HC Deb 23 June 1864 vol 176 cc161-2

said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether it is true that the Gladiator was lately required to carry troops, to the number of two hundred, to Dublin; that objection was made, on the ground of insufficient space, and that the number was accordingly reduced to one hundred and forty and whether he will produce any Correspondence that may have passed on the subject?


said, there was no objection, if the noble Lord wished to move for it, to produce the Correspondence; but if the House would allow him he would read a very short statement which would explain what had occurred— The Aurora, Gladiator, and Geyser were ordered on the 21st of May to be in readiness to take a Battalion of the 60th Rifles to Dublin, and the distribution of officers and men was as follows:—Aurora, 12 officers, 300 men, 20 women, 24 children, 2 horses; Gladiator, 12 officers, 250 men, 26 women, 30 children, 2 horses; Geyser, 11 officers, 160 men, 20 women, 16 children, 1 horse. Subsequently a Report from the Commander-in-Chief, dated June 3, was received by the Admiralty suggesting another distribution of the troops to prevent the inconveniences that would be occasioned by the women and children to be embarked, and finally the embarkation as now stated was approved; Aurora to take 15 officers, 450 soldiers, 2 horses; the Gladiator, to take 10 officers, 194 soldiers, 1 horse; the Geyser, to take 10 officers, 66 soldiers, 2 horses, and 66 women (wives of the above men), and 70 children. With regard to the capacity of vessels for carrying troops, as the House had been in some doubt in consequence of the statements and counter-statements which had been made, he would observe that the Gladiator was of 1,210 tons, and was reported as capable of carrying 400 troops for five days, while the Devastation, which was 200 tons less than the Gladiator, was reported by her captain to be able to take 1,000 men for five days. He had there a list of the capacity of several vessels for the transport of troops, and it varied very greatly, and it was for the Admiralty in each case to determine the number which the ships ought to carry. If the House would permit him, he would refer to a letter which had appeared in The Times of that day from the hon, and gallant Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone) on the subject of the removal of these troops. It was usual, when they had debates in that House, that hon. Members should get up and speak what they had to say, rather than write letters to the newspapers. This was a matter in which the House had expressed great interest—namely, the conveyance of troops from the West Indies, and perhaps the House would permit him to read a letter which he had received from the Hydrographer of Her Majesty's Navy.


Sir, I rise to order. I am sure the House will give permission to the noble Lord to make any statement which he may think necessary for the advantage of the public service, or in vindication of his own conduct, but it can only be made on that understanding. The noble Lord is now taking a highly irregular course.


It is a personal explanation—not that my personal character is in the least involved in it.


If the noble Lord wishes to make a personal explanation I have no doubt the House will permit him to do so, but I lather understand from him that it is not a personal matter.


It is so far a personal explanation that I stated to the House the reasons which induced the Government to send troops from Cape Coast to the West Indies under particular circumstances, and I wish to refer to the way in which my statement was contradicted by the hon. and gallant Member—[Cries of "Order, order!" in the midst of which the noble Lord resumed his seat.]