§ (In the Committee).
LORD HENRY LENNOX
took the opportunity of expressing his great regret that he was compelled to appear in the place of the First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Corry), who was laid up by a serious indisposition, which rendered it quite impossible for him to be in his place and to go on with the Estimates. It was thought better that the House should go into Supply, and that the Navy Estimates should be intrusted to him, and he should desire to give the same information to the Committee which his right hon. Friend would have done had he been present.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £182,364, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Salaries of the Officers and the Contingent Expenses of the
Admiralty Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1869.
§ MR. HANBURY-TRACY
asked a question respecting the appointment of the Director General of the Ordnance, and also wished for information as to the enormous increase of the expenditure, especially in the Accountant General's Department? He trusted that the First Lord would endeavour to find situations at the Admiralty as messengers and porters for seamen who were discharged from the service with good characters. Some of the petty officers would be found quite fit for the smaller clerkships. The Secretary of State for War stated the other night that the experiment of employing non-commissioned officers and men whose terms of service had expired had succeeded very well in the army, and he believed it might be tried in a still greater degree for the navy.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
said, the expenses of the Admiralty Office had gone on increasing ever since the year 1858, when they stood at £149,000. They had now reached the sum of £182,364, the net increase for the present year being £6,346. He objected to the large number of persons employed in the Admiralty Office, not to the amount of pay of each. Surely it was quite unnecessary that 489 persons should be employed in this Office. The noble Lord had stated that we should now require fewer ships, and consequently 2,500 fewer men. If they were decreasing their ships and men, how could they need a greater number of clerks? The Press, the public, and the House agreed in declaring that the navy cost too much for the results; and he did not see why the expenses of the Admiralty Office should go on increasing to this extent. If the naval expenditure became more and more in this way the burden would soon become intolerable. He moved that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £6,300.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £176,064, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Salaries of the Officers and the Contingent Expenses of the Admiralty Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1869."—(Mr. Lusk.)
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, he regretted to be obliged to oppose the reduction of the Vote, which had certainly increased during the last few years, nor could he see that that increase was likely 537 to come to a close. The clerical labour connected with rendering the accounts of the Admiralty had more than quadrupled of late years. The staff at Somerset House was quite inadequate to meet the requirements of the service, and it was constantly necessary to employ the clerks for many extra hours in order to prevent the accounts from falling greatly into arrear. The correspondence connected with the Admiralty had also vastly increased. The proposed reduction of the Vote would therefore tend to diminish the clerical efficiency of the Department, and he trusted that it would not be pressed. The hon. Gentleman had done good service by calling attention to the progressive increase of the Vote, and it was to be hoped the clerks would be induced to write faster, so as to enable them to do with less staff. But the Amendment, if carried, would be most detrimental to the public service.
SIR JOHN HAY
, in answer to the Question of the hon. and gallant Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Hanbury-Tracy) respecting the appointment of the Director General of Naval Ordnance, said, that in consequence of the great change that was taking place in our naval ordnance, the labours of the Director of Stores were so great that it was impossible for him to perform the duties of Director General of Naval Ordnance in addition to his own duties, and therefore it was found necessary to appoint Admiral Cooper Key to that Department. It was found necessary to continue the services of the gallant officer for another year; but it was hoped the day would come when our ordnance would all be of one pattern, and our ships have uniform armaments. He confessed he was afraid that day was distant, and in the meantime this additional labour must be discharged by some efficient officer.
§ MR. DU CANE
explained, that an enormous increase had arisen in the work thrown on the Accountant General's Department by the Greenwich Hospital Act and by various other causes, and that it had been found necessary to divide that Department into two branches, with a deputy Accountant General to each.
§ ADMIRAL ERSKINE
commented on the increased charge for temporary clerks and writers this year as compared with previous years.
§ MR. CHILDERS
hoped the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Alderman Lusk) would not press his Motion to a division. The whole subject of the Admiralty ac- 538 counts had been under the consideration of a Select Committee, presided over by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely), and it would be certain that their labours would result in changes which would improve the efficiency and at the same time reduce the expenditure of the central administration. This would be the last year of the present system, and it would, therefore, be inexpedient to incommode the Admiralty unnecessarily by cutting down the Vote in the manner now proposed. Nobody could believe that the existing division of business at the Admiralty could stand on its present basis; and with respect to the lower class of clerks and copyists he thought it would be possible to effect by degrees a great saving to the public in the number and character of the staff employed by substituting, in the performance of work of a merely mechanical description, persons of the class of writers for persons in the class of clerks. A change of that kind had been adopted in the Revenue Departments with satisfactory results.
§ MR. GRAVES
said, that as several of the small dockyards must be reduced in a few years it must lead to a corresponding reduction of work at head-quarters. He had given notice of a Motion that would raise the question.
§ MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN
said, he should be prepared at the proper time to defend the continuance of some of these dockyards, and especially Sheerness.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, a saving had already been effected in substituting writers for paymasters at one-fifth less the usual cost. The appointment of messengers was in the patronage of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and he would convey the hon. and gallant Member's (Mr. Hnnbury-Tracy's) wishes to him. Every precaution was taken that proper persons were appointed, for they had to undergo a Civil Service examination of so strict a character as officers in the army some years ago would have been hardly able to meet.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he considered that the examination referred to by the noble Lord, which the messengers had to undergo, went far beyond what such an examination should be. There was a tendency to increase the severity of the examinations beyond the position of those who had to undergo them.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, what he meant to say was that the requirements of the present day would have puzzled gentle- 539 men who entered the army before the days when Civil Service examinations were instituted. The examinations were of a character to ensure the efficiency of the persons who were appointed messengers to the Admiralty.
§ MR. SERJEANT GASELEE
took exception to the word "patronage," as used by the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty. It was an odious word, and there should be no such thing. He also complained that the Civil Lord was the only official of his grade who was not provided with a house.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, that if the hon. and learned Gentleman would move an increase in the Vote for the purpose, the Civil Lord would support him.
§ MR. SERJEANT GASELEE
said, he understood that it was not competent for any Member to increase a Vote.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
said, the expenses went on from year to year increasing, and he did not understand why it should be so, considering the small number of ships which were in commission. He would not press his Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £163,926, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Salaries and Expenses of the Coast Guard Service, the Charges for the Royal Naval Coast Volunteers, and for the Royal Naval Reserve, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1869.
§ ADMIRAL ERSKINE
said, that the sum for the Naval Reserve was in excess of what was required, and the Vote was going on gradually increasing. In this year there was an increase of £2,958 over the Vote of last year for nominally the same number of men. He observed that more deputy registrars and clerks were employed than during the previous year at a cost of £2,000, and the result was that only thirteen additional men were obtained. During the last three years £80,000 had been expended in matters analogous to this Vote which the House has not assented to. The Vote was not for the Naval Reserve at all. It was a kind of sponge, from which to squeeze money for purposes of which no one knew anything. He moved that the Vote be reduced by £20,000
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £143,926, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Salaries and Expenses of the Coast Guard Service, the Charges for the Royal Naval Coast Volunteers, and for the Royal Naval Reserve, which will come in course of Payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1869,"—(Admiral Erskine,)
SIR JOHN HAY
said, he thought it right to explain that the excess referred to by the hon. and gallant Member had arisen in consequence of the system adopted ever since the institution of the Royal Naval Reserve. At first it was considered that the number of 16,000 men might reasonably be anticipated from the Mercantile Marine to form the Royal Naval Reserve; and the Estimate was always framed on the assumption that that number would be completed. At present the number was 15,156. The number enrolled had been 24,704; but 9,548 had to be deducted for discharges and failures to re-enlist. The official Return on the 30th June was, as he had stated, 15,156 men available for the public service, if at any moment hostilities should break out. There was a sudden reduction in the number in 1866, 3,000 men being found not fit for re-enlistment; but since then, by very great care in enlistment and judicious selection, the force had again been increased to 15,156. As he had stated, an excess of £20.000 had been taken on the assumption that the number of 16,000 men would be enlisted and drilled; but that number had not risen to that amount, and he was free to confess there had always been a considerable balance on the Vote. This arose from the great desire not to check enlistment or drill. But if the House thought it undesirable that the extra £20,000 should be voted, the Government would have no objection to the reduction proposed. Of course, it would still be their duty not to check enlistment or drill, and he felt assured if the Vote were exceeded, the House would make it good. He was glad to assure the House that in the Royal Naval Reserve the country had a most admirable force, which might be entirely relied on in case their services were required—a most valuable class of men, who had shown their readiness to serve, as well as their zeal and energy, on the occasion of the Trent affair.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he was glad the hon. and gallant Member had expressed his readiness to accept the reduction. This was a simple matter of account, and he be- 541 lieved, after looking into the figures at the Public Accounts Committee, there would be a surplus of £10,000 after the reduction.
§ MR. GRAVES
said, he believed the reduction would not interfere with the efficiency of the force. The commanders of the various drill ships bore the highest testimony to the intelligence and efficiency of the Reserve. They were considered the superiors of the same class of men in the navy. They had broken down the prejudice that formerly existed, and now formed a connecting link between the navy and the Mercantile Marine. If they had done nothing more than this they must be considered to have rendered valuable service to the country. The Reserve had been taken as the cream of the Mercantile Marine, and were highly-skilled men. He thought from ordinary seamen and those under the age and standard of efficiency, especially from the deep-sea fishery men, a second-class Reserve might be formed. The latter consisted of the finest class of men around our coasts, who would be ready to join the Reserve at perhaps £1 a head per annum, and he strongly advised that both of these classes should be utilized. After the Trent affair the seamen of the North volunteered into the service, without waiting for the Royal Proclamation inviting them to do so. These were facts which tended to show that the force, as a rule, could be relied upon in the event of emergencies arising. It must not be supposed that the force was inefficient because it did not fill up the Navy, the force was instituted for a totally different object—namely, to man our ships in cases of emergency—the very constitution of the force was in itself a sufficient guarantee that it should not interfere with the manning of the Mercantile Marine unless in cases of absolute necessity.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he was glad that the efficiency of the force had not been impugned. The question before the House was one merely of account, and the Government had assented to the reduction asked for. Owing to the judicious course which successive Governments had adopted, the feeling of distrust that formerly existed between the men in the Mercantile Marine had given place to one of cordiality. It was no small advantage to have a body of 15,000 or 16,000 men ready to turn out in defence of the country. The Act had passed only in 1859. At the time of the affair of the Trent the men enrolled in the Royal Naval Reserve, which at that time 542 was scarcely formed, so far from standing on their strict rights, and refusing to serve except for the immediate defence of the coast, came forward and said that, knowing they were not bound to serve, they earnestly intreated that, nevertheless, they might be permitted to volunteer. So far they had provided for the defence of the country by sea, but the time was not distant when they would have to provide for its defence by land, and he hoped to-see men enlisted who, following other trades, were neither exclusively soldiers nor sailors, but who might yet be made available for the defence of the country. He should have been sorry if anything had been said to discourage the disposition of men to join this force. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) had truly stated that the force as it was at present constituted was imperfect, because the plan of the Committee upon which it was based recommended that there should be two classes of Reserve, one receiving higher pay than the other, and that, out of the saving to be effected in the Navy Estimates, training ships should be established for the purpose of training boys from the beginning for the Navy and the merchant service. He trusted that the present or some succeeding Government would be enabled to effect such a saving upon these Estimates as would permit of funds being provided for this most useful purpose. The time was approaching when it would be necessary that a large proportion of the men, not only in the Navy, but also in the Army, should earn their own livelihood, and, nevertheless, be trained so as to be available when emergencies arose.
§ MR. LIDDELL
inquired whether the Admiralty had determined upon the amount of remuneration which the shipping masters were to receive for enrolling and watching the movements of the men of this force, seeing that upon their assistance the efficiency of the body greatly depended?
§ MR. SERJEANT GASELEE
said, he objected to the time of the House being wasted and hon. Members being kept out of their beds in consequence of certain hon. Gentlemen persisting in delivering lectures to the House on this question after the Government had intimated their willingness to assent to the proposed reduction in the Vote.
SIR JOHN HAY
said, he had to inform the hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) that there was one item of £2,000 for the purpose of remunerating the gentlemen to whom he had referred. The distribution of it was in the hands of the Board of Trade, and he had no doubt it would be distributed with justice. The officers selected for the coast batteries were supposed to thoroughly understand their duties, and the drilling of the men had been reported as very satisfactory. The men were most anxious to make themselves efficient, and as they were, doubtless, well known at their place of joining, it was not, he thought, at all necessary to watch them with policeman like vigilance, because he believed that their patriotism might safely be relied upon when their services were required by the State.
§ MR. STEPHEN CAVE
, in reference to the question of the hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) said, that the payment by the Board of Trade was made according to the work done. This was, as he had explained the year before, represented by marks bearing a money value. At the end of the year a Return was made by each registrar—the number of marks was then calculated, and payment made accordingly. If there was any surplus, it was distributed as an extra gratuity among those registrars who had shown most zeal in the service.
complained that the answers which had been given were based upon Returns which appeared to be fallacious, and which, he thought, betrayed great irregularities on the part of the public Departments with regard to the arrangement of the accounts.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ (3.) £63,565, Scientific Departments.
(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £823,562, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Salaries of the Officers and the Contingent Expenses of Her Majesty's Dockyards and Naval Yards at Home and Abroad, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1869.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, that before asking the Committee to agree to this Vote, he thought it would be desirable for him to state the changes which had been made, and they were very few, since the introduction of the Estimates a few weeks since. At that time it had been pointed out that the programme anticipated last year had very nearly been carried out. The Estimate for iron-clad shipbuilding was 6,845 tons, the number of tons actually built were 6,829, and for unarmoured shipbuilding 16,699 tons, as against 16,427. During the Recess, the Government had come to the determination to reduce the amount for wages in the dockyards, and it appeared that there had been a reduction of £157,775 in wages, and 3,049 in the number of men. The Government were justified in making that reduction; but they had learned with regret that a great amount of distress existed in the dock-yards in consequence of the reduction. By the regulations made at the Treasury under which the hired men were employed, those who had served for twenty years were entitled to a gratuity on their discharge; but many of those thrown out of employment in consequence of the reduction had not served the prescribed time, and thus while oftentimes unable to obtain other employment, they also received nothing in the shape of a gratuity from the Government. He felt bound to state this circumstance, inasmuch as the Admiralty had received numerous applications on the subject. The Admiralty had reduced this item in consequence of the large amount of unarmoured ships which were not intended to be laid down this year. When the First Lord of the Admiralty moved the Estimates he stated that there would be built at Chatham two iron-clads—one of the Invincible class, and another of the Hercules class; and two other ships—one of the Monitor class, and another of the ram class, which were to be built by contract. The Government had so far uttered their programme on the suggestion of the hon. Member (Mr. Childers) as to build the Monitor ship in the Government dockyard, and the ship of the Invincible class by contract. The Osborne, that had been doing good service for twenty-six years, came to a sudden breakdown on her return from conveying the Prince and Princess of Wales to Germany. It was hoped that she might be patched up; but she had been found to be entirely rotten, and was obliged to be broken up. The vessel that 545 would take the place of the Osborn would be ready in two years, by which time the Black Eagle would be worn out. It was not intended to re-place her, and there would thus be a saving of one ship in commission. When the Estimates were moved, his right hon. Friend stated that the present as well as the late Government had the matter of river dockyards under their consideration. When a sloop, which was now in course of construction, and which would be launched within the year, was finished, it was decided that Deptford as a building yard, should be closed. A Committee had been appointed on his Motion to consider the subject of reducing the dockyard craft. The Chairman, Sir Thomas Symonds, had consented to place himself in communication with the officers at Devonport, and he and the Admiralty Superintendent had come to an agreement by which all the recommendations of the Committee would be carried into effect. The remaining yards would be visited in turn, and he trusted that the valuable suggestions of the Committee would be carried out with an important saving of expense. When the Navy Estimates were moved, many criticisms were expended on the Constructive Department of the Admiralty, and the iron-clad ships designed by that Department, and the Notice Paper of to-night promised other hostile criticisms on the same subject. These Notices, however, referred to ships now afloat, and of which a trial had taken place. These criticisms had, he thought, taken the shape of an attack upon the Department rather than a criticism of the designs that had issued from it. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Eye (Captain Mackinnon) had been profuse in such criticism; but it should be remembered that we were in a transition state as regarded shipbuilding, and that every new ship built must be more or less the result of a series of compromises. Usually they heard nothing of the good points that had been gained; but of all the daring pieces of criticism he had ever heard that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman was the most daring. He had instituted a comparison between the Bellerophon and the Achilles, and stated that as an engine of war the latter was superior. The hon. and gallant Member said that while the Bellerophon required more power, the engines of the Achilles cost £69,117, and those of the Bellerophon, which he said was the smaller vessel, £88,612, being an excess of £19,000 546 in the cost of the engines of the smaller ship. But his hon. and gallant Friend forgot that while the hull of the Bellerophon cost £256,114, the hull of the Achilles cost £375,473, being a difference of £119,359. On the whole there was a balance of cheapness of cost of £100,000 in favour of the Bellerophon. The late Board of Admiralty charged the Chief Constructor of the Navy to solve the problem whether they could build a smaller and less costly ship, that should be more handy, and should carry armour-plates of greater thickness and an armament of greater power. The Chief Constructor obeyed those instructions, and the Bellerophon was the result. The armour of the Bellerophon was 6 inches thick, while the armour spread over the long lines of the Achilles was only 4½ inches. But his hon. and gallant Friend said, "Oh, but the Bellerophon is not a fast sailer." Now, the result of recent cruizes proved that she had always held a good position in the squadron in that respect. His hon. and gallant Friend said, "True, she went 14 knots, but that was all done with a favourable tide." There again he was obliged to contradict his hon. and gallant Friend. The Bellerophon kept up her speed at the second trial at the measured mile, and during six hours in the open sea she kept up that very high rate of speed. Again, he could refer his hon. and gallant Friend to the opinion of distinguished officers as to whether the Bellerophon was or was not likely to turn out a dangerous customer, even in comparison with the Achilles. The officers of the Construction Department were subjected to such constant criticism, and, from the very nature of their position, were denied the opportunity of explaining matters, that it was only an act of justice to them that he should state the case fairly before the Committee. Another of the complaints made against the Bellerophon certainly much astonished him. The Committee was aware that the balanced rudder, as fitted in the Bellerophon, was one of the novel inventions of science, and his hon. and gallant Friend made it a reproach to the Chief Constructor of the Navy that the reason why she turned so much quicker and handier than the Achilles was because these latest inventions were introduced in building her. Let him mention what occurred in the Channel squadron last year. The Minotaur and the Lord Warden, the first 547 of which was 400 feet long and the second 280, had rudders alike; and yet at 10 knots the full circle was turned by the shorter ship in three minutes and forty-nine seconds, while the Minotaur required seven minutes and forty-five seconds to make a similar circle. That occurred during the cruize of the experimental squadron last year. The very name of the Constructor's Department seemed to act on his hon. and gallant Friend's nervous system as a sort of blister; and, not content with all those charges against the Bellerophon, he wound up with one which at first sight looked very formidable. His hon. and gallant Friend said she was deficient in coal supply. Now, the Minotaur carried 650 tons of coal, the Achilles 620, the Hercules 600, and the Bellerophon 520; but it should be remembered that the Hercules' engines, with super-heaters and surface condensers for economizing fuel, weighed nearly 300 tons more than ordinary engines of like nominal power; and the Bellerophon's nearly 200 tons more; so that their coal should really enable them to steam much further than either the Minotaur or the Achilles. There had therefore been an increase, not a decrease, of steaming power in the Bellerophon and the Hercules. Before passing from that subject he might mention, in reference to the opinions of certain critics of Admiralty ships, that when the same hand designed iron-clad ships for other Powers it was astonishing what a chorus of approbation rewarded the efforts of the Chief Constructor in that very same organ of public opinion which, perhaps, a very few days before had strongly decried him. The great leviathan of the Press hardly allowed a week to pass without giving the Admiralty a dressing. Now, it so happened that a very fine broadside ship was designed by the Chief Constructor of the British Navy, which was at first intended for the Government of Turkey; but she afterwards changed hands and became the property of the King of Prussia and was launched in the Thames. Her name was the König Wilhelm. That ship, being the design and handiwork of Mr. Reed, was thus spoken of on the 27th of April last—And when she rode securely on the Thames with her vast hull and beautiful lines, dwarfing to more pigmies the vessels around, there was none who saw her, except the Prussian visitors themselves, who did not regret that the Admiralty had allowed such a vessel to pass into the hands of any foreign Power.548 He was commissioned by two of his gallant Colleagues, one of whom had the command of the Channel squadron in 1865, when he had two iron-clads under his control, to state that in their opinion iron-clads were excellent ships, and that the Bellerophon was one of the most powerful and useful sea-going ships of war that any country ever possessed. But, further, Admiral Yelverton, when Admiral of the Channel cruize, thus spoke of those two ships, a comparison between which had been made by his hon. and gallant Friend, and much to the detriment of the Bellerophon. Referring to the Achilles, Admiral Yelverton said—We must not lose sight of the fact that from the great length of the Achilles, with all her good qualities, she is most difficult to handle, and in action this defect might prove her ruin. I feel certain this ship might, and probably would, have to go out of action to turn round, thus exposing herself in almost a defenceless position to the fire of more than one of the enemy's ships.Next, with regard to the Bellerophon, Admiral Yelverton said—I consider this ship to be a very successful specimen of our new ships.And, comparing her with the Achilles, he added—I feel bound to award the first place to the Achilles. I am, however, of opinion that her great length is an insurmountable objection, and I have no hesitation in saying that ships of the Bellerophon class, from their size and general handiness particularly under steam, will prove more efficient and serviceable for war purposes.What was the testimony of Captain Macdonald? Writing to his right hon. Friend (Mr. Corry) from on board the Bellerophon, in the Sound, on February 21, 1868, Captain Macdonald said—I hear various reports that this ship is a bad roller in a sea way; this I can with the greatest confidence contradict. I consider her a remarkably steady ship—so much so, indeed, as quite to surprise me after the Arethusa and other vessels I have served in. When she docs roll, which in an Atlantic swell must be the case, she goes so easy as rarely to upset furniture, &c., or to render it necessary to secure such. Coming home from Lisbon in December, with a heavy westerly swell, we undoubtedly rolled heavily—heavier than I ever saw her; but we were quite light, out of coals, provisions, and water. The Achilles is certainly steadier; but the difference between us and the Warrior, Lord Clyde, and Lord Warden is remarkable. I mentioned this to Mr. Reed the other day, and he thought you might like to have my opinion direct on the subject.The next evidence which he would lay before the Committee was somewhat remarkable, because it was that of the cap- 549 tain of the Achilles himself, Captain Vansittart, who said—The Bellerophon joined yesterday, as ever, the most sightly among us, and of a right powerful battery, too. If she keeps up 14 (or 14½?) knots, the Achilles' wings will be clipped; but even at 12 or 13 knots she will always prove a precious awkward customer.In about a month or six weeks the Channel squadron left their quarters, and the Report of the gallant Admiral who was second in command was, to his mind, quite conclusive as to the excellence of the design of the Bellerophon. Admiral Ryder said—I was most agreeably surprised, therefore, to find that she had not only made good a speed of 13.8 knots on her late six hours' trial, but is a remarkably steady ship, as the recorded angles of the squadron will show. She is also a very handy ship under steam alone, and for her small sail power a very handy ship under sail alone. This comparative handiness when she is compared with long ships—Minotaur, 400 feet; Achilles, 380 feet; Bellerophon being only 300 feet—is no doubt due partly to her comparative shortness, and partly to her balanced rudder with its large surface, The Bellerophon's magnificent battery of ten 12-ton guns, protected, as is also the case with three-fourths of the water-line, by 6 inches—only a quarter of the belt being tapered to a loss thickness—makes her, in my opinion, as far as I can judge at present, the most successful plated seagoing cruizing line-of-battle ship that I have visited; and, as far as I know, 6he possesses, taking all difficulties and clashing qualifications into consideration, in a larger degree than any such ship that has yet been on active service, the greatest possible development of the greatest number of the numerous qualities required to make an efficient man-of-war, with one exception—namely, the quantity of coals she can carry in her bunkers—000 tons, but restricted at present by the Admiralty Orders to 500 tons. I should here observe that this limited quantity is made the most of by the use of surface-condensers and superheating apparatus, which now works satisfactorily, and in the opinion of the chief engineer effects a saving of 8 per cent, making 600 tons equal to about 650. After giving this question the closest consideration, I am driven irresistibly to the conclusion that the Bellerophon is of all the ships here present the only type to be followed; and in saying this I purposely throw aside all consideration of her comparative economy in first cost. The Bellerophon's handiness under steam, arising from the combined effects of comparative shortness and the large-surfaced balanced rudder, is so invaluable a quality that I have not recommended any material increase in her length although the great importance of the 700 tons of coal weighs much with me.The next point to which he wished to draw the attention of the Committee was the very graphic language which had on a former occasion been urged by his hon. and gallant Friend, who said he thanked his stars that broadsides had come to an 550 end. That was language which he was sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman would be disposed to recall when he informed him that the voyage of the Ocean was made from the Mediterranean to Batavia, touching at Rio, and thence shaping the course for Tristan d'Acunha. When within 150 miles of the latter place the ship was turned southward for some time, in consequence of the wind having shifted to the eastward. In a letter which was written on the 9th of October last one of the officers on the Ocean, wrote of her as follows:—I am sure, when we left the Mediterranean and it was known that our route was to be down to the southward of the Cape, among all the strong westerly gales that prevail there, that there were few on that fine-weather station who would have cared to belong to her, and perhaps not a few who thought we should not get there without going through loss of spars, accidents, and battening down of every sort; in fact, everyone seemed to think that every sea must wash clean over her—that she could never rise to them. Experience, however, has taught us that in both theories we are wrong, and from my own experience I can safely say, and so can 'all of us,' that if all iron-clads are like the Ocean there never could be better sea boats in heavy weather than they are… We have gone under sail alone 12 knots… We have been in three gales, the last one being a cyclone or circular storm of most terrific force, which we were obliged to run before under close-reefed fore and main topsails, and steaming, to make her steer easily. The other two gales, fortunately, both sprung up dead aft, so we were enabled to keep our course, merely steering to keep the sea from dead aft… It has always been our admiration in bad weather to see her so very buoyant and raising her stern so easily out of the water… Almost directly afterwards the wind sprung up foul from the eastward, so we made sail, standing to the southward, barometer falling rapidly, and every appearance of bad weather. Reef after reef followed in the night watches (I had all night in and the forenoon and first the next day), and at six the hands were turned up to reef, close reef topsails, and reef courses, at the same time steam being got up to make her steer easily.Again—The sea, of course, was very heavy, and stove every boat we had at the davits; but, on the whole, I think we may congratulate ourselves that we made such excessively good weather as we did. No wooden ship could have gone through it better, and a good many worse.His hon. and gallant Friend went on to condemn the new class of sloops as utterly unseaworthy. That statement could, however, hardly be reconciled with the facts of the case, for the trials of the new sloops, such as the Danaë and the Blanche, which had left, or were about to leave for foreign climes, had fulfilled, he believed, to the 551 full the expectations of the Board of Admiralty. He was well aware that in that House whatever fell from the responsible Chief of a Department carried with it far greater weight than could attach to the words of one holding a subordinate position like himself; but his right hon. Friend at the head of the Admiralty was very anxious that it should be stated on behalf of his Department that, in their opinion, the Bellerophon fully carried out the requirements which had been laid down. The Admiralty, in short, were anxious to endorse the Minute which was made by the late First Lord before he retired from Office, which, he thought, bore the best testimony to the skill displayed in the Constructive Department. In that Minute the Admiralty expressed their high approval of the ability which Mr. Reed had displayed in the construction of the Bellerophon. On the same occasion to which he had just been referring another hon. Gentleman, the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Samuda), made one or two remarks to which he wished briefly to advert. He stated that the Indian troop-ships had been a failure; but upon the part of the Admiralty and the India Office he must answer that statement by expressing it to be their opinion that they had been a great success. He was sure that the Committee would feel quite as much as the Admiralty for the misery which had fallen on many persons by the large reductions in the dockyards; but having determined to lay down no wooden ships this year, the Admiralty were bound to discharge those men, and to devote whatever money might be at their disposal in building iron-clads by contract.
§ MR. PEMBERTON
wished to ask whether it was the intention of the Admiralty to continue the system of selling the old and useless ships by private tender with their rigging and stores complete, instead of having them broken up in the Dockyard at Sheerness? The loss upon these sales by private tender is very great. By a Return which had recently been printed, it appeared that thirteen ships were sold in the lump, and their estimated value to be broken up was £144,000. They were, in point of fact, sold by private tender for £87,000, and in re-purchasing stores out of these ships the Government paid £38,000; so that all they received for the ships was £49,000, making a loss of £94,000 on the estimated value of the ships. The same Return showed that no less than twenty 552 ships had been re-sold by the Government, and afterwards the purchasers re-sold the stores to the Government at a loss that appeared perfectly astounding. The Raven was a ship of 180 tons, and the gross amount paid for her was £160; whilst the amount paid to the purchaser who resold stores to the Government was £214, so that the loss to the country was £54. The next ship was the Arrow, on which the loss by the same calculation was £75. He thought that it was very desirable that this mode of disposing of ships should be altered, and that the dockyards should be put to the use of breaking up these ships. He was informed that the cost of breaking up ships was about 6s. 6d. a ton, and therefore the cost of breaking up the Raven would have been about £35, and deducting this sum from the £214 there would have been a balance of £179 in favour of the Government, if they had broken her up, instead of a loss of £54. With regard to the Arrow also, there would, upon the same calculation, have been a gain to the Government, instead of a loss of £70. It is desirable that the men still engaged at the dockyards should be employed in this work, which would be a great saving to the country.
§ MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN
said, that he very much agreed with the observations just made by his hon. and learned Friend. As he understood the complaint made, it was not that the ships referred to were sold for "breaking up" with rigging and stores complete, but that they were sold for other service, and sold for considerably less than might be realized by breaking them up in our own dockyards. He would not occupy the time of the Committee by quoting instances in which these disadvantageous sales have been effected; but, if his information was correct, the sale of the timber alone would pay for the cost of breaking up these ships in the dockyards, and the engines would still be available for the purposes of the Government. He might add that at the dockyard into which he had specially enquired (Sheerness), there were ample means for disposing both of timber and metal, and if ships were there broken up, under the eye of responsible officers, much of the old material might be found available for re-use. He would also say, though he could not pretend to speak with authority upon the subject, that it would be a popular, as well as a wise 553 movement, if the Admiralty would contract with the dockyard workmen for some of this work, whereby the men would be able to earn more, and the dockyard would be placed on a better footing in competing with private yards. The speech of his noble Friend (Lord Henry Lennox) had opened up a wider question, and there were two points to which he would allude—the reduction of the number of hired men, and the question of closing the smaller dockyards. He knew that there were some gentlemen, both in and out of that House, who looked with no favourable eye upon the Royal Establishments. He (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) could not concur in such a view—although it is quite possible that there might be room for improvement in the internal arrangements of some of these dockyards, he confessed that it appeared to him that if the time should ever come when the Navy of England was entirely or mainly dependent upon private yards, great mischief would follow; these Royal Establishments, affording constant employment and the advantage of superannuation, must be able to command a certain regular supply of labour, not exposed to those different agencies—strikes, trades' unions, &c, &c.—which from time to time affected the operations of private yards, and it was most essential that the country should not be without that supply. But his immediate object was to elicit from Government an opinion favourable to the dockyard at Sheerness. He did so especially because there appeared to be some discrepancy between the words and the acts of Government, and, indeed, between their words at one time. and at another. A short time ago, when the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) attacked the smaller dockyards, he spoke out with characteristic boldness, and said that, in in his opinion, "Sheerness, from its proximity to Chatham, was almost useless." The First Lord of the Admiralty, at that time, could say no more than this—that—The proposal to abandon Sheerness was rather premature;" that "at present he thought it would be unwise, but that they would be able to form a sound opinion when the Chatham extension was completed.But very shortly after this debate came the East Kent Election. Certain words of his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract were made a great deal of, and the partisans of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Pemberton) declared that the Liberals were 554 agreed to abolish, and the present Government to preserve the smaller dockyards. Anxious to serve his Friends, the First Lord of the Admiralty thought it consistent with his high position to write a letter to the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Pemberton) during that contest, which he might read to a public meeting at Sheerness. On that occasion the candidate said, speaking evidently with authority—He could only tell them that there was no intention on the part of the present Government of giving up or abandoning Sheerness Dockyard.He then read an extract from a letter written to him by the present First Lord of the Admiralty, in which he said that—He had expressed it as his opinion in the House of Commons, that Sheerness Dockyard ought not to be given up, and that it would be very advantageous to the country in case of war.He (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) thought that the House would at once see the discrepancy between these two statements. The First Lord of the Admiralty had said that Sheerness would be very advantageous to the country in case of war. He (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) had thought that the only argument against Sheerness was its exposed situation in case of war. But for that, without wishing to disparage Chatham, he believed that the vast expenditure there would never have been incurred whilst we had Sheerness eleven miles nearer the sea, with much greater depth of water, and in every way more convenient for dockyard purposes. But it was always said that if an enemy had command of the Channel, all your works at Sheerness would be destroyed with the greatest facility. He did not speak without knowing that he was supported by authority when he answered that if an enemy once had command of the mouth of the Thames and Medway, other things besides Sheerness would be destroyed with the greatest facility. Chatham would stand a bad chance, and the mischief would not stop there. The true policy of England was to make the Channel her main line of defence, and never allow an enemy to obtain such a position. He, (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) was not urging the claims of Sheerness as against Chatham. The expenditure at Chatham had been commenced and must continue; but he argued that if Chatham was to be our great building yard, there was all the more reason why Sheer- 555 ness should be maintained in full efficiency—and extended—as a fitting and repairing yard. If everything was done in one yard the mischief that might be caused by fire or other accident was incalculable, and the position of Sheerness pointed it out for every reason as the proper place for a large fitting and repairing yard in connection with Chatham. He (Mr. Knatchbull Hugessen) hoped that he should elicit from the Government an authoritative statement that they shared that opinion, that they had no intention of abandoning the dockyard; but that by maintaining and extending it, and further developing the advantages of the locality, they would be taking that course which would best add to the efficiency of the navy, and would be most conducive to the public interest.
§ MR. PEMBERTON
said, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) had committed two errors. No letter had been addressed by him to the First Lord of the Admiralty with reference to the dockyard at Sheerness, nor did the First Lord of the Admiralty make any communication whatever to him on the subject. But during the course of the election various statements were made as to the intentions of different Governments, and some gentleman, whose name he did not recollect, wrote to the First Lord, asking what the intention was. His recollection of that letter was simply this—it repeated what the First Lord had stated in the House, and that he thought it would be a very-great advantage to have a dockyard in the neighbourhood of the town for the re-fitting of ships. The gentleman to whom the letter was addressed was told that he was at liberty to make what use of it he pleased, and it had been placed in his hands. He had accordingly stated that he believed there was no intention of abandoning the dockyard of Sheerness. If the hon. Member had given him any intimation of his intention to refer to this matter, he would have endeavoured to obtain a copy of the letter; but he very much feared it was not now in existence. The other error which the hon. Member had committed was as to the question which most agitated the minds of electors at the last election; it was no doubt a question of disestablishment, but it was the disestablishment of the Irish Church, not of the dockyard.
§ MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN
explained that he had quoted from a local newspaper, which stated that the letter of 556 the First Lord of the Admiralty had been addressed to his hon. and learned Friend; of course, after the statement of his hon. and learned Friend, he had no difficulty in admitting that it was not so.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, the noble Lord (Lord Henry Lennox) had stated that there was a reduction on this Vote of £157,000 this year upon the corresponding Vote of last year. If this had been an absolute saving, no one would have rejoiced at the announcement more than he should have done; but, unfortunately, what was saved on one Vote was more than balanced by the increase of expenditure on other Votes. For instance, Vote 10 showed an increase of £250,000 over the corresponding Vote of last year, and thus upon shipbuilding and repairing there was a total increase of £100,000 over the expenditure of last year. The truth was, that the work, instead of being performed in the dockyards, was transferred to the yards of private contractors on the Tyne or at Liverpool. There was great hardship experienced in consequence of the reduction of the number of men usually employed in Portsmouth, because it was by no means easy for the men thus thrown out of employment to transfer themselves and their families to another part of the country. The Government had now adopted the policy urged upon them last year by the Opposition. The Government commenced last year to build fifty cut-and-run vessels, at a cost of about £1,000,000; they were to be used in cruizing, and not for the purposes of war. Of that number, thirty-seven were to be built in the dockyards, and thirteen by contract. He regretted the work was decided to be done in one year instead of two, because, instead of rendering the cession of these men's labour less sudden, the sudden change had fallen upon them with considerable hardship. At Portsmouth the number of shipwrights was 1,575 in March last, having been considerably increased during the winter, and it had since been gradually reduced, the contemplated number being only 938. A change of policy such as that which had been adopted in having vessels built in private yards ought to have been carried out gradually and with some consideration to the men employed in the dockyards. He thought also that so considerable a reduction having been made in the wages of artificers, the expenses of management and establishment charges should have 557 been likewise reduced, but these had undergone little or no alteration. In 1858 artificers' wages in the dockyards amounted to £986,000, and this year they were £918,000, while the management charges were in 1858 £150,000, and were this year £209,000, so that they now bore a much greater proportion to wages. He could not but think that the Vote had been most carelessly prepared, and that it had been carried out without a due regard to the interests of the men or to the real economy of the dockyards.
§ MR. SAMUDA
said, the amount of work to be performed in the dockyards this year appeared to be very considerably less than it was last year. Instead of 23,500 tons of shipping to be built, there were only 14,400, being 9,000 tons less than last year. From the declarations of the First Lord of the Admiralty, it appeared that the Government were building two vessels of the Monitor class, of 500 and 600-horse-power respectively, from which they proposed to obtain 9 and 12 knots speed. There was a great similarity between the two vessels, and the difference in the horse power, one being 500 and the other 600-horse power, would only represent about half a knot. If the Admiralty could give a speed of 12 knots to one vessel, and he did not for a moment pretend to say that they could not, he thought that, when speed was a consideration of so much value in the present days of shipbuilding, it was extraordinary that the Admiralty should give no higher speed to the second vessel than 9 knots. On a former occasion allusion had been made to an observation of his with respect to the Indian transports. But, to the best of his recollection, what be had done on that occasion was merely to point out distinctly the failure of the application to the private firms for a competitive design. He now came to the proposal which he had put on the Paper, and which was a very reasonable one. The two vessels which he proposed to substitute were of similar tonnage to those which the Government designed to build; the size and material were similar. Now, there were serious reasons why the country should not commit itself to the extent to which the Admiralty seemed bent on committing it with regard to vessels of the class to which he referred. It would be recollected that during the whole time that the re-construction of the navy with iron-clad vessels had been in progress there had always been one main 558 object which he had kept in view, and which, as far as he had been able, he had endeavoured to urge upon the Government, and that was that the ultimate aim of all their improvements should be to obtain a perfectly protected vessel. He had warned the Admiralty that it was useless to delude the country and to delude themselves—for none were so deluded as the Admiralty—by supposing that any vessel would become useful which had nothing but a patch of armour on a small portion of the hull, while all the rest of her was utterly at the mercy of any other vessel, however small. The Admiralty laid down as a condition for adoption at the time they were about to build their first iron-clad ships of the Warrior class that only the central part of the ship should be armoured. He gave the Admiralty full credit for this, that they believed the difficulties in the way of obtaining a perfectly armoured ship were too great to be overcome, and that they could not at the same time get a ship constructed of such a form as to give both a sufficient amount of displacement and that degree of speed which they justly looked on as indispensable. He felt at that time quite as strongly as he did now the impolicy of relying on a vessel so constructed and which he foresaw would be nothing but a log upon the water when the two ends were knocked away. In the proposal which he then sent to the Admiralty he had suggested that the ends should be protected. By continually pressing the same consideration upon them the Admiralty did by degrees depart from their original plan. In the vessels of the Valiant class they recognized the principle, though not to the full extent; but in the Minotaur class they covered with armour the entire vessel. They had then got something substantial, and if they had only applied themselves to decreasing the size and increasing the handiness of the vessel they would have arrived at a very useful and efficient class of vessel indeed. The hon. Member concluded by moving to omit the sums—For building two Iron-clad Vessels of the Audacious class (four of which are already building, though as yet none have been tried), and to suggest in substitution for them two Turret Ships of the competitive designs submitted to the Admiralty by private firms, and which were rejected on the recommendation of the Controller and Chief Constructor of the Navy in favour of their own official design.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding;£823,062, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum
necessary to defray the Salaries of the Officers and the Contingent Expenses of Her Majesty's Dockyards and Naval Yards at Home and Abroad, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1869."—(Mr. Samuda.)
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he thought it would be much more convenient to take the decision of the question on Vote 10, where there was a distinct sum for new armour-plated ships. That was the next Vote on which the question arose, and respecting which the hon. Member for Lincoln (Sir. Seely) intended to address the House. He sympathized with his noble Friend (Lord Henry Lennox) in the difficulty in which, he was placed by the unfortunate illness of the First Lord of the Admiralty; but the Committee would admit that no one could have explained the question more clearly, or stated the policy of the Government more intelligibly than the noble Lord had done. As to the alteration proposed in the programme of the year, he thought his noble Friend had done thorough justice to the Controller and the Chief Constructor; and he rejoiced that the Vote had not been passed without the questions being raised and the answers stated as to the first change he had originally offered to the Committee—a proposition to build a broadside ship and one of novel construction by contract, and one of each in the dockyard, instead of two broadsides in the dockyard and two of novel construction out of it; and he therefore approved the altered programme announced, for novel ships in private yards involved heavy extras for experience gained as construction proceeded. It was also judicious to reduce the class of vessels for special purposes from four to three on the completion of the new yacht in substitution for the Osborne, and to close Deptford as a building yard, which he hoped was the first step towards closing it as a naval yard. But in saying this he could not help referring to the unwise conduct of the Admiralty in deciding last year to build a small fleet of wooden vessels, and in going beyond their original intentions during the year as to the number of men in the dockyards. So fickle was their policy that, during the course of the year, and in spite of the assurances given in the debate on the Estimates, at Portsmouth the strength of the establishment was raised from 1,233 men to 1,562, and a sudden reduction was made 560 this year to 930 men. The result of that was that very great distress prevailed among the men, and similar consequences followed at Woolwich, where the number of shipwrights had been reduced from 1,021, which was the number in the month of October, to 525. That was the main fault to which he had to call the attention of the Committee in connection with those Estimates, for he looked upon the policy of the Admiralty in other respects as being, on the whole, sound. He hoped the Government would be able to get this Vote.
said, that what the country desired was to have the very best vessels constructed; and the country was disappointed at not having vessels of a light draught of water which, nevertheless, could carry heavy armour plates and guns. Every other maritime Power was building vessels different from those we were building. At Chatham the distress was not so severe as in other dockyards; but there was one class in the dockyard—the rope-makers—who had been rather hardly treated. He should like to ask his noble Friend why no provision was made for the workmen in Chatham Dockyard to dine comfortably? Surely some shed could be constructed in which the men could dine with some sort of comfort. With regard to superannuation allowances, he thought that if a man died just before he became entitled to superannuation allowance, his widow ought to receive some payment out of that fund to which her husband had so long contributed. Since the introduction of iron for shipbuilding the number of accidents had greatly increased, and great complaint was made that no accommodation existed for the men at the hospital, and that they had to contribute out of their own wages towards the expense of the hospital.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, he hoped the Committee would allow this Vote to pass, in order that Progress might be reported, with a view to the Registration Bill being proceeded with.
§ MR. DISRAELI
hoped that, as the feeling of the Committee evidently was in favour of passing the Vote and reporting Progress, the hon. and learned Gentleman would not offer any opposition to that course.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.