§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
1. Question again proposed,
That 67,300 Men and Boys be employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services, for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1868, including 16,200 Royal Marines.
Whereupon Question again proposed,
That 65,300 Men and Boys be employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services, for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1868, including 16,200 Royal Marines."—(Mr. Childers.)
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the point at which they had arrived when the Chairman was ordered to report Progress. His hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract had reviewed the Estimates at considerable length and in considerable detail, pointing out evidence, as he thought, of the absence of an economic hand in their construction. His hon. Friend complained of the excess of £500,000 as compared with the Navy Estimates of the preceding year, and he went on to propound in great detail a policy and a scheme for the reduction of our foreign squadrons, which, without at all impairing the efficiency, but rather adding to the immediate efficiency, in time of peace, of our navy, would effect a considerable saving, which it would be open to the Admiralty to apply as far as necessary in the construction of fighting vessels of war. No one could deny that when a new Government came down to ask for an addition of £500,000 on the Navy Estimates, and, on the whole of the Estimates, of £2,000,000, they were at least bound to offer some clear and complete explanation, some sufficient defence and justification of that extra charge. The first point to which he addressed himself was this—had they been furnished with that complete explanation? What was the line of argument adopted by the noble Lord who introduced the Navy Estimates, and by the present and late First Lord, who followed his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract. The first thing he noticed was—he would not say the deliberate intention, but the tendency and desire to shift the responsibility of this heavy and increased charge on other Departments of the Government, and also on the proceedings and policy of the late Government. 936 Then the noble Lord the Secretary of the Admiralty said that the maintenance of a squadron on the slave coast was a Cabinet question, and that as long as the Cabinet decided on keeping up squadrons of this kind, the Admiralty were bound to find the men and ships.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, the hon. Member was mistaken. He did not say anything of the kind. What he did say was that on a question of national policy the Cabinet must decide.
§ MR. STANSFELD
The noble Lord certainly talked of vessels on foreign stations which on the outbreak of war would have to "cut and run." He also talked of the African squadron, and expressed a strong hope that it might at least be reduced. Then the present first Lord gave some recollections of an older date, when he was Secretary to the Admiralty some years ago, and told them that the Admiralty were the victims of the Foreign and Colonial Departments. But the true doctrine as to responsibility for Estimates was laid down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. On the subject of cost the First Lord was responsible as a Cabinet Minister; and the whole Cabinet were fully responsible to the House for the policy of the Estimates and the charge which the House of Commons were asked to defray. Therefore, he repeated, when a new Government asked £500,000 in excess of previous Estimates they were bound collectively and individually to give some good reason for the demand. The right hon. Baronet the late First Lord appeared to be disposed to throw the responsibility of the existing scale of foreign squadrons on the late Board of Admiralty and the late Government. The right hon. Baronet read a list of the number of men and tonnage of vessels employed in foreign squadrons from 1860, downwards, showing that during the time of the late Board of Admiralty there had been a progressive diminution in the number of men and tonnage of ships employed in foreign squadrons. He also showed that in 1867 there was a still further small reduction. The reductions stated to have been made in particular branches of the service at the beginning of 1867 had not affected the amount of the charges nor the number of men asked for the year 1867–8. He admitted that the Naval Estimates of recent years were also open to criticism, and that the measures which had been taken to improve the efficiency of our naval force had been hesitating and illo- 937 gical, and had involved a great waste of public money. But with reference to the out that the policy proposed to be pursued by the present Board of Admiralty, he could not forget the old maxim which asserted the desirability of "being off with the old love before taking on with the new," the dockyards; and he thought it would and he thought the Board of Admiralty ought to be sufficiently satisfied of the value of the new power, offensive and defensive, before they gave up the old. The nation, however, had a right to ask that that our naval force should progress in strength and efficiency, and the objection he had to make to the present administration of the navy was that it allowed the naval power of the country to remain stationary. It was impossible to calculate the strength of the navy upon the principle that would have been correct some years since. In the days of wooden sailing vessels and of 32-pounders, when we had plenty of reserves, the man was rightly and naturally taken as the true unit of power; but since that time our naval force had undergone a rapid and violent transition, and we had now to look more to the power of the gun and to the strength of the vessel than to the number of men on board. If the men were not provided with the best guns and the most improved vessels, they would only be a source of needless expense. The ships which composed our foreign squadrons would have to "cut and run" in the event of war, and in time of peace they cost us large sums for repairing and maintaining them. What the Admiralty had to do was to produce naval power, and he did not think that the method they were now adopting, of building a vast number of small vessels which would be of no use in time of war, was likely to produce that power. There were two lines of policy, two alternatives—as it seemed to him—policies by which the result desired could be arrived at. In the first place, by spending an enormous sum to provide the navy with a vast number of the best modern iron-clad vessels on which to place the men who were asked for, we might obtain a navy of overwhelming power for a time, but in the course of a few years the whole have to be done over again. The other policy was that indicated by his hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) in his speech the other evening, which would necessitate every possible saving of men and ships on foreign stations in order to add to the number of fighting ships in our possession and under our im- 938 mediate control. He must, however, point out that the details of that scheme were suggestive, not dogmatic. The noble Lord the Secretary told the House the other night that a Committee was to be appointed to inquire into the working of the dockyards; and he thought it would be of advantage to the service if the two gallant Admirals who had been named were empowered to inquire into the subject of the cost and use of our stationary and harbour ships, since he was certain that those vessels were a source of unnecessary expenditure, and not of real power. The noble Lord (Lord Henry Lennox) had told the House the other night that the Admiralty had given up repairing the large old-fashioned ships in consequence of their being so expensive to repair and man, and that they were building new vessels of a more manageable size, which would be infinitely more useful and more economical. To a certain extent such a policy would be a good one; but the question was whether it was wise to build 16,000 tons of such vessels besides the composite gunboats for China in the course of the next financial year. But, after all, the great question was whether the Admiralty were justified in asking the Committee for £500,000 for the purpose of building vessels. The noble Lord the Secretary for the Admiralty told them that the late Board had rather neglected the construction of iron-clad vessels.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
What I stated was that £128,000 had been put down in one year for iron-clads, but had not been spent on iron-clads in dockyards; and that in the following year no estimate at all had been proposed for iron-clads.
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, that remark only applied to vessels that were to be built by contract, and not to those building in the Royal Dockyards. However, the view of the noble Lord was that it was necessary to do more in the coming year than had been done during the two previous years in the way of building iron-clads. He would take Vote 10, and of the additional £500,000, roughly speaking, £160,000 was for engines. He presumed that these engines were not all for iron-clad vessels. The balance of the £500,000, or £340,000, was intended for two iron-clads—one the sister ship to the Inconstant—and for ten composite gunboats designed for service in 939 China. But as iron-clads could be built but slowly, his belief was that of that £500,000 in the Controllers' section of Vote 10 not more than one-half, or £250,000, would really be devoted to the construction of iron-clad ships, or of the engines that were to be put into them. The £500,000 to be devoted to the strength of the navy was thus reduced to £250,000. Confining the question to the addition to the real fighting strength of the country, he could not admit that there would be much gain. He found that in the Estimates for 1866–7 the late Board of Admiralty proposed to advance the construction of the Hercules and the Monarch by what would be equivalent to 5,715 tons, and in the present Estimates he found that the Hercules and Monarch had only been advanced 2,752 tons, and the present Board had thus done less by one-half (2,963 tons) during the financial year just expired than the late Board had proposed to do in advancing the construction of these vessels. It was urged in explanation of this that there had been a failure in respect to the armour-plates, and that a caisson had been damaged; but that was not a sufficient reason to account for so very great a difference in the amount of progress made. It was a question of labour; and as much labour had not been given to those two vessels in the course of the financial year as had been intended, or as might have been done if that labour had not been diverted to the building probably, or to the repair, of other vessels, to which he attached smaller importance. From the Estimates of this year he found that they proposed to advance their iron-clads 4,195 tons; but they were already in arrear 2,963, and therefore, deducting that arrear, it only left the present Board credit for 1,232 tons of dockyard building of iron-clads. Taking, then, these facts and figures into account, he said that their £250,000 for the construction of iron ships dwindled down to nothing. Now, what was the practice in regard to the framing of the Navy Estimates? All the sub-departments were summoned to rack their brains in finding out work, and then, as a matter of policy, they sent in greater demands than were reasonable, or than were expected to be conceded, because they knew the docking process to which their demands would be subjected, and they wished to provide against it. Those various demands having been cut down still produced a total which could not be submitted to that House, 940 and then the Estimates underwent a yet further docking to meet the views of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and not to carry out any clear and definite naval policy. That was a most illogical system, and led to extravagance. The Government ought to set out with a notion of general policy and of total cost, and then it should sub-divide and appropriate that total under the different Votes, so as to purchase as much real power as possible, and keep down waste. He was not surprised at schemes of re-construction being brought before the Board of Admiralty. Men feeling themselves responsible for the efficiency, and not at all for the cost of the navy, naturally and logically brought such schemes before the Board. They saw that we had got so many men, and that we had not got fighting ships, and they asked if a serious war arose, what was to be done with our men and our ships. And how had they met the proposals made to them? They retained the men for whom they did not propose to build ships, they also retained the ships which could not fight, and then they professed to add to the strength of the navy by £500,000, though in reality this proposal amounted to next to nothing. His hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) and himself put forward their views as their contribution towards the solution of the question of naval policy, and they thought that their views at least deserved a fair consideration. What was the justification of a naval expenditure of £10,000,000 or £11,000,000? Could it be justified merely for the purposes of peace, and to maintain the police of the seas? No naval man, he believed, would pretend to vindicate it on such narrow and limited grounds. Their reason for incurring so vast an outlay was to provide for the possible contingency of a serious naval war. The object of their preparation, then, should surely be to give them immediate efficiency; for in modern warfare hard, rapid, and decisive blows were required to be struck. If they could imagine a naval war lasting beyond a few months there would be in that case practically no bounds to the resources of this country. No two countries in the world could put as many men on board ship as this country could, and the whole world combined could not surpass England in the power of manufacturing the most modern inventions of maritime warfare. The only justification for a large naval expenditure in time of peace, was that it should be so appropriated and expended as 941 to give a maximum of immediate efficiency in time of war. The expenditure proposed by the Government could not in that view be justified. Were men an element of naval strength if we had not fighting ships into which to put them, or were these vessels of the noble Lord, which were to "cut and run" as soon as they were attacked—if, indeed, they could run—to be regarded as an element of strength? Ought it to be necessary to pay £500,000 more than last year, or ought they not to take the expenditure of last year as a maximum, and more or less gradually to reduce it? Let the House compare the naval power of England with that of America and France. The American Monitorswere all iron-clads. Two had certainly crossed the ocean, but they were vessels for defence and not for offence. The number of seamen, officers, and marines after a gigantic war had been reduced to 17,000 men. France had seventeen sea-going iron-clads and ten others proposed and partly building. He purposely left out of the account the third class French iron-clads available for home defence. This country had twenty-six sea-going iron-clads, four turret-ships, four building, and three proposed this year to be built, making a total of thirty-seven. With such a force no one could doubt that, taking ship for ship, our vessels were immensely superior to those of the French navy. Naval science was still in a condition of violent and rapid transition, and the true policy of the Admiralty was not to lay down any great scheme of naval re-construction at the present moment, but to concentrate their strength upon one or two vessels and get then afloat as rapidly as possible, and by that means get work out of them before, by the march of invention and improvement, they fell behind the time. The lesson that modern warfare had taught ought to be borne in mind. It was this, that war was now so costly that nations would not go to war without the powerful motive to do so. Italy had such a motive; so had Prussia. That country, after years of deliberate preparation, had gone to war to secure a united Germany. The United States went to war under the pressure of motives so overwhelming that it was almost impossible to conceive their recurrence. Considering our present policy of non-intervention, which was safe in the hands of the present Secretary for Foreign Affairs, it was unlikely that any nation would wantonly incur the 942 danger and risk of a war with England. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the end of last Session, addressed the House in explicit and almost solemn terms in favour of economy. He said it was theIntention of the present Government in spirit and in truth to carry into effect that policy in respect to the expenditure of the country which we recommended to the late Government, when sitting on the Benches opposite."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiv. 1289.]And the right hon. Gentleman assured the House that in the administration of the finances they would be guided by the principle of economy—Not meaning by that negligence, inefficiency, and imperfection, but that prudence in the application of our resources which engages in nothing but what is necessary for the public welfare, but takes care to accomplish its purpose in the most complete manner."—[3 Hansard,clxxxiv. 1290.]He knew no better or more complete definition of naval or other administrative economy than was contained in these words. The Resolution in favour of economy proposed by him in 1862, was called at the time an abstract Resolution, yet it was in its result a practical Resolution, for it led in the following year to a reduction of £2,000,000 in the present Estimates. The Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman, on the contrary, had led to a precisely opposite result, for there had been an increase of £2,000,000 in the present Estimates. No doubt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer still held the same opinion which he expressed at the end of last Session, and the Cabinet had probably resisted still greater demands than they had conceded. It was still open to the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues to make their influence felt, if not on the Estimates, at all events on the expenditure of the year. There were two Members of the Cabinet who, more than any others, could affect the expenditure—the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Foreign Secretary. The former could no doubt persuade his Colleague to say to the Admiralty and to the War Office that the problems of the year must be worked out within the Estimates of the year; and the latter could form himself into a sub-committee with the First Lord of the Admiralty, and cause to be ordered home every ship which was not a fighting ship from foreign squadrons. A great saving could thus be effected—in the building of ships, in repairs, and in outfits. That might seem to be an arbitrary position; but it was not so in reality. The consequence would be to compel, as it 943 were, the departments to go deeper down into the causes of expense, and into the true uses and real power of armaments, and in that way to economize the resources of the country without detracting from the real power of the country.
said, he was glad to see that the form of the Estimates had this year been improved as compared with those of former years. He alluded particularly to the new table, which gave a programme of the works being and about to be executed in the several dockyards. He would be glad to see a tabular form of the total number of persons employed by the Admiralty. It was to be found in the French Estimates, so that by a birds-eye view a knowledge of the total numbers employed in the navy, whether military or civil, was obtained. It was no doubt right upon the part of the British Government, when they found a Foreign Government doing so, to build a new class of ships, and not to go to sea with the old ones. They laid out their money, and so did the French, in iron-clads, and he would now state the condition of the French navy, and also that of the British; the result of the competition which has been going on. The information respecting the French navy is supplied by the "Ordinary Budget," the Extraordinary Budget, and the Report to the Legislative Chamber—all for 1867. The Secretary to the Admiralty had accurately stated, as regards number, that the French had 43 armour-plated vessels; but in the French Ordinary Budget he found only 10 vessels spoken of as sea-going, and only two of those were of the first-class. The largest ship in the French navy, the Magenta, had a displacement of 6,737 tons, while England had three ships of 10,000 tons displacement—namely, the Minotaur, Agincourt, and Northumberland. Of the 43 French vessels 14 of them were not sea-going at all, but were for rivers and lakes, and those were not likely to come in contact with the ships of this country. Then, instead of having 16 first-class vessels, as he had understood his noble Friend, the French had only 13. This was shown by a report made to the Emperor, entitled Exposé de la situation de l' Empire, and dated the 31st of December, 1866. He also found that the French had 340 vessels altogether, while we had 414. The French had 120 in commission, and the total number for which credit had been given in the Budget of this year up to the 944 1st of January, 1868, was 157. In 1862 the French had only 6 iron-clad vessels and 10 frigates building. One of them had been lost, and two were no longer effective, so that the number was reduced to 13; while the Return granted to Mr. Laird, dated August 10, 1866, showed that we had 30 iron-clads afloat, 4 first-class building, and 4 floating iron-clad batteries, so that no urgent need existed for our spending money on building ships to meet opponents who had not the means to oppose us. The French had been actually discontinuing the annual credits they had given for construction. In 1861–2 England had devoted £755,782 to construction, and £469,307 to armour-plating, which made a total of £1,225,089. In the same year the French spent a total of £660,000, or just one-half, for the same purposes. It would be found, too, that in every department of the navy, whether it regarded men, ships, or money, their expenditure was just one-half that of this country. In 1863–4 England spent £630,203 in construction, and £408,822 for armour-plates alone, giving a total of £1,039,025. The French expenditure that year, including everything necessary for the completion of their vessels, was only £560,000. In 1864–5, we required £448,452 for construction, and £346,619 for armour-plates, making a total of £795,071; the French £480,000; and in 1865–6 the total was £544,300, including only £17,600 for iron matters, so that there had, up to that time, been a gradual diminution. The French allowed for construction in. 1865 and in 1866–7 only £420,000, so that the French had annually diminished their credit for construction from £660,000 in 1862–3, to £420,000 in 1866–7. In 1866–7, however, when we had unquestionably established our naval superiority over our neighbours, a reaction set in, the sum required for construction and armour-plates that year being £663,280, although the French had reduced their expenditure to £420,000; and in 1867–8 the amount was £860,559 for construction, and £310,360 for armour-plates, or a total of £1,170,919. What reason could be given for that increase of £448,000 last year, and of £491,000 this year? Why was it that while the French outlay was decreasing ours was increasing? Had this country gone back to the state of panic which existed in 1861? With regard to the men, we had in 1861–2, 59,000 seamen, including 945 boys and the Coastguard, but not including the 18,000 Marines. In successive years the numbers declined to 58,050, 57,000 53,000, and 52,000, till in 1866–7 it was 51,450; but this year it was again rising, the number being 52,912. He could not see any reason for this. As for the French, they had in 1864–5 30,473 officers and men, against our 53,000, not including the Coastguard, and this year they had 27,589, while we had 52,912. I trust the above figures from official sources, French and English, will sufficiently dispose of the relative powers of the French and English navies. With regard to the cost of the effective service, there was an increase of £1,153,218 in 1859–60, the amount being £8,259,299, and this was £626,360 above the effective Estimates for 1858–9, and it went on increasing till 1862–3, in which the decrease for the effective service was £450,378. The total charge for the effective services in 1862–3 was £10,228,029; for 1863–4, decrease, £1,139,773. In 1864–5, decrease, £357,502. In 1865–6 the decrease was £348,567. In 1866–7 there was a nominal decrease in the effective services of £105,633, which unhappily turned out to be wrong. In 1867–8 the deficit in the effective charge is £480,360. He could not understand why the reduction should have been interrupted during the last two years. Our Estimates for 1866–7 was £10,388,153, whereas the French credits were only £5,802,059, or but little more than half; and for 1867–8 their expenditure was £5,926,253, being an increase of £33,083, while ours was £10,926,253, being an increase of £491,518. He thought that as the Admiralty had succeeded in effecting a reduction for several years, that reduction might be continued, especially as we were not in danger of being attacked by any other navy, whether European or American. He wished, also, to know why the expenditure for 1863–4, which was estimated at £10,462,322, was stated the following year to have been £10,472,298; and why that for 1864–5, which was estimated at £10,169,022, was afterwards corrected, first to £10,507,792, and subsequently to £10,483,678. For 1865–6 there had also been three different statements, the first being £10,152,905, the second £10,234,633, and the third £10,071,805; and for 1866–7 there had already been two, and there would probably next year be another, so that Parliament did not 946 know the actual expenditure of any year until the lapse of three years. In fact, all the figures I have given from the Estimates are little better than approximations subject to a variety of subsequent corrections, probably owing to the looseness of the Estimates. One instance of reckless cost in this department was to be found in the large number of gunboats we had in the China seas, which was stated by the noble Lord to be 30, though a late distributive return he had just received from China, dated on the 1st of February, made the fleet to consist of 44 vessels, eight of them being hospital and store ships, or without captains. But taking the noble Lord's number as a correct statement of our naval force in those waters, what on earth, he asked, could be the use of 36 gunboats on the China station? A single gunboat was able to destroy a fleet of pirate junks; and though the enemy's boats had from 12 to 14 heavy guns on board, they could be run into and set on fire by one of our gunboats with the greatest ease, and of this there were many instances. Why, then, were 36 required, or why should there be 12 lying in Hong Kong Harbour, and spending the taxes of the country and rendering no service, except sallying out when there was an intimation of pirates? Why were we to be the protectors of the whole world in that part? Why were we to be made the maritime police, as it were, in the Chinese seas? France, America, and other countries were carrying on an increasing trade with China, and ought to bear a share in the maritime police. Under any circumstances, six, or at most ten, gunboats would be sufficient for the purpose of protecting our trade, and there was in reality no excuse for employing more. On these grounds he trusted that the present Admiralty would follow the good example set by their predecessors for four years, and reduce these Estimates, thus taking one step towards the reduction of the national taxation, which, in conjunction with the municipal taxes, was crushing the taxpayers of the country.
§ MR. GRAVES
regretted that the debate had taken so wide a range as it had done, though perhaps it was unavoidable. Still, he could not help thinking that to mix up questions of great national policy with points of minute detail, as had been done in the present instance, was only to prejudice both. There was no man on whose judgment he placed greater re- 947 liance than the hon. Member who opened the debate, and there were some points to which he adverted in which he (Mr. Graves) heartily concurred, especially in thinking that the time had come when our ships of war should cease to carry specie, and also in thinking that the number of boys entered for the navy should be increased. He believed that the number of boys entered on the Estimate of this year was wholly inadequate to supply the annual waste in the navy; and he adhered to the statement he made last year, that it would require yearly 1,500 more boys than were entered to replace the loss of men in the service. He might here state a fact which had recently come to his knowledge, that, notwithstanding every effort at our home ports to obtain seamen, only 150 had been engaged during the past eight months, and the present number was 500 short of the number voted. But the great question was our policy in connection with the employment of our squadrons on foreign stations. He wished to deal with that question, not only as it affected the maintenance of national interests, but also as it affected the protection of our commerce, a view which he thought had been somewhat overlooked by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld), who laid the weight of his arguments on the foreign policy of this country. With regard to our ships in the China seas, the utility of which had been questioned by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, the reason why they were required was that we had more to guard there than all other nations put together; we had in the Chinese seas a trade direct and indirect, amounting to not less than £40,000,000 per annum, carried on under treaties which are best respected when backed by British gunboats. It was notorious that those seas were still infested by pirates. Indeed, notwithstanding the presence of our squadron twenty-five merchant ships were attacked by pirates last year, so that piracy had not been suppressed. No one will for a moment suppose our naval officers are wanting in zeal or energy or that the existence of piracy can be attributed to them. Possibly our ships were too slow for the purpose of pursuit, and it was with a view of supplying faster vessels that the construction of so many gunboats was now proposed. He found by a Return moved for last year that seventy-one pirate junks were destroyed and 220 men captured and handed over to the Chinese authorities. So long, therefore, 948 as piracy existed we must maintain a force there for the protection of a commerce—which, great as it is, is yet but in its infancy. He admitted, however, that other nations ought to co-operate with us in that service, ten of the vessels which had been captured last year belonged to foreigners, and it was reasonable they should assist; but instead of withdrawing our squadron we ought first to induce other Powers to enter into an arrangement, and then consider to what extent we could reduce our force. As to Japan, where a reduction had also been proposed, it was well-known that we were forcing a trade, there being large inland seas in which our commerce required protection; and until we were on terms of greater amity with that country, we were more likely to command respect by maintaining a good force at that station. A few years since and England had no trade with Japan, it now amounts to millions and with promise of a brilliant opening for British enterprise. He thought we might make a considerable reduction on our African station by sending out suitable vessels of greater speed. The vessels which were on that station were not of that character, they were most unsuitable. In reference to that point he should observe that he felt much surprise at the sending out of the Bristol to the African coast, for she was much too large and unmanagable a vessel to be fit for such a service. The natives on the coast were becoming attached to regular trade, and, as that feeling spread, there would not be the same occasion as had formerly existed for a large squadron there. With respect to the Mediterranean and the North-American stations, he believed that the amount of the force we should maintain at either of them must depend mainly on the state of the political horison; and that was a point with which it would be impossible for the Committee to deal. As to our station on the coast of South America, he thought that as long as the Republics on that coast made war their normal condition, our commercial interests would require a good force in that direction. On the Pacific station, from Valparaiso to Vancouver's Island, we had sixteen ships and 3,800 men. Comparing our squadron with the American squadron on that coast—and he did not think we should have our squadron there much below that of any other country—he found that the Americans had twenty-eight ships and very nearly the same number of men, but comprising an armament greatly supe- 949 rior to ours, as recent events at Valparaiso sufficiently showed. Our vessels were divided into two squadrons, North and South, the Admiral's head-quarters being Vancouver's Island, a commodore having charge of the South Pacific. Now, he thought it would be better for all purposes that this arrangement should be reversed, and that the Admiral should be where our interests demanded his constant presence. On the whole, he thought that our foreign squadrons were not larger than the interests of our commerce demanded; but putting aside the commercial point, he believed the interests of the navy required that we should keep up our foreign squadrons. It appeared to him that the only redeeming feature of our naval expenditure was our foreign squadrons. The magnificent discipline which was enforced on those stations served more than anything else to keep up the morale of the navy and the efficiency of the ships. Those stations were schools for our officers and seamen, and what should we do with our 6,000 or 7,000 boys if it were not for the means which the ships in the foreign squadrons afforded for their employment and instruction? Was it by serving in iron-clads, lying rusting in our home ports, that we could hope to make blue jackets of these boys—he thought not—if it be a matter of economy he ventured to think it might be secured better at home than abroad. While he had great reliance on the judgment of his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract, yet, as the opinions put before the House were so conflicting, he should like to know whether the plan proposed by his hon. Friend had been introduced with the approval of men of experience in the navy. The noble Lord the late Secretary fur the Navy (Lord Clarence Paget) was a naval officer of great experience, and always anxious for economy where a saving could be judiciously effected; yet what had he said when moving the Navy Estimates last year?—And now, Sir, with regard to the Vote for the personnel of the navy. We take this year, as I will presently show, a somewhat smaller force of men, and consequently our Vote for the personnel of the navy will be less during the year 1866–7, than it was during the present year. And here, again, I want to call the particular attention of the Committee to what our prospects are in future years. Now, it is all very well to talk of reducing the naval expenditure, but the fact is, that I cannot hold out any hopes of a reduction in that which principally governs the expenditure of the navy—the number of seamen of the fleet. We have carried on during the 950 last two years a gradual reduction of our seamen to what has come to be a very considerable diminution; but if we are to make the naval force which we have afloat adequate to the demands upon it, that reduction cannot go on. I have a paper here which, if hon. Gentlemen wish me to quote from, will show that, so far from there being a prospect of further diminution of our fleet, we are pressed from all quarters of the Globe for additional assistance. We are pressed from China. We are told that the seas there are infested with pirates, and large demands are made upon us for additional forces. In Japan they tell us that, in order to carry out the treaties which have been made with the Tycoon, we must be prepared to have a large force in the inland sea. In the River Plate, Chile, Peru, the presence of ships is asked for, and let it be remembered that most of all these demands come at the desire of our merchants, In short, such are the calls upon the Admiralty that I confess I should be deceiving the Committee if I were to hold out a prospect of any further reduction in the number of men."—[3 Hansard, clxxxi. 1144.]That opinion had recently been confirmed by the distinguished nobleman who had so long presided over the Admiralty. In a pamphlet which, though it did not bear his Grace's name, was known to have been written by the Duke of Somerset, he statedThat the efficiency of the navy depended on the number of men, and those who insisted on the efficiency of the navy would not be willing to reduce the number of men.Now, on examining into the reductions which have taken place of late years, he found that in 1860 the number of ships was 178, and the number of seamen, boys, and marines 35,000. In 1866, the number of ships was 146, and that of the seamen, boys, and marines 26,000; being a decrease of thirty-two ships and 9,000 men. It was now proposed to reduce the men by 7,200 more, which, with the previous reduction of 9,000, would make the reduction in eight years amount to 50 per cent; while during the same time our trade had increased 20 per cent. [Mr. CHILDERS said, he had not proposed such a reduction as his hon. Friend stated.] He would not do his hon. Friend any injustice. It was proposed that we should reduce the number of our seamen by some 7,000 men, and that we should substitute a flying squadron at Lisbon which would add 4,000 men. He (Mr. Graves) could conceive of nothing more valuable or useful than such a squadron in a national point of view, and he would rejoice to see such an addition; but it would not be valuable for the protection of our commerce, which required vessels to be on the spot where our trade was carried on. 951 The hon. Member had alluded to the progress which had been made in improving and extending the electric telegraph, and argued that the institution of a flying squadron would be useful because orders could be flashed to them ordering them to repair instantly to particular parts of the Globe where British interests were at stake. He (Mr. Graves) thought, however, that a very different conclusion could be deduced from the present efficiency of our telegraph system, and that in fact the argument of the hon. Member for Pontefract could be brought to bear against the value of a flying squadron. If, for instance, any complication were suddenly to arise abroad, our diplomatic agents would telegraph to the Foreign Office, who in return would send back instructions by the same medium, for diplomatic communications must in future rely on the telegraph rather than the special messenger. When these instructions arrived it was of the utmost moment that we should have the means of enforcing whatever might be our demands, and for this reason it was essential to have vessels near at hand, rather than appearing on the scene of action some three months after the necessity had passed away. Looked at in this light, the telegraph was rather an argument for carrying out our present system than abolishing it and establishing a flying squadron, simply as a substitute. In the absence of the reasons for which the recommendation was made, he must decline to adopt it; he was inclined to think that, until a higher code of International Law was accepted by European nations, under which private property would be exempted from capture at sea, we ought to keep up efficient fleets for the protection of our commerce and the maintenance of England's honour. He now came to what might be termed the domestic administration of the navy, and here he wished to express his admiration of the lucid speech with which the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty had introduced the Estimates. No part of that statement was received with more satisfaction than the announcement of the disposal of useless vessels; but he was somewhat surprised that those vessels, with a tonnage of 30,000, had realized only £85,000. Why could not one or two of our condemned docks have been used for the purpose of breaking them up, and if they could have been broken up there instead of by private individuals, why were the pro- 952 fits realized by private individuals to be lost to the public Exchequer? It could not be that the cost of breaking up was more in the public than in private yards, for if so, a large and awkward question arose. The thirteen vessels in question realized £85,000, or an average of about £6,700 each, and he had made some calculations to show what amount they would have produced if they had been broken up in Her Majesty's Dockyards. The figures he was about to read to the House were rather under than above the mark, and on this point be challenged contradiction. The copper and other metal from each of these vessels would fetch £7,500; the machinery and boilers, £2,500; and other materials and stores on board, £2,000. That would give a total of nearly £12,000. From that sum, however, be would deduct 9s. per ton for the labour of breaking up, 5 per cent for auction fees, and the cost of the coal consumed in towing the vessels to Devonport or the Thames dockyards, amounting altogether to £2,000. Thus each vessel would realize £10,000 net, and the whole number £130,000; whereas only £85,000 had been actually realized by the Admiralty. He could not learn that these vessels were disposed of by public advertisement, or that there were more than two or three tenders invited, he would be curious to see the conditions of sale and the quantity of stores included; he believed that his Estimates were greatly below the truth, and that it would be found a very large sum had been sacrificed by the anxiety to get the credits for the Estimates. On the subject of the constructive portion of our naval administration, he was compelled to speak adversely, though he did so in no narrow and carping spirit. He must confess, looking at our enormous expenditure, we were further off than we had a right to expect from obtaining a swift, handy, and sea-going iron-clad; he would not go back over old ground, he would merely take the results of the last twelve months. And first, with regard to the three ships of the Vixen class, which were the lowest in the scale, being about 800 tons—it was found that on the trial trip of the Vixen off the Land's End, she met with bad weather and was forced to bear up. On return to port the ship's company memorialized the Admiralty, asking that they might be removed from that vessel, as she was entirely unseaworthy, and he understood that their request was granted, that the Vixen was put out of 953 commission, and that she was now lying with her sister ships as they were launched, perfect useless. Then, again, with respect to the Amazon class, which he had ventured last Session to predict would be unsuitable for the service for which they were designed. As soon as the present Board of Admiralty came into office he understood an order wits issued that the two vessels of that class, then uncommenced, should be altered, and their length increased twenty-five feet or thirty feet, the same as the Danœ. Accordingly, these vessels, he understood, had been altered from the original design, and it is fair to infer that the other five would also have been improved if the proposed alteration had not amounted to a total re-construction. What good these vessels in their improved shape were to do he could not say; bit the facts he had mentioned showed that there was an absence of any settled system of design for our ships-of-war. With regard to the armour-plated vessels, the most important class of all, he regretted that the Returns moved for by the hon. Member for Birkenhead and by himself, and which had been that evening laid upon the table, were not yet in the hands of Members. From the information, however, which he had received, he believed it would be found that the trials of vessels last autumn showed a deficiency and inequality in speed, a great want of fuel-carrying space, a large consumption of fuel, and, worse than all, an unsteadiness at sea, which rendered them almost useless for offensive or defensive puposes, in anything beyond a moderate breeze. The Bellerophon and Lord Clyde, our newest vessels, in an Atlantic swell, with the wind at the force of 6 or 7, rolled through an arc of 34 degrees; what they would do in a gale of wind he would leave hon. Members to draw their own conclusions. He believed they would tear themselves to pieces; and that they would be practically unseaworthy. Besides, such a roll exposed the most vulnerable part of the ship to attack to the smallest vessel which could fight with a steady platform. In the same breeze the Achilles rolled only through an arc of 16 degrees, and, as he was informed, shot away her target, while the other vessels dared not open their ports nor loosen their guns. Comparing the tonnage, horse-power, and speed of the Achilles (6,121 tons, 5,724 horse-power), and the Bellerophon (4,270 tons, 6,048 horse-power), and yet the Achilles steams away from the Bellerophon, he asked, when a vessel was 954 proved to be eminently successful and to go faster through the water with 50 per cent greater tonnage than another of the same horse-power, why we could not reduce the model and apply it, instead of retaining inferior model, or be continuously indulging in these unsuccessful experiments? He would next pass on to what he considered to be the greatest blot of all upon the efficiency of their ships, and that was the enormous consumption of fuel. Scarcely any of our newest vessels could carry five clays' full steaming fuel. The Bellerophon did not carry four day's fuel, and he would ask how a vessel could be considered sea-going which depended so much upon steam, but which could carry only 3½ or 4 days' fuel on board? And yet this ship cannot be trusted under canvas, for she will not come round in stays. Last year he ventured to call attention to scientific and mechanical appliances, which he showed had answered admirably in economizing the consumption of fuel in the mercantile navy. The firm he then referred to had during last year launched several vessels—indeed, he might say one in every eighteen working days. On the 25th of July last they wrote to the Admiralty—As patentees of the double-cylinder engines we are not entirely unknown to my Lords, having, in the year 1860, received an order for a set of these engines for Her Majesty's ship Constance, and though we can confidently point to the results, both in economy of fuel and the speed obtained by that ship on her trials, we laboured under great disadvantages owing to her peculiar sectional form obliging us to put in two medium-sized cylinders in place of one larger one, thus adding to the weight and space occupied. Since then, our greater experience in the working of these engines has enabled us to make important improvements, and we are now prepared to make our engines and boilers to occupy less space and equal weight with those of any other builders, while in fuel we venture to assert that they effect a saving of 33 per cent at full speed, graduating to 20 per cent at half speed, or, in other words, we will undertake to steam at full speed with a given quantity of coal at least one-half further than the single cylinder engines of the most approved principle are capable of doing.Up to this time no notice had been taken of that offer. He was glad that the Admiralty intended to build such a ship as the Inconstant; and, seeing that America had already turned out six such vessels, not armour-clad but possessing great speed, he hoped that the advantages of speed combined with economy of fuel would be considered, and that it would be made a sine quâ non in the contracts that ten- 955 ders should state the number of miles the engines would run upon a given quantity of fuel. He questioned the economy and judiciousness of putting old engines into the new gunboats for India and China, inasmuch as new engines would drive at the same speed with half the consumption of coal, which was £4 a ton in China, so that new machinery would be the cheapest in the long run—new boilers would be required—the engines alone could be utilized—and in his opinion it would be wiser to break them up for old iron rather than injure the efficiency of this new class of vessel. The consumption of the two-high-pressure engines was not less than 1,200 cwt. per hour for each vessel, whilst engines of the newest construction could accomplish the same speed at half that consumption of fuel; and, considering that coals cost £4 per ton in China, the economy must be self-evident, and would in a very short time pay for the new engines. It was difficult to reconcile this adherence to old machinery with the fact that engines of 800 horse-power, ordered three or four years ago from an eminent Glasgow firm, at a cost of £40,000, had never left their premises, and had recently been re-sold by the Admiralty to the makers for £12,000. Could it be that, notwithstanding that engines of this class had been wanted, such great improvements had been made since they were ordered that it was considered desirable to sacrifice £28,000 rather than use these engines? Whatever the cause may have been, the circumstance was most unaccountable to him, and he hoped would be explained. What he found fault with was the system; and he implored the right hon. Gentleman now at the head of the Admiralty to take up this question with a full determination, if possible, to wipe away this stain from our national character for administration.
§ MR. SEELY
said, he wished to make a few observations upon the mode in which the navy accounts were presented to that House. Business men expected to find in accounts not merely what money was received, but what was got for that money. In these Estimates the Admiralty asked for upwards of £10,000,000. In showing the application of this money they were tolerably clear with regard to officers and seamen, and very precise as to the amount required for the provisions of the seamen. But no precise information was given as to the amount of money required for building and repairing ships, this amount being 956 scattered through several Votes. It might be said that Vote 6, which was the Vote for the salaries and wages of men in the dockyards, was for shipbuilding purposes; but he questioned whether the whole of the Vote ought to be so appropriated. That Vote included a sum, for instance, for the admiral-superintendent at Malta, of £1,930, including his sea pay: for the flag-lieutenant, £219, and for the domestics of the admiral-superintendent £353. But the commander-in-chief at Malta required a house, and that was entered in this Vote as £140 a year. What, he asked, had the commander-in-chief's house to do with shipbuilding? In fact, many items were charged to shipbuilding that should be omitted, and many omitted that should be charged. At Malta 298 men were employed in the dockyard; but the cost for supervision, including the pay of the admiral and flag-lieutenants, was more than 100 per cent on the wages of the men, all of which he believed was charged to ships. To ascertain the cost of any ship with any accuracy, one had first to go through the Navy Estimates, which gave details not elsewhere found—then the navy statement of savings and deficiencies, which showed the amount expended in comparison with the money voted; thirdly, the manufacturing accounts, which gave the cost of the articles made for shipbuilding, as well as the rate book value thereof, at which latter sum all articles were charged to ships; and lastly, the navy ships' accounts. Great alterations appeared in the mode of presenting the navy ships' account. Up to 1861 they had simply the wages and materials used in and upon the ship included in the cost of the ships; from 1861 to 1863–4, the wages and materials used outside the ships, but incidental to shipbuilding, were added. This increased cost about 20 per cent; and in 1864–5, wages to foremen and other items were charged, so that something like 40 per cent was added to the cost of wages and materials, or to the cost of ships as given up to 1861. Taking these variations into account, the Committee would perceive how difficult it was for any one to ascertain what the actual cost of a ship was. The process of going through all these accounts, adding items omitted, he had to pursue with respect to the Frederick William (about whose cost he and Sir John Pakington differed), which had been several years in building; and in order to know what this ship cost it was 957 necessary to refer to successive Estimates, to receipts and expenditure, and to the navy ships' accounts, and to the manufacturing accounts, in order to see the difference between the actual cost of materials put in a ship and the rate book price of the said materials, at which latter sum materials were charged to the ships. For instance, in 1863–4 the articles made, cost no less than £92,374 over and above the rate book price, and this ought to be added to the cost of ships. As a particular example of this method, and to show to what errors it might lead, three 15-inch topsail yards were charged to the ships at the rate book price of £150, but they cost £430. No wonder, then, that different parties should estimate the cost of ships, &c., variously with such data before them. A remarkable instance to elucidate this might be quoted from a pamphlet supposed to have been written by the noble Duke who a short time ago was at the head of the Admiralty. The pamphlet stated that about £10,000,000 had been required by the Admiralty for shipbuilding in the course of six years. The noble Duke must have calculated only the wages and materials used in the ships themselves—not even all the materials and wages used for shipbuilding, which in the years he spoke of amounted to (or the ships built reckoned as the Admiralty reckoned up to 1860–1) £10,036,626; but if he had calculated the cost of ships as the Admiralty calculated them in 1861–2 to 1863–4—that is, taking all the wages and materials used in and about or incidental to shipbuilding—the amount would have swelled to £12,259,569; and if he had calculated them as ships were calculated in 1864–5 by the Admiralty, when wages of foremen and other items were for the first time added, they would have swelled to £14,172,609. The effect of this would be that a ship might be calculated to cost on one set of data—that is, as ships were calculated up to 1861—£100,000; while calculated on another set of data—as calculated from 1861 to 1863–4—£120,000; and if as in 1864–5, the amount might be put at £140,000. It was of the utmost importance, therefore, that they should have clear and precise accounts, showing the amount received and the amount expended for shipbuilding purposes. The accounts should be made out, not as now, by lumping a great part of the expenditure for all dockyards in the gross, and charging to ships pro rotâ, but 958 for each dockyard separately. The House should have, as it had been promised, an account of the stock of stores at the beginning of the year; the amount of money received for shipbuilding purposes during the year; the amount of work done during the year; and the quantity of stock left on hand at the close of each year for each dockyard, as well as for the whole of the dockyards. With regard to the charge to ships for incidental expenses, it hail been said by the noble Duke lately at the head of the Admiralty that it would be necessary to re-consider how many of the incidental expenses should be continued to be charged in the cost of ships. That might be a very necessary question; but he urged upon the House that if they did not charge the incidental expenses to the cost of ships they would, nevertheless, have to pay them. The pensions paid to artificers ought to be included in the cost of ships, and next year he was glad to say they would be. Again, the charge added by the Admiralty to ships for interest on plant, stock, &c., amounting in 1864–5 to £46,398, was so small, so much below what the correct charge should be, as to be neither more nor less than ridiculous. With regard to the manufacture of ropes, on the question of hand spinning as compared with spinning by machinery, it would be found that in some cases there was little or no difference between the cost of the two; and although the erection of machinery for machine spinning had been strongly recommended, he hoped the Board of Admiralty would not, without inquiry, blindly rush away with the idea that it was cheaper in all cases to employ machinery than hand labour. He understood that the Admiralty were now putting up extensive machinery at Devonport, at a cost of from £20,000 to £23,000, for spinning ropes; and if he was not misinformed, that might be altogether obviated by a small expenditure at the Chatham ropery, which would enable the Government to produce all the ropes required for the navy there. It would surely be much cheaper to manufacture all the ropes required at one place instead of distributing the manufacture to several dockyards. It had been urged by the Duke of Somerset and the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) that it was impossible to build ships so cheaply at the Royal as at private dockyards; but he very much questioned that con- 959 clusion. The Royal Dockyards were certainly placed at one disadvantage, inasmuch as the managers of the Royal Dockyards had not the pecuniary interest in good management which was felt by the managers of private yards. But he believed it was possible to get over the difficulty to some extent, and to give the managers of Royal Dockyards some interest in the economical production of ships, and if that could be done the Royal Dockyards would have several advantages over private yards. The Royal yards possessed unlimited credit, and were never compelled, like private contractors, to go to the worst market and to force sales. They had no necessity to employ travellers or to seek by other means to obtain orders; they only paid 3 per cent interest instead of 5 per cent on money obtained, and they had no profit to make, while private contractors would not be satisfied with less than 10 per cent clear of interest. If the managers of the Royal Dockyards were well paid, and were treated fairly and liberally, there would be numbers of men anxious to be employed in those yards in preference to any private yards. The true principle was to pay men liberally, and to give honour where honour was due; but so long as the present wretched and bad system of putting men at the head of establishments when they knew nothing about the work to be done, was continued, so long they might depend upon it they would have extravagance and inefficiency. The evils of the present system were shown by its results. Some reference had been made to the excess of timber in the Royal Dockyards; but he did not agree with the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) that the House itself was more to blame on that point than the late Government. The late Government forced the purchase of the various lots of timber upon the House. During the ten years from 1833 to 1842, £2,274,708 was spent for timber, or £227,470 per year; during the ten years from 1842 to 1852, £3,609,152, or £360,915 per year, was spent for the same purpose; and during the ten years from 1852 to 1862, £5,209,757, or £520,975 per year, was spent on the same account. In the three years from 1859 to 1862, when the Warrior was laid down and iron ships were brought forward, the yearly average cost of timber had reached the enormous sum of £795,783; and twice during these three years, first, on the 23rd May, 1861, 960 Mr. Lindsay moved to reduce the Vote for timber by £300,000; and secondly, on the 27th February,1862, by £100,000, and divided the House on both occasions and was defeated, almost solely by the votes of Members of the Government. The Votes also granted by the House since (from 1862 to 1865) for timber had been exceeded by the expenditure by £275,000. Under a proper system of management this vast accumulation of timber, a great portion of which had now to be sold at a considerable sacrifice, could not have taken place. In the item, anchors and cables, he found the same increasing expenditure. In the ten years from 1833 to 1842 the amount spent under that head averaged, anchors £1,355, and cables £11,680 per year; in the ten years from 1842 to 1852 it had reached, anchors £16,948, cables £16,860 per year; and in the ten years from 1852 to 1862 it was at the rate of anchors £16,586, cables £33,714 per year. The fault was that they went on spending money for things that they did not want, and for what purpose nobody could tell. He wished to refer to one point connected with the iron ballast. He had asked the noble Lord if he could give the Returns of the iron ballast, stating the quantity in the United Kingdom and abroad. It was stated that there was no ballast in the country beyond what was included in the Returns printed on his Motion. In speaking of this, he must in justice say that he believed that there was no one more inclined than the noble Lord the Secretary for the Admiralty to make the best of that iron ballast, for he had no prejudices, he had given no opinion, and was anxious to make the most he could of the stock. If he (Mr. Seely) was correctly informed, there were at Devonport and Keyham 3,000 or 4,000 tons of these "pigs" which were not included in the Returns to that House; and he was further told that when the Great Eastern was launched some hundreds of tons were lent to the Great Ship Company, which he was told had not yet all been returned to the Admiralty. He was told that part of this was returned, but that a message had been sent that the Admiralty did not want more of such stuff; and he believed that a good deal had not been fished up from the river, and he was not sure whether a portion of this might not yet be found in the Mill wall Yard. If this were the fact, it showed how loose must be the manner in which the Admiralty kept 961 their accounts, and he wished to impress upon them the necessity of having precise accounts of what became of the stock, of the work done, and of the money received. He would call the attention of the Committee to the increasing, and he thought unnecessary expenditure connected with medical superintendence. At Sheerness Dockyard there was a staff-surgeon at £500 per year, and close to, lay the Formidable, flag-ship, which had on board altogether five surgeons. But, besides this, there was a guard ship, the Cumberland, close to, on board of which there were four surgeons; that was altogether nine surgeons on shipboard, whose pay was £2,813, and one in the dockyard at £500 per year. How did it happen that some of these surgeons on ships could not attend to men in the dockyard? Deptford had a staff-surgeon, with a salary of £450 for the shipbuilding department, and another at £450, with a dispensary assistant at £100 per year for the victualling and transport department (and every staff-surgeon had a house in the dockyard). At Woolwich there was a staff-surgeon having £500 a year, and house-rent £75; there was likewise an assistant-surgeon of H.M.S. Fisgard at £40, and close by there was a marine infirmary, with a medical inspector and assistant-surgeons. The total salaries of these latter gentlemen with allowances amounted this year to £1,310; last year they were £1,130, and the year before only £1,000; and during this increase of salaries the wages of matrons, nurses, and other inferior servants, and clothing for nurses, had decreased as follows:—in 1864–5 the amount was £2,251; in 1865–6, £2,054; in 1866–7, £2,003; in 1867–8, £1,903; so that from this it would appear that there was less work to be done in 1867–8 than in former years. At the same dockyard there was a commodore superintendent, who was to have £1,250 this year, whereas last year he had £1,000. He hoped to have an explanation of the cause of this advance. In this Marine Infantry Hospital, the Deputy Inspector General of the hospital was put down to receive upwards of £600 this year, whereas it was £570 last year, and £511 in the previous year; the two assistant-surgeons were to receive £456 this year, whereas two years ago it was £419, and the allowances this year were £215, last year £141, and the year preceding £70. He wished to be informed of the reason of such increase, which, in respect of the 962 allowances, had increased threefold in two years. If expenses went on increasing at this rate they would soon be something enormous. He wished to know why, when there was an infirmary close to the dockyard gates, its advantages should not be utilized. There was a Mr. Hay, a chemist, who was receiving £400 a year at Portsmonth, and there was also a Mr. Hay who had invented a process for coating ship with a particular preparation. If, as he (Mr. Seely) had been informed, the same gentleman appeared in both characters, he protested against the principle of a gentleman appearing in a capacity where he had an interest in selling his own articles. At Portsmouth Dockyard there was a surgeon and assistant-surgeon, having together £800 per year. Close to was Forton Hospital. The medical expenses had increased at Forton for the Royal Marines from £918 two years ago to £1,178 this year, the wages of matrons, nurses, servants, and clothes for nurses remaining the same, and being only £47, the patients being about fifteen in number, although there was an infirmary for marine artillery at Fort Cumberland, which was within a short distance. At Haslar, which was within a mile of Forton, he found a similar increase in the medical staff. The expence this year for Haslar was £4,957; two years ago it was only £3,956. At Fort Cumberland the medical salaries had increased from £798 in 1865–6 to £1,197 in 1867–8, the wages of matrons, nurses, and clothes for nurses, remaining the same—namely, £251. Close to Portsmouth Dockyard was the flag-ship Victory, and the guardship of reserve Asia—nine surgeons being on the books of these ships at a total salary of £3,156. Surely some explanation of these items of increase ought to be given, and this vast amount of medical superintendence could not be required at and near Portsmouth. There was a similar increase of expenditure at Devonport, Chatham, and at Plymouth. At Malta the charge for the medical establishment had advanced from £1,257, which it was two years ago, to £1,682. The charge for gas and water at all the dockyards was continually increasing. The hon. Member for Pontefract had put before the House a plan for diminishing the number of our seamen and still maintaining our fleet in a state of efficiency. One branch of the service might be dispensed with altogether, and that was the Coastguard afloat, numbering 2,950 men. The total Vote for 963 pay and provisions for these men this year was £184,528, and the Vote for civil superintendence, &c., amounted to £40,000, so that £224,528 per year might be saved without really affecting the efficiency of the navy, for he understood that these ships were of no use whatever, either for the prevention of smuggling or as training ships. There was also a large expenditure upon the training ships, which he was told were of very little value, as they were rarely fully manned, and their anchors were seldom weighed. Then with regard to Greenwich Hospital, the accounts showed a constant increase, the charge for medical officers and allowances to them this year being £3,280 against £1,869 last year. It appeared to him that in all these matters, to which the public had not paid much attention, there had been a continual and gradual increase, and it was principally in these small items of hundreds that the public money was squandered away.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
suggested that the discussion with regard to the dockyard management and the Admiralty organization might be postponed until the system of re-organization promised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite was before the House. Before he adverted to the subject introduced by the hon. Member for Pontefract, he would first say a few words on the explanation giveh by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich with respect to the state in which he found the navy when he entered office. He regretted that the right hon. Baronet did not make that explanation a little earlier. A misapprehension had been allowed to exist for several months; for it now appeared that the right hon. Baronet did not refer to the general state of the navy, but to small vessels only. The hon. Member for Pontefract had referred to the foreign squadrons, and upon examination it would be found that the increase in the Estimates of the present year was mainly due to the small class of vessels which the Board of Admiralty proposed to build. It was intended to build thirty-three of these vessels, and the cost of them could not be less than £700,000. He suggested that the building of some of those vessels should be postponed, so that a portion of the expense might be thrown on another year. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had referred to the number of vessels broken up and sold during the last six years; but he did not state the 964 number that had been built within the same period. Now, it appeared by a Return he had from 1860 up to last August, when the present Board of Admiralty came into office, 162 vessels had been broken up or sold out of the navy, and 140 were added. Of those removed there were 45 paddle-wheel steamers, 87 gunboats and gunvessels, 11 sloops and corvettes, 11 line-of-battle ships and frigates. Of those added there were 14 paddle steamers, 28 gunboats, 24 sloops and corvettes, 19 frigates, 15 line-of-battle ships, and 30 iron-clads. This showed a decrease of 52 gunboats and 31 paddle steamers, and an increase of 34 sloops, corvettes, and frigates, and 30 iron-clads. The real efficiency of the navy was therefore very greatly increased. At the same time, he admitted that there had been a falling off in the number of gunboats. He found that we had altogether 122 vessels under 1,000 tons in commission, which were well described by the noble Lord as "cut and run" vessels. Of these, 102 were screw steamers, and 20 paddle steamers; 16 were on the North-American station, 29 in China, 9 in the Mediterranean, 7 in the East Indies and at the Cape, 7 on the South East Coast of America, 16 on the West Coast of Africa, 7 in the Pacific—91 out of 122 being on foreign stations. If, as his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract had argued, it was possible to diminish the force of our foreign squadrons, there would be the less necessity for increasing the number of this class of vessels. Upon the question of the policy of maintaining these squadrons he did not mean at that late hour to follow his hon. Friend; but he would venture to say one or two words with reference to two of these squadrons—that in North America and the China squadron. The North-American squadron had been increased from 14 vessels in 1862 to 41 in 1864, during the Civil War in America; it had now been reduced to 29 vessels; but as the American navy had been reduced to a peace footing, he thought the time had now come when our force in that part of the world might be safely reduced to what it was in 1862–14 vessels. If we went to war with America, which no hon. Gentleman anticipated, hardly any of these vessels would be fit to cope with the Monitors that would be brought against them on the coasts of the United States. We should have to recall nearly the whole of them, or supplement them with vessels of 965 a very different kind. Again, the China squadron had been doubled within the last twelve years. Its efficiency was also very greatly increased by the substitution of steamers for sailing vessels. No doubt our trade had vastly increased during the same period; but he thought the time had come when we should endeavour to secure the co-operation of America, Germany, and France against the pirates. The Chinese Government should also be required to pay for keeping down pirates. Piracy could not, in fact, be put down externally; it was a disease, and arose very much from the character and action of the Chinese Government itself; and it was by making the Government feel the responsibilities of its position by compelling it to fulfil its international obligations, that the best prospect lay of putting down piracy. Objections had been made to the concentration and reductions proposed by his hon. Friend. The hon. Member for Liverpool had stated that one of the principal benefits arising from these foreign squadrons was the training of the men and officers, and the instruction of officers in international Law. But these squadrons were very often stationary; they very seldom came together for the purpose of squadron exercise. Besides, the advantages of the training referred to would be equally or better gained by a flying squadron. And as to training officers in International Law, if that could for a moment be considered as a reason for maintaining these expensive squadrons, it was to be observed that it was daily becoming of less importance in consequence of the improvement in the means of communication, which rendered it unnecessary for officers to act upon their own responsibility. The great point of his hon. Friend's observations was to effect greater concentration of our force, and thus, while effecting a considerable reduction of force and expenditure, an increase would be gained both for purposes of offence and defence. What occurred at Valparaiso showed how little protection a fleet could give to British property. In that case our Admiral in command of the fleet had remained as a spectator while the property of British merchants was destroyed by the bombardment of Spanish vessels. In the opinion of the Government he had acted rightly; because to interfere would have been equivalent to a declaration of war with Spain—and if any wrong was done it should be the subject of direct negotiations between the two 966 Governments, and ought not to be decided by the Admiral on the spot. If that were rightly decided, for what purpose did we maintain so large a fleet there? The First Lord of the Admiralty had asserted that the concentration of our squadrons nearer home would alarm European Powers, and lead to increased activity in the building of ships on their part. But surely that was building best evidence that such a concentration would give us greater power both for defence and offence, and would therefore be an advantageous step. There would be no danger to the country in a reduction of the number of men. He had during last autumn visited the American dockyards, and he could confirm the statement made by his hon. Friend the Member for Halifax, as to the reduction of the American navy. There was absolutely nothing going on in the naval yards of that country, with regard to the production of that class of fast vessels of which we had heard so much, that could occasion us any alarm. On the subject of their navy yards he would read a few observations lately made by the Secretary of the Navy to Congress. He said—During the past year the operations of the navy yards have been reduced to the lowest point consistent with the public interest. On several vessels work has been altogether suspended, and on others only so much has been done as was necessary to enable the contractors for the steam machinery to place portions of their engines in the hulls. Six vessels of the class intended for high speed have been launched, and also three others, in which the steam power has been somewhat reduced in order to increase the armament. Steam machinery for twelve vessels of the classes here referred to is in an advanced condition, and the Department is under contracts made during the war to provide the vessels in which these engines are to be placed. It has, however, been considered advantageous under the circumstances, there being no pressing necessity for this class of vessels since hostilities have ceased, to make temporary arrangements for storing the machinery and postpone the construction of the hulls. During the year, the force in the navy yards has been principally engaged in placing in efficient condition the vessels which had been almost constantly employed during the war, and but very little progress has been made upon the hulls of new vessels.He could say from his own observation that six vessels of the larger type of 3,000 tons had been built. Three of them had been tried. The first had been rejected because it did not cone up to the speed promised. The second also did not come up to the speed promised. As the third vessel steamed at the rate of 12 knots an hour he supposed that it must be called a fast vessel; but, 967 at the same time, its capacity for stowage was but small. It should also be borne in mind that the Americans had no really good sea-going iron-clad vessels; and therefore it was the less necessary for us to build vessels to cope with them since we had vessels like the Warrior and Black Prince, with which the Americans could scarcely hope to cope. He would conclude by saying that the navies of France and of America need create no alarm whatever in this country; and therefore any reduction in the naval service which we might make would not expose us to be taken at a disadvantage.
said, that the questions that had been raised that evening were of great importance, but they were approaching the hour when the patience of Committees usually became exhausted; and therefore he hoped the Committee would not think he was treating them with want of respect if he confined his remarks to the most material points which have been referred to, reserving further explanations for a future day. In the first place, he must remark that he thought it would be more convenient if hon. Members confined their attention to the general policy of the administration in the preliminary discussion which was usual on the first Vote, and abstained from going into details with reference to particular subjects that might be much more advantageously discussed at a future stage. When the particular Votes to which those details referred came on for discussion, he and his Colleagues would be most happy to give every explanation that might be desired of them. With regard to the question of ships upon foreign stations which had been raised the other night by the hon. Member for Pontefract, and which had been again referred to that evening by the hon. Member for Halifax, he might observe that it was singular enough that this criticism upon the subject of the distribution of the fleet had proceeded solely from three former Civil Lords of the Admiralty. He was the last person who would wish to speak disrespectfully of Civil Lords, since he himself had been a Civil Lord for five or six times as long as the duration of the service at the Admiralty of any of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. But from his own experience during that time he was enabled to state that upon one point the advice of the Civil Lord never was asked, and that was as to the distribution of Her Majesty's ships. The manner in 968 which the naval power was to be distributed was a Cabinet question, and depended upon considerations with which even the Lords of the Admiralty themselves were sometimes unacquainted, and which were kept within the bosom of the Cabinet. The Admiralty implicitly obeyed the instructions they received from the Cabinet upon this point. This was, of course, not a party question; still, it was singular that during the last nine or ten years the naval force upon foreign stations was much greater under Whig Governments than it had been under Conservative Governments. Thus, in 1858, when a Whig Government was in office, the number of men upon foreign stations was 28,657, whereas, in 1859, when his right hon. Friend Sir John Pakington prepared the Estimates, the number was reduced to 24,138; the average number between 1860 to 1866, when hon. Gentlemen opposite prepared the Estimates was 33,153, while, during the present year, it was only 24,560. Therefore, the present Government could not be accused of acting very extravagantly in this respect. The hon. Member for Halifax had laughed at the idea of the Foreign Minister directing the Admiralty; but the demands for ships for foreign stations had been generally irresistible, and if the Foreign Minister and the Cabinet said that one, two, five, or ten vessels were to go to a certain station the Admiralty must send them. It must be recollected that the ships on foreign stations did great service in acting as the police of the seas, and if they were withdrawn the greatest loss would fall upon our commerce, especially in the Chinese seas. It would be a most unsatisfactory thing were eight or ten of our fine merchant vessels to be burnt or plundered in consequence of our leaving the police of the seas to the care of the Chinese, which was one of the suggestions that had been made. He did not think that such a policy would be approved by the nation generally. The hon. Member for Pontefract had indicated the other night a scheme for maintaining a flying squadron at Lisbon, instead of distributing our force on the different stations, so that at the flash of the electric telegraph it might be sent to any part of the world in which its presence might be required. That would, undoubtedly, be a good plan if the vessels could also be sent by telegraph wherever they were wanted; but as the ships might have to go from 969 4,000 to 10,000 miles, and in many instances, perhaps, with only five or six days' coal on board, he was afraid the squadron would be of but little assistance at the critical moment. With regard to the amount of the Estimates, the Admiralty were called upon to justify the demands for the extra £500,000 asked fur the service of the present year. It had already been stated by the noble Lord the Secretary of the Admiralty, who had moved the Navy Estimates in his absence, that the whole of that £500,000 was required for building new ships; and the question, therefore, was whether the Admiralty could justify the proposal for so increasing our present force. It must be admitted on all hands that it would be impossible to send iron-clads all over the world as cruizers to protect our commerce. It would be necessary to reserve the greater part of our iron-clads for the great political stations—such as the Mediterranean, the Channel, the East and West Indies, and North America. What would be the use of a squadron of iron-clads in the Chinese seas, where the work would be much more satisfactorily performed by smaller vessels? In the event of war, if we had not a sufficient number of small vessels to protect it, our commerce would be open to destruction by Alabamas to an extent that would spread dismay over this country. A most distinguished French Admiral had remarked in a pamphlet many years ago, that France must keep her corvettes and frigates in hand for the purpose of sending them to distant stations at the first outbreak of a war with England for the purpose of stabbing her to the heart by attacking her commerce, and thus compelling her to make peace. In order to meet such a mode of attack we ought to maintain a considerable force of vessels of the smaller classes, so as to enable us to protect our commerce from such attempts. He found that the number of ships under the rank of frigates at the disposal of this country in 1860 was corvettes and sloops, 61; gunvessels and gunboats, 166; paddle sloops, 35; building—corvettes 20, gunvessels and gunboats 24, making a total of 306, whereas in 1867, the numbers are, corvettes and sloops 55, and gunvessels and gunboats 127, paddle sloops, 10; building, corvettes and sloops 6, gunvessels 17, making a total of 215, or 91 less than in 1860. The right hon. Gentleman the late First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir John Pakington) thought 970 it desirable, under these circumstances, that 21 additional vessels of the smaller classes should be built—namely, 3 sloops, 8 gunvessels, and 10 gunboats, which would give us a total of 236, or 70 less than in 1860. Perhaps it might be imagined that the number of vessels of the smaller classes in 1860 was unnecessarily large; but having been Secretary in the preceding year, he would state that the reverse was the ease, and the number even then was insufficient. Hon. Gentlemen had talked about the number of our ships in comparison with that of other countries; but it had always been the policy of England to maintain a commanding fleet, greatly superior to that of other nations, and that for obvious reasons. The hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen said, "Look at the number of our men, compared with the number in the French navy." He (Mr. Corry) might say look at the number of soldiers which France had as compared with England. The reason why France had more soldiers than England, and why England had more sailors than France, was because the requirements of the two countries were totally different. It was absolutely necessary to the existence of France that she should have a large military force; and, on the other hand, it was equally a necessity to England that she should be a great naval Power, and he hoped that she would always aim at maintaining a commanding fleet. At that late hour he would not further prolong the debate, but should be happy to afford any information which might be required on the discussion of the separate Votes. He hoped the Committee would pass the Vote in the hands of the Chairman before they reported Progress.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, it was perfectly true that he and his hon. Friends who had spoken in that discussion, having held office as Civil Lords of the Admiralty, had nothing to do with the strength or disposition of the foreign squadrons; but that was precisely the reason why they had come forward on that occasion, for no one could taunt them with now suggesting a line of policy different from what they had formerly pursued. They had raised a discussion which he hoped would prove useful on a point of great national importance. The Committee was now asked to vote 67,300 men; but that number did not include the number of men to be employed in the troop ships. He therefore suggested that the Vote should be for the entire force 971 that would be brought under the provisions of the Naval Discipline Act, which would give 69,313 for the true total of the number of men to be voted. He begged to withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, he hoped that the remarks of the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw-Lefevre), respecting the British squadron at Valparaiso, would not be lost on the House, because the British merchants there had looked for protection from the British squadron; but it turned out that that squadron had not been strong enough to go into action, and the prestige of England suffered greatly in consequence. We should either maintain an adequate squadron in those waters or none at all.
said, he considered the number of men proposed to be voted was correctly stated in the Estimate; but he had no objection to accept the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract if he wished to press it, although he thought it unnecessary.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to
§ (2.) £1,900,952, Wages—["Progress, Progress!"]
said, he hoped the Committee would allow him to proceed until they came to a disputed Vote. It was desirable that as many Votes should be taken as possible, as it was uncertain when he should be able to take the Estimates again.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, he hoped the Committee would allow the next Vote to be taken, because it followed the number of men as a matter of course.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £1,241,614, Victuals and Clothing.
Whereupon Question again proposed,
That 63,300 Men and Boys be employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services, for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1868, including 16,200 Royal Marines."—(Mr. Childers.)
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £176,018, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Salaries of the Officers and the Contingent Expenses of the Admiralty Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1868.
§ MR. SERJEANT GASELEE
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would assent to the Motion, as it was too late at that hour (quarter past twelve o'clock) to raise a discussion on the Vote. He 972 wished to ask how it was, that so many temporary clerks having been discharged on account of the expense, the salary of the private secretary to the First Lord had been increased from £300 to £507; and also, who he was [Cries of "Progress! and No, no!"]; and also why the chief clerk's and the chief instructor's salaries had been increased £100 each?
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, that the objection raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman with reference to the private secretary no longer existed. It was an appointment by the late First Lord of the Admiralty, and as that right hon. Gentleman had ceased to hold the office of First Lord the private secretaryship ceased to exist. As to the two extra clerks, they were not really additions, inasmuch as they had formerly been employed as temporary clerks, and were now made permanent.
§ MR. SERJEANT GASELEE
said, he thought the explanation was most unsatisfactory, as he considered it was rank jobbery that a First Lord should have appointed his son, who was not a naval man, to this position.
said, be saw that the three Naval Lords received £1,000 each; but by a note he found this included £300 a year for a house, so they appeared only in fact to get £700. Was this so?
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again," (Mr. Serjeant Gaselee,)—put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.