HC Deb 23 July 1868 vol 193 cc1673-4

desired to say a few words on this subject by way of explanation. Since his remarks the other evening he had received the following letter—

"Admiralty, S.W., July 17.

"Dear Mr. Scely,—In the reports of your speech, both in The Times and Morning Post, which I enclose I find it stated as a matter of fact, not as a matter of opinion, that the designs of this (the Research) and her sister ship the Enterprise were submitted to the Chief Designer of Works, who reported against them, but, notwithstanding this adverse Report, the Admiralty adopted the designs, in consequenco of which proceeding three of the most eminent officials connected with the Department resigned their situations. Now, the facts are these—Mr. Reed submitted the design for the Enterprise on April 9, 1862 (she was designed before the Research), with an alternative suggestion of wood or iron top-Bides. This design I referred to the Constructor's Department, and received a reply, a copy of which I enclose. Messrs. Watts, Large, and Abethell signed that paper, and, you will see, approved of the design, and did not condemn it. The resignation of Mr. Watts took place in January, 1868. Mr. Large's resignation took place in May, 1864, Mr. Abethell's in April, 1864, and cannot have been in any way influenced, as you suppose, by the adoption of a design which they approved. I hope that it will be in your power to rectify this mistake as to a matter of fact.—Believe me to be yours very truly,


" C. Seely, Esq., M.P."

The Constructor's Report to the Controller, on the 16th of April, 1862, was as follows:— By your directions we have examined the plan proposed by Mr. Reed for the partial protection of ships of the Rinaldo class by armour-plating, and we are of opinion that the plan is perfectly practicable, and that it affords as much protection as can be obtained in ships of such comparatively small dimensions; but to secure this object we are strongly of opinion that the topsides should be entirely of iron, above the water line, before and abaft the armour-plating amidships to prevent the ship being set fire to by combustible projectiles; and from the conversation with Mr. Reed yesterday we find that ho is of the same opinion.—(Signed by Messrs. Watts, Large, and Abethell.) He had written the following letter to Mr. Watts:—

"26, Prince's Gate, July 18.

"My dear Sir,—I enclose you a note I have received from the Controller of the Navy, together with a copy of your Report 'on the plan proposed by Mr. Reed for the partial protection of ships of the Rinaldo class by armour-plating.' Will you be good enough to favour me with your opinion thereon?—Yours very faithfully,


"James Watts, Esq.,"

To this letter Mr. Watts sent the following reply:—

"6, Howley Place, Paddington, July 20.

"Dear Sir,—I never intended in the Report referred to to convey the idea that I approved the plan proposed by Mr. Reed for the conversion of small vessels of the Rinaldo class into iron-clads—my opinion was well known to be adverse to doing so—but merely to say that I, as well as my Colleagues, considered it quite practicable, in a mechanical point of view, and that of the two plans proposed that for the Enterprise was considered preferable for the reasons given.—Yours sincerely,


"Charles Seely, Esq."

He had only further to say that in his statement that these three gentlemen had resigned in consequence of the Admiralty having adopted these designs, notwithstanding their adverse Report, he was in error, inasmuch as that had not been the sole cause of their resignation.