The hon. Gentleman has given notice of a Motion to defer that Vote until more information can be obtained respecting it; but I hope that the few observations I am about to make will prevent him from taking that course. He is aware that the Royal Commission of 1858 recommended that a sum of £200,000 should be taken for a variety of matters of detail upon which I need not trouble the Committee for the improvement of our reserves. One of the items was for school ships, another for the animal payment of £5—a sort of retaining fee—to 20,000 men; another related to an annual payment of £1 per man to 911 a pension fund, and a fourth was for training gunners; the whole Amounting to £200,000. The late Government before quitting office took a long time to consider these matters, and then they arrived at the conclusion that £100,000 should be the sum included in the Estimates, and I believe prepared various Bills for the purpose. Well, Sir, it would be deceiving the Committee if I were to say that the present Admiralty, having been in office since last Friday only, have had time to go into a vast measure of this sort; the amount of business we have had to go through has entirely precluded any consideration of these matters. But, Sir, we felt it would be obviously impolitic and unnecessary to exclude this sum from the Estimates, he-cause we had not been able to arrive at any knowledge of the details, and we therefore retained it, and have left them for future consideration, when we shall prepare a Bill or Bills to carry them into effect. In the meantime not one shilling of this money will be spent. The hon. Gentleman will therefore observe that there is no necessity for him to press his Motion, because if the House should not think fit to concur in passing the Bills necessary to carry out the recommendation of the Commissioners, necessarily this money will not be spent; hut, on the other hand, it will be immediately available. I therefore trust he will rest upon the full assurance from me that not one shilling of this money shall be spent until an Act of Parliament has passed authorising us to apply it to the improvement of our reserves. I will now pass to the original Estimates. Up to this Vote, as I stated before the Committee had already passed the original Estimates, and I have therefore up to the present time only been considering and explaining the Supplementary Estimates. But now I must go into a little wearying detail, because not a fraction beyond the amounts I have mentioned has been at all considered, although money has been taken on account of the whole of the remaining Votes. We therefore begin with Vote No. 5, as to which, as well as Votes 6 and 7, I need not make any observation. The first relates to the pay of the draughtsmen in the scientific department in which there is a small increase; the second to Her Majesty's establishment at home, but there is nothing worth attention in them. I may say the same of Vote 7 relating to the establishments abroad. Upon Vote 8, however, I have a few observations to offer. It will be observed 912 that besides the large amount for shipwrights there is an extraordinary charge here which I think we may call the reconstruction Vote. Those two amounts are to be expended upon two distinct objects, but beyond them we have got a supplementary Estimate under the head of wages to artificers to a very large amount which I will immediately proceed to explain. The history of this transaction I believe to be as follows. Up to March last the dockyards were working in their usual way upon day pay; there was no particular pressure upon them, and the men were all receiving their day's pay for their day's work. But in the month of March my right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington) on behalf of the late Government, thought fit to commence a system of class and job work, and also to enter a considerable additional number of artisans. There were 1484 shipwrights entered in addition, besides a corresponding number of other tradesmen and labourers. In April, again, the right hon. Gentleman—I suppose from circumstances connected with our foreign policy—considered it important that we should make additional exertions for fitting out and preparing our fleets, and he commenced a system of over-hour working; that was to say, besides the institution of task and job work men were allowed to work over time. So matters continued until the month of May, when a further large increase was made of no less than 1350 shipwrights and other artificers and labourers, making the total number of men now employed in our dockyards 17,690, as against 14,128, the number of men in the beginning of March. This is a very great increase, but I believe that that increase was absolutely necessary, and I think that the right hon. Gentlemen deserves great credit for having boldly taken this heavy matter in hand, and for having decided upon getting over this necessary and important work in our dockyards with the least possible delay. Well, Sir, Her Majesty's Government upon coming into office, looked very carefully over this Vote, and we sent for the Surveyor of the Navy, Sir Baldwin Walker, and asked very particularly to what period this additional Vote would provide the pay for these additional men, and he stated to us that it would only pay the men up to, I think, the month of October next. The Government, under all the circumstances, thought it would be very unwise that that body of men should be discharged at a moment when the short 913 days of winter were coming on, when work all over the country was very scarce, and, moreover, when we have a vast amount of work still to be done in the dockyards, for which the services of those men were originally required. The Government, therefore, resolved that they would continue these men on until the end of the financial year; and for this purpose, it will be observed, that we have taken an additional sum of money, amounting to £100,000 over and above the sum which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) proposed in his supplementary Estimate. It has been said that the present Government were going to cut down the expenditure in the dockyards, and cease the efforts which are being made to put our navy on a good footing. I think that, after what I have said, the Committee will not find any fault with the Government on that score. The next Vote is No. 9, for artificers employed in Her Majesty's establishments abroad, and in reference to that I do not think that there is anything with which I need trouble the Committee. I now turn to Vote No. 10, and upon this Vote I wish to say a few words, because on the subject to which this Vote relates I have sometimes myself, when not in office, taken the liberty of making some remarks in this House. Up to the present year we have not had much information given to us as to the way in which the money granted by this Vote has been spent. There has always been taken a large sum for materials for ship-building, and that is all the information which the House has ever received in respect of the Vote. I have been endeavouring to ascertain whether some sort of information could not be given to the House to enable hon. Members to judge what amount of tonnage has been built during the past year in our dockyards. We have very often heard little disputes which have taken place between very high authorities as to the quantity of ships built in this or that time, and I remember that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir John Pakington) claimed some line-of-battle ships, which were the property of my right hon. Friend (Sir Charles Wood) in all right and by all rule, for they were built during the time the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for India was at the Admiralty, though they were finished under the reign of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington). I think that they were rather improperly taken possession of by the right hon. Gentleman as having been built dur- 914 ing his time. For the purpose of avoiding these discussions for the future, and of giving the Committee a just idea of what has really been done in the dockyards, I have endeavoured to ascertain the exact amount of tonnage built during the year. This is the fairest way of showing at once to the House what we have got for our money. During the past year we have built in tonnage of line-of-battle ships, 10,604 tons; in frigates 5,851 tons; in corvettes, 1,193 tons; and in sloops and gun vessels, 1,511 tons; making the total tonnage built, up to the end of the last financial year, 19,159. Then comes the question, what shall we do this year? And this is what I wish to draw attention to, as showing the enormous power of our Dockyards in building. During the present year, supposing that our scheme is carried out, and that no unforeseen contingency should arise, we shall build of line-of-battle ships 19,606 tons; of frigates, 15,897 tons; of corvettes, 5,130 tons; and of sloops and gun vessels, 5,651 tons, making a total of 46,284 tons which will be built this year, against 19,159 tons last year. During the last year we converted five sailing line-of-battle ships into screws, and in the present year we are in process of so converting five more line-of-battle ships, in addition to four 50-gun sailing vessels, which will be turned into screws. This is entirely exclusive of contract-built ships. I now wish to show what the country has got for its money in respect of engines. We have at this moment in course of construction for ships building 14,570 horse power of engines, and orders have been given for 2160 horse-power more, making a total horse-power of 16,730. That is the way in which the money appropriated under the Vote is to be expended, and I hope that the noble Duke at the head of the Board of Admiralty will permit me next year to place the details of this Vote on the table of the House, with the Estimates, that hon. Members may judge of the way in which the money they have voted has been spent. I can assure the Committee of the earnest desire of the noble Duke and of the Board of Admiralty to give every possible information upon these matters. I find I have one further remark to make in reference to Vote 10, and it refers to the enormous sum of money that is taken in the original Estimates for ships built by contract. There is £252,000, a first instalment for two iron-cased frigates, and there will probably have to be voted 915 for these vessels a further sum in addition, but I am not prepared to say how much that will be. One of these vessels is commenced, and is to be launched by the 1st of April; and in addition, they would find in the supplementary Estimates a Vote for eighteen very superior gun vessels now building by contract. With regard to Vote 11, I should be deceiving the Committee if I told them that I could give them any real information as to this Vote for new works. The Committee will quite understand that the present Board of Admiralty has had no time to go through any one of these contracts. There is a vote for lengthening docks, but that is one of those luxuries that we enjoy every year; because as we build bigger vessels we must have bigger docks, and I suppose we shall go on doing so until some day there will be a change and we shall begin to build our vessels smaller again. [Sir CHARLES NAPIER: Hear!] On the 12th and 13th Votes, I have no remark to offer to the Committee. The 14th is the Vote for half-pay, and in the Supplementary Estimate on this an addition is asked for on account of the increase in the scale of the half-pay of medical officers and chaplains. It had reference to the order to which I adverted when explaining Vote 1 for full pay. Vote 15 is for military pensions, and is of the usual character. There is a supplementary Estimate to Vote 17, which contains a large sum for freight of ships for the conveyance of troops to and from the Colonies; and the fact is that during the last few months the Government has thought fit to reinforce the Mediterranean colonies, and this has made a considerable increase in the Vote. The last Vote I have to allude to is that for the Packet Department—Vote 18. In the original Estimate there is nothing that calls for any remark: but there is a supplementary Estimate for the conveyance of mails to and from Dovor to Calais, and Dovor to Marseilles, under a new contract; and as this vote is entirely under the control of my hon. Colleague the Civil Lord of the Admiralty, I trust the Committee will allow him to make any explanation necessary in reference to it. I have now, to the best of my limited ability, explained these very complicated Votes, and I am conscious that I have omitted a vast amount of interesting detail that it was my duty and my desire to lay before the Committee. In the course of my remarks I have necessarily been obliged to refer to that which took place under the 916 late Government, and I hope that nothing that I have said has been at all offensive to the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington). I have no desire to do anything but frankly and candidly to state that which in my opinion, as a naval man, it is necessary to state upon a subject which has lately much occupied public attention. If there is one thing more than another which it is to be hoped will be debated in this House, without reference to party politics, it is naval matters. We are all clearly interested in keeping up this right arm of England's glory, and I therefore trust that in discussing these Estimates there will be an entire absence of anything like party spirit, and that we shall all enter into the question with the most earnest desire to put our fleet in the most efficient state. We do not desire war, we desire peace; and the great preparations making to arm our fleet do not arise from any desire of aggression or to disturb other countries. Far from it. I believe that it is the earnest desire of every man in this country that the horrible and bloody war now raging may be speedily brought to an end. I trust that what we have lately heard may be the forerunner of what we so ardently desire— peace. ButWith common men it needs some show of war To keep sweet peacewere words used by the immortal Shakespeare 300 years ago, and they are equally true to the letter at the present time. I trust that the remarks I have made will receive the kind indulgence of the Committee.
Motion made, and Question proposed,—
That 10,000 additional Men and Boys be employed for the Sea Service, for eleven calendar months, ending on the 31st day of March, 1860 including 2,000 Royal Marines.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
After the speech of the noble Lord I am happy to say that I shall not think it necessary to detain the Committee at any length, nor have I the slightest complaint to make of the tone and manner in which he has treated this subject. On the contrary, I am anxious to bear my testimony to the ability with which he has performed his duty, and considering the very few days which he has held his present office, the Committee must feel that it is highly to his credit. I am bound, too, to acknowledge the candour and fairness with which he has referred to the efforts made by the late Government to increase the efficiency of 917 the navy. He has confirmed that which I felt it my duty to state as to the force which we turned over to our successors, that having found when we went into office 26 line-of-battle ships—12 in the Channel and 14 in the Mediterranean—we left behind us 40, which number will be increased to 50 by the end of the present year. I heard from him, too, with the greatest pleasure, that the present Government intend to adopt the whole of the Estimates of the late Government, unusually large as they undoubtedly are. In fact, after the statement of the noble Lord, the House and the country must rather begin to wonder why the late change of Government took place. There are two subjects of paramount importance in the public mind just now—our foreign relations, and our national defences. We have had the most distinct assurance from the noble Lord at the head of the Government that, with regard to our foreign relations, the present Government are content "to walk in the path chalked out for them by their predecessors." They hare adopted our policy, and they make no complaint of it And with regard to our national defences, I have the double satisfaction, as a member of the late Government and as an Englishman, of hearing from the noble Lord tonight that our Estimates are accepted and our plans approved. I confess, therefore, I am at a loss to know why we forfeited the confidence of the House of Commons; but, having forfeited it, it is satisfactory to have the compliment paid us of being told that our successors can do no better than tread in our steps, with regard to these two subjects of paramount importance. The first statement made by the noble Lord was that the Government, in deference to the views of the hon. and gallant Member for Southwark, had determined to place three superior line-of-battle ships in stations round the coast. I should like to have some further explanation on that point. I presume they are to be deducted from the Channel fleet. [Lord C. PAGET: No, they are three ships which are ready to be commissioned, but are not yet in commission.] In that case I think the measure may be a very prudent one. The noble Lord next alluded to the course taken by the late Admiralty with regard to the medical officers and chaplains, and he seemed to make some complaint of our not having remedied the grievances urged by the masters and paymasters. As the noble Lord has been but a very short time 918 in office he can hardly be aware of the attention which was paid by the late Board of Admiralty to the complaints of the latter classes of officers. It is true that we had arrived at no final decision on the question, but we had recognized their fair claim to have their complaints considered, and I left in the hands of the Duke of Somerset a written memorandum, explaining the views of the late Board of Admiralty on the subject, and showing that it was their full intention to deal with the complaints of these officers. I wish to prevent the existence of an impression which would be as erroneous as it would be unfair towards the late Board of Admiralty, that they had declined to entertain the complaints of the masters and paymasters. It was merely the want of opportunity, arising from the change of Government, which prevented us from dealing with the complaints of these classes of officers in the same spirit in which we had dealt with the complaints of the surgeons and chaplains. I will now advert to what fell from the noble Lord with reference to a most important subject, upon which I wish that he had afforded us more information—the intentions of the Government with regard to an extension of the bounty. The noble Lord has on former occasions avowed his disapproval of the principle of a bounty, and I think, considering that circumstance, that he treated the subject with the utmost fairness. He admitted, with as much fairness as if he had been one of the strongest supporters of the bounty, that the experiment has been completely successful, and I do not think it is presumptuous to say that the success of that measure is in a great degree a test of its merit. [Sir CHARLES NAPIER: Hear, hear!] I am sure no one will deny— and the noble Lord and his colleagues would be the last persons to do so—that, considering the state of public affairs in Europe three months ago, it was the imperative and bounden duty of the Government to lose no time in giving England an efficient fleet. How, then, was this to be done? The measures which the late Government intended to introduce, and with which the present Government, I am glad to say, intend to proceed, consequent on the Report of the Manning Commission, had not been matured, and the only resources to which we could turn were the coastguard and the naval coast volunteers. Would it have been politic on our part to turn at once to the last resource? I do 919 not believe any man would have recommended such a policy. How, then, could we obtain a fleet? Only by offering a bounty. It happened that at that moment, from different causes—partly owing to the prevalence of easterly winds, and partly owing to its being the season when the Baltic and the North American trades were just commencing—an unusually small number of merchant seamen were available in our ports; and unless we had adopted the principle of a bounty, and a largo bounty, we could not have turned over to the present Government 26 line-of-battle ships and 13 frigates in a state of perfect efficiency. We had no hesitation in adopting the principle of the bounty, and, although I am sorry the noble Lord doubts the wisdom of that measure, my consolation is that I believe he will be almost alone in that opinion. The noble Lord says the bounty is excessive. I told the House on a former occasion that the bounty was certainly high beyond any precedent; but if we had not made the bounty high beyond all former precedent we should have failed in our object, and we should not have succeeded in manning the fleet, I believe that no bounty has been resorted to in this country since 1815, and it must be remembered that in the interval immense changes have taken place in the general condition of seamen, and in their rate of pay. I think, when the accidental scarcity of seamen, and the high rates of pay offered in the merchant service three months ago, are borne in mind, very little consideration will convince the House that it would have been perfectly useless to offer a low bounty. In fact, if we had not offered a high bounty we should not have been successful, and I believe that by the course we adopted we have obtained the fleet we required. My earnest hope is that the adoption of a sounder system, providing a steady and permanent reserve for the supply of the navy, and carrying into effect the recommendations of the Royal Commission, will prevent future Governments from being compelled to resort, as we were obliged to do, to the unusual stimulus of offering a very high bounty. I now approach a statement of the noble Lord which I heard with great surprise, and, so far as I understood him, with great regret, and I am sorry that the noble Lord did not furnish us with some further explanations on the subject. He told us that a Council had been held to-day, and that an Order in Council was to be issued, but 920 he did not tell us what was its object. If I understood him rightly, the Government have made up their minds to extend the bounty to other seamen who were previously in the service. [Lord C. PAGET: To a portion of them.] I think I have some right to complain of the imperfect explanation afforded by the noble Lord on this subject, and, although I will not presume to censure a measure which I so imperfectly understand, and, on that ground, I express my opinion very guardedly, I must say I am afraid the Government have established a precedent which may hereafter be found most inconvenient and objectionable. I think the noble Lord's statement did not justify the course which I understand the Government have determined to adopt. He frankly declared that there had been no dissatisfaction or discontent in the fleet. When we offered a bounty we were told, I believe by my hon. and gallant Friend near me (Sir Charles Napier) and by other very high authorities —"The certain result of your measure will be to spread discontent and dissatisfaction throughout the fleet, and you will be obliged to extend the bounty to other men." I never felt more firmly determined—and my colleagues completely concurred with me—to resist any such demand, and my opinion has been justified by the result. The noble Lord has admitted, in the broadest terms, that there has been no discontent or dissatisfaction among the seamen. He has told us that the Government have determined to deal generously with the seamen of our fleet. In that principle undoubtedly I concur, but I say that we have dealt generously with them. The noble Lord has told us that when we examine the Estimates in detail we shall not only find charges for the bounty, hut for those new allowances and advantages, such as clothing, bedding, and other things, the grant of which, I think, shows a disposition to deal with seamen in a most generous spirit. But upon what principle do you think it necessary to extend to men who were previously in the service the bounty which we offered to induce other men to enter it? I entreat the Government to recollect that this course is wholly without precedent. I believe that there have been three occasions on which a bounty has been given, but in no instance has it been extended to seamen previously engaged. The right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham) told us on a former evening that, at the commencement of the Russian war, 921 the Government of which he was a member abstained from giving a bounty to seamen. I think he did not explain why that course was adopted, but, if I am not very much mistaken, the main reason was that an Act passed in 1835, the 5th and 6th William IV., contained what I think a very unwise clause, providing that whenever a bounty was offered every sailor then in the fleet was to start a new engagement for five years, and in consideration of such new engagement was to receive the bounty. It is quite clear that the Government of which the right hon. Baronet was a member shared the opinion I now express as to the impolicy of that provision, for under his auspices I believe in 1853 an Act was passed by which it was repealed, and the necessity of extending a bounty to seamen previously in the fleet ceased to exist. The clause to which I have referred, whether wise or unwise, was never acted upon, and I fear, if the Government now introduce for the first time what I think a dangerous principle, that you cannot on an emergency offer a bounty to man your fleet without incurring the great and unnecessary expense of extending that bounty to all men who were previously serving. The practical result will be to deter Governments, on account of the large and serious outlay thus involved in it, from resorting to this most useful measure—one, I admit, which ought not to be lightly adopted, but which may be most valuable when some pressing occasion may arise. The noble Lord complained of the form of our Proclamation in regard to bounty, comparing it to a Russian ukase. [Lord CLARENCE PAGET: I meant that it was an arbitrary proceeding, being without the sanction of Parliament.] I admitted on a former occasion that the late Government took upon themselves a very great responsibility, and the step was subsequently sanctioned by Parliament. I thought it was to the form of our proclamation that the noble Lord objected, and I was about to say that in drawing it up we strictly followed precedent. I am glad that the Government intend to introduce a Bill for carrying out the Report of the Commission on the manning of the navy; but at the same time I must beg leave to Bay the late Government arc not open to the accusation that has been repeatedly made against them as to their having been very slow in arriving at a decision on this point. I beg leave to say we do not in the least deserve that charge. The Commissioners reported in the month of February, 922 the Government had to consider their report, and the noble Lord seems to have forgotten that for a considerable interval of time there being no Parliament sitting, it was impossible for the Government to announce their decision. A few weeks only had elapsed after the presentation of the report before Parliament was dissolved, and in the Queen's Speech, delivered on its reassembling, there was an intimation that this point had been decided. We could hardly, therefore, have been more expeditious in the matter. The noble Lord also alluded to the great number of shipwrights that we added to the dockyards in order to accelerate the shipbuilding operations now going on, and he announced the change which the present Government have resolved to adopt, at a cost to the country of about £100,000. I am not prepared at this moment to give a very decided opinion one way or the other as to the policy of what the Government have done; but one part of the noble Lord's reasoning I cannot accept. He says it would be very hard on the shipwrights that they should be turned adrift just at the time of the short days after having been employed all the summer by the Government. Now, however natural this feeling may be as between man and man, I must say that in dealing with the public money you are hardly justified in spending £100,000 to maintain shipwrights whom you do not want. The great question is, "Do you require them or not?" If you do, then the Government deserves credit for employing them, and certainly had we remained in office, and the services of these men had been called for at the end of the six months, we should not have hesitated to retain them. The course we took was founded on the recommendation of the Surveyor of the Navy. Sir Baldwin Walker came to the late Board of Admiralty and suggested that an additional force of shipwrights should be taken on for six months to expedite particular works and to clear off arrears. Upon his advice we determined on engaging these 1,300 extra shipwrights for that period accordingly; and if, at the end of the first six months, he had informed us that the men would be wanted for six months more, we should then have undoubtedly thought that a sufficient justification for our taking the course now adopted by our successors. That is a matter of which the Admiralty must be the best judges. If they are prepared to assure the House that the work in the dockyards 923 is in such a state that it is desirable for the interests of the public service, and not merely on grounds, as it would rather appear, of private charity, that these men should be kept on for the whole financial year, then I certainly will not offer the slightest objection to their proposal. The noble Lord next stated that I claimed credit for ships which really belonged to my predecessor. Sir, I do not know of anything that has passed or that has fallen from me on which this assertion is based; but I must in the most distinct and emphatic manner repudiate any intention ever to make any such claim. And let me add that I think we have had a little too much party feeling and party views mixed with our discussions relating to the navy; and I quite agree with my noble Friend opposite that the more this is avoided the better. I am content with having, during the period I had the honour to be at the head of the Admiralty, endeavoured to do my duty to the country as well as I could, What I have done has been most kindly acknowledged, and by none more than by some distinguished members of the present Government. I have no wish to detract from the merit due to other men; and if party discussions on this subject have reluctantly on my part been forced upon me, I, for one, do not want to renew that of which we have had too much already. This great question of restoring the strength of the British Navy, and keeping it up to the point at which it ought to be maintained, is one of such paramount national importance and intense interest at this moment that it infinitely transcends everything which savours of party. As I have endeavoured to do my own duty in this matter, I doubt not the present Government will also endeavour to do theirs; and I am sure that no man in this House will give to their services a fuller or more frank recognition than I shall.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) in his opinion as to the admirable manner in which his noble Friend had introduced the Estimates. He had done it in a clear sailor-like manner. The gallant Officer had told the Committee that he had got the Channel fleet up to 12 sail of the line; and he quite agreed with him that it was not desirable to confine that fleet to the Channel. What was objectionable was that they should have been lying in harbour from the time they were got up almost to the present moment. It was 924 gratifying, therefore, that the new Board of Admiralty had sent them to sea to smell a little of the fresh breeze. The great mistake was that ever since they had been put in commission they had remained in harbour. They had only made one short voyage, some to Gibraltar and others to Bantry Bay. The Channel fleet, to be maintained in good order, ought to be constantly on the move. Portland was a fit place for the head quarters; but they should go to Torbay, then to Plymouth, then to St. Helen's, and thence to the Downs, in order to give experience to the officers and captains,—aye, and to the Admirals also. The knowledge how to sail a fleet could only be learnt by constant practice. This practice they had not yet had, and he was glad the present Admiralty intended to give it. The ships ought not to be practised separately, but should go out together under the Admirals. When he had the honour to command the Channel fleet he could say, though he was not fonder of praising himself than the late First Lord was, that the ships were kept in efficient condition, and he did not believe a smarter squadron had ever been seen. He did not say the ships should be kept at sea in gales of wind, but they might be out all through the summer. It was our duty to exercise our navy in the same way that other nations did. With regard to the vexed question of block-ships, upon which so much had been said and upon which so much money had been thrown away, he would suggest that they might be employed in the different ports for practice purposes. The noble and gallant Officer must know, however, that there were five of those vessels which were utterly useless. He was happy, however, to find that they were about to be replaced by efficient ships, but he did not want them to be destroyed. Then, again, with regard to the reserve. The coastguard were old sailors, and there were no better men sent to the Baltic. As to the coast volunteers, he believed with Commodore Eden, that they would come forward when they were called upon, if they were properly treated, and not sent some to one place and some to another, but made available for manning the ships at the naval stations to which they belonged. But suppose the ships manned, where were the officers to command? Where were the captains and lieutenants to command the men? whereas at one time we were overwhelmed with officers, captains, 925 lieutenants, and cadets. He wished to know how our navy had been reduced to this state. We had been asked for £100,000 for seamen in reserve, but that was not the way to get our reserve. He had stated in letters to various First Lords of the Admiralty the natural way of getting a reserve of seamen. In the first place, we should have a Channel fleet of never loss than 10 sail of the line. It was as necessary to have a fleet ready as it was to have troops ready. The whole of our fleet should be composed of able seamen. In case of emergency, part of those men could be removed to ships manned to a great extent with coastguards-men and volunteers. We could thus have 30 sail of the line at a cost of little more than that of 10 sail of the line at the present moment. If the state of our navy were as had been represented by the noble Lord, he did not think there was any nation in the world that would attempt to show their face against us for a moment. The Secretary to the Admiralty had stated that in case of necessity the navy could be reinforced by 231 merchant steam vessels. That was all nonsense. Months would be required to fit out those vessels, and in the meantime what was to become of the merchant service? We must trust to our navy, and with 50 sail of the line we might defy the world. They must remember, however, that 50 or 100 sail of the line did not compose a navy. The vessels were no more than fortresses without troops unless they had sailors to man them, and therefore he trusted no reduction in the number of men would be thought of. The payment off the fleet in 1857 and the consequent necessity of getting it up again had cost more money than the maintenance of it in an efficient state at its full force would have done. He now came to the question of bounty. The House had been told that the Government were prepared to give the men actually entered a portion of the bounty which they were offering to new hands. So far well, but the men would not be satisfied with a portion of the bounty; they must have the whole of it. The refusal of the bounty had produced a soreness in the fleet, but if the men were to receive what was fairly due to them there would be no more murmurs of discontent. It appeared from the statement of the Secretary to the Admiralty that in the years 1811–12, in the middle of the war, something like 21,000 men deserted from the fleet. Well, that was nothing re- 926 markable, for in those days the pressing system was in full operation, The fleet was now manned by volunteers, and yet from the 1st of January, 1854, to the 31st of December, 1857, no fewer than 11,250 seamen and 1,775 boys deserted. Nothing could show more clearly the bad state of the navy. If the seamen were properly treated, desertion would be rare. What had the Admiralty been doing? The members of the Board were well paid by the country for looking after the fleet, but, nevertheless, they had shamefully neglected their duty. No steps had been taken to prevent desertion, and he was afraid that, unless Parliament interposed with a strong hand, nothing would be done. Why should the Admiralty not establish an efficient police in all the sea-port towns? Let the men be well treated while they remained in the navy, and let deserters be severely punished. The gallant Officer had stated that our ships were formerly too short. That was quite true. He added that they were now too long. This was also his (Sir Charles Napier's) belief. We could sail very well with these ships upon the broad sea, but how should we navigate vessels of such length in narrow waters like the Baltic, with its rocks and shoals and difficult harbours? These were questions which the Admiralty ought well to ponder over. The noble and gallant Lord had asked for indulgence, and that the House would cheerfully grant; but the system which tolerated such frequent changes at the Admiralty was a vicious one, and required alteration. In seven years we had had five First Lords, while all the other members of the Board had been changed as well. Remembering this, nobody could wonder at the waste and extravagance which had prevailed. Not that he wished the Lords of the Admiralty to remain too long at their posts, for in that case they would be likely to get into the old ruts; but if they were changed once in five years, he thought that would be a satisfactory arrangement. He wished now to allude to the manner in which the men were treated in Greenwich Hospital. All the officers there had their pay, and pensions for wounds as well; but the poor sailor enjoyed no such privilege. He was deprived of his pension for wounds if he went into the hospital, and all he got was 1s. a week, which might buy him a little tobacco There was no employment by which he could add to this pittance; and he was forced, besides, to give part of his 927 provisions to his wife, or she must starve. Would the House believe that the men's wives went to the Main Guard to get what was called the "offal," by which was meant the broken victuals? Fancy seamen's wives reduced to fetching away the ''offal," the very name of which was enough to disgust one! If proper wash-houses were fitted up, these respectable women might be employed in doing the washing of the hospital; but no! it was all sent out. Another system would probably surprise the Committee. If a man were ruptured in the service, instead of being pensioned, he received a gratuity of £5 or £6, and was then discharged, though, of course, as he was disabled from laborious work, he must go into a poor-house or starve. This was the way in which our sailors were treated, and yet we wondered at men not entering the service, or at their deserting after they did enter. He believed that, if properly administered, the funds of Greenwich Hospital would pay all the men £30 a year at least, and then they could live at home with their friends. At present the hospital gave them splendid misery, and nothing more. From a Return which had been published, it appeared that in England and Wales there were 592 sailors who had been disabled in Her Majesty's service. These men were in the workhouse, instead of being in Greenwich Hospital with a comfortable pension. Was this, again, proper treatment? Some time ago the present Secretary to the Admiralty pointed out various alleged abuses in the dockyards, taking special care, however, not to direct his observations against the Surveyor of the Navy, or any other officer. Still a report had gone abroad that during a certain number of years there had been a waste of £5,000,000, but the Surveyor of the Navy, he believed, made a Return which accounted for the whole sum. He thought the Board of Admiralty was, under these circumstances, bound to take notice of the statements which Sir Baldwin Walker had made, and to bear testimony to their accuracy. There was only one other observation which he wished to make, and that had reference to the number of continuous-service men who had been discharged from the navy. He ought not, perhaps, to say discharged, because he did not wish the House to believe that those men had been forced to leave the service; but some of them had been informed that they might quit it if they pleased, and "Jack," being an independent sort of 928 gentleman, had not hesitated to act upon the hint. That as well as other facts showed that the navy was not quite so popular a service as might be supposed. The evil was one which he was, however, bound to say the late First Lord of the Admiralty had done his utmost to remedy, and he hoped that the present—now that we were trying all sorts of gentlemen in that capacity—would follow in his footsteps.
said, there were two points connected with the expenditure of the navy to which he wished to draw the attention of the Committee. The Estimates for that department of the public service had of late years been not only steadily, but enormously on the increase. According to a paper on the table of the House the whole expenditure for naval purposes was, for instance, in 1852, £5.800,000; in 1853, £6,280,000; in l858, £8,800,000; while in the present year it amounted to no less a sum than £12,680,000. That Vote was an extremely large one every hon. Member must be prepared to admit, but he was nevertheless not prepared to oppose it, inasmuch as he deemed it to be a wise economy to maintain the defences of the country in an efficient state. To do so would, in his opinion, be, in the long run, found to be the cheapest policy. He was, however, anxious to bring under the notice of the Committee the question whether the navy could not be maintained in a state of efficiency at a much less cost than was involved in the present rate of expenditure. His noble and gallant Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty, whom no one could be more happy to see filling the honourable position which he now occupied than himself (Mr. Lindsay), had frequently, with that honesty of purpose which guided his conduct, called the attention of the House, while one of its independent Members, to what he deemed to be lavish expenditure in connection with the navy. He trusted his noble Friend, now that he was in office, would not forget those truly wise doctrines which he laid down when in Opposition, and that, instead of yielding to the suggestions of those who were under him, he would follow the dictates of his own good sense, aided by that ability which he unquestionably possessed. Having given that advice to his noble Friend, he should beg leave to call his attention and that of the Committee to four items, under the heads of which he thought the navy of England might be rendered 929 as efficient as it now was at a considerably reduced rate of expenditure. He should first take the Vote which comprised the wages of artificers. In dealing with that Vote, the details of which he had minutely considered, he should trespass upon the time of the Committee by referring to a Return which he held in his hand of a number of ships which had been built in our dockyards, and which were all of the same size —1,462 tons burden. The first of these vessels, the Satellite, had been built at Davenport, and he found that the expenditure for shipwrights' labour had in her case been £6,450, or at the rate of £4 8s. 3d. per ton. The second, the Pelorus, had also been built at Devonport, and the shipwright's wages had been £6,712. The Scylla had been built at Sheerness, and the expenditure for the same purpose had been £8,621; and the Clio, built at the same place, cost £9,311; while in the case of the Racoon and Tantalus, which had been built at Chatham, it had been £6,321 and £6,569 respectively. One important fact he wished to bring before the Committee was, that the cost of labour in one dockyard was much greater than in another. Thus, the Pearl, built at Woolwich, cost us between £6 18 s. 5d. per ton; while the Satellite, built at Sheer-ness, and the Racoon, at Chatham—vessels precisely of the same kind—cost £4 6s. 6d. per ton. There must be something radically wrong to cause such a discrepancy as this. Two frigates built in a private yard on the Thames for the Russian Government— namely, the Tartar and the Cossack—cost £2 8s. per ton. That included not only the cost for shipwrights, but the cost of fitting them out for sea; whereas the entire cost of fitting out the Pearl for sea was £8 13s. 11d. It was true that the Pearl was a somewhat larger ship than the Tartar or the Cossack; but the difference in size would only account for a difference of a few shillings per ton in the cost of building the two latter vessels. There were, no doubt, objections to building ships for the Royal Navy in private yards, but it was evident from these facts that there was something inherently wrong in the management of the Royal dockyards. Why could the men not be employed as they were in private dockyards? If they were employed on piecework, instead of the labour account of the shipwrights being £8 13s. 11d. per ton, it would not be more than £2 12s. per ton. The rate for labour in the present Estimates was £1,527,000, 930 Of this £1,000,000 at least was for shipwrights; and on this item alone there might be a saving of £400,000, while the work would not be one whit less efficiently done. He would say nothing as to the construction of ships beyond this, that he hoped his noble Friend would carry out in office the reforms he had contended for in Opposition. The next branch to which he would refer was that of materials and stores, the sum required under which head amounted to £2,800,000. Now, he would take a few examples of the mode in which that money was expended. Among the most important items was that of steam engines. Formerly it was supposed that there were only two or three firms in this country competent to build steam engines for the Royal Navy. Now, he would not ask tenders for steam engines as he would do for clothes and provisions, but it was too much to say that the builders of the engines used by the great steamboat companies could not construct engines fit for the Royal Navy. The consequence of this exclusive dealing was to enhance the price of the article, and we had been paying £60 per horse-power for engines (an hon. Friend near him said £80), whereas, if the range of competition had been widened we could have had our steam-engines at £50, if not £45 the horse-power. He trusted that his noble and gallant Friend would open the door somewhat wider, and not hold to the belief that none but certain firms could build steam-engines. He did not advocate unrestricted competition in so ticklish a matter; but if quite as good engines could be obtained for £40 per horse power, he did not see why the Admiralty should pay £60. He would take another item, that of anchors. Nine years ago he devoted a considerable portion of his time as a Member of a Committee to inquire into the test description of anchors. Seven anchors were brought before the Committee. They tested those anchors in every possible way, and they unanimously arrived at the decision and reported that the Admiralty anchor was the worst of the seven. For nine years that Report had been in possession of the Admiralty, and the same description of anchor still continued in use in the Royal Navy. But, more than that; for seventeen anchors, from 20cwt. to five tons weight, the Admiralty paid £3,434 17s. 6d.; whereas, according to a published statement which most hon. Members must have seen, the market price of the most eminent firms was only 931 £1,428, or at about one-third of the outlay. When he found the Admiralty wrong in these two items, he thought there was great reason to fear they were wrong in many others, and that they paid far too much for stores and materials. Why was it so? The answer he had received to that question in the matter of anchors was, that the Admiralty had been in the habit of dealing with a particular firm. One firm had a monopoly—and a very nice monopoly it was—for them, at the expense of the poor taxpayers. He would take another item—that of wages to seamen and marines, He had no desire to go into the question of manning the navy now, because he felt that he should require more time than the Committee would be disposed to give him; but he had the honour of being a Member of the Royal Commission which inquired into that subject, and he was presumptuous enough to differ from his colleagues. The reasons for his dissent were stated in the Report. He dissented with regret, but with the most solemn conviction that the extra expenditure about to be saddled upon the country would be money wasted. Though some time had elapsed, he had no reason to regret the course which he then felt it his duty to take; and although his noble and gallant Friend had appealed to him not to oppose Votes which were inserted in the Estimates, on account of the recommendation of the Royal Commission, he certainly should oppose them at every stage, until the House had had an opportunity of fully and calmly discussing the question in all its bearings. The recommendations of the Commission involved not merely the £100,000 which would be asked to-night, but, as the Commissioners made it, £600,000, or, as he made it, £700,000. Whether it was £600,000 or £700,000, it was a very large amount, and, if capitalized, the smaller sum would represent something like £20,000,000. Though he should find only one hon. Member to support him, he would walk into the lobby against any sum being voted on account of manning the navy until the House had expressed its opinion whether the recommendations of the Commission warranted such a vast expenditure. Upon the question of wages he thought he should be able to prove, as clearly as he trusted he had proved the other items, that Parliament could save £500,000 per annum without rendering the navy one whit less efficient. When the question came on for discussion he should 932 show that, while the country had been marching onwards in the substitution of mechanical for manual labour, they required the same number of men to man a ship now as in the days of Trafalgar. By the improvements of the age and the application of machinery, one man produced as much in the factories of Manchester, as fifty did at the commencement of the century; yet the navy now required the same number of men as in the days of their grandfathers. There must be something wrong and something to inquire into before voting these large sums. He believed he was correct in saying that there was no such thing as a patent block in the navy, while every collier had them, because one man was thereby enabled to pull as much and to raise as great a weight as three. Some time ago he asked the question of a distinguished post-captain and elicited the startling fact that there was nothing new in the British Navy since the last quarter of a century, except the reefing of the sails, and that we got from the French. His hon. and gallant Friend (Sir J. Pakington), who took so much interest in the navy, said very truly that it was not merely a question of ships and money, but a question of officers. He did not recommend any reduction of the pay of officers. God knew they were too poorly paid already. But he must call attention to the subject of half-pay, which would require, sooner or later, some alteration. The Vote for that purpose amounted this year to no less a sum than £718,000. There were ninety-nine admirals on the active list, and the number employed was only fourteen. There were 357 captains on the active list, of whom only ninety-six were employed; 514 commanders, of whom 173 were employed; 1,038 lieutenants, of whom only 696 were employed; and 348 masters, of whom 263 were employed. Again, in 1855, towards the close of the Russian war, we had ninety-nine admirals on the active list, of whom only eighteen were employed; 399 captains, and 139 employed; 550 commanders, and 192 employed; 1,177 lieutenants, and 883 employed; and 318 masters, and 269 employed. That was at a time when the whole strength of England was put forth against an enemy. The effect was serious in two Ways. First, we had no right to take into our employment officers or servants of any kind, unless we saw a fair chance of giving them active employment. To both employers and employed we were doing wrong. We were taxing the coun- 933 try to an unnecessary extent, and bringing up men to a service for which they could find no employment, and then leaving them to starve on the pittance of half-pay. Those officers who had influence at Court received constant employment, but those who had no such influence were left to starve on half-pay. The other evil lay in saddling the public with a large sum of money annually. In the plans which had been put forward for increasing the naval forces in time of emergency, the valuable reserve afforded by the mercantile marine had been comparatively overlooked, and the measures which had been taken had only weakened that service, without strengthening the power of the navy to a corresponding degree. The officers of the merchant service, who were now a very different class from what they had been even ten years ago, ought also to be included in any arrangements for a reserve force, and called out with the men, at stated intervals, for drill. A trifling payment as a retaining fee would be sufficient for the purpose, and would have, he maintained, a great effect in stimulating volunteering. That was a part of the question of manning the navy which deserved to be discussed at length in that House. Without they broke down the line of demarcation at present existing between the merchant service and the navy, they might go on spending millions of public money, and be no nearer the solution of a great problem namely, how to obtain reserves sufficient in the hour of need, at the least cost, and disturbing in the smallest degree, the industry and resources of the country in times of peace. The steps which had hitherto been taken were altogether in a wrong direction. £100,000 had been added to the expenses of the navy in the increase of salaries in 1852; but he would ask the gallant Admiral (Sir Charles Napier) whether he had found his difficulties lessened in consequence when endeavouring to man the Baltic fleet in 1854? He thought his right hon. Friend the late First Lord, committed a grave mistake—perhaps it was the only one he made during his administration—when he offered a bounty of £10 with the view to attract able seamen to the naval service. That bounty had only tempted 1,400 able seamen into the service, and that even at a time when the merchant shipping of the country was suffering great depression. The consequence had been two-fold. The wages of seamen in the merchant service had 934 been unnecessarily increased, and great dissatisfaction created in the minds of the 55,000 able seamen now serving in the navy, from whom a similar bounty was withheld. An unnecessary competition had been evoked between the Royal Navy and the merchant service. The latter would increase their wages in the same proportion, and the Admiralty would find, in the long run, that they were spending the money of the country in vain. He had thus endeavoured to show that upon four items alone upwards of £2,000,000! sterling might be saved to the country, and he did not hesitate to say that if he was allowed to go fully into the matter— for he would much rather do good in a i quiet way than make speeches in the; House; and he begged his noble and gallant Friend, if he thought he could assist him in any way, not to hesitate in sending for him—he thought he would be able to show that £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 at most would go as far in the navy as the £12,000,000 they were now about to vote. It was their imperative duty to look into these matters, and promptly, too, for taxation was begining to press heavily upon the country, and though it might not be much felt just now, when we were in a state of prosperity, yet if a famine came, or stagnation of business, it would rouse a strong feeling of discontent among the industrial classes. If they got value for their money he would not complain, but it was the first duty of the House to look into these matters and see that there was no wasteful expenditure.
said, that as they were to have another opportunity of discussing the question of the naval reserve on the introduction of a Bill, it was not his intention to inflict upon hon. Members all the observations which, as a member of the Commission on Manning the Navy, he should be anxious to address to the House when the proper time arrived. He would not, however, be doing his duty towards the colleagues with whom he had acted, as an attack on their scheme had been made in anticipation of the latter debate, to offer no brief defence of it on the other side. The recommendations of the Commission on the reserve in the merchant service could not be correctly gathered from the observations of the hon. Gentleman. The Committee must be under the impression that an unwise expenditure of £600,000 had been recommended, and that, upon the more accurate showing of the hon. Mem- 935 ber, a still further expenditure of another £100,000 would be necessary. No doubt, if the hon. Member went over the whole of the subjects of the Report, which embraced a great variety of subjects, the Commissioners recommended an additional expenditure which at the proper time he was prepared to show would not amount to more than £600,000. But if the hon. Member confined himself to the subject now before the Committee—the naval reserve to be drawn from the merchant service of this country, and which would furnish 25,000 trained gunnery men to man our ships in the hour of danger—the whole expense recommended by the Commission was £200,000, and this was the only matter with which on the present occasion he ought to occupy the attention of the Committee. Upon what evidence did that recommendation rest? If there were one thing of which the Commissioners satisfied themselves it was that the system of naval impressment was a broken reed, which would pierce the hand that leaned upon it, and for this simple reason. Such was the progress of science in the use of arms, of precision, that men of the highest skill in gunnery and not the men promiscuously collected by a pressgang, were required to man their ships and sustain the honour and dignity of the country in the hour of need. With the leave of the Committee he would state in very brief outline what were the recommendations of the Commission, so that they might not be under any mistaken apprehension of what they would afterwards be called on to discuss. The proposal of the Commissioners was, that for a sum of £160,000 you should have a force of 20,000 men on the home voyage, and 5,000 men on the distant voyage, trained and practised in gunnery, who should be ready on an emergency to come forward in the defence of the country. And as with regard to the navy nothing could be more clear than that both in point of loyalty to the navy and efficiency in the service there was no body of men equal to those who from boys were trained up for the service, it was proposed to add £40,000 more in the training of boys for the reserve, thus making in all £200,000. For this sum it was anticipated they would obtain a force of 25,000 men in the merchant service trained and practised in gunnery, with a self-supporting pension fund, and with ships at each of the principal sea-ports for the purpose of entering and training youths. The hon. Gen- 936 tleman would have the House believe that the Admiralty were making no improvement in the navy; that it required as many men to work a gun or haul on a rope now as at Trafalgar; and the House might imagine that the practical conclusion at which the hon. Gentleman arrived was that he recommended a smaller number of men than the Commissioners. But he agreed with them within 2,000 as to the number of men required from the home voyage; he exceeded them in the number of boys he recommended; he equalled them in the number of coastguard and coast volunteers; and he far exceeded the Commissioners in the number of seamen on the distant voyage and the marines. The hon. Gentleman thought the object could be attained more cheaply than the Commissioners. He hoped this might prove so. If so, it would be an argument à fortiori in favour of the plan. But the Commissioners reported to the Crown according to the evidence they received. He regretted that they had not been entirely unanimous and that the hon. Member for Sunderland had not gone with them in their report. He could only say that that report was based upon the evidence of witnesses most qualified to speak upon the subject. The Commissioners reported in conformity with the opinion of the Commander of the coastguard of England, with those of the Commander of the coastguard at Liverpool, the Chief Clerk at the Admiralty, the Board of Trade, represented by the Secretary and the officers of the nautical department, and according to the evidence of the Registrar of Seamen, and of all the shipping masters, and of the managers of the great steam-ship companies. There were reasons for the report, which he would not enter further upon at present, as a full discussion of the matter was promised on a future day. He only wished to point out that they proposed to substitute for the system of impressment a reserve of seamen, which, according to the evidence, could be accomplished for £160,000 a year, to which they had added £40,000, making altogether £200,000 — not one-sixth of the expense of maintaining a similar number of men in the service. With respect to the officers in the merchant service, who no doubt deserved all the praise the hon. Gentleman had bestowed upon them, the reason why the Commissioners did not offer any opinion was that they considered there was nothing in their Commission which authorized them to entertain 937 that question. The report was that of three admirals—men of the highest distinction— of the hon. Member for Portsmouth, and Mr. Green, the great shipowner, and at the proper time he should be prepared to defend and justify it on its merits.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said that he desired to advert to one or two points which had been raised in the course of the discussion. The first was to the non-employment in the Navy of appliances which had been introduced into the merchant service. It must be borne in mind that the manning of a ship of war was in relation to the guns and not to the rigging. Such appliances as patent trusses and blocks, with a strong ship's company, would be torn to pieces, and be of no earthly use. The patent truss was tried on board one of the hon. Company's ships and found to be unserviceable in the case of heavy yards. Besides, he was not aware that any mode of handling had been discovered which would reduce the number of men required to manage a 32-pounder. The subject of officers was not within the scope of inquiry of the Commission, but he thought it was one which merited investigation. It was very well to point to the number of admirals, and to say that so many were not fit for active service; but it was natural that during a forty years' peace men should grow old, and according to their interest or merit should rise to the highest grades, and owing to the more temperate habits of the period should live longer than their forefathers did. There was a long lieutenants' list, including men of all ages, some sixty or seventy years old, while a quarter-deck officer's efficiency rarely lasted beyond forty-five. In the year 1848 a Committee sat, presided over by the noble Duke now at the head of the Admiralty, to which were to be attributed many of the evils existing in the navy. The number of junior officers entering the service was restricted, and now there were three-decked ships with only six or seven midshipmen, instead of twenty. A man of war without midshipmen was crippled. With half-a-dozen efficient midshipmen he would dispense with a lieutenant or two. The consequence of the present system was that there was no rising junior class. He thought, instead of allowing old lieutenants to drag on a miserable existence upon a guinea a week, the fairest way would be to buy them out of the service when they had done a fair turn of work, and so keep the junior portion of the service in an efficient 938 condition. With respect to the conversion of ships, he thought it absolutely necessary that that work should go on, but he confessed he had never yet seen a ship converted properly according to his notion. A vessel to be converted properly ought to be cut across at the foremast and afterport, lengthened by a good run aft, and a completely new entrance added forward: these parts ought to be strongly fortified, and would supply much of the room now occupied by the engine-room. She would then have her original battery on the main deck, would be more buoyant, and generally more commodious and efficient. There was another point that had not been noticed, but which was of importance—the expenditure for fuel. Having paid much attention to the subject, he was convinced that if proper measures were adopted very large sums might be saved. At present he believed that not a single one of the many meritorious appliances for consuming smoke or economizing fuel had been adopted in the navy. Then, again, as to the construction of engines, he could not see why the eminent engineers of the Clyde should not be allowed to compete with their more favoured brethren of the Thames. The machinery on board of the West Indian steamers were equal to any that was to be found in the Royal Navy. The Royal Commission, of which he was a member, made recommendations which were of a twofold character, and which he was happy to sec in a great measure carried out. One class of the recommendations concerned the well-being of the seamen, the other the provisions of an efficient reserve. The food on board ship was insufficient, and he would advise the present Board of Admiralty to go further than the last, and add the quarter pound of meat for supper which the Commissioners agreed was necessary for the health of the men. He could assure them that a seaman in a hot climate, who took his tea and a biscuit at five o'clock p.m., and then kept two watches without eating a single tiling till eight o'clock next morning, could not avoid falling sick under such a system. An officer who had just returned from China, and had there shipped two crews, the last being of merchant seamen, told him that the chief, indeed only complaint, which he had from the last crew was that they did not have enough to eat. The Commissioners also recommended that there should be restored to the warrant officers their widows' pensions, the 939 withdrawal of which had sunk deeply into the minds of those men. They were chosen from the élite of the seamen, and while the amount of property under their care was greater than ever, their pay and standing in the service had been much lowered. The effect of this state of things has been to make it very difficult to induce good men to come forward for the warrant. With regard to Greenwich Hospital, he had once fancied that it must be a perfect Elysium; but after examining it the Commissioners considered the state of matters! there most wretched, and it was a question whether it would not be better for the service that the money spent there should he given to the men as out-pensioners, so that they might be enabled to live comfortably with their friends, instead of keeping them, as at present, in one of the worst monasteries ever established. He strongly disapproved of the use of frigates as flagships in hot climates. The flagship was a sort of storeship for the squadron; and unless it was very roomy the men had to be accommodated on the lower deck, which in hot stations were absolutely pestilential, and he had every reason to believe that this was the main cause of the shortness of seamen's lives.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he had listened with pleasure to the very able statement of the Secretary to the Admiralty, which had been followed by a very able debate, showing the great and growing errors existing in the naval system. Still he thought they had been putting the cart before the horse; that they had been dealing with effects instead of causes. Many of the evils so ably stated were attributable solely and entirely to the general errors of the system and to the constitution of the Board of Admiralty; and what he should have preferred would have been that this discussion had been preceded by a discussion on the Motion of the hon. Member who proposed to inquire into the constitution of the Board of Admiralty, and that the House should have looked into that part of the question before commencing the discussion as to the errors and mistakes and blunders which occurred under the present system. He had long been of opinion that it was utterly impossible, constituted as the Board of Admiralty was, that it should not be the source of errors, blunders, and extravagances without end. And the two grounds of that opinion were these. It was perfectly impossible that a Board, at the head of which was placed a gentleman, be his talents 940 what they might, who was utterly unacquainted with the details of the business over which he had to preside, should be ever conducted in an able, satisfactory, and economical manner. But he believed that there was still a greater evil existing than that, and that was in the fact that the Board of Admiralty was subject to change at every change of the Government. So long as that was the case, whether those who presided or those who came after were right in their views did not much matter. So long as we had the recurrence of a change of system from good to bad, or from bad to good, there must he delays and other inconveniences attending a change. The navy, above all, required a continuance of men who were, first, duly qualified for their office, and secondly, who from long experience had acquired that knowledge which long experience only could give. As to the question of the bounty, he must differ from his hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Lindsay). He thought the late Admiralty was justified in offering the bounty for manning the navy. He thought they had no other course to pursue under the circumstances, as it was the only means in their power to supply the deficiency of men that then existed, with the requisite rapidity; but the fact of their having been compelled to do so was the fullest proof not only of the defective constitution of the Board of Admiralty, but that it was a standing slur on a country calling itself the "first maritime nation in the world." If the navy department were in an efficient condition, not only would there be an efficient force for all immediate wants, but such a reserve, on which the Admiralty could lay their hands at once, that the necessity for a bounty could never possibly occur. He might add that the mode in which anchors had been supplied to the navy was another proof of the inefficient system which prevailed under the present constitution of the Admiralty.
§ SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, he quite agreed with the hon. Member who had just spoken, that they ought to have a discussion which would settle the question once and for all, whether they should continue the present system at the Admiralty. It would be better to set apart a night for that purpose, instead of having continually to listen to a series of desultory attacks involving vague charges which there was no opportunity of answering properly. On the question of the bounty he could hardly give an opinion, because he was not aware 941 of the circumstances to which the right hon. Baronet opposite had so much referred. If there was a pressing danger, the right hon. Baronet was not only justified in what he had done, but was to be praised for it. Unless there was a pressing danger, it was not a wise step to have recourse to the extreme measure of offering a bounty. He would postpone any remarks upon the manning of the navy which he had to make, until that opportunity which he understood would be afforded them of discussing that important subject. With regard to the question of provisions, a Committee had sat in 1850 and had fully considered it; and its recommendations had been adopted by the Admiralty of the day. He had himself asked for a vote of £30,000 for improving the provisions for the navy. The Report of the Commission on the Manning of the Navy required in his opinion to be fully considered and debated, and he was by no means prepared to accept it without discussion. He should he glad to hear how far the recommendations of former Commissioners had been successful, how far the continuous service system had enabled them to procure a better class of men, and whether it had led to those advantages which were expected from it. There ought to be a full inquiry into these points, and he hoped the First Lord would give them an opportunity of ascertaining whether all the charges made against the Admiralty were true or not.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
said, the noble Lord the Secretary of the Admiralty had submitted the additional Naval Estimates to the House in a clear and lucid statement greatly creditable to him, seeing how short a period he had held his present office. He was desirous to fix the attention of the noble Lord to a recommendation he had enforced upon the late First Lord of the Admiralty, on the occasion of his submitting the Naval Estimates to the House in the early part of the present Session, that there should be a Board constituted, to assemble as occasion might offer, to be composed of experienced and scientific men, not naval officers singly, who should receive the suggestions and consider the inventions of those who had turned their attention to improvement in naval architecture, gunnery, and other inventions pertaining to the naval service. And at a time, as he had more than once adverted to in this House, when science was making fresh advances hitherto unexampled, and other 942 maritime Powers were strengthening their navies in proportion, no caution could be too great in a timely construction of our ships before war commenced. The position, one of the highest importance and responsibility, that of the Surveyor of the Navy, demanding as it did the display of great ability and a judicious expenditure of the public money, required that it should be accompanied by a seat at the Board of Admiralty, by which opportunity and authority would be afforded to him to represent his opinions with freedom and cogency. He believed that the late First Lord of the Admiralty yielded to none of his predecessors in a desire to improve the service. Complaints, however, had been made respecting the bounty which the right hon. Gentleman had offered; but the House should remember the state of affairs on the Continent had been such during the last few months that it was impossible to foresee what position this country would be placed in. We had splendid ships and plenty of them; but what use were they, unless they were alive with practical officers and efficient crews from stem to stern. Now, the fact was, they had not efficient crews and not a considerable number of practical officers; and the reason was, that during the long peace of forty years which we had enjoyed, we had been unable to employ the officers on the list to any great extent. In the case of any emergency, however, he was satisfied that the navy of Great Britain would preserve the high honour and character which it had always hitherto maintained. It was within his knowledge that not a single fleet issued from an enemy's port from 1794 to 1815, which did not supply fresh laurels to the British Navy, and that even when we were engaged in fighting single handed. Let us then be prepared for any exigency that might arise; for a preparedness to meet danger was the best security for occupying a solid position. With regard to our ships, he feared we were building them of too great a length. In the present Estimates, he observed a sum of £250,000 for a contract to build two ships, and he had heard that these ships were to be from 4,000 to 6,000 tons burden, and to be furnished with the masts and yards of ninety gun ships. If that were correct, he had no hesitation in saying that it would be a gigantic failure, and that the ships would be perfectly useless (under any circumstances) unless they had two screws, one fore and the other aft, so as to back or go 943 ahead as might be required; for if they happened to be thrown on a lee shore in heavy weather, it would require great sea-room for them to turn without incurring the greatest danger.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, he now had a very pleasing duty to perform, in thanking those hon. Gentlemen who had complimented him on his manner of performing his duty, and had made many valuable suggestions. That which had just been made for a Board of scientific men to consider the subject of naval architecture was a very valuable one. He also had to thank the hon. Member for Sunderland for his suggestions, which he would lay before the Board of Admiralty.
said, that he wished to ask for a pledge that none of the sums contained in the Votes amounting in all to £58,657, for carrying out part of the scheme of the Commissioners for Manning the Navy should be expended until Parliament had had an opportunity of discussing the whole report.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, it was impossible to give that pledge as some of the money—such as the expense of gratuitous bedding and other such items—had already been expended.
said, in that case he must protest against the expenditure of public money without the sanction of Parliament. The House, too, was thus committed beforehand to at least one part of the scheme of the Commissioners.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
remarked, that there was no ground for complaining of any attempt prematurely to pledge the House to the report of the Commissioners. They had made certain recommendations, and the vote referred to was for the purpose of carrying out part of their scheme. If the hon. Gentleman did not approve of that scheme, the constitutional time to object was when the Vote came before the Committee, and if he succeeded in persuading the Committee to agree with him and reject these items that part of the scheme would fall to the ground.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he had to complain that the House was now called upon to vote nearly £2,000,000 without any explanation. He should therefore move that the Chairman report progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed— "That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again."944
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
hoped the hon. Gentleman would not persist in his Motion, as he believed the general feeling of the House was in favour of proceeding with the Votes.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he thought the general feeling of the country would be that some explanation should be afforded with regard to the demand of £2,000,000 beyond the amount required by the late Government. The present Navy Estimates were nearly double the amount of any which had been asked for since the termination of the last war, and, although he was as anxious as any one to place the navy in a state of efficiency, he thought some explanation ought to be afforded on the subject.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, the only amount required in these Estimates beyond those prepared by the late Government was £100,000 to continue the labours of shipwrights in the different dockyards.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that the Estimates of the late Government were £10,800,000, and those now before the House were £12,682,000.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, he hoped the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) had not been asleep during the last two years, and that he was aware that the universal feeling of the country was that we should place ourselves in such a position as would enable us to maintain our neutrality.
§ Question put and negatived.
§ Original Question put and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again." put, and negatived.
§ (2.) £479,695, Wages.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and negatived.
§ (3.) £247,212, Victuals.
§ Resolutions to be reported on Monday next.
§ Committee to sit again on Monday next.