HC Deb 06 June 1861 vol 163 cc686-91

House in Committee.

Mr. MASSEY in the Chair.

(In the Committee.)

Question again proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £169,835, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of New Works, Improvements, and Repairs in the Naval Establishments, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1862.


asked for an explanation of an item of £160,000 which appeared in reference to works at Chatham. He wished to know whether it was included in the total of £902,000 with regard to which a Committee was to be appointed? He also wished to know whether the Committee would have the power to consider other plans besides those proposed by the Admiralty, and select that which they deemed the best; because he was sure that eminent civil engineers would not entirely approve the plan of the Government? He was of opinion that £902,000 would not be sufficient for the works contemplated unless convict labour only was used, and in that case the delay would be so great that no Member of the House would live to see them completed. He complained that only £1,400 was taken for the naval barracks at Devonport, estimated to cost £80,000. It was a pressing service, and they were told the plans were not yet matured. If a civil architect had been asked to supply the plans they would have been ready in six weeks or two months; but with the great amount of business in the department of the Director of Works, delay was inevitable, notwithstanding the great ability and industry of that excellent officer Colonel Greene, who is now at the head of that Department. He asked for several explanations of small items, and concluded by moving, in pursuance of notice, to reduce the Vote by £3,225 for additional accommodation for spinning machinery at Chatham, which he believed to be unnecessary, the more especially, as he understood, that the machine spun rope was vastly inferior to that spun by hand.


said, that Government had agreed to strike out that item. As to the £160,000 put in the first column, it was the estimate which had stood for years for the embankment of St. Mary's Island and the erection of a masthouse. It did not include the docks or basins, or any of the large works for which the estimate amounted to £902,000. The sum voted by Parliament last year for new works, &c, had been more nearly exhausted than usual. Only a small sum was taken for the naval barrack, because n. site had not yet been acquired. He hoped, however, that they would soon get one.

Motion made, and Question, That the item of £3,225, for Additional Accommodation for Spinning Machinery at Chatham, be omitted from the proposed Vote.

Put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £466,610, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of New Works, Improvements, and Repairs in the Naval Establishments, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1862.


asked for explanations as to the naval barracks at Devonport. He hoped that accommodation would be given alike to officers and men.


said, it was expected that the barrack would accommodate 2,000 men and officers, very much upon the system of military barracks. He was not prepared to say that it would possess all the room and convenience of a permanent military barrack. Economy would have to be studied, but every moderate comfort would be provided for both officers and men.


complained of the continued expenditure on Keyham dockyard, which, up to the 31st of December amounted to £1,334,000, and greatly exceeded not only the original but the supplementary Estimates.


thought that a sailor had as much right to be well lodged as a soldier, and he objected to anything like a reduced system of accommodation. These barracks ought to be part of a system, and ought to be built in relation to the duties the men would have to discharge in connection with their ships. He wished to know what had been done towards dredging out the bar at Portsmouth harbour? The Government had acted most wisely in beginning the principle of salting their own provisions, for he was sure that if the measure was carried out a very superior article might be served out to the seamen.


objected to the ordinary annual expenditure for dockyards being brought into this Vote, which was especially for new works.


said, that the question of converting the Naval Hospital at Yarmouth into a lunatic asylum for the reception of the patients who were now kept at Haslar Hospital was under consideration. There were, he knew, some objections entertained to the proposed asylum, but he believed the site was an eligible one. As to the Vote for machinery, it had been the practice of late years to introduce hydraulic cranes and other mechanical appliances into the dockyards, in order to supersede manual labour; and those changes were, of course, attended with a considerable outlay.


hoped the Admiralty would reconsider their determination with respect to the hospital at Yarmouth.


admitted that the water at that hospital was not the very best, but other water of a very good quality could be easily obtained in the neighbourhood.


said, that his question had not been answered relative to the works at Keyham.


asked whether the Government would lay on the table the papers respecting the establisment of n lunatic asylum at Yarmouth? Yarmouth would, he was afraid, be an inconvenient situation for such an institution, which ought to be in close promixity to our great naval establishments. It was rather alarming to hear that the asylum intended for invalids was not provided with good water.


had no objection to the production of the papers in question if his right hon. Friend moved for them. With regard to the works at Keyham, no doubt they had cost more than was originally expected; but, as we had been increasing the size of our ships, it was necessary to enlarge our basins, dock-gates, slips, and, in fact, everything else in proportion.


had great doubts whether Chatham was the right place to provide additional basin accommodation. This ought to be left to the decision of the Select Committee; and till that Committee had given in its Report he thought they ought to pause. He would move, therefore, that the Vote of £15,000 for these works at Chatham be omitted.


said, an increase of basin accommodation for the English navy was urgently required. The French, with a smaller number of ships, had a much greater acreage of such accommodation. For this purpose Chatham was the best naval port in the kingdom; it was the most difficult of access, and the best protected by nature. It was, therefore, the safest position for works of this kind. The next question in connection with such great works was where they could be executed cheapest. St. Mary's Island was public property, and the narrow creek running between the island and the dockyard could, by very little engineering skill, be scooped out into basing. At Chatham there was a largo convict establishment, and bricks could be made there. About £10,000 of the Vote was required to close up the creek.


said, that one of the greatest arguments in favour of Chatham was that it was a good place for making bricks, which was a singular reccommendation for shipbuilding. It was certainly secure, and likely to be more so, for he believed it would soon be high and dry. In a few days public opinion would be much enlightened on this subject, when he believed the whole scheme must be abandoned.


said, the question as to convict labour had been practically decided by a former Vote.


doubted if it was desirable to employ convict labour at such expense on the embankment. If the Med-way was to be deepened the expense would be still more enormous. What advantages had Chatham over other ports for building iron ships? They could be built cheapest where coal and iron were nearest. For iron ships the Admiralty should have chosen the Mersey or the Clyde. He should support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sunderland.


said, that Chatham was not selected for the purpose of building iron ships. This plan was adopted before iron ships were thought of. and its great recommendation was that it was an inland port, and instead of requiring to be fortified like Portsmouth, it could be defended against any enemy at little cost by a few ships. He hoped that the Committee about to be proposed would be granted; but in any case, this extension of basin accommodation would be necessary, and he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Amendment.

Motion made, and Question, That a sum, not exceeding £451,610, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of New Works, Improvements, and Repairs, in the Naval Establishments, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1862.

Put, and negatived.

Original Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.

Committee to sit again To-morrow.