HC Deb 09 July 1868 vol 193 cc959-68

(In the Committee.)

(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £1,291,400, be granted to Her Majesty (in addition to the sum of £200,000 already voted on account), towards defraying the Charge for Military Store Departments, for the supply and repair of Warlike and other Stores, including Manufacturing Departments, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1868 to the 31st day of March 1869, inclusive.


said, he had on a former occasion gone into this question at some length, and therefore he would not trouble the House farther than to say that they had no information whatever how this Vote was to be applied. Much had been said about army control; but the fact was that the House had no control whatever over the Manufacturing Departments. They had no information before them as to what would be the result of this addition to the plant of the Department. He begged, therefore, to move that the Vote be reduced by £43,442, the sum required for new machinery. He would divide the Committee upon his Amendment.


appealed to his lion, and gallant Friend not to press his Motion to a division. It was a mistake to suppose that this sum of £43,442 was required for the purpose of extending the operations of the manufacturing establishments. These operations would not be extended, and, indeed, he shared in the opinion of his hon. and gallant Friend that to a considerable extent, at all events, we ought to obtain our supplies of stores by contract with private firms. The explanation of the increase was that it was caused by such items as these—That in the Gun Carriage Department iron bad been substituted for wood in the manufac- ture of the carriages; in the Gun Factory a new forge was wanted, and there were numerous alterations in the Royal Laboratory, in the Small Arms Department, and in the Gunpowder Department. After making this explanation, he hoped his hon. and gallant Friend would not press his Motion.


inquired whether a gun of any heavy calibre had been fixed on for arming the fortifications now in course of construction; and whether any changes in the field gun now in use had been adopted for the army? The late military Government—if it could be termed a Government'—did nothing in regard to this matter; they had left the service practically unarmed, while other European nations were adopting improvements; and he wished to know whether we were still in a state of transition, or whether any definite conclusion had been at length arrived at?


said, he was not aware that any change had been made with respect to field guns. Fortification guns were of various sizes, including some very large ones. The question of small arms was still under the consideration of a Committee, which ho hoped would present its Report before the close of the year.


said, he had always been opposed to the increase of our manufacturing establishments, as he believed that they checked private enterprize, which would supply the country better than these public departments. The question he wished now to press upon his light hon. Friend was this—Had he yet come to a definite conclusion with respect to the guns that were to be adopted? If not, ho thought the hon. and gallant Member (Major Anson) would do right to press his Amendment, because they might soon be called upon to vote money for a different article than that they were now using.


said, it was clear that if this sum of £43,000 were granted for improved machinery, the result must be an extension of the manufacturing establishments, unless, indeed, a corresponding quantity of the old machinery were thrown out of use.


explained that, although the Government had no intention of extending the operations of the manufacturing establishments, yet they desired to render them as efficient as possible by the introduction of new machinery. In answer to his hon. and gallant friend (Colonel Barttelot) he had already explained that they were now manufacturing guns for fortifications of various calibres and sizes.


said, the articles manufactured in the public Departments amounted to £200,000, while those furnished by private enterprize amounted only to £10,000. This was not sufficient inducement to the private manufacturers to cause a competition. He was convinced that the only way to stop the Government making such an unaccountable expenditure as that proposed in this Vote was by taking the sense of the House by a vote on the subject.


said, he hoped his hon. and gallant Friend would not persevere in dividing the Committee, because if he did so he would fail in securing the object he had in view. It had been distinctly stated that the money was only required to alter and improve, and not to extend the machinery establishments of the Government. He trusted that his hon. and gallant Friend would not persevere with his Amendment.


said, that if the Government establishments were conducted on the same principles as those on which private workshops were managed, the keeping up of existing machinery would come into the profit and loss of the year. He thought that the present discussion showed how deceptive were all the statements made respecting Government manufactures, and the sooner these establishments were dropped the better.


said, that if his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) had read the Report of the Committee which on this question sat two years ago, he would have seen that a very minute investigation was made by that Committee, and that very careful calculations then showed that ordnance was manufactured at Woolwich at considerably less cost than in the works of private manufacturers, for this reason—that private manufacturers would not turn their attention to making breech-loading guns and other articles only used for military purposes without having a reasonable certainty that there would be a continued demand for them. Now, the Government could give no guarantee on the subject, because they could not anticipate what might be required at a future time.


said, he had studied the Report of the Committee referred to by the right hon. Gentleman; but all he could derive from it was the conclusion that it was utterly impossible to make out whether there was a profit or a loss, be badly were the accounts of the Manufacturing Departments kept under the existing system. With regard to what bad been said about the private trade not turning their attention to the manufacture of guns and gun-carriages, he thought that fact was to be attributed to our keeping up those establishments. Why was it that ours was the only Government which did not go to the private trade for such articles? If we went to them they would turn their attention to the manufacture of guns and gun-carriages suited for the artillery. Sir Benjamin Hawes stated, in his evidence, that the private trade of the country had never had a fair chance, in consequence of the large establishments being provided.

Motion made, and Question put, That a sum, not exceeding £1,247,958, be granted to Her Majesty (in addition to the sum of £200,000 already voted on account), towards defraying the Charge for Military Store Departments, for the supply and repair of Warlike and other Stores, including Manufacturing Departments, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1868 to the 31st day of March 1869, inclusive."—(Major Anson.)

The Committee divided:—Ayes 31; Noes 100: Majority 69.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(2.) £119,300, to complete the sum for Military Education.

(3.) £93,600, to complete the sum for Surveys.


doubted the necessity of increasing the sum annually voted for this purpose.


wished to know how long the survey was to continue?


said, that it was so steadily going on that it would take sixteen years to complete it.


also deprecated any increase, remarking that it was a practice on the part of Governments always to increase the Votes, though, when not in power, they were fond of complaining that their opponents were not economical in their proposals.


observed, that the increase was principally for civil assistants, and preparation of maps for civil purposes.


said, that this Department, though originally established for a temporary purpose, figured year after year in the Estimates for a very large sum, and much money had been wasted in this survey, inasmuch as the results it had produced might have been attained at a much smaller outlay. It had already cost something like £2,000,000; on amount enormously exceeding what the French paid for their survey, which was as good or better. It was, perhaps, too late in the Session to propose to dwell at any length on the subject; but a new Parliament would, he trusted, see that the public money was not expended in so ill-considered and extravagant a manner as it was at present. He thought that the Estimate should not form part of the Army Votes, but should be placed to a separate account, and then proper attention would be given to it. In his opinion the increase proposed was unnecessary. The cost of engraving the survey was excessive; and if a Committee were granted to inquire into the whole conduct of the Department—though it was too late in the Session now to hope for such a thing—he believed it would be found that at least half the present cost of the Ordnance Survey could be saved. In fact, the surveying, the engraving, and the commercial parts of the business were all ill-managed, while the Director General also had the most unlimited and uncontrolled power.


vindicated the Department which the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Wyld) had impugned, and also the distinguished man at its head, who, he said, was carrying out an important work in a manner which everyone Ought to approve.


said, he was glad if the advanced period of the Session had prevented the hon. Member (Mr. Wyld) from moving for another Committee, because that question of the Ordnance Survey had suffered greatly through the alternate hot and cold fits which that House had exhibited on the subject. In consequence of an objection taken some years ago to the scale of the survey by the late Mr. Ellice, a full inquiry was instituted, and the Committee came to the deliberate conclusion that the survey was both based on sound principles and was being admirably conducted. The survey was executed not only most accurately, but economically; and he was told that at the present moment a Prussian officer, a good authority on such a subject, who had come to this country, was surprised to find that so perfect a survey had been carried out so cheaply.


complained that the maps of certain counties were fallacious and untrustworthy. They ought to have a correct map which, if they wanted to lay out a road, would be of some use to them, which was not the case at present. He hoped there would be no stinginess or any undue delay in supplying that desideratum.


bore testimony to the general accuracy of the maps of Ireland produced by the Ordnance Department. He himself did not see the great advantage of the very large survey, except for the towns. It was maps on this large scale that would answer for plans for railways projected, and ordinary maps for the purposes of owners of property; but it must be recollected that for the former more accurate levels than those given on the largest Ordnance maps were requisite, and in the latter that changes of boundary and other objects were so frequent that even on the Irish maps, not many years published, great changes in the face of the country would be seen; but of course, if one part of the country was surveyed upon the large scale, they could hardly avoid executing the remainder of the work in the same uniform manner. The delay, however, had arisen very much from the adoption of the large scale.


testified to the great accuracy of the Ordnance maps of Scotland; and pointed out that the length of time occupied in completing the survey of the whole kingdom depended on the amount of money which Parliament was ready to vote for the purpose. The calculation, he believed, had been that the entire work in England and Scotland would be executed in fifteen years with a grant of £100,000 a year.


thought that if by an additional outlay the result would be attained of having the work thoroughly done it would be a great advantage to the country. He had himself known large estates to be transferred by means of those maps, the map of the district being attached to the transfer.


said, he hoped that no false economy would stand in the way of the extensive circulation of these maps. They would become a source of national wealth.


asked for some explanation as to the medical Bills mentioned in the Vote.


said, he never heard of a man denying that an Ordnance Survey was a good thing. It appeared to him that there was no question before the Committee.


said, with respect to the question of the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel W. Stuart), that it was scarcely matter for surprise, considering how the officers and men engaged in the survey were dispersed over the country, that they should sometimes want a doctor.


complained that at the present moment it was impossible to obtain a complete set of these maps in London, and he suggested that the publication of the maps should be transferred to the Stationery Office instead of their having to be got from Southampton.

Vote agreed to.

(4.) £102,700, to complete the Bum for Miscellaneous Services.


said, it had been the practice of the War Department to reward officers for meritorious inventions. In 1856 Colonel Boxer received £5,000 for some inventions of his, and lately Mr. Fraser had received £5,000. Since 1856 Colonel Boxer had distinguished himself by seven or eight other inventions, and several of them, including the invention of a lubricator for the Armstrong gun, had been found of great service. Pie wished to know, whether it was the intention of the Government to take his case into consideration, with the view of conferring on him some additional reward?


replied that it was not his intention to give any further money reward to Colonel Boxer. He doubted the policy of conferring large money rewards on men in the Government employment for discoveries made in their own particular line, and thought they should rather look to some honorary distinction, or increased emolument in their office. When the Government selected an officer on account of his peculiar personal fitness to discharge the duties of the situation to which he was appointed, they were, he thought, entitled to the full exercise of his professional talents, although he would not go the length of saying that in no case should a grant of money be made. He thought he had taken the last course when he lately offered Colonel Boxer a greatly increased salary.


expressed his concurrence with what had fallen from his right hon. Friend as to the impolicy of giving large money rewards in these cases as a general rule, and he felt sure that he also spoke the feelings of the corps of Artillery and Engineers in saying so. They felt that when an officer of a scientific corps was employed in the arsenal or laboratory his talents and inventions were due to the service; the latter ho tried and perfected at the public expense—what could not be done by a private inventor—and the credit he was sure to receive, and such professional advancement as would follow, were the rewards a soldier should look to. The inventions of private manufacturers came under the knowledge of the Government officers, and of rival inventions they had the opportunity for pirating from the inventions they were called on to examine, and as a fact such accusations had been made, but as it was desirable that the latter should be above suspicion he thought that the Secretary for War had wisely determined to give them promotion and encouragement in the way of their profession rather than money rewards.


said, he had heard with regret the reply of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War with reference to rewarding the inventors. The principle had never before been laid down that officers of the Government were not to be rewarded for inventions, and it was not fair that this new principle should be applied in the case of Colonel Boxer without warning. Mr. Fraser had been rewarded with the sum of £5,000. He understood that the right hon. Gentleman had offered Colonel Boxer an increase of salary to the amount of £200 or £300; but as Colonel Boxer's appointment would only last two years longer, he would receive no more than £600 from his additional pay if he had accepted the offer. He thought Colonel Boxer had done right in refusing it.


said, that he had lately refused an application for another reward made by Mr. Fraser.


congratulated the right hon. Baronet on his sudden conversion, foe last year he was not able to convince the right hon. Baronet it was not right to allow officers to take out patents for inventions of a similar character to those on the merits of which they might have to decide.

Vote agreed to.

(5.) £154,600, to complete the sum for Administration of the Army.


asked the Secretary of State for War to postpone the Vote, in. order that he might submit a Motion to the Committee upon the subject.


complained that the salaries of the Controller General and the General in charge of the Reserve Army were not included in this Vote.


said, he hoped his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire would throw no obstacle in the way of proceeding with the Vote. The subject alluded to by his noble Friend had been very fully and ably discussed, and although the House was not very full at the time, still those who were present were the Gentlemen who were most competent to deal with the matter. He was most anxious not only that the Vote should be taken, but acted upon, in the first instance in Ireland. In reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Harwich (Major Jervis) that the salary of the Commander of the Reserve Army was not included in the Vote, he said it was because it would give rise to a good deal of discussion, and it was thought better to take it separately.


said, he would like to know whether the Controller General was to rank as an Under Secretary of State?


replied in the affirmative.


said, he could not understand why the system of control should be tried first in Ireland—a subordinate branch—and not at once in the Head Department in Pall Mall. The organization of the Irish Department would not serve as any test of the success of the system proposed, and if anything effectual was to be done there must be a complete and radical change in the present system, which rendered every military Department inefficient.

Vote agreed to.

(6.) £13,700, to complete the sum for Rewards for Distinguished Service.

(7.) £36,000, to complete the sum for Pay of General Officers.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £389,800, be granted to Her Majesty (in addition to the sum of £81,000 already voted on account), towards defraying the Charge for Full Pay of Reduced and Retired Officers, and Half Pay, which will come in course of payment from the first day of April 1868 to the 31st day of March 1869, inclusive.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

(8.) £98,000, to complete the sum for "Widows' Pensions, &c

(9.) £11,800, to complete the sum for Pensions for Wounds.

(10.) £15.600, to complete the sum for Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals.

(11.) £839,600, to complete the sum for Out Pensions.

(12.) £97,200, to complete the sum for Superannuation Allowances.

(13.) £8,700, to complete the sum for Militia, Yeomanry, Cavalry, and Volunteer Corps.

On Motion for reporting the Resolutions to the House.


said, he hoped the next Parliament would take up the question of the constitution of the War Department of the country, because if such were done it would be found to be the worst administered and the most expensive part of the public service. The question, moreover, of the relationship between the Secretary at War and the Commander-in-Chief also required serious consideration.


said, it would be in the recollection of the House that at an early period of the Session the question was raised as to whether the Capitation Grant was or was not sufficient. An impression then prevailed that before the close of this Session a Commission would be appointed to decide the question. He had asked the Secretary of State whether he would appoint a Special Commission to ascertain who was right on the question.


said, he did not intend to refer the question of increasing the Capitation Grant to the Volunteers to a Commission; but the question would be considered by the Government from time to time with reference to its varying circumstances.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.