§ LORD RICHARD GROSVENOR
said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether, considering the great importance which attaches to the quality of iron, both for building and for plating ships, the Government proposes to take any now steps for securing a supply of iron for the purposes of the Navy of the best quality?
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, the question of the noble Lord was one of considerable importance, and he would endeavour to state what the Admiralty was doing in respect to the iron for the supply of the Navy. Hitherto the contracts for iron had been of a very simple description; but as they had progressed with building iron ships, and especially iron-cased ships, the Admiralty thought fit to take into their consideration the best means of obtaining the best quality of iron, and they had, with a view of issuing fresh contracts, given notice to close all their contracts for iron; and they were going to call together 92 some of the most eminent men who were acquainted with the various qualities of iron to assist thorn in preparing a scheme by which they might issue tenders for contracts, giving minute details as to strength of iron, and the various qualities required for plating vessels, and for iron yards and masts, and stating the test that would be applied, and he might say that the test they meant to exact would in no case be departed from. He trusted that in the course of the autumn they would be prepared to issue tenders, which would open the trade as far as possible with a view to getting the best quality of iron for shipping purposes.