HC Deb 16 May 1867 vol 187 cc617-8

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether the War Department has paid a part of the money, and intends to pay the whole sum charged by the Elswick Company, for the nine breech-loading 64-pounders recently rejected at proof; the said guns having been ordered two or three years since and having become obsolete; whether it is not desirable to put a mark upon all guns that fail in their proof at Woolwich, as there has been sent to the Paris Exhibition a 9-inch gun cast at Elswick, having a rifled tube of wrought iron, which was rejected at the Woolwich proof; and, whether the 100 rounds fired from that gun under cover, after it was rejected at proof, at the desire of the Elswick Company, is to be paid for by the country?


said, he thought that his right hon. Friend had taken a hint from the Reform Bill now before the House, and having heard so much about compound-householders had asked him what might be called a compound question, he would, however, endeavour to answer the right hon. Gentleman's Questions as well as he could. In reply to the first Question he had to say that a considerable portion of the price of the guns referred to had been already paid. The remainder, however, would not be paid until they were reported as satisfactory. He was informed that the guns in question were not obsolete, as alleged by the right hon. Gentleman. In answer to the second Question, it was the practice of the Government officials to put a mark upon all guns obtained from outside their own establishments that had failed at proof. They not only put such mark upon the guns, but also a sign indicating the cause of their rejection. The right hon. Gentleman was mistaken in supposing that there had been sent to the Paris Exhibition a gun which had been rejected at the Woolwich proof. No such gun had been sent to Paris. In reply to the third Question of the right hon. Gentleman, he had to state that the 100 rounds fired from the gun alluded to, after it was rejected at proof, were not to be paid for. The firing alluded to had been conducted for a public object at the public expense. He repeated, however, that the gun in question had not been rejected.