said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether it is true that the wages of the Ropemakers in Chatham Dockyard have been reduced to nineteen shillings and two pence per week, and that men who have been working overtime have been suddenly dismissed from the service; and in such case whether the Board of Admiralty contemplate any arrangement which would diminish the distress occasioned by these proceedings?
LORD HENRY LENNOX
, in reply, said he presumed that the hon. Member referred to the reduction made in the time men were employed—namely, from six to five days in the week. If this reduction had not been made the amount of Supply voted for the Department would have been exhausted by the end of the year, a circumstance that would have led to the dismissal of all the men, and to great distress in Chatham. This was an arrangement which had been proposed by the late Board of Admiralty, and the steam machinery which had been erected was capable of working small quantities when the times were slack, and also of working off what was wanted at periods of pressure. This was the first time the Board of Admiralty had attempted to follow the advice of our great political economists—namely, to regulate our supplies with the reasonable demands of the year. Judging from the tone of the hon. Gentleman's Question, be was afraid that the change was not likely to meet with much favour amongst the artizans of Chatham. Very few hired men had been dismissed, and those had received as long a notice as the requirements of the service allowed.