§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he rose to move that the House should, upon Thursday next, resolve itself into a Committee to consider of an humble Address to be presented to Her Majesty, submitting to Her Majesty, That, in the opinion of this House—First, the position of the Officers of Her Majesty's Naval Service, in respect of promotion and retirement, is not satisfactory, and ought to be amended; secondly, that with a view to the increased efficiency of the Naval Service, and to meet the just expectations of Officers with respect to promotion, it is desirable to adopt for all ranks the principle of retirement by age; thirdly, that the pay of Naval Officers ought to be so adjusted as to enable them consistently to maintain the rank they hold, and to give them fair remuneration for honourable service. It might remove some misapprehension if he were to state that the fourth clause, which he intended to remove from his Resolution, and which was removed from the paper in the hands of the Speaker, was retained in the papers in the hands of hon. Members generally. He wished also before proceeding with the statement which he proposed to make to pay that 732 deference which was due to the noble Lord the first Minister of the Crown, who bad at the last moment given notice of the Amendment which was on the paper. Were he at all certain that the appointment of the Select Committee proposed by the noble Lord would enter on a proper consideration of the subject to which he was about to call attention, it would not be at all respectful to the House to occupy their time after such a suggestion from the first Minister of the Crown. But it would be in the recollection of the House that one of the highest authorities in it—the Chancellor of the Exchequer—had laid down the axiom that referring any subject to a Select Committee was the same as shelving it. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head, but the House would recollect that he had given expression to a conviction of that kind in that House on a previous occasion, and therefore it was well that they should understand what the intentions of Her Majesty's Government might be when they suggested that any particular subject should be submitted to a Committee. The reasons he had for requesting the attention of the House to the subject were of sufficient moment to warrant him in discussing it at considerable length. It would be admitted that considerable dissatisfaction existed amongst the officers of the navy, and that dissatisfaction, he believed, was not without some grounds—indeed, it might be said good grounds; because the first Minister of the Crown had, at the last moment, suggested that the subject should be referred to a Committee, which he would not have done if there had not been some matter for the Committee to investigate. In the first place, he would call attention to a speech made by the First Sea Lord of the Admiralty at the recent election in Devonport. That Gentleman was a great authority on naval matters, and he stated, with respect to the scheme for increasing the pay of naval officers, as follows:—There was another question which had been brought forward, and that was respecting a scheme for increasing the pay of certain naval officers. In the position which he held as one of the Lords of the Admiralty they could not expect him to enter into the details of such a scheme as that. Before the Admiralty were advised to adopt a scheme of that nature, he thought they should he furnished with every particular of the grievances of which those naval officers complained.733 One would imagine from that remark that no such grievances had ever been brought under the notice of the Admiralty or that, if they had, the Admiralty had been in the habit of attending to them. It would, however, be in the recollection of the House that in 1859 the hon. and gallant Member for the East Riding (Admiral Duncombe) presented a petition, signed by 500 lieutenants, and he mentioned on another occasion this petition to the First Lord of the Admiralty. The First Lord of the Admiralty in his public capacity took no notice of that petition, but in his private capacity he directed his private Secretary to write as follows:—I am directed by the Duke of Somerset to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 21st of December, 1859, and the accompanying memorial, to which he will give his attentive consideration, and it will give him great pleasure, should he find himself at liberty, to improve the condition of the memorialists.Well, not very long after that, in 1860, another petition of a very important character, signed by nearly all the lieutenants of the Channel fleet, sixty-four in number, approved by most of the captains of the ships in which they were serving, was presented to the Admiralty through the commander-in-chief of the fleet (Sir Charles Fremantle), in which the grievances of the petitioners were most respectfully made known to the Board. No reply was given to that memorial, but the following circular was issued: —All combinations of persons belonging to the fleet, for the purpose of bringing about alterations in the existing rules and regulations of the navy, whether affecting their interests individually or collectively, are prohibited as being contrary to the established usage and practice of the service, and injurious to its interests and discipline. Every person is by the Naval Discipline Act, I860, (Part I., sec. 33,) fully authorized individually to make known to his superior any just cause of complaint, but individuals are not to combine, either by the appointment of committees or in any other manner, for the purpose of obtaining signatures to memorials, petitions, or applications, nor are they collectively to sign any such document.That was the reply to the petition which in 1860 was placed before the Admiralty in the most respectful manner, and yet it would be seen that the First Lord of the Admiralty, instead of doing all he could, and the Board of which he was a member doing all they could to redress the grievances, both the noble Lord and the Board had done all they could to stifle the com- 734 plaints. Various other classes had submitted their claims to the consideration both of that House and the Ministers of the Crown. Not very long ago the surgeons of the navy had grievances, and they had strong grievances no doubt. But they were a strong body; the Medical Colleges took up the matter, and the students were most strongly advised not to join the navy. The Admiralty found that for a time no medical officers were forthcoming, and so under that pressure the grievances of the surgeons were redressed. Various other classes had complaints, but their complaints were never listened to except under compulsion. The executive branches of the navy received no consideration whatever. Very recently complaints had been made by the masters of the navy, which was one of the most valuable executive bodies connected with the service. Their complaints had been laid before the Admiralty; the Admiralty appointed a Committee—that was the usual course; the Committee sat, and reported to the Admiralty, but neither the masters nor any one in the world, except the Admiralty, had heard what the result of that Committee was; and although a year had elapsed since the Committee reported, the report had never been made public, far less acted upon. Knowing these facts, then, was it surprising that the officers of the navy looked upon the Admiralty as anything but their friends—that they looked at the heads of their profession as being those who endeavoured, as far as might be, to deprive them of those just rights which he was sure, when known and appreciated by the country, would be readily granted to them. When the circular was issued to which he had already alluded, his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone) moved for the Committee which the noble Lord proposed to resuscitate, and which was then opposed by the influence of the Government. That was a Committee to inquire into promotion and retirement in Her Majesty's navy. The Government, unable to defeat the Motion directly, determined to do so by a side wind. A Committee was sitting at the time upon the construction of the Board of Admiralty, and the mode in which the other Committee was got rid of was by saddling the Admiralty Committee with all the members of his hon. and gallant Friend's Committee, and directing the large and unmanageable joint Committee to discover the truth on two sub- 735 jects which had nothing on earth to do with each other. That unmanageable Committee fell to the ground, and in 1862 it was not re-appointed; and after an amazing amount of evidence had been taken, damaging to the character of the Admiralty Administration, that evidence was consigned to the waste-paper basket.
It was but right that he should refer to the course which he had himself taken with regard to the subject he desired to bring under the consideration of the House on that occasion. When that Committee was sitting he had not the honour of a seat in that House, but his hon. and gallant Friend near him suggested to him that it would be extremely desirable to ascertain what the opinion of the officers of the service was, and lay it before the Committee, and that for that purpose they should get satisfactory evidence—he did not mean evidence biassed one way or the other—but the evidence of officers of sufficient standing in the service and sufficient knowledge to appear before the Committee, who would not take up the time of the Committee by a great deal of irrelevant evidence, but who would speak to the point. There was a Committee at that time sitting in London on another subject connected with the navy, and of which he (Sir J. Hay) happened to be a member, and he mentioned to them the fact that this information was required, stating also that it seemed to him that their Committee might be used as an instrument for ascertaining the opinion of the officers of the navy. There was some considerable difficulty in obtaining opinions in the face of the Admiralty circular; but it was arranged that each officer should be written to, with a copy of a letter, with a request that he would give his opinion on the matters alluded to in the letter, and state the mode in which he proposed to remedy any grievance which might exist. That course was taken with above 1,500 officers, whose names were in his possession, and who had contributed the information required of them. Among them were officers of the highest possible rank—forty-seven admirals, some of whom were in active service, and 1,200 officers of all ranks in active service. When these replies had all been collected, he waited upon the Duke of Somerset, and had the honour of a personal interview, and he placed in the hands of the First Lord of the Admiralty the suggestions that had been received, and a copy was sent 736 to the Secretary of the Admiralty and nil the members of the Board. In order that that document should have some parentage, he had placed his name in the corner of it; but he must not omit to pay a due compliment to the gentleman who had acted as the secretary of the committee to which he had referred, the Rev. Mr. Harvey, the secretary of the Navy Fund, who had given up his time, and worked most zealously for the benefit of the navy, and he was sure for the benefit of the country also. Mr. Harvey was the descendant of an old naval stock. He was descended from that Harvey who fought in the famous action of the 1st of June, and all his relations — brothers, father, uncles, cousins—were distinguished naval officers. He therefore came from a good old naval stock, and he had accordingly taken great interest in the service. To that gentleman he (Sir J. Hay) was indebted for the calculations which were set before the House in the printed papers, and which he was happy to say had been accepted by the Admiralty as correct, the whole of them, with one trifling exception, having been verified. He had been criticised by the Duke of Somerset, and on one or two points he should like to criticise his critic. In page 21 of the printed papers it was stated, in the Duke's memorandum—The cost, therefore, of the proposed plan for these four classes of officers (supposing that no additional pay be granted to officers omitted from the plan) amounts to a quarter of a million annually.That sum was afterwards made to increase like Falstaff's men in buckram, for in page 24 it was stated —According to the plan proposed in these suggestions the immediate charge for retired naval officers would amount to half a million.Now, it was desirable that the House should understand that no such demand was made. It was also stated that the cost of the reserved list had been omitted; but that was a misapprehension. In page 27 it was remarked that the active list of the navy bad been restored to a more satisfactory condition with regard to promotion, but that statement was based on an average of only two years, and the question was whether there might not be found within the next ten years greater stagnation and irregularity in promotion than had occurred before. The principal object he had in view was that stated in the Resolution he was about to propose— 737 namely, that "the position or the officers of Her Majesty's naval service, in respect to promotion and retirement, is not satisfactory, and ought to be amended; that, with a view to the increased efficiency of the naval service, and to meet the just expectations of officers with respect to promotion, it is desirable to adopt for all ranks the principle of retirement by age." The adoption of that system would promote the efficiency of the navy, because the officers, being reduced in number, would be more constantly employed. The principle he advocated was applied in every foreign navy, and especially in that of France. Admiral Mundy, who during his recent distinguished services in the Mediterranean had been in constant and friendly communication with the French navy, expressed himself very strongly on this point in a book be had lately published. Speaking of certain inferiorities in our navy, as compared with that of France, he said—The Admirals, Captains, and other officers in active service afloat, in the French navy, are all comparatively young in their respective ranks— a Vice Admiral is placed in retirement at sixty-five years, and a Roar Admiral at sixty-two, the Captains and junior officers following the same law on a graduated scale, by which means a steady flow of promotion is certain through every grade. The compulsory removal from the active list at a fixed age, is considered one of the main elements for securing advancement in the profession, and it is rigidly enforced to a day by the Minister of Marine. This system, where existing interests are fairly respected, is highly conducive to the efficiency of the service, but it could never give general satisfaction to the officers of the British navy, nor could it be justly carried out, unless Flag Officers, Captains, Commanders and Lieutenants were all made impartially subject to the regulations of the scheme. I hold it, then, to be advisable for the well being and content of the Royal Navy, that some statesmanlike measure, having for its base the retirement from active service afloat at a fixed ago, should be introduced by those having authority in these matters; and the sooner this long pending and irritating question is settled, the more acceptable it will be to the service at large." [Mundy, pp. 362–3.]A forced retirement of officers at a fixed age would, of course, lead, in the first instance, to an increase in the retired list, but not in the navy list as a whole. A certain number of officers would be transferred from the active to the retired list, while the number of both classes on the books of the navy would remain as before. It was important to point that out, because it had been erroneously assumed, in the criticism on his proposal which he held in his hand, that while the one body was to be augmented, the other 738 would be maintained at its old figure, At present there were six different retired lists for admirals, ten for captains, four for commanders, and three for lieutenants, There was no reason whatever for such a diversity of classes. It was impossible to discriminate between one class of officers and another; and the variety of lists gave rise to a great deal of professional jealousy, nearly every one feeling aggrieved at the difference between his neighbour's position and his own. In fact, the present plan was altogether of a Land-to-mouth character, without consistency or cohesion. Whenever the Admiralty found the navy getting too full, they induced a certain number of officers to go on the retired list. At one time several distinguished admirals were bribed off at the rate of 18s. 6d.; but the higher allowance of 25s. had been given to a subsequent batch, although they were not of the same standing. The consequence was that those on the former list very naturally complained that an injustice had been done to them. They said that they went off to relieve the navy; that they took what they could get; but that it was not fair to get them out of the way to bring on another list at a higher bribe. But the same course was pursued throughout the whole of these retired lists. He therefore urged the Government to amalgamate all the retired lists, to recompense the officers on a fair and uniform principle, and thus to put an end to these jealousies which were so injurious to the service, and were cherished by means he would say, not of the injustice, but of the irregularities of the retirement. There was no reason for proposing that there should be sixty admirals on the list beyond the fact that there were forty men on the list above the age who would have retired in consequence of age if the age system had been adopted; and that reduced the list to sixty, and it did injustice to no one. Before adopting that system it would be necessary to provide for the very few distinguished admirals at the head of the list. The proposal was, that when an officer had passed the age of a given rank, he should be promoted to the rank above it and placed on the retired list; but above the rank of admiral there was only the rank of Admiral of the Fleet, which corresponded with that of Field Marshal in the army. It was therefore suggested that some of those distinguished admirals at the head of the list, who had commanded fleets or squadrons, should re- 739 ceive promotion to the analogous rank which was given to military officers when they achieved the rank of Field Marshal. It was usual in the navy to have only one or two Admirals of the Fleet; at present there were seven Field Marshals; and it was naturally suggested that on the auspicious event which was shortly to occur, the officers in question should receive that step in rank which the House would not grudge them, and which they might not live long to enjoy, but that the number of the highest rank should be finally fixed at three. With reference to the number of admirals on the active list, the suggestion was that they should be reduced to sixty. There were now twenty, including those attached to the Admiralty, on active service, and that number actively employed would leave forty more ready to serve if occasion should require. It was also proposed to reduce the list of captains from 350 to 250; and as it was found that not more than 115 or 120 were employed, that reduction would give an opportunity to all the captains of serving constantly, or if not, of retiring from the list. The proposal would increase the captains on the ten retired lists from 439 to 590 officers, but at the same time it would do justice to those reserved captains whoso hardships had been so frequently discussed in the House. Without going through all the various classes, he might say that his proposal would reduce the active list from 1,753 to 1,313 of all classes, and the intention was to prevent its further increase—so to use the retired list as to keep the active list clown at a more workable number. The Admiralty alleged that the active list was never in a more satisfactory condition. In 1852 he addressed a letter to the noble Lord at the head of the Government on the subject of the navy as it then was; and on the basis of the Northampton tables he drew up a calculation which showed how the promotions from the captains' to the flag list would take place up to 1870. Singularly enough, in four of the ten years already he had named the man who had been junior rear admiral on the 1st of January, and in two others the persons whom he had named were on the point of arriving at the rank in the month of January. In two years, from exceptional causes, the calculations were wrong, but they righted themselves in following years, and were now within a very few names of the truth, ten years from the 740 time of calculation. However his calculations in the main had proved correct, for what was wrong in one year would right itself in another, and therefore there could he no doubt that the tables in question formed a very reliable guide. He warned the Government, that although for the next two years there might not be a dead lock, yet stagnation in regard to promotion would certainly ensue after a few years, when the present admirals would all he men who had reached that rank at about fifty or sixty years of age. What was wanted was such a steady flow of promotion as would infuse fresh blood into the various ranks and maintain throughout the service that youthful vigour which was so essential to its efficiency.
He would next direct attention to the excessive hardships entailed on naval officers from the low scale of pay in all ranks. In the memorandum of the Admiralty it was stated that the present scale of pay was fixed by an Order in Council of date 1816, and had been arranged with due regard to the rates of pay in the army. He found by reference to the Order of Council that such was the case. Laying aside all questions of purchase, the pay of the naval officer was not fixed at the same rate as that of the military officer. The pay and allowance of an admiral commanding in chief amounted to £2,930 a year, while the pay of a general amounted to £4,151. A vice-admiral received £2,550; a lieutenant-general £4,050. The pay of a rear-admiral amounted to £2,190; that of a major-general to £3,904. According to the Order of 1816, there were circumstances peculiar to the naval service which counterbalanced the superiority in pay of the military service. Those circumstances, however, no longer existed, for they consisted for the most part, as stated in the Order itself, of the right of naval officers to their respective shares of prize money. While touching on the subject of prize money, he might ask how it was that in the Navy Estimates nothing was said, as promised, of the Kertch prize money? What had become of all the prize money so long duo to the army and navy? He was surprised that the Admiralty should choose the present moment to refer the officers of the navy to an Order which stated that the pay of the military service had been fixed at one third more than that of the navy, in consequence of the prize money and other allowances re- 741 ceivable by naval officers. But the non-receipt of prize money was not the only grievance of which naval officers had reason to complain. The batta formerly allowed to officers serving in the East Indies had been most unjustly taken away from them. Until within the last few years the naval commander in chief on the Indian station received nearly,£5,500 per annum. While, however, the War Office continued to give the generals commanding in India and China a certain allowance in lieu of batta, the Admiralty had refused, at the suggestion of the Secretary of State for India, to make a similar provision for the naval commander-in-chief. Considerable difficulty was consequently experienced in finding an officer willing to accept the post, and, if he were correctly informed, the present commander in-chief had serious thoughts about resigning his command, on account of the inefficiency of his pay. He now received, including table money, £2,190 a year for discharging the same duties for which he was formerly paid £5,500, everything included. There was no officer of the Crown in the East, holding a, corresponding rank, who was not paid double the sum given to the naval commander-in-chief. For example, the Lieutenant Governor of Hong Kong received £5,000 a year; the generals commanding in Madras and Bombay between £7,000 and £8,000, and the commander-in-chief in India about £10,000. It might be said that the naval commander-in-chief did not run the same risk; but what was the fact? Within the last few years several naval commanders in chief had died on the station; and yet, in spite of the responsibility he incurred and the hardships he suffered, the officer in command on the Indian station did not receive from the Admiralty anything like the consideration which had been accorded by the War Office to the military servants of the Crown in the East. Injury had been done to the emoluments of naval officers in another way. What he meant was, that they had been deprived of freight for the treasure which was formerly brought home in men-of-war, and now, in consequence of altered circumstances, was conveyed in contract steam vessels. Some years ago, about 1835, the commander-in-chief on the West Indian station received, including pay, freight and prize money, £14,000 a year. He now did the same work for £2,500 per annum. The pay of no military officer 742 had been reduced in the same proportion, and surely it was not too much to ask that the pay of the naval commander-in-chief in the West Indies should be raised by £1,000 a year, in order that he might be prevented from running into debt. Again, the post of the naval commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean was one of the most important under the Crown. It was impossible to say what calls might not be made upon him, or what diplomatic skill he might not be required to show. Was it right so to limit his pay as to make it almost impossible for any officer to go to the Mediterranean unless he had a large private fortune? Surely the service had nut been thrown open to the competition of all classes, in order that high commands should be held only by wealthy men. It was not proposed that the naval commander-in chief in the Mediterranean should be so highly paid as the Governor of Malta, or Gibraltar, or the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands, though his position was far more responsible than any of them. The proposal was that he should get £4,500 a year, instead of a little over £2,000, as at present. An allowance was made for the capture of slaves, but in that respect no officer, except the commander-in-chief at the Cape of Good Hope, derived the smallest advantage. In three years the commander-in-chief on the West Indian station received accidentally about £600 for the capture of slaves; but the money he was obliged to disburse during the same period considerably exceeded the amount he received from the Crown altogether. He next came to the pay of the captains, which had been gradually reduced since 1816, and he did not know any corresponding class of officers who received less pay. The average pay of a captain in 1816 was £575 a year; it was now, adding command money, £565. There were actually captains who received, as active pay, not more than £365 a year; and he believed that the command money, which had been called a boon, did not average more than £6 10s. per annum. That was not so small a matter as it might seem to be, for those officers were compelled to give entertainments at foreign ports, and they did so with their own money, and got into debt. He did not think that military officers were overpaid, but they were certainly in a better position than the officers of the navy. A military officer had to purchase his commission; but his regiment, 743 if he so pleased, was his home until he became a colonel. On the other hand, a naval officer could not serve his time for his flag without spending £3,000 or £4,000 of his own money; when his ship was paid off, he was turned adrift, and he Could not turn his attention to some other employment, because he was obliged to hold himself in readiness for active service. When again appointed to a ship, he had to provide an outfit at his own expense, and at last he became an admiral with £456 a year half-pay, whereas a general officer, besides receiving about the same amount of pay, had his chance of a regiment. The case of naval officers was so accurately described in a publication which appeared on the previous day, that he would take the liberty of quoting it to the House—He enters the service at thirteen as naval cadet, becomes a midshipman at fifteen, a sub-lieutenant at nineteen, and a lieutenant at twenty-two. He is now in the receipt of 10s. a day lull pay, and 4s. half-pay. So far there is nothing to complain of; but, unless he has strong interest or unusual luck, he remains a lieutenant ten years, and at thirty-two has not a farthing more full pay than he had at twenty-two. At thirty-two we will say that he is promoted to the rank of commander; he then has to go on shore with the half-pay of 8s. 6d. a day, and remain idle for three years, when, at the age of thirty-five, he will be offered a command. His full pay is now 16s. 6d.. a day, with 2s. 6d. a day table money; with this 2s. 6d. he is supposed to entertain his officers, foreign captains, consuls, &c. At the end of a four years' commission we will presume that our officer has paid his ship off in a creditable manner, and has obtained his post-captain's commission. He is now thirty-nine, and in receipt of 10s. 6d. a day half-pay and five years to enjoy it; at the age of forty-four he is again offered a ship, and we will say he accepts it (many men cannot, as it would ruin them). Well, he takes command of a corvette, and his full pay is £1 a day, and 5s. for table money, and as captain he is frequently put into situations where he must entertain, and very frequently too.As an illustration he might mention that a friend of his, some years ago, and before the expulsion of the late dynasty from Greece, being in command of a corvette, was called upon to convey to Ancona, the brother of the King. Well, the commander laid out a considerable sum— about £80, in providing delicacies for the the Royal personage and his suite. Just as he had got everything ready, down came a message to the effect that the departure would not take place for a week. At the end of the week the ices and other things being spoiled, he had to go through the same preparation again; and when he re- 744 mitted the account to the then Admiralty through the commanding officer at Athens he was told that he could only be paid for one preparation — namely, £80, instead of £160. That was only an illustration of what was a frequent occurrence.At the end of another four years he pays his ship off, and at forty-eight years of age he once more finds himself in a state of enforced idleness, with 10s. 6d. a day half-pay. If he is a man of strong interest, he may, at the end of another three years (aetat 51), obtain command of a Coastguard ship, with the fall pay of £1 5s., and 8s. 6d. a day for table money. This is considered one of the great prizes of the service, as the captain's family can live on board, and, as a general rule, the captain of one of the home ships is not called on to entertain as much as he is obliged to do abroad. But this pleasant command only lasts a sharp three years, and at fifty-four he is once more on half pay—10s. 6d. a day, if he is not included within the first 170 captains on the list; 12s. 6d. a day if his name is included between the 70th and 170th names, and 14s. 6d. if his name appears within the first 70. Twenty years is the average time an officer is on the captain's list before he obtains his flag, and so our captain at fifty-nine becomes a Rear Admiral with a half-pay of £1 5s.; in another seven years he becomes a Vice Admiral (ætat 66) and receives £1 12s. 6d. a day half-pay; another seven years and our naval cadet of sixty years ago has got to the top of the tree, is now a full Admiral, and gets £2 2s. a day half-pay—that is to say, that having devoted sixty years of his life to the service of his country he gets £766 10s. per annum for his reward.Pursuing the history of the imaginary officer, to whom he had referred, to the top of his profession, he might by great interest or extraordinary luck become a full admiral at the age of seventy-three. He would then, after sixty years of arduous toil and in all climes, if he was lucky, find himself in the receipt of £766 10s. a year; but if they would look at the Navy Estimates which had just been laid on the table, they would find that the solicitor to the Admiralty had just retired after eighteen years' service upon £746 a year. He hoped his legal friends would not suppose that he begrudged them their due, but still it did seem hard that a naval officer who had served in all climes, and incurred all danger, should, with the greatest possible luck (for only twenty-one men out of the whole could obtain it)—should after sixty years of service only obtain £20 a year more than the solicitor to the Admiralty after eighteen years' service. In his Key to the Civil Service Mr. Parkinson, himself a civil servant, avowed that though the profession to which he belonged was not so well paid as the law, it contrasted very 745 favourably, at least in its highest ranks, with the army and navy.
Let them next compare the pay of English naval officers with those engaged in foreign services. The lowest full pay of a captain in the English navy was £365 per annum, and the highest £547, to which must be added command money, when in command of a ship, £91, or £155, or £219 per annum, according to the complement of the ship. The only pay of a captain in the American navy was £875, being 140 per cent more than the average pay of that rank in the English navy. In the English navy the lowest half-pay was £191, and the highest £264. The half-pay in the American navy was £625, being an excess of 227 per cent over the average of our navy. In the French navy the highest captain's pay was £333, and the lowest £536. The difference held good through all ranks. The commander in the English navy received, with command money, £346 per annum. The American full sea pay for the same rank was £654. The lowest rate of pay for this rank in the English navy was £301, the lowest in the American navy, £588 10s., or 95 per cent more. The half-pay in the American navy was, the highest £468, and the lowest £375. In the English navy the highest was £182, and the lowest £155. In the French navy there was no rank answering to that of commander, and therefore with regard to this rank he could enter into no comparison with the navy of France. The pay of a lieutenant in command in the English navy, including command money, was £219; the full sea pay of an American officer of the same rank was, £531 5s.; that of a French officer £355. The highest pay of a lieutenant serving in a ship in our navy was £200; the full sea pay of an American officer in the same position was £468. The lowest pay of a lieutenant in the English navy was £182; the full pay of an American officer of the same rank was £312. In the English navy the highest rate of half-pay for this class of officers was £155 and the lowest £73; in the American navy the highest was £302, and the lowest £250. This comparison showed that the officers of the American navy were paid more than double what the officers of our navy received, and yet the officers of the English navy were supposed to meet the Americans on terms of equality, and he trusted they performed their duties quite as well as they did. When a captain paid 746 off his ship, he not unfrequently found his half-pay was lower than that of his surgeon. The supply of surgeons proved unequal to the demand, and they obtained something like a measure of justice; but was it right for the Government or for a Naval Administration to suggest to its officers that nothing would be given to justice, but everything to compulsion? The utter inadequacy of pay in the navy would be seen by another comparison. The junior captain of a regiment at this moment serving in China ranked with a junior lieutenant of the navy; yet he was receiving £46 a year more than a captain in charge of a naval brigade on that important station. These anomalies could not be in accordance with the wishes of her Majesty's Government, though they were in accordance with the regulations; they were not in conformity with the Order of Council of 1816, but with the mistaken construction which was put upon it.
One suggestion to which he wished to call attention he was sure would carry with it the assent of the House. It was known that after a lieutenant had served a certain time he had no chance of promotion. His proposal was to give encouragement to men to serve, for he was sure that naval officers would bear him out when he said that one of the great evils at the present time was that they could not lay their hands upon a first lieutenant, upon whom so much depended (being the superior officer next to the captain) to keep the ship in first-class order. Thirty years ago it was known where these officers had been, and where they had received their training; and if a captain succeeded in securing a lieutenant of ability and experience, the ship was manned in a few days after he had hoisted his pennant, and everything was in brilliant order. Now, men after a certain length of service quitted the navy, or else shirked being first lieutenants as much as possible. The present administration had done all they could to make that position additionally distasteful by taking away the time of officers who went to serve on board the Excellent. The proposal he had to make was, that after three years' service the lieutenant should receive a gradual increase of pay up to twenty years' service at the rate of 6d. per day. This, he was sure, would be received with the most abundant satisfaction by the officers of this class. At the end of twenty years, after doing his 747 duty well and thoroughly, the officer would be able to retire from the service which had had the benefit of his hearty and effectual co-operation. It seemed to him that it would be desirable to adopt some portion of the suggestion as to the plan always followed in the army of paying the adjutant, who received 7s. 6d. a day. The proposal was to give the officer who was the adjutant of the ship, the first lieutenant or the gunnery lieutenant, some additional pay for having instructed himself and made himself competent to instruct others in those points by excelling in which they could only have an efficient navy. This he proposed to fix at 3s. 6d, a day.
There was another point to which he invited attention—namely, with reference to the reduction in the number of officers of the navy. The proposal in the suggestion was that there should be no more cadets introduced into the service than could be absorbed by due and proper promotion. The present system was to admit as many as filled the subordinate offices, without regard to what became of them afterwards. He thought it very unfair to bring in boys of thirteen or fourteen years of age, who at twenty found themselves without any prospects in the service, and had in the mean time been debarred from study or from the means of qualifying themselves for any other profession. The present was peculiarly a time at which a change could be introduced advantageously, for we were about to have a fleet consisting of a few large iron-cased ships and a large number of gunboats. On board small vessels there were no facilities for training younkers, and these would consequently have to be kept on board the larger ships, of which there were only to be a limited number. He gave his noble Friend great credit for stimulating the naval reserve by his speeches, by his writing?, and his acts; and in connection with that force, and the officers who had been induced to join it, the House must bear in mind that a great additional element of naval strength had been gained. Not merely would the crews of ships of war be kept by its assistance up to their full strength, not merely would hands be found to man vessels engaged in the transport of troops, but the Government would be able to send all our best and swiftest merchant steamers to sea; and if these could not be opposed to the enemy's iron-clads, at least they would sweep his commerce from the ocean. 748 These lieutenants of the naval reserve really answered to the grade of master and commander which was introduced into the navy a hundred years ago, the officers holding that grade being the captains of hired ships, who did good service in their day, but had been since gradually elbowed out of the navy. It was likewise necessary to improve the condition of the warrant and petty officers, among whom were many good men and true. He maintained that on their part there was no wish to aspire to the higher grades of the service; they looked to offices in the dockyards as the legitimate rewards of their exertions; and if the best men were encouraged to accept these positions, there would be no necessity to introduce so many boys into the navy. One other point he was sorry to have to touch upon—he did not mean to allude to the question of barrack accommodation, but to that of naval colleges. he was astonished, after the recommendations made more than two years ago, that no immediate pains were taken to increase the staff on board the Britannia and other training ships, and to give the excellent officers in charge the assistance they so much needed, and thus put a stop to the mischief which existed. It had been stated to him that there had been twenty-seven boys under the age of fifteen laid up at Haslar Hospital under a disease too loathsome to he mentioned. Was this known to the Admiralty, and yet no steps taken to establish a naval college? He was sorry to have had to allude to so painful a subject, but at all events the abominations to which he had referred should cease to exist. [Seepage 818.]
There might be a few boys, who, like the Assyrian youths in the furnace, might pass through a school where such a state of things existed, unscathed, but they must be few. He thought that what he had stated furnished strong reason for establishing a naval college, and that the boys should be kept at a public school or elsewhere until they were old enough to enter into that college. The system now was not the same as it was a few years ago, when the boy was consigned to the captain's care, and the captain looked upon him as a son. He approved of boys not going to sea until they were sixteen. Lord Dundonald was between seventeen and eighteen when he first went to sea, and it did not prevent his becoming one of the most distinguished naval officers. He 749 had endeavoured to lay before the House the reasons why he had accepted the suggestions of these officers, and why he had undertaken to introduce the subject to the notice of the House. He hoped that he had done it prudently and temperately. He had given intimation of his intention to the Admiralty, and to the noble Duke at the head of it. He had shown that it was impossible for naval officers to make their grievances known, and how the circular to which he had referred prevented their taking the course which had been suggested. He had nothing further to add than to move the Resolutions which were placed in the Speaker's hands.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House will, upon Thursday next, resolve itself into a Committee to consider of an humble Address to be presented to Her Majesty, submitting to Her Majesty, That, in the opinion of this House, the position of the Officers of Her Majesty's Naval Service, in respect of promotion and retirement, is not satisfactory, and ought to be amended; with a view to the increased efficiency of the Naval Service, and to meet the just expectations of Officers with respect to promotion, it is desirable to adopt for all ranks the principle of retirement by age; the pay of Naval Officers ought to he so adjusted as to enable them consistently to maintain the rank they hold, and to give them fair remuneration for honourable service.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, doing full justice, as I am prepared to do, to the motives of the hon. and gallant Officer who has made this Motion, and convinced as I am that he has been actuated by nothing more than an honourable desire to promote the interests of the service of which he is a distinguished ornament, yet I cannot refrain from dissenting- from the course which out of the House, and now in the House, the hon. and gallant Officer has thought fit to pursue. If there is one principle with regard to military and naval bodies which ought more than any other to be borne in mind, it is that military and naval bodies ought not to become deliberative assemblies, with the view especially of enforcing on the Government what they conceive will be changes for their own benefit and advantage. It would be a most dangerous precedent if it were admitted that the navy of the country, or the army of the country, are to meet together and to appoint committees, which committees are to correspond with every member of the profession with a 750 view to inciting them to state grievances which they feel, or to feel grievances of which, perhaps, they were not hitherto aware. Such proceedings must tend to shake the foundation of military and naval discipline, and are most dangerous in their possible consequences. I have too high an opinion of the naval officers of this country to entertain any apprehension as to the result of the labours of the self-constituted committee of which the hon. and gallant Officer has this evening been the mouthpiece. But I say the principle on which they have acted is a wrong and dangerous principle, and, I trust, will not be deemed a precedent for future proceedings. For I say that when you ask members of a profession, individually or collectively, whether they would not like a little more pay or earlier promotion, whether they do not think that other people in some other profession are better off than themselves, and whether they will not feel obliged to any man who will stand forward as their champion with a view to obtain advantages of some sort or another—I say if you know human nature, you can readily surmise what the answer to such an invitation will be. the hon. and gallant Officer has stated in a very impressive manner, that which I have no doubt in many cases is perfectly true, that hardships are felt by members of the naval profession from the inadequacy of their pay to the demands made upon them and the slowness of promotion. But is the navy the only service in which you can find those complaints, and often well-founded complaints? Are there no such complaints in the Church? Are there no complaints in the law? Are there no complaints in the civil service-? In every one of these great national professions will you not find men of merit and talent, who justly feel their advancement is not equal to their pretensions and qualities, and that the remuneration which they receive is not nearly sufficient to furnish them with all the means to maintain the position in society which they fed they deserve? But we are obliged to look in this House at these things on a great scale, and cannot deal with one profession singly and by itself. If you begin to increase the pay and advantages of one profession, you will be called on to do the same with others. You cannot improve the condition of the officers without feeling that something must he done for the men in the navy. You cannot increase the advantages of the 751 navy without doing something for the army. You would be led, in this way, to an enormous increase of national expenditure; and when the Government came down with the Estimates founded on what the hon. and gallant Officer would call "an improved principle," a cry would be raised in the House and the country that it was an undue increase of expenditure, and a proportionate increase of taxation. Therefore, I say that the hon. and gallant Officer, very naturally looking to his own profession, has not sufficiently attended to the bearings of the question on the general administration and resources of the country. But if I think, with all deference, that the course pursued by this self-constituted committee of officers is not altogether consistent with a due regard to the discipline of the naval service, I must be permitted to say that the course which the hon. and gallant Officer has taken in proposing these resolutions is not altogether consistent with a proper regard for the legitimate functions of this House of Parliament. It is impossible to pretend to prescribe the proper and precise limits for the action of this House. I know full well that there is no part of the administration of this mighty empire, with all the organization of this mighty empire, which this House is not entitled to take into consideration, and upon consideration to propound opinions and advice. But in a mixed and balanced constitution like ours each branch ought well and duly to consider with great discretion and forbearance how it will exercise its functions in a particular case.
The hon. and gallant Officer has proposed three Resolutions. The first bears on the system of promotion and retirement in the navy; the second on the extension of a system of compulsory retirement at certain stages of life; and the third calls on the House to affirm that the pay and allowances of the navy ought to be such as to enable the officers to maintain a due position in the service. Now, it seems to me that it is a dangerous course for this House to assume to itself administrative functions. Anybody who knows anything of administration must know that a multitude of administrations for any one particular purpose cause confusion. But that an assembly of 650 Gentlemen should be able to administer the details of any public department is, I think, a proposition which it is only necessary to state 752 in order to see the impossibility of its application. At the same time, I admit that there may he instances in which it might be fitting, in the opinion of the House, to address Her Majesty's Government, with a view to some particular purpose which the House may think it expedient to accomplish. But in that case, this House ought to he precise and intelligible in its recommendations and advice. The Resolution ought to be one which the executive Government of the day might know how to carry out if it thought fit to adopt it, or which it might understand fully and in detail, in order, if it did not choose to be responsible for it, that it might be able to take such steps as the circumstances might dictate. But the Resolutions of the hon. and gallant Officer, if adopted to-night, would leave the Government entirely at sea as to the particular mode of acting upon them. They call upon us to say that the present system of promotion and retirement is unsatisfactory. Well, then, what is satisfactory? What would the Government have to propose to the House with the view of meeting the objection that the present system is unsatisfactory? Probably the hon. and gallant Member would answer, "You will find that in my speech or my memorandum." [Sir JOHN HAY: Hear, hear!] But his speech and his memorandum are no part of the decisions of this House of Parliament; they do not appear in our journals; they are not matters to which the Government could appeal and say, in the name of the Sovereign, "We have done that which the House of Commons asked," because the House of Commons would not have asked anything definite, precise or intelligible, which the Government would know to he the object and purpose of the Resolution. The same remark holds good as to the second Resolution about retirement by age. There is already, to a certain degree, a practical application of that principle. The hon. and gallant Gentleman wishes the principle to be extended, but he does not say to what limit, in what way, or, in short, give any clue to enable the Admiralty to know that by doing any particular thing in that respect they will have accomplished the wishes of the House. I say, then, that these Resolutions are so vague and indefinite in their terms, that if they were affirmed by the House, the Government, with the utmost desire to meet the intentions which the House might be sup- 753 posed to have expressed, would remain perfectly in the dark as to the mode in which effect should be given to them.
I will not go into the details of that which the Admiralty have already done upon these matters. My noble and gallant Friend the Secretary to the Board will, I have no doubt, explain fully to the House all that the Department has done, and in what degree the opinions and assertions of the hon. and gallant Officer, in regard to the many points of detail on which he has entered, are well or ill-founded. But as to the last Resolution, which bears upon pay, I humbly submit that that is not a proposition which this House would, if well advised, think it proper to adopt. It does not even say that the pay ought to be increased; but there are words inserted in the concluding paragraph by which the House would pledge itself to make good the expense of any of these different propositions. Well, I hold out that it is not expedient for this House to address the Crown gravely to make an increase in any Department of the public expenditure. It is for the executive Government, upon its responsibility, if it should see fit so to do, to propose to Parliament such additions to that expenditure as they may deem necessary for the public service, and it is for this House to adopt or reject them as it pleases. But I think the House will agree with me that it is not advisable to address the Crown in these vague expressions, calling upon it indirectly to make a great increase in our naval expenditure—an increase which must be followed by further augmentations of charge in that very same Department, and which, if carried into effect with regard to the navy, could not be stopped there, but must be extended to the army, and even to the Civil Service also. The hon. and gallant Officer dwelt very much upon a comparison of the emoluments of certain ranks in the navy with those of the army and other public departments. Now, as to a comparison with the army, it must be borne in mind that the commissions in that service are purchased, and that the officers embark a considerable capital to rise to any high rank, whereas in the navy the same practice does not obtain. But, in both the army and the navy, if you merely took the incomes given to men even in high rank as professional pay, why, no doubt, every man would wish that they were a great deal more. But the remuneration to these services does not consist simply in annual 754 emoluments. There is the respect which is paid to them in their several positions —there is the admiration which the nation feels for the service of which they are members. And it is not a vain assertion to say that honours and respect are not an insignificant element in a requital for public services, because our whole system is founded upon a contrary assumption. We reward men by titles and by decorations; and, when we come to the highest rewards, you, Sir, reward the most distinguished commanders not by pecuniary emoluments, but by conveying to them from that Chair the thanks of this House of Parliament for the services they have rendered to the country. The highest recompense awarded to public men consists of honours showing that they have entitled themselves to the respect and regard of their fellow-countrymen. That, therefore, must be borne in mind when you consider what naval and military officers receive in. return for the personal exposure they undergo and the deeds they achieve in performing their duty to their Sovereign. If, then, I cannot concur in the Motion of the hon. and gallant Officer, I feel it incumbent on me to pursue on this occasion precisely the same course as I pursued two years ago with regard to the Resolution moved by the hon. and gallant Officer who sits next to him (Sir J. Elphinstone). The hon. and gallant Officer who made the present Motion has referred to what then took place. On that occasion, Resolutions had been carried which involved not only the question of promotion and retirement, but the question of pay. The House, on being appealed to on a subsequent day, rescinded those Resolutions, and consented to refer to a Committee then sitting on Admiralty organization the question of retirement and promotion. It so happened that that Committee consumed the entire Session in taking evidence, and did not make any Report. The hon. and gallant Officer says they did that which was most damaging to the Admiralty; they reported the evidence they had taken. I might, perhaps, be allowed to interpret their course upon a different principle. The Committee was not appointed in any friendly spirit to the Admiralty. Their examinations were not conducted with the view of heaping honour and credit upon the Admiralty. But when they came to the end of their inquiries, and the Session was over, they prudently abstained from putting into a Report the result of the 755 evidence they had taken. I believe, if they had done so, the Report would have been favourable to the conduct and the organization of the Department they inquired into. At all events, let me ask, why did they not move to re-appoint the Committee in the ensuing Session? If they had thought the result of the evidence they had taken was so damaging to the Admiralty as the hon. and gallant Officer says, I should have imagined that pure patriotism, if no other motive, would have led them, for the sake of the public service, to re-establish that Committee the following year, with the view of bringing to a condemnatory conclusion the evidence which he thus characterizes. But no such thing. Last year was allowed to pass away without any re-establishment of that Committee. If it had been so re-established, it would have gone into those questions connected with retirement and promotion which it was specially instructed to investigate, and which it was not able to do in 1861 because the time did not permit of it. Well, Sir, I now propose to do precisely what I did then. As the hon. and gallant Officer has brought this question again before the House, if the House thinks it fit that an inquiry should be made into the existing system of promotion and retirement, Her Majesty's Government have no objection whatever to that investigation being made. And I would propose that a Committee should be appointed for the specific purpose of going now into that inquiry which the Committee of 1861 could not enter upon. I therefore propose as an Amendment to the Resolutions of the hon. and gallant Officer those of which I have given notice—that in the first place it is not expedient for the House to pronounce an opinion on a question 'of promotion and retirement, which has been committed to the investigation of a Committee until we shall have received the Report of a Committee on this question, and that a Committee be re-appointed for the purpose of entering on that investigation.
To leave out from the first word "House" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "having on the 13th day of March 1861 instructed a Select Committee to consider the present system of Promotion and Retirement in the Royal Navy, is of opinion that its decision should be suspended until the subject shall have been accordingly considered and reported upon; and that a Select Committee be appoint d to consider the present system of Promotion and Re-
tirement iu the Royal Navy, and to report their opinion thereon to this House,
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, the speech of the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government very much resembled the month about to commence— it came in like a lion, but went out like a lamb. He (Sir James Elphinstone) did not belong to the naval service of the country, and therefore he hoped that the animadversions which the noble Viscount had been pleased to make upon the speech of his hon. and gallant Friend would not apply to him. He trusted that he might stand up to state freely and boldly, and as an independent Member of the House, that in his opinion the grievances and wrongs of the officers of Her Majesty's naval service cried aloud for inquiry and redress. Two years before he had obtained a Committee upon this question. And how did the Government meet him? Because there happened to be introduced into the Resolution one word which was considered by the forms of the House to he improper the Committee was tacked on to another inquiry, which was never intended to produce any useful result. He quite agreed with his hon. and gallant Friend that the evidence which was reported to the House by that Committee left a slur on the Board of Admiralty. And he could not understand any Government sitting under it. Had the Government done their duty when his hon. and gallant Friend (Admiral Duncombe) declined to move the appointment of the Committee, the Government would have put up a naval Member on the Treasury bench to move its re-appointment. There were four or five ex-First Lords on that Committee, and official members fully sufficient to bear up the noble Lord's views, and when they made their Report to whitewash all the previous performances of the Board of Admiralty. The noble Viscount stated that there were grievances in the Church, in the Law, and in the Civil Service; and if the Resolutions of his hon. and gallant Friend should have the effect of removing the grievances of the officers of the naval service, then every other service in the country would start up with its peculiar grievance. The Church, no doubt, had many of its members labouring in a good cause upon very inferior incomes. But two blacks could never make a white. Why should not their incomes be raised to a more just and equitable standard? 757 There were, however, positions of preferment in the Church far beyond what any naval officer could hope for, and the average remuneration in the Church of England was considerably above that in the naval service. With regard to the law, he thought its representatives were fully competent to speak for themselves. There did not, however, appear to be anything in that House to show that that profession was in a very bad state. With respect to the Civil Service, its representatives, feeling themselves aggrieved, had already done what (he navy was doing. They bad brought their grievances before that House, and had obtained some redress for the wrongs of which they complained. The address moved for by his hon. and gallant Friend was not one intended to be made to that House, but to be laid at the foot of the Throne. He admitted that the highest reward that a subject could possibly receive was to come into that House and receive its thanks. But he asked whether the thanks of that House were ever awarded to a subject without being accompanied with more substantial marks of the approbation of the Crown? He had already alluded to the constitution of the Committee; nevertheless, if the House should desire its re-appointment, he would advise his hon. and gallant Friend to accept the proposal of the noble Lord. He hoped, however, that the noble Viscount would take care to have the proposed Committee framed upon a fairer basis than the Committee to which they had referred. The country could have no confidence in such a Committee. The preponderance of the official element in it was damaging to its utility. The whole of the first year was taken up in wading through official theories instead of coming to the practical evidence, which alone was of any value. It was the invariable practice of the Admiralty to allow those grievances to go on as long as they were quietly borne by the parties complaining. It was therefore absolutely necessary for the navy itself to take the initiative in the matter, in order to ensure a clue consideration to their grievances. In 1816 the status of the officers of the navy was taken into consideration, and they were then placed upon a footing which he did not think did them justice. He would go back a little earlier, for the purpose of reading the copy of a letter, written in 1802, by Lord Nelson, with regard to the position of the navy at that time — 758Morton, Oct. 20, 1802.Sir,—Your idea is most just and proper, that a provision should be made for midshipmen who have served a certain time, with good characters, and certainly £20 is a very small allowance; but how will your surprise be increased when I tell you that their full pay, when watching, fighting, and bleeding for their country at sea is not equal to that sum? An admiral's half-pay is scarcely equal, including the run of a kitchen, to that of a French cook; a captain's but a little more than a valet's; and a lieutenant's not equal to a London footman's. But as I am a seaman, and faring with them, I can say nothing. I will only apply some very old lines, wrote at the end of some former war—'Our God and sailor we alike adoreIn time of danger, not before;The danger past, both are alike requited:God is forgotten and the sailor slighted.'A word more to illustrate the feeling of the service in regard to the existing system. The noble Lord, from the tenor of his remarks, insinuated that his hon. and gallant Friend had referred to grievances which were not really in existence. A letter from an officer appeared in one of the morning papers of the previous day, which contained the following extract: —On Tuesday evening the subject will be brought before the House of Commons. Each word then uttered will be anxiously weighed and discussed in every ward-room and gun-room mess in the service. All other matters are dwarfed in interest when compared with this, for on its result depend the issues of renewed hope and the strength that springs of it, or a return to the sickening anxiety of hope deferred and straitened means. We do not ask, sir, for wealth, for such would be to us the incomes obtained by our brothers and schoolfellows who have pursued home-slaying occupations. We only ask that our pay may be increased to the modest competence that will make us free from the necessity of incurring debts we have no power of repaying.Now, one word as to the financial state of the question. They were told that this was a most serious matter to bring before the House, although it involved a demand for only a trifling sum in order to raise the rate of compensation to the most valuable officers in Her Majesty's service to a more equitable standard than existed at present. It should never be forgotten that those officers in time of war occupied the first line of defence, and to them the country looked chiefly for protection. But had there been any economy practised in the material of the navy? Had they not rushed into extravagance the most unprecedented? They had wasted millions by the grossest mismanagement. With what consistency, then, could the Government refuse this claim, involving but a small sum, with such facts before them? 759 Again, the parallel between officers in the army and navy had not been fairly stated, as officers in the engineers, the artillery and the line were all eligible to staff appointment. But taking the purchase portion of the service, he could testify that it would be cheaper to purchase a captain's commission in a marching regiment than to pay a young naval officer's expenses in bringing him up to a lieutenant's commission. In conclusion, he was convinced, if the question of naval economy were fairly examined, it would be found that naval officers might, with public advantage, be placed on the same footing in regard to remuneration as officers in other services, and at the same time an enormous saving might be effected in the expenditure of the navy.
said, as he had two years before made a Motion for a Committee which was unanimously agreed to, he thought it only due to the House to give some explanations regarding it, and in connection with the Amendment moved by the noble Lord. The noble Lord had assumed rather too much in saying that the reason why the Committee made no Report was because the evidence given was so favourable to the constitution of the Board of Admiralty that they thought silence the best course to pursue. Now, the fact was, from the way in which the Committee had been nominated, it was predicted that it would necessarily be a complete failure. At the suggestion of the noble Lord the House consented to put on the Committee all the ex-First Lords in the House; two others were examined before it, and in addition the official element was largely represented. The person moving for a Committee was generally allowed to have a preponderance of persons on it who were supposed favourable to his views; but when the noble Lord added a new subject of investigation he also added to the Committee four new Members, three of whom were chosen from his side of the House, and thus he gave a preponderance to his own party. Now, he (Admiral Duncombe) said originally, and he was still of the same opinion, that the question ought to have no political complexion, but if there was a preponderance at all in Committee, it ought to be on that (the Opposition) side of the House. Nevertheless, they were all aware that there always was more or less of political bias. When the proceedings commenced, he felt himself placed in the 760 position of public prosecutor of the Board of Admiralty. That was a position he did not desire to occupy. From the moment the Committee sat he did his best to furnish evidence from day to day, and to elicit from the various officers connected with the Admiralty and navy the best testimony on the subject; but not then having the weight of Chairman he felt that was a disagreeable duty to perform, and therefore he declined to undertake it in a second Session. They sat until the end of the Session, took a quantity of evidence, but had no time to make a Report. The evidence alone was reported to the House, in order that they might deal with it as they pleased. At the commencement of last Session a question was asked of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) whether he intended to move the re-appointment of the Committee. That right hon. Gentleman answered in the negative. He (Admiral Duncombe) was subsequently asked a similar question, when he gave a decided negative also. The noble Lord was not, therefore, justified in saying that the whole of the evidence given was in favour of the Admiralty.
§ SIR ROBERT CLIFTON
said, the noble Lord seemed to think that a naval officer who had distinguished himself would be sufficiently rewarded by receiving the thanks of that House. That, no doubt, was a very great honour; but if a commander had distinguished himself abroad upon £346 15s. a year, the thanks of that House would not supply him with means of entertaining distinguished foreigners, or providing for his own outfit. He was sure the noble Lord would not wish to preclude any English officer from exercising hospitality on a foreign station. Many officers, however, were obliged to decline appointments owing to their inability to meet the expenses of the posts offered them. He considered that any question taken up by so experienced an Officer as the hon. and gallant Member for Wakefield (Sir John Hay) was deserving of the greatest attention; and if that gallant Officer should resolve upon dividing the House upon this question, he (Sir Robert Clifton) would certainly go into the same lobby with him. He would vote for the Resolutions because he felt that they had expended extravagant sums on fortifications which were useless, and some of which, he believed, would never be completed. He thought that after 761 such expenditure and such waste of money upon ships that were afterwards declared to be useless, it was high time to consider the personnel of the navy.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he did not think the navy would be more contented in consequence of the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. The noble Lord spoke as if a statement of grievances in the navy were a new thing—as if the conduct of the officers had been prompted by something like a seditious feeling. Rut the noble Lord ought to be well aware how often the question had been brought before the House. He (Mr. B. Cochrane) did not understand the principle laid down by the noble Lord. Were they to understand that no questions whatever relating to the pay of naval officers, of officers in the Civil Service, or of the diplomatic body, were to be brought forward in that House; or that officers meeting together to discuss what they regarded as grievances were guilty of a dereliction of duty? He could not imagine this. Nor could he imagine that the noble Lord intended to convey that impression, although the words he had used would bear such an interpretation. But when the noble Lord talked of the high honour and distinction which attached to an officer in Her Majesty's service, surely he could not mean to contend that that distinction, whatever might be its value, would enable a lieutenant on half-pay to feed his family on £73 a year, or compensate him for the discomforts to which he was subjected. While concurring generally, he might add, in the views to which his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wakefield had given expression, there were some parts of his scheme from which he felt bound to differ. If, for instance, officers entered the service on certain conditions, with the belief that they could rise to a certain rank, and if they asked for an opportunity of serving afloat, which was denied, then it was a hard thing to say to them, "You have not served afloat so many years; you must, therefore, he put on the retired list." Again, he could not see why an officer simply because he happened to be over seventy, was to be shelved. There were men of great energy, and of grand intellects, who had passed that age. Marshal Radetsky, for example, had been in actual service at the age of eighty-six, while; Lord Howe and Lord Duncan had, when above their seventieth year, shown, in the 762 battle of the 1st of June and Camperdown, themselves capable of conferring great benefits upon the country. It would, then, he thought, be somewhat harsh to such officers to put them in a false and undignified position merely because they happened to have passed a certain time of life. He might also observe that there were, in his opinion, many officers who did not desire to be made Admirals of the Fleet, as his hon. and gallant Friend proposed, though they might in some respects be benefited by the step. His hon. and gallant Friend was, however, he thought, eminently entitled to the thanks of the service for his scheme, which was, on the whole, carried out most elaborately, and with a kindness of feeling which was deserving of all praise. A comparison, he might add, had been drawn between the rate of pay in the French, Austrian, and American services, and that in our own, and he could not help remarking that it appeared to him somewhat extraordinary that the discrepancy between the two rates should, in many instances, be so great as that a captain in the American service should receive £500 a year more than officers of the same rank in the English service, and that an assistant surgeon in the American service should receive a much higher sum than the highest full pay of an English lieutenant. Those were monstrous anomalies. But he did not need to go to foreign countries for examples of similar anomalies. A clerk at Somerset House began with a salary of £90 a year, and the salary was annually increased by £5 or £10. Another class began at £300, and had an increase of £20 per annum, until their salaries reached £500; while there was another class which entered the public service at £500, and whose salaries went on increasing until they reached £650 — a favourable contrast to the state of things in the navy. To show how this state of things operated, he would appeal to his noble Friend the Secretary for the Admiralty, who he was sure had the interest of the service at heart, however much he might be trammelled by the system under which he had to work, to say whether it was not the fact that several officers bad refused ships because they could not afford to take them, so great was the necessary expense of a command? Then was it not monstrous to shelve men who were aid in so miserable a manner that they could not accept a ship if offered to them. 763 Again, naval officers when on half-pay were not allowed to enter on other occupations, but must hold themselves in readiness to serve, or have their names erased from the Navy List—a statement the truth of which was illustrated by the case of a Lieutenant Engledue, who had accepted an appointment in the Peninsular and Oriental Company's service, and whose name was struck out of the Navy List, because when offered a commission he could not afford to give up his situation. He might further observe, with respect to the question of prize money, that we had the opinion of Lord Dundonald, to the effect that it was impossible to say how much we were indebted to the stimulus which it afforded the navy. That most unfortunate of all declarations, however, the Declaration of Paris, had done away almost entirely with that stimulus; and to show of how much value it was at the present day, he might mention that in a notice issued a short time ago at Somerset House for the distribution of prize money in the case of the capture of a Chinese junk, he found that while the occurrence had taken place in 1857, the distribution of prize money was not to be made until the present month, and that then the share of the commanding officer was only £4 7s.; that of the second in command only £3 4s.; the share of some of the men being as low as 2s. 3d. per head. Now, while he took the view which he was advocating of the way in which the naval service was treated, he was by no means disposed to find fault with the advantages which the army received. He might, however, observe that colonial governorships were given rather to members of the latter service than to naval men, and that the pension of £3,000 a year given to the family of our greatest Admiral—Lord Nelson—died with the present Lord. Comparing also the list of promotions on the occasion of the majority of the Prince of Wales, he found, that while twenty-eight of these promotions took place in the army, there had been only four or five in the navy. It might be said, that notwithstanding these drawbacks, there was no lack of men possessing the energy and spirit requisite for the naval service. No doubt, and if the miserable pittances given to officers were reduced by one-half, the spirit and rising energy of the country was so great that people would always be found ready to come forward in defence of the country. That, however, was, in his opinion, no good reason why 764 the smallest sum possible should be paid for their services; nor did he think such a principle was one on which any Government ought to proceed. Again, it was urged they knew what the rule was before they entered the service. True; but had not everything been doubled in price? Whilst the customs duties were relaxed, was there not income tax, and was it not the fact that the expenses of living were double or treble what they were several years ago? He must venture to express his dissent from the noble Lord's views, and he considered that the hon. and gallant Officer deserved well of that House and the country for having brought forward this question so ably, and he trusted that the noble Lord, who had given way to a certain extent, would give way still further, and in time adopt the views of his hon. and gallant Friend.
§ MR. FERRAND
said, that as he had the honour of representing one of the largest of our naval boroughs, he hoped that he might be permitted to make a few remarks on the subject before the House. A large number of his constituents took a deep interest in the question, and he was anxious to address the House on several points which it embraced; but the subject had been so nearly exhausted that it would he necessary for him to offer only a very few observations. He had listened to the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government with great pleasure, and also, he must add, with some astonishment. As had been well remarked by the hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House, what course were the officers of the navy to take when they wanted redress for a refusal of justice if they were not, either by petition or by their friends, to come before the House? He had spent about a fortnight in the borough of Devonport, and never was more astonished than to see the cowed spirit of the navy, the cowed spirit of the dockyard men, under a dread of the tyranny of the Admiralty. He had also received several letters from naval officers there, urging him to take part in the debate, but at the same time entreating and imploring him not to mention the names, for fear of the certain ruin which they stated would await them at the hands of the Admiralty. Was this a fit state of things to find in the borough of Devonport? The noble Lord had said that the officers ought to conduct themselves with discretion and forbearance. They had done so. They had applied to 765 the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty for redress; but they had applied in vain. He hold in his hand a letter addressed by one of the Secretaries to the Admiralty to a large body of officers after they had fully, distinctly, and explicitly laid their claims before the Board. They had previously received a reply to a former application, that their claims could not be admitted. They had applied again to the Admiralty, entering, as he had said, fully, distinctly, and explicitly into their claims; and what was the- course taken by the Lords of the Admiralty? Did they attempt to show those officers that their claims were unjust, and that they had no ' right to prefer them? No. A letter; came from the Admiralty, signed W. G. Romaine—I am commanded by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to acknowledge the receipt of a memorial signed by you on behalf of the captains on the reserved halt-pay list containing a request for increased half-pay; and I have to inform you in reply that their Lordships can only refer you; to their former letter on the subject.It was not till the officers received that curt and offensive reply from the Board that they ventured to come before that House; and he would ask the noble Lord to whom they were to appeal after that answer if not to the House of Commons. There was a sympathy within the walls of that House towards the naval service which had compelled the noble Lord at the head of the Government to come down and consent to the appointment of a Committee. The noble Lord would not have done that had he not feared that he would be in a minority if he had not conceded so much. But was it assented to for the purpose of burking the question? Or did the noble Lord intend, when the Committee was appointed, that there should be a just, and fair, and impartial inquiry? If such were his intention, he believed that the Committee— he believed that no Committee honestly appointed could do otherwise—would support the views of his hon. and gallant Friend who had introduced the Motion. But if the noble Lord pursued the same course towards the proposed Committee with that he pursued towards a Committee previously appointed on the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for the East Riding (Admiral Duncombe), he might depend upon this that he would be trifling with the spirit of the naval officers of the country and he would bitterly repent the day when he refused, by a side 766 wind, to grant them that to which they believed they had a just claim. He could view the naval service in no other light than a lottery, in which there were many blanks and only a few prizes; and he was not surprised to hear the naval officers at Devonport protest against the manner in which a few high influential Whig families contrived to monopolize the great prizes in the navy. The noble Lord had alluded to the high honour which a naval officer obtained in receiving a vote of thanks from that House. But why were the principal prizes of the navy monopolized by men who had no right to them compared to many of the naval officers whose services had never been properly requited? If a Conservative Government had jobbed the high places in the naval service, either at the Admiralty or in the Dockyards, in the manner the present Government had done, they would have had a loud outburst of indignation from hon. Gentlemen on the other side, if then in opposition. He had said, he believed, quite sufficient on this question to show to the noble Lord that the officers had not received fair play when they made their appeal to the Board of Admiralty. He had been told by even dockyard men, that if they made a complaint to the Board of Admiralty, so sure as they made it so sure were they made to rue the day by being deprived of their employment. If that state of things was to continue, either in or out of the dockyards, in the naval service, the Government would repent it, for the dockyard men themselves, who were a highly independent body of workmen, had their spirit roused to such an extent by intimidation, by oppression—not by the Conservative party, but by the Whig party—that if ever a day should come when it was highly necessary that those men should be true and loyal to their country, they might remind the Government how they had been treated previously to the time of peril; and the Government might then find the dockyard men actuated by the same spirit as the men in private yards were a few years ago, and that they would show their spirit of independence in a manner most injurious to the country.
§ MR. R. W. DUFF (Banff)
said, he thought that while the Admiralty were profuse in their expenditure on vessels constructed on obsolete models, &c., they were most illiberal in their dealings with the officers of the navy. When the Lords of the Admiralty refused to receive salaries 767 for their services, and said they were quite content with the honour, he should be able to understand the objection to pay the officers in the navy proper remuneration. The present scheme of promotion and retirement was admitted to be so unsatisfactory that the late First Lord of the Admiralty declared, before the Royal Commission, he would rather overrule the opinions of the whole Board than continue to administer under the existing system. He felt so strongly that, although a general supporter of the Government, if the hon. and gallant Officer divided the House, he should vote with him.
said, it was well known that the great majority of the Committee to which allusion had been made consisted of First Lords of the Admiralty, and most of the witnesses examined before it were of the same description. Several of the Members who were appointed to serve upon the Committee were so disgusted with the course of its proceedings that they retired from it; and when the noble Lord proposed the appointment of another Committee upon the subject, those who were deeply interested in the question could not help suspecting that the Government, unable to refute the arguments so ably brought forward by the hon. and gallant Officer, were about to repeat the same farce. The arguments of the noble Lord against the Motion had been based in a great measure upon the assumption that the conduct of Her Majesty's navy was mutinous and unpatriotic; but as a naval officer himself, he could assure the House that his fellow officers were sincerely desirous to promote the efficiency of the service, and had in many instances assented to suggestions and advocated measures which were antagonistic to their own interests. The junior officers, for instance, gave it as their opinion that they ought to serve longer than they had hitherto done in the lower position which they occupied, and that was one of the proposals on which the projected alteration in the system was founded. On the part of the naval officers, therefore, he must repudiate the accusation that they were actuated by any other than patriotic motives in the course they had taken. Then it was said by the noble Lord, that if they acceded to the demands of the officers of the navy on the present occasion, they would have the officers of the army coming forward with similar applications. But though it was proposed by the Order in Council of 1816 to equalize 768 as far as possible the pay of the two branches of the service, the pay of the navy was at the present moment very much inferior to that of the army. It should be remembered, too, that at the present day naval officers became entitled to little or no prize money, and that when by some rare accident they obtained such a right, many years usually elapsed before it was practically recognised. The officers of the navy merely wished for a proper system of promotion and retirement, and the object of the present proposition was to carry out what had already been partially carried out by the Admiralty—that was to say, compulsory retirement at a certain age, when officers were no longer fit for active service. But if this principle were good at all, it should surely be carried through all branches of the service. It was proposed by his hon. and gallant Friend that there should be a smaller number of officers, and in that way the service would be much more efficient, for it was well known that in the present state of affairs the list was overcrowded with officers who were useless because they could not get employment. There were something like five hundred commanders on the list, and out of that number only about half were employed, he had risen, however, principally for the purpose of protesting against that accusation of selfish and unpatriotic motives which the noble Lord had brought against the service to which he had the honour to belong; and, in conclusion, he had only, as a member of the profession, to express his gratitude to the hon. and gallant Member for Wakefield for the able manner in which he had introduced the subject, while he was sure the House would be grateful to him for having placed so clearly and concisely before them a matter upon which they were proverbially ignorant.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he should not have troubled the House upon that occasion had it not been for what had fallen from the noble Lord at the head of the Government with respect to the former Committee on the Admiralty, whose labours had created so much discussion. He was sure that the noble Lord, in submitting any statement to the House, meant that it should be strictly correct; and he therefore felt much surprised at the declaration made by the noble Lord upon that subject, which was completely at variance with the facts of the case. The noble Lord had told them that the Committee had been fairly constituted, and that the weight of 769 evidence was of such a nature, that if the Committee had made a Report, that Report must have been favourable to the constitution of the Board of Admiralty. Now, he (Mr. Bentinck) had been a Member of the Committee, and he could state how the facts really stood. When the Motion for the Committee was first made in the House, he had ventured to take exception to its composition. He had pointed out to the House that it was impossible a Committee so constituted should ever arrive at any practical conclusion, or that they should ever produce a Report which would have the slightest weight with the House or the country. The ground on which he had objected to the Motion was, that the greater number of the members on the Committee either were at that time serving or had previously served the Admiralty in an official capacity. He had, therefore, moved the rejection of all those members on the list who were liable to that objection, but he had been overruled by the House upon that point. He had then expressed his opinion that the labours of the Committee must end in a mere waste of time, and must, in fact, become nothing better than a farce. He believed that that prediction had been literally fulfilled. He had attended the Committee for about four months, and he had found that the whole of its business had been to listen day after day and week after week to the self-laudatory speeches of distinguished members and ex-members of the Board of Admiralty, who, when called upon to give evidence, had taken the opportunity of explaining how admirably they had managed the business of the Department. What was the consequence? The consequence was, that the Committee had done so little to investigate the subject that had been referred to their consideration, that at the close of the Session they found they were not in a condition to make a Report to the House, and at the commencement of the next Session his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), when asked whether, as Chairman of the Committee, he would move its re-appointment, declined to undertake that duty, while his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Riding (Admiral Duncombe), on whose Motion the Committee had originally been constituted, also stated that he was not prepared to take such a step. He believed, that if a Committee was ever to be of any use, it should consist of men who were not judges in their 770 own case, and that a Committee appointed to inquire into the constitution of the Board of Admiralty ought not, therefore, to be composed of Admiralty officials. One word in reference to the Motion of his hon. and galland Friend the Member for Wakefield, who, in his able speech, had completely exhausted the arguments on his side of the question. He agreed with a great portion of that speech, and he believed that as an abstract proposition there was great hardship in the way in which naval officers were paid; but he was at the same time bound to admit that there was considerable force in the statement of the noble Lord at the head of the Government with respect to the inconvenience of dealing with subjects of that description in the manner proposed by his hon. and gallant Friend. There was another point to which they should direct their attention. They should not forget that there were other interests represented in that House besides the navy. If the House were at once to pledge itself to give effect to the views of his hon. and gallant Friend, that would imply that it should either impose new taxes or to retain taxes from which the country was in hopes of being relieved. As the representative of a numerous constituency, who had many claims to obtain remission of taxation, he should not feel himself justified in being instrumental in raising a harrier which would prevent the accomplishment of that object by voting at once for the abstract proposition of his hon. and gallant Friend. He would therefore suggest to his hon. and gallant Friend, that as the noble Lord had admitted by his Amendment that a grievance did exist, his hon. and gallant Friend should accept the proposal of the noble Lord, and allow the matter to be referred to a Committee. But he hoped, that if his hon. and gallant Friend were prepared to pursue that course, he would insist that the Committee to be appointed should be differently composed from the Committee to which he (Mr. Bentinck) had alluded, and that it should consist of men who wore not from their position under the influence of a strong bias, but of men in whom the House and the country could place perfect confidence.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
Sir, the question before the House is one of the most difficult with which we can possibly have to deal. There have been from time 771 to time points in the administration of the Admiralty which have required rectification, and I am not prepared to say that now, or at any future period, there may not he some class of officers who have a fair right to claim more advantages than they now possess. I have listened very carefully to this debate, and although I have not heard many proposals that could he carried out, I have been gratified, as a naval man, to perceive the intense interest which is taken in this noble service. The Resolutions of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wakefield are mild enough in themselves, but they are backed by a scheme which is about the most impracticable and injurious for the navy that ever was propounded. Bear in mind that there are two things which are essentially necessary to maintain the navy in efficiency. First of all, you must have a sufficient number of officers of all ranks to enable you, in the event of war, suddenly to expand your force. Secondly, as the service is one which requires men of pre-eminent activity of mind and body, it is necessary to have a constant flow of promotion. If the House will keep these two points in view, they will soon see what an impracticable scheme has been put before them by my hon. and gallant Friend. The object of my hon. and gallant Friend's scheme is to reduce the active list. For instance, it is proposed to curtail the number of lieutenants. Now, the fact is, that although we are in a time of profound peace, and although fewer officers in proportion to the ships are now required than formerly, we have not at this moment sufficient lieutenants. If we were called on to man a squadron of ten line-of-battle ships, I do not know where we should find the requisite number of lieutenants, although we have 800. How could our navy maintain its position if this reduction to 700 were to be enforced? The proportions of all ranks are mainly governed by the lieutenants; they are, as it were, the pivot of the system, and, in my opinion, we should have a thousand of them. It is quite possible, I own, as far as the wants of the service are concerned, to reduce the upper ranks. No one can say that it is probable we shall at any time require ninety-nine admirals. But, if you cut down the admirals to sixty, the captains to 250, and the commanders to 300, keeping the lieutenants, as I have shown you must, at 800 to 1,000, you are stopping the flow of pro- 772 motion and ruining the navy. At the end of the war of 1816 we had 242 admirals, and in 1863 we had 325 admirals. Of course, that large number is not necessary for actual service, but without it we should not have that flow of promotion which is absolutely needed in the navy. The gallant Officer opposite proposes that there should be a retired list on which officers should be placed at the age of forty; but that would be most unjust, and it would be so costly—for a retired list is necessarily unlimited—as to be altogether unbearable. Both the active and the retired lists proposed by the gallant Officer, therefore, are utterly impracticable. I do not deny that the navy has certain disadvantages to complain of, but I cannot agree that it is getting worse and worse every year, or that there is any discontent among the officers, beyond that which may be engendered by sending circulars about and inviting them to imagine grievances which they never knew of before. Let us just compare the flow of promotion now and at the end of the French war. In order to a proper flow of promotion you must have a fair proportion in the upper as compared with the lower lists. In 1816 there were on the various lists 4,000 lieutenants—who are the key of the whole system—or 67 per cent of the whole lists of naval officers, leaving 33 per cent of the classes to which they could hope to rise. In 1832 there were 3,000 lieutenants on the list, or 59 per cent, leaving forty-one chances in a hundred of promotion. In 1848 there were 53 per cent of lieutenants leaving 47 per cent of higher rank; and in the present year there are 1,177 lieutenants, or 35 per cent of the whole list, leaving sixty-five chances of promotion to the hundred. That is a great improvement, though I should be glad to see the improvement greater. What I wish to show is that the various schemes which have been introduced from time to time have undoubtedly done good. We are obliged in the navy—in peace or war equally—to promote officers because we want young men. In the Civil Service, or in the seniority services, officers can be kept in time of peace on full pay; but that, of course, leads to a stagnation of promotion, which would be fatal to the efficiency of the navy. The great misfortune is, that in time of peace you have not fleets and squadrons in commission sufficient to give employment to your 773 commanders and captains; and when a man is made commander or captain, it may be long before he obtains employment. As regards the age at which officers get promoted, the navy, I think, is better off than the other services. In the matter of pay I warn my gallant Friend that his case is not so good as he thinks. I wish to see the navy as well paid as any service. I had almost said better paid; but if my gallant Friend is going to hold out to officers that they are to have largely increased pay, he will turn out to be the worst friend the navy has ever had. I admit that in the French service the pay of some officers is higher than in the English navy, but a most important thing in the comparison is the age at which officers are promoted and begin to receive good pay, and here you will find we have the advantage of the French. Comparisons may fairly be drawn between the navy and the artillery. Let us take the case of two brothers, one of whom enters the artillery, the other the navy. The naval officer, it must be remembered, is educated at the public expense, while the artillery officer has to pay for a very expensive education at a military academy. In the navy a man is made, on an average, a lieutenant at twenty-two, and receives £182 a year, and the artillery officer becomes a first lieutenant at twenty-three, and gets only £125, including all allowances, and has quite as expensive a mess to pay for as the other. This disadvantage in pay follows through all the ranks up to general officer. I have here some figures regarding the pay of the different ranks in the French navy, which the naval attaché to the French embassy has been kind enough to go over very carefully with me. I find that the pay of a French lieutenant is £144 while he is abroad, £128 when in France, and only £110 when he is in arsenal. Put that against £182, the pay of the English lieutenant. I should be sorry to reduce the pay of the latter officer; but I say, with facts such as these, you have no right to come down here and say that our officers are worse paid than any others. [Sir JOHN HAY: What about lieutenants in command?] The French officers, I admit, are better paid when in command. That applies until you come to the flag officers, but there it ceases. Their admirals are not better paid. Again, it is to be remembered that the French officer is generally much older than the English when he 774 comes to command. When a French lieutenant is in command, he gets £408. My hon. Friend said that he receives £530, but that is a mistake. Our lieutenant gets £234, so that the French officer is better paid; but then he is thirty-six or thirty-seven years of age, when our lieutenant in command may only be about twenty-five. I admit, therefore, that French captains, commanders, and lieutenants in command are better paid than officers of similar rank in the English navy; but then the former are older than the latter. When you come to the flag officers you find that the French Contre-Amiral has £2,160, including every allowance, while a Rear Admiral in the British navy has £2,190. [Sir JOHN HAY: All public entertainments are paid for in the French navy.] I do not know bow that is, but the French officers are obliged to provide themselves with furniture, plate, and linen—he must do the whole thing on his own account—while for the British officer all these things are found, on a payment of 5 per cent. An officer in our service need only take his portmanteau on board with him. [Sir JOHN HAY: He must now take his own provisions.] No such thing. My hon. and gallant Friend made a very temperate statement this evening; but do not let him attempt to prove too much. In referring to the points on which I have touched, I do not mean to imply that I should not wish to see the pay of our officers improved. I do not say that I shall not be a party to procuring better pay for them if I can get the chance; but I shall not be a party to raising a cry that they are miserably paid. What has the present Government done for the officers of the navy since they came into office? I do not think the House has any idea of what I have come down and asked for since I took my seat on these benches. The aggregate sum which I have asked the House to vote is a very large one. For the improvement of the pay and pensions of all classes of the navy I have asked for £120,000 a year. That is one sum. My hon. and gallant Friend can move for a Return of the various items of which that amount is made up, if bethinks fit to do so. In addition to that comes the retirement of 1860. If hon. Members will turn to page 23 of the Duke of Somerset's memorandum, they will find that in 1860, before the retirement scheme took effect, the reserved list amounted to £386,000; but in the year 1861 it had 775 increased to £420,000. That was due to an Order in Council. This House has, consequently, granted within the last three years and a half, at the instance of the Admiralty, upwards of £150,000, which has been added as a dead-weight to the expenditure of the country. Is it fair, then, of my hon. and gallant Friend to charge me or charge the Admiralty with neglecting the interests of the service? Is it fair of him to make such a representation to the public? Is it fair to excite discontent in the service by issuing paper shells —elongated shells, which have pierced the sides of even the Warrior and the other iron-plated ships, and have done more damage than iron shells could do? If my hon. and gallant Friend or any other officer had come to the Admiralty and represented the wrongs which he thinks the navy labours under, his statements would have been listened to with attention. The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Ferrand) says that officers dare not come to the Admiralty. I do not know why the hon. Member should make that statement, which, if correct, would apply to former Boards as well as to the present. I presume he alludes to the case of the retired officers. Well, we know they laboured under the impression, that when the Admiralty accepted their retirement, they were entitled to rise in rank and pay. The right hon. baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir Francis Baring) was First Lord when that arrangement was made. The House knows he is not a man who would really intend to do one thing and tell any one that he intended to do another. He said the intention was that those officers were not to rise pari passu with the other officers. The gallant officers concerned thought otherwise. They brought their case before the House, and I was glad when their pay was improved. I shall also be glad if it be shown to the Committee which it is proposed to appoint that there is a case for increasing the pay of the officers to whom my hon. and gallant Friend has referred. My hon. and gallant Friend spoke of the pay of the captains having been reduced. That is really misleading the House. Up to a particular period there were various perquisites. At the time those perquisites were taken away, a proper fixed remuneration was decided on. Since then I am not aware there has been a reduction of pay. When the circular, giving command money and adjusting pay, came out a year or two 776 ago, some officers lost by it; but those were exceptional cases, and did not affect those already employed. The great majority were gainers. As for the insinuation, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government is attempting to get rid of the question by a side wind, it is not worth replying to. The profession will not believe it. The noble Lord has given too many proofs of his love for the service. The officers of the navy will feel certain that what he says he will do, and that when he proposes an inquiry he intends that it shall be conducted with the utmost justice and fairness.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, the speech of my noble Friend has been directed rather to those details upon which the House has not been asked to pronounce an opinion than to the broad principles which are laid down in the Motion submitted to us by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wakefield, and upon which he has asked us to come to a decision. I cannot allow this debate to close without offering to my hon. and gallant Friend my congratulations upon having at last elicited from a reluctant Admiralty and a reluctant Government a distinct admission, in more shapes than one, that he is practically justified in the course he has taken on the present occasion. At the same time, I must express my strong opinion that my hon. and gallant Friend was not in any way open to the somewhat harsh censure which the noble Viscount at the head of the Government passed upon him as an officer of the Royal Navy for having brought his Motion before the House. In my opinion, my hon. and gallant Friend has taken a course upon this subject which does him the greatest credit and honour. This is no new subject; it is one of great importance; and looking to the position of my hon. and gallant Friend as an able and distinguished officer of the Royal Navy, I think he could have taken no course more natural, more honourable, or more becoming in him than to come forward on behalf of his profession and brother officers, and to ask the Government to redress the grievances of which they have long complained. Nor was my hon. and gallant Friend open to the objection which the noble Viscount expressed as to the shape of his Motion. The noble Viscount asked how the House was to pronounce an opinion upon anything so vague as this Resolution. Why, Sir, nobody knows better than the noble Vis- 777 count himself, that it my hon. and gallant Friend had taken an opposite course—if he had encumbered his Motion with those details to which my noble Friend the Secretary to the Navy has just adverted— he would have exposed himself to the taunt, which no one would have been more ready to make than the noble Viscount, that the House of Commons could not pronounce an opinion upon matters which were only fit to be dealt with by the executive Government. I need not say that this is a subject in which I have always taken a great interest, and I am desirous, if the House will allow me, to call its attention for a few moments to the past history of the question. When I was called upon to administer the affairs of the Admiralty, I found the naval service in a most unsatisfactory condition. During the short period I held office I was obliged to recommend the appointment of a Royal Commission to consider how we might improve the manning of the navy. I think it will be admitted on all hands that the result of that inquiry has been most satisfactory. I also found the navy, with regard to this question of promotion and retirement, in so unsatisfactory a state, that I was compelled by a sense of duty to address myself to the question, and to prepare a plan for the improvement of the system of promotion and retirement, which plan was adopted by the Cabinet of the Earl of Derby, and, if I had held office for a month longer, would have been carried into effect. That plan was founded upon the broad principle which I have advocated before, which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wakefield has urged tonight, and which I am prepared to advocate again—namely, that you will not have the naval service of England in a satisfactory condition until you adopt the system of retirement by age, and apply it to all ranks of the service. I left the plan in the hands of the noble Duke who now fills the office of First Lord of the Admiralty, imploring him not to regard it in a party light, but to look upon it as an endeavour to improve the naval service, and to carry it out if he approved the principles upon which it was founded. The Duke of Somerset did not see fit to carry out the plan, or any other founded upon that principle. The course I then took was, 1860, to make a Motion which was strictly constitutional in its character, find which as the Government were unwilling to act as an Executive, was the next best course 778 that could be taken. I moved in this louse for the appointment of a Royal Commission to consider the question of Demotions and retirements in the navy After a debate and a division, the Motion vas rejected. It was under these circumstances that, in 1861, my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone) moved for the appointment of a Committee of this House for the same purpose. And here I must take exception to be statement of the Prime Minister respecting the course which he is now adopting. The noble Lord told us that he is now adopting the same course as was taken y him in 1861. Not at all. In 1861 he resisted the Motion for a Committee. The Admiralty, represented by the noble Lord (Lord C. Paget), also resisted it. They said it was an improper mode of proceeding. The noble Lord then disapproved the Committee, voted against the Committee, and was beaten. This happened in 1861, and now, two years afterwards, the noble Lord, from what motives it is not for me to say—circumstances must lave changed, for his conduct has entirely changed—although in 1861 he disapproved a Committee and divided against it, now says the appointment of a Committee is the proper course. Now, I venture to think that such conduct is both inconsistent and injudicious; and, Sir, the whole position of the Government is the most extraordinary that I have ever heard since I have been a Member of this House. They seem to be afraid to bring forward any important measure and to grapple with any difficult subject. The administration of the Criminal Law falls into a state so feeble and so unsatisfactory that the whole country cries out against it. Do the Government, as fin Executive, improve that administration? No; they say, "Let us have a Commission." Now they find that the naval service is not disposed to be trifled with any longer; they find grave complaints made on its part, and a strong feeling in this House in its favour. So they change their tactics and say, "We, the Executive, won't redress these grievances; let us have a Committee." In my opinion, the worst mode in which this subject of naval promotions and retirements can be dealt with is by a Select Committee of the House of Commons. In my opinion, it ought to be dealt with by the Executive. If the matter is too complicated to be dealt with directly by the Executive, then a Royal Commission is the 779 proper course. Why was it that my hon. Friend (Sir James Elphinstone) moved for a Committee two years ago? Why did I support the Motion? Because the Government had refused to grant a Commission. It was then that we tried what I may call the last resource. We asked for a Committee, having been refused everything else, and being told by the Admiralty that things were going on very well as they were and wanted no improving. What is our position now? Hon. Members have in their hands the memorandum of the Duke of Somerset, and let me remind the House under what circumstances the memorandum was first heard of. The Government were not ignorant either of the dissatisfaction existing in the navy, or of the strong feeling in the House on the subject, but they did nothing till my hon. and gallant friend (Sir John Hay) put a notice on the paper. This notice was given on the 12th of February, and then down comes my noble Friend opposite and says he should like to lay on the table a memorandum by the Duke of Somerset, dated February 13. The House will judge for itself whether the Motion and the memorandum do not stand towards each other in the intimate relation of parent and child. At the close of the memorandum we find this passage —While, however, the suggestions which have been here examined" (meaning the suggestions contained in the pamphlet presented by my hon. and gallant Friend) "as a comprehensive plan of promotion and retirement cannot be recommended for adoption, there are undoubtedly many questions connected with the pay and position of officers in the navy deserving further consideration.This is the first time we have ever had such an admission from the present Board of Admiralty. Four years have we pressed upon them in different ways that something should be done; four years have we pressed upon them the well-founded dissatisfaction of the service; but no redress was obtained, no acknowledgment of existing grievances was ever made. We never heard this language used until the notice of my hon. and gallant Friend appeared on the paper, and now comes down the noble Lord and says, "We will give you a Committee." Sir, I have another objection to the course taken by the Prime Minister in recommending a Committee. The course so recommended and the passage which I have just quoted are not consistent with each other. The Duke of Somerset acknowledges that not only promotions and retire- 780 ments in the navy, but the pay of the navy, ought to be considered The noble Lord says "Take a committee," knowing very well that it is not the constitutional course — and he himself very properly raised this very question two years ago— to refer the subject of naval pay to a Committee of the House. It was therefore impossible that the course recommended by the noble Lord the Prime Minister should meet the evils pointed out by the First Lord of the Admiralty. We have heard a great deal upon this question of naval pay. I wish to guard myself against being supposed to agree in all the details of the plan propounded in the pamphlet. I entirely subscribe to the principle of retirement by age, and to the objection that the pay of the navy wants re-adjustment, but I am not prepared to pledge myself to any details in respect either of promotion or retirement, or of pay. Reference has been made to expressions attributed to me in 1860; but though they fell from my lips on the occasion, they were not mine, but came from a far higher authority—the Report of the well-known Commission of 1840 upon the pay of the army and navy, which was presided over by the late Duke of Wellington. That Commission said—Carefully weighing the urgent reasons that exist for a rigidly economical administration of the public revenues on the one hand, and on the other the no less imperative necessity of keeping the limited naval establishment employed in time of peace, energetic and therefore useful, contented and therefore efficient, we have no hesitation in earnestly addressing our unanimous recommendation to your Majesty that there should be a considerable increase in the rates of sea pay allowed to navy lieutenants.This passage refers only to one branch of the naval pay, but I entirety adopt the language of the Report; and I hope the Government will not fail to bear in mind those just words—if you want your navy to be efficient, you must make it contented. But is there no ground of complaint respecting the pay of other branches of the service? We have been reminded of the cases of officers refusing ships because they could not afford to accept them, and I understood the noble Lord to intimate his dissent from that statement. Why, Sir, I have told the House before that such cases came under my own observation more than once while in office. There was one remarkable case in which I sent for a distinguished officer and offered him the command of one of the finest ships in the service. He came back next day, and 781 said, "I am much obliged to you, but I cannot afford to take it." I have before read to the House an extract from a letter written by an officer of great distinction, who says—I have dipped heavily into my small private means to arrive at and keep my position, and unless there were a naval war, when I would live on bare ship's allowance rather than not serve, I could not afford to take a more active command than that I at present hold, from the feeling that I should be unable to support my position as it ought to be maintained in the service afloat, and at the same time do justice to my children; and I know many officers who are similarly circumstanced.Let me ask, is it true, or is it not true, that the gallant admiral who was appointed to succeed Sir James Hope in China has declined the command? There are current rumours that the Board of Admiralty have already applied to some four or five flag officers to succeed the gallant officer, and that no one can he found to undertake it. Is it true also, that officers in command of some of the finest ships in the Mediterranean have applied to come home, and to resign their commands as soon as they have served their time? I need not point out that these are facts—if facts they be —which do not conduce to the honour of Her Majesty's service. The noble Viscount may tell us of the honour of serving the Crown and of receiving votes of thanks and other things of that kind; but let me put it to him, as between man and man, is it for the honour of the service, or for the efficiency of the service, that officers should he so underpaid that the ablest and most experienced men cannot afford to accept commands? I entreat the Government carefully to consider these facts. I ask them to consider the point at which this question has now arrived. They have been pressed upon it for four years. I make no imputation. I may have been mistaken in the strong views I have held, and, no doubt, the present Board of Admiralty have been sincere in the opinion they have until recently hold; but now they have made very large admissions. The noble Viscount has entirely changed his course, and has granted the Committee which two years ago he refused to consent to. The Duke of Somerset, also, has entirely changed his course, and after maintaining for four years that no change was necessary, he comes forward with a frank admission that some alteration is required. These are important facts, which my hon. and gallant Friend baa to consider in de- 782 ciding upon the course he will take. Perhaps, after what has fallen from me, it is hardly necessary to add, that should my hon. and gallant Friend press his Motion to a division, I shall feel it my duty to vote with him. But I would suggest to him, that although the course taken by the noble Lord is not quite consistent with that taken by the noble Duke, yet, taking the two together, they do constitute important admissions, and do place the question in a wholly new point of view. I would, therefore, submit to my hon. and gallant Friend whether, under the circumstances, he would not feel that he can best discharge the duty he has undertaken, and which he has ably performed, by abstaining from pressing his Motion to a division. I will also take the liberty of making another suggestion, and would submit to the noble Lord, whether it is too late, having reference only to the welfare of this great service, if my hon. and gallant Friend abstains from pressing his Motion, for the noble Lord to reconsider the proposal for a Committee. I cannot help thinking, that upon reconsideration, and remembering what took place two years ago, he might be disposed to change his view, for I cannot but think, that of all modes of dealing with this great question, that of doing so by means of a Select Committee is the very worst. After the admissions that have been made, it would be far better that the Government should undertake to deal with this question as the Executive of the country, and it is in the hands of the Executive that such a question should strictly and constitutionally be left. I am sure the noble Lord will not mistake the spirit in which I make this suggestion, and I sincerely hope that whatever course is taken, the result may be to advance the welfare and increase the efficiency of the naval service.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
When the right hon. Baronet indulges in corrections of what has been said and done on this side of the House, he should be careful as to the accuracy of his own statements. The right hon. Gentleman stated, that when he went to the Admiralty, nothing had been done as to the manning of the navy.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I did not say that nothing had been done, but that I found the naval service in so unsatisfactory a condition that I was obliged to appoint a Royal Commission.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that nothing had been done. In truth the Coast Guard had been brought under the Admiralty, and rendered available for service in the navy—and the Naval Coast Volunteers had been re-organized for the same purpose. What struck me as remarkable was that the right hon. Baronet, after finding fault with the present Government for not dealing with an important question, but appointing a Royal Commission to inquire into the matter, should have taken great credit to himself for pursuing precisely the same course. And then as to the plan of retirement: The right hon. Baronet's scheme is on the table of the House, but it was not fortunate enough to receive the support of his own Board, as we have boon told to-night that he threatened to dissolve the Board upon the question of the medical officers.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman a second time, but he is making all sorts of mistakes, I never alluded to the question of the medical officers. What was said by the hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House referred to the evidence I gave before the Admiralty Committee. In that evidence I stated that my plan for retirement and promotion —not connected with the medical officers —from the manner in which it affected officers at the head of the service, was not acceptable to some of the naval men at my Board; and having Her Majesty's permission to make the statement, I said I was prepared to break up my Board rather than not pass my plan.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
I quoted the statement of the hon. Gentleman who spoke a few minutes ago, and who was a member of the Committee. However that may be, the plan of the right hon. Gentleman was not approved by the noble Duke who succeeded him, who brought forward his own plan in 1860. Then, again, the right hon. Gentleman says that my noble Friend in assenting to a Committee is inconsistent with himself two years ago. But that is not the case. My noble Friend proposed to refer to the Committee upon Admiralty affairs then sitting the very question which he now proposes to refer to a Select Committee. The course, therefore, is not inconsistent, but identical. Then, as to the extraordinary tyranny exercised by a Whig Board of Admiralty that we have heard 784 of from the hon. Member for Devonport, by which they prevented a due exercise of the franchise by those employed in the dockyards. When I was First Lord the patronage of the dockyards were given over to the Superintendents, and since then the Board of Admiralty has had nothing to do with promotion or employment in the yards. But the best proof of the independence of those employed in the dockyards is the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Ferrand's) presence here; for if at the last election at Devonport the dockyard votes had not been given at all, the Lord of the Admiralty would have been returned, whereas, in fact, with a majority elsewhere in his favour, the Lord of the Admiralty had a majority of 150 dockyard votes against him. As for the objections to accept the China command, I can only say the noble Lord near me has never heard of them.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he believed he should be carrying out the wishes of the House by accepting the proposal of the noble Lord the Prime Minister to appoint a Committee to inquire into this subject, and the recommendations of which would be brought before Parliament. He trusted that the Committee would be one in which the House and the service would have confidence. As the noble Lord had changed his opinion within the last ten or fourteen days, and, instead of opposing, now proposed inquiry, he was prepared to meet him half-way. With reference to what had fallen from his noble Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty, it was not for him to contest the positions he had advanced; it would be for the Committee to decide who had put forth the fairest statement, and he did not mistrust the result. He felt excessively obliged to the House both on his own behalf and in behalf of the navy for the kind attention he had received, and he now sat down in the confident hope that the inquiry would take place, and that the Report would be carried out in good faith by Her Majesty's Government.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
That this House, having on the 13th day of March 1861 instructed a Select Committee to
consider the present system of Promotion and Retirement in the Royal Navy, is of opinion that its decision should be suspended until the subject shall have been accordingly considered and reported upon; and that a Select Committee be appointed to consider the present system of Promotion and Retirement in the Royal Navy, and to report their opinion thereon to this House.