§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he rose to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that she would be graciously pleased to appoint a Commission to inquire into the management of Greenwich Hospital. He was sorry to learn that the Government intended to oppose his Motion. He was at a loss to know why it should be opposed; for if there were abuses in the institution they should be corrected; and if there were none, the Government would then have a great triumph over him for having brought forward a Motion which was entirely useless. He believed that there were great faults in the management of Greenwich Hospital; and if ever there was a time when they should look into the matter and see that the seamen in that establishment got the same justice as the officers, now was that time. All the officers received their salary and their half-pay as well, and it was extremely hard that the seamen were not treated in the same way. The Governor had a pension of £300 a year 417 for the loss of his leg; and the other officers had pensions for their wounds, and it was quite just that they should. But if a poor seaman lost an arm or a leg and went into Greenwich Hospital his pension was taken away from him, and he only received the maintenance given to a man who had served a certain number of years. Now surely this was not fair play. The House would be astonished when he read' a calculation which he had made in respect of Greenwich Hospital, which showed that the salaries of officers came to £25,598 10s. a year, whilst the sum spent in the maintenance of all the pensioners was only £33,163. The first thing he asked was that the common sailor in Greenwich Hospital should retain his pension for his wounds. It was not fair that a man who had received no wounds should receive the same advantages as one who had lost in the service of his country one or, perhaps, two of his limbs. At present a pensioner got a shilling a week only to amuse himself with. It was quite true that he was clothed, fed, and lodged; but a sailor could not be comfortable unless he had some money in his pocket. The noble Lord at the head of the Government himself might have the range of Buckingham Palace, and be well fed, clothed, and lodged; but if he had not a penny in his pocket to bless himself with he would be a miserable man. He would give some details as to the officers. The governor, including his half-pay and his pension, received no less than £2,759 0s. 1d.; the lieutenant governor, £1,345 6s. 4d.; the senior captain, £740 15s. 7d.; and so on in the same proportion. These were handsome allowances, but he did not say there was a penny more than those officers deserved, for they were all old officers; but the argument was as good for the men as for the officers. A married seaman's only means of maintaining his wife was to go upon the out-fund or to take his provisions away with him, and share them, together with his shilling a week, with his wife and family. If a man had half a dozen children, how could he maintain them respectably? The wife of a sailor who was in Greenwich Hospital was, he should say, one of the most degraded women in the world. They could get but little work, and they had not sufficient to maintain themselves in decency. If they were allowed to do the washing of Greenwich Hospital, washhouses being erected for the purpose, that would afford a comfortable living to a great many, and the plan would be 418 cheaper than that in operation at present —sending the things to Croydon to be washed. A pensioner passed his house the other day, and he spoke to him, and asked where he had been. The man said he had been to see his friends. He further asked whether he had received any money when he started, and the man said, "Sir, I saved up my shilling a week, and what little I could make up besides, and went down into the west country," and, he added, that he was obliged to beg his way back, though when he got back he should be allowed the value of his provisions for the time he was away. Now, why should not the value of the provisions have been advanced to him when he went away? Another great complaint was that the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor had not the smallest power in the world, but were continually thwarted and their recommendations overruled by three civil Commissioners who had £700 or £800 a year each, and some of them did not even live at Greenwich. It was precisely the same in the time of Sir James Gordon, Sir Charles Adam, and Sir R. Stopford. It might be necessary to have a financier to manage the monetary concerns of the hospital; but if it were, let him be a member of that House, and responsible to it for the manner in which he discharged his duties. The existence of these Commissioners was entirely unnecessary. The day before yesterday two men came to him, one of them a pensioner who had been in the service about twenty years, his pension being £27. When the Queen's proclamation came out calling on him to serve he went to Portsmouth, and was sent on board the Asia. He had been a petty officer, and he understood from the proclamation that when he went back he was to receive the same pay and rating as he had had before. The man said, "I am, however, now only rated as an A.B." He was, however, a devilish clover fellow and justly added, "Suppose you, Sir, were a reserve admiral, how would you like to go back again as captain?" Nor was this all, for previous to going back he had been employed fitting out merchant vessels and received weekly wages, but when he joined his ship he was two months without receiving any money, because the ship was not in course of pay, nor had he been able to make any allotment. This was not of so much importance in this case, because there was his pension of £27 to support them; but the contrary was the case in the instance of a 419 man living in his own village who had a pension of £6, and who earned 10s. or 12s. a week as a bricklayer's labourer. He went to Portsmouth in obedience to the proclamation, but he could get no pay until the ship was in course of pay, nor could he make any allotment for his wife and family, who were starving at that moment. These were little things which did not come under the notice of the Admiralty; but all the pensioners who had re-entered the service were in the same position; they could get no pay until the ship was in the course of pay, and of course could make no allotment. He contended that these matters deserved inquiry, and he would therefore conclude by moving for the Address.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he must remind the hon. and gallant Member that there were already an original Motion and an Amendment before the House; therefore, till one or the other of them was disposed of his Motion could not be put.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
Am I at liberty now, Sir?
§ MR. SPEAKER
No; the Motion now before the House is that I leave the Chair.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.