§ SUPPLY considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ (1.) 68,400 Men and Boys (Sea and Coast Guard Services), including 16,400 Royal Marines.
§ SIR MORTON PETO
said, that the present Estimates exhibited great similarity to those of last year. As the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty had said, the alteration which had been made in the Navy Estimates was simply a reduction of the personnel to a certain extent, and the substitution of new works recommended by the Committee last year. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said on Tuesday evening, when the Estimates were introduced, that the Government were not responsible for these additions, but the Committee which had made the recommendations. He did not suppose, however, that the right hon. Gentleman intended to say that the Government disapproved those recommendations, but that the Committee from which they originated were to a certain degree 1323 responsible for their adoption. Having served upon the Committee, he could bear testimony to the fact that there was absolute unanimity as to the necessity of this increased expenditure. One of the most important subjects with regard to our dockyards was the basin capacity, the capacity for docking ships, and the ability to repair vessels with expedition. He need hardly call the attention of the Committee to the fact that if at any time our fleet were damaged in the Channel it would be of the utmost consequence that it should be speedily restored to its original condition; and Admiral Robinson truly remarked that the naval power of the country would be practically increased in proportion to the expedition with which the necessary repairs could be effected. But the Committee had also to take into consideration the position of the Government in regard to the facilities possessed by the Government for the repair of vessels on foreign stations. At the present time we were to a great extent dependent upon foreign Governments. If a vessel in the Mediterranean, for example, stood in need of repairs, we should be indebted to the courtesy of the French Government for enabling us to do so at Toulon or Algiers; and there were many instances of vessels coming all the way from the West Indies to Portsmouth or Devonport to have their bottoms cleaned. There were numberless other points affecting in no small degree the well-being of the navy in regard to the basin and dock accommodation at our arsenals. In many cases the greatest inconvenience had been experienced by the Government in consequence of the want of such accommodation. He wished, however, more particularly to call the attention of the Committee to the future policy of the navy with respect to construction. Now, he took it for granted that all were agreed that two things were absolutely necessary with respect to the administration of naval affairs—first, that the Government should have at their command the greatest talent which the country could afford in regard to design; and secondly, that the Government should also have the greatest facilities for economical construction and repairs in their dockyards, and the best class of control in regard to them. Now, what was the position of the Admiralty at the present time, so far as design was concerned? He would say nothing about Mr. Reed himself, but he must remark that practically the Admiralty were 1324 confined to the efforts of a single mind. That was a position most undesirable and most injurious to the country, and one which operated in many ways to its great disadvantage. In the first place, if the Admiralty only had recourse to the efforts of a single mind, it was not likely that they would have so much talent as might possibly be brought to bear upon the design of our vessels, because there would be a jealousy when a single individual was employed which would not exist if others had an opportunity of showing what they could do for the Government. He was not about to enter at the present moment upon the question at issue between Captain Coles and the Government. He might, however, be allowed to remark that on many occasions during the last few years the question of turret-ships had engaged the attention of successive Committees, and the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty had frequently promised that the system should have a fair trial. It was, however, the general opinion that up to the present time it had practically had no trial at all. It was true, indeed, that Captain Cowper Coles was permitted to cut down the Royal Sovereign and convert her into a turret-ship. Under no circumstances, however, was that vessel qualified for anything beyond harbour service, but in all that she was intended and designed to do she had given unqualified satisfaction. But from that time to this Captain Coles had never been placed in a position to construct a sea-going turret-ship, and bring to bear on her the full force of his invention. He (Sir Morton Peto) was not going to justify the letter which Captain Coles wrote the other day, and which caused his removal from the position he held; but he would say that, considering the irritation to which a man of such talent had been exposed, he was not surprised at his writing the letter. Any man of his talent might have committed the momentary error, and he (Sir Morton Peto) must say that the Government had not shown towards Captain Coles that feeling which the kind heart of the Secretary to the Admiralty might have led them to anticipate. But although Her Majesty's Government had not constructed turret-ships Foreign Powers had done so, and, indeed, it was this class of vessel which our shipyards were supplying to Foreign Governments, to the almost total exclusion of other descriptions of ships of war. He regretted the absence of the hon. 1325 Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Laird), because if he had been present he might have laid before the Committee some particulars respecting the turret-ship which his firm had lately constructed for the Peruvian Government. What had been the result of experience in regard to this description of vessel? He had had an opportunity of inquiring as to what had been the experience of the Danish Government in the late war. The reply to his inquiry was, "Nothing could be better, and if we wanted more vessels we would order them to be constructed on the same principle." Such being the case, the Admiralty ought to give Captain Coles a fair and candid trial. But then the Committee had been told that the Monarch, a turret-ship of 5,000 tons, was to be built. The question, however, was, by whom was it to be built? Was it likely that Mr. Reed would do justice to Captain Coles in this matter and carry out the design as if he had himself been the originator of it? He did not say that Mr. Reed would do anything ungentlemanly, but it was not in human nature that a man should take up the patent of another and give force and expression to all his ideas. During his recent visit to the United States he (Sir Morton Peto) had had an opportunity of inspecting several of their vessels; and though he found that they made mistakes the same as we did, yet a great deal of what he saw was worthy of attention. He had inspected the Monadnock, which was then leaving for the Pacific. She was a vessel of about 3,700 tons, double-turreted, carrying two 15-inch Parrott guns, and about 300 men. She was about twenty-six inches out of the water, had been employed during the whole of the war, and the arrangements for ventilation were admirable. [Lord CLARENCE PAGET: What is her speed?] About 10½ knots. He would admit that she was not a good sea-going vessel; but for harbour defence she was scarcely to be equalled, because she exposed so small a mark to an enemy's guns, while able to inflict great mischief with her own. The noble Lord told the Committee that the difficulty about the broadside-vessels was in not being able to tell what guns would be used in their port-holes. If, however, the turrets were of the size of twenty-six feet the Admiralty would be able to put a gun or two of any size in them, and the difficulty of adjusting the guns to the port-holes would be got rid of. The noble Lord a night or two ago told the Committee that the country was in 1326 possession of some thirty efficient vessels, and might feel at ease on this subject. His (Sir Morton Peto's) conviction, on the other hand, was, that although many of these vessels were worthy of confidence, yet that, as a whole, they might be very much improved upon in future. He was very much struck with the recommendation made by his hon. Friend (Mr. Samuda) that a Committee should be appointed to inquire into the best type of vessels to be built. This would not be taking the affair out of the hands of the Government. The Report of the Committee could not be received by the Admiralty as an instruction, but a great deal of valuable information and evidence might be elicited in regard to the best system of construction. He should like to say a word or two as to the construction of ships in private yards. The noble Lord maintained that he had given the private dockyards an opportunity of seeing what they could do. He (Sir Morton Peto) had no interest in any private yard, but he had visited many of them. The truth was that the private builder was bound to adhere to the drawings laid down, and was allowed no discretion, and when the Government ordered a vessel to be built in a private yard, an inspector was appointed by the Admiralty. He was usually a man in the receipt of £2 or £3 a week, but he had supreme control over the builder. This was not the plan adopted by the Cunard Company, when they ordered one of their steamers of the Napiers or other shipbuilders. When the company gave an order for a vessel, certain conditions were given as to speed and float-age, and the builders were allowed to exercise their own skill and knowledge in turning out the best vessel that could be produced, He had examined the Scotia, in Cunard's yard, and a finer vessel he never saw, and he could speak as to her seagoing qualities also, as he had crossed the Atlantic in her. But in this country all the inspiration was to proceed from one mind, and how, then, could the Admiralty hope to compete with foreign Governments, which freely availed themselves of all the genius, skill, and ability to be found in our private shipbuilding establishments? This was not the plan adopted in the construction of marine engines. The Government had found that it was better to leave the engines in the hands of the builders, making them responsible for certain conditions. It would be a great improvement to open the door to the talent of the country in 1327 shipbuilding, and to throw the responsibility upon builders and inventors, without subjecting them to the harassing and vexation which poor Captain Coles had had to endure. There was nothing so easy as to learn how not to do a thing, and there was not a single department of the public service which understood this art so well as the Admiralty. He would mention one small matter as a testing point. The first time the noble Lord (Lord Clarence Paget) took his seat upon the Treasury Bench he called his attention to the cost and inconvenience of having two separate Admiralty departments in Somerset House and Whitehall. The noble Lord promised that the subject should receive the most careful consideration; yet the noble Lord would have to go to the Mediterranean without seeing that great reform accomplished. All the promises he had made in successive years had been kept in much the same fashion. He wished to direct attention, not only to the design, but also to the quality of the vessels built. Any hon. Member could visit a Government dockyard and examine the way in which the work was done. He would undertake to say that the work was exceedingly well done, and he did not desire to see it taken from them. Where repairs were required he wanted to see them done without looking for fresh hands; but he thought every one must be struck by the great difference in the amount of work done in the Government dockyards and that done in the private yards; and here there was great room for reform. There was a very marked contrast in this respect between the Government dockyards in this country and those of the United States, and also in the various machines and contrivances adopted in the latter for the saving of labour. He would advise the Government to see if they could not copy something from the other side of the Atlantic, with the view of saving public money. If a scientific Committee such as his hon. Friend the Member for Tavistock recommended, were appointed, they might consider the question of the best size of vessels of war, and whether the building of a vessel of 5,000 tons to carry double turrets was not a great mistake. What the Admiralty wanted was only the tonnage necessary to carry the ordnance, and everything beyond that was mischievous. The more exposed a ship was on account of her size the more likely she was to be injured and to be placed hors de combat by a smaller vessel. [Sir JOHN 1328 PAKINGTON: Speed?] No doubt speed in a vessel of war was one main element of consideration. In some instances the Government had succeeded in building good ships, but others were failures, and the causes of success and failure were well worthy of examination by a scientific Committee. He should defer any further remarks he had to make until the Votes to which they were applicable were before them; but he hoped he should have from the Government a distinct promise that Captain Coles would have an opportunity of constructing a vessel on his own responsibility, and of doing justice to his name.
§ MR. FERRAND
said, that though he had no practical knowledge to lay before the Committee, yet as he represented a large constituency who were interested in naval matters, he wished to make a few remarks on the speech of the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty. The noble Lord had expressed his regret at the absence of several Members who had formerly taken part in the discussions on naval affairs; but he (Mr. Ferrand) must say he had never known greater talent or more practical knowledge displayed in debate than the House had at present the advantage of. The noble Lord had especially regretted the absence of Sir Frederic Smith. He thought that when that hon. and gallant Officer read the remarks of the noble Lord he would look upon them as satirical, for he had heard that gallant officer say that no person had taken such pains to keep him out of the House as the noble Lord had. Three topics had been dwelt upon by the hon. Members who had taken part in this discussion of the Estimates; and no one had contradicted their statements. These were, first, the unjust treatment of Captain Coles. Second, the dismissal of Mr. Lang and others. Third, the state of our iron fleet. He (Mr. Ferrand) was not acquainted with Captain Coles, and should not know him if he met him; but he had taken great interest in the discussions going on for several years with regard to the invention of Captain Coles and his claims on the navy. For ten years Captain Coles had applied for permission to build a turret-ship, and for five of those years he had made his appeal in vain. Impediments of the most extraordinary kind had been thrown in his way. The cause of those impediments had been freely discussed in the public papers. But, while Captain Coles had been denied the privilege of 1329 building one of those ships for the Government of his own country, he had been employed to build them for foreign Governments, and only a short time ago he received a handsome testimonial from the Grand Duke Constantine, the High Admiral of the Russian Navy, in recognition of the way in which he had executed a commission given him by the Government of Russia. He had observed that Captain Coles had applied to the Admiralty in vain for five years; but at length they were compelled by a Committee of their own selection to promise that a turret-ship should be constructed. Afterwards that promise was broken, and different reasons had been given by the Admiralty, and by the opponents of the Admiralty, for that extraordinary conduct. But he believed the real cause was that stated by the hon. Baronet—namely, the fact of Captain Coles having written a letter in a newspaper, which by the Admiralty was esteemed to be a grave offence. He admitted that the writing of the letter was an indiscreet act on the part of Captain Coles, but he had been cruelly and unjustly treated. But if Captain Coles had been indiscreet in publishing that letter, how happened it that Mr. Reed went down to Greenwich and spoke strongly against the Admiralty. He believed that Mr. Reed was an honourable man, and he had not a word to say against him; but the belief out of doors was that Mr. Reed was the principal cause that Captain Coles had not had fair play from the Admiralty. He would read an extract from the letter which he believed conveyed the sting that gave offence to the Admiralty. The paragraph was as follows:—I have the satisfaction of feeling that I have fulfilled all my professions, though under the greatest disadvantage and opposition. I like opposition with fair play; it elucidates the truth; but has this opposition been fair to the country, or have I met with fair play? Give me a hundredth part of the encouragement and assistance Mr. Reed is given, and I think we could turn out a sea-going ship with as much dispatch as the Pallas or Bellerophon, and ensure her being as great a success in her way as the Royal Sovereign has been in her's. While speaking of designing ships, I care not who designs turret-ships so long as the naval architect take the matter up con amore and is competent. The success of those vessels already built is due to the shipbuilders who designed them. I can only wish Mr. Reed may be equally successful in the designs for the Admiralty turret-ship, of which at present I can offer no opinion, not having seen the drawings.Now, Mr. Reed himself used the columns 1330 of a great journal. If he did not sign his own name to certain letters in that journal, and if those letters were not written by himself, they were by some person under his guidance and direction. That being the case the Admiralty might have shown some kindness and consideration to Captain Coles in respect of the letter he had published, remembering how unfairly he had been previously treated. And let the House remember that, while the Admiralty were considering their offended dignity, the country was suffering in consequence of the navy not being put in the condition it ought to be, while foreign countries were getting the benefit of Captain Coles' invention. Captain Coles, on being informed of the offence he had given, consulted his friends, and wrote a letter of apology, with which the Admiralty were satisfied. Captain Coles wrote, "If I have overstepped the bounds of fair criticism I regret it, and have to apologize for it." What more could be asked of him? He agreed with the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Morton Peto), and with the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Samuda), that the country would not be satisfied unless Captain Coles had every power given to him for the building of a turret-ship.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman may not be aware that Captain Coles is reinstated. As soon as Captain Coles gave a proper apology, the Admiralty were very happy to reinstate him.
I am very glad of it. But I wish the noble Lord had stated it the other night, and saved me all this time. [Lord CLARENCE PAGET: I had already spoken.] He was glad of the announcement; but he hoped Mr. Reed had been made to apologise for his speech. With regard to Mr. Lang and Mr. Watts, the country had never been able to understand why those eminent shipbuilders were driven out of the service. One of the most curious things connected with this very mysterious affair was that Mr. Lang, one of the most eminent shipbuilders in the world, was dispensed with, while Mr. Reed, who had never built a gunboat, was brought in. It was a kind of family movement; for a number of Mr. Reed's relatives wore brought into the dockyards with him. With regard to Mr. Reed, all he could say was that he had notoriously and—without offence—he might say disgracefully failed to redeem his promise to the Admiralty and to the country in regard to his ships. Mr. 1331 Reed's failures had cost the country a million of money, while Mr. Lang had been obliged to employ his great abilities in the service of the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Samuda). He was delighted to hear the noble Lord assure them the other night that the country possessed a fleet of thirty iron-clad ships; but in answer to a home question by the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington), the noble Lord was forced to admit that they were not all sea-going ships. With regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Tavistock, he must say that he had never heard a more practical or a more convincing speech than that which he made the other night on this question. That speech would have an immense effect on the country, not only on account of the person who delivered it, but from the fact that he had secured the services of so eminent a shipbuilder as Mr. Lang. He trusted before this debate closed the noble Lord would feel it to be his duty to grapple with the questions of the hon. Member, and to answer them. He was sorry that he did not hear from the noble Lord the other night a single word as to the claims of the artificers and labourers in Her Majesty's dockyards. Those claims had been pressed upon the House by a large number of Members sitting on both sides. That question was not a party one, but it deeply affected the well-being of a great body of men employed in Her Majesty's service. Their claims had never been shown to be unjust or unreasonable. A short time ago the Lords of the Admiralty received deputations from the artificers and workmen at the different dockyards, and at those interviews their Lordships asked the important question, Whether any amalgamated society existed in those yards? The answer of the men did them great credit, and well deserved the attention of the Committee. "No," they said, "we are a disciplined body of men, at your Lordships' service by day or by night." They could be called upon at any hour to obey the orders of their superior officers. If, for instance, a fire broke out in the dockyard in the middle of the night every man of them would know his duty, and would be found at his proper station. Again, if war arose and any of the dockyards were attacked, these men would be found serving the guns and fighting along with the rest of Her Majesty's forces. He ventured to submit that a body of men of such importance had a right to have their claims fairly considered. The reply from the 1332 Lords of the Admiralty to their claims was as follows:—My Lords have ascertained from private establishments what the rate of wages is, and what is the nature of their engagements, and have thus been enabled to compare their position with that of the artificers and labourers in the dockyards.But if their Lordships thus placed the artificers in the dockyards on a footing equal to that of the men employed in private yards, why should not those men amalgamate and have strikes for wages? They should remember that these men might be kept loyal to their yards and to the country by the concession of certain privileges, which cost the country but little, and were of great importance to them. The circular went on—After a full examination of the subject, my Lords have come to the conclusion that they would not be justified in recommending to Parliament a general increase of wages as prayed by the memorialists.What did this mean? Did they think that any of them had fair claims, or did they refuse to every class any increase what ever? This question would be raised when the Vote was moved for on Artificers, and he hoped the noble Lord would bear it in mind. He (Mr. Ferrand) moved for a Return the other night, which was granted by the order of the House. The noble Lord politely let him know that it would not be opposed; but he now wished to know when it would be laid upon the table. [Lord CLARENCE PAGET: It has been laid upon the table.] When the Vote for Artificers and Workmen came before the Committee it was his intention to enter more particularly into that subject.
§ MR. HANBURY TRACY
said, it was a general opinion throughout the navy that what they now wanted, for the safety of our commerce, were fast sea-going cruisers and fast despatch-boats. The sea-going cruisers should be able to go at the rate of thirteen or fourteen knots an hour, and be capable of carrying a large supply of coals. If, in the case of the Amazon class of vessels constructed in the Royal dockyards, it was found impossible to obtain vessels of the requisite rate of speed, they ought to try to obtain them elsewhere, and adopt the sensible plan followed by the great steamship companies. The despatch-boats should be capable of going by the measured mile not less than fifteen or sixteen knots an hour; and if the great shipbuilding firms were invited to tender for that class of vessels, they would he able to turn them 1333 out of their yards, provided only the Admiralty left them unfettered to construct them on their own responsibility. As to our iron-clad fleet, looking at it as a whole, and comparing it with those of foreign countries, we had a fine and efficient ironclad navy, equal to cope with any squadron which might be brought against it. The Admiralty ought not to be blamed because the Research, the Terror, and several others were not as good sea-going ships as might be wished; and it was only fair to the Admiralty to say that, on the whole, they ought rather to be congratulated on the result they had achieved in that respect. But he thought the time had arrived when they should stay their hands and not build any more ironclads for the present, but rather test by experiments the comparative merits of different systems. It was to be hoped that the Committee recommended by the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Samuda) would be granted, as it might be able to collect much valuable information, and, probably, also to save the country a very large sum of money. It was not the intention of that hon. Member's proposal in any way to fetter the Admiralty, or to relieve them from the responsibility of carrying out the details; but that, after fully investigating the different systems, the Committee should lay down the broad line upon which the Admiralty should proceed in regard to the construction of their vessels. The number of boys voted last year was 7,000, of whom 2,700 were to be kept in the training-ships, but last December there were only 6,726 boys, now 274 short of the proper complement, and also 40 less than the proper complement of Coastguard boys. For the future manning of the fleet, much dependence must be placed upon the number of boys reared up in the various training ships, and he hoped the noble Lord would explain how it was that the complement had become short, and if there was any difficulty in obtaining boys. The number of writers in the navy, which at present was only eleven, ought also to be increased, as great advantage had been derived in the army, and in the public offices from the employment of writers. A sum of £525 was asked for prizes for shooting in the Royal Marines. The principle of awarding these prizes should be extended to the navy, and a prize or badge, similar to that given in the army, should he awarded to all seamen who became "marksmen." He congratulated 1334 the noble Lord upon having at last introduced the savings bank system into the navy. Hitherto nothing had been done to encourage thrift among sailors, and if a ship were lost the seamen were not recouped for any loss they sustained. A few days before the Bombay was destroyed by fire, a petty officer placed £30 in the hands of the paymaster, thinking it would be safe, and he had never received a farthing of it since. It would be wise for the Admiralty, in addition to savings banks, to bring forward some measure for enabling officers and men to insure their clothes. By such means many of the grievances and complaints which were constantly arising would be prevented.
§ MR. GRAVES
said, he had listened with great interest to the statement of the noble Lord in introducing the Estimates, and was especially gratified by the announcement that the minimum in the reduction of the personnel of the navy had been reached. Many thought we had already gone too far in this direction, and it was therefore a matter of congratulation to find that the reduction was to go no further. During the last four years we had suffered a loss in our able seamen to the extent of 10,000 men, and from the best inquiries he could make he believed there were not at this moment more than 23,000 able seamen in the service. Looking at the character of the ships of the present day, the mode of their construction, and the scientific and mechanical appliances resorted to in almost every department, it was more than ever essential that we should have the services of skilled artizans of the highest intelligence in the shape of seamen. Such men were not to be found in the merchant service except with rare exceptions, and they could only be obtained by means of the training system, which had been introduced into the navy mainly through the efforts of the noble Lord. The noble Lord might rest satisfied that no portion of the Estimates would be less grudged than that which was intended to be applied to the education of the youth of the country in making them skilled and intelligent seamen. He had taken great interest in this question, and he hoped on gome future and not distant occasion to bring before the House the whole question of the position of our seamen, with the view of obtaining an extension to the merchant service of the benefits now conferred upon the Royal Navy in the training of boys. He had no desire to find 1335 fault, and was prepared to make great allowance for the Admiralty; but connected as he was with the great mercantile interests of Liverpool—the second commercial port of the Empire—it was not unnatural that he should ask what steps had been taken to provide for the protection of our commerce? Two years ago the announcement made by the noble Lord that the Admiralty were about to provide a swift and speedy class of vessels for the protection of that commerce was received with satisfaction. We were then awakening to the startling fact that two small but fleet vessels had literally cleared from the ocean the flag of one of the greatest commercial nations in the world, paralysing her commerce and annihilating her shipping. The noble Lord in 1864 stated that the Admiralty was about to build a new class of ship, not armourplated, but capable of doing as much service for her owners in the shape of cruising as the Alabama had done for hers. In 1865, as the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir John Paking-ton) had already reminded the House, they were told, when the Estimates were brought under their notice, that swift ships, not armourplated, would be built, and which would act as the police of the seas. Two of those ships were being constructed, and it was proposed to build four more, indeed, he believed they were far advanced in building at this moment. They were to be all of wood, and much of the character of the famous Alabama. On Tuesday evening, too, the noble Lord stated that they proposed to build two large vessels of the Amazon class, not armour-plated, but having four guns, and capable of going a speed of thirteen knots. That, he said, would be in addition to the two Amazons already built and the four others in course of building. But what were the facts as to speed? At the end of two years the first of that class of vessels was launched and tried, and he was assured that the utmost speed it had attained was a little over twelve knots. [Lord CLARENCE PAGET: Twelve and a half knots.] And he believed that was without stores. [Lord CLARENCE PAGET: No, with everything included.] Now what does this mean? It was well known that twelve and a half knots under the most favorable circumstances as the measured mile, meant under eleven when the ship was cruising in sea-service trim. That, in his opinion, was anything but satisfactory. What they wanted was a class of swift handy vessels 1336 of moderate size, capable of remaining at sea on a cruise of twelve months; capable of maintaining an average speed of twelve knots under canvas—for canvas should be the normal condition of such vessels, for under canvas the Alabama took nearly every one of her prizes—and capable at the same time of using steam upon occasions of necessity and when greater speed was required. Now let us look what others are doing. The ships of the Americans had been alluded to by the hon. Member for Bristol (Sir Morton Peto), and he would supplement those allusions by some information he had received in common with other hon. Members, from a report made by Mr. Donald M'Kay, who had said—There is now in progress of construction the Chattanooga, of 3,000 tons, building for the Department by outside parties; also the Idaho, of similar tonnage, and by other outside parties; while the Department is itself constructing the Madawaska, Wampanoag, Neshaming, Ammonoosuc, and Pompanoosuc. These vessels are of wood, about 3,000 tons, and intended to have a speed of sixteen knots an hour. They will carry immense batteries, be full rigged, and will doubtless prove the fastest and most formidable ocean cruisers ever built by any Power.
§ MR. GRAVES
He believed they were not. Indeed, he was speaking altogether of unarmour-clad vessels; but with these facts before them he thought it most undesirable that the Admiralty should go on building ships of the Amazon class, without first ascertaining with undoubted certainty whether they could go at a greater speed than eleven knots. If they continued to build those ships of low speed, while other countries were arranging for the protection of their commerce by building ships of much greater speed, they would find the commerce of England unprotected in some future hour of need. It appeared to him that the Admiralty ought to treat the House with candour, and tell them whether the first of this much-boasted class of vessels was a failure or not. If it was true that the Amazon class of vessels was useless for the purpose it was designed to answer, he would recommend that not a shilling more be expended upon them, but that conditions as regards size, displacement, power, and speed should be declared, and the private shipbuilders of the country be invited to submit their designs and tenders for fast vessels such as he had described to the inspection of the Admiralty. It was not his intention to enter into the turret-ship dis- 1337 cussion, feeling that he was incompetent to deal with a question which required the highest professional skill—he had his own views about it, but would not trouble the Committee with them, but with the design of the ships his experience warranted him in offering his opinions on this point. Returning again to the promises of the noble Lord, he remarked that in 1864 he spoke of some ship of the Pallas class, which, if she succeeded, he said, was to be one of the most remarkable ships that the country had ever produced, and which was to go at the rate of fourteen knots. Such were the noble Lords words. Two months previously a high authority in connection with naval construction at the Admiralty stated somewhat boastingly at a public meeting at Greenwich with the utmost confidence that "the Admiralty was building a craft from which neither the Alabama nor the Florida could hope to escape." Well, that was the Pallas that was to be. He would now speak of the Pallas that really was. He was informed that the speed of the Pallas was only twelve and a half knots, and this, bear in mind, as the measured mile trial. It appeared that she was under commission for many months; that she was now undergoing a variety of repairs and manipulations, especially in respect of her bow. When she went to sea she drove the water before her like a wall, instead of passing it under her to rise naturally as is the case in all other vessels having the slightest pretention to scientific design. So that there could be no doubt that the result of this experiment was wholly unequal to our anticipations. Then, again, take the Research, he had been informed by naval officers of authority who knew her thoroughly that she was one of the greatest failures in our navy—slow and a bad sea boat, having on one occasion washed the captain out of his box. He believed she had been under orders to go to the Mediterranean, but after her trial trip with the squadron in the Channel those orders were countermanded, and she has been laying up since in the harbour of Portsmouth or Plymouth. But, setting aside the judgment passed upon these vessels, he would inquire why it was some of the ships were not sent to sea, instead of being kept idle in harbour. Why were they not sent round the Horn, where events of considerable magnitude were occurring? The Spaniards had an iron-clad there, the Americans another, and three others had gone. What better test could a vessel be put to 1338 than by such a voyage as that? And if a ship in the course of such a voyage were found wanting, it was high time the system upon which it was built should be abandoned for some other. This was the only true way of testing the matter, and he believed that in no other way could the issue now raised be settled to the satisfaction of the country. He had little faith in such vessels as the Monarch, which he believed would be found quite useless for blockading purposes, or for taking up a position in crowded roadsteads. And, besides, such large vessels had other serious disadvantages; for as the speed of a fleet was measured by its slowest ship, so the smartness in handling a fleet was estimated by the largest and longest vessel. His reflection upon the whole question led him to express the hope that the Admiralty would not lay down any more vessels without first ascertaining with more certainty the speed which the plan they built on would give, and that they would also try whether a ship of smaller tonnage could not carry the same armour and be more effective. He trusted that after the Votes had passed the Committee the Admiralty or the Government would come forward and ungrudgingly accede to the appointment of the Committee that had been suggested, which would have the opportunity of testing what statements were true and what were erroneous; and if, in the course of its inquiry, it should he proved that hon. Members had made inaccurate statements or imbibed false prejudices, or that there was an erroneous opinion existing in this country about our ironclads, no one would be more delighted than he should be to withdraw everything he had said against the vessels he had been alluding to.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
The reason why I interpose at this moment is for the purpose of answering the many Questions that have been put to me. [Mr. CORKY: We shall put many more presently.] I took the liberty the other night of very humbly yet earnestly advising that we should confine our observations to the general condition of the navy, and defer discussion concerning the construction of our vessels till we came to the Vote on this subject, which really interests many Members of this House. But I am bound to say that we have rather transgressed the usages of the Committee in going into the Vote at once. My right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) was the first Gentleman who took so unusual a course. I will 1339 now proceed to answer some of the Questions put to me.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Antrim (Admiral Seymour), and the hon. Baronet the Member for Devonshire (Sir Lawrence Palk), have brought the case of a very important class of officers before the Committee—namely, that of the Masters. Respecting them, I have so often stated how far we may go that I have very little now to say; but I must protest against the charge of the hon. Baronet the Member for Devonshire, that I have broken my promise to that excellent class of officers. On the contrary, over and over again I have stated within the hearing of the hon. Baronet that, notwithstanding the representations which have been at various times made, I did not think there was any class of officers in the navy which had met with more consideration during the last few years than they. What is it that the Masters want? Committees have made inquiries of every sort, and the Masters have had opportunities of giving evidence before those Committees, particularly that on Naval Retirement; but the members of that Committee will bear me out in saying none of them have been able to tell us exactly what they want. Some said they wanted more pay, others that they wanted to be put in their proper position along with the combatant officers of the navy, and others asked for better retirement. With regard to their pay and their retirement, improvements have been made in both; but as to their rank, they are asking for what is not compatible with the discipline of the navy. The Masters want to go, pari passu, according to the date of their commissions, with the corresponding rank of combatant officers, and when on board their ships to take military command accordingly. To make the matter intelligible to civilians who are not conversant with either naval or military affairs, I would ask what would be their feelings if the Sovereign, by her prerogative, were to say all Viscounts are to rank with Earls according to the dates of their titles? The effect of carrying out such a proposal in the navy would be to put many of the Masters above lieutenants, who before were above them; so that, whilst they were lifting up the Masters, they would be lowering the rank of the other officers; consequently it would be impossible to put the Masters on a footing with the combatant rank of officers without committing an injustice to the other classes of the service, 1340 and without injuring the discipline. This is the reason why we could not accede to the requests of the Masters in reference to their rank. The Admiralty has ever been desirous of improving the condition of the Masters; they have shown it by giving them Staff Commanders and Staff Captains' rank; and among other concessions that have been made to them, they have received the addition of the Greenwich Hospital pension, the want of which was one of the grievances they brought before the Committee. If I could hold out further hopes as to anything else desired by the Masters, respecting whose merits we ail agree, I should be glad. The result to which we have arrived is, that, upon the whole, it would be better to allow the class to die out. We propose to appoint lieutenants, who would do the work quite as well as the Masters; whom, however, I would not at all disparage, for, like my hon. and gallant Friend, many a time have I had to thank my stars for having a good Master. We are driven to this arrangement, by which the Masters themselves will be the chief sufferers. Those persons who may have desired that their sons should be brought up in this class, because of the expenditure required being smaller than that necessary in other classes, will also suffer a great loss. I believe, however, under the extremely difficult circumstances of the case, brought about, I am bound to say, by the Masters themselves, the lieutenants will replace the Masters with advantage to the service.
I was exceedingly pleased to hear the remarks which fell from my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Han-bury Tracy) concerning my statement the other night respecting the encouragement which should be given to our sailors to contract habits of thrift by establishing savings banks on board ship. If they had an opportunity of investing their money, I believe that much money now squandered would be saved. I hope my hon. Friend will follow up what he has so well begun. I have taken a careful note of many of the suggestions that have been made on this subject. I have to thank both my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hanbury Tracy) and my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves), and express my great satisfaction at finding that we have in the new Parliament so many Gentlemen who are taking a deep interest in the important subjects connected with the navy. The hon. Member 1341 for Liverpool told us that he was going to bring forward a proposal with the view of establishing a system for training boys for the merchant service. There cannot be any measure which, in my opinion, will be more advantageous to this country than the establishment of such systems at all our great mercantile ports; and I think the example set by the Royal Navy might be imitated with benefit.
With regard to the question of shipbuilding, in which we are all very much interested, I must start with a protest against the interpretation my right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich put upon a passage in the speech with which I introduced the Navy Estimates last year. I am quite sure my right hon. Friend would not have knowingly conveyed an erroneous impression. He told the House that I promised to build a turret-ship last year. I think I was sufficiently guarded in my expressions; but I will quote the words I used on the occasion I refer to. They were these—The first proposal we have to make is that, if possible, we should endeavour to construct a ship upon the turret principle which shall be a real sea-going vessel. We have never yet succeeded in getting one of these vessels which can be deemed a thorough sea-going ship.I should like, before I read further, to make one remark with regard to sea-going ships. A sailor would undertake, if you only give him sufficient time, to take almost any ship around Cape Horn; but what we mean by a sea-going ship is a cruising ship, which can remain months at sea blockading. I went on to say—I do not deny that Captain Coles will have considerable difficulties to overcome in constructing a thorough sea-going ship on the turret principle. Everybody knows that a sea-going ship for cruising must have masts and rigging—we know that the turrets must be placed in the centre line of the ship—and therefore, in order to get a clear range for the guns from the centre of the ship you must have as few obstructions as possible at her extremities, because those obstructions interfere with the firing of the guns. That is one of the difficulties which Captain Coles has to contend with, but which I feel confident myself that he will be able to surmount. He has been directed by the Admiralty to prepare drawings, he has had the assistance of draughtsmen from the Admiralty, and he has been furnished with the lines of such of our ships as he might desire to have, with every other assistance that we can afford him, in order that he may be enabled to design a thorough sea-going turret-ship."—[3 Hansard, clxxvii. 1158.]Now, I would ask the Committee whether that was a promise to build a turret-ship? 1342 We have every desire—as we always have had—to construct such a vessel, and I trust we have now got the necessary drawings. Captain Coles was directed to prepare drawings of a turret ship, and he did prepare them; but I regret that he took the Pallas with one turret as his type. When he brought the drawings to the Admiralty we thought it advisable that there should be a careful inquiry into the subject; and it is, I contend, most unjust to find fault with the Admiralty, and to say we are prejudiced against the system, because of the course which we deemed it to be our duty to take. I have been, I declare, and I can answer also for my Colleagues, as anxious as any man that a proper turret-ship should be constructed, and when we got the drawings from Captain Coles we submitted them to a Committee, one of whose members was Admiral Lord Lauderdale, a nobleman eminently qualified to deal with the subject. There were also on the Committee Admiral Yelverton, second in command of the Mediterranean fleet, and other captains of armour-ships. I will not now enter into the details of the inquiry. Suffice it to say that they condemned the plan, although they were, like ourselves, extremely anxious that some plan for the construction of a sea-going turret-ship should be carried into effect. I shall, I may add, be happy to lay upon the table their Report, for which the hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry) is about to move. The evidence which Mr. Scott Russell and other eminent builders gave was very valuable, and I think it will be admitted, under all the circumstances of the case, that the Admiralty acted wisely in not constructing that turret-ship. We were most anxious that such a ship should be built, and to obtain the advice of Captain Coles; but it must be recollected that he was not, and did not pretend to be, a shipbuilder. Then, unfortunately, a difficulty arose in the matter. Captain Coles wrote intemperate letters to the newspapers besides a pamphlet which was most unfair towards the Admiralty. He has expressed his regret that he did so. I trust, therefore, that good may come out of evil, and that he may see it is incompatible with the position of an officer who may be in daily confidential communication with a public Department to find fault when it suits his purpose with those under whom he is working. I am, I may add, bound in justice to Mr. Reed to tell the Committee that I conscientiously believe there was not one 1343 of us more anxious than he for the adoption of any plan which he thought seemed to promise success.
Having gone now through the state of matters connected with Captain Cowper Coles and the building of turret-ships, I would wish to say a few words in answer to some remarks which fell from the right hon. Gentleman opposite as to Mr. Watts. My right hon. Friend has said the Admiralty had discharged their cleverest men. [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON: I named Mr. Lang.] The Admiralty Constructors disapproved Captain Coles' proposal in 1859, and again in 1861. But in spite of their opinion, the Admiralty undertook to construct the Prince Albert turret-ship in 1861.
I will now, with the permission of the Committee, briefly refer to the able speech which was made the other night by the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Samuda). I, in common with the House at large, took great interest in his first address on this all-important subject; but he made some remarks to which I feel called upon to take exception. He told the House that the public had a right to complain of the Admiralty for their dilatory conduct in constructing the Prince Albert; but how stands the case? Why, the firm of Samuda were the contractors for building that vessel. They undertook to have her ready for the Admiralty on a certain day. They were, however, nineteen months behind their time. The simple reason, then, why the Prince Albert was not at sea at least eighteen months earlier is that the Messrs. Samuda did not carry out their contract. I have here no less then eighteen letters of remonstrance from the Admiralty to the contractors, complaining of their serious neglect of their engagements, and I cannot help thinking it is scarcely fair for the hon. Member to come down to this House and charge the Admiralty with dilatoriness in not having sent the Prince Albert to sea up to the present time. I am anxious to hear what explanation he has to give upon that point, and how it is he can defend the conduct of his firm, on whom we were very near being obliged to inflict a penalty for not constructing another vessel, the Tamar, within the period of their contract. When the hon. Gentleman finds fault with the Admiralty for not sending the Prince Albert to sea, he ought in common fairness to tell us who is the cause of the delay. As to the hon. Gentleman's remarks generally, I look upon them as extremely 1344 valuable. I, myself, have always been very desirous that in constructing a new class of ships we should have the advantage of having the subject carefully investigated by a Committee. I am fully alive to the great benefit likely to be derived from such an inquiry, as I have over and over again stated in this House. The Committee to which I have already alluded—presided over by Lord Lauderdale—have succeeded in obtaining a mass of the most useful information from the eminent civilians who gave evidence before them. At the present moment a question of great importance agitates us—I mean the question of whole versus partial plating. The hon. Member for Tavistock disapproves the system of building ships partially unprotected—expresses the pleasure with which he saw the Admiralty a few years ago resort to the system of completely armouring their ships—thus making both ends safe from attack—and his regret at finding that they were reverting to the old system of partial plating. Now, there can be no second opinion as to the importance of plating ships all round—if plated all round, they are undoubtedly better protected from shot; but, then, if you have thick plating all round, with the heavy guns of the present day, you must have also enormous tonnage. We are told that the French are adopting this system, but the fact is that they have given up plating all round. In the days of the Warrior and Black Prince the centre-box principle was adopted. Mr. Reed did not invent that; it was invented by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Pakington), and consisted in merely plating the centre of the ship. The difference now is that we plate not merely the centre, but carry armour-plating right round the water-line, which is the most vital part of a vessel. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Tavistock thinks, like many others, that he can build turret-ships better than the Admiralty. The hon. Gentleman told the Committee that he could build turret-ships much smaller than we are building them, and he placed before the Admiralty a plan for a turret-ship. Our officers went very carefully into the matter, and it was found that, first of all, he said that he would build the vessel principally of steel. That, no doubt, would make the ship much lighter; but we find that where the rivets join we cannot at present trust to steel. He consequently allowed 300 tons too little on this score. He proposed two turrets of 1345 240 ions, though Captain Coles requires 400 tons for two turrets; and the hon. Gentleman did not know what we needed in regard to weight of equipment, as to which he was short by 145 tons in his calculation. He produced a ship which was, unfortunately, several hundreds of tons short of displacement, and we could not adopt it. In other points the hon. Gentleman was short of our requirements, All these little turret-ships which are being built have not got free-board sufficient; they are not enough out of the water for sea-going ships. Take the case of the unfortunate London. That vessel went down because she shipped vast seas over her deck and down into the engine-room. She had a free-board of 8 feet 6 inches to a length of 267 feet The hon. Gentleman's ship was 9 feet out of water with a length of 280 feet, so that it was nearly in the same proportion as the London. Then there are persons who advocate the construction of vessels of the Scorpion and Wyvern class. Now these would, no doubt, be very effective ships under certain circumstances; but they could not be depended upon for cruising, and if the Admiralty had committed our sailors to such craft they would have been met with a cry of reprobation from the whole country. The Bellerophon and other ships of the same class, with very little greater length, are about 14 feet out of the water, and I believe that with a much less amount of free-hoard, they would not he safe cruising vessels. The Monarch, too, would have the same height above the water. Now with regard to strength. The test of the strength of a vessel of war was determined by her power of resisting shot; and the ship of the hon. Gentleman would have a maximum resisting power of 444 pounds, and a minimum resisting power of 397 pounds per square foot. Now, the Hercules, which is the largest of our armour ships, has a maximum resisting power of 734 pounds, and a minimum of 405 pounds, and the Monarch will have a maximum of 504, and a minimum of 407 pounds. Then there is the important question of speed to be taken into consideration. We find that we can handle heavy guns, but if we put these heavy guns in ships we find we cannot get speed, with all the requirements I have mentioned, unless we go to a very high tonnage. I implore the Committee not to place implicit faith in what appears in newspapers about the speed of our ships. The speed by 1346 the measured mile is greater than when the ship goes to sea, but that is the case with all vessels, and all this is a matter of comparison. The tests adopted by the Admiralty are more severe than those of mercantile firms. Our tests are six times backwards and forwards; then we take the mean, and arrive at a fair calculation of the speed of the ship at the measured mile. It is, however, impossible to make perfectly exact calculations in reference to the matter of speed. I will tell my right hon. Friend a curious fact. The Warrior is his ship. That ship was built on the same lines as the Black Prince, and the difference in speed never can be perfectly accounted for. What will turn out to be the exact speed of a vessel appears a secret. With respect to the Bellerophon and Pallas, I beg hon. Gentlemen not to condemn those ships for want of speed, because very extraordinary facts came to light in these cases. As has been experienced in the French and other navies, this remarkable result was experienced—that while the ships gave a certain speed their engines gave a less, thus showing that the engines were not doing their fair work. The engineers are endeavouring to ascertain the cause of this. First of all we have changed the screws, and it is quite certain that in the case of the Bellerophon the results have improved to a very considerable extent. With regard to the Bellerophon and the Pallas, I hope the Committee will hold their hand and not condemn them at once on the score of speed. The Amazon has certainly fallen short of what we expected in her speed about half a knot; but that is all; but will any Gentleman show me any ship of her tonnage that goes as fast as the Amazon? [An hon. MEMBER: The Alabama.'] She is somewhat smaller than the Alabama; but did the Alabama go faster? No, she could not. Nothing in the world is more desirable than speed; but in order to attain great speed we must have a large tonnage. Then, for our police of the seas we are obliged to have small vessels. These vessels would be indeed like our brigs in the last European war; but I never heard these brigs condemned because they did not go as fast as frigates. We require also vessels that can carry troops, commodious vessels to carry stores for the fleet, and you cannot expect these vessels to have any great rate of speed. I have left many points untouched to which I wished to 1347 advert; but I feel that I have already detained the Committee too long, and I must conclude by thanking them for the attention with which they have listened to me.
said, he had observed that, as a general rule, the preliminary debate on the Estimates was the only occasion on which any question was fully discussed; and, therefore, he could not adopt the recommendation of his noble Friend by deferring the remarks he wished to make on the policy of the Admiralty in respect of the construction of ships of war to a future day, when the shipbuilding Votes would be considered. But before adverting to that important subject, he wished to make a few remarks in reference to the Vote No. 1, which provided for the wages of Seamen and Marines. There was no part of his noble Friend's statement on Monday night which he had heard with greater satisfaction than that in which he informed the Committee that the Admiralty had abandoned the intention which they entertained last year of reducing the strength of the Coastguard on shore; He considered that intention so objectionable that he had ventured to call the special attention of the House to the subject shortly before the close of the last Session of Parliament; and he, therefore had derived great satisfaction from the announcement of his noble Friend that a small increase was to be made in the numbers of the force, and that it would be permanently maintained at those increased numbers. But whatever satisfaction he derived from that statement was more than counterbalanced by the reduction shown in the Estimates of 600 Marines, in addition to the 1,000 reduced last year. He must say that he thought this policy most objectionable. His noble Friend had given no explanation as to the cause of this reduction, and he was not surprised at his reticence, because there was no witness examined before the Royal Commission on Manning the Navy in 1859 who had given more emphatic testimony in favour of increasing the number of the Royal Marines. His noble Friend stated in his evidence that in his opinion—for which he gave excellent reasons—the Marines ought to be maintained at 21,000 men; and they were now reduced to 16,400. The late Sir James Graham, whom no one could accuse of having entertained extravagant views on naval questions, gave similar evidance. The Marines, he said, ought to be increased to 20,000 1348 men, and should never be reduced below that number even in time of peace. The policy which had been followed during the last two years of reducing that invaluable force was a most mistaken policy, and he (Mr. Corry) felt it his duty to protest against it in the strongest manner. With regard to the construction of ships, he would first advert to the statement of his noble Friend on Monday night, that, in the last eleven years, £48,000,000 had been spent on the personnel, and £47,000,000 on the matériel of the navy, whereas, this year, the amount estimated for the personnel was £4,170,000, and for matériel, £2,500,000; and that the cause of this reduction in the cost of matériel, as compared with that of personnel, was that the fleet was now in a very fair condition as regards the wants of the country. No doubt he meant it to be inferred that the re-construction of the fleet, so far as armour-clads were concerned, was nearly complete. But he (Mr. Corry) thought his noble Friend had arrived at that conclusion at a very unfortunate time, for we were only just embarking on the great experiment of building sea-going turret-ships, and if that experiment succeeded, it would lead to a re-construction of the navy—the extent of which it was impossible to foresee. But, independently of that consideration, they had been told: that our armour-plated fleet consisted of thirty-one vessels of all sices; and they had all read in leading articles, and heard it stated in Parliament and elsewhere, that wooden ships had become absolutely useless for purposes of war, and that the navy of England should now be counted only by the number of the armour-clad vessels it comprised. If that be so, he asked could any man of common sense attempt to maintain that a fleet of thirty-one ships would suffice for the protection of the British Empire, and of British interests in every quarter of the globe? Such an idea was quite preposterous; but, while he thought that a large addition to the number of our armour-plated ships would be necessary, he could not agree with the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Samuda) that provision ought to have been made for building five or six turret-ships in these Estimates. In the present state of uncertainty as to the principle on which they should be built, he did not think they ought to embark largely in the construction of ships during the present year. But what was the cause of this uncertainty? It was to be traced solely to the supineness of the Admiralty in testing the 1349 turret principle as applied to sea-going ships, and lie must say that he thought the conduct of the Admiralty in this respect was such as to admit of no justification. His noble Friend said they were anxious to build turret-ships. If so, they had shown their anxiety in a very strange manner. In these days of competition between armour and artillery—when one year they had a target that resisted the most powerful gun, and the next year a gun that smashed the most powerful target, and when the most experienced officers, amongst others Captain Sherard Osborn, who had conducted the experiments on board the Royal Sovereign, maintained that there was hardly any limit to the weight of the gun that might be worked on the turret principle—it was the bounden duty of the Admiralty to take measures to solve the problem, without loss of time, whether the turret could be adapted to sea-going ships. But what had they done in this respect? Nothing—absolutely nothing, and at this moment, after the loss of four precious years, they were only talking of building their first sea-going vessel. The story of the turret was a melancholy story, and, as some hon. Gentlemen might not be acquainted with it, he might be allowed shortly to state what had passed on the subject. So long ago as September, 1860, models and drawings were submitted to the Admiralty by Captain Cowper Coles, showing the adaptation of the cupola to sea-going vessels, but no design of any particular ship was sent in at that time, and he (Mr. Corry) adverted to the circumstance merely to show that the attention of the Admiralty had been directed to the subject nearly six years ago. But early in 1861, Captain Cowper Coles was requested to send in a memorandum of the requirements of a sea-going cupola-ship, and on this memorandum a design was prepared (not by Captain Cowper Coles, who did not pretend to be a naval architect, but by a draughtsman in the Controller's Department) for a vessel to have two cupolas, each carrying two Armstrong breech-loading 100-pounders, the most powerful guns at that time used in the navy. This design was sent in early in 1862, but it was never carried out, and Captain Coles had never been told why it had been abandoned: But his noble Friend stated in this House last year that the reason was that it did not provide sufficient flotation for the weights to be carried. Now he (Mr. Corry) could 1350 say from experience, that if the Admiralty had been in earnest they would not have been deterred by such an objection, because nothing was easier than to alter a design so as to obtain increased displacement. When he was at the Admiralty under the Government of the late Sir Robert Peel several experimental ships were built after drawings sent in by private shipbuilders, and as these gentlemen had not had much experience in ships of war, it sometimes happened that the proposed flotation was found to be insufficient. But the Admiralty did not reject the designs upon that ground if they were considered in other respects to be good ones. On the contrary, they put the constructor into communication with the Surveyor of the Navy, as he was then called, and requested that such alterations should be made as would remedy the defective displacement; and if the present Board of Admiralty had been really anxious to try the experiment of a turret-ship, the difficulty as to flotation could very easily have been overcome. Nothing, however, was done in 1862, and here he (Mr. Corry) would observe that an event occurred early in that year which might have opened the eyes of the most drowsy Board of Admiralty as to the necessity of testing the turret principle with the least practicable delay. In March, 1862, a broadside armour-plated ship for the first time appeared in action, attacked single-handed a large squadron of the most heavily armed ships of the American navy, and, having sunk two of them, would infallibly have destroyed the remainder, if a deus ex machinâ had not appeared in the shape of a turret-ship—the Monitor—which engaged her formidable antagonist, the Merrimac, and succeeded in driving her away. It was quite true that the Monitor was not a sea-going ship, but she proved the great power of the turret principle, and from that moment it became the bounden duty of the Government not to lose a single hour in ascertaining whether that principle was or was not sound, and whether or not it could be applied to sea-going vessels.
had just stated that he was aware she was not, but he thought that was no excuse for the remissness of the Admiralty. Well, as he had said, nothing was done in 1862, but in February, 1863, Captain Coles urged upon the 1351 Admiralty the importance of constructing at all events one sea-going turret-ship; and the result was that Mr. Barnaby, a very able constructor in the Controller's Department, was placed in communication with him, and a design was prepared for a ship with tripod masts, with two turrets, and to carry four 300-pounders. That design, however, shared the common lot. Nothing more was done; and when Captain Coles, who was naturally anxious to know why it was rejected, made inquiries at the Admiralty on the subject, he was told, with more dignity, he (Mr. Corry) thought, than wisdom, that such information was never given the inventors. The greater part of the following year, 1864, was passed by the Admiralty in a state of tranquil repose, as far as the turret was concerned; but, towards the end of the year, Captain Coles again raised the question, and requested the assistance of a competent draughtsman, and to be furnished with the drawings of the Pallas, in order that a design might be prepared for a turret-ship of the same class. After some hesitation this request was granted, and in April last year drawings were sent in for a ship with one turret to carry two 600-pounders. That design was referred to the Committee presided over by Lord Lauderdale, and the Report, although it did not recommend it for adoption, bore strong testimony to the distinctive advantages of the turret system of armament. The design was rejected chiefly on the ground that it provided for one turret only.
On former occasions Captain Coles had proposed two turrets, but being limited to the size of the Pallas, he found it would be impossible to provide for them in this design.
was merely giving the reason assigned by Captain Coles for not having proposed two turrets in the design of 1865. At length they had been told that a sea-going turret-ship was to be built—the Monarch— of 5,100 tons. But by whom was she to be built? Why, by Mr. Reed, the avowed enemy of the turret system.
did not mean to use the 1352 word in an offensive sense, but, at all events, Mr. Reed was the advocate of a totally opposite system of his own. That was very much like requiring an allopathic doctor to treat a patient upon homoeopathic principles, an experiment which would not be likely to produce a very satisfactory result. With respect to the ships which had recently been built, he (Mr. Corry) thought it was much to be deplored that the Admiralty had not treated Mr. Reed with something like the same degree of caution and reserve that they had used towards Captain Coles. Doubtless, Mr. Reed was a gentleman of great ability and of high education; but, unfortunately, when appointed to his present office by the Admiralty he had had no practical experience in shipbuilding, and he was afraid he was now acquiring it in a manner somewhat costly to the nation. Some years since the noble Lord told them that Mr. Reed came to the office and said, "You are building ships of an enormous tonnage and at an enormous cost. I am sure I can build a vessel very much smaller, very much handier, and very much cheaper." Mr. Reed appeared to have said nothing about speed, but the noble Lord supplied the omission, for he went on to say, "the Pallas will have great speed. We believe, indeed, she will be the fastest ship in the navy. She will be supplied with a limited armament." Speed, in short, was the great object, and, to this, power of fighting was to be subordinated. But the result was that the Pallas attained a speed of only about 12½ knots an hour.
inquired why those trials had not been concluded? Because, forsooth, she was being continually altered in the hope of getting a little more speed out of her. The same promise had been held out in the case of the Bellerophon with nearly a similar result. The fact was that many of the old wooden ships which had been converted into armour ships were faster than the new vessels built expressly for speed. Of the earlier ships the Warrior was more than a knot and a half an hour faster than the Pallas, and the Agincourt had reached a speed of nearly 15½ knots an hour.
said, a man need not be a conjuror to turn out a short ship and a 1353 cheap ship if she was also a slow ship, and the late excellent and experienced chief constructor, Mr. Watts, would have had no difficulty in making the Warrior and the Agincourt shorter and cheaper ships if those objects had been sought at the sacrifice of speed. It must also be remembered that Mr. Reed had had the advantage of having in his ships engines worked with superheated steam, which had not been introduced into the service at the time when the engines for the Warrior and Agincourt and the other older armour-clad ships were ordered. Before the introduction of superheated steam it was thought a good performance if engines worked up to 4½ times their nominal power, whereas they now work up to six times their nominal power, and this advantage ought to give an additional speed of one knot in the case of such vessels as he was speaking of. In other words the speed of the Pallas, with engines on the same principle as those of the Warrior, would be one knot less than it is, and the speed of the Warrior, with engines on the same principle as those of the Pallas, would be one knot more than it is. There was hardly a ship designed during the last three years which had not undergone extensive alteration. He had by him a list which he believed to be correct; but before referring to it, he would quote a passage from a speech made by the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty in 1859. The noble Lord said on that occasion—He wished to speak of the reckless alterations of new ships; almost every ship was altered; there was scarcely one that had not undergone some frightful operation some time or other. Take the case of a three-decker, the Howe, 121 guns. She was laid down only last year or the winter before, but the dockyard people were now pulling her down to put a new bow upon her….Another case was that of the Immortalité, a 51-gun frigate, now being built at Pembroke. That unfortunate ship had gone through a great deal of trouble. She was first of all lengthened amidships. Last year, orders went down from the Admiralty to lengthen her five feet by the bow….The result was, as might naturally be supposed, that either the First Lord himself, with his fine nautical eye, or some other member of the Admiralty Board, saw upon visiting her that she was not fit to go to sea, and ordered her to be pulled down again, and lengthened fifteen feet. Such instances of official blundering would be amusing if they were not so costly."—[3 Hansard, cliii. 46.]Now, referring to the list to which he had alluded, he found that the Pallas had had her bow altered once, and he believed twice. The noble Lord informed the House two years ago that great things were to be expected from "a remarkable peculiarity" 1354 in her bow, but it was found to throw up such a sea as to flood the deck through the hawse-holes, and it was absolutely necessary to alter its form. Masses of solid timber had been bolted on outside the armour-plating at the water-line, but he was informed that the wave was nearly as bad as before, when it was so terrific as to excite upon one occasion the fears of a pilot to such an extent as to cause him instinctively to exclaim "Breakers ahead!" An upper deck had also been put on the Pallas forward and aft, connecting the square box with the stem and the stern, and she was now in dock having a Griffiths' two-bladed screw substituted, in the hope of coaxing a little more speed out of her, for the original four-bladed screw with which she had been fitted. The Bellerophon's bow had been altered upon the same principle, and an additional deck had also been put on, not only for the safety of the ship, but also for the accommodation of the crew, a small point which appeared in the first instance to have been overlooked. The screw of this vessel had also been changed. The Lord Warden was at the present time in dock undergoing alterations similar to those of the Pallas and the Bellerophon. The Research was either now in or going into dock at Sheerness, for the purpose of receiving a continuous upper deck like the Pallas. Her sides had also been altered, and fixed iron bulwarks, giving the appearance of the sponsors of a paddle-wheel steamer, had been substituted for the swing gates with which she was originally fitted, for the purpose of enabling the guns in the square box to be trained forward and aft. The Danae, a sister ship to the Amazon, and still on the stocks at Portsmouth, was having her bow altered from that originally designed, in order to obviate the defects which were found to exist in the bow of the Amazon. In short, he believed there was not one of the ships commenced within the last two or three years which had not undergone extensive alterations, and he trusted that when his noble Friend the Secretary of the Admiralty again made a speech from the Opposition side of the House, similar to that which he made in 1859, he would bear in mind what a deal of trouble the Pallas and her consorts had gone through, and would show a little fellow-feeling for the failings and imperfection of naval constructors and Boards of Admiralty.
Before sitting down he desired to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to a point of 1355 great importance if only in a financial point of view. His noble Friend had stated that the Admiralty could not undertake to construct an armour-plated turret-ship for seagoing purposes of less than 5,100 tons, but his hon. Friend the Member for Tavistock (Mr. Samuda) had stated that he would undertake to build such a ship, with every accommodation, with a tonnage of only 3,500 tons.
said, that he held in his hand a letter from his hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Laird), who was unfortunately prevented from attending the House through indisposition, in which he also expressed the opinion that a seagoing turret-ship could be built of 3,500 tons, to carry four 600-pounders with great speed, and with ample accommodation for her crew; and his hon. Friend maintained, moreover, that a ship carrying such an armament would be more powerful than any vessel afloat. Mr. Oliver Lang, who had been referred to by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich as one of the most distinguished naval architects in Europe, and Mr. Watts, the late chief Constructor of the Navy, a gentleman of great experience and ability, both entertained the same opinion. [Lord CLARENCE PAGET: What thickness of armour?] The hon. Member for Tavistock had mentioned six inches. Moreover, Captain Coels objected to a ship of such large tonnage as 5,100, and maintained that such a vessel would not test his principle in the least degree, and that, if failure should ensue, he could not be held responsible for it. He would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider whether, having heard the opinion of all these eminent and experienced men, it would not be worth while, as a mere matter of finance and economy, to try the experiment of building the smaller vessel, and he believed the Budget would show an ample margin for the purpose. Let the Admiralty by all means build a ship of 5,100 tons at the same time if they pleased, but it would tend to a great saving of future expenditure if it could be shown that efficient sea-going turret-ships could be constructed on a much smaller scale than was contemplated by the Admiralty. If the Government did not consent to the trial of the experiment, he should certainly, if his hon. Friend the Member for Tavistock 1356 brought such a Motion forward, vote for referring the whole subject to a Select Committee.
§ MR. SAMUDA
said, he had listened attentively to the criticisms which the noble Lord the Secretary of the Admiralty had bestowed upon the observations made by him upon a previous occasion; but before he replied to them he would say a few words upon the remarks, more personal in their nature, which had fallen from the noble Lord with respect to some contracts in which he had been engaged. It would be in the remembrance of the House that with reference to the Prince Albert he (Mr. Samuda) had expressed his deep regret that though the vessel had been out of the hands of the contractors for twelve months the Government had not during that period given her a trial—or if they had given her a trial they had done so only while the Navy Estimates had been before the House. Although he had listened very attentively to the remarks of the noble Lord, he had heard no answer to that charge. A counter-charge, indeed, appeared to be made, and it assumed this form: "If the Admiralty have done wrong, you have done wrong also." He could not, however, regard that as a sufficient answer. The noble Lord said that the ship was contracted for by Messrs. Samuda, Brothers, the firm of which he was a member, in 1861. He felt quite sure that the noble Lord meant in 1862, and that the noble Lord would be willing to correct the error. The noble Lord said that the completion of the vessel was delayed, because Samuda, Brothers, deceived the Admiralty in carrying out the contract. These were hard words; but what were the facts? When the order was given to his firm to build the vessel in April, 1862, it was intended that the vessel should be constructed with 5½-inch armour-plates and with 10-inch teak backing,; but, more than three months afterwards, a fresh order was given that the ship should be built with 4½-inch armour-plates and 18-inch backing. As this involved the undoing of all that had been done, was it fair that it should have been kept from the House when the firm was charged with having deceived the Admiralty? Further, during the process of construction the Admiralty required a great number of alterations and additions, each of which was described in writing, the statement being accompanied by a note asking for an estimate before the alteration was made. Therefore, that which was finally delivered to the Admiralty was a very different thing from that which the firm originally 1357 contracted to supply; and for these alterations the Admiralty had paid no less than between £8,000 and £10,000. The construction of the vessels prolonged by these alterations, was completed towards the end of 1864. Notice of the fact was given to the Admiralty, who, after the usual delay for surveys, at the end of January or early in February, accepted the vessel as satisfactory in every respect, and paid the balance of the contract. From that day to within a fortnight of the present time, that vessel had not been tried. He hoped the Committee would think this explanation sufficient to vindicate him and his firm from the charge of having caused delay by deception. He had shown that including the three or four months lost at the beginning, and the delay caused by doing the work almost over again, the vessel was completed in two years and eight months. But compare that with the case of the Bellerophon, the plans of which, according to a speech of the noble Lord, were approved by the Admiralty on the 23rd of July, 1863, and which Was not ready yet, and might not be before July of the present year. Already, therefore, the Bellerophon had been longer on hand than the Prince Albert, notwithstanding that the builders of the former vessel had all the resources of a Government yard at command, and notwithstanding the greatest possible exertion and the prosecution of the construction night and day. He had been appealed to by the hon. Member for Bristol (Sir Morton Peto) as to the course followed by the Admiralty towards a private builder to whom they had given an order. There was so much inspection and direction, and so many substitutions, with drawings for the smallest matters, that it would be no disparagement to a private firm to be five years instead of two in the execution of a contract, because the work could advance only at such a speed as the Admiralty would permit. Under such circumstances, the statement which had been made was unjust, and if the word were Parliamentary, he might designate it as garbled. With reference to the vessel he had suggested to the Admiralty, the first complaint made by the noble Lord was that there was great deficiency in the displacement. What he (Mr. Samuda) gave would be allowable, because he introduced steel instead of iron. But the noble Lord objected that steel was bad at the connection of the plates, and that the Admiralty dare not try it. Was the noble Lord aware that steel had been very largely wed in the sides 1358 of the Bellerophon, the last iron vessel built in the Government Dockyard? How was this, if steel could not be used in a cupola ship? The noble Lord said they (Messrs. Samuda) did not know what equipment was required by the Admiralty, and that the equipment allowed for, in stores, provision, shot, shell, &c, was less than that required by 140 tons; but the allowance was based upon a detailed statement furnished by the Admiralty some years ago, when several private builders were applied to to design the first iron-clad vessel. He understood, however, that the suggestion of insufficient equipment was to be accounted for by the fact that the Government proposed to double the usual requirements of ammunition on the ground that while in port-hole ships the calculation was based on the fact that the guns could be fired on one side only, in the turret-ship the gun revolved and could be fired from both aides; the weight of the equipment in the former, therefore, was double that in the latter. If the weight could be carried, he had no objection to allow for it; but was it fair, under these circumstances, to criticize as deficient the equipment of the ship he had suggested? Then as to strength, which the noble Lord would have the Committee believe was quite insufficient, the thickness of armour in the suggested vessel of 3,500 tons was generally six inches, the same as in the Bellerophon, whose backing, however, was considerably less than that suggested. The weight of the armour was 440 lb. per square foot in one case, and 453 lb. in the other, the slight difference being caused by his using steel behind the armour, while iron was used in the Bellerophon. The armour, therefore, was the same, with this important difference however, that the vessel he suggested was to be covered from end to end, and the Bellerophon was not: something like a little more than one-third of her entire length was covered—about 128 feet out of 300 feet. [Lord CLARENCE PAGET was understood to say that there were two shields—one at each end, and that one-third of the hall was armour-plated.] He (Mr. Samuda) had been told that there was no protection at her stern. At any rate, whether she had one-third or one-half of her entire length plated, she had a portion totally unarmed, and, as he had before observed, liable to destruction from artillery of any sort The noble Lord had said that vessels of the cupola class required to be 14 feet oat of water; but he (Mr. Samuda) denied that they did require that height. All that was ne- 1359 cessary was to give the ship a sufficient amount of height from the water to make her a really good sea-going ship, and at the same time to give her a sufficient amount of accommodation inside for the officers and crew who had to sail in her. Now, with regard to the amount of accommodation for officers and crew, he could inform the Committee—having gone with great care into that as into the whole matter—that the amount of superficial measurement allowed in the 3,500 tons turret-ship was greater by nearly 20 per cent for each officer and man on board than that which was given by the Admiralty in their own seagoing ships. If he took the cabin accommodation given in the Belvidera, which was one of the 50-gun sea-going frigates, there was 16 feet per man allowed. In the cupola-ship there was 19½ feet. If he took the cabin accommodation in the iron-plated frigates Defence and the Resistance, there was 18 feet per man, against 19½ in the cupola ship. He felt it was scarcely fair to the Committee or to himself to enter into details so as to follow, to the extent that was almost necessary, many of the allegations which had been made by the noble Lord; but they implied, if correct, such an amount of ignorance on his part that he would consider himself perfectly incapable of making any suggestion at all if he had fallen into such grievous errors as the noble Lord had attributed to him. Again, the noble Lord referred to the weight of the cupolas, and said, "You have only given her 250 tons; whereas clearly 500 are required." But would the noble Lord inform the Committee of the weight of the cupolas which were put into the Prince Albert? They were plated with a much smaller proportion of iron than he (Mr. Samuda) proposed. But the difference was easily described. The weight of the cupolas was 90 to 100 tons, and they were plated with 4½-inch plates. Did the Committee see anything extraordinary in suggesting 150 tons for those cupolas which were to be plated with 6-inch iron generally with an additional 5-inch plate only in the vicinity of the guns? If ever there was a case made out for investigation it appeared to him that this was one. When they found such men as the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Laird), and, as the hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry) had stated, that Mr. Laing and Mr. Watts agreed as to the possibility and probability of producing such a result as he had indicated, it would be a perfect waste of public money to press forward this large 1360 class of ships, which would have the effect of leaving the cupola system improperly developed for a number of years. The whole advantage of the cupola system was entirely thrown overboard if the principle laid down by the Admiralty was admitted. The idea of a cupola ship was this—to be able to put in a small hull very powerful and heavy artillery. The Committee would recollect that the country had been instructed for the last three years by the Admiralty that in the Warrior and vessels of her type they had made a great mistake, and the proposal of the present Constructor of the Navy was to do with 4,000 tons instead of 6,000 like his predecessors. But now it was proposed in designing a cupola ship to go beyond 4,000 tons, and to lay down a vessel of 5,000 tons, in which case, as he had said, the cupola system would be made to bear all the disadvantages of size that were indispensable to the port-hole system—and one of its advantages would be entirely ignored.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he wished to address one or two remarks to the Committee, before the discussion closed, on a totally different subject, which he would be precluded from referring to upon any specific Vote. His noble Friend told them in his opening speech that they would be surprised if they knew the continually increasing demand upon the Admiralty for greater assistance made by various officers in different parts of the world, and he referred especially to China and Japan. He (Mr. Liddell) heard that statement with great apprehension, and took this opportunity of expressing an earnest hope that those calls for assistance would not be attended to. He had referred to the last published shipping lists from those parts of the world, and the Committee would perhaps be startled when he told them that our fleet on those coasts on the 15th of January, numbered forty-six vessels of war. The Committee would see that this was a question that they really had now under consideration—the question of the national expenditure—and the simple point he wished to put to the Government was—Was that gigantic fleet necessary in those seas? We had treaties of peace and of commerce with the countries on whose shores the fleet was stationed. A considerable lapse of years had taken place since those treaties were signed, and he presumed the treaties included the usual stipulation that security would be afforded to the subjects of nations trading with those countries under those treaties—security to life and to property. 1361 It was a natural question, therefore, to ask whether a fleet of forty-six armed vessels was necessary to give security to life and property in countries with which we had peaceful relations. He supposed he should be told that this fleet was necessary to put down piracy, which was very rife in those seas; but in maintaining that extravagantly large fleet—and he used the word "extravagantly" in a double sense—were we not encouraging those countries to fail in that which they were bound to do—namely, to maintain the police of their own coasts? It was a question of policy whether this country ought to go on expending such a large amount of the taxation of this country in doing that for Japan and China which they ought to do for themselves, or at least in great part, and which they were bound by treaty to do. While he complained of the extravagance which kept such a large fleet in these seas, he must draw attention to two remarkable instances in which the lives and property of British subjects had been imperilled by the total absence of any ships of war. He alluded to Jamaica and Chili. When the Chilian blockade was declared on the 29th of September, our only war vessels in those seas were at Vancouver's Island and Callao, far away from any of the Chilian ports. The Spanish fleet left Callao on the 17th September, with the avowed purpose of blockading Valparaiso and other ports; but Commodore Harvey with the Leander remained at anchor at that place, leaving British interests wholly unprotected, while the Admiral of the station was absent at Vancouver's Island. Again, in Jamaica, Governor Eyre stated that in October there was not, unfortunately, any British ship of war at hand, and he had to charter a French vessel to convey troops to Morant Bay, where they arrived just in time to save the settlement; and at Port Antonio the principal inhabitants, to preserve themselves, had taken refuge, not on board an English man-of-war, but on board an American ship. If these were isolated stations, far removed from English communication, he might have said less on the subject; but Valparaiso and Jamaica were each what might be called centres of stations, and he thought that some of the vessels now employed in guarding Japanese and Chinese commerce would have been more advantageously occupied in protecting British lives and property at these two places.
§ MR. SEELY
said, he rose to repeat his former complaints of the manner in which the Admiralty accounts were presented to 1362 Parliament. He believed it was quite possible to produce an account by which any Member might ascertain almost at a glance what each dockyard cost, and the amount of work produced for the money. The accounts of the various dockyards were, it was true, contained in the Estimates, but there was no one account by perusing which Members could understand what proportion the expense of building a ship at one dockyard bore to the expense of building one at another. There should be such an account by which the difference of expense between building ships at public and private dockyards could also be shown. There was another question on which he wished to offer a few remarks. Certain statements with reference to the Admiralty accounts which he had made during last year had been contradicted in a pamphlet drawn up by the Accountant General, and issued in last June by the authority of the Lords of the Admiralty. It would occupy the House too long if he entered into any statement on the subject; but he asked the noble Lord (Lord Clarence Paget) to allow the persons who drew up the Admiralty report to confer with his (Mr. Seely's) secretary, who had drawn up the statement which he had made. If they could not come to an agreement on the points in dispute, the question could then be referred to a professional accountant named by any Gentleman on the Treasury Bench. He also asked the noble Lord if the Admiralty continued to pay to Messrs. Brown, Lennox, &c Co. for anchors the same rate that they paid last year?
said, he fully agreed with the hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) in the remarks which he had made with reference to the large squadron maintained on the coasts of China and Japan. He found from a list which he held in his hand that the fleet on the Chinese and Japanese coasts consisted of forty-seven vessels, forty-four of which were armed steamers. He believed that no hon. Gentleman present understood what the meaning was of keeping up such an immense and costly naval establishment in that part of the world. The Chinese Government was not hostile—at least not openly hostile—to England; moreover, it had not any fleet for hostile demonstrations; and as to Japan, on a recent occasion three English ships of war, assisted by two or three foreign vessels, succeeded in enforcing the execution of a treaty signed by the Emperor of that country, the discovery having at last been 1363 made that the Emperor of Japan combined in his person the offices of spiritual and secular Emperor. The coast of China was about 2,000 miles in extent, and was throughout its whole extent infested by pirates, and if there was any justification at all for keeping forty-seven vessels of war in China it was to put down piracy; but the English ships of war could not pursue the pirates' junks into the shallow creeks, and they were therefore almost entirely useless in checking piracy, and some thirty of these vessels might quite as well be elsewhere. Besides, it should be remembered that these pirates principally confined themselves to attacking vessels belonging to their own countrymen, and rarely molested an English ship. Some time since an English man-of-war did succeed in capturing a pirate vessel and brought the crew into Amoy, and the captain delivered them over to the Chinese mandarins. Some of the crew managed to obtain money to bribe the authorities, and the result was that the men who had bribed the mandarins escaped all punishment, and the mandarins put to death all who were penniless. It would appear from this that the effect of keeping up an English fleet on the Chinese coast was only to put money into the pockets of the mandarins. The House had now been for two nights engaged in discussing, not the Estimates themselves, but matters which were not in the Estimates at all. They had discussed the rival merits of Captain Coles and Mr. Reed, of turret and broadside ships, but they bad not yet touched on the matters really contained in the Estimates; and now, when they were about to consider the Estimates themselves, the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Samuda) told them that the figures were unintelligible and only calculated to confuse and embarrass the Committee. No doubt a good deal remained to be done; but in justice to the noble Lord (Lord Clarence Paget) he must admit that his Lordship had shown the greatest anxiety to afford the House for the last three Sessions increasing information annually. In 1859–60 the Naval Estimates comprised 104 pages, with two Appendices. In 1865–6, 131 pages, with 13 appendices, and the present Estimates had 201 pages and 22 appendices. Some of the pages might be omitted, but in the appendices for the first time, there was a Return of the number of ships of war we had afloat; and there was also a table which, however, had been previously given, of the number 1364 of ships in commission. But there was not any information as to the number of officers and crew, or the cost of each vessel. He held in his hand a tiny octavo paper, in which all that information was given in respect to the French navy, so that every Frenchman who could read and write was in a position to ascertain the number of ships afloat, how they were manned, and how much each ship cost annually. The adoption of the French condensed tabular information would render the English Estimates less bulky. To return to the present Estimates. Vote 2 related to victuals and clothing. Now, ought not the two items to be separated, and a Return made of the number of persons for whom victuals were required, for what number of days, and the cost of each ration? A similar remark might be made with regard to the clothing, for at present it was impossible to ascertain what was the cost of each suit. Now, all these particulars were most clearly and distinctly given in the French Budget. From the want of a general abstract of the number of persons, military and civil, to be paid for from the Estimates, the House is in ignorance of the total number employed, and even in each Vote the number could not be read off at a glance; for instance, it would puzzle his noble Friend to state what number of persons were included in the Vote headed "Admiralty." He could tell his noble Friend, because he had taken the trouble to add up the various figures and denominations, but a clerk at the Admiralty might just as well save a Member of that House the trouble. It was just the same with regard to every other department of the navy. The number of persons were not procurable, though he admitted that a great improvement had taken place in reference to the way in which the amounts to be voted for the different departments was shown. The adoption of the French system of tabulating and classifying would save hon. Gentlemen a great deal of labour, and his noble Friend considerable trouble and vexation. His noble Friend had said that there was no prospect of a diminution of the Navy Estimates. That was unhappily true. It was made to appear that this year there would be a saving of £4,071; but this was not the fact, for it happened that in the net accounts the extra receipts, which were £157,591 last year, had this year gone down to £149,163, so that, in reality, the present Estimates were £4,357 more than they had been last year, and why was 1365 there no prospect of the Estimates being reduced? The House had sanctioned the building of leviathan ships of war, which cost half a million each, and before the Government and the Admiralty were satisfied that such vessels were the best kind of ships to be had, the House was induced to grant sums of money for constructing docks to put them in. Exclusive of the money that would be granted this year for these extensions, £2,710,150 would be required to complete the works. Under these circumstances, therefore, the Estimates, instead of decreasing, must necessarily increase every year, and he did not see how the Chancellor of the Exchequer could reduce taxation with such a drawback upon his means.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, he wished to put a Question of which he had given his noble Friend private notice. It referred to a matter affecting the character and discipline of the navy, or at least of the crew of one of Her Majesty's Ships. In The Morning Star newspaper of the 15th of February last, under the head of "More Facts from Jamaica," there had appeared in large type a letter occupying two columns and a half, signed by a gentleman whose name he was unable to pronounce, but who, he believed, was the paid secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society. The concluding paragraph of that gentleman's letter was as follows:—It is greatly to be apprehended, Sir,"(the letter was addressed to the Editor of The Star) "that with every succeeding mail we shall receive evidence of atrocities committed that will make the stoutest heart sick. Twelve of the crew of the Wolverine are accused by an eye-witness of having perpetrated, during two days, upon the person of a Mrs. Henderson, a Methodist class-leader, a series of the foulest outrages; but the witness's tongue was sealed.Now, he ventured to think that this accusation against twelve of the crew of Her Majesty's ship Wolverine seriously affected the character and discipline of the crew, and he would, therefore, ask his noble Friend, If any knowledge of the so-called fact from Jamaica, as related in The Star, had come to the Admiralty; and whether it was not the opinion of his noble Friend that it was desirable, for the sake of the navy, and for the sake of the character of the crew of the Wolverine, that this letter should be sent to Jamaica to be inquired into by the Commission there sitting? His own feeling was that this was a matter which should be inquired into with a view that, if true, due and proper 1366 punishment should be awarded to these men: if untrue, that those who wrote and those who published stories such as this—affecting the character and discipline of sailors of Her Majesty's fleet—should be held up to well-merited and just reprobation.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, he wished to correct a statement which he had made, and which perhaps might be misunderstood, as to the position of the Masters. He had stated that Masters could not rank with lieutenants, with regard to the date of seniority. That statement, however, had reference to military rank. A lieutenant, therefore, was not allowed to be put under a Master on the quarter-deck, even though the Master should be of a higher seniority than the lieutenant. The Masters ranked according to the seniority of their commission, but they held no military rank on deck. The hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) had asked whether his secretary could be permitted to go to the Admiralty in order to correct certain misapprehensions respecting the accounts of the Accountant General of the Navy. The hon. Gentleman had been of great service to the Admiralty, and he should be extremely glad to go into the matter with him. His hon. Friend the Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) seemed to be of opinion that the increased forces at distant stations were not available when they were wanted, and had asked how it was that when the Spanish squadron went from Callao to blockade Valparaiso our ships were not there. Now, the fact was that that was no longer our head-quarters, and undoubtedly we had not ships always at that spot; but that circumstance was only an illustration of what he had mentioned the other evening—namely, that we were constantly pressed for additional ships. With regard to China, the hon. Gentleman seemed to think that we ought not to keep so large a force on that coast, but that the Chinese themselves ought to put down the pirates. Now, unless his memory failed him, he remembered having heard the hon. Gentleman loudly exclaim against the Government for assisting the Chinese in establishing a navy for themselves. [Mr. LIDDELL: An English navy.] One of the great arguments had been that if they had no efficient navy, we should be obliged to keep these large forces on the Chinese coast. With regard to the continued employment of Brown, Lennox, and Co. by the Admiralty—[Mr. SEELY: On 1367 the same terms?]—he would give his hon. Friend more information at another time. He had now only to answer the question just put by his noble Friend (Lord Elcho). He had read with indignation the imputations to which his noble Friend had referred upon the sailors who had been employed on the coast of Jamaica. They were charged with conduct unworthy of any seamen in Her Majesty's fleet, and he could not but think that the story was a base falsehood. The Admiralty had received no information of the kind, but he would take care that full inquiry was made into the facts. If it should appear that such a thing had occurred, the perpetrators should be brought to condign punishment, but if this should turn out to be a false and wicked accusation, then he trusted that the authors of it would meet with public reprobation.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (2.) £2,862,704, Wages.
§ (3.) £1,235,188, Victuals and Clothing.
§ (4.) £274,119, Salaries and Expenses, Coast Guard Service, &c.
§ MAJOR WALKER
wished to say a few words on one item of this Vote—the sum of £29,575 for the Royal Naval Coast Volunteers. When this force was first established it was intended to fill up a gap in the naval service, which was then at a low ebb. It was intended for the twofold purpose of providing sea-going ships for the protection of the coast, and for manning the sea-coast defences. Both these objects were now better met—the first by the Royal Naval Reserve, and the next by the Militia and Volunteer artillery.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, that the force of the Royal Naval Coast Volunteers was diminishing of itself without the interference of the Admiralty. They were men engaged in the coasting trade and boating, and their wires did not like the recent extensions of the area over which they might be called upon to serve. They were many of them fine men, and he, for one, remarked the diminution in their number with regret.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, that the number of Marines was the same as last year, but the proportion of Marines at sea to those on shore was a matter of a somewhat technical nature, affecting the 1368 Marines as a sea-going corps. If they were kept too long on shore they lost their sea-legs.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, he had not heard of any difficulty of getting Marines since the standard had been reduced. Some of the recruits had been three or four years without going to sea, and the alteration of the number of men on the reserve would give these young men an opportunity of seeing service.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (5.) £63,958, Salaries, Scientific Departments.
§ (6.) £85,624, Victualling Yards and Transport Establishments.
§ (7.) £57,368, Medical Establishments.
§ (8.) £15,550, Marine Divisions.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, it was a recruiting barrack for the Marines. They were first taken down to that healthy place, and then they went to the Chatham division. Deal was, in fact, the nursery of recruits for the Chatham division, and the authorities were anxious to have a similar recruiting place in the West of England for the Portsmouth and Plymouth divisions.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (9.) £75,664, Medicines, Medical Stores, &c.
§ (10.) £20,605, Martial Law and Law Charges.
§ (11.) £105,800, Divers Miscellaneous Services.
§ (12.) £528,904, Military Pensions and Allowances.
§ (13.) £213,837, Civil Pensions and Allowances.
§ (14.) £402,788, Freight of Ships.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.