HC Deb 11 May 1868 vol 192 cc19-34

said, that his Motion was of such importance that he must decline to postpone it. He received his early training in the old wooden walls of the navy of England, and retained vivid impressions of the strict, but just, discipline of that magnificent fleet. He had an earnest desire to see the navy of the future holding the same position of efficiency and imperishable renown as that of bygone days. This was his reason for drawing attention to the faulty, inferior, and retrograde construction of a large portion of our iron-clad fleet. His information had been obtained mainly from the records of the public Press, papers read, and pamphlets published at various times by naval officers, as well as from Parliamentary Returns. These sources of information had created an impression in his; mind that, during the last five years, large sums of money had been wasted in the Construction Department of the Navy—owing, apparently, to a want of skill and experience in that Department. He had not, however, arrived at this conclusion without giving due consideration to the counter opinions and apologies in those organs of the Press which were supposed to convey the opinions of the Controller of the Navy's Department. He referred to naval articles and naval intelligence in certain daily and weekly papers, and concluded that he should not be contradicted when he assumed that those writings were the inspirations of that Department, and that a system of official communication had been carried on during the last five years on naval matters in the Press to a greater extent than had ever been known before. In illustration of his meaning he might mention that an article in the Army and Navy Gazette of the 14th of March forestalled the usual statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty in the introduction of the Navy Estimates, and conveyed intelligence of a peculiarly departmental and confidential character which marked its official origin; and its object appeared to have been to commit the present Board of Admiralty, by the evidence of their present intentions, to an approval of the past, and compromise them so as to secure their defensive co-operation with the present Controller's Department. The most important feature, however, was the indication that article afforded of the purpose for which the monies proposed to be voted in the Estimates for building purposes was to be appropriated—namely, for another Hercules, for another Invincible, for another Monarch, and for a Monitor, all on Mr. Reed's designs. A Return of the state of the iron-clad fleet was laid upon the table of the House each year. He held a copy of such Returns for 1866 and 1867 in his hand; but was compelled to complain of its incorrectness and incompleteness. It was calculated to hoodwink the Admiralty, humbug the House of Commons, and throw dust in the eyes of the public. As in the semi-official publications of the Press, all faults and failures were attributed to the Board of Admiralty, while nothing but what was most perfect was attributed to the Controller's Department. He confessed his inability to understand what was meant in the column giving the names of the designers by "Controller's Department and Mr. Reed," and "Controller's Department without Mr. Reed." Then he found that the indicated horse power was not recorded. For instance, the Bellerophon appeared to have engines of 1,000-horse power, and the Achilles 1,250-horse power; but the former vessel to attain a less speed than the Achilles exerted 6,522-horse power, and the Achilles, a much larger vessel, only 5,722-horse power. The cost of the engines told a tale: those of the Bellerophon cost £88,612, and those of the Achilles cost £69,117; so that, in cost of engines, the expense of the smaller and slower vessel was far greater than the larger and faster. The Bellerophon carried one-third less weight per indicated horse power than the Achilles, and was proportionately a far more expensive steam ship, and, judging from reports of trials at sea, had inferior sailing qualities, was a less steady gun platform, and was inferior as a sea boat. The Bellerophon was reported in The Times of Thursday last as steaming for six hours over 14 knots, but this was performed with a tide in her favour the whole way. We might fairly take off about three miles per hour, which reduced her speed to about 11 knots. Admiral Warden was of opinion that the Achilles is the finest ironclad ever built; but Admiral Robinson said, "I cannot concur in that opinion; the Bellerophon is a stronger, handier, and more efficient fighting ship. "If the Bellerophon turned quicker under steam, this was chiefly owing to her having a rudder of more than twice the proportionate surface as compared with that of the Achilles. The real cause of the difference in this case was that the immersed longitudinal area of the Achilles which her rudder had to turn was 10,038 square feet—her rudder surface which had to turn it being 166 square feet, or 1 foot of power to every 60 feet of resistance. The immersed area of the Bellerophon was 6,540 square feet, and her rudder surface 252 square feet, being 1 foot of power to every 26 feet of resistance. Thus the shorter ship was equipped with 130 per cent more turning power than the longer one. The Bellerophon's "balanced" rudder commanded an angle of 38 degrees, while the ordinary rudder of the Achilles commanded an angle of 25 degrees only. The shorter ship thus obtained 60 per cent more command over the power of her larger rudder than the longer ship obtained over her smaller one. The disparagement of long ships had been due in this case to keeping out of sight the enormous disparity in the steering equipment of the Achilles. But put the two ships under equal conditions of steeling power, and their present difference would be reversed in favour of the longer ship. The form and proportions of the Achilles were based on the experience of the last thirty years. Those of the Bellerophon violated all experience, and she had to push before her an enormous submarine "snout," tens of tons in cubical bulk, which obstructed her speed and manœuvrings, and doubtless her turning too. Although a smaller vessel she had not a proportionate lighter draught. The Bellerophon represented Mr. Reed's promised improvement on the Achilles class, and was a prototype of one of the vessels for which money was asked in the Estimates. The innovations of armour-plating and heavy guns had in no way altered the special requirements of our fleet, yet the last five years had produced an armour-clad fleet constructed wholly regardless of classification, and at variance with the broad rules of science and practical experience. The present Chief Constructor of the Navy took Office with the advantage of finding that difficulties had been well considered by his predecessors, and practically developed in six larger vessels—namely, the Warrior, Black Prince, Achilles, Minotaur, Agincourt, and Northumberland, which were a valuable class of cruizing frigates. They were capital ships, and the type was well worthy of being perpetuated. The Chief Constructor of the Navy would claim superiority for his vessels on account of thicker armour. This was a deceptive plea, because the total weight of armour carried by the Bellerophon was not proportionately greater than in the Achilles, as it covered a smaller portion of the ship, the Bellerophon having only seven protected broadside ports and the Achilles thirteen. The question of armour-plates did not affect naval architecture so as to impose any practical impediment to the production of good sea-going vessels. While the Warrior class fulfilled the requirements of their day of progress, the vessels of Mr. Reed had not done so. He ventured to say that not one vessel designed by Mr. Reed had been a type for another which should follow. His first frigate, corvette, and gunboat were now obsolete; his "plough-bow" was discarded as a blunder. His great love—the broadside system—was in its last agonies; and the Estimates for building for the last five years had been wasted to a great extent in endeavouring to drive a smaller class of broadside vessels, with forms at variance with science and experience, at a great speed by dint of enormous horse power. Without entering into particulars, he maintained that, in the designs of Mr. Watts, the broad rules of science and experience in naval architecture were not departed from, and they afforded sufficient evidence of the direction which in the future should have guided wise and teachable men, or unprejudiced minds, in the pathway of improvement. Sir Baldwin Walker and Mr. Watts were of opinion that to carry heavy armour combined with great speed, at the same time insuring good sea-going qualities in broadside vessels, the large proportions, like those of the first six vessels, were a necessity; if iron-clad broadside vessels of a smaller class were desirable a reduction of speed was a necessity. Yet, the present Chief Constructor thought differently, and undertook to prove the contrary, although totally without experience, never having built a ship. The turret principle was urged upon him as a means of assistance, but he discarded it. So we had broadside ships of the Bellerophon type, which carried one-third less weight per indicated horse power, at a less speed than the Achilles, and in every respect a most inferior sea-going vessel. The Chief Constructor had lately held out at a public meeting of engineers that he was prepared to design a turret-vessel superior to all that the world had yet produced. He (Captain Mackinnon) had no confidence in Mr. Reed's ability to do so; and it was for this reason he had brought this subject before the House, hoping that he should at least obtain from the First Lord of the Admiralty some assurance that the adoption of the turret principle would not be left to be carried out by those who had for years past ignored its advantages and opposed even a fair trial. The total want of system evinced in the character of these iron-clads resulted in the most lamentable fact that no fleet of the line could be formed to cruize and manœuvre together unless constantly under steam; and that as gun platforms they were mostly so unsteady that their artillery power would be almost ineffective even in moderate weather. He believed if they were to take aim at that House 100 yards off in a fresh breeze, they would not hit it. The corvettes intended as cruizers for the protection of our trade were equally unsuitable for the purpose for which they were designed, having proved heavy rollers, with a speed of barely thirteen knots at the measured mile, which, judging by the Bellerophon. meant eleven knots as a reliable speed at sea; therefore, they could neither capture privateers nor escape capture themselves from a similar class of vessels building by other countries. The best evidence that these vessels were not adequate for the purpose they were designed was that, after expensive alterations from the original designs, in some cases involving almost an entire re-construction, as with the Danaë, we were now building a new type of corvette, the Inconstant class, for a greater speed, after more than twelve failures of this class had been added to the fleet at the cost of a large sum of money. With regard to the gunboats, there never was such a blunder made in the world. We had built three armour-plated gunboats, equipped in every respect as seagoing vessels, and costing a large sum of money, which had turned out useless for any purpose whatever, and, therefore, a dead loss to the country. As proof of this he need only name two of these vessels—the Vixen and Waterwitch. In making an attempt to go from one port to another in this country they proved themselves unseaworthy, rolling 50 degrees each way, though there was not what seamen would call "a gale of wind." Such a fact was unknown in our naval history, and most discreditable to our national character as naval architects. The crews of these two men-of-war went aft in a body and protested against being sent to sea in such unseaworthy vessels. The English naval authorities had made themselves the laughing-stock of the whole world. They had put on the front of each vessel a snout called a plough-bow, up which the water ran, and which, if a sufficiently high rate of speed could be obtained, would cause the vessel to dig into the water and absolutely run down. He understood that the apologists for these vessels now said that they were intended for river purposes; but in every respect the character of these iron-clad gunboats—ironically called "coffins" by a distinguished flag officer—rendered such an apology ridiculous. He would compare two vessels, one built by a private firm and the other in the Admiralty yard—the Vixen and the Medusa. They had cost about the same money to construct. The Vixen was 1,180 tons; her draught was 11 feet 10 inches; her length 160 feet; breadth, 32 feet; nominal horsepower, 160; speed, 9½ knots; and she carried two 6½-ton guns. The Medusa was 1,360 tons; her draught 9 feet; length, 190 feet; breadth, 36 feet; nominal horse-power, 200; speed, 10½ knots; and her armament, four 10-ton guns. The Vixen was quite unseaworthy—rolled and pitched most dangerously even in moderate weather, and never went to sea in bad weather. The Medusa, on the other hand, had been in several heavy gales, and was a very handy and serviceable boat. Another most important feature as regarded the efficiency of our fleet was connected with the supply of coals which each ship was enabled to carry, especially when it had been proved that no safe evolutions could be performed by them under sail alone. In this respect our fleet was most inefficient, and especially the Bellerophon and Hercules, Mr. Reed's choicest productions, which carried, at full speed, only three days' fuel; this defect was necessarily a consequence of the unscientific principle of obtaining speed by placing enormous engines in small ships. Commencing with the Enterprise and Research, and going down to the last of Mr. Reed's vessels, he considered that there existed a most glaring evidence of the misappropriation of public money for building purposes. During the last ten years, no less than £10,000,000 had been expended on iron-clads, and he did not believe they were of any real use whatever. Their unseaworthiness and rolling propensities were remarkable evidences of want of skill, and called for great caution in voting more monies for future designs from the same source, seeing that, as jet, not one vessel designed by Mr. Reed had proved the type of another which should follow. Judging from the failures of the past, and considering that two of the vessels now proposed of the Audacious class were duplicates of vessels not yet tried, that House, as guardians of the public purse, should interfere so as to require that one vessel of each class should be tried before the duplicates were commenced. There was a plan for utilizing the best of our wooden line-of-battle ships, by converting them into turret-ships at a cost of £100,000 each, and thereby strengthening the ironclad fleet. On account of its great economy in time and money, this plan had commended itself most highly to the House. It was Mr. Henwood's proposition, which, he understood, had been submitted to the Admiralty. But, as the turret principle was involved, it appeared that the Controller's Department had decided to suppress it. The reports of the construction Department on some of the plans submitted to them by the Admiralty for examination gave rise to grave suspicions that the detail of some of these plans had been distorted, and from being thus altered, condemned on incorrect data. Mr. Reed himself was converting a wooden line-of-battle ship, the Repulse, into an iron-clad on his favourite "box" rolling principle, of the Zealous class, at a cost of about £250,000, and decried the plan of converting similar vessels on the turret principle for less than half the money. He believed that one of these converted turret-ships would prove more than a match for the Bellerophon. and would be only one-fourth her cost. The hon. Gentleman concluded by thanking the House for the attention with which they had listened to him.


said, that he wished to call attention to the Parliamentary Return, No. 26, entitled "The Navy (Designs for Ships)," ordered to be printed on the 3d December last, relative to the designs for war ships furnished by private shipbuilding firms on an invitation from the Admiralty, and to the course taken by the Admiralty in respect to them. This was a subject which he thought could be better dealt with in the House than in Committee. In June, 1867, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Corry) informed the House that, in addition to what was proposed to be done in the Estimates, it was his intention to build another iron-clad, and to avail himself of the experience and ability of private builders for that purpose. Application was accordingly made to seven of the principal shipbuilding firms, calling on them to supply the Government with plans, designs, specifications, and drawings, and it was left entirely open to the firms whether they would propose a turret ship or whether they would suggest a broadside. It was understood that the construction of the vessel would be entrusted to the hands of the firm whose plan was most approved, if satisfactory terms could be arranged. Designs were sent in, and on the 8th of October following the Admiralty came to their decision; but though in every case the competing firms were thanked and praised the whole of the designs were rejected. That at first sight might appear to be a very curious result; but a study of Papers for which he had moved would do away with any such impression. It appeared that on previous occasions similar designs had been applied for, and in every case the same result had followed. And not only were the designs rejected, but somehow they were supplanted by official plans. He would give one or two notable instances. In 1859 or 1860 a similar proposal was made in the well-known case of the Warrior. The firms applied to all responded, and the expense to which they went might reasonably be represented by a sum of £300, and in many cases £500. But when the plans were sent in a very early opportunity was taken of discrediting them in that House, and those who had sent in designs were first made acquainted with the fact that they were not accepted by being asked to tender at the Admiralty on the official plans of that very vessel for which they had competed. How the official plans had been formed had never been satisfactorily explained, but somehow they bore an extraordinary resemblance to many of the plans which had been sent in as well in dimensions as in some extraordinary points of construction which were new. There were undoubtedly variations from the private plans sufficient to enable one to say that the designs were not actually copied. There was another curious instance. Soon after the introduction of iron-plated and iron-built ships it was proposed in that House that they should have wooden hulls for carrying armour instead of iron hulls. Such work ought to have been thrown open to private yards; but a Minute was prepared by the Admiralty with the evident object of throwing discredit on them. It represented that work done in private yards was slovenly, imperfect, and more costly than that done in the dockyards. Experience, however, had shown that what had been represented as the cheaper production of the dockyards was at least 50 per cent dearer than that of the private yards. The plea of economy, indeed, was now given up, after it had served its purpose of throwing work out of other hands into the dockyards, and it was argued instead that it was necessary to preserve the dockyards for purposes of war. This was an altogether different question, with which he would not deal on the present occasion. Again, on its being proposed to build some large troopships for the Indian service, it was suggested that the Admiralty would do well not to confine themselves to the designs of their officials; and his hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Laird) suggested that as the best engines had been obtained by requesting proposals from firms of reputation, the same plan should be tried with ships. The Admiralty assented, and it was accordingly agreed that private firms should be asked to send in designs for these vessels. Their designs, however, were no sooner sent in than they were discredited. Lord Clarence Paget, then Secretary of the Admiralty, informing the House that the only chance of obtaining a satisfactory ship was to cast aside their plans and adopt those of the Admiralty, as the private builders could not rise to the level of the Admiralty's requirements. The result was another failure. The same thing had happened with regard to the turret and broadside ships. He now came to the present state of things. He found that the same result had occurred, but in an aggravated form. Knowing what had occurred on previous occasions, he had deemed it his duty on the part of the private firms to point out to the First Lord of the Admiralty that the only way in which a satisfactory result was likely to be obtained was to make it imperative on the Chief Constructor of the Navy that he should not compete with the private firms, and should not exercise any influence on the decision of the Board; and he understood the right hon. Gentleman to assent to the suggestion. But what did the Papers reveal on the subject? First, that the Chief Constructor had actually put forward plans to compete with the proposals of the private firms, and, not content with one design, he made use of two—one for a turret ship and the other for a broadside. But what was still more strange was, that he acted practically as the arbitrator. He reported on the whole of the plans, and actually introduced into his Report a tabulated form, including his own two ships as well as the others, and then drew a conclusion favourable to himself; while the Controller, in his report, continually referring to the Constructor's views to support his own conclusions, repeats all his condemnation of the private plans and admiration for the official. The private designs were praised or condemned according as they agreed or differed from their own. For instance, he partially commended the design of the Thames Iron Works on account of its resemblance to the Invincible, and he described the advantages of Messrs. Laird's turret ship over the official design as either repetitions of the features of other official ships, or as purchased at the expense of qualities equally essential. With reference to a third he declared that it was in no respect superior to the design sent in to their Lordships on the 27th of July. Particular stress had been laid upon the assumption that the Admiralty would be greatly guided in its decision by the recommendation of persons outside the official circle. But having invited private persons to design what they considered the best modes, the Admiralty destroyed the hopes of all those who favoured the turret principle, by exhibiting determined hostility to anything but the broadside. Four ships out of the seven were summarily set aside by this decision, and of the three remaining it was said that two were not necessary to be considered at all, while the third they regarded as particularly good, because of the resemblance which it exhibited to their own favourite build. The Board came to the conclusion that the Chief Constructor was the only man who could produce what they required, and in the end they determined to build another ship from the official plans of the Invincible class. Finally, they came to the absurd conclusion of giving the building of the ship, not to the firm whose design they most approved for a broadside ship, but to another firm altogether, Messrs. Laird, of Birkenhead—who had sent in a design, not for a broadside, but for a turret—making compensation, it was true, to the firm thus passed over by giving them an order for a corvette. He spoke upon this matter with perfect impartiality. When his firm was applied to for designs he told his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty that he would gladly give him the benefit of any experience and knowledge which he possessed, but on the clear and distinct understanding that he would not enter into the competition, and would not derive any advantage from it. He therefore had no personal interest in this matter. It was contended that the vessel enjoying the approval of the Government possessed this advantage, that, by means of sponsons placed upon the upper deck, she was able, in addition to her broadside battery, to fire a gun fore and aft in the direction of the keel, and so, possessing an all-round fire, was equal to a turret ship. It required but a very small amount of professional knowledge to detect the fallacy of that argument. The broadside of the Invincible showed three guns, each throwing a shot of 300 lbs., or exerting a total force of 900 lbs., which could be increased to 1,200 lbs. by the fire of a gun from the upper deck. But a turret ship engaging her would throw 2,400 lbs. at a discharge. Moreover, this was taking the calculation in the most favourable way for the sponson ship. For the moment the turret ship either forged ahead or dropped astern more than 30 degrees the Invincible would be reduced to the necessity of attacking or defending with one gun, while for a large portion of the distance the turret ship would be able to exert her full force. The great advantage possessed by the turret ships submitted over their rivals was that they were fully cased in armour, while the official broadside ship had only patches of armour, and was vulnerable over two-thirds of her length. It was absurd to call a vessel armoured which was left totally unprotected at its stem or stern, except on the water line, and which might be pierced by any shot which struck the ends. Moreover, no such thing existed, or ever had existed in the British navy as a vessel fitted with batteries carried in sponsons on the upper deck, and they were entirely without experience of how such a fighting vessel would answer. Another difficulty with the sponson vessel was as to its rolling. The rolling tendency of the armour-clads had been much dwelt upon in the Admiralty Reports of the Channel Fleet. Now it was evident that a vessel would roll much worse if she had to carry heavy guns and heavy armour upon her upper deck. The Admiralty had declined to entertain the plans of a turret ship on the ground that they were experimental, notwithstanding that they had had one built, and had obtained another by conversion, which was tried under difficult circumstances, and reported to the House as having achieved in every respect a perfect and unequalled success. The Admiralty had also two more building, one in their own dockyard, and one by the Messrs. Laird of Birkenhead. He did not wish to say a word in disparagement of the Constructive or any other Department, whose head was not present to defend himself; but he was bound to say that there appeared to be too much ground for the observations which were made by his right hon. Friend opposite before he became a Member of the Government. His right hon. Friend said that asking a man like Mr. Reed, who was the advocate of a totally opposite system of his own, to build a turret ship, was something like calling on an allopathic doctor to treat a patient on the homœopathic plan. He believed his right hon. Friend sincerely wished to give the turret principle a fair trial, and holding such views it would have been right and reasonable that his right hon. Friend should have investigated the matter a little further, in order to see whether persons who had, by experience and assiduity, attained a prominent position, could be so entirely wrong as to render it necessary that all their plans should be thrown over, in order to introduce those of the Chief Constructor. But he knew the obstacles which a man in his right hon. Friend's position must have to encounter from professional advisers. He thought he was justified in the criticisms he had made on the action of the Admiralty, and in saying that the private firms had not been treated fairly in the attempt which had been made to show that their calculations were deficient. Everybody seemed to be wrong but the Chief Constructor himself. To show what had been done by private firms, he might refer to the Prince Henry, built for the Dutch Government, and to the Crown Prince, built for the Prussian Government, both of which had given the greatest satisfaction. The Prince Henry had the draught of water to an inch that was promised, and the Crown Prince had the draught of water to an inch, and considerably more than the speed promised. He considered it a matter of the greatest importance to the country, especially as regarded a reduction in the Navy Estimates, that the Admiralty should take counsel with the private firms. He believed that if the matter were thoroughly looked into the House would find that the frequent re-constructions were due to the fact that the Admiralty placed an absolute reliance on their own Department, instead of availing themselves of the experience to be found outside.


said, he was quite ready to acknowledge that he had never found greater difficulty in deciding on any question than on that to which the hon. Member for Tavistock had called attention. There was much to be said on both sides. His hon. Friend (Mr. Samuda) had stated the case in relation to the competitive designs very fairly, except in his remarks about the reference to the Controller of the Navy. His hon. Friend could not suppose that an unscientific Board like that of the Admiralty could decide on the design of a ship until it had been submitted to an examination by their scientific advisers. It always had been the practice to refer to the Controller designs sent in by private builders for ships of war. He would not say that the Admiralty were bound by the opinion of that officer; but undoubtedly they must be very much influenced by it; and he must express his opinion that the Board would undertake a very great responsibility if they decided upon building a ship, the design of which the Controller did not approve. Much fault had been found with all the designs in matters of detail, except, perhaps, that of the Messrs. Laird, which had been highly praised by the Controller and the Chief Constructor; but he would state presently why he and his Colleagues had not thought it inadvisable to adopt it, though from the first he had entertained a secret hope that a design for a turret ship might be accepted. His hon. Friend was not correct in supposing that Mr. Reed had been allowed to compete. He had sent in a plan, and there was nothing to prevent the Controller or the Chief Constructor from submitting a plan for a ship at any time he might think proper; but he had not been asked to compete, nor was his design taken into consideration in competition with that of Messrs. Laird and the other competitors. If Mr. Reed had praised his own ship and found fault with the ships of other people, he (Mr. Corry) had nothing to do with that. His hon. Friend had quoted remarks of his some years ago in favour of building a turret ship; but those remarks were made before the experiment of building a sea- going turret ship had been determined on. The circumstances were different now, because there were two such ships—the Captain and the Monarch—in course of construction, one of which was under the immediate superintendence of Captain Coles, and the other on a design by the Department of the Controller. Messrs. Laird's competitive design contained nothing new in point of principle; it was, in point of fact, nothing more than an improved Captain; and in his opinion there was nothing to be gained by building two experimental vessels on exactly the same principle before one had been tried. But he had another reason for thinking it well to pause before building a third seagoing turret ship before the experiments in progress were tested. Between the time when the designs were called for and sent in, the Lords of the Admiralty went round the various ports, and he had had an opportunity of obtaining the opinions of many experienced naval officers respecting turret ships; and he might here mention that he was on board the Minotaur at the time she made the famous pitch to which the hon. Member had adverted, so that he had himself an opportunity of witnessing the performance of the armour-clads in a heavy sea. He had also witnessed the performance of the turret ship Wyvern. The great majority of the officers with whom he conversed on the subject entertained grave doubts as to the fitness of the turret principle for ships intended as cruizers—to keep the sea in all weathers; and, although there could be no doubt that the turret principle was the best for coast defence, it was felt at the Admiralty that, in the present state of the navy, it was not advisable to build a ship which might be useful for that purpose only, but that the design to be selected should be for a ship which could be sent to sea with safety to herself and comfort to her crew. The hon. Member had blamed the Admiralty for having given the building of the broadside ship determined on to Messrs. Laird, notwithstanding the design sent in by them was for a turret ship; but that was in strict accordance with the intimation made to the various competitors. The parties who sent in the most approved design were to be entrusted with the building of the ship. Both the Controller and the Chief Constructor had given a decided preference to Messrs. Laird's; and notwithstanding the doubts entertained as to the advisability of building a third turret ship before the Captain and Monarch had been tried, if the Admiralty had been under an obligation to adopt one or another of the designs Messrs. Laird's would have been selected. He would not, on this occasion, follow the hon. Member for Rye into his remarks respecting the performances of certain vessels, but would be content with pointing out, in reference to the hon. Member's criticisms on the Bellerophon and the Achilles, that those vessels could not be justly compared to each other. No doubt the lines of the Achilles were better adapted to speed than those of the Bellerophon; but Mr. Reed's object was to obtain a shorter and more handy and cheaper ship, and to obtain compensation by greater power of engines. On the whole, his observations had led him to the conclusion that our iron-clad ships, instead of being inferior, were in reality superior to those of any other country in the world.

Motion, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.