HC Deb 31 May 1861 vol 163 c378

said, he rose to call attention to the Report of the Committee of 1858 on the comparative merits of the Enfield and Whitworth rifles, and to ask whether any subsequent steps had been taken to determine the relative superiority of these two arms? Experiments were carried on during the years 1857 and 1858, and the Committee recommended that the inquiry should be pursued, in order that the country might know which was the best arm. The Committee made a Report in 1858, but almost every member who signed it appended to it a statement showing that differed from it in some important particulars. One member gave an opinion in favour of the Whitworth; another officer of equal intelligence and experience thought the Enfield the superior arm. In the meantime the House was called on to vote large sums of money annually for Enfield rifles without having any assurance that it was the best, and that they would not be called on at some future time to substitute for them some other and superior weapon. In the face of the contradictory statements of the officers of the Committee he hoped the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War would state to the House whether any further inquiry would be made on the subject?