HC Deb 03 August 1860 vol 160 cc653-4

said he rose to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether Her Majesty's Government contemplate taking any proceedings on the Report from the Select Committee on Military Organization? He wished to advert to some of the recommendations of the Report, which he considered a most valuable document. Among other matters the Report called attention to the fact that there were 3,000 men employed at Woolwich on Sir William Armstrong's guns, that they were under the supervision of Sir William Armstrong, who received £2,000 a year, which was to be continued to him for seven years; that the only place except Woolwich where the manufacture of Armstrong guns was carried on was a factory at Elswick, which was conducted by one of Sir William Armstrong's partners, for which, though Sir William Armstrong had no proprietary interest in it, he had advanced money, and had reserved the right to join in the concern in the event of his leaving the public service. The Report stated that Sir William Armstrong was well worthy of every confidence, but that he was placed by this arrangement in a false position, for he could not watch two great concerns so distant from each other as Elswick and Woolwich, and ought not to be the inspector of guns made by his own partner. This was undoubtedly an improper arrangement, and he was sure that, now it was brought to the knowledge of the right hon. Secretary for War, it would not be allowed to go on any longer. The Report ended with a recommendation worthy of attention, and he hoped that during the recess it would be carried out by the right hon. Secretary for War, who had proposed a scheme for reorganizing the War Department. The scheme thus proposed would secure the infusion of new military blood into the War Department, which would give vigour to the system and confidence to the army. In his opinion the Report was a very sound one. The right hon. Secretary of State would have around him professional advisers, whose opinion he might consult, either separately or collectively, and he recommended that one or more of the heads of department whose appointment was proposed should have seats in the House of Commons. He thought the right hon. Gentleman would do well to carry out those recommendations.