HC Deb 02 December 1867 vol 190 cc514-5

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is true that £8,000 was paid, by the Report of the War Department, to Mr. Hale for the invention of the Rockets which bear his name; whether these Rockets were after severe tests finally adopted by the Ordnance Select Committee to the exclusion of Stick Rockets; whether it is to Mr. Hale's 12-pounder Rockets that the following extract from a Despatch of the Secretary of State for India refers (see Parliamentary Paper)— On application to the War Office, however, it was found that there were no 12-pounder Rockets in store, and that it was impossible to manufacture the requisite quantity before the time at which they would be needed; it has therefore been determined to send for the use of the force 1,800 of the 6-pounder Rockets; and, whether Mr. Hale has informed the War Department that from 800 to 1,000 of the Hale Rockets could be manufactured per week?


I have to answer in the affirmative the first two Questions of the hon. Gentleman. £8,000 were paid to Mr. Hale by the War Department for the invention of the peculiar rocket which bears his name, and it is quite true that these rockets were, after what was considered a sufficient test, finally adopted by the Ordnance Select Committee. It is also quite true that the paragraph which the hon. Gentleman has quoted from the despatch of the Secretary of State for India does refer to the rockets of Mr. Hale. But the quotation from that despatch requires some little explanation on my part. I have made very close inquiry in the War Office, and we cannot find there the slightest trace of any requisition from the India Office for a supply of 12-pounder rockets. I find that, in October, I believe, a telegraphic communication was made to the War Office from the Admiralty asking merely whether any 24-pounder rockets could be supplied. The answer to that question was, after inquiry, that there were 1,000 Hale 24-pounder rockets in store at Woolwich. Subsequently Admiral Key, the Director of Naval Ordnance, inquired whether any 12-pounder rockets were in store. The answer was in the negative. We were not asked whether we could obtain any. We were asked how soon they could be made in the Arsenal, and the answer was that it would take some time to prepare them. No doubt we could have obtained 12-pounder rockets from the private trade, but we were not asked to do so. On the contrary, I understand that General Willoughby, the Chief Officer of Stores in the India Department, went down to Woolwich to inquire about the 12-pounder rockets, and, finding none in store, made inquiries respecting the 6-pounder rockets. He was informed that all military men were agreed that the 6-pounder rockets were the more useful of the two; he was quite content to accept a supply of them; and rockets of that description were accordingly forwarded for the use of the Expedition. As to the last Question of the hon. Gentleman, Mr. Hale has not informed the War Department that from 800 to 1,000 of the Hale rockets could be manufactured per week. I hold in my hand the only letter received at the War Office from Mr. Hale, and in this, referring to the fact that no 12-pounders were in store, he stated that this appeared most unaccountable, but that a small company might manufacture 500 in a week. He never said that he could manufacture 800 in a week.