§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ (1.) £267,067, Coast Guard Service, Royal Naval Coast Volunteers, and Naval Reserve.
§ ADMIRAL ERSKINE
Mr. Dodson—Sir, I rise, in pursuance of notice given at the beginning of this Session, to call the attention of the Committee, before passing this Vote, to the state of the Royal Naval Reserve, and I do so with less reluctance than I should otherwise feel to trespass on their time, because I have remarked 1814 with surprise that neither in the able and otherwise comprehensive speech of the noble Lord the Secretary of the Admiralty (Lord Henry Lennox) in introducing the Navy Estimates, nor in the various discussions to which they give rise, has one word been said on a subject which many feel must be our great difficulty in the event of again being engaged in war—namely, the having at command such an organized body of disciplined seamen as might enable us to undertake, at the earliest possible moment, either offensive or defensive operations. This omission, it seems to me, must result from one of two causes—either a feeling that the subject is so difficult a one as to make it impossible to approach it with any hopes of a solution, or a conviction that our present system is so perfect as to admit of no improvement, and, consequently, to call for no comment. It is because I cannot subscribe to either of these opinions, that I presume to trouble the Committee at all on the subject. It would be a waste of their time were I to descant on the difficulty we have always experienced in raising suddenly our peace establishment to a war footing; because we all know that in former wars, with the exception of the last which could not be properly termed a naval war, it has obliged us to have recourse to the most odious and unfair mode of conscription ever devised, that of impressment; a tradition of which still exists in the merchant navy to the prejudice of the public service, but of which I trust we have seen the last in practice. But if our difficulties were great formerly, it is not likely they should be less in times like the present, when from our great commercial prosperity and the rapid increase of our trade, rapid beyond all precedent, the services of every man who adopts a sea-faring life become the object of keen competition, thereby raising wages, encouraging strikes—a new practice among seamen—and giving rise to complaints of what I cannot but think is erroneously called a scarcity of seamen, which complaints only amount to an assertion of the not ungratifying fact, that the increase of our trade is more rapid than that of our maritime population. But although our difficulties are thus increased by circumstances which ought not to be causes of regret, but rather of congratulation, it seems to be not the less incumbent on us in these times of prosperity to attempt to devise some scheme which should enable the 1815 establishments of the country to be quickly placed on a war footing when required, and which should also tend in some measure during peace to supply the great and increasing demand for seamen for the merchant service. I pass over the Coastguard, which had been incorporated with the navy, and only allude to the Coast volunteers to express my regret that a force originally established for coast defence, so as to liberate a portion of the regular navy, has been, by the repeal of a clause which prevented the employment of the men at a greater distance than 300 miles from the shore, altogether diverted from its purpose, and is dwindling away. The Naval Reserve, therefore, is the only force to which we can look for the supply of men to the navy in case of emergency. That force was established by Act of Parliament in 1859–60, which authorized the Board of Admiralty to raise, and from time to time to keep up, a number of men not exceeding 30,000, (the number for the last four years having been 16,000), to make them a periodical payment or allowance, and to pay and provision them in addition for the twenty-eight days' drill in the year for which they were to be called out. The Act further authorized Her Majesty, when she should deem fit, to order the whole or any part of these volunteers to be called into actual service, first communicating with Parliament if sitting; or, if not, by issuing her Royal Proclamation. The annual payment was fixed by the Admiralty at £6, and the wages and allowance for provisions during the twenty-eight days at £4 4s., the former sum being considered a retainer to secure the services of the man in the event of war, and the latter a remuneration, not, the Committee will remark, for any services rendered by him to the State, but for consenting to allow himself to be instructed in the use of two or three descriptions of weapons, a sufficient acquaintance with which is thus acknowledged to be attainable in eighteen days drill—twenty-eight days less Saturdays and Sundays and two days for travelling to and fro — in all, ninety hours, in the year. The time of enlistment is limited to five years, at the option of the men, and in the seven and a half years' existence of the force, about 3,000 men had taken advantage of this provision, and having received £50 of the public money, without doing any service in return, had taken their discharge free 1816 from any future obligation. Those who have been in the force since its enrolment will have received £71 8s., and should they go on two or three years longer, a large proportion of the existing force of 16,000 men could claim their discharge, having received £101, and not having done one day's service. But in addition to the £10 4s. per man there were other expenses, including subsistence, allowance for officers, medical fees, targets, and repair of arms, which brought the whole amount for this year up to £212,561 as compared with £210,769 last year. The whole cost therefore was about £13 5s. per head, or little more than half the wages of a naval seaman who entered for non-continuous service, instead of £6 per head, which the country is led to believe is the cost of this reserve. The cost of the Royal Naval Reserve for consecutive years since its establishment has been as follows:—In 1860–1 (during which year we also paid £218,000 in bounties for seamen raised in 1859), £101,000; in 1861–2, £107,949; in 1862–3, £176,000. Up to this time the number of men enrolled is not mentioned in the Estimate; but in 1863–4 the maximum of 16,000 men, for which retainers and drill-pay were voted, was attained, the sums being, annual retainer for 16,000 men, £96,000; drill-pay, 1s. 8d. a day, for ditto, £37,333; making a total of £133,333; and this sum has been annually voted since. The whole expense, however, for 1863–4 was increased by the items I mentioned above, and the addition of pay and provisions for the means of instruction ships, building and repairing batteries for drilling the men on shore, &c., to £194,000, making a surplus for what may be called contingencies of £61,227. It might be supposed that the number of 16,000 men not having been exceeded since then, the expense would also have reached its height; but this has not been so, for in 1864–5 the contingencies amounted to £72,606, and the whole sum voted for that year was £205,939; in 1865–6, £206,627; in 1866–7, £210,797; and we are asked this year for £212,561, making an excess over retainers and drill-pay (a portion of it certainly owing to the increased price of provisions) of £79,228 against £61,227 in 1863–4. The whole expense, exclusive, however, of some small sums voted in the Civil Service Estimates, of the reserve since its formation has thus been £1,415,479, without the country having 1817 received a single day's service from any one of its members.
The first consideration which suggests itself on looking at this large expenditure is, how can we hope, whilst we are thus paying merchant seamen annually £10 4s. a head to keep out of the navy until the Queen's Proclamation shall be issued, either to supply the wear and tear of the fleet—which the number of boys we annually bring forward certainly does not do—or to increase the number of our men in the event of some contingency occurring not of sufficient importance to alarm other countries, by so strong a measure as issuing the Royal Proclamation, amounting almost to a declaration of war. A pamphlet, known to be the production of the noble Duke lately at the head of the Admiralty, in speaking of this force says—The measure has been attended with another good result. It has brought the Mercantile Marine into closer connection with the Royal Navy, and has tended to remove prejudices which in former years seriously interfered with the manning of our fleets.So far from this having been the case, even the strongest advocates of the Naval Reserve allow that whatever advantages we are to look to in the event of a war, we have cut ourselves off from all supply of seamen during peace time, as Returns of enlistments from the Merchant Service will show; and we have, in fact, drawn a broad line of demarcation between the two services which, among other disadvantages, obliges us to maintain a larger force of continuous service men (enlisted for ten years) than we might in a time of profound peace require — such continuous service men, be it remarked, being paid on an opposite principle to that usually adopted in the remuneration for labour, receiving, as they do, a higher rate of wages for a continuous and unremitting engagement than for shorter and less certain employment.
The next question to consider is, supposing the Queen's Proclamation issued, and the men called out, how many can we expect to collect in a reasonable time without coercive measures? Certainly not the whole, because a large number are always absent on long voyages, and with respect to those actually in the home ports, I am sorry to say an impression prevails among many naval officers who have been employed in the duty of instructing them, that a large number would make strenuous efforts to avoid fulfilling 1818 their obligations. The late first Lord of the Admiralty in the pamphlet I have alluded to, which has deservedly attracted much attention among naval men, states, what, no doubt, he believed to be the fact—The high patriotic spirit of these men was evinced when the seizure of certain persons on board the steamer Trent rendered necessary naval preparations. At that crisis the seamen of the Royal Naval Reserve sent memorials and letters to the Admiralty, declaring their readiness to embark at once in defence of their Queen and country.On this subject, an officer of great intelligence, who was most enthusiastic and active in getting up the Naval Reserve, wrote to me in January last, before I had seen the pamphlet referred to, and, indeed, I believe, before it was printed, as follows:—I was serving in the instruction ship at one of the Northern ports, when the news reached England of the notorious Trent affair. Our captain was very anxious that the Royal Naval Reserve at the port, including those on drill at the time, should make a demonstration by way of giving a proof of their value in time of war, and requested me to get the gunner of the ship to speak to some of the leading men amongst them, to get up a meeting on board to make an offer of their services to the Admiralty through the captain. The meeting was got up accordingly, and I attended it in capacity of reporter for the press. At the captain's request one man was quickly voted into the chair, and a capital speaker he was. He harangued them for a considerable time as to the duty that devolved on them of making an offer of their services to man one of Her Majesty's ships, and show the Yankees what stuff British sailors were made of, &c., &c., and concluded by requesting every man who was willing and ready to defend the honour of the British flag to hold up his right hand. There was just one hand held up. It was the speaker's own. For a moment he seemed as much surprised as I certainly was. Yet he had evidently been prepared for such a catastrophe, for he promptly added, 'I tell you what, men, you all know me as well as I know you, and I would no more hold up my hand to go on board a man-of-war than you, but I know very weel they don't want us and won't have us; but the other chaps have offered and surely we won't be behind them; besides I tell you that our good old captain wants us to offer, and I am sure you all trust him, so up hands; men!' Up went the speaker's hand, and slowly, one after another, till I dare say, the half of them were up, and the meeting was over. I wrote the letter to the captain embodying their hearty patriotic offer, which was duly forwarded to the Admiralty and elicited as it deserved an highly eulogistic letter of thanks from their Lordships, but declining, for the present, their services.Another officer, who had been similarly employed, writes to a friend of his, who sent the letter to me—
§ "22nd January, 1867.
§ "I hasten to reply to your letter, more especially on the subject of the Royal Naval Reserve than on any other. However good the original promoters of the scheme thought it, lapse of time will, I think, tend to prove that the whole affair is a delusion. It is my impression, and always was, from the period of my first becoming associated with it, that were the country to require the force to man her navy, not one tithe of them would respond to the call. I do not give them credit for sufficient patriotism to voluntarily emerge from their avocations to seek service in men-of-war, and I believe it would be a matter of great difficulty to find out the residence of a very great number of Royal Naval Reserve men, as they would naturally resort to all sorts of subterfuge to baffle the authorities seeking them; amongst others, would join merchant ships, and go hence, and be no more seen, at least for a season. There can be but little doubt that the chief attraction is the drill and retainer money, accruing from embodiment in the force, always keeping in mind that it is a hundred to one against any one single man ever being called out. The money voted for the service of the Royal Naval Reserve had much better be bestowed in maintaining, as far as it would go, say 5,000 additional real men-of-war's men in addition to the present force, &c., &c."
An officer who took a great interest in the establishment of the Reserve, writes to me—
The only good I can see arising from the vast sum of money spent, and to be annually expended on this Naval Reserve is, that it has, in a measure, legalized impressment. In the event of a war, the Admiralty will be able to say 'We have so many thousand deserters from the Naval Reserve, men who have been receiving pay for years to serve when called on, and whom we have now summoned to appear at our various rendezvous, but of whom not ten have appeared. We must, therefore, look for them on board merchant ships, in the seaports, on shore, and in their homes. We believe that thousands of them have destroyed their certificates, thus, in a measure, destroying their identity; we therefore cannot help it if the innocent be occasionally taken for the guilty.'
That this will be the state of things whenever the Royal Naval Reserve men are called on to serve—no one who has had any thing to do with it can doubt.
If these apprehensions be well founded—and that there is some foundation for them cannot be doubted—it is clear that some form of coercion, attended with an additional expense, will be required on the breaking out of a war. Another reason why the men of the Reserve would not readily respond to the call, is simply that as trade would be carried on, to a great extent, in neutral bottoms, the men would follow the course of the trade. I think I have shown that these men have a very loose notion of their obligations, and it is
equally sure that the Government have a very loose hold on them. Mr. Gideon Wells, the Secretary of the United States Navy, in his Report concerning the Shenandoah, a ship fitted out in England for the service of the Southern State, complains that a large proportion of her crew were seamen of the Royal Naval Reserve, and it is quite within the bounds of possibility that the same might have been said of the crew of the Tornado. And in cases like these, involving questions of International Law, there is the additional disadvantage that foreign nations may reasonably complain of men raised for the service of the Royal Navy being allowed to swell the ranks of their enemies whilst, in fact, our Government is powerless to prevent them. Again, Sir, in the Naval receipt and expenditue of last year I remark an ominous surplus of £25,132, one which we cannot well pride ourselves on, considering that it arises from a failing off in the numbers of men who presented themselves for drill. A Return moved for by myself towards the end of last Session shows the number of actual defaulters to have been in 1865, 2,337, and in 1866, 2,919, being an increase of desertions in one year of 582 men. These men were all liable to a penalty of £20; but has it ever been exacted in any one instance, or is there any intention of putting the law into execution to stop this growing evil? I may mention, as showing the difficulty of getting any trustworthy Returns of the state of this force, that on the 1st of March the House, on my Motion, or dared a Return, simple enough it might be supposed, of—
The whole number of Men now enrolled in the Royal Naval Reserve; distinguishing the ports, &c., at which they are enrolled, and of the whole number drilled during the year 1866.
After waiting about three weeks I was informed that the Board of Trade objected to the Return on the ground I of its expense, as it would require six clerks ten or fourteen days to make it out, adding that they could not conceive the object for which such a Return could be called. The Return was nevertheless ordered, and three months have now elapsed without its having been laid on the table of the House, and I am in consequence prevented from referring to it. Now, Sir, I ask if any reasonable man can suppose that if three months are required to make a Return so simple and so necessary, the men themselves could be collected in
the same time. We have not even got an army on paper! How we are to get them in their buckram suits I am sure I do not know. Whether such a force, if they could be collected, would be calculated to inspire officers under whom they were to serve with that confidence on which success in a contest with a carefully disciplined enemy is another serious consideration. Considering that the organization and discipline of the body form no part of the plan of the Naval Reserve, but seem, from the instructions issued to the commanding officers of the training ships, to be purposely discouraged, I think it will be conceded that if this body can correctly be called a reserve, it is at best a reserve of recruits, whose real education must begin at the very time when it is most essential that habits of obedience and self-denial, which it has not been attempted to form, should come into play. If, indeed, a large body of such men had acquired an aptitude in the use of arms without the controlling power of discipline, they might be a dangerous force to their own officers if called on to perform some service disagreeable to themselves, but they would be a harmless one to any enemy. But, after all, Sir, perhaps the strongest objection to this scheme is, that this great annual expenditure—greater, it is calculated, than the whole of the impress system at a period during last century, when the navy depended solely on it for its supply of seamen—is incurred without adding a single unit to the maritime population of the country. We are, in fact, paying a bonus of about £190,000 to the merchant shipowner, without even the excuse for a system of bonuses—that of stimulating a supply of the article in demand. A sum of £200,000 a year would, on the authority of Sir Henry Pennell, if expended directly, maintain an actual force of 5,000 men, which would thus add to the maritime strength of the nation. But we are now attempting an impossibility. We are coming on a service which cannot overtake its own requirements for what it cannot give us—a sure supply, at uncertain periods, of men, not merely drilled for eighteen days, but accustomed to the discipline and habits of a ship of war, which are becoming every day necessarily more and more different from those of the merchant navy. If these objections are not very much overstated, it is clear that the present system of the Naval Reserve requires
considerable modification before it can be considered either efficient or economical.
Perhaps the best scheme ever submitted to the Admiralty, and, indeed, actually put in practice for a very short time, was that suggested in 1853 by Mr. Pennell, then Senior Cleric of the Admiralty, now Sir Henry Pennell, a gentleman of great ability, when he proposed to offer discharges with pensions of 6d. a day or £9 4s. a year to men who had completed ten years' service in the navy, on the condition of their serving again when called on up to the age of forty-eight. Mr. Pennell's economical reasons were founded on the following considerations, as stated by himself:—
At present one man yields a service of twenty-one years, and obtains a pension on an average of 1s. 1½d. a day, or £20 12s. a year, including the allowance for time served as petty officer. As proposed, two men would yield a service of about eleven years each, or a total of twenty-two years, and receive, respectively, pensions of 6d. a day, or together 1s. a day, equal to £18 4s. a year. Thus one man's service and pension would be divided between two men, this important advantage being obtained, that instead of one worn out man being placed on the pension list, the Crown having no further claim on his services, two efficient men would be placed thereon, each liable to give some eight or nine years further war service.
It was found, however, I believe, that the ten years' continuous service system not having come into operation, there was not a sufficient number of men to enable this plan to be carried out, and it was accordingly abandoned after a few weeks' trial—a decision I cannot but regret, as had it been steadily persevered in, we should gradually have acquired something like a real reserve of seamen, open certainly to the objections that there was no security for their continuing to follow a sea-faring life, or against their throwing up their obligations when it suited them, by the mere forfeiture of their pensions. I venture to suggest, however, that an improvement might be made on Sir Henry Pennell's plan, by not necessarily discharging the ten years' men from the list of the navy when their pensions became due, but inducing them to remain in it by the offer of the 6d. a day or £9 4s. a year (being somewhat less than the amount of the retainer and drill-pay now paid to the merchant seamen), and to volunteer for single voyages in merchant ships; the time so occupied to be allowed to count either wholly or in part for their long service pension. The country would thus be saved all the contingent expenses aris-
ing from the various appurtenances of the present system (at least £65,000 a year), whilst the additional men so retained in the navy would be maintained at the expense of their merchant employers. A short illustration will probably give the Committee a notion of what I propose. It is well known that naval officers are often applied to on foreign stations to assist merchant ships who have lost portions of their crews either by death or desertion; such assistance being supplied by lending a sufficient number of men to navigate the ship to her destination; the men so lent returning to the navy at the end of the voyage, having been paid by the shipowner during that time, but without prejudice to their claim for service in the navy. In 1851 I was relieved in the naval command of the Australian station, a few months after the discovery of gold in that colony. The harbour of Port Jackson was full of merchant ships, whose crews had deserted to the gold districts, and which it was found in consequence impossible to send to England, and in this dilemma some; of the merchants applied to me for assistance, which I was fortunately able, in some degree, to afford them. The Admiralty had directed me to turn over to the Colonial Government, who desired to possess her, one of Her Majesty's steamers, the Acheron, which had been employed for some years on the surveying service, and to bring the officers and men to England in my own ship. An addition of from 80 to 100 men would have been an inconvenience on board a small frigate; but being trustworthy men and perfectly suited for the service, several of the merchant ships were manned by them and sent to sea, an arrangement having been previously made that the men were to receive a sum for the run home, very much lower than had been offered to merchant seaman, but considerably higher than their own wages. The voyages were all made safely and the men rejoined the navy and received their arrears of wages, without losing any advantages of claim for pension. Four parties were thus benefited by this arrangement; the State, which was relieved from the expense of maintaining the men; the merchant, who was enabled to send his wool to England; the shipowner, who earned his freight; and the seamen, who received almost double their wages. I thus, it may be said, established a reserve
of 80 or 100 men for three mouths, the usual term of the voyage, the immediate expense being nothing, and the prospective expense merely the addition of three months to the service of each man in his calculation for a long service pension, which probably only a small proportion of them would ever claim. If this could be done with 100 men for three months why not with a larger number for any period? It may be said, the case was an exceptional one, but is not the case of our merchant navy at this time somewhat exceptional? We hear much of the wretched condition of merchant ships' crews, and in the present demand for men, and the mode of entering them, it could not well be otherwise. Bat were a merchant captain assured, that instead of a crew most of whom he has never seen till a day or two before going to sea, and of whose professional qualifications and character he is profoundly ignorant, a proportion of it were composed of real seamen, who were answerable for their conduct to the Government, whose pension they received and whose uniform they wore, and had besides the strongest inducement to carry back with them his corroboration of their previous good character, it cannot be doubted that shipowners would be anxious to avail themselves of the privilege. An opportunity might soon offer to try the experiment, if the Admiralty agreed to the proposal of the hon. Member for Pontefract to reduce the prcseut force of the navy by 4,000 men. Let these men not be absolutely discharged, but retained to test this system. If unsuccessful they might all be discharged at the end of a year; and if successful, let the plan be extended so as always to keep a surplus of men during peace thus lent out to assist the trade of the country. The immediate expense would be nothing, and, as I have said before, the prospective expense—that of increased pensions—which could not be incurred before the lapse of eleven years, and of which it would not seem unreasonable that the merchant service, which had benefited by the men's services, should bear at least a part. If this expense should be considered as not too great for the object, such an arrangement would appear to admit of no limitation, and the Government would then have at their command, without pressing too hard on the wants of our commerce, the services of a body of thorough seamen all over the world, and might, in times of profound
peace and prosperous trade, liberate a greater number to assist it, secure in the certainly of being able to recover any number of them whenever a disturbance, however slight, might seem to render an augmentation of the regular navy desirable.
§ I must apologize for detaining the Committee so long, but I wish to make one remark before concluding. I know that in these mechanical days, the country is taught to look, and does look, for success in future wars more to the strength and construction of our ships and the perfection of our weapons, than to the number and quality of our seamen, and I am the last man to undervalue the importance of our possessing the best ships and the best arms. But ships of former days, although not so complicated, were no less machines than ships of the present day, and I cannot forget the historical fact, that in former naval wars our battles were fought and our victories were gained in the worst ships in Europe. Nay, to come down to our own times and my own experience, I think I shall not be contradicted when I say that until Sir James Graham abolished the Navy Board and appointed as Surveyor of the Navy an officer not merely of high scientific acquirements, but a thoroughly practical seaman—the late Sir William Symonds—our ships were the worst designed, and if not the worst put together, they were certainly the worst equipped for war of any ships in the world. Our best vessels had either been captured from the enemy or built after their models; and as for our equipments, it is well known that our guns were of lighter calibre and of less range than the guns of corresponding ships in foreign navies; our cutlasses were little better than pieces of iron hoop; our muskets were the condemned muskets of the army. The secret of our successes was the confidence our officers had in the undeniable superiority of our seamen. I do not believe that superiority to be less certain in the case of the seamen of the present day, nor do I believe they would ask whether they were fighting behind the protection of a 4½-inch or a 6½-inch iron plate, any more than they thought of the thickness of the wooden wall, which formerly was their slender protection from their enemy. If our predecessors could perform the deeds they did with inferior ships and inferior weapons, and with crews, a large proportion of which had been collected by the 1826 hateful mode of impressment, what might we not hope to achieve with our improved mechanical advantages, if by a real amalgamation of the military and mercantile navies we could command at all times the services of men who would feel an attachment to instead of a dislike and distrust of the public service. I do not believe such an amalgamation to be either impossible or difficult, and could we but arrive at such a result, I, for one, would be content to leave the mechanical part of the question to those who have made it their particular study; but I should have no apprehension for the future efficiency of the navy.
said, that as this was the 13th of June, and as they had only then obtained four Navy Votes in Supply, and he was anxious to make as much progress in the Estimates as possible, he hoped the hon. and gallant Admiral would excuse him if he only briefly referred to his remarks relative to the Naval Reserve. If he thought that his hon. and gallant Friend's remarks against the Naval Reserve were borne out by the facts, he should agree with him that the sooner they got rid of this force the better. But this was the first occasion on which he had heard anything approaching to a bad character given to the Naval Reserve. Whenever he had had the opportunity of visiting the training ships—and these occasions had been pretty frequent—he had always been most gratified by the appearance of the men. There was something about them which showed at first sight that they were sailors. They handled the guns with considerable skill—certainly in an infinitely superior manner to men who, however perfect as sailors, were drawn fresh from the merchant navy without having had any training in gunnery; the officers commanding the training ships had informed him that the men were generally well conducted — that they were willing to learn; and in fact they gave them as high a character as could be, expected in men in the class of life to which they belonged. He did not therefore believe that those men had that loose notion of the obligation they were under to serve their country that when they were required they would not come forward—that in short they were merely men in buckram, and could not be reckoned upon in an emergency. Such an opinion, he believed, was contrary to the truth, and he had no doubt but that should any emergency arise, they would 1827 obtain—of course not the whole number—but a great number—a number sufficiently great to facilitate very much the manning of our ships of war. The hon. and gallant Admiral had denounced—and not in too strong terms—the system of impressment. Now in his (Mr. Corry's) view he considered it one of the great objects of the Reserve to avoid the necessity of having recourse to that system; but no doubt in time of war, if the national safety required it, however odious the system might be, if we could not man the fleet without it, we must still have recourse to impressment. Another evil, only less than that of impressment, which it was sought to obviate by establishing the Naval Reserve, was that of giving bounties. In his own experience he had known two instances in which bounties had been given with a view to manning the navy, and in neither had the experiment been successful. The first occasion was in the Crimean war, and the second when the Italian war broke out, and we were obliged to increase our fleet, owing to the disturbed state of affairs on the Continent. The result was that the men we obtained were of the very worst possible description. In the first instance Sir Charles Napier said with great truth that a worse manned fleet never left these shores than that which he led into the Baltic, and the unsatisfactory results of that expedition was, he believed, in a great measure attributable to the fact that Sir Charles Napier could have no confidence in the fleet under his command. In the present state of the navy, it should be recollected, that a far less number of men was required to man the fleet than in former days, and this system of the Reserve would not only go far, but would enable us almost entirely to dispense with the systems of impressment and bounties. In fact, it would do so absolutely. With respect to misconduct on the part of the force, he confessed he had never heard any complaints on that head. In 1866 the number of dismissals for misconduct was five, the number of heavy fines was five, and the number of reprimands was 318—in other words, 328 instances of misconduct in all, which, considering that this force now amounted to 16,000 men, was not a very large number. Indeed, he had always been under the impression that the force was very well conducted. His hon. and gallant Friend (Admiral Erskine) had stated the heavy cost which this force had 1828 occasioned the country since the time it had been first enrolled, that it had never been called out, and that hundreds of thousands had been thrown away on it. His hon. and gallant Friend, however, should remember that this was like the insurance of a house—we paid this money by way of insurance for a supply of men to man our fleets in case of emergency, and the Reserve had never been called out for the simple reason that no emergency requiring it had arisen since the constitution of the force. His hon. and gallant Friend had calculated that the cost of this body had grown during the last few years to a sum of £210,000 a year, which he represented as equal to the wages and victuals of 5,000 men. He could assure his hon. and gallant Friend that he was wrong in that estimate, for he found from a calculation that had been made in the Accountant General's office, that the sum of £210,000 would provide wages and victuals for only 3,000 men. We had a reserve therefore of 16,000 men, of whom 5,000 would be immediately available, and an addition of at least 1,000 men every month afterwards, at the same cost at which we could maintain 3,000 men. With regard to the alternative which his hon. and gallant Friend had suggested, and which was first proposed by Mr. Pennell, late Chief Clerk to the Admiralty, who had great experience and great knowledge of these affairs, he did not think it would work well. The experiment of obtaining a military reserve by means of soldiers discharged after a short service had not added much to our strength in that respect. The proposal of his hon. and gallant Friend he understood to be that seamen of the Royal Navy, after ten years' service, were to be pensioned at 6d. a day, and permitted to enter the merchant service, on condition of liability to be called upon again in case of war. He thought that would be a very injudicious experiment. By the present system a boy who entered the navy was rated as a man at eighteen years of age, and therefore he would have earned his ten years' pension at twenty-eight. Now, nothing could be more foolish, when we had got a man at twenty-eight, in the very prime of life, and at the height of his efficiency, than that we should say, "We will put you on the Reserve, and you can go into the merchant service, and then we will call upon you when war becomes imminent." [Admiral ERSKINE: He takes 1829 his discharge now if he desires it.] He would not detain the Committee any longer. He believed the force to be a most valuable one. It consisted of the very cream of the merchant service, it was sufficiently trained to be of great service at the outbreak of a war; and he believed on the whole it would be a great mistake if the House of Commons were to do anything to deprive the country of the great advantage which it would derive from this body of men in the event of war.
§ MR. HANBURY-TRACY
Mr. Dodson—Notwithstanding what has just fallen from the First Lord of the Admiralty, I think that my hon. and gallant Friend deserves the thanks of the country for having brought forward the question of the Naval Reserve, on which the very existence of the navy in time of war must depend. I cannot help regretting, however, that his speech, so pregnant with matter, has not been made the basis of a Motion for a Select Committee to inquire into the whole subject of manning the navy, and perhaps into the wider field of our naval policy generally. At the present time, when we have no panic to alarm us, and no war in prospect, it would be impossible to choose a more favourable moment to investigate into the working of our Naval Reserve, and to see whether some more efficient and economical method could not be devised. Some of the passages in the gallant Admiral's speech will, I hope, have convinced the House that something must be done in the matter, and that our much vaunted Naval Reserve force is not quite the paragon of excellence it is so often described. There can be no doubt, and I do not wish to dispute it, that the formation of the Reserve, even with its glaring inconsistencies and anomalies, has done good service in the feeling of security it has engendered, and that its establishment has been of great benefit to the country. But it appears to me that having been in operation for seven and a half years, the time has now come when the whole scheme should be reviewed, and that the complaints which are now so frequently urged by our men-of-war's men in regard to it, as well as by all who have given any attention to the subject, should receive fair and impartial consideration. The greatest friends of the force cannot deny that there are still many difficulties to be met, which have arisen, and which were never anticipated, and even the most zealous admirer of the Reserve force will, 1830 I apprehend, not deny that the cost is far greater than they expected, while the opponents to the scheme urge that it is out of all proportion to the result. At this time of the Session I fear that it is too late for a Committee to take up fully this great question; but unless some one more able and competent than I am is prepared to move in the matter, I shall feel it my duty early next Session to move for a Select Committee. After carefully looking into the present scheme, I have no hesitation in saying that it is wholly unsuited for the object intended; that it is a reserve we cannot depend upon for any sudden emergency; that it is a scheme which tends to prevent merchant seamen joining the navy; that it is a cause of disgust and annoyance to men-of-war's men; and that it fails in the great object which any Naval Reserve ought to aim at—namely, of enabling the navy to be increased or reduced at will; that the cost is an absolute annual waste of £100,000 of public money. I firmly believe that it is quite possible to organize such a reserve as would enable large reductions to be made in the fleet, a saving of at least £500,000 to be made in our Estimates, whilst at the same time to give it such elasticity and power of lateral extension as to form a basis on which our resources might be doubled in the hour of trial. Sir, it is only a few months ago that we have seen the reserve of a great European Power put into force with a result which has astonished the world. We have seen in Prussia the working of the Landwehr system with its wise and economical organization; how, in a few days, thousands and thousands of men rushed to the national standard with a most glorious and marked success. We know full well how at any moment France-could call on 30,000 to 50,000 seamen, all of whom are men-of-wars' men, and yet we are still pursuing a plan in that service, which has and always must be the right arm of England, which its most zealous advocates acknowledge could only at the outside bring to our standard 5,000 men at the expiration of three months, by which time the war might be over, and England's navy defeated. Surely, Sir, if this can be urged at a period when wars are of short duration, when we have such, visible proof of how countries can be lost or won in the short space of a fortnight, it is high time that England should look around and not be left behind in the race. And when, Sir, to the delay of procuring 1831 the men, it is added that we are now annually paying each reserve man no less than half an A.B.'s pay for doing us no service in peace time, and with every prospect of not being in time to aid us in war, I undertake to say that a case is made out startling in its character, and demanding a searching investigation by Government and Parliament. I will not attempt to follow the gallant Admiral through the long and interesting statistics which he has laid before the House; but a few of the facts are so important that I will endeavour to recapitulate them. The first statement that a reserve man actually costs the country no less than £13 5s. a year, or half an A.B.'s pay, and that such a man can only be made available by issuing a Royal Proclamation, is of itself sufficient to raise a doubt as to the efficiency of the plan. What are we to do in the event of a small emergency such as a Chinese war, or on any of those little eventualities when for political purposes it is necessary to make a demonstration? Are we to be constantly issuing Proclamations? And if so, could we legally press the reserve men into the service unless for an imminent war. It has been demonstrated over and over again that what you want in a Naval Reserve is a large reservoir from which you can draw your men at a moment's notice, or return them into store when no longer needed. Unless you have some plan arranged and well matured in times like the present, you will be obliged to adopt measures in time of panic for raising your forces by bounty with all its attendant evils, and then for as hastily dispersing them when the danger is over. It is very well for the First Lord to say that the reserve, as at present constituted, would prevent any necessity for appealing to the bounty system, but I entirely deny it. I would ask the simple question, could you in 1858 have increased your navy without having to resort to bounty, even if you had had your present reserve force? It appears to me not, as it was hardly an occasion on which you could have issued a Royal Proclamation. You have no plan even now, with all your experience, by which you can prevent the evils which have for so long been the bane of the navy from occurring again. You have no means of dealing with your well-trained and disciplined men when paid off and disbanded, or at the expiration of their term of service, so as to have a hold on them in future years. I apprehend, Sir, 1832 what is wanted, and I say so with all deference to those who take the opposite view of the question, is some such a plan as that suggested by the gallant Admiral, and lately advocated with so much ability by Mr. Reddie in the Royal United Service Institution. A reserve formed of men who have served their five or ten years in the navy, and are well drilled, and who would accept it as a boon to be allowed to serve in the merchant service until wanted in the navy. I do not mean to say that the plan of my gallant Friend is faultless, or that it could be worked in its present shape; but I am quite certain that it is a basis on which a practical and successful measure could be framed. Not only docs the Royal Naval Reserve not attempt to meet its requirements, but it actually is gradually estranging the merchant service from the navy, and prevents a merchant seaman joining by actually giving him a premium to stop away. You practically say to merchant seamen, "If you will keep from joining the Royal Navy we will give you an annual fee of £6 and £4 4s. for drill pay, amounting to £10 4s., so that with your merchant seaman's pay you will get no less than £40, which is more by £10 than you can possibly get in the navy as "A.B." Sir, I would ask is this fair to the men-of-war's men that this annual payment should be given to a man a perfect stranger to the service, who has never passed through the trials and vicissitudes of a naval life, instead of it being given (as common sense would dictate) to your fine, well-trained, and highly disciplined blue-jacket, both as a reward for past good conduct and an inducement for him to serve his country in future years. Is it just that a man-of-war's man should be placed in such an inferior position to your merchant seamen, or that you should subsidize the merchant seamen to the extent of a fourth of his whole wages not to enter the navy? And lastly, I would ask, is it right that the taxpayers of the country should any longer be made to pay £200,000 for a reserve which it is very doubtful would prove of any help in time of need? We have the highest authority for saying that this impedes the manning of the navy, for in a paper read at the Institution by Mr. Reddie, with the permission of the Admiralty, he distinctly acknowledged it. I listened anxiously to the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), to see if he would touch on the Reserve question, and show how he could 1833 dispense with the surplus men in order to make the large reduction he contemplates, as I cannot believe that he would wish to lessen the number of bonâ fide seamen at present employed without seeing his way to put his hand upon them at a moment's notice should occasion require. It certainly appears to me that some such scheme as the gallant Admiral advocates is a necessary and indispensable part of his naval policy scheme. I will not any longer take up the time of the House; but I must say that it seems to me, and I say so with the utmost diffidence, that if a plan of this sort were adopted you would be enabled to have, in a few years, the finest Naval Reserve in the world of at least 30,000 to 50,000 highly drilled and efficient men-of-war's men, at a cost certainly not much exceeding what you are now spending on your present reserve; you would be enabled to make the large reduction so ably advocated by the hon. Member for Pontefract; you would give contentment to your navy, security to the country, and an annual saving of £500,000 in the Estimates.
§ MR. GRAVES
said, that the plan suggested by the hon. and gallant Admiral would have been more acceptable to the Committee had it been proposed as a supplement to the present system, instead of as a substitute for it. The policy on which we had hitherto acted, and to which he believed we should adhere for the purpose of obtaining the personnel of our navy, was that of keeping up as efficient a force as possible for our normal requirements, and of relying on our merchant seamen for periods of emergency. But if we adopted that system, it was vitally important that the latter service should also be efficient. He had understood the hon. and gallant Admiral who brought forward the subject to propose a scheme which he would venture to term an inverted one, beginning with the navy and ending in the merchant service—a scheme by which seamen should overflow out of the navy into the Mercantile Marine, after having acquired habits of discipline and become thoroughly efficient. That, no doubt, would tend to improve the moràle and discipline of the merchant service. The process could not, however, go on for any length of time without a large increase of the Votes of this House, for of late years the navy had never been able to bring up the number of men sufficient for its own requirements. The maximum num- 1834 ber of men allowed to flow in annually from the Mercantile Marine was, he believed, 1,000, but the number during the past twelve months had only been 500 and odd, and the maximum had never been reached of late years, though every effort has been made to attain it. He could not agree with the hon. Member who had just spoken (Mr. Hanbury-Tracy) that the cost of the Naval Reserve was out of all proportion to its results, and that the system prevented seamen from entering the Royal Navy. He joined issue with him on both points. The cost was not excessive; and notwithstanding all the inducements which some hon. Members had appraised so highly, the Reserve had not attracted more than 16,000 men from the merchant service, though it was well known that our expectations extended to 30,000, and the requirements of the Reserve were so stringent that he believed 16,000 was the maximum number of men qualified for service in the navy if an emergency arose. It was true, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cony) had remarked, that those 16,000 men were the cream of the merchant service; but he was afraid that that number was more likely to decline than to increase. As to the spirit shown during the Trent difficulty, he entirely differed from the hon. and gallant Admiral, for he believed that during that week there was a larger accession of men who came forward and enrolled in the Reserve than during any similar period since its formation. There were, if he remembered rightly, 400 within three days. This was a better proof than the mere fact of a few-hands being held up at a public meeting of the spirit which animated the British seaman when his country's flag had been insulted. Only that morning he had given instructions to one of his captains that the Naval Reserve men in his ship's crew should receive 10s. more than any other men. The hon. and gallant Admiral had alluded to the possible embarrassment that might arise from allowing our seamen to join in questionable expeditions under other flags. But if it were true that a large number of Naval Reserve were on board the Shenandoah and the Tornado, he should draw a somewhat different conclusion from that drawn by the hon. and gallant Admiral. Surely if we found two instances in which the best men were required, and those men were selected from that service whose capabilities were now 1835 questioned, it seemed to him a proof that the men of the Naval Reserve were not the inefficient and undrilled men they were by some represented to be. It required no argument to prove that the system of drill which brought the men of the Naval Reserve into contact with the boatswains and gunners and other picked men of the Royal Navy would improve their discipline, make them more efficient, and impart something of the esprit de corps to the body. He trusted their services would never be required; but if they were wanted to serve their country they would be ready, and the nation would not be paying too large a retaining fee for their services as reserves. He wished that the Admiralty would turn their attention to the introduction of a large number of boys into the Royal Navy, so that there might be an overflow from the service into the Mercantile Marine, as suggested by the gallant Admiral. This would benefit both the navy and the merchant service. It was recommended by the manning Commission as part of the Naval Reserve scheme, and till the proposal has been carried out in its entirety, it is scarcely politic to condemn that portion of it which is most under review.
§ MR. BERKELEY
wished to know the intentions of the Admiralty with regard to the Royal Naval Coast Volunteers. This force, founded by Sir James Graham, was never intended for the general purposes of manning the navy, but was designed for the protection of our shores. It was a force sent on board Her Majesty's ships for the purpose of drill for home service. It was for the most part composed of fishermen and others dwelling on the coast. In the Act by which the force was formed there was a clause which prevented them from being sent more than 300 miles from the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland. This clause was extremely popular with the force, and a great mistake was made by the Duke of Somerset and Lord Clarence Paget when they proposed to omit it. Having taken counsel with those who were well acquainted with the navy, and particularly with a noble Relative who was formerly connected with the Admiralty, he (Mr. Berkeley) opposed the omission of this clause, but in vain. The results he had predicted had occurred. The Volunteers, disgusted with the removal of the clause, and with the liability to be "sent foreign," had resigned to a great extent or had ceased to enter the force, and there 1836 was thus a great diminution of one of the most useful bodies of men in the service of the country. Nothing could be more futile than the reason assigned by the the Duke of Somerset for the removal of the clause—if, he said, a cruiser had on board a certain number of these men she could not chase an enemy beyond 300 miles. But was it to be conceived a British seaman would wish to stop when he saw a prize? Certain captains of ships were also opposed to the clause, because they did not like to see the Volunteers taken out of their vessels. The year following Lord Clarence Paget candidly admitted that the Act had been a failure in consequence of the omission of the clause, and that there had been a serious diminution in what he termed one of the finest forces ever created. The question for the present Government to consider was whether the Royal Naval Coast Volunteers was a force that ought to be kept up? If so, they must restore the clause that had been omitted. If they thought not, they should not go on frittering away public money upon it at all.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
said, that the Naval Reserve was, for the most part, composed of men of a superior class, and expressed his firm conviction that the force if called upon, would do its duty.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, the Vote now asked for the Royal Navy Reserve was £143,000, while last year the actual expenditure upon the force was only £124,000. He wished also to know whether the number of Naval Reserve men attending drill bad increased during the; last year, and whether there was any occasion for taking between £15,000 and £20,000 more than was required?
said, he had listened to the conversation on the Naval Reserve with considerable interest; but while there had been much said as to the best way of getting the men and as to whether the country got value for the money, he thought that one important point had been altogether overlooked—namely, the actual state of the probable supply of men for the navy. Whether the stock of men was to be kept up either by taking them as boys into the navy, or whether they obtained them from apprentices in the merchant service, it was clear that unless the very source of all their supply of men was kept up it was useless troubling their heads about the various ways of getting them. Before they cooked their hare they 1837 must catch it. A Return obtained by an hon. Member opposite showed that the aggregate number of apprentices now in the sea service, reckoning the merchant marine and the navy together, was not one half what it used to be; and the humblest powers of calculation would enable anybody to see that if that was not soon cured in some way or other, those who lived another twenty years—that, he supposed, would not be his fate—would find the number of sea-going men in this country almost reduced to nothing. If the source of their supply thus dwindled away the stock from which they drew their men for the navy must become exhausted. Did not the case of the Naval Reserve tell the same story? When first established it went on increasing; year by year. It seemed now to have got to a level, and to have been stationary for the last few years; and why should that be if the number of youths entering the sea service was what it used to be? If the same number of youths entered the service as formerly did so, they would be continually getting an accession to the strength of the Naval Reserve, which those who advised its establishment gave a most confident opinion would reach 30,000. It had got up to little over half that number, and it had remained stationary for some years. The cause of that was not difficult to see. No one who looked for a moment at the price which the seaman—a skilled labourer of the highest degree—could obtain for his labour, in comparison with any other skilled workman in this country, could wonder that boys did not go to sea now. Moreover, the seamen could not carry on their labour so late in life as other men. He got stiff and half worn out sooner than other workmen, and few persons were able to go to sea before the mast after they were fifty years old; the majority he believed did not reach that ago. Therefore, it was not surprising that with their low wages, and their market kept down by the continual increase of foreigners, boys did not go to sea. Indeed, considering the hardships he had to suffer, and the very small wages he got after he had learnt his business, no man could honestly recommend a lad to be bound to the sea service if he had a fair chance of earning his bread another way. The hon. and gallant Admiral opposite (Admiral Erskine) had sketched out a scheme for getting boys into the navy, and letting them overflow into the merchant service but he doubted whether it would 1838 ever succeed. No doubt they would be eagerly caught up by the merchant service as petty officers and they would be excellent men. But if anybody looked at the boys trained in the navy, saw their fat cheeks, and observed how little they looked like hardworking horses, as compared with the boys trained in the merchant service, he would not think they would be content to change from that easy life to a life so much harder, and one which the habits of order and cleanliness to which they had been trained would make them regard as very uncomfortable. He could not help making these few observations, because, whatever the cause might be, no one could help seeing that the boys who now went to sea were too few to meet the wants of the mercantile service of the country; and if there were not seamen enough for the mercantile service, then there was no use in troubling themselves about the best means of manning the navy.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
, in answer to the Question put by the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) — namely, why the same sum was asked this year for the Naval Reserve as last year, though part of last year's Vote had not been spent, explained that the demand upon the Vote was necessarily a fluctuating demand, and one that depended upon the number of seamen who enrolled themselves in the force. As all those men were engaged in mercantile pursuits, it was of course very uncertain how many of them would come for training in any particular year. With regard to the remarks of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), he had more than once expressed his opinion that the true way of obtaining their supply of seamen was to bring up boys to the Royal Navy; and he would be glad to see, and he hoped he would see, the same system applied to the Mercantile Marine.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that his question was, whether there had been such an increase last year in the number of Naval Reserve men attending drill over those of the year before as would justify the Government in asking for a Vote so considerably in excess of the sum which had been found actually necessary last year?
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he did not remember the exact number who were kept in training in 1865–6, but last year the number was, he believed, 12,000.
, in reply to the Question of the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. 1839 Berkeley) expressed his regret that he could give no satisfactory answer to the question which the hon. Member had put to him relative to the Naval Coast Volunteers, inasmuch as his attention had not been drawn to the subject during the short period which had elapsed since his return to the Admiralty. He should, however, make it his business to inquire whether any injurious effect had been produced by the omission of the clause to which the hon. Gentleman referred, and, if so, to introduce such an Amendment as might be necessary.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (2) £65,106, Scientific Departments.
§ MR. HANBURY-TRACY
asked what inspection there was of adult schools in the sea-going ships, and whether it was part of the duties of the Director of Education to inspect them. He also wished to know whether it was true that the Admiralty was about to appoint a Chaplain General of the Navy; and, if so, whether the right hon. Gentleman did not think that the Chaplain General would make a better Inspector of Schools than any Director of Education. He also wished to know whether the Director General of Ordnance was to be continued?
said the Inspector of Education did not inspect the schools of ships of war, but only the dockyard and training ship school and the schools of naval architecture. As to the inspection of schools, he thought a gentleman like Dr. Woolley, who had been devoted to education all his life, would make a more efficient Inspector of Education than any chaplain in the navy; and if there was to be a Chaplain General he (Mr. Corry) would be very sorry to add to his duties by placing him over the schools. As to the question of a Chaplain General, it had been under the notice of the Admiralty—and under the notice of the War Office also—with a view to have one superintendent over both services, but no proceedings had yet been taken.
§ MR. HANBURY-TRACY
But was there any inspection of the schools of seagoing ships, or any Reports sent in as to their efficiency?
said, the chaplain, if there was one on board, was responsible for the state of the schools, and there was also a naval instructor whose duty it was to look after the schools.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
asked, whether it was wise to bring the Director of Schools 1840 away from his labours at Portsmouth and elsewhere to inspect the School of Naval Instruction at Kensington? He thought inspectors of other schools would be better employed in the examination of this school. He wished also to ask the right hon. Gentleman, who had supported the idea of a School of Naval Architecture, what was to become of all their naval architects? They were turning them out of the college at the rate of from fifty to sixty a year, and in the course of the next ten years they would have 500 of them. What were they going to do with them all? Then with regard to the Naval School of Portsmouth, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman was satisfied with it; but he had observed that the school had lost its mathematical teacher this year—at least his salary did not appear in the Estimate. The porter's salary was also missing from the Estimates, though he observed that the five servant girls were still there.
§ MR. DILLWYN
was glad this Vote was called in question. He hoped that the expense connected with the School of Naval Architecture would end with the School; but he feared these experiments went much farther, for he had been told that within the last ten years no fewer than sixty men of war had been laid down and had been torn to pieces again. He thought this was rather an expensive method of allowing the students to conduct their experiments at the cost of the nation.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
, in reply, said, that in the opinion of the Admiralty the School of Naval Architecture was a great, and was likely to prove a still greater, success. The objects which the students of that School served were, as had on a former occasion been stated by his noble Friend Lord Clarence Paget, threefold. They were, in the first place, necessary to supply the permanent demand which existed in the shipwright and engineering departments of the various dockyards. They, in the second place, furnished a class of young men capable of overseeing the work done in the shipbuilding in contract yards as the representatives of the Government; and lastly, they provided draughtsmen and others who it was desirable should be brought up in the Constructor of the Navy's Department in Whitehall.
also explained, in answer to the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Alderman Lusk), that the reason why the services of the mathematical master had 1841 been discontinued at the Naval College at Portsmouth was because his duties were now performed by the head Naval Instructor of Her Majesty' ship Excellent.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £1,375,368. Dockyards and Naval Yards.
§ MR. P. WYKEHAM MARTIN
called the attention of the Committee to the fact that in the ropery department at Chatham the services of a large number of men in an humble rank of life had recently been dispensed with in consequence of the improvements introduced by the hon. Members for Pontefract and Halifax. These men were no doubt in a very humble position; but he maintained that by the Superannuation Act, passed under the auspices of his noble Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, it was intended that those men should be entitled to receive retiring allowances. Under the 2nd clause of the Act it was provided that the men should receive one-sixtieth of their pay for every year they had served up to forty years, and that if discharged at the will of the Government in order to promote the greater efficiency of the Department they were to be entitled to ten-sixtieths. Now, sixteen men had been so discharged; they had all served more than twenty years, besides their time as hired men, and he asked the Admiralty to concede to these men the extra sixtieth to which they were clearly entitled. The case of some of these men seemed very hard. Two of them were constituents of his own, who had served twenty-five and twenty-seven years respectively. What he asked for them would occasion but a very slight increase of charge — about £100 a year—which could be but for a very short period, and would constantly be decreasing. He had no reproach to bring against the present Government—the late Government were rather the worse of the two. So far as he had anything to do with the present Government, they had shown a great sense of justice and a willingness to be convinced. He hoped the case of these men, who were established artizans, would be fairly considered. There was another case which he felt bound to put. When the Achilles was being built the Admiralty of the day employed a number of iron shipwrights and gave them a high rate of pay. They were only taken on for the job, and they could therefore belong to unions which established men could not. These men struck; and their place was 1842 supplied by shipwrights who did the work to the full satisfaction of the Government. Practically they received only 4s. 6d. a day. They had at first to deal only with 4-inch plates, but afterwards with 5-inch and even 6-inch plates. It was deserving of consideration that, owing to the greatly increased use of iron plates for shipbuilding in the dockyards, the men employed in them were much more liable to accidents, and the wear and tear of their clothes was also much greater. It was hardly possible to take up a copy of a paper published in the neighbourhood of a dockyard without finding in it some account of a serious and perhaps fatal accident among the dockyard labourers. These things ought to be taken into consideration by the Admiralty, when they were asked to examine into any grievances brought forward by the men.
§ MR. LAIRD
wished to ask a question of the First Lord regarding the smaller dockyards. A Committee was appointed in 1864, of which both himself and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) were members. The Committee, after great consideration, decided on enlarging Chatham and Devonport Dockyards; but they thought that some of the small dockyards might be dispensed with, and recommended that Pembroke, Deptford, and Woolwich dockyards should be given up. Sheerness, also, it was thought, might very fairly be closed as soon as the alterations in Chatham Dockyard were completed. He wished to call attention to the great expense of these smaller dockyards, amounting annually to £95,000; and he wished to know whether the Government had considered the Report of the Committee, and whether they would be prepared to recommend to the House shortly that these smaller yards should be dispensed with?
§ MR. MONTAGU CHAMBERS
said, he felt it his duty to support the case which his hon. Friend the Member for Rochester (Mr. P. Wykeham Martin) had brought forward. It was the duty of every Member to remonstrate where injury had been inflicted upon any of his constituents, and especially when the parties who suffered were almost helpless. This he knew was the case with workmen who had been engaged in the roperies of the Government. They had been led to believe that if any mechanical improvements were introduced into these establishments they would receive pensions or superannuation allowances, or that other employment which 1843 they might accept would be found for them. But in April last, in consequence of the introduction of machinery, numbers were discharged. He had been informed that they had been offered the alternative, either that they should wait for some decision as to receiving some gratuity, or that, instead of receiving 23s. or 22s. 6d. a week, which they had been accustomed to earn, they should accept the paltry sum of 13s. a week as labourers. He submitted that the Admiralty should take their case into favourable consideration, and either grant them the pensions they represented they were entitled to, or offer them some better employment than work at only 13s. a week. Another matter to which he wished to refer was the case of the men employed in the steam factories. It seemed to him that there was a great want of systematic arrangement in our dockyards as regarded the employment of artizans. There ought to be some such uniform system as prevailed in private yards. Twenty-five years ago a steam factory was established at Woolwich as an experiment, and the experiment had been perfectly successful. There could be no doubt that steam factories had now attained the highest importance in the Royal shipyards; but the persons working in them as skilled artizans and labourers were not placed on the same footing as shipwrights and others employed in the dockyards, inasmuch as not being considered on the permanent civil service, they were not entitled to a superannuation allowance He thought that the time had arrived when they should be placed in the same position as those who worked ordinarily in the Royal Dockyards. That he thought was true policy—otherwise in a time of emergency, when wages were rising, the country would lose the services of some of the best workmen. In reference to another subject, some Greenwich pensioners at the outports had informed him that they were anxious to be able to ascertain from time to time their precise situation as to the allowances to be given them within certain ages, in consequence of changes made by the hon.-Member for Pontefract in the management and appropriation of the funds of Greenwich Hospital, and he suggested that the paymasters of the pensions in the different districts should be directed to afford the desired information.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Montagu Chambers) had asked why the men employed 1844 in steam factories were not put upon the same footing as shipwrights and others with regard to their superannuation, and to that question he thought he could give a satisfactory answer. The men in factories did not, like the shipwrights, receive a fixed rate of pay; but their rate of pay was regulated by the market price of labour, so that Government took the risk of having to increase their wages in the same way as any private employers. Considering the customs and nature of the trade, he thought this the wiser plan; and, in fact, so far from there being any difficulty in obtaining men there was no difficulty whatever. The object of the superannuation system was to ensure the retention of established workmen in the service, and if the Government chose to run the risk of their leaving for higher wages elsewhere, and made regulations as to pay accordingly, the only effect of adding the benefits; of superannuation to the wages of the factory men would be to add about £30,000 to the expenses of the dockyards, and the 1* money would be clearly thrown away. He wished to ask his right hon. Friend whether he intended to increase the fixed number of hired shipwrights and others in proportion as the fixed number of hired labourers of the first class became diminished? The present number of these hired labourers was 550, and the number of hired shipwrights was 8,800; were the numbers of the latter to be increased as those of the former diminished?
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, that as the particular points to which attention had been called had been settled by the Board of Admiralty before the present First Lord of the Admiralty entered upon that office, he hoped the House would permit him to reply to the various questions that had been put in the place of that right hon. Gentleman. In reply to the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Devonport (Mr. Montagu Chambers), he had to state that when the ropemakers to whom he had referred were discharged they were offered a commuted allowance if they chose to remain in the service; and in making that offer the Board of Admiralty were merely following the precedent that had been made in the case of the sawyers. The sawyers accepted the offer—the ropemakers did not. There was certainly peculiar hardship in the case mentioned by the hon. Member for Rochester (Mr. P. Wykeham Martin); but the question was one for the consideration of 1845 the Treasury and not for that of the Admiralty. He had laid the matter before the Treasury, and it was now under the consideration of that Department. The question of the hon. and learned Member for Devon port as to the factory men had been completely answered by the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers). The hon. Member for Pontefract had asked whether it was intended to replace as they died out the hired labourers who were entitled to pensions by artificers—a proceeding that would lead in many cases to an increased expenditure for the same amount of labour. He need only remind the hon. Member that whereas, when he was financial and civil Lord of the Admiralty, in 1864 the establishment was fixed at 9,610, the number of artificers at 8,714, and labourers at 394, the establishment was now fixed at 9,518, the artificers at 7,948, labourers at 884, labourers (pension) at 557, and wheelwrights, &c., at 129, being an establishment of 92 less than 1864, while the artificers, &c., were 766 less.
§ MR. SAMUDA
wished to draw attention to the large proportion of the establishment expenses in the dockyards when compared with the total expenses in those yards. The establishment expenses in all the dockyards amounted to £161,000; while the total amount of shipbuilding during the year in those yards only represented 23,000 tons, which was equivalent to a cost of something over £1,000,000. The establishment expenses were, therefore, 16½ per cent upon the cost of the shipbuilding, and between 14 and 15 per cent upon the amount of wages paid in the dockyards, which was placed at £1,125,000. This proportion was enormously large. The amount of wages paid at Deptford, one of the dockyards in which it was proposed to discontinue certain descriptions of work, represented £50,000, while the establishment expenses there amounted to £10,800, or over 20 per cent. These establishment expenses, he thought, might be considerably diminished by economical management—at present they were certainly excessive.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
called attention to the large number of workmen employed in the dockyards compared with the small amount of work which they produced. There were 25,000 people employed in the yards and 3,000 policemen; and while the salaried officials received incomes amounting to £141,000, the artificers and labourers 1846 were paid £878,000. For all this we had scarcely any results. He also wished to ask, with regard to the chymist, Mr. Hay, employed by the Admiralty at Portsmouth at a good salary, whether he was the same Mr. Hay who was engaged in several commercial speculations, and traded in "Hay's Protecting Varnish," "Prepared Putty," "Hay's Antifouling Composition," &c. If so, it was scandalous that he should receive Government pay, and at the same time take advantage of his position to trade in that way.
said, he did not know whether the Mr. Hay referred to was the same person who held the office of chymical adviser to the Admiralty at Portsmouth; but he could say that that Mr. Hay had held office for nearly twenty-five years with much benefit to the service, and was the inventor of a composition for preventing the bottoms of iron ships from fouling, which had been used with considerable advantage. Whether he held shares in any company, he was unable to say. With regard to the number of artificers employed in the dockyards, the number of men employed in our home dockyards was not, as had been stated, 25,000, but 18,321. Hon. Members who complained that so few ships were built seemed to look upon these yards as merely manufacturing establishments; but they should remember that the number of new ships was no criterion of the amount of work done. Shipbuilding, indeed, was only a small portion of it, there being also repairing, fitting, and other work of various kinds. The same answer applied to the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Samuda), who had complained that the salaries of officers amounted to £161,000, while ships to the extent of only 23,000 tons had been built; he had only to repeat that the dockyards were not mere manufacturing establishments. With regard to the remark of the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Laird), it was quite true that in 1864 he (Mr. Corry) voted as a member of the Committee for the prospective discontinuance of Woolwich and Deptford dockyards, though, at the same time, he was strongly opposed to the abolition of Pembroke yard. He was influenced in so doing by geographical considerations; it was obviously desirable to have the means of building and repairing ships on different parts of the coast, so that if one dockyard was blockaded by an enemy's fleet, others would be available; but if the Thames were blockaded, not 1847 only Chatham, but Sheerness, Woolwich, and Deptford would also be rendered unavailable. He was still of opinion, therefore, that the number of yards on the Thames and Medway might eventually be reduced. Such a measure could not, however, be carried out until the extension of Chatham yard was completed, and this would probably occupy several years.
§ MR. SAMUDA
explained that he had desired to express the opinion that the expenses of our dockyards was excessive in proportion to the amount of work which they performed, that it would be better to discontinue a dockyard than to keep it up an extravagant cost, with little or no good result.
noticed that the question with reference to increasing the wages of shipwrights and caulkers had not been answered; he also desired to know when the increased pay of 13s. a week would be paid to the ropemakers, in accordance with the promise of the noble Lord in the course of his able statement when bringing forward the Estimates.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
pointed out that to raise the wages of the Deptford shipwrights and caulkers would be to do the same by all the shipwrights in other Government dockyards, and that these were not the days when the Board of Admiralty was encouraged to make increased demands upon the public purse. As for the other matter alluded to, he could only say that the hon. and gallant Member would best consult the interest of the ropemakers by assisting the Government to secure the passing of the Vote under discussion, for until the Vote was passed the ropemakers could not have their increased Pay.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
complained that the explanation given with regard to Mr. Hay was not satisfactory. He thought that a person who was employed by the Government at a large salary should not be permitted to employ his time in other business and speculations.
§ MR. ALDERMAN SALOMONS
said, he was unable to concur with the hon. Member in the view which he took of Mr. Hay's remuneration. If the State required the entire services of clever scientific men it ought to give commensurate remuneration. A salary of £400 a year could hardly be regarded in that light.
§ MR. SEELY
said, that Mr. Hay occupied an anomalous position in connection with the Admiralty. He had a large in- 1848 terest in a company which manufactured a coating for iron vessels, and he was at the same time appointed to report upon the best coating that could be employed to protect the bottom of such ships. Now there could be no confidence in the honesty of the decision given by a person employed in the dockyard as to the particular kind of coating to be used, if the official were himself an inventor. He begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman when the navy ships' accounts for 1865–6 and the manufacturing accounts were likely to be presented, and he took that opportunity of intimating that, before the Session closed, he should take the sense of the House upon the question of superintendence in Her Majesty's dockyards as compared with the amount of wages paid and of work done.
said, that Mr. Hay had no power to decide what composition should be applied to the bottoms of ships. That duty devolved upon the Controller of the Navy.
repeated that the decision on the point in question rested altogether with the Controller of the Navy. Mr. Hay's position was that of chymical adviser generally to the Admiralty; and he could not see that the fact of his having invented a particular composition which had proved very useful incapacitated him in any way for that office.
replied in the negative. If the duty suggested really devolved on Mr. Hay he would naturally recommend that his own composition should be the only one used; whereas several other compositions were used in the navy.
§ Vole agreed to.
§ (1.) £86,395, Victualling Yards and Transport Establishments.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, they would he produced very shortly. The delay which had taken place was entirely attributable to a wish expressed by the hon. Member himself with regard to the question of pensions being included in those accounts.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (5.) £62,686, Medical Establishments.
§ (6.) £17,448, Marine Divisions.
§ (7) £855,511, Naval Stores.
said, that hon. Members were aware from the paper in their hands that the Vote No. 10 had undergone some modification. The original Estimate provided, among other works, for the building of a sister ship to the Inconstant. That ship was to have been one of 4,010 tons, 1,000-horse power, with a complement of 600 men. The original Estimate had also included 10 gunboats to be built by contract, he had expressed his cordial acquiescence in the policy of his right hon. Predecessor in supplying another very fast and powerful unarmoured ship for the protection of our commerce; but some of his hon. Friends opposite had objected to the building of a second ship the size of the Inconstant, and also to the building of so many small vessels; and subsequently, after a consultation with the Controller of the Navy, he himself came to the conclusion that a vessel of a smaller tonnage and horse-power than the Inconstant might be built of nearly the same speed, and with a sufficiently heavy armament, and would answer the purpose for which the new ship was intended. It having appeared, also, that some of the gunboats in China which it had been supposed were in so defective a state that it would be necessary to break them up, had been repaired, he arrived at the conclusion that the number of gunboats in the Estimate might be reduced from 10 to 8. Having discussed the matter with his naval Colleagues, they decided that, instead of building a second Inconstant of 4,010 tons, 1,000-horse power, and a complement of 600 men, they should build a vessel, to be called the Volage, of 2,250 tons, 600-horse power, and a complement of 350 men. By substituting the Volage and 8 gunboats for the second Inconstant and 10 gunboats, a sum of £73,150 would be saved, and by the consequent reduction in the Vote for engines for unarmed ships, there would be a further saving of £14,880 1850 —making a total saving of £88,030. Then came the question how they should appropriate that sum. It was stated, in the course of a discussion which had taken place on a former occasion, that the number of our armoured ships, in comparison with those possessed by the French or any other nation, was so large that the Admiralty ought not to build more. He had, all along, entertained a totally different opinion, and he was anxious to make arrangements for the building of a third armour-clad ship, in addition to the two for which provision had been made in the original Estimates. He therefore proposed to appropriate a sum of £68,000 towards the construction of the hull and engines of a third armour-clad frigate of the second-class, and to appropriate £10,000 towards advancing each of the two already provided for—which would make £65,000 for each of the latter, instead of £55,000, as at first proposed. That would absorb the total saving of £88,000. He had always been of opinion that competition was a very wholesome thing, and, acting on that principle, though no one had a higher opinion of the talent and practical knowledge of the department of the Controller of the Navy, he had thought it desirable to invite some eminent shipbuilders to send in designs for the third armour-plated ship. The firms to whom that invitation had been sent out were Messrs. Napier and Sons, Messrs. Samuda, Messrs. Laird Brothers, the Thames Iron Company, Messrs. Palmer Brothers, the Mill wall Ironworks Company, and the London Engineering Shipbuilding Company. It was left entirely to the option of those firms whether the design should be for a turret or a broadside ship. Whichever of the designs was approved by the Controller would be adopted by the Admiralty, and the successful competitor would get the order for the ship if his tender was reasonable, without being subjected to any competition as regarded price. He could not agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) that the comparison which he had made between the armour-clad ships of England and those of France was a just one. He had obtained a careful comparison from two independent sources. It was a comparison between the first and second-class sea-going ships—the real force of the armour-clad navy—of each of the two countries. There was no use in comparing the small vessels—the real comparison lay between ships of the larger classes 1851 —vessels analogous in rank to the old line-of-battle ships and frigates. England had of sea-going iron-clad ships of the first-class, afloat, 18; building, 3=21; of the second-class, afloat, 3; building and ordered, 4=7. Total 28, of which 21 were afloat. To these was to be added the additional armour-clad ship recently decided on, which brought the gross number of the two classes, built and building, up to 29. France had of the first-class afloat, 16; building, 4=20; of the second-class, afloat, 1; building, 7=8, of which 17 were afloat; total of the two classes, 28. But since that Return was made up France had purchased from America a very large armour-clad ship, which made the total number 29—or exactly the same as that of the English ships. We were therefore only on an exact numerical equality: and he need not tell the Committee that it had been the policy of this country, time out of mind, to aim, and that for obvious reasons, at the maintenance of a considerably larger naval force than that possessed by France. He found, moreover, that on the 31st of March the progress made in building the English armour-clad ships, of the first or the second class, was only equal to 1¾ ships; whereas at the end of last year the progress made in building the French armour-clads was equal to 6½ ships, so that the actual work in building done by France represented nearly five more ships than the work done by England. The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) had remarked on a former occasion that we had thirty-seven iron-clad sea-going vessels of war afloat and building, while the French had but twenty-seven. In making his calculation, however, the hon. Gentleman had excluded many of the third - class French ships, which were more powerful than the small English ships which he included. Again, in making his comparison, the hon. Gentleman had included among the thirty-seven English sea-going ships every vessel which had an armour-plate on its side; whereas he had selected merely the élite of the French navy. In estimating the number of the English vessels, too, the hon. Gentleman had included the four turret-ships, none of which were sea-going vessels, two small sloops, and three gunboats — the Viper, the Vixen, and the Waterwitch. The fact was that, omitting the obsolete floating batteries and the small batteries demontables, the French had no fewer than fifteen vessels of the third-class built and building; bringing up the total 1852 number of their iron-clads to forty-four, while we had of all classes thirty-eight only, including the turret-ships, small sloops, and gunboats. Such being the actual state of things, he thought he was justified in proposing to make an increase in the number of our iron-clads. With regard to the ships which the hon. Member for Halifax regarded as sea-going, he might remark, in passing, that Admiral Yelverton had reported that the Wyvern could never have been intended as a sea-going ship. The result of the alterations which he had indicated would be that in Vote No. 10, sec. 2, instead of £352,875, as originally proposed, being asked for armour-clads and their engines, and £437,084 for unarmoured - ships and their engines, the amount required under the amended Estimate would be £440,905 for armour-clads and their engines, and £349,054 for unarmoured-ships and their engines. And here, perhaps, he might be permitted to advert to one or two statements which had been made on a former occasion, when his hon. Friend the Member for Halifax found fault with his right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington) because the right hon. Gentleman had not carried out the programme of the late Government with respect to armour-clad ships. On instituting inquiries he had found that the deficiency in the amount of work done last year at Chatham had, in the case of one of the ships building there, been in part caused by the delivery of defective plates, the rejection of which had occasioned considerable delay; and, in the case of the other, by injury done to the caisson of the dock where she was building, which had let in the water, and suspended the work for three months. The main cause of the delay, however, was not any laches on the part of his right hon. Friend, but a miscalculation in the programme by the late Board of Admiralty. They had apportioned nine tons of shipping to each shipwright in the course of a year; whereas the amount ought to have been between six and seven tons only, which is the proper quantity in the case of ironclad ships. There were various other points which had been adverted to on a former night on which he should have liked to give explanations; but at so late an hour he was unwilling to trespass further upon the time of the Committee. He would therefore conclude by expressing a hope that the Committee would accede to the alterations which he had proposed in the Vote.
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, he would express his cordial approval of the altered programme of the Board of Admiralty. It was true that the right hon. Gentleman had informed the Committee that he had not been influenced by the arguments which had been adduced on that side of the House on a previous occasion; but as the change now proposed was in the direction of those arguments, he for one did not feel disposed to find fault with the saving clause in the right hon. Gentleman's speech. The right hon. Gentleman had been opposed to the building of a second Inconstant; but he (Mr. Stansfeld) objected to having "too many eggs in one basket," and he thought it desirable to diminish, as far as possible, the risk of loss of men and loss of tonnage. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman was now convinced of the correctness of that view. His opinion had always been that it was desirable to concentrate expenditure and labour. He still adhered to the accuracy of the computation he had made of the relative strength of the English and French navies. In making such a comparison, however, they must look, not merely at the number, but at the power and capacity of the vessels brought into the calculation. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question as to one of the items of Vote 10. In the Estimates for 1867 the sum of £308,000 was taken for coal for steamships and dockyard purposes; whereas this year only £207,531 was asked for. Last year, however, £50,000 was required for coal for Her Majesty's troop ships; but in Vote 17 this year the item was increased to £75,000. This was a matter which in his opinion required some explanation.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that as the hon. Member for Halifax adhered to his former statement respecting the comparative strength of the French and English navies, which statement was likely to create an erroneous impression, he must adhere to his criticism of that statement, which was that on one side the hon. Member arbitrarily excluded a certain class of vessels—on what principle it was difficult to say. If a comparison was to be instituted it should be made on a plain and intelligible principle applicable to both navies. Ship for ship, weak and strong, no doubt the French naval force was stronger than ours; but on any principle 1854 which applied a test to strength, the results of a comparison were different.
§ MR. STANSFELD
asked if it was to be implied that on the whole the French iron-clad navy was numerically stronger than ours?—for that was the real question. He had made no arbitrary exclusion, but he said that French ships of the third-class were not sea-going vessels, and therefore, as far as offensive purposes were concerned, he excluded them specifically; which could not produce any false impression.
§ MR. SAMUDA
said, that one way of instituting a comparison was to take the number of guns under armour, and the French had a majority of 248, being nearly one-half more than we possessed. But to have only the same force in our navy that France had was to put this country in a position it had never before occupied. At the end of the Thirty Years War, our navy was twice as strong as that of France; and as the navy was our only defence, it was his conviction that it ought to be equal in force to the united navies of Europe. He was glad to have heard so satisfactory an explanation of the changes made in the Estimates; but he thought the change from ten gunboats to eight was a very small matter. However, he would not push inquiry too far as to the means by which the conclusion had been arrived at. His main objection to the Estimate was the great increase proposed in wooden vessels, which were altogether unsuited to the present requirements of the service. He should like to know how the Government proposed to deal with the twenty-five gunboats which were to be built in the dockyards; and he hoped in that case a reduction would be determined on proportionate at least to that referred to for the boats to be built in private yards. It would have been gratifying if his right hon. Friend had found it consistent with his notions of what was right for the public service to have contracted for the building of one of the iron-clads on the Thames. Unexampled distress there had caused repeated applications to be made to the Government, and a hope was entertained that the Estimates would have contained something to mitigate that distress; but both contracts had gone to the North, and were given to a firm carrying on business on the Clyde. No doubt the price was considerably lower than the tenders made by the London builders; but under the exceptional circumstances, ought price to have deter- 1855 mined the matter? Without wishing to insinuate anything against the highly respectable firm who had obtained the building of the vessels, there were circumstances he was bound to bring before the House. The same firm had been fortunate enough previously to obtain two contracts at much lower prices than others named; but the firm found itself so embarrassed by the loss it sustained that it felt it necessary to apply to the Government for an additional sum, and Government gave them £70,000, in addition to the contract prices, and thus finally the Government bail paid a higher price than the offers they had refused for this more favoured establishment. This was not the only firm which had been so dealt with. He could name one that had received £60,000; and there was another instance where a large additional sum had been paid as compensation for loss sustained on the contract price. His right hon. Friend would no doubt say that this should not occur again. But such a promise would not bring back work which had been diverted from a locality where great distress prevailed, and was a poor consolation to unemployed mechanics. Not one of the Thames Estimates was too high, and he should have been glad if, under all the circumstances, his right hon. Friend could have had one of those vessels built on the London river.
said, that he sympathized strongly with the sufferings which had prevailed in the shipbuilding trade on the Thames, and if he could with propriety have diverted any of the Admiralty custom to the banks of the Thames, he should have been happy to have done so. But the Admiralty, having considered this subject, came to the conclusion that they could look only to what was most conducive to the interests of the public service. He did not know what right the Admiralty had to say, "Here is a firm which offers to build a ship for £25,000 less than another firm; but we will give the contract to the firm whose estimate is £25,000 more." The Admiralty had no right to distribute £25,000 in charity in a particular locality. His hon. Friend (Mr. Samuda) said they ought not to be influenced entirely by the question of price. No doubt that was so; and where a firm was not of eminence the Admiralty would sometimes do well not to accept the lowest tender. But when a firm of such eminence as the Messrs. Napier and Sons of Glasgow, sent in a 1856 tender which was less by £25,000 than that sent in from the banks of the Thames, he did not know with what face he could come down to the House and propose that £25,000 more should be paid. Moreover, it was not only a question of price, for the Messrs. Napier undertook to deliver the two ships, or, at least, one of them, at an earlier period than was proposed elsewhere. As to the advance which had been obtained by this firm in past contracts beyond the price originally agreed upon, they had been expressly told in this case that under no circumstance would one farthing be paid beyond the contract price. With regard to the distress in the shipbuilding trade in London, he might mention that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gathorne Hardy), who was then President of the Poor Law Board, informed the Admiralty that a deputation had waited upon him on the subject, and he had represented their case to the Admiralty as favourably as he could.
§ MR. DALGLISH
said, that the case in which more than the contract price was I paid to the Messrs. Napier and Sons occurred at an early period in the history of armour-shipbuilding, when comparatively little was known of that process either by the builders or by the Admiralty. The vessel was completed, and built according to contract; but in consequence of the necessary outlay upon it, the Admiralty felt themselves bound to give to Messrs. Napier a certain sum beyond the contract price, but much below what they gave to either of the other builders who then constructed vessels under similar circumstances, and a sum which certainly did not re-imburse the Messrs. Napier for their expenditure. With regard to the distress on the Thames, there was a considerable want of trade on all rivers where iron shipbuilding was carried on, and be thought that the Government should not lend themselves to give Government work to any particular locality merely because there was a want of trade there. The business of the Government was to get the ships built for the public service; in the cheapest and best possible way, where they believed that the work would be well and efficiently done, whether on the Thames, the Mersey, or the Clyde. The difference of price for which work could be done might depend on higher wages, on the greater cost of bringing materials to the spot, or on a variety of circumstances which the Government could not control, and which they should not try to control.
§ MR. GRAVES
approved the changes which were proposed, but was not aware that the suggestions for those changes came from any particular side of the House. The Admiralty had been persuaded from many quarters to throw open their designs to the shipbuilding talent of the country, and it was with great pleasure he now heard that policy followed. With regard to the gunboats he thought it bad economy to place the old machinery in them, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would look into this subject.
§ MR. CHILDERS
had heard with great satisfaction the changes proposed in this Vote. His right hon. Friend had said that he did not follow their opinion in this matter; but as he had followed their advice that did not much matter. The right hon. Gentleman had mentioned a number of firms from which the Admiralty were to obtain designs, to be submitted to the Controller. He (Mr. Childers) wished to know whether the competition which was to be invited would be a competition of price as well as of plan? He did not understand his hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Samuda) to mean that a tender from the Thames, though it might be a worse tender, should be accepted in preference to one from the Clyde, but only that something else besides price ought to be looked to, and that tenders from the Thames might be in some respects superior to those from the Clyde.
§ MR. DALGLISH
said, that the public showed their appreciation of the work done on the different rivers, for they went to the Clyde and the Mersey in preference to the Thames—and that was the best answer as to the supposed superiority of tenders from the builders on the Thames.
§ MR. SAMUDA
said, if the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had consulted with those who were best qualified to give him advice, he would have learnt that not one of the Estimates from the Thames was improperly high. He had not asked that any unfair price should be accepted for the sake of supplying the wants of any locality; what he said was that where the distress was very great, and the price very fair, he would have been glad if the right hon. Gentleman had found it consistent with his duty to recommend that one of the contracts should have been given to that locality. No doubt the tender accepted was very much lower; but previous experience had shown that though the firm 1858 which had received the order was of the highest respectability—and, indeed, were friends of his own—they had been so mistaken as to the value of former work that they had received from the Government no less than £70,000 by way of supplement—namely, £35,000 on each of two vessels. Nor did that take place in the early stages of building iron-clad vessels, as had been suggested, for in the case of the second vessel it occurred two or three years after the first. It was not fair for the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Dalglish) to say that the public went to the Clyde and Mersey in preference to London. They did, no doubt, for some class of work; but for the highest class of work they came to the Thames.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
held that it was a vulgar policy to proceed upon that this country should have more ships than France, and he hoped it would be given up altogether. It was no reason because one man built a very large house that another should set about building a larger.
, in reply to the hon. Gentleman opposite, said, that the plan upon which the Admiralty would proceed was to give the contract not where the price was lowest, but where the price was fair and the design most approved.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (8.) £860,559, Steam Machinery.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Lusk.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
trusted the hon. Alderman would not press his Motion, on the understanding that if any question arose which would lead to prolonged discussion the Motion to report Progress would be agreed to.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ (9.) £888,588, New Works, Buildings, Machinery, and Repairs.
§ MR. SAMUDA
would not oppose the Vote, but expressed a hope that the Admiralty might see the utility of having iron-clad ships built for the future to a greater extent in private yards.
§ Vote agreed to.1859
§ (10.) £80,664, Stores, &c.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Lusk,) — put, and negatived.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (11.) £21,332, Martial Law.
§ (12.) £168,450, Divers Naval Miscellaneous Services.
§ (13.) £704,937, Half Pay, Reserved Half Pay, and Retirement.
§ (14.) £528,667, Military Pensions and Allowances.
§ (15.) £218,915, Civil Pensions and Allowances.
§ (16.) £405,976, Freight of Ships.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the Clock; Committee to sit again To-morrow.