HC Deb 17 July 1868 vol 193 cc1387-407

said, that in rising to move that the House should adjourn to Monday, he would take the opportunity of calling the attention of the House to the very able and lucid Report which had been presented to it by the Committee on Greenwich Hospital, though it was certainly not his intention to criticize one of the cleverest and most interesting documents which had ever been laid before Parliament. The fact of such a Report having appeared was a justification for inquiring fully into the origin of Greenwich Hospital, and how the intentions of the founders had been carried out. What was the stale of things prior to 1865, when the Greenwich Hospital Act was passed, and what was the state of things at the present moment? In passing he might remark that the very fact of a Committee having recently reported on the Act was a sufficient proof that that Act had not worked in a beneficial manner. In considering this matter, it was necessary to bear in mind that the word "Hospital" originally meant a shelter and refuge for the destitute, and not merely a receptable for persons suffering from disease. Now, the Act of 1696, under which Greenwich Hospital was founded, said— Whereas, the Seamen of this Kingdom have for a long Time distinguished themselves throughout the World by their Industry and Skilfulness in their Employments, and by their Courage and Constancy manifested in Engagements for the Defence and Honour of their Native Country; and for an Encouragement to continue this their ancient Reputation and to invite greater Numbers of His Majesty's Subjects to betake themselves to the Sea, it is fit and reasonable that some competent Provision should be made, that Seamen who by Age, Wounds, or other Accidents shall become disabled for future Service at Sea, and shall not be in a condition to maintain themselves comfortably, may not fall under Hardships and Miseries, may be supported at the public Charge, and that the Children of such disabled Seamen, and also the Widows and Children of such Seamen as shall happen to be slain, killed, or drowned in Sea Service, may in some reasonable Manner be provided for and educated. And also the Widows of such Seamen, Watermen, Fishermen, Lightermen, Bargemen, Keelmen, and Sea-faring Men, who shall be slain, killed, or drowned in the Sea Service, and the Children of such Seamen, Watermen, Fishermen, Lightermen, Bargemen, Keelmen, or Sea-faring Men so slain, killed, or drowned, and not of Ability to maintain or provide comfortably for themselves, shall be received into the said Hospital, and there be provided for."—[7 &c 8 Will 3, c. 21.] Such, then, was the spirit of the founders. Not only was the Hospital intended for sailors of the Royal Navy, but the Act distinctly said that it was designed for merchant seamen and for their widows and orphans. The principle on which the institution was founded had, however, been departed from, and great injury had been thereby inflicted upon the seamen of this country. Anyone, indeed, who read the inscriptions on the building would see that it was intended originally to be an asylum, a refuge, and a home for aged and worn-out seamen. Now, what were the regulalations affecting the Hospital prior to 1859. It appeared from the very able Report made by the Royal Commissioners in 1859 that— In the year 1814 there were 2,710 pensioners in the institution. In 1849 the authorized number of in-pensioners being 2,642, there were but three vacancies in the Hospital. At that time the, admissions into Greenwich Hospital were regulated by the following Admiralty Memorandum of the 1st of January, 1852:—'1st. Out-pensioners for life, having served ten years and upwards, and who, on account of age or infirmity, are unable to work. 2d. Out-pensioners for life, with less than ten years' service, who are rendered totally incapable, by reason of wounds, hurts, injuries, or sickness received in and by the service, of assisting in any way to support themselves, reference being had to their age. Men who are not pensioners:—1st. No man shall be considered eligible for admission with less than ten years' service, with a good character. 2d. Unless he has been maimed or disabled by wounds in the service.' The Commissioners, in the admission to Greenwich of naval pensioners, recommended— That no man be deemed eligible for such admission who does not fall under one of the following descriptions:—Description (A). Seamen and marines, whether in the Royal Navy or the merchant service, who from wounds received in fight, or from bodily injury by accident while engaged in the service of the Crown, or from ill-health contracted in the service of the Crown, and not from want of proper care on their part, are in need of the medical or surgical treatment provided by the Hospital. Description (B). Seamen and marines entitled to an out-pension of not less than £9, who, through age, imbecility, or disease, have become incapable of maintaining themselves, and proper objects for the medical and surgical assistance provided by the Hospital. Description (C). Seamen and marines, of good character, by age unfit for further service at sea, who shall have served in the Royal Navy, at sea or abroad, between the ages of eighteen and forty-eight for twenty-one years; two years in the Naval Reserve to count as one year at sea or abroad, and one year of war service to serve as one and a half years of ordinary service. Such was the recommendation of the Royal Commission of 1859. It would, no doubt, be hardly believed that at the time that Commission was appointed the members of the Establishment numbered only 452, beginning with the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and ending with the warehouseman. The expense of the establishment was £57,000 a year, and the number of pensioners 1,600. It was proposed by the Commission that there should be 2,300 pensioners, that there should be 173 persons on the establishment, and that the salary and allowances should be only £31,000 per annum. But what was the state of the case now? While there was an establishment of 173 persons the number of pensioners at the present moment was only 410, each of whom cost the country no less than £120 a year. In twenty-eight years the officers' quarters had had £46,000 expended on them. Therefore, instead of an improvement having been effected, things had actually become much worse than they were under the old system. The object of the Bill of 1865 was on a former occasion clearly stated by his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) who said— Greenwich Hospital was intended, so far as the building was concerned, to be for the future an asylum for infirm, helpless, and wounded seamen, and that seamen were not necessarily entitled to be received as inmates merely because they were in receipt of pensions, and because they were unfit for longer service at sea."—[3 Hansard, clxxix. 1011.] But the principle laid down by the founders had been entirely overlooked. It was clear from the Memorandum of the Duke of Somerset that by the Act of 1865 it was proposed to conduct the Hospital on a principle it never had been founded on and never would have been founded on. That Memorandum stated— In former years the out-pensions were supplemental to the relief afforded by the Hospital; in later times the out-pensions constituted the chief source of relief, to which the Hospital is a supplement. In 1865 the men were driven out of the Hospital, each of them getting £36 10s. a year. He believed that 900 of them left, and that within fifteen months no fewer than 400 of that number were dead. That was not to be wondered at, because, in point of fact, the men had been driven from their homes. The only object was to get rid of them. One of the regulations then made was this— Pensioners can only return with the loss of their pensions, and not in good health; they must be aged or infirm, or under medical treatment. Unless residing at a naval port they must go to Somerset House to be surveyed, married men being only allowed 2s. a week for their wives. Some of the medical evidence as to the difficulty of obtaining admission to the Hospital was very instructive. He should refer to only two or three passages. Sir David Deas, Medical Inspector of Haslar, stated— Two or three years ago we were constantly applying to have men admitted into Greenwich Hospital, but we met with so many rebuffs and refusals that we ceased to make them, and the result is that the men themselves have almost forgotten that there is such a place as Greenwich Hospital in existence, and it is only when the medical officers, seeing that a man must be sent to his parish, take action themselves, and make representations to the Admiralty, that they occasionally, but very rarely indeed, succeed in getting them in. In the evidence of Dr. James Salmon, Deputy Inspector General of the Infirmary, Woolwich, these passages occurred— You are of opinion that it would be of great advantage to the service and to the men if they had the power of coming in here if they chose?—Yes, I think it would be a very great advantage to the men and also to the service. I think that the service is maligned by these men, and, as I consider, justly, because these men present in their external appearance the marks of disease, and they go about saying,' I have served my country for so many years; I have lost my health in the service of my country, and they give me a miserable 6d. a day, or they give me a gratuity and have done with me.' I know that they do that. Do you think that it would give pleasure to the men throughout the service if it were known, and would it be an inducement to good conduct in some sense if it were known that they had that privilege; would it render the service, in your opinion, more popular with the men?—To a certain extent I think it must be so: from what I have observed of the men they look upon this place as their home by right; that is a sentiment which is very deeply ingrained in the naval mind. Dr. Armstrong, R.N., was asked— What is your opinion as regards increasing the inducement to become out-pensioners as compared with widening the area of admission into the Hospital? His reply was— I would prefer to widen the area of admission of men into the Hospital, because I think it would be more beneficial to them and more beneficial to the public service. In the examination of Dr. Beith there were these passages— Would it be of advantage to the service itself (I mean, in the opinion of the men) if they had increased facilities for admission into this place, and if invalids were really attended to here more largely than they are now?—I think it would be a great advantage to the service, and would give satisfaction to the men in general. He now came to the recommendations of the Committee, some of which were admirable, though the Committee did not seem to have grappled with the fact that this magnificent institution was founded for the objects to which he had referred. In that summary of recommendations the Committee, referring to the outline of the revision, which they recommended, made this statement— In the foregoing outline of the revision we propose in the Hospital establishment we have endeavoured to keep in view the following leading principles:—1. To make Greenwich Hospital that which from its general character we believe it ought to be—a self-contained institution under the Board of Admiralty. 2. To relax as far as may be expedient and practicable the present terms of admission for invalid inmates. 3. To reduce, as far as may be consistent with efficient management, the cost of the Hospital establishment. 4. To secure, while making this reduction, the means of a thorough check and supervision of the Hospital accounts and expenditure, by means of both local and independent audit. 5. While making the Hospital, as formerly, a self-contained institution, to avoid a return either to the old system of double government, or to vesting again in the same individuals the management of the northern estates and the conduct of the Greenwich establishment. Guided by these principles, our leading recommendations are, as regards the inmates—1. To admit all seamen, being of good character, who are discharged from the naval hospitals as no longer capable of service, in consequence of hurts received or diseases contracted in the service rendering them incapable of earning a livelihood and requiring medical treatment, without reference to the possession of a pension or to length of service. 2. That the present payment of £15 per head for every man by which the number of inmates of Greenwich Hospital falls short of 1,400 be henceforth discontinued. 3. That the regulations by which an out-pensioner becoming an inmate of the Hospital is deprived altogether of his out-pension be relaxed. 4. That the warming and ventilation of Queen Mary's and Queen Anne's Quarters be improved, and these Quarters rendered fit for the accommodation of invalid inmates. 5. That the present number of inmates be increased to 1,200 men by such gradual increase as the Admiralty may find that the funds of the Hospital may admit. 6. That admission should be given to men of the Royal Naval Reserve on certain conditions. As regards the Hospital establishment—1. To abolish the Greenwich salaried establishment at the Admiralty. 2. To change the title of the head Executive authority of the Hospital to Deputy Governor. 3. To diminish the Executive staff of the Hospital by one lieutenant, remaining lieutenant to be styled Lieutenant and Adjutant. He did not think that the recommendations of the Committee went to the extent that the evidence would have warranted. By the Act of William and Mary widows and orphans were to be provided for within the walls of the Hospital, and some years ago a Commission suggested that £70,000 should be laid out on a building for the reception of widows, and £30,000 a year on their maintenance; but nothing of that kind had been done. No reason existed for the neglect. At this moment there was an available surplus of £24,000 a year, but if these funds were insufficient, Parliament would readily vote £50,000 a year for the purpose of giving effect to the principle on which Greenwich Hospital was founded. In the Estimates, £1,000 he observed was all that was set down to be given in gratuities, and those solely to the widows of seamen and marines, on active service, who might be killed in action, by a fall from aloft, or by drowning. Under the present regulations, widows of out- pensioners received the balance of the quarter in which their husbands died; and widows of in-pensioners received only the balance due on the death of their husbands—rarely more than 2s. The Duke of Somerset had recommended that £5,000 a year should be given to widows. It appeared that some fifty seamen's widows who lived around Greenwich were in the greatest distress and that one, the widow Boyles, died a short time ago in the streets of that town from starvation. He now came to the schools. It had been stated that there were difficulties in the way of carrying on a school for girls at Greenwich; but be could not see why with such ample space at their command those difficulties might not be overcome. The Committee stated on this point that they thought the end in view might be more simply and economically obtained by placing girls in existing institutions which, by an arrangement with the managers, might be made available for that purpose; and they recommended that a sum not exceeding £4,000 per annum be applied to the maintenance and education, and in the training for domestic service, of 200 orphan daughters of sailors and marines. Now, this plan would involve the taking of those girls from their families and scattering them over the country, while schools for twice the number might be provided at Greenwich. He now came to the important question of our relations towards merchant seamen in respect of Greenwich Hospital. From the foundation of that institution down to a recent year every seaman had been made to subscribe 6d. a month towards it—the Greenwich 6d. it was called—and no less than £2,600,000 was contributed towards its funds by the merchant seamen who got nothing at all from it. He asked that the principle of the Act of Parliament, under which the pay of our seamen had been mulcted to the extent of £2,600,000, should be carried out, and that a portion of the Hospital should be given to them. That question had been discussed before; the year before last it created great interest in the country; and he was happy to say that the Earl of Derby and the present Secretary of State for War had fully appreciated the importance of that subject and shown themselves keenly sensible of the position of our merchant seamen. Yet, in spite of all that, not a merchant seaman had been admitted within the walls of the Hospital. He would suggest that they should offer those seamen not a part of the Hospital which it was known they could not accept, but that part of it which was nearest the Dreadnought—namely, Queen Anne's Quarters. He understood that in Queen Anne's Quarters there was accommodation for a large number of merchant seamen, and there they could be under perfectly separate management from the rest of the establishment. We boasted of our Naval Reserve of 12,000 seamen, and well we might; but how were we to recruit the navy without our merchant seamen? Therefore, to overlook the claim of those men was wholly unjustifiable. It had been supposed that the occupants of the Hospital were drunken men, dissatisfied men, and that it was no object of ambition with them to enter the institution. Wishing to know how far that impression was well-founded, he had obtained some statistics respecting one point—namely, drunkenness. In 1866 there were only twenty-one cases of drunkenness in the whole year; and in 1867 only nineteen. The men were exceedingly happy there; and although they had been tempted and even bribed to leave the Hospital, he believed they would all come back again if they saw there was a facility for doing so. It was all very well to say they might go through certain forms; but they did not understand those forms, or choose to incur the expense they involved. Greenwich Hospital was an institution of which every Englishman ought to feel proud as he passed it on the river; and to convert it into a mere hospital for the infirm, and exclude from it the merchant seaman—who, he might almost say, had maintained it—was certainly not carrying out the principle on which it was founded. Speaking on that subject, the present Secretary of State for War had well said— You are turning into a mere hospital that magnificent establishment which has always been regarded by the sailors who have served their country long and well as a refuge for their old age. Without trespassing further on the attention of the House at that hour of the evening, and that advanced period of the Session, he would conclude by quoting the eloquent words of a man who strongly sympathized, as it was to be hoped the House would do, with the objects forwhich that great institution was established. Lord Macaulay's words were these— The gentle Queen sleeps among her illustrious kindred. The affection with which her husband cherished her memory was soon attested by monument, the most noble that had ever been erected to any Sovereign. No scheme had been so much her own, none had been so dear to her heart, as that of converting the palace of Greenwich into a retreat for seamen. Few of those who now gaze on the noblest of European institutions are aware that it is a memorial of the virtues of good Queen Mary, of the love and sorrow of William, and of the great victory of La Hogue.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House will, at the rising of the House this day, adjourn till Monday next."—(Mr. Baillie Cochrane.)


said, he thought it was much to be regretted that the hon. Member for Honiton had brought forward a question of so much interest and importance at a period of the Session when it was utterly impossible that any practical result should follow or that the question could receive the attention which it deserved. In the administration of the funds of Greenwich Hospital there was an essential element of injustice. Those who had contributed to its maintenance for a century and a quarter, and who had been instrumental in creating its vast revenues—namely, the merchant seamen of this country—did not now participate, and never had fully and fairly participated, in its advantages. From 100 to 200 aged seamen in his own borough (Sunderland) who had been subjected by an operation of law to an enforced subscription to that institution, without ever having derived a fraction of benefit from it, were now left in a state of pauperism and supported by the rates. To a greater or less degree it was so in every other mercantile community throughout the country. While the just claims of our mercantile marine were thus entirely ignored, though the funds would amply suffice to meet them, the resources of the institution had been wasted and mismanaged, and no inconsiderable portion of them spent in pensions to officers of the navy, contrary to the conditions on which the Hospital was founded, and to the spirit of the legislation under which it had grown. In 1859 £120,000 was paid for annuities for retiring officers. The management of Greenwich Hospital stood pre-eminent for improvidence and injustice. It was said that the seamen of the mercantile marine, if they entered the Royal Navy, would obtain access to the benefits of the institution, but the injustice of the case was this—that whereas those benefits were open to anybody who entered the Royal Navy, although he remained there only a day, whether he had contributed to the funds of the Hospital or not, on the other hand, the merchant seamen, who had long been compelled to contribute towards those funds, was not permitted to enjoy those advantages. As long as that state of things continued unredressed, the sense; of injustice must exist among our mercantile marine.


said, as the Chairman of the Committee to which the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) had referred, he could not but feel gratified at the complimentary terms in which his hon. Friend had spoken of their Report. Whatever the merits or demerits of that Report might be, all he could say was that it was intended that the inquiry should be of the most searching character, and he felt bound to take this, the first, public opportunity presented to him to acknowledge the valuable assistance he received from the other Members of the Committee. As no two men appeared to think alike either in regard to the past or the future of the Hospital, he did not expect that the recommendations of the Committee would command universal assent. But the Committee, as the Report abundantly showed, entered upon their investigation with no predilections in favour of profuse expenditure or useless sinecures. Their desire throughout was to ascertain how they could combine the strictest economy with the fullest efficiency on the part of the establishment of the Hospital. He hoped his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) would not think him discourteous if he did not follow him to-night through his elaborate history of the birth of the Hospital and first intentions of its founder. The object now was to deal with the future of the Hospital, and upon this subject two broad views might be said to be entertained by different parties. The first was that of his hon. Friend, who would go back to the early days of the Hospital and carry out to the very letter the charter of William and Mary, and would by so doing establish a state of things unsuited to the present time. The second was the view taken last year by the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), who would offer to the present inmates inducements somewhat similar to those which produced a clearance in 1865, and the ultimate operation of which would be to close the Hospital altogether. The Report of the Committee took a middle course between these two extremes. No doubt it might be considered a retrograde course in some respects, but the Committee had no wish to re-establish the exact state of things which existed before 1865, or anything approaching to it. He thought the Hospital ought to be a self-contained institution under the Admiralty, but he had no wish to revert to the old system of the double government or to see re-established there sinecure offices with nominal duties attached to them. And although the Committee recommended to a considerable extent the re-filling of the Hospital they by no means desired to see the sailors of the Royal Navy compelled nolentes volentes to become in-pensioners, to be separated from their wives and families, and to adopt a life which many of the former inmates had indisputably complained of as being one which isolated them from the outside world, and forced them into almost monastic seclusion. His hon. Friend had certainly suggested a remedy for the monastic grievance, for he wanted to see the in-pensioners accompanied by their wives and families, and he argued in favour of a fair provision for the maintenance of their widows. There was something very attractive, no doubt, in the idea of thus parcelling out the Hospital into a number of domestic interiors, but there were limits to the funds of the Hospital. All would agree that the object should be to provide the greatest happiness for the greatest number. The idea of the hon. Member could only be realized by a large augmentation of the funds of the Hospital, which Parliament would not sanction, or else by a great diminution, if not the entire suppression, of those 5,000 out-pensioners who now in a great measure realized outside the Hospital his hon. Friend's ideas of the state of things that ought to exist within it, for they lived among their wives and families, and thus proclaimed in various parts of the country the glories of the naval service and the benefits of Greenwich Hospital. His hon. Friend asserted that widows at present derived no direct benefit from the funds of the Hospital. He would admit that his hon. Friend was justified in stating that widows were in the original charter of the institution, and he should like to see some further provision made for them; but if they were to receive pensions, or if the pensions of the in-pensioners were to be continued to their widows after death, either the number of pensioners must be diminished or else some further grants must be made out of the public purse. At present the widow of every seaman of the Royal Navy killed or drowned in the service received the gratuity of a year's pay out of the funds of the Hospital. In time of peace, of course, the number was not very great; but this payment would require a large fund in the event of a naval war. Another benefit to the widows was that the large staff of hospital nurses was almost entirely recruited from the class of pensioner's widows, and very excellent nurses they were. The widows also had a prior claim to the benefits of the school for the education of their children. Then the hon. Member for Sunderland had resuscitated the old story of the claim that the merchant seamen were supposed to possess to share in the benefits of the Hospital on account of the payment of the "Merchant Seamen's Sixpences." The original intention of the founders of the institution appeared to be to establish a hospital in the first place for seamen of the Royal Navy, and, secondly, for seamen of the merchant service who might be maimed or wounded while serving in the Royal Navy, but not for the large body of merchant seamen who had never served the Crown in any capacity. That payment of 6d., so far as he could make out, was an equivalent levied upon the whole body of merchant seamen for the protection afforded to British commerce by the British Navy, for whose benefit the Hospital was established. No doubt, in the early history of the Hospital, merchant seamen who under the Registration Act of the time registered themselves as willing to serve, and who were killed, maimed, or wounded in action against either an enemy, a pirate, or a rebel were admitted to the benefits of the Hospital. The seamen of the Royal Naval Reserve of the present day exactly answered the description of those who were registered under the Registration Act of 100 years ago, and they would reap all the benefit of the Hospital enjoyed by the merchant seamen of that day, without contributing to the maintenance of its revenue as they did. His hon. Friend had referred to the question of the Dread-nought hospital ship. That matter was very fully discussed, as the House would recollect, last year, and the case was briefly this—The Admiralty allotted a Quarter of the Hospital, called Queen Mary's Quarter to the Dreadnought, while, on the other hand, the Dreadnought authorities asked for Queen Anne's Quarter as being the most suitable. Well, the Admiralty then had Queen Mary's and Queen Anne's Quarters inspected, not only by medical officers of the navy but by independent medical authorities, who all reported in favour of Queen Mary's Quarter. The Dreadnought authorities, being still dissatisfied, the Admiralty then referred the question to a Committee, which contained an evenly-balanced number of representatives of the Admiralty and the Dreadnought, with the medical officers of that ship. The majority of the Committee decided that neither Quarter would be fit for hospital purposes without considerable alteration, but that the one offered by the Admiralty was, for many reasons, more fit than the other. The Admiralty were, therefore, open to no reproach on this head. As to the future of the Hospital, the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Childers) suggested last Session that terms should be offered to the present inmates to leave, that the infirm should be transferred to the naval port hospitals, and that the establishment should be finally closed. This appeared at first sight a simple solution of the question, and in the early part of their inquiry the Committee sought for evidence in support of it, but they ultimately decided both against its practicability and its desirability. The large majority of the inmates being infirm old men who had rejected the terms of leaving offered in 1865, it was unlikely that any great number of them would accept another such offer, in which case the whole scheme would fall to the ground. On the most sanguine view 200 or 250 inmates would be left. Now, the accommodation of Haslar Hospital was only sufficient for the requirements of the service and for emergencies such as might be expected in a large harbour like Portsmouth, with a dockyard and the Channel squadron in close proximity to it. He had visited Haslar Hospital last summer, in company with his noble Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty, and the conclusion was forced on them that it was out of the question that the men could be sent to Haslar. At Plymouth fifty or sixty men might, perhaps, be taken in, but the authorities were strongly of opinion that Greenwich pensioners accustomed to liberty and the absence of restraint could not dwell under the same roof as sailors subject to the strictness of naval discipline, and that a separate building would be necessary. Now this would probably involve a sepa- rate establishment and separate staff, and two or three small establishments of this kind at the naval port hospitals would be little less costly than one great establishment. There was, moreover, the absolute necessity, whatever became of the present inmates of Greenwich Hospital, of the whole building being under the immediate control of the Government, for if a naval war broke out, not only would the naval port hospitals be soon filled to overflowing, but there would be in-pensioners enough to re-people the whole range now vacant at Greenwich. If, however, different portions of the building were given over to the Dreadnought, to a local hospital, and to other objects, their reclamation would be very difficult. Admitting, therefore, that the present state of things was unsatisfactory, the number of in-pensioners having till recently been rapidly decreasing, while the cost of the establishment was undiminished, the Committee considered whether, avoiding the abandonment of hospitals, the area of admission could be so widened as wisely to extend its benefits, and, while utilizing the present establishment, diminish the cost per head of each man. Now, while under the old system the object was to drive everybody into the Hospital, the Act of 1865 appeared to them to go too far in the opposite direction, the present regulations for in-pensioners excluding, as it seemed to them unfairly, numbers who were fit to enjoy those benefits. Without detailing the evidence on this point he might mention that whereas in 1866 1,468 men were invalided from the port hospitals as incapable of further service, a large proportion of them being incapable of maintaining themselves in any way, only seven of them found their way to Greenwich, though 618 of them received pensions and were therefore eligible. This showed that the in-pension system was heavily weighted, and the fact that 850 received no pensions proved the strict administration by the Pension Board of the pension regulations. He feared that a very large proportion of the men thus discharged without pensions ended their days, to the scandal of the service, in Union houses. The Committee desired to remedy this by a relaxation of the in-pension regulations, so as to admit every man of good character, irrespective of length of service, who was discharged from the naval port hospitals as incapable of further service and of maintaining himself. With regard to the contribution for the education of seamen's daughters, 200, for whom it was proposed to provide from the Hospital revenues, was precisely the number of girls educated in the school, which was given up in 1841, but which the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) desired to resuscitate. He thought the House would agree that the furnishing out of the funds of the Hospital, annual grants for excellent educational institutions al-ready in existence—the Orphan School at, Devonport and other institutions of that character—the Admiralty having the right to nominate a certain number of scholars, would be a better plan than repeating the experiment of a girls' school in so questionable a locality as Greenwich—an experiment which had failed once and might do so again. He did not think the interests of the Hospital would suffer from no precipitate action having been taken, for the carrying out of the Committee's recommendations would require time, and some of them, indeed, legislation. It was the intention of the Admiralty to consider those recommendations during the Recess with a view to the production early next Session of a measure dealing with the whole subject. It would be a source of great satisfaction to the Committee if their labours resulted in leaving a mark on the future history of the Hospital, and, while promoting judicious economy in the administration of its revenues, in advancing also the welfare of those for whom this noble institution was originally founded.


said, that the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) deserved the thanks both of the naval service and the country for having brought forward this question. He was one of those who greatly regretted what he might call the destruction of that noble naval institution, Greenwich Hospital. The office of Governor had been a great naval dignity which Admirals who had served in all parts of the world might look forward to as a great reward. Then the Hospital itself was regarded by the sailors as a post of honour. They considered it an honour to wear its uniform and to be members of the institution. It was very; like what the Invalides in France was. But we had now got rid of it, and the same thing would be done, he supposed, by-and-by with Chelsea Hospital, which occupied towards the army much the same position as Greenwich Hospital towards the navy. We should do a great injury to the military service if we lost Chelsea Hospital, and he thought we had done great mischief to the navy by getting rid of Greenwich Hospital instead of retaining it as a refuge for our destitute old seamen. It was said that the men did not like the Hospital. But the fact was the place was made uncomfortable to them. When the whole police of the Hospital was in the hands of the men they used to take charge of it with pride; but when new regulations were introduced and the metropolitan police were brought into the place the sailors looked upon it as a degradation to be under them. [Mr. LOCKE: Like the Temple.] He thought it a great disgrace to the Benchers to have allowed the police to come in there. If a sailor had had a little too much grog he was met by a policeman and taken to the station-house, but under the old system he would fall into the hands of his comrades, who would take care of him and nothing more was said about it. Then, the sailor liked to smoke, but smoking in the wards was prohibited, and no smoking room was provided. That might appear a little thing to hon. Gentlemen, but it was a great thing to the sailor. Again, there was nothing a sailor hated more than to be turned into a soldier. He did not like to be subjected to the strict discipline of the soldier. All these things made the Hospital distasteful to him, and then a small inducement was offered to the men to go away, which a great many of them did. But he was quite sure, if their habits and comforts had been duly considered, they would never have gone away. If the place had been properly managed, there would always have been more candidates for admission than could be accommodated there. If Greenwich Hospital were made pleasant to the sailor, he had no doubt that it would be a real assistance to the navy, by rendering the naval service more popular that it was. He trusted that Her Majesty's Government would never reconcile themselves to the notion of making Greenwich Hospital a mere receptacle for the sick. It was intended by the founder to be an asylum for meritorious seamen who had served their country, and had been wounded in the service. He did not think that the men of the merchant service ought to be altogether excluded, but that one portion of the Hospital ought to be appropriated to those that were qualified. He must say, however, that the man-of-war's man did not like to be mixed up with the merchant seamen, and unless restrictions were placed on the admission of that element into the Hospital it would never be very popular in the navy. Merchant seamen ought to be admitted when they had performed some valorous action or other distinguished service. It was not desirable that there should he too many places for officers of the navy kept up at the Hospital. Those places must to a great extent be sinecures, and the great grievance of the Hospital from time immemorial was that the money which should have been devoted to the comfort of the men had been given in payment to sinecurists. They all remembered the famous speech of Erskine when he denounced the system. It would be desirable, however, to keep up a few honorary offices, such as that of Governor, to which Admirals who had served their country might look forward; and the Hospital would be all the more popular if there were at the head of it naval men whom the old sailors would respect. In conclusion, he would express a hope that what had been done a short time ago to revolutionize the Hospital would not be deemed irrevocable, and that the false step which had been then taken would, if possible, be retraced.


said, the House had not yet been told whether the recommendations of the Admiralty Committee had received the sanction of the Board. As far as the general tenor of those recommendations went, he was prepared at the proper time to give them a general support, because they were framed in a liberal and kindly spirit towards the infirm and aged seaman. But many parts of those recommendations would require careful consideration, and among other important matters very large questions of a financial character would present themselves. One point which he had before brought under the notice of the House he would venture to recall to their attention now. There were in the North of England a certain number of the survivors of those men who formerly paid 6d.from their wages towards Greenwich Hospital. They had no legal claim upon the revenues; but as an act of grace, seeing that the Hospital funds were very flourishing, he hoped that their case would be considered, and that a small sum would be applied to their relief, many of them being in distressed circumstances.


said, that being responsible for the legislation of 1865 with regard to Greenwich Hospital, he felt sure that his hon. Friends who had spoken in favour of restoring the monastic institu- tion of Greenwich would stand almost alone in that opinion. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) said that the result of discharging the men from the Hospital was that 400 of them died in about eighteen months. Now, fortunately, the official statement was before the House, and from this it appeared that the number discharged in October, 1865, was 977, and the number of those living sixteen months afterwards, in January or February, 1867, was 905. The death of seventy-two out of 977 was, considering the age of the men; a very low average. The hon. Gentleman, in stating that 400 had died, instead of seventy-two, had taken the figures out of a public newspaper. He had seen the statement there himself, but there was not the slightest foundation for it. His hon. Friend (Mr. Du Cane) in the able Report which he had presented, expressed his approval of the general features of the Act, and spoke of the abuses which existed before it was passed. But he made some proposals tending in his (Mr. Childers') opinion to the very evils the Act had removed; and this at a considerable cost to the country. He was not prepared merely to carry out charitable objects, but to adopt measures which would destroy the sound financial basis on which the Greenwich funds were placed. It was, for instance, proposed to increase the number of admissions to the Hospital from 400 to 1,200, to reduce the charge for pensions very considerably, to increase the number of children in the schools from 800 to 1,000, and to carry out further improvements. These charges, however, would entail very considerable expenses. The increase of admissions from 400 men to 1,200 would cost £40,000 a year, which, along with the other alterations, would entail a total expenditure of £172,000. The gross income of the Hospital was £155,000, so that in time of peace, when there ought to be a considerable surplus, there would be a deficiency of £17,000 a year, assuming that £15 a head was still paid to the Consolidated Fund under the Act. The proposal of the late Government to keep a surplus of £10,000 a year in order to put the finances in the condition they were in before 1865 was characterized as extravagant, and it was said that £5,000 a year would be sufficient; but, looking at the large proportion of terminable mineral income, and considering that the building was not insured, as was originally intended, it would be most unwise to have a surplus of less than £10,000 a year. In this case the old saying was quite appropriate, "You can't eat your cake and have it." We must in these matters be prudent; we must not indulge in the pleasure of granting all that every one asks; endless demands might be made, and it was the duty of those who held the purse-strings not to yield. The plan his hon. Friend proposed showed where it was hoped to get the money from; he proposed to bring into the Hospital fund the out-pensions of everyone taken into the Hospital, and thus, and by giving up the £15 a head contribution, to get from the Chancellor of the Exchequer no less a sum than £20,000 a year. His hon. Friend had not got it yet, and he doubted whether, with such a deficit as we had now, and with a falling Revenue, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would spare £20,000 a year to carry out these proposals. There were many good points in the Report. It was distinctly proved that the establishment was too great, and he must say that the Government were a little responsible for not previously themselves watching matters which did not require a Royal Commission. For instance, the late Government had appointed a certain number of medical officers for 600 men, but, for reasons which were not clear, the late First Lord of the Admiralty unnecessarily appointed another medical officer, although the number of men was only 400. The proposals made as to the better management of the school were sound. Two tendencies had been pulling against each other, and nobody had had the courage to say which should prevail; but the proposal made did so. As to the appointment of a Controller, he would say the expenditure in connection with the control of the revenue was unnecessarily large, and economy could be effected. It was, however, doubtful whether we should always have a Civil Lord of the Admiralty who would be competent to do what the hon. Gentleman had undertaken, for Civil Lords were generally appointed, not with reference to the management of estates, but with reference to their fitness for the civil duties in connection with the dockyards and the navy; and it was not often we had a Civil Lord who possessed the knowledge and the aptitude of his hon. Friend. He therefore doubted the wisdom of making the Civil Lord a sort of superior estate manager. He deprecated also the lax and uncertain rules laid down with respect to admission into the Hospital, a matter about which regulations ought to be distinct and intelligible, seeing that vagueness would infallibly end in the abuses of former days, and the filling of the Hospital with men who had no right to be there. Laxity in admission was opposed to the policy of the Act, which was that sailors were better off in the bosoms of their families than collected together in the Hospital, and the only cases for admission should be circumstances of utter helplessness and having no friends; indeed, the very fact that in 1865, for £30 or £40 a year, men who had cost £100 a year preferred returning to their families, justified the policy of the Government. He should be sorry now to see any act taken of a retrogressive character, and he much feared the effect of the proposals would be a considerable retrogression. With respect to the merchant service the case was plain; as a matter of right they had no claim on the Hospital. The 6d. paid before 1833 by sailors, whether in the merchant or the Queen's service, was a tax imposed to maintain Greenwich for the purposes of the navy; when it was repealed, in 1834, it was expressly stated by those who moved the repeal that the merchant seamen had no right whatever to any advantages in consideration of it; and it would be absurd now, when they did not pay, that they should be supposed to obtain a right. He had expressed the obligations due to his hon. Friend and the Committee for their able Report; he had pointed out the dangerous proposals that were made in a financial point of view, admitting their excellence from a charitable point of view; and he hoped that when the plan came before the House next year they would insist upon a scheme of management showing a fair balance of income over expenditure.


said, he wished to correct the statement that old pensioners when once they had left the Hospital could not return to it. They could return at any time; they had nothing to do but to go to Somerset House and relinquish their pensions and they would be received at once. As to their not being received unless they were "infirm and helpless," if they were that when first admitted, when they returned some years afterwards they were not likely to have become sound again. It had been his duty during the last two years to investigate the claims of these poor fellows, and a very painful duty it was.


said, he hoped the Government would take into their favourable consideration the claims of the seamen of the merchant service, and offer them a wing of the Hospital which could be put into an efficient state of repair at a moderate cost. This would be but just, and he hoped the Government would consent to the arrangement, instead of banding them over to a charitable society.