HC Deb 23 February 1863 vol 169 cc669-706

Sir, if I were to state to the Committee, that I was in a position to propose to them a considerable reduction of the Navy Estimates, without being able at the same time to show them that the reduction would be carried into effect without interfering with the efficiency of the service, I do not think I should be making a statement which would furnish a subject for congratulation to the House or to the country. If, however, I can show you, that owing to the great generosity of Parliament, we have been enabled to make enormous exertions during the last few years, and to place the navy, both as regards personnel and matériel, on a satisfactory footing, then I may, I trust, be allowed to possess a fair claim to congratulate the Committee on the prospect of our maintaining it in that position, while we effect a great reduction in our outlay for the purpose. That the navy was never in a more efficient state than at the present moment, both so far as the seamen are concerned and so far as relates to our progress in the construction of that class of ships which has lately come into vogue, I can, I think, notwithstanding the suspicions of my hon. Friend the Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), without difficulty prove. I may add that during the debates which may take place on the subject I shall, if possible, refrain from alluding to other Powers at all, for I have found that comparisons between our naval resources and those of foreign nations produce somewhat of ill-feeling. I therefore deem it desirable that we should confine ourselves as much as possible to our own affairs.

Now, Sir, the total Vote which I have to propose to the Committee for the naval service for the year 1863–4 amounts to £10,736,032, the Estimate for 1862–3 having been £11,794,305, showing a decrease of £1,058,273 in the Estimate for the present as compared with that for the last year. This decrease will be found to pervade the whole of the Estimates with a few exceptions, the only real increase which occurs under any head this year being in the Vote for the transport service—a Vote over which, as the Committee are aware, the Admiralty has no control, inasmuch as the instructions on which it depends emanate from the War Office, and we are bound to carry them into effect. The cause of the increase in the present instance is mainly due to the removal of troops in large numbers to distant stations. There are, for instance, two regiments to be sent to New Zealand and others to be brought back, the cost of which proceedings is no less than £61,576, exclusive of the cost of the sustenance of the men. This will give the Committee an idea of the expense of removing men to our distant stations. In most of the other Votes there is a decrease. In Vote No. 1—that which has reference to the Wages of the Seamen—there is an apparent decrease, but not a real one. I have seen it, indeed, stated in some of the public journals that we were about to reduce the pay of the sailor; but that is not the fact. We propose the same Vote for seamen as before, but I have taken certain liberties in framing these Estimates, which I shall now explain. The effect of the change which I have made will, I think, be found to be advantageous, and I will briefly state in what it consists. First of all, there is connected with each Vote an explanatory statement, which is a mere matter of account, and which I have removed to an Appendix at the end of the Estimates. From Vote No. 1, also, I have transferred certain items which appertain to the Victualling Vote (No. 2), and which relate mainly to bedding, clothes, and a variety of matters of that nature, which, in my opinion, ought years ago to have been so transferred. If, therefore, the Committee will follow me, they will see that so far from there being any decrease in Vote No. 1 it is in reality the same, and that we simply transfer a certain sum to Vote No. 2. Taking the two Votes together, however — that for the victualling and the pay—you will observe that there is on the two a decrease of £101,277. This decrease is due principally to the fact that almost every article supplied to the seamen in the shape of provisions is much cheaper at the present time than was formerly the case. There is, indeed, one article—vinegar—which is rather dearer than formerly; but as it is not much drunk in the navy, its increased cost is not a matter of very much importance; while, the price of all the other articles having been reduced, we have been enabled to effect a considerable reduction under this head. The next Vote on which there is any important decrease is that for Artificers; and if my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk would have the goodness to attend to me for a moment, he would, I have no doubt, be disposed to lament the cause of reduction as much as I do. It is due to the great decrease in the manufacture of sails—canvas, to the regret of all lovers of sailing, has given way to coals. In Vote No. 10, for Naval Stores, there is a decrease of £410,133, of which the greater part is for timber; and I may state that this reduction has not been forced upon us by any pressure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but arises from the circumstance that we have at last got a stock of timber worthy of the country, there being no less than 112,000 loads of old timber on our hands at this moment—a position which I do not believe we were ever in before. In the Controller's Department we ask for a less sum this year by £300,380 for steam machinery; because the engines already ordered are in a very advanced state, and there is at present no very pressing demand for steam-engines. Upon "Ships building by Contract" we ask for a considerably less sum than last year; and, moreover, we do not propose any new construction of iron ships in the coming year; but at a later period I will explain what we are doing in that respect. The next Vote upon which there is a decrease is upon Vote 11, for New Works. I see the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone) in his place, and I confess I expect some complaint from him with regard to what I am now about to mention. The fact is, that in deference to the opinion of this House, the Admiralty have seriously thought whether they ought or ought not to construct a large basin at Portsmouth. It would undoubtedly cost a very large sum of money; and before I or whoever may occupy my position asks a Vote for this purpose, it would be requisite to lay before the House full and detailed plans, showing the whole cost of the works. We had intended to propose it this year, and to insert the sum in this year's Estimates. I must take upon myself some part of the blame—though it must be shared by the Law Officers of the Admiralty—that it is not inserted; but the fact is, we found at the eleventh hour that it was necessary to pass a private Act of Parliament in order to enable us to commence the works, though I had supposed that as the property belonged to the Admiralty, we might at once have proposed a sum to the House; but when we discovered our mistake, it was too late to comply with the Standing Orders, and therefore the amount we intended to ask was erased from the Estimates. But, Sir, we proceed vigorously at Chatham. The noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) will, I hope, now give me credit for great anxiety in pushing forward the works at Chatham, and accordingly we shall do as much work there during the next year as we possibly can. We therefore propose to take for the works at Chatham as large a sum as we can expend. We likewise propose to take a considerable sum for the new long dock at Malta, in addition to the dockyard. The Maltese authorities have been in communication with the Imperial Government, and they have proposed to contribute a portion of the expenses for the works which we intend to construct at the head of the great harbour. I will be ready by-and-by to give further explanations on this subject. But, Sir, there is a public work which the Admiralty has not ceased to desire, inasmuch as it is one which will be absolutely necessary at some future time. If, in the event of war, you mean to have your naval business conducted with vigour and despatch, it will be necessary to have the Admiralty offices amalgamated and brought under one roof. That matter has been under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. We volunteered to go to Somerset House; but we found that the alterations necessary would cost a great deal, and there were other important reasons to be urged against such a step; and I am sorry to say we do not as yet ask for any sum for that purpose, important as the measure is. Now, Sir, having given a general sketch of the principal items of decrease in the Naval Estimates for the coming year, the Committee will permit me to give some account of the numerous details of various branches. And, first of all, with regard to the construction of ships. Sir, I have laid upon the table of the House the usual annual Return of the number of steamships afloat and building; and as the Return is rather a long one, I will not, unless it be desired, go through its details, but will shortly state we have now under construction and at sea, twenty-one armour-plated vessels. I will endeavour to show how soon the ships under construction will be ready for sea, and the progress we intend to make in the further construction of iron-cased ships. The House is aware that we have at this moment at sea the Warrior, the Black Prince, the Defence, and the Resistance. They have been tried under various circumstances, and I am happy to assure the Committee that the reports concerning them are very satisfactory. They are all good sea-boats. One of them, which I remember, was very much criticised last year—the smaller one—the Resistance, has proved herself the fastest of the whole under canvas. Now, smaller ships have various advantages over larger ones; and in saying this I do not mean to detract from the merits of the Warrior, the child of my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington). I believe the hon. Member for Tyne-mouth (Mr. Lindsay) has seen the Warrior at Lisbon, and can give a very good account of her. [Mr. LINDSAY: Hear, Hear!]


— What is the speed of the Resistance?


— Her speed under steam is 11½ knots an hour; but the trials that have been made have been principally with a view to try their going in a circle their action with respect to pitching and rolling, and their general sailing qualities. Those ships have just returned from their cruise to Lisbon. The Royal Oak will probably be ready for sea in May, and the Prince Consort in June. Both these vessels are wooden line-of-battle ships converted into armour-plated, and about 4,000 tons. The Hector, an iron ship of intermediate size between the Warrior and the Resistance class, will be ready for sea in July. I do not say that all these ships will be commissioned as soon as they are completed; my object is to show when they will be ready. The Caledonia, another of the wooden line-of-battle ship converted, will be ready in September. And now we come to a novel class of ship concerning which it is desirable that I should say a few words. The House will remember that for some time it was supposed that no ship would be able to carry armour-plates so as to attain high speed unless one of a very large tonnage. It was, however, undoubtedly most desirable that we should have vessels of somewhat less tonnage, and less costly, but still able to bear armour-plates. Mr. Reed, now about to be Chief Constructor of the Navy, was employed by the Admiralty to carry out the construction of ships of this class, and he was ordered to build three—the Enter- prise, the Research, and the Favourite. The Enterprise is to have a wooden bottom—that is to enable her to go to distant stations, but she will carry very heavy guns and will be entirely armour-plated in the middle and along her water-line. [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON: Is she in armour?] The armour is entire in the middle, and along the water-line—hut the extremities are of plate-iron and an iron-skin. She is also to be sheathed with Muntz-metal. These three ships are very much of the same nature. The Enterprise will be ready by October, the Research in February, 1864, and the Favourite in June, 1864. The Enterprise is a vessel of 990 tons, and the other two, the Research and the favourite, are respectively of 1,253 and 2,186 tons. The Royal Sovereign, turret ship, converted from a three-decker, will be ready in November. The statement with regard to the preparation of ships must always be a matter of uncertainty. We have some admirable constructors of armour-plates all over the country; but questions of difficulty are apt to arise, and it is better that we should delay our ships than, that we should go on and plate them with insufficient armour. While upon armour-plates let me pay honour where honour is due. We can get good plates, both hammered and rolled, but we find that the rolled are more uniform, and Mr. Brown, a gentleman distinguished by great zeal, and conducting important works at Sheffield, has been most successful in producing plates. I may likewise mention that Mr. Beale, of Parkgate, has been successful, and I hope will be yet more so. These are makers of rolled plates, which, on the whole, have been more successful than the other kind. I am likewise bound to give the Thames Iron Company credit for hammered plates; but lately, as I have mentioned, the hammered plates have been considered less successful. Another point of interest is the annealing, or gradually cooling, process. We tried annealing, and in some cases were successful and in others we failed. We actually took the same plate, and cutting it in two, annealed one-half, leaving the other half unannealed; but the effect in respect to both was very much the same, so completely are we in a state of uncertainty as to the result of different processes. We are, however, in good hopes that we shall succeed in having a regular supply of plates without any de- fect. I have already stated that by the end of the year we shall have altogether, including the ships at sea as well as those under construction, nine large armour-plated ships and one smaller one ready for sea. In the spring of next year we shall have a great development again. We shall then have the Ocean, one of the wooden line-of-battle ships, armour-plated; the Valiant, sister to the Hector, an intermediate class between the Warrior and Resistance, built wholly of iron; the Prince Albert, of iron, the second ship on the turret principle, in which Captain Coles is to mount six guns; and the Achilles, building at Chatham. We hope they will be afloat and sea-ready almost by April in next year, and also the Achilles, sister to the Warrior, and the Royal Alfred, and the Zealous, wooden ships like the Royal Oak. Then, as to small ships, we shall have two—the Favourite and the Research, to which I have already alluded—making in all eighteen armour-plated ships ready for sea by April in next year. Under these circumstances I hope the hon. Member for Norfolk will admit that we are making progress in preparing ships for launching. Then come the three leviathan ships of upwards of 6,600 tons each—namely, the Agincourt, the Minotaur, and the Northumberland. When these ships will be ready I cannot pretend to say, as that matter depends on the contractors. I believe that they are making great exertions to get the vessels ready, but, of course, it is not in my power to state when they will be finished. I will now state what we propose to do with respect to further construction of the armour-plated fleet. We propose to prepare frames for five more large wooden armour-plated frigates. Having now a large stock of timber, it is really a matter of economy that we should construct these vessels in our own dockyards. This leads to the great question of wood versus iron. Undoubtedly, when we come to ships of very large tonnage, iron has the advantage over wood. Wooden vessels are subject to great vibration when put to high speed, and time damages them and causes them to decay. Wooden vessels cannot be said to be lasting; but the Committee should remember that ours, after all, are not worse than other nations', and they are building wooden ships; and therefore it is advisable, that having a good stock of timber on hand, we should construct a certain number more of these ships. Hon. Gentlemen— mercantile gentlemen—will, I know, say, build them of iron; but these hon. Gentlemen should remember, that until some one will devise the means of keeping their bottoms clean, they are not so useful as wooden ships, as long as the latter last. The Controller of the Navy will tell you, that if you are to have iron ships, you ought almost to have one dock for every ship. We are covering our iron ships' bottoms with paint and composition of every description, and there is actually a trial being made to enamel them. We are endeavouring to get over the difficulty arising from the fouling of the bottoms in every possible way, feeling that as long as that mischief exists, we must think that for many purposes wooden vessels are superior to iron. As an argument in favour of iron vessels, I may say that Admiral Robinson, the Controller of the Navy, has gone very carefully into the average cost to the country of maintaining a wooden fleet, and he has come to the conclusion that for every man that you vote for your navy you must put down £10 for the mere wages of artificers to keep the ships in repair. Thus, supposing you have 76,000 men, the wages of artificers for keeping the ships in repair would amount to £760,000 a year. I do not mean to say whether this calculation is right or wrong, but hon. Gentlemen have the power to judge of these matters for themselves, because there is annually laid on the table of the House a detail of the cost of every ship in the navy. I still avoid stating exactly what is to be the armament of any ship, because I do not think any one could give a proper opinion as to what will be the armament. Great experiments are going on. Mr. Whitworth says that he can make a gun capable of sending a projectile through anything; while others assert that he cannot. But we have this consolation in regard to all the ships we are building, that they can carry thicker plates, if necessary. Before I quit this subject of ships, I wish to say, speaking entirely on my own responsibility, that I believe an invention is coming out which, if successful, will produce a great reform in the masting of vessels. Captain Coles, who is well known as a very clever and ingenious officer, has invented a system of masting which will altogether do away with rigging. This system consists in having an iron cylinder for the mast, supported by two other cylinders, which in fact represent the rigging. If this invention succeeds, it will get rid of the difficulty of falling rigging fouling the screw. This has not been tried yet. I think I have now made the Committee acquainted, as well as I am able, with the progress of our shipbuilding operations. There are a certain number of small ships likewise building which are really not of surpassing interest at the present day in comparison with the armour-plated ships.

Having dealt with this part of the subject—the outside skin as I may call it— I now come to the pith and marrow and bone of the navy—namely, the seamen. We take this year a Vote for the same number of officers, seamen, marines, and boys as we took last year—namely, 76,000. There is, in fact, a small increase, because the civilians—a class of men in the coast guard service of the Customhouse, left as a legacy by the Custom-house to the Admiralty—are fast disappearing, and as they disappear their places are supplied by seamen in the coast guard. Their number was last year 1,150. This year it is only 1,000; so that there is really this small increase of 150 seamen. The men are distributed as follows:—I should, perhaps, weary the House if I told them what are the ships at every station. I will, therefore, content myself with giving the numbers in the Channel fleet and on the Mediterranean, North American, and Indian stations. In the Channel we have one ship of the line, the Revenge, four of these iron-plated frigates, and one other vessel—that is, six ships. They carry 187 guns and are manned by 3,146 men. In the Mediterranean we have 6 ships of the line, 5 frigates and corvettes, and 15 other vessels. These 26 ships carry 706 guns, and are manned by 8,524 men. On the North American and West Indian station we have 1 ship of the line, 8 frigates and corvettes, and 22 other vessels. These 31 ships carry 543 guns and are manned by 6,573 men. On the East India and China stations, where we have charged ourselves with the extra duties of the Indian navy, which existed up to last year, and which, therefore, has necessitated an increase, we have 4 frigates and corvettes, and 29 other vessels. These 33 ships carry 234 guns, and are manned by 3,528 men. On distant stations we have 14 frigates and corvettes, and 40 other vessels. These 54 ships carry 587 guns, and are manned by 8,566 men. The result of the whole is, that we have 150 ships in commission, carrying 2,257 guns and manned by 30,337 men. In addition we have various services, ships ordered home and on surveying service, taking 14,648 men. We have reserves of seamen, and I know my right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington) attaches great interest to the number of reserves in home ports. Within the last few weeks we have told off a line-of-battle ship's crew for the Royal Oak, and they are ready to go on board as soon as they are wanted. The present number of reserves is 3,000. The supernumerary warrant officers, kroomen, &c., number 4,000. We have boys under training, independent of those in the fleet, to the number of 2,050. We have 11,000 marines on shore. The coast guard afloat, including tenders and blockships, number 4,652, and the coast guard ashore 4,000. The grand total is 73,687 men on the 23rd of February, irrespective of civilians, showing that we are some few hundred short of our Vote, principally marines and boys, and, of course, we are taking steps to complete the full number. Such, then, is the state of the personnel, and I may give the Committee the assurance that nothing can be more satisfactory or more contented than the condition of the seamen of the fleet. We have not yet got rid of the bounty men—that class who fill up the Return from, which the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Williams) has just quoted; but so important does the Admiralty think it, that in order to clear them off as soon as possible, they have brought home several ships and paid them off, with the view of getting rid of those men. The Return is for 1861—Every Gentleman must be sorry that it should be necessary to resort to flogging. Discipline requires that we should have the power, but it is our earnest desire to keep down the punishment as much as possible, and I hope next year the Return may be more satisfactory. The popularity of the service may be seen from this fact:—My right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington) will recollect that at the commencement of the continuous-service system there was considerable difficulty in inducing the men to enter for continuous service. Our present position is that more than three-fourths are continuous service men: this gives us great facility in manning the ships; because the men who have come home, after a tour of leave join fresh ships. There is yet another test of the improvement of the fleet. The Committee will remember that three years ago it was determined to put the men in two classes, and that men in the first class should not be liable to flogging. Of the whole number 87 per cent of the men in the fleet belong to the first class by their own good conduct, leaving only 13 per cent in the second class. The Admiralty have used great endeavours to organize barracks for seamen. We are going to commence barracks at Portsmouth, if the Committee will agree to the Vote I am about to propose. We have not progressed so rapidly at Plymouth as might be wished, because we found that the site was not central enough. We have transferred that site to the War Office, who have given us a site near the north end of the dockyard, with which, in consequence of the changes in the fortifications, they are able to dispense. We propose to begin at Devonport and also to lay the foundations of barracks at Portsmouth. Before I quit the subject of punishment, let me advert to the boys. The system is developing itself with great success, and we principally owe the good conduct of the men to the ships having been manned by those who were our own boys. Sir Frederick Grey has bestowed much care and attention on this subject, and he assures me, that to the best of his belief, in the course of a short time our navy may be filled up entirely by our own boys, with the exception of 600 or 700 men, who will be required to be introduced from other sources. The reason we have been able to reduce punishment is because you have generously given us the means by which these changes have been made. You have expended large sums in the education of these boys, and you are now beginning to reap the reward of your great expenditure for the benefit of the navy. There are other subjects connected with the fleet to which I will allude. We are trying various methods of ventilation, and we believe that when the ships are properly ventilated there will be a decrease in the sick lists. Lastly comes the question of cooking. I last year mentioned that there was a desire to introduce the system of baking soft bread. Strange to say, we found that it was rather objected to, and the men preferred biscuit. But we attribute it not to any dislike of soft bread, but because they can get their savings of biscuit, which they cannot of bread. We are trying a new cooking apparatus, by which we hope to be able to give not only soft bread, but roast meat as a change for the meat which is now habitually boiled. I now turn to the subject of the Naval Reserve. That great body of merchant seamen, which has now become a national institution, has largely increased in number during the last year. The House may remember that that year the number enrolled was 10,000. We have now nearly 15,000 drilled and perfectly ready to serve their country. Of these 7,000 are at home and can be called out at any moment. It is impossible for me to speak too highly of this valuable force. We have also established a body of officers of the Naval Reserve. Of the 400 officers which Parliament empowered us to engage we have already 91, which in a single year is a considerable number to obtain. Then we have the Naval Coast Volunteers, a very fine body of men, whom we think we may still improve. At present we have no power to take these men beyond one hundred leagues from their own shores. It appears to us very desirable, that in the event of our requiring the services of this force, we should not be confined to employing them within so limited a distance. We believe that by a little more care in the selection of recruits we may be able to induce seafaring men to join the force on the understanding that a more extended use is to be made of their services should necessity require them. Accordingly, it will be my duty to introduce a Bill for the purpose of reorganizing that force. A body of pensioners and riggers completes the sum of our naval forces.

I have now, Sir, I think, shown to the Committee, that while the Government haveendeavoured to enforce a strict economy, they have done so without making any reduction in the number of our forces. I sincerely hope that whatever the Committee may do, they will at least not compel the Government to curtail the number of this magnificent body of men. There are several minor items with which I need not now trouble the Committee, but about which hon. Members may perhaps desire information when we come to the particular Votes. For instance there is a small increase, which I have no doubt will be cheerfully conceded, in the pay of colonels of marines. We also propose to reorganize the establishment of clerks in the dock- yards. At present each dockyard has its own special staff, but we desire to mass them together, so that we may be able to command the services of each clerk at any station we choose. In that way we hope to secure both greater economy and efficiency. We are also desirous of making a small increase in the establishment of the Controller of the Navy, the business of which has quite outgrown the staff. I hope I have satisfied the Committee by what I have said that in reducing the expenditure the Government have not in any way sacrificed the interests of the navy. In consequence of the great sums which Parliament has granted to the Admiralty in past years, we have been enabled to make an important addition to the fleet, to furnish our dockyards with ample stores, and to reorganize our magnificent forces. Mr. Massey, I beg to move to resolve— That 76,000 Men and Boys be employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services, for the Year ending the 31st day of March 1863, including 18,000 Marines.


— I have listened with much attention to the very able statement of my noble Friend the Secretary of the Admiralty, and I am happy to say that I have heard nothing in that statement to render it necessary for me to trouble the Committee with more than a few observations. I am still more happy to say that I find nothing in the Estimates, any more than in the speech of my noble Friend, which requires me to make serious objections to any portion of the proposals of the Government. A very strong and natural desire has prevailed, on the part both of Parliament and the country, that the enormous amount which the Navy Estimates had reached during the last few years should be reduced as far as was compatible with the interests of the service. It is therefore very satisfactory to learn that the Government have made the Estimates for this year less by a million than those of the year before. And I am bound to say, that I think my noble Friend is justified in claiming for the Government credit for effecting that reduction without encroaching on the efficiency of the navy. Those points to which the advocates of a strong navy attach most importance are the maintenance of an adequate number of men and progress in the building of that new class of vessels the value of which is every year becoming more ap- parent. I am afraid that those opinions are not shared by all the Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee; but I feel bound to express my own satisfaction that the Government has not proposed any reduction in the number of men. That has been a wise and prudent resolve. Irrespective of the extent of the force we are asked to vote, every one must have heard, with unqualified gratification, the statements of my noble Friend as to the improved character of the men. I listened with some anxiety to what my noble Friend had to say on the subject of flogging. There can be no doubt that there is a general desire that the discipline of the navy should be maintained without resort to that mode of punishment. I trust that the disuse of corporal punishment may be brought about by the improved character of the seamen, and that the Admiralty will take care not to make any changes calculated to impair the discipline of the service. I have had reason to observe that whatever the power of the navy may have been, its discipline was not quite what we could have desired; and therefore I had the more satisfaction in hearing what the noble Lord said, and I hope that the discipline of the navy will improve with its increased comforts. I also heard, with great satisfaction, of the great increase of continuous-service men. My noble Friend has adverted to the anxiety I have felt bound to express in former years that an end might be put to those discreditable scenes, of which we had recently seen too many, when ships lay in the roadsteads for weeks and months waiting for men to fill up their crews. I am glad to know that what I have so long urged is at length accomplished, and that we have now a Reserve of seamen, who may be draughted to any ship which requires a crew. I am only sorry that we have not had a more satisfactory statement as to the accommodation provided for the Reserve. I fear that the greater part of them are scattered about in hulks and elsewhere. My noble Friend himself acknowledges the importance of barracks, and I regret that the Government did not see fit to take a larger Vote for barracks this year. [Lord CLARENCE PAGET: That is because we can only go on with the foundations at first.] I trust, however, that no feeling of economy will induce the Government to delay the progress of the works. Looking to the importance of a permanent Reserve, I hope that no mere wish, to cut down a Vote has led the Government to propose a smaller sum for this item, and that no time really will he lost in the completion of these barracks. Another important item to which I look is the progress of our ships; and here again I am happy to say that I regard the statement of the noble Lord as perfectly satisfactory. I was glad to hear from him that there are no less than twenty-one armour-covered vessels now in progress, and that by the end of the year ten will be launched and ready for commission. I feel some doubts with regard to the success of all the different classes of these ships; but, looking to the fact that this new class of men-of-war is yet in its infancy, and that we have not yet considered the best mode of constructing them, considerable latitude ought certainly to be left to the Government in trying those experiments without which we cannot hope to arrive at any successful result, I doubt very much whether the advantages possessed by that larger class of ships—the Minotaur, the Northumberland, and the Agincourt —which the present Admiralty are building, covered entirely with armour from one end to the other, and larger by 500 or 600 tons than the Warrior and the Black Prince, may not be purchased too dearly, and whether they will be really found to be good sea-going ships in heavy weather. The cupola ships must be regarded as a matter of experiment, and I am not disposed to blame the Admiralty for trying them. So with regard, too, to the new class of ships, of which no one I suppose has heard anything until to-night, which have been recommended by the new Constructor of the Navy, Mr. Reed. I cannot mention Mr. Reed's name without expressing my regret at the unusual course which the Admiralty have taken in placing a gentleman entirely unconnected with the Admiralty in such a high position over the heads of an establishment which, undoubtedly, contains within itself some persons of great ability and skill. I should be sorry to say a word which would do injustice to Mr. Reed, for it happens that he is secretary to the Institute of Naval Architects, of which I have the honour to be president. I have seen much of him during the last few years, and know more of him personally than of any of the dockyard officials. All the intercourse I have had with him has given me a high opinion of his character and his gene- ral abilities. Therefore I do not wish to speak with the slightest disrespect of him. But, on the other hand, looking at the proved ability and tried skill of Mr. Oliver Lang, who possesses the union of great constructive ability and high scientific acquirements, as has been proved by his designs for some of the finest ships in the navy, with all my respect for Mr. Reed, I cannot but feel some regret at the unusual course of placing him over the heads of gentlemen who possess skill and ability equal to his own. Looking at the other parts of the Estimates, I now come to the extension of the dockyard at Chatham. I beg to say that I entirely approve of what the Admiralty are doing at Chatham; whether I approve of what my noble Friend has been saying at Chatham is quite another thing. He may have said a good deal—perhaps more than was quite discreet—but I am now adverting to what he has been doing, and not to what he has been saying; and I should not be doing my duty if I did not express my approval of what appears to be the desire of the Government to make that a more important arsenal. I myself, when in office, always expressed my intention of proposing a considerable sum of money in making Chatham our chief naval arsenal. I am sorry, however, not to see a larger sum than £20,000 down in the Estimates for this purpose for the current year, and I hope my noble Friend will be able to say that the Government mean to press forward the works at Chatham Dockyard as fast as possible. The only other point to which I wish to refer was touched upon in the last part of my noble Friend's speech—I mean the improved ventilation of our men of war. Last year I think the noble Lord said, a Committee had been appointed by the Admiralty to consider what was the best mode of improving the ventilation in our ships of war. I am afraid I must infer from what the noble Lord said, either that the Committee has not reported, or that they have reported in such a manner as not to enable the Admiralty to act in the matter. This is a very pressing matter. I received a communication lately describing the dreadful sufferings of the men on board a ship of war on the West India station from yellow fever during the year 1861, and a great part of these is to be attributed to defective ventilation. The crews of the Firebrand, the Spiteful, the Jason, and the Racer, were at- tacked with yellow fever in 1861, and my information is that no less than 334 cases, or one-half of the whole of the crews, were attacked by this malady. I am sorry, therefore, that some more satisfactory mode of ventilating our ships has not been devised. In closing these observations I can only express my satisfaction in being enabled to address myself in such a tone to the statements and remarks of my noble Friend.


regretted to have heard from the hon. Member for Norfolk another homily on the danger of invasion from France. Hon. Members on the other side were always warning the country against danger from that quarter, and the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Sir F. Smith) to-night had argued that our fleet ought to be large enough to cope not only with France, but with the combined navies of France, Russia, Austria, and Turkey. All these ideas sprang from a foolish panic, which our Statesmen had rather encouraged than checked, and which had been continued under the delusive belief that our neighbours were acquiring a vast maritime superiority over us. He did not share in any such apprehensions, though he would not be backward to maintain the necessary defences of the country. No doubt, we ought always to have a force larger than that of any other Power, but, at the same time, it was wise policy to husband our resources in time of peace, so that they might be the more readily and easily expanded when danger really threatened our shores. He therefore objected to an establishment of 76,000 men in time of peace, believing that such an establishment was rather suited to a time of war; but he did not intend to move any reduction in the number of men, for this reason —that a careful examination of the Estimates had convinced him that the Government were, to a certain extent, in earnest in their desire to bring about a real and substantial saving. He hoped, however, that the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), and those who agreed with him, would not consider their work of last year finished. It had often been said out of doors that a large reduction in stores meant a large increase in the following year, and that the Government could raise or lower the Estimate according to the pressure placed upon them; and that we had consequently no security against an increase of the Estimates to their old figure next year. That was true; but those who advocated retrenchment should bear in mind that for several years past, they had been finding fault with the large sums asked for stores, that the Government had reduced them, and that until the Government gave them some reason to doubt their sincerity they had no right to do so. From a recent Return he found that the Government had suspended the building of no fewer than twenty-nine ships, which he regarded as a step in the right direction; and he was also glad to find that the Government were not building any large number of one particular class of vessels. In this age of invention, when new models succeeded one another with such rapidity, it was prudent not to rush into great expenditure on ships of any particular class, but rather to keep pace with the time, building one or two vessels upon each of the plans recommended by scientific men, and thus avoiding the serious blunder which so many successive Boards of Admiralty had committed — the blunder of getting together a large number of vessels of a class which soon became altogether unserviceable. We had fifty-six wooden screw line-of-battle ships, of which the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) ordered too many; and although he did good service when he ordered the Warrior, still it would be injudicious to build fifteen or twenty of that class. If in any respect our navy was defective, it was in the lighter and less expensive class of frigates—vessels of about 1,500 tons, like the Alabama, the speed of which would be a greater advantage than the enormous armaments of our heavier and most costly ships. The exploits of such flimsy boats as the Nashville and the Sumter might convince us that of late years we had attached too little importance to celerity of movement. He was sorry to observe that only a very paltry reduction was to be made in the wages of the home establishments, and he wanted to know whether the Government really intended to keep up the expenditure in our dockyards at the same high figure as before. As a financial reformer he was glad to see the increase which had taken place in the Naval Reserves, because he believed that no money could be better spent than the £130,000 which was voted for that department of the service. There could be no doubt that upon the Naval Reserves we must depend in the end for the security of the empire. He hoped, in conclusion, that the Government would continue in future years the policy of retrenchment which they had begun.


said, he was glad indeed that the country had experienced the panic which had been alluded to, because, if it had not been for the panic, we should not have been in our present state of preparation. He would support the noble Lord in asking for 76,000 men, because we must remember that we had now to provide for the naval service of the whole of India, and he should be very much mistaken if the Government did not find the demand both for men and money such as to make us regret that we had not retained the Indian navy on its old footing. It was satisfactory to find that the Government had at last resolved to take the transport service into their own hands, instead of going into the market and chartering ships at enormous prices whenever they wanted to convey troops from one place to another. [Lord CLARENCE PAGET: The Government are still chartering ships.] He was sorry to hear it, because he was entirely at variance with the Government as to the expediency of chartering ships. He had often recommended that the number of transports should be increased; and he held in his hand a remarkable document bearing on the question. A copy of it had been sent to the Admiralty, and he trusted that it would soon be laid on the table of the House. It was the balance-sheet of the Himalaya during the four years she was in commission; her performances were recorded; her repairs and all other expenses were charged against her in a proper business-like manner; the statement was compared with the most favourable specimen of the ships chartered from private persons, and the result was greatly in favour of the Himalaya. The best thing the Government could do, would be to build six Himalayas on the model of that ship, which had proved to be a most extraordinary transport. One vessel was undergoing alteration in order to be converted into a transport, and he would be glad to hear something about her. With respect to the iron ships that were being built, he could not help thinking that we had commenced building too many classes before we understood what was the right thing. We ought to wait for the results of experiments not yet completed. It appeared that the ships that were at sea answered admirably in many respects; but anybody who under- stood the theory of stowage must know that the iron-plating placed in the upper part of a ship counteracting the heavy weights plunged into the hold, the coalage and machinery, must in a great measure render a ship easier in her motion. But what he could not understand was the rigging of our vessels. Perhaps the noble Lord would inform them who was the inventor of it. The equilibrium of the Warrior was destroyed by placing great weights at her extremities, whereas she ought to be rigged with four masts, and the anchors ought to be brought further aft. Such vessels ought to be fitted upon the double screw principle, so as to facilitate their movement in an emergency; for a vessel on a lee shore that could not be turned round in less than twenty minutes was in a perilous position. It was stated that Mr. Reed, a gentleman who had acted as secretary to a debating society, had been appointed over the heads of such officers as Mr. Abethell, Mr. Oliver Lang, and Mr. Moody. In explanation of this appointment it was said that these meritorious officers were getting old. Why, Mr. Oliver Lang was not much older than the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty, and Mr. Moody was in the prime of life. It would seem that Mr. Reed had been appointed in consequence of his possessing certain knowledge which every shipbuilder in any of the docks possessed in common with that gentleman; but he certainly could not be considered as an inventor of the highest class, for every one who understood the commonest principles of stowage must know the objections to iron ships with wooden bottoms. With regard to the docks at Portsmouth, he could not help thinking it was rather a lame excuse of his noble Friend that the forms of the House could not be complied with in time to introduce a Bill for their construction. Had the noble Lord got the plans of those docks ready? Were they in a state in which a Committee could judge of them? If so, what were the forms of the House that would prevent the noble Lord from bringing in a Bill at once, as was done in the case of the Chatham docks late last Session? He believed that the Chatham docks were necessary for the North Sea fleet; but as for the idea of Chatham ever being our principal arsenal, the thing was an absurdity. With regard to the barracks, were they designed in relation to the great scheme of a navy yard at Ports- mouth; or were they begun at a haphazard, as everything had been from time immemorial at Portsmouth? They ought to know whether the barracks were part of a great scheme, or whether their erection would involve loss in the future. The Committee which recommended the Reserve also recommended that naval schools should be established in all the outports. He could say with authority that these outports were desirous of having these schools, and their establishment would effect a great saving. The House would be surprised at the figures showing the difference between boys drafted into the navy from Sunderland, Shields, Greenock, Aberdeen, or Bristol, and those educated on board school ships. With regard to the Naval Reserve, it now only remained for the Government to be extremely cautious respecting the men they admitted into it. At first, no doubt, men were admitted who did not come up to the proper standard, and these men could not be got rid of. But now they were in a position safely to test the merits of every man before admission. He would certainly give the preference to men engaged in the coasting trade, because the more easily they could be laid hold of, the more effectual would the force always be. The ventilation of the ships had an important bearing on the health of the navy, and he could not help thinking that the ventilation of ships, and the proper construction of the smaller class of ships for tropical climates, had not been sufficiently attended to. The awning supplied to ships for the rivers of China and tropical climates was neither sufficient nor properly fitted to enable a crew to berth on deck. When he was in the Company's service, they had awnings of such a description that in the monsoons they were able to berth a certain portion of the men on the upper deck, and they enjoyed better health than those on board men-of-war. He saw a practical illustration of the extreme want of ventilation at Aberdeen last year. He went on board the man-of-war that was lying there. The temperature on the upper deck was 56 degrees. On the lower deck he found the thermometer at 72, close to where a man was lying in his hammock; and he was informed that at night, while the temperature on the upper deck was 50 degrees, it was 78 on the lower. With respect to corporal punishment, that varied with the character of the crew. He had known a ship's company whom it was believed nothing but the cat would keep in order, and he had known a crew among whom it was not necessary to take the cat out of the bag once in six months. The navy was now coining to the proper point with regard to punishment. As soon as summary dismissal from the service, with disgrace, was the recognised punishment for grave offences, the sooner would flogging be got rid of. He was glad to learn that corporal punishment was diminishing, and hoped it might one day expire altogether.


congratulated his noble Friend upon the courtesy and ability with which he had submitted the Estimates to the Committee, but could not accord his unqualified satisfaction at the reduction proposed, and particularly the transfer of 1,000 seamen from immediate service afloat to the coastguard.


— They are only put temporarily into the coastguard ships, and might come back the next day.


But meanwhile they lost their sea-legs. He could only express the hope that economy would not be purchased at too dear a price. We must never, for any consideration whatever, nor under any pressure, forget the all-important fact that our extensive commerce and remote and widely-scattered dependencies owed their safety wholly to the unimpaired condition and power of our navy. In the wars maintained by us within a century, all foreign Powers combined to dispute the sovereignty of the seas with our fleet, and he need not add without success. But at this hour, equally with that period, upon the superiority of our navy to all other maritime Powers, singly or allied, depended the safety of this country; for the navy was the palladium of our liberties, at once our honour and defence, with which stood or fell the reputation and the independence of the collective empire in the eyes and estimation of Europe and the world.


— There are not two opinions in this Committee with reference to those patriotic maxims which the hon. and gallant Admiral has just put forth with his wonted emphasis. There is no one in this House who is not of opinion that England should maintain a navy superior to any other navy in the world. But there is no one in the world who denies our legitimate right to maintain such a navy, and there is therefore no necessity for our making it a ground of antagonism to, or of triumph over, other countries. From our insular position, we, having no communication with the rest of the world except by sea, are entitled to have a larger fleet than other countries, in order to guard our commerce, which is larger than that of any other maritime State. No one disputes our legitimate right to that position. But the efficiency and the strength of a navy does not necessarily, in our days, depend upon the number of men that may be voted for it. Put 100,000 sailors — the very best in the world—on board ships that now belong to our navy, and there is not a nautical authority here or elsewhere who will deny that a score of iron clad vessels which may be now in existence on the other side of the Atlantic, with not one-twentieth the number of sailors on board of them, would destroy the whole of this fleet, crews and all. It is no longer a question of mere brute force and of numbers; it is a question of science, of skill—in fact, of intellect. Therefore, if I take exception to the vote of 76,000 men for our navy this year, I am not to be accused on that account of being unpatriotic, or of being disposed to maintain a less force than other countries. I object to the number of 76,000 men for this reason—I defy you to employ these men in ships in which they can be of use to the country. 76,000 is the number you employed in the Crimean war; it is a war establishment. The Americans, who are this year carry-on a war, and have 2,500 miles of coast to blockade, employ 26,000 seamen. Their Naval Estimates are under £13,000,000, while we are going to vote £11,000,000 and 76,000 men. What are you going to do with all these sailors? A very large number must, undoubtedly, be employed in those big wooden line-of-battle ships which have, unhappily, been built by the precipitation of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) and by the gross inconsistency of my noble Friend the Secretary of the Admiralty. I say gross inconsistency, because six years ago the noble Lord told us in this House that the day for line-of-battle ships was gone by. "The fate of empires," said the noble Lord—I will use his own words—"will not in future depend on line-of-battle ships; they are not suited to the modern mode of warfare." Other very high nautical authorities have preached the same doctrine. I heard the late Admiral Napier declare, a short time before his death, that a line-of-battle ship struck with one of your modern percussion shells, would have a hole in her side large enough, as he said, to drive a wheelbarrow through. What said the hon. and gallant Officer the Member for Harwich (Captain Jervis)? In my own heaving he said that a wooden line-of-battle ship, hit by these modern percussion shells, would be nothing but a slaughterhouse. Now, I ask any nautical man, "Would you, if you were at war with America to-morrow, send one of your wooden line-of-battle ships, with 700 or 800 men on board, and with 30 or 40 tons of gunpowder under their feet, to meet a vessel like the Monitor?" You know you would not. I heard the hon. Baronet the Member for Finsbury (Sir Morton Peto) once declare his opinion that the Minister who should send a wooden line-of-battle ship to encounter these modern shell guns would deserve to be impeached. I do not presume to speak my own opinion on these matters; all the merit I claim is for being docile enough to learn from those who know better than I can. I take the authority of the ablest nautical men. Admiral Halsted also tells us, from experiment, that nine rounds from these modern shell guns will ignite a wooden vessel into a mass of flames wholly inextinguishable. If this be the case, these great wooden line-of-battle ships and frigates are useless for the purposes of war, and you have 20,000 or 30,000 seamen now floating about in vessels which you would not use in time of war. Well, I challenge any naval officer in this House to get up and say that one of these line-of-battle ships would be opposed to an ironclad gunboat in the present day; and if he does, I will bow to his authority. But if he does not, I hold that you are mis-spending a vast amount of money in maintaining these seventy-four line-of-battle ships, including coastguard vessels, which would be utterly useless in time of war, and your large wooden frigates may also be classed in the same category. Is it not absurd, then, to be manning these vessels, or a large proportion of them, under the delusive idea that you thereby increase your strength? You are really doing quite the reverse. I will tell you what you are doing—you are running your expenditure up to a point winch makes your people clamour for a reduction, and you are straining the elasticity of those finances which you should husband for war. Surely it would be much wiser to have 20,000 fewer sailors than to keep them floating about in vessels which all your naval authorities admit would never again be fit for warfare. I say, then, that you do not show me, that if we vote these 76,000 seamen, you are going to make a good use of them, and therefore I object to the number of the men. And, observe, in objecting to the number of the men, I am objecting to your whole naval expenditure; because my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) must have been a very inattentive listener to what occurs in this House if he does not know that it is a maxim, derived from the oldest authorities — and I have heard it over and over again from men like the late Sir James Graham, than whom I am aware of no higher authority—it is a recognised maxim, that when you have voted the number of men, you have practically voted the expenditure of the navy in all its departments, for the expenditure of all those departments depends upon the number of your men. We have the same thing laid down in the Report of the Committee of this House. Then, what is the meaning of this reduction which is proposed? I was rather surprised at my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose making so many concessions about the reduction of a million in stores. But if you do not reduce the number of your men, your present reduction in stores means only that you will buy more stores next year. There cannot be a doubt of that. My hon. Friend said the noble Lord the Secretary of the Admiralty was apologetic in his tone; but my hon. Friend himself was too apologetic for the Government in his remarks. This is really no permanent reduction. Nay, more, I do not believe you can keep 70,000 men afloat in vessels fit for any useful purpose for anything like £10,500,000 of money; and I will tell you why. There is a principle in the progress of our armaments which hon. Members must take into account—and that is, that your vessels are constantly increasing in price and value. A line-of-battle ship which used to cost £100,000, now costs you, with iron armour, £350,000. Why are you spending this extra money for each ship? Certainly to make her more effective. But, surely, if you make her more effective, you do not want the same number of men to give you the same force. In the navy, as in private enterprise, all these improvements should economize labour by machinery. If you lay out this vast capital in expensive ships, you need fewer men, because you cannot and do not require to keep the same number of ships afloat. Why, if one of these iron-clad gunboats can go in among your great wooden vessels like a lion among a flock of sheep, that implies that you gain an enormously increased force by their construction. The same thing applies to frigates. If you build them in the same way, you do not want so many of them, nor so many sailors; and yet you will be stronger at sea; for I say your present preparation is weakness not strength. That point is illustrated in a table which I have in my hand. The Agincourt has been referred to. She is of 6,021 tons, and throws a broadside of 1,322 lb. weight —that is, three times the broadside, and nearly three times the tonnage of the Victory, in which Nelson won the battle of Trafalgar. But, instead of requiring 1,200 men, like the Victory, the Agincourt requires only 704; thus showing that as you increase your investment of capital in these expensive vessels, you require fewer men to work them, and yet they are stronger—three times stronger if you put wood against iron. Do not, therefore, run away with the fallacy that you must always keep these 76,000 men afloat in ships. I tell you, if you are to float 76,000 men in ships that you would think of sending out were you at war with America to-morrow, you must spend, not ten, but twenty millions of money. We have seen how rapid the transitions are from one description of ship to another. It is the same in everything. It is only just within the last few years that men of genius, the mechanicians of the age, have been directing their attention to the new armaments. It is only lately, or since the Crimean war—when all the great Powers set to work as if to prepare them for the coming hostilities—that your Armstrongs, Whitworths, and Fairbairns were drawn from civil life to devote themselves to the invention of these armaments and implements of destruction. You have only begun this, and yet how rapidly you have been going on. I will give an illustration of this which nautical men will understand. I sat upon the Committee on the Navy in 1848. We examined Sir Thomas Hastings, who told us he had no doubt whatever that to add a screw to a line-of-battle ship would make it a much less effective man-of-war. That is what was stated only fifteen years ago by Sir Thomas Hastings, the head of our gunnery establishment, and he was backed by other naval officers. What has since happened? Your sailing vessels have wholly disappeared. Well, I say our Governments have acted with something like madness—their conduct seems little short of sheer insanity—for they rushed into the building of wooden line-of-battle ships after they knew of the success of iron-clad vessels. You are now saddled with seventy-four of these wooden line-of-battle ships, and I defy you to produce any naval authority that would send them against a single iron-clad gunboat. Surely that ought to make us a little cautious about what we shall do for the future, and about what we are doing now. Is it possible, with these rapid transitions, that we can afford, rich though we are, to go upon a grand scale into all these novelties? With our stock of useless line-of-battle ships on our hands, can we now rush into building iron-clad vessels to the same extent and in the same way? Well, it seems to me, that that is just what we are going to do. We see now before us something like twenty of these iron-clad broadside port vessels—I say broadside port, because I am going to mention another class in a moment. Are we sure that ten years hence they will not share the same fate as these screw wooden line-of-battle ships? What says Captain Cowper Coles? My noble Friend has quoted him as an authority in these matters, and I believe from what I have heard of him—I can only presume to judge from what gentlemen of his own profession think of him—that he is deserving of the highest consideration from all who, like myself, have no technical knowledge of these matters. He leads us to expect that he is going to supersede these broadside vessels by his turret ships; and bear in mind that the Americans are hardly building anything except these turret or cupola ships, which they produce at the rate of about one every fortnight. Captain Coles, in a little tract, which I dare say has been sent to other Members as well as to myself, shows us what is the superiority of his cupola vessels over the broadside ships. His views are very startling, and, if correct, there can be no doubt we are running the greatest risk in constructing these broadside iron-clad vessels. He has given us a table showing in parallel columns the comparative number of men, draught of water, tonnage, and expense of ships throwing the same weight of metal on the broadside port system and the shield system. The Agin-court, of which we have heard so much, has a draught of 26 ft. 2 in., carries 704 men, throws 1,322 lb. weight of broadside, has a tonnage of 6,021 tons, and cost £385,342. Parallel to that vessel Captain Coles puts his turret ship, which only draws 22 ft. of water, carries 200 men, throws the same weight of broadside (1,322 lb.), has a tonnage of 3,272 tons, and cost only £203,518, thus yielding a saving of two thirds of the number of men and nearly one-half the first outlay in money. But that is not all. Captain Coles tells us that these turret ships can throw a ball weighing 300 lb. or 400 lb., whereas a broadside port vessel can only throw a shot of 110 lb. He says that in America they are now mounting 15-inch cannon, firing solid shots of 450 lb. on all the iron-clad Monitors; and surely it does not require us to be sailors to know what chance a vessel throwing only 110 lb. shot would have against such an overpowering armament. That is Captain Coles's case; and if the facts and data which he supplies can be relied on, the conclusion to me seems irresistible that turret ships will as surely supersede the broadside vessel with ports as screw line-of-battle ships superseded the old-fashioned sailing vessels. In these turret ships there are no open ports through which shells can glide and men be hurt; and one advantage in connection with them is that you will not want so many sailors. They will stand hammering for half a day without losing scarcely a man, whereas, in wooden vessels, every action was attended with some loss. Do not let it be said that I am travelling ultra, crepidam. Let any one give better authorities than I do, and I will bow to authority. But do not let it be said that we are incapable of using the facts and figures which we have in our possession—and that is all I pretend to do—do not let us go hand over head, turning a deaf ear to argument. My noble Friend let out a secret a little while ago; I should not have dreamt of attributing motives to him if he had not corroborated my suspicions. But I never could understand why it was that the Admiralty was buying such an enormous quantity of timber — why they should lay up a store of 112,000 loads, their former average consumption yearly not being a third of that amount. A friend told me last year, "That is all done by the people in the dockyard; the political officials at the head of the Department know nothing about it." At this moment they are filling the dockyards with timber; they are filling the quays also. They are so full that I believe the Port Admirals can hardly walk about. And this very superabundance of timber is then urged as a reason why they should build iron-clads in the dockyards, instead of having wholly iron vessels built by contract. I have no faith in the Admiralty. I have not the least faith in them. On that subject, and perhaps it is the only one on which I do coincide with him in opinion, I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck). The Admiralty have always been doing the wrong thing, or doing the right thing at the wrong time. They come forward each year with Estimates, and tell us everything is perfection. We heard to-night that the men are in an admirable state of discipline, that the Admiralty have got an admirable fleet, that they have got their dockyards full of timber, and that they only want to build some enormous docks in order that they may set work to spend twice as much money as ever. Now, who recommends you to clothe wood in iron? Does not such a course seem absurd? You would not veneer pasteboard with marble, and yet it seems just as rational to put iron upon wood. While you had old screw line-of-battle ships which you wanted to use up and disguise, there might be some excuse for taking off a couple of decks and covering the rest with iron; but if the House will listen to authority, and not to the Admiralty, it will stop building any more wooden vessels to be afterwards clothed with iron. What says Sir William Armstrong; what says Mr. Fairbairn; what does Sir Morton Peto say? These are men who, from their professional pursuits, know what the result of placing iron upon wood will be; and they have all emphatically declared that not a vessel ought to be constructed of wood, cased with iron, because you are thereby putting a harder and more rigid substance on a softer and more flexible one, and the foundation will give way. If the Admiralty will suspend the building of monster broadside ships until they have allowed Captain Coles to try his experiment with turret ships, we shall be better able to judge of their relative merits. Why cannot they allow his ship to be finished? It was in 1861 that he tried his experiments and satisfied the Admiralty with his plan. There is a vessel now in Portsmouth dockyard which is being converted into a turret ship, and I predict it will not be finished till next March twelve months, though the noble Lord says it will be ready in October or November next. I believe anything which the noble Lord tells me, but the Admiralty I never believe at all. Why not wait and see what comes of this contest between the cupola and the broadside? If you build your ships entirely of iron five or six inches thick—and that is the substance of all I have to say—the better opinion is that they will be practically indestructible, and, wanting only a few coats of paint, they will be as durable as Southwark Bridge or the Chain Pier at Brighton. Build them entirely of iron— build as few as you can—and your ships will be more secure, while the machinery supplied to them will enable them to be worked with fewer men, and in the end, instead of increasing the Navy Estimates, we shall be able to diminish them. I warn the Committee against supposing that it will always be necessary to keep up a force of 76,000 men and boys in order to be strong at sea. I am not about to move any reduction of men. I have been in this House twenty-two years nearly, and I have never known an Estimate altered once it had been brought in. The late Mr. Hume, who preceded me, told me that for forty years he had never known Estimates altered after they had been brought forward. But, mind you, when we refuse the income tax, as we did in 1848, the Government took back the Estimates, and managed before the end of the year very much to reduce them. And my respected Friend the late Mr. Hume told me that about 1816 or 1817, when the income tax was likewise refused, the Government took back the Estimates and reduced them enormously. And therefore, if my hon. Friends who seem inclined to take some steps in this matter, want to get a reduction of the Estimates, it must be by letting the Government know that there are some men connected with manufacturing and industrial interests whose business and function it ought to be to see that this waste of public money does not take place, who are determined that if the noble Lord at the head of the Government does not reduce the expenditure, somebody else for whom we will not be responsible may be called on to undertake the task. Let the Government know beforehand the fate which will attend extraordinary Estimates, and depend upon it they will no longer be produced. I thank you for hearing me; and, holding the opinions which I have just expressed, I do not intend to trouble you with a Vote.


said, there were one or two points as to which he should be glad to have some further explanation from the noble Lord the Secretary of the Admiralty. An item of £4,000,000 appeared in the Estimates for dockyard purposes, including salaries and various charges, such as timber, iron, and coal, but no details were given how the money was spent; how much for repairs, how much for new ships. If these items were given, the House would have an opportunity of seeing what they got for their money at the end of the year. From the statement made that night by the noble Lord, it would appear that the Surveyor of the Navy estimated the cost of repairs of ships of the navy at £760,000. If the expenditure under that head were very largely increased, it would still leave between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 for the construction of new vessels. Putting down the cost of the iron-cased ships at £70 a ton, £2,000,000 sterling ought to produce 30,000 tons of shipping. But nothing like this amount was obtained for the money, and it was therefore desirable that on this point the House should have some information. He quite agreed with the opinion which had just been expressed with regard to Captain Coles' cupola ship. He had considered that question very fully, and believed that they would create a great revolution in naval architecture. For this reason he regretted extremely that the first ship of this class the Admiralty had undertaken to build was not to be ready until October. Everything that it was possible to do should be done to expedite its progress, as the result of the experiments might be to alter entirely the construction of our ships; and he had no doubt iron armour-plates could have been had in abundance, and if the work had been pushed on as it ought to have been, the vessel might have been ready. We could only carry our improved ordnance in cupola ships, not in broadside ships. We therefore could not go on in our old-fashioned way; we must adapt our ships to the requirements of the age. The heaviest guns could be easily worked by machinery in the cupola ships. He was glad to hear the noble Lord speak so highly of Captain Coles' invention of tripod masts. He had seen the plans, and, believing them to be excellent, he hoped they would be adopted. They ought not to go on building ships that would shake to pieces in a few years. In the case of the old wooden vessels that had been lengthened, the guns had to be taken away fore and aft, and it was not to be expected that they would be stronger for having 1,000 tons of iron hanging at their sides. He wanted to see the Royal Sovereign and Royal Oak tried. He would say, let the Black Prince and Warrior be docked and examined, to test their condition; do not commission the other ships, but transfer to them the captains and crews of the Warrior and Black Prince, and, if they stood as well as the iron ships, he would admit he had been mistaken. As to the comparative wear and tear of iron and wooden vessels there could be no contest. He thought they had better spend a million in docks for these large ships than spend a million for wooden ships that would not stand wear and tear at all. He was glad to corroborate the views of the hon. Member opposite, and he hoped the Admiralty would get Mr. Reed's first vessel, the Enterprise, and Captain Coles' Royal Sovereign, ready as speedily as possible, to enable them to determine whether their plans were good before they were called on to spend large sums of money in similar structures.


said, that the Vote for men, instead of being reduced, was greatly augmented, because the Royal Naval Reserve was increased by 7,000 or 8,000 over last year. If science was good for anything, its application should lessen the number of men required in our ships. As to the Warrior, she would cope with half a dozen line-of-battle ships. Her complement was 650 men; whereas the complement of six line-of-battle ships would be 5,000 or 6,000 men; so that they were actually voting a far greater number of men than they had efficient ships to put them in. They were told that they had 112,000 loads of timber in the dockyards: the annual consumption, when they were building wooden ships, was 30,000 loads; so that the stock on hand was enough to last four or five years, according to the old average; now, however, they were going to discontinue the building of wooden ships. The hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Laird), than whom no man could speak with better authority on the subject said, that wooden ships coated with iron were not efficient, that was the opinion of every person who was competent to form one on the subject. In 1855 it was evident that the days of wooden ships were at an end. In 1856 he (Mr. Lindsay) brought forward a Motion, to the effect that the building of wooden ships should be discontinued; but since that time they had spent about eleven millions sterling in wooden ships —a dead loss to the country. The question to consider was, whether the turret ships were sea-going vessels, and would they be as efficient as the Warrior, and they knew that turret vessels in America were only used for blockading purposes, and were utterly unfit to cross the Atlantic. Under these circumstances he would sell a large portion of the timber in stock, which would realize a good price; and if it were still considered advisable to case wooden ships with iron plates, he would cut down some of the useless line-of-battle ships, and coat them with armour. The question it was very important to consider was, would the turret ships be as good sea-ships as the Warrior class? He had visited the iron fleet in the Tagus, and had put various questions to Captain Cochrane as to the sea-going qualities of his ship; in reply to which that gallant officer stated that he had been in the Warrior in some very heavy gales, and he never was in an easier or safer ship. He would encounter any weather in her. As to the efficiency of the ship in resisting shot, he put this question, "Suppose an extreme case—that we were unfortunately involved in war with America—New York stood on a peninsula; suppose a battery at three several points, that outside of all you bad to encounter one Monitor, then two Monitors, and that you must run the gauntlet through them to get into the open water, and to command the town of New York; would you, under those circumstances, and looking to the risk of getting out again — would you run the Warrior through the gauntlet?" Captain Cochrane replied, that considering the object to be one of great importance, he should not hesitate to do so. The only thing which he would fear would be a chance shot to injure her rudder, which was not adequately protected, but the chance was a remote one. Captain Wainwright, of the Black Prince gave a similar reply, and Captains Phillimore and Chamberlain, commanding respectively the Defence and the Resistance, said also they should have no hesitation, if their vessels had the same speed as the Warrior and Black Prince. The conclusion, therefore, was, that so far as our knowledge at present extended those ships were practically invulnerable. With respect to the discipline of the crews, he had been struck by a marked improvement. Captain Cochrane, who had not flogged any man on board his vessel, said, in reply to a question, that he did not think it would be prudent to abolish the power of flogging. Having taken pains to ascertain the feeling of the seamen, he had found (strange to say) that the great majority of the good seamen did not desire to see that power abolished. A Russian captain had told him that flogging in their navy was controlled by Government regulations, but it was found that among their crews the flogging was administered by the men to those whom they thought to be deserving of it, and the practice was winked at by the officers. The noble Lord had said that by April next we should have eighteen iron-cased ships ready, but he did not state the amount of tonnage. Would the noble Lord also tell the Committee what our neighbours were doing, and what number of ships and the amount of tonnage the French would have in April next?


said, the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden) was good enough to express his surprise that there was some one point on which they could agree. His (Mr. Bentinck's) surprise was quite equal to that of the hon. Member; and he might further add that it was very improbable that such a coincidence would ever occur again. The speech of his noble and galland Friend the Secretary for the Admiralty had been described as apologetic; but if it had been really so, he (Mr. Bentinck) should not have felt it necessary to address the House. His noble and gallant Friend took exception to his having made use of this opportunity to go into the question of the constitution of the Board of Admiralty, and said it ought to have been passed over on this occasion. But he believed the constitution of that Board was the turning point of the whole question; and if they were to be precluded from going into that subject, which was the cause of their large expenditure, there was no need to discuss the Navy Estimates at all. There was another point. At the commencement of his speech the noble Lord took credit for not entering into any comparison of the strength of British and foreign navies; but if this were so, upon what did he rest his case? What ground had he for asking for a single shilling unless he was prepared to say that it was required for the defence of the country; and how could he say that unless he considered the state of foreign navies? He (Mr. Bentinck) contended that the whole case rested upon a comparison between the naval forces of this and other countries. It seemed to him, with all due deference, that the remarks of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) were very peculiar and somewhat illogical. He himself had not the good fortune to be a gentleman of extremely Liberal opinions, and perhaps he did not therefore quite understand how these matters affected persons with such opinions, and therefore possibly he did not quite understand the hon. Gentleman's argument. The hon. Gentleman objected to the great number of men required for the navy; and having said this, he went on to admit that we ought to have, not only a sufficient force, but a force larger than that of any other country in the world—which was all that he (Mr. Bentinck) had been contending for. He went on to say that the time had come for effecting a great saving in our Naval Estimates; but how, in the name of all that was marvellous — unless, indeed, we reconstructed the Admiralty—could we combine these two things? He could not understand the hon. Member for Montrose and the hon. Member for Rochdale saying that it was right to Vote these Estimates, and then going on to add that the Estimates were enormous.


said, the hon. Member for Rochdale having made some very striking observations on the subject of turret ships, he wished to assure him, and the House, that the Admiralty were anxious to get on with those ships as fast as possible. But it must be borne in, mind, that the iron plates for these ships had to go through the proper testing process, and many had been rejected, being of indifferent quality and tending to delay the construction. It was true, that the hon. Member for Birkenhead's two talented sons were building a turret ship, which would, perhaps, be finished before that of the Admiralty. But, was he prepared to have the plates previously tested by firing 68 lb. shot at them? Or would be let him have a shot at her when she was finished? The hon. Member for Rochdale was a great admirer of the turret ships, and he had spoken as Captain Coles spoke of the amount of broadside to which the turrets were equal, but both of these gentlemen forgot that ships in naval battles were often engaged on both sides at the same time, and on such occasions the turrets would, of course, be at a disadvantage as compared with broadsides. His hon. Friend asked, why they went on building wooden ships? They could not dispense with the use of wood, for these iron-plated vessels had a backing of eighteen inches of wood. The only way of avoiding the great concussion which shot would produce on an iron vessel was by giving it a wooden backing, or cushion. It was said that the timber would rot. No doubt it would. But they were trying a French plan, for preventing that, by charring the wood. The hon. Member for Birkenhead said, "You never tell us what is the cost of the ships, and we have no means of getting at that fact." His hon. Friend was mistaken in that respect, for there was laid annually on the table a statement of the cost of every ship in the navy; and if hon. Members studied that statement, they would make themselves acquainted with such matters. That account was prepared by the Accountant General of the Navy, and it was one on which the House could rely, not only for the cost of every ship, but of every article made in the dockyards. The hon. Member asked, why they did not try Captain Coles' tripod masts? His answer was, why did not some of the merchant princes try them? They would be equally useful in the merchant service as in the navy if successful. Why should the country pay for the trial of every new invention? Let the merchant service try them, and if found successful, the Government would be happy to adopt them in the navy. The hon. Member for Rochdale, said that by using the armour-plated ships they would be relieved of the expense of maintaining a large mass of men. But the necessity for the large mass of men was not occasioned by the line of-battle ships, but by the numerous little vessels which were employed as cruisers all over the world. Twenty line-of-battle ships required only 500 blue jackets each, or 10,000 men, which was a small number out of the whole amount of men in the navy. He hoped the eloquence of the hon. Member would not induce the House to agree to any reduction of the number of the men.


said, that there were two classes of iron vessels—one where the frame was of timber, and the other where, as in the Warrior, the frame was of iron, but required a backing of wood. Now, his noble Friend said that he wanted 112,000 loads of timber. He applied to a ship-builder for information as to how many loads of timber would be required for the construction of a ship like the Warrior. And the answer he received was, that 400 loads would be sufficient for backing the Warrior with timber, but that 6,000 would be required if the Warrior was to be built entirely of timber. But the backing of the battery was of teak, and teak did not require to be seasoned. Therefore his noble Friend did not give a sufficient justification for his keeping in store 112,000 loads of timber, and he hoped it would be sold.


feared that the Admiralty were not using sufficient despatch in the construction of the turret ship, and recommended that all the plates which were ready for use, should be applied to that vessel, instead of some of them being diverted to other ships. They ought to know what these turret ships would do, because, if successful, they ought to build more of them, and save the expense of building an inferior description of ships. With regard to the appointment of Mr. Reed as chief Constructor of the Navy. Mr. Reed had never been in the School of Naval architecture. He had merely been an apprentice in the dockyards, and served a year and a half at Sheerness. Having left that yard—and there was a rule that no one who voluntarily discharged himself from a naval yard should be employed again— he had become editor of the Mechanics' Magazine. He had never built a ship in his life, and was now building a ship which was only an experiment, and might be a failure. There was in this no reason why he should be placed over men who had built some of the fastest and finest ships in the navy, and he hoped that his appointment was not so far settled that the matter might not be reconsidered.

Resolution agreed to;

(1.) 76,000 Men and Boys for Sea and Coast Guard Services, including 18,000 Royal Marines;

As were also the following Votes:—

(2.) £2,921,951, Wages.

(3.) £1,416,986, Victuals and Clothing.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again on Wednesday.

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