HC Deb 05 August 1867 vol 189 cc853-69

rose to move that the cost of management of Greenwich Hospital was too great, and ought to be reduced. The complaint which he had to make against the cost of management for Greenwich Hospital was not a new one; but one which had been made continually, but without, so far as he could perceive, any remedy being applied to it. The Royal Commission which was appointed to inquire into this subject in 1859 issued their Report in 1860, in which they stated that the number of pensioners could be increased from 1,600 to 2,300, and the number of children in the schools from 800 to 1,050, with a decrease in the cost of management of £25,000. After that, Sir Richard Bromley, one of the ablest officials, was instructed by the Admiralty to inquire into the subject, and he confirmed the Report of the Royal Commission that the cost of management was far too great. In 1864 the Duke of Somerset issued a Memorandum, in which he also admitted that the cost of management was far too great, and stated that he thought it was capable of being reduced £20,000 per annum, which would be only a small portion of the saving that would be effected by the change he proposed. The Board of Admiralty afterwards brought in a Bill, which received the sanction of that House, whereby the Board of Admiralty were allowed to appropriate between £170,000 and £180,000 belonging to the institution to the purchase of annuities for retiring officers consequent on the proposed reduction in the cost of the management. And on the 19th of June, 1863, the hon. Baronet the Member for Wakefield (Sir John Hay), who was a member of the Royal Commission, said that a reduction in the expenditure of nearly £25,000 per annum could be easily arranged by not filling up vacancies when they occurred. No reduction in the expenditure, however, had been effected in proportion to the expectations that had been held out, and his opinion was that the expenses of management were more costly now than they were before any change was made. By the 47th section of the Act of 1865 for the better regulation of Greenwich Hospital, and for the better appropriation of the funds thereof, an annual audit of the accounts was directed by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to be presented to Parliament within a certain time therein specified, but as yet that provision had not been complied with. No account of the expenditure, however, had been laid upon the table. The current expenses of Greenwich Hospital had been paid out of the Consolidated Fund since the Act of Parliament came into operation on the 1st of October, 1865, and he apprehended that since that date nearly £200,000 had been paid out of the Consolidated Fund on behalf of this institution. But not a single penny of that sum could be recovered by the Consolidated Fund out of the income of the Hospital until the Commissioners of Audit had certified that the money was due. Another result of neglecting to lay the accounts on the table of the House was that, unless that were done, there would be no check over the power, conferred on the Admiralty by the Act, of transferring sums from the capital account to the income account of the Hospital, or vice versâ. Then he should like to be informed whether anything had been done towards carrying into effect the clauses of the Act in regard to the sale of the advowsons. The mode of audit prescribed by the statute was quite unobjectionable, but the right hon. Gentleman stated some months ago, in reply to a question put by him, that the Admiralty had neglected to have the accounts audited in the way prescribed, and that it was intended to bring in a Bill immediately to alter that form of audit, but as yet they had seen nothing of it. If, however, they did not intend to bring in such a Bill, it was their duty to carry out the provisions of the present Act, and audit the accounts as therein prescribed. He was at a loss to understand what objections there could be to the mode of audit; for his part, he could not imagine a better one, and, therefore, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty whether it was still intended to introduce a measure; also, whether he would lay upon the table the Correspondence which had taken place on this subject between the Exchequer and Audit Department and the Board of Admiralty, between the Exchequer and Audit Department and the Treasury, and between the Treasury and the Admiralty; and whether he had taken Counsel's Opinion on the subject, and, if so, whether there would be any objection to lay such Opinion on the table of the House? He would now quote some statistics respecting Greenwich Hospital. When the Royal Commissioners made their Report the cost of the Establishment for managing the Hospital was £56,011 per annum, and they proposed that the number of pensioners should be increased to 2,300, and the number of boys to 1,050, and that, instead of spending £56,011 annually in these Establishment charges, they should be reduced to £31,972. At the present time, however, there were only 370 men in the Hospital, and 800 boys in the school, and nevertheless the Establishment charges amounted to £41,301, to which sum there ought to be added £5,833, being the amount of income which he calculated the Admiralty would have received if they had not spent £175,000 on the purchase of annuities for retiring officers. In 1864, the Establishment charges, exclusive of the cost of the establishment for the schools, was £34,690. The Duke of Somerset had stated in the other House that if the proposed reduction of the men from 1,600 to 600 were carried out—the old Establishment was really calculated for 2,642 men, but only 1,600 were in—the Establishment charges would be only £14,538. At present, however, with only 370 men in the Hospital, they amounted to no less than £23,172, which would be raised to £29,005, if the £5,833 interest for loss of income invested to purchase annuities for discontinued officers were taken into account. At the time of the change these Establishment charges, calculated for 2,642 men, came to £13 2s. 6d. per man; according to the noble Duke's estimate for 600 men, they should now have been £24 5s. per man; but taking the number of men in the Hospital at the present time at 370, the actual cost per head was £80, and it would be as much as £48 6s. 8d. per head even if there were 600 men in the Hospital. Then it should be borne in mind that in certain items considerable saving had been effected. For instance, the noble Duke had calculated that £21,900 would be required for clothes, provisions, money allowances, &c.; but, in consequence of the reduction in the number of the men, £16,000 had been found sufficient. Again, according to the noble Duke £5,000 was to be allotted for gratuities to widows, but only £1,000 had been required. Thus, in these two items, there had been a saving of £9,900, but of this sum no less than £8,364 had been absorbed in the extra cost of management over and above what the noble Duke had stated would be necessary. He now wished to point out that for the management of 370 men and 800 boys the Admiralty required 15 clerks, at a cost of £3,693 a year, of which there were at the Admiralty three clerks, at a charge of £960; three writers, at a charge of £274; and a messenger, with a salary of £33. Before the change only 15 clerks were employed, at a cost of £3,935 per annum, for 1,600 men then in and 800 boys, and the Royal Commissioners stated that, if the number of pensioners was increased to 2,300, and boys to 1,050, the number of clerks required would not be more than 10, at a cost of £2,620. There were at the present moment, therefore, five clerks more than the number which the Commissioners stated were necessary for conducting an Establishment of 2,300 men, and the excess cost in this item was £1,073. But the most extraordinary charge of all was £1,100 per annum for a Controller, who was a solicitor—and £358 was paid also for his clerk — and who was allowed to retain his private practice. With regard to the duties of the Controller, they were certainly very singular. They were numerous, but not very important, and they might easily be borne by other parties on the Establishment. For instance, "keeping an account of the revenues" might be done by the steward; "keeping a register" might be transferred to the clerk, Mr. Gray Stewart. He had nothing to say against Mr. Lethbury. He was a solicitor, and an upright man, one whom he would not hesitate to employ in his private affairs; but the question was whether he was wanted for this particular office, at a cost to the Hospital of £1,100. Another part of the Controller's duty was to inspect the property of the Hospital, and report on its condition; but the Admiralty had a Director of Works, and why could not he, or somebody subordinate to him, inspect the property and report? Another of his duties was to keep books, preserve letters, and visit, inspect, and report on all the estate. But what benefit could there he in a solicitor of so considerable a practice in London going into the country to inspect property? It was neither more nor less than a farce.


I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member; but I think it my duty to point out to him what is the rule of the House with regard to this matter of detail. The rule is that on going into Committee of Supply, you cannot discuss the particular items of Votes which are set down to be discussed in the Committee. I have had some conversation with the hon. Member upon this point, and was aware that he was proposing to himself a very difficult task in designing to speak generally of the management of Greenwich Hospital without entering into the details. When we go into Committee, as there is a Vote to be moved for the expenses of Greenwich Hospital, every one of these items with which the hon. Member has dealt will have to be submitted for discussion, and it will then be in accordance with order to pursue the discussion which has been, as far as I have observed, continued irregularly up to the present time. It is my duty, therefore, to state that the course which the hon. Member has pursued is contrary to the rule of the House.


said, of course he must bow to the decision of the Chair, but he presumed that he could discuss the items of last year's Estimates in relation to Greenwich Hospital. The reason he introduced the subject on going into Committee of Supply was this: he wished to take a vote of the House upon the general question, and this he could not obtain in Committee, because the only Motion he could make on such an occasion would be in view of a reduction of the Vote, and that would be unfair to the officials, because the year had been already entered on. He would not dismiss a servant from his own establishment in an unceremonious way, and therefore would not ask the House to deal so with the Controller; but he felt bound to expose the state of affairs at Greenwich Hospital, the cost of management—he would even say the robbery—was so great. By the Estimates for 1866–7, he found that the Establishment of the Hospital had upon it a captain-superintendent at £800, and two lieutenants at £460 a year. These gentlemen were respectable men; but of what use were they? What had they to do with reference to the management of 370 aged men and 800 boys? The hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) had said in May, 1865, that the Bill under discussion proposed to replace a most expensive staff by a simple working staff, so as to save money for increasing out-pensioners; and that, if the rule were broken by one sinecure, it would be difficult to resist other similar appointments. Lord Clarence Paget, too, had said in the House in 1864, that all offices beyond what were necessary for the discipline of the place should be abolished; but was it necessary for discipline to have a captain-superintendent and two lieutenants? In addition to this, there were actually eighteen policemen at £1,280 a year to keep these 370 aged men and 800 boys in order. The city of Lincoln, which he had the honour to represent, contained 20,000 inhabitants, and was two miles long, yet it had no more than about twenty-four policemen. It was perfectly ridiculous. Then, the medical establishment for 1,600 pensioners and 800 boys had been set down by the Royal Commission as being £3,539, and last year the 370 men and 800 boys had actually cost £2,085, and this year was to be £3,424. And he desired to know how it was that Sir Edward Hilditch, formerly inspector-general, had been pensioned at the age of sixty, after four years' service, at about £1,000 a year? Comparing also the cost of the civil staff—exclusive, of course, of captain-superintendent, lieutenants, medical staff, chaplain, labourers, nurses, &c.—at the time when 2,300 men lived at the hospital, with the cost last year, he found that the cost was then £5,970, and last year £5,486, so that the civil staff for the greatly smaller number cost only £484 less. With regard to the school the Commissioners reported that the establishment of masters, &c., for 1,050 boys should cost £3,510, but in 1859 this item for the 800 boys cost £8,456, or £4,946 more than 1,050 should cost. Last year's Estimate would be found to exceed the £3,510 by £4,066. He contrasted the cost of management with the amount spent for the benefit of the men themselves and for the children. Last year the management of the Hospital cost £23,469, and the provisions, clothing, stores, medicines, &c., and money allowances to in-pensioners, £16,000. The cost for the management of the school was £10,249, and the cost of the maintenance of the school was £12,750, the total management for Hospital and school being £33,061, and the total maintenance being £28,911. He did not suppose it would be denied that the institution was founded for the benefit of seamen, their widows and children. That fact was evident from the Charter of 1694, and was corroborated by the opinion expressed in the Report of the Royal Commissioners. He thought, also, that it might be gathered, from what occurred in discussion in 1864 and 1865, that such was the opinion of the hon. Member for Pontefract and of the Duke of Somerset. If, therefore, any doubt existed on the point before 1865, none could exist now: and it must be admitted that officers of the Royal Navy ought not to receive appointments in the Hospital simply as a sort of sinecure. He anticipated that the only objection which the First Lord of the Admiralty could make to his Motion was that a Committee had been appointed to inquire into the subject, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman might ask the House to wait for that Report. Now, a Committee might be usefully appointed to investigate a difficult subject, but surely the question as to what ought to be the amount of management for 370 men and 800 boys needed not the investigation of a Committee. At all events if the House affirmed his Resolution, it would not prejudice the right hon. Gentleman's inquiries. He quite agreed in all that had been said about the heroism and the self-devotion of our seamen; but surely the best way of praising them would be to do them the act of justice which he now asked the House to perform.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the cost of management of Greenwich Hospital is too great, and ought to be reduced,"—(Mr. Seely,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, it would be in the recollection of the House that when he entered upon the duties of the office he now held the Navy Estimates were under consideration, and there were other pressing matters at the Admiralty claiming his attention. As soon as some progress had been made with the Navy Estimates, and he had time to turn his attention to the subject of Greenwich Hospital, it certainly occurred to him that the charge for management was large. He felt it his duty to bring the subject to the notice of the Board, and he proposed the appointment of an Admiralty Committee to investigate all the facts of the case, and ascertain whether any reduction could be made without impairing the efficiency of the establishment. He made that proposal some considerable time before notice of the present Motion appeared on the Paper; but much delay had arisen from causes over which he had no control. It was thought desirable that the Committee should be as free as possible from Admiralty and Parliamentary influence; and the only Member serving on the Committee connected with the Admiralty was the Civil Lord (Mr. Du Cane), who undertook to act as Chairman. Owing to the difficulty experienced in procuring gentlemen with sufficient time at their disposal to serve upon the Committee, and whose opinions would carry with them weight and confidence, a considerable time elapsed before it could be appointed; and then it was found that the investigation would occupy a longer time than was at first supposed. For these reasons the Admiralty was not yet in possession of the Report of the Committee, although it had been very diligent in its labours. He could assure his hon. Friend that he was most anxious that the utmost economy, consistent with efficiency, should be practised with regard to the revenues of Greenwich Hospital, so as to render them as largely available as possible for granting pensions to seamen and marines; and he was glad to find from the closing sentences of his hon. Friend that it was probable be would not think it necessary to press his Motion to a division. He would now follow his hon. Friend through some of the principal points of his criticism. In respect to what had been said by his hon. Friend regarding the delay of the audit, the fact was, that the Admiralty had thought that some Amendments in its form might be introduced with the view to diminish the labour, and consequently the expense of preparing it; but the Treasury, to whom the point was referred, unfortunately did not concur in the proposed changes, and delay had thus ensued. At the present moment a conference was going on between the Audit Office and the Accountant General's Office on the subject, and further delay was therefore unavoidable. He was sorry that the account was not ready, but he had every reason to believe that he would very shortly be able to present it. He was not aware that there would be any objection to producing the Correspondence between the Exchequer and the Audit Office as to the interpretation of the clause of the Act under which the audit was prepared; but he was not in a position absolutely to bind himself to produce it. He could not agree with his hon. Friend that the charge of £5,833 a year, arising out of the compensation granted to certain persons in consequence of the change of system, could fairly be considered a charge against the present management. His hon. Friend next referred to the Establishment charges, which, he stated, amounted to £34,000, exclusive of the charge for the schools. The Estimate of the Duke of Somerset of the cost of the Establishment under the altered system, calculated upon a basis of 600 in-pensioners, amounted to only £14,000; and this estimate was founded upon the cost of Haslar Hospital. Now, in 1864–5 the cost of Haslar was £15,141, or, in round numbers, £1,000 more than the Estimate of the Duke of Somerset; and the Greenwich Estimate on account of Establishment charges and wages—including police—for the present year, was £20,447, or £5,306 more than the expense of Haslar in 1864–5. But the hon. Gentleman must remember that this Estimate was based on the supposition that there would be 500 in-pensioners, whereas there were now only 375, and, therefore, the expenditure would fall considerably short of the Estimate. Besides this, the difference between the two amounts was occasioned by a number of additional items being included in the Greenwich Vote, many of which, as in the case of Haslar, were provided for under other heads of expenditure. The captain-superintendent of Haslar Hospital was also the superintendent of the Royal Clarence Victualling Yard, and his salary was charged in the Vote for the latter Establishment. There was a difference of £60 in the pay of two lieutenants at Greenwich; an additional allowance of £100 to Mr. Jones, the steward, for cash duties which was not to be continued to his successor; a small increase of £37 to the staff-surgeon and medical storekeeper owing to increased pay, according to rank; a salary of £150 to the chaplain, by Order in Council of 1866, but as this was on account of duties analogous to those of a chaplain-general of the navy, it certainly ought to appear in the Navy and not in the Greenwich Estimates, and he would take care that it should be so in future. Then there was £902 for clerks, according to progressive length of service, and for one additional for the school, no similar clerk being required in Haslar; £880 for gas, which, in the case of Haslar, was provided for under a different Vote; £290 for two mates of victualling, not borne at Haslar, and who, if they were not thus provided for, would be entitled to pensions; £1,500 for washing, which at Haslar was performed by the Establishment, but at Greenwich by contract, and the Committee were now inquiring whether the systems in both places could not be assimilated; and lastly £488 being the increase in the pay of the assistant-surgeons under the late Order in Council. The items which he had thus detailed amounted to £5,207, or within £100 of the alleged excess of expenditure at Greenwich. The calculation for wages at Haslar Hospital in 1864–5, amounting to £7,773, was exclusive of police, who at that time were charged to Vote 8. But the Estimate of wages for Greenwich Hospital in the present year, £9,131, was inclusive of police, which accounted for the greater part of the difference of £1,358. To establish an accurate comparison it was necessary to add to the Haslar Estimate for 1864–5, £15,141 the exceptional items as in the case of Greenwich—namely, the charges not included in the Haslar Vote already detailed, £5,207; police charges, £1,234, raising the total to £21,682, while the gross total for Establishment and wages charged in the Greenwich Estimate for 1867–8 was only £20,447, which would show a difference in favour of that Hospital of £1,235. The charge for Hospital clerks certainly was large; but additional expenditure had, of course, followed the increased amount of clerical labour indispensable to the production of accounts in the form which the House had latterly been desirous of obtaining. He was glad to find that his hon. Friend was now of opinion that the accounts were too voluminous and were capable of being much simplified. In regard to the expenses of the Controller, he had only to say that the Controller was appointed by the late Government; that he had some doubts whether the appointment was a wise one, and that the subject was under consideration. In reference to the police, it certainly appeared to him that eighteen policemen were more than would be required; and as the Chairman of the Committee seemed to be very much disposed to concur in that opinion, he hoped that some saving would be effected under this head. With respect to the medical staff, he thought that his hon. Friend had not put the case quite fairly, for it must be remembered that the inmates of Greenwich were now all old and infirm men, and it was the custom that each of them should be personally seen by the medical officer every day. His hon. Friend had said, and truly, that the cost of the schools was great; but, on the other hand, it must be borne in mind that the education given was of a high standard, and fitted the boys for good positions in life. The proposal had been made to assimilate the education to that which was given in the district union schools of the metropolis; but though a saving might thus be effected, he felt considerable doubt whether it would be a wise retrenchment; and, as regarded the expense of repairs, he could only say that the building was as large as ever, though the number of its inmates was less, and that the present Estimate was higher than it would have been in consequence of this being the year for the periodical painting of the building. In conclusion, while he admitted that the Greenwich Hospital Estimate was not satisfactory, he trusted that, after the explanations he had given, and the promise that the strictest economy compatible with efficiency would be observed, the hon. Gentleman would not press the Motion to a division.


said, he had on a former occasion during the present Session called attention to what he conceived was the excessive expenditure at Greenwich Hospital. He was therefore glad that a Committee had been appointed, and that considerable reductions would be effected. He had no doubt that under the able Chairmanship of the hon. Member for Essex (Mr. Du Cane) the whole circumstances of the case would be inquired into, and due regard would be had to economy. So far the debate had turned on the extravagant charge for the Establishment, compared with the Duke of Somerset's Estimate in 1864. The Estimate of the Duke of Somerset was no doubt a rough one; but it was only intended to be approximate. He estimated that the Establishment would cost £14,500; the expenditure on works, £9,300; and the clothing and provision for pensioners, £21,900, making a total of £45,700. When the Admiralty and the Treasury came to the final determination to deal with the subject a Committee was appointed, of which he was Chairman, Sir Richard Bromley and Mr. Hamilton being also members; and great pains were taken to go into the whole details of the future expenditure. Presuming that the number of men would be reduced to 600, they arrived at the conclusion that the salaries might be reduced to £8,920, contingencies to £3,005, and wages to £7,600 — in all £18,920. The expenditure on the Works Department should be less than £6,000, so that the whole expenditure for the Establishment, exclusive of clothing, provisions, and pensions, would be £24,920, as against £24,138 estimated by the Duke of Somerset, and the total expenditure was £45,000 odd, within a few pounds of the Estimate of the noble Duke. With this concurrence of opinion as to what the Establishment charges should be, it was most desirable that the pruning knife should be used at once. For instance, he felt sure that the number of police, of nurses, and sick attendants, and even of superior officers, was out of all proportion. He could not believe that it was necessary to employ such a number of clerks or such a number of medical officers at a high salary. A very considerable reduction might be made in these respects, without in the least injuring the efficiency of the Establishment. He had some doubts about much economy in the school. It was true that the cost of the school exceeded the Estimate of the Commissioners; but it must be borne in mind that that Estimate was framed upon the idea that it was to be a mere workhouse school, while in fact, the standard of the education given at Greenwich was at present much higher. If the school was merely to be used as an auxiliary to the training ships, as a means of supplying men to the navy, it might be right to reduce the standard; but before adopting such a course the Admiralty must remember that the advantages of this school on its present footing had been viewed as a privilege to be claimed by sailors both in the Royal Navy and in the Mercantile Marine, and were not likely to be very highly estimated if it was reduced to the level of a mere workhouse school. But let him bring back the House to the more important part of this question. Some economies might still be effected, but let it be borne in mind that the main object of the Act of 1865 had been entirely secured. No less than £57,000 was now spent on out-pensions to sailors living with their friends, which had been wasted on a small number in a semi-monastic institution at Greenwich. And now the real question was, even supposing they could reduce the expenditure upon Greenwich Hospital from £45,000 to £35,000, was it worth while to expend such an amount to house a number of infirm men, many of whom would be much better with their families? He did not believe that they would ever be able to exclude from Greenwich the element of extravagance, and he suggested to the Admiralty that they might clear out of the Hospital all but 160 or 200 men, who were only fit to lie upon their backs in the infirmary, and that even these might advantageously be removed to Haslar or Plymouth, where there were several vacant wards. Thus in a few years another £40,000 a year or more might be devoted to out-pensions for a large number of old sailors. He thought, after the very satisfactory explanation which had been given by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, that the hon. Gentleman would do welt not to press his Motion.


referred to a Petition which he had presented some time since from 145 seamen of the port of Aberdeen, which set forth that before 1834 they had paid 6d. per month out of their pay for the support of Greenwich Hospital. The petitioners submitted that the surviving seamen who had formerly paid the "Greenwich sixpence," and also their surviving widows and direct heirs, had a fair claim on the accumulated funds which had been contributed by British merchant seamen to the funds of Greenwich Hospital.


said, he considered that the funds of the Hospital were neither wisely nor economically administered. The medical staff last year cost £2,085, whilst this year the Estimate was £3,539; while the number of inmates was decreasing the charge for medical attendance was increasing. Permanent sickness in the Hospital attached to about 160. The medical attendance was not better than that usually given in the workhouses, where the cost of providing for 160 would not exced £500. The cost of management of the Hospital was £23,000, whilst the whole cost of, maintenance did not exceed £16,000. The number of boys in the school was 800, and the cost of their maintenance £12,000, which, perhaps, was not higher than might be expected, whilst the charge for teaching was not less than £10,000 or £12,000, which was certainly extravagant. The total of the management charges was £32,700, whilst the maintenance charges were only £28,700. The hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes) had called attention to the case of the claimants in that borough. There were about 400 similar claimants in Sunderland, most of whom were in a state of destitution and dependent on the country for their maintenance. The merchant seamen for a century and a quarter had contributed £20,000 a year to the maintenance of the Hospital, and if they had no legal claim on the Establishment, they most undoubtedly had a moral one. He now asked the Government to bring in an Act to establish and legalize the claims of the merchant seamen, who were scattered about the seaports of the country in penury, to that comfort for declining years to which they were so justly entitled. If the First Lord of the Admiralty would only do that he would be acting justly towards a most deserving class, and would entitle himself to their lasting gratitude.


said, he was glad to hear that the Admiralty were directing their attention to the curtailing of this enormous expenditure. With regard to the schools in connection with Greenwich Hospital, they had cost the country £175,000 for building, and they were kept up at an annual cost to the Hospital for repairs and maintenance of £2,500. The school accommodation, however, was inadequate, and the Commissioners, when their attention was directed to that point, visited the Central London District Union Schools, and they found that these schools, which were sufficient to accommodate 1,200 children instead of 800, the number provided for at Greenwich, had much better accommodation, and had been built for less than half the cost. He wished to know whether the Greenwich schools were still insufficient for the children, whether the dormitories had been improved, and whether the playground had been extended as was recommended? He hoped the standard of education in the schools would not be lowered—if it were, that would be a great mistake. With regard to the claims of the merchant seamen, it should be remembered that the claims of the Royal Navy stood first, and that they could only provide for the merchant seamen by judicious economy. He wished to know what had been done with regard to the sale of advowsons belonging to the Hospital — whether any and what livings had been sold, and to whom?


said, he would not enter into the general question, but with regard to the claims of the merchant seamen, which had been mentioned by the hon. Member for Sunderland, and respecting which a discussion had taken place on a former day, he should like to say a few words. The Greenwich 6d., as it was called, was half of a shilling, which was paid in former days by the merchant seamen. While 6d. was exacted from them for the Hospital, another 6d. was contributed as a sort of pension or assurance fund; the same men were, in most cases, interested in both funds. That fund was badly managed for a long time; the laws of life insurance were ill understood in those days, and the payments were made on different principles in different ports. One way or another the fund became practically insolvent, and in 1851 it was handed over to the Board of Trade; but it was so far insufficient for the pensions now paid, that in the Estimate for this year a sum of £52,040 was set down as payment by the State to merchant seamen in excess of the money received for the fund. Before the fund was wound up the loss to the country on that account would have amounted to upwards of £1,000,000. It should also be remembered that the children of merchant seamen were entitled to admission to the Greenwich Hospital Schools. It would be unfortunate that a large and valuable body of men like the merchant seamen, should consider that injustice was done to them, and it was therefore right that they should be made aware of this set-off on the other side.


, with reference to the expense involved by having charge of so much land—the expense of controllers and others—asked if it would not be better to sell the land and invest the money in the funds, where it would be no expense at all? He had looked into the cost of the City of London and other schools, and he felt bound to say that, as compared with them, the cost of the education given in Greenwich Hospital School was not excessive. He was grateful to the hon. Gentleman who brought forward this Motion, because the matter under discussion was one that really ought to be taken seriously into consideration. It was now admitted that a great deal of money had been expended in connection with this institution which ought not to have been laid out, and he trusted that considerations of economy would not be lost sight of by the Government in this matter.


, in answer to the question put by the hon. Member for Newcastle, explained that the additional appointment of medical superintendent at the Hospital, was made on the recommendation of the Medical Director General of the Navy (Dr. Bryson), who said that, in his opinin, such an addition to the medical staff was absolutely necessary. With regard to the date of superannuation of the medical director general (Sir Edward Hilditch) it took place only one year before the time at which, under recent regulations, it might legitimately have occurred—when that officer was sixty-four years old, and not sixty, as had been erroneously stated. With regard to the question of his hon. Friend the Member for Northumberland as to the cost for repairs and maintenance at the schools, he thought that his hon. Friend had, in a great measure, given the answer to his own question. His hon. Friend stated that the schools cost originally £175,000 to build. How far a building of so elaborate and expensive a character was either suitable or necessary for the purpose to which it was applied was of course a matter for question. But the buildings having been so erected the House must see that an annual outlay was required for their repairs and maintenance far beyond the ordinary run of school-buildings. As regards the general question, every single point which had been mentioned in this discussion either had been, or would be, under the consideration or the Committee, of which he (Mr. Du Cane) was Chairman, and that Committee would be very glad if they found they could conscientiously recommend a considerable reduction in the Estimates. With regard to the sale of advowsons, no active steps had as yet been taken, the question having been referred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for their advice, as to the best mode of proceeding with the sale. The Commissioners had recommended that they should be sold gradually, beginning with the most valuable one, the moiety of the proceeds of each sale being applied to increase the value of the poorest amongst the remainder. And with this gradual sale, he hoped they would be able very shortly to proceed. As to the question raised by the hon. Member for Finsbury, with respect to the desirability of parting with the landed estates of the Hospital altogether, and investing the proceeds in the funds, that was a point upon which many arguments might be urged both for and against. It was, in fact, a question of considerable difficulty, and one upon which no hasty or immediate decision ought to be arrived at. It was, however, one of those points which would come under the full consideration of their Committee, and upon which they were prepared to take ample evidence. As the Committee were, as yet, hardly half-way through their lahours, he trusted the House would excuse him himself from expressing any premature opinion.


said, the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) was in favour of clearing the seamen and the expensive staff retained there out of the Hospital. If that course were adopted he wanted to know what would be done with the Hospital, which was a building of great national interest. He hoped the Hospital would never be altogether severed from the naval profession.


, after the assurance of his right hon. Friend, would not trouble the House to divide, and accordingly begged to withdraw his Motion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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