HC Deb 21 July 1864 vol 176 cc1871-4

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


said, that he rose to make the explanation which he had promised when the House assented to the second reading. The Bill was the same as that of last year, with the exception of certain small changes in the schedule. The total estimated cost of the works remained unchanged, but it was arrived at in a somewhat different manner. For instance, in the "Sandown Bay defences," £10,000 more was put down this year, chiefly owing to engineering difficulties, arising from the nature of the ground at Fort Bembridge. There would also be an increased expenditure of £15,000 for the works at the Isle of Grain. There was a reduction in the estimates for the Hilsea Lines, in consequence of the manner in which it was now proposed that Portsdown Hill should be fortified. It was now proposed to abandon certain outworks, which would reduce the expenditure by about £20,000, and there would be a saving of £5,000 in the works at Picklecombe. It was not intended to enter into any new work which did not appear in the schedule, but he proposed to ask the House to vote £25,000 for works to the southward of Milford Haven, on the Pembroke station. The estimated cost of the works was £80,000, but no money had been actually asked for until the present year. At Spit-head the contract was renewed last year, and the works had been recommenced. Great progress had been made with the Horse Sand Fort, and it was expected that the basement would be entirely completed and ready for the superstructure next summer. Upon No Man's Land the works were also advancing rapidly, although the basement would not be completed until the end of the year. The works at Spithead would be more expensive than was originally anticipated, as the special Commission appointed to consider the alterations requisite in the original plan for the defence of Spithead had recommended that works should be constructed on the Spit-bank and on the Ryde Sand, about 1,200 yards to the southward of the Sturbridge Shoal. The works completed, or nearly so, were—on the Portsmouth station, the Needles, Warden Point, Puckpool, Eastney, and Lump's Batteries, Stokes Bay lines, Forts Grange, Rowner, and Brockhurst; on the Plymouth station, Drake's Island, Eastern King, Western King, Mount Edgecumbe, Whitesand Bay, and Cawsand Bay batteries, Devonport lines, and Fort Tregantle; on the Pembroke station, South Hook, Hubberstone, and Popton batteries; oh the Portland station, a small battery on the Inner Pierhead; and on the Dover station, Dover Castle and the Western Heights. Considerable progress had also been made on other works at Portsmouth, Plymouth, Pembroke, Portland, Gravesend, the Medway and Sheer-ness, Dover, and Cork. Of all the works specified in the schedule only seven were not yet under contract.


asked, whether it was intended to fortify Pembroke after the Report of the Select Committee recommending the sale of that dockyard?


thought that before the site of the central arsenal was decided upon, the House ought to have an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon it.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2,


complained of the lumping together of the items for the different ports.


inquired whether any calculation could be given of the number of men which would be required to hold all these fortifications. It was said that 40,000 men would be required for Portsmouth alone, and probably 250,000 for the whole of the proposed works.


said, that the Resolution of the Committee recommending that Pembroke dockyard should be disposed of was carried by a majority of one only; and even assuming that hereafter that most magnificent dockyard was disposed of, which he trusted would not be the case for a long time, he sincerely hoped the House would not consent to leave one of the most magnificent harbours of the country undefended.


was surprised at the remarks of the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty after the Report made by his own Committee. That Committee was at least entitled to have its recommendation respectfully considered, and he hoped the proposal as regarded Pembroke would not be pressed that night.


said, it was not intended this year to ask the House to vote any money for the cite of the central arsenal, but it was fully intended to do so at a future time. There were at present as many works in hand as could be conveniently proceeded with at one time. With regard to Pembroke, he was quite unable to give any opinion as to the propriety of abandoning the dockyard there or not; but even if they did abandon it, it would be expedient to complete the works in progress there, for which the Vote asked this year was required.


thought that the explanation given by the noble Lord respecting Pembroke dockyard was most unsatisfactory. The noble Lord himself was Chairman of the Committee that decided against keeping up that dockyard, and the noble Lord himself suggested the reduction of its size. When the proper time arrived he (Sir John Hay) would certainly move the reduction of the Vote by £35,000, being the amount required for Pembroke dockyard.


said, his report had referred only to the small dockyards, but he looked upon Pembroke as a most important one.


suggested that the reference to the central arsenal should be omitted from the clause.


said, it was hardly necessary to strike out the words. The Act remained exactly the same as it had been. Hon. Members ought to accept the assurance of the Government on the subject. As to the estimated cost of the works at Spithead, he was informed that there was no doubt that the whole of the works could be executed for the original sum set down for the three works.

MR. ANGERSTEIN moved that the words which referred to the central arsenal should be omitted from the clause.


said, he would consent to the omission of the words from the second clause, but not from the schedule, because the principle had been recommended by the different Committees who had considered the question. The Government had no intention this year to propose to purchase any land, nor could such a purchase be made without the sanction of that House.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause agreed to, as were the remaining clauses.



proposed to omit Pembroke. He could not consent to the Vote of £35,000 for works at that dockyard.


said, the fortification of Pembroke was as important as any works upon the southern coast.

Amendment negatived.

Schedule agreed to

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow, at Twelve of the clock.