§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
, in rising to propose the Navy Estimates, said: Mr. Chairman—Sir, I fear that in the performance of the duty which now devolves upon me I shall have to trespass at some length on the indulgence of the Committee, of which, on more than one ground, I stand in need. I therefore think that I shall best consult the convenience of the Committee if I abstain from further preface, and at once proceed to explain the Estimates I have risen to propose. I will first advert to the increase in the amount required to be voted for the present year over the Estimates for the last year, and explain that it is only apparent. The amount of the excess is £201,037, and it arises from the sum of £203,292, on account of supplies to other Departments having been included in the Estimates for the year 1868–9, under the Votes specified, for which there was no corresponding provision in, the preceding year. Under a recent decision of the Treasury, the re-payments for these supplies are to be made direct to the Exchequer, instead of being credited, as heretofore, to the naval Votes. It is therefore necessary to provide for the purchase of these supplies in the Estimates; but 35 as re-payment will be made into the Exchequer, no additional charge falls on the Revenue on that account. In order to institute a proper comparison between the Votes for the two years, the sum of £203,292 must be deducted from the gross amount, and the result is as follows:—The Votes for 1868–9 amount to £11,177,290; deduct the re-payment to the Exchequer of £203,292, and there remains £10,973,998, as compared with £10,976,253, the amount of the Votes for 1867–8. There is, therefore, an actual decrease in the sum to be voted to meet the requirements of the naval service for 1868–9 of £2,255, as compared with the sum required for the naval service last year. On the other hand, some trifling charges which are specified in the first page of the abstract have been removed from the Navy to the Civil Service Estimates, and the general result is an increase on the Estimates for the present year, as regards the naval service, of £9,480. Under these circumstances, the amounts of the two Estimates may be said to be practically the same. It was the opinion of Her Majesty's Ministers in the present financial situation, affected as it was, and still is, by the cost of the Abyssinian War, that it would have been inadmissible to have proposed a larger sum than was voted last year for the navy. The Admiralty, therefore, had to consider in what manner they could appropriate the amount at their disposal, thus limited, to the greatest advantage, and in considering this question it was the unanimous opinion of my Colleagues and myself that as large an amount as could possibly be spared from the other departments of the naval service, without disregard to their proper efficiency, ought to be appropriated to the construction of armour-plated ships. In view of the progress made and still being made by other navies, that was, in our opinion, essential to the maintenance of our naval power; and that has been the principle on which these Estimates have been prepared. The question therefore whether any reduction, and, if so, what reduction could be made, under other heads of expenditure, arose upon the first Vote—the Vote for wages to seamen and marines—the first not only in order, but also in importance, because, whatever importance we may attach to our fleet of ironclads, it is, after all, subordinate to the maintenance of an adequate establishment of well-trained officers and seamen, 36 without which our ships would be of no avail. The possibility of effecting any material reduction in the number of seamen to be voted for the service of the year depended in a great measure upon the strength at which the foreign squadrons ought to be maintained. This is a matter in respect of which the gravest censure has been passed on the Admiralty, not only on the present, but also on preceding Boards, and I may remark that the number of our ships on foreign stations was less last year than it had been during the period when our immediate predecessors were in Office. It is asserted by some persons that we are guilty of supreme folly in maintaining these squadrons, and their maintenance maybe said to be the pivot on which our whole naval policy turns. I am quite ready to admit that, if these squadrons are useless, if they are kept up merely for the sake of giving patronage to the Admiralty, as some insinuate, or for any other such unworthy motive, then they ought to be at once suppressed; and, if they were so repressed, millions of public money would be saved. You would save the wages of 10,000 or 15,000 seamen, and a large proportion of the cost of building and repairing ships, and various other charges. The question, however, is, whether it would be wise to reverse our policy in this respect? I am not contending that the stations ought to be maintained on an extravagant scale; but, on the other hand, ought we to deal with them in the wholesale manner which some have suggested? Ought we to withdraw our ships altogether, or to such an extent as would make a serious impression on the Estimates? It has been stated that the vessels constituting the squadrons on our foreign stations are useless for fighting purposes. There would be some truth in that assertion if the squadrons of other nations consisted exclusively of armour-clads; but, so far from that being the case, the foreign squadrons of other navies are even to a greater extent than our own unarmoured. Therefore our unarmoured vessels would, in the event of war, be as able as ever to protect our colonies and commerce against the unarmoured vessels of an enemy. The United States' Government is building a great number of unarmoured cruizers, and with an object that we can very well understand. If ever America were at war with us, she would try to cripple our commerce, and lumbering armour-clads would be comparatively useless for that purpose. Again, 37 take the case of France. No doubt, she has a large sea-going fleet of armour-clads; but by far the greater part of her navy consists of unarmoured ships. Her foreign squadrons are almost exclusively unarmoured, and she has a large reserve of un-armoured line-of-battle ships and frigates in her ports. From the last French Budget for the year 1869—the French Budgets being prepared a year in advance—I find that there are to be 167 vessels in commission, and of these only ten are to be armour-clad ships. The rest are large frigates, corvettes, and other vessels, corresponding to those that form the squadrons on our own stations. Some of them are transports, but the greater number are ordinary men-of-war for ordinary duties. The proposed expenditure of France, provided in the ordinary budget for the building of unarmoured ships during the year 1869 exceeds that on armoured ships in the proportion of more than three to two. Suppose that we were to follow the advice of those who say we ought to break up our unarmoured navy, look at the position we should be in if so great a misfortune were to arise as war between England and France. Why, our colonies would be at her mercy, and our commerce would be swept from the seas; for our armour-clads would have quite enough on their hands in dealing with the armour-clads of France in the Channel and the Mediterranean, and our colonial and our vast commercial interests abroad would be left completely unprotected against the unarmoured men-of-war possessed by France. To incur such a risk would not be a wise policy for us to adopt. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) asked last year what chance a gunboat would have against a Russian armour-clad in the China seas. My answer is the same chance as a gun-brig in former times would have had against a line-of-battle ship—that is to Bay, no chance at all. But a gunboat now has as good a chance against an enemy's gunboat as formerly a gun-brig had against an enemy's gun-brig; and, as it is by means of small, and unarmoured vessels, that our commerce would be assailed, it is absolutely necessary that we should be provided with a similar description of force to protect it. It is said that our unarmoured squadrons are useless in time of peace; but the requisitions we receive from merchants and others resident in foreign countries asking us to send 38 ships to this port and that port, and the outcry which is raised if the squadrons are unduly reduced, show that they render effective and valuable service. The public do not hear much of these cases; they do not excite general interest; but effectual service is rendered, nevertheless, to British commerce by our squadrons abroad. Independently of any opinion which I may have upon this subject, I am quite sure that, if any Government were to withdraw our squadrons or unduly reduce them, remonstrances would be made by the commercial community and by the colonial interest, such as no Government and even no House of Commons could resist. We are told sometimes that they do these things better in France. I have some doubts on that point. But how do they do these things in France? The French Naval Budget is prefaced by a preliminary note drawn up by the Department, and I find in the preliminary note to the Budget for 1869 the following words:—They," that is the squadrons "which France maintains on sixteen stations, in all parts of the world, protect political and maritime interests as considerable as they are varied. They give security to commercial transactions representing five milliards and 321,000,000 francs, of which two milliards 475,000,000 francs are under the French flag. With this efficacious protection the commercial relations of our country are extended and developed more and more every year, and it is certain that the navy must be maintained in some degree in proportion to the commercial interests it has to protect.The note préliminaire goes on to state that it considers the expense of the navy as an insurance on the national commerce, and it may be consolatory to those who object to our foreign squadrons to know that the rate of insurance paid by France in this respect is much greater than that paid by this country. The Budget to which I have referred states the cost of the French navy to be 6.35 per cent on the value of the trade carried on under the French flag. I have had a similar calculation made in respect of England, and I find the cost of the navy is only 2.73 per cent on the value of the trade carried on under the English flag—a striking illustration of what I have always maintained, that our navy is organized on a far more humble scale, in relation to the interests it has to protect, than that of our great ally.
So far as to the policy of maintaining squadrons abroad in order to protect the commercial, political, and colonial interests 39 of the country in time of peace. There is another consideration which has great weight with my mind. It is expressed in very few words in the French "preliminary note," from which I have already quoted—Besides supporting the political and commercial relations of a nation, the foreign squadrons are excellent schools for making sailors.I entirely concur in that opinion. It is our foreign squadrons which, in a great measure, make our sailors, and if you were to recall or unduly reduce those squadrons, although you might have a large additional amount to expend on armour-clads, you would he left without officers and men capable of handling them and of maintaining the honour of the flag in the presence of an enemy. A pamphlet was recently published, which is attributed to a late First Lord of the Admiralty, and I find in it these words, in which I also concur—Although, if our naval forces were withdrawn from distant stations, a reduction could easily be made in the number of ships in commission, the work in our dockyards would be diminished, the demand for naval stores lessened, and the establishments abroad abolished, such a policy would be seriously detrimental to the future efficiency of the British navy, would disorganize the whole system, and leave this country in a few years without experienced officers and well-trained seamen.I believe this is the opinion of the Duke of Somerset. At all events, it is the opinion of a sensible man, and I agree with him that, whether as regards the efficiency of the navy or the protection of British and colonial interests, it is absolutely necessary that, within reasonable bounds, our foreign squadrons should be maintained. But, though I am of that opinion, I quite admit that they should be kept up on as economical a scale as circumstances admit; and I undertook last year, in answer to observations made by hon. Gentlemen opposite, to inquire during the Recess, whether it would be possible to make reductions in our foreign squadrons without detriment to the interests of the public service. I will state the result; but I wish first to correct my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract in a comparison he made last year between the strength of the foreign squadrons in 1846 and 1867. He said that, exclusive of the Mediterranean, the foreign squadrons in 1846 had 12,068 men, but he omitted the squadron on the West Coast of Africa. The actual number in 1846 was 15,588 men, and in 1867 17,893, be- 40 ing a difference of 2,305, and not, as he had stated, of nearly 5,400 men. There had been in the meantime a great development of trade with Japan, China, and elsewhere, and important colonies had grown up in the Pacific. Considering these, and other circumstances, I do not think the increase could be considered unreasonable. But, as I have stated, I promised last year to inquire whether any reduction could be safely effected. In carrying on that investigation I have been singularly fortunate, because the officers in command have returned home during the year from a great number of foreign stations, and I have thus been enabled to communicate with them personally upon the subject. In this way I have had the advantage of consulting with Admiral Denman, from the Pacific station; Sir James Hope, from the West Indies; Commodore Hornby, from the "West Coast of Africa; Commodore Caldwell, whose loss the service has since had to deplore, from the Cape of Good Hope; Commodore Hillyar, from the East Indies; and Admiral King, from China. In fact, the Admirals and Commodores on nearly every foreign station were relieved during the year, and I was thus able to have personal communications with the very best authorities. I had the advantage also of the advice of my able Colleague, Sir Alexander Milne, Sir James Hope's predecessor in command on the North American and West India station. I have, therefore, had opportunities of getting the best information upon the subject, and I can assure the Committee that the inquiry we have thus made has not been a formal inquiry, instituted with a desire to burke the question, but that we have been anxious to make any reduction which we thought could properly be effected. Now, when articles are written or speeches made upon this question, Gentlemen often argue as if the Admiralty were omnipotent; but the fact is that we frequently have very little option in the matter. It is the Colonial Office and the Foreign Office which guide us with respect to the strength of the foreign squadrons we are not always free agents. The question is one of policy, in which the Admiralty plays almost a subordinate part. Well, in inquiring into the possibility of reducing the squadron on the North American and West India station, I found that in the opinion of the Colonial Office it was necessary to maintain a frigate and corvette in the St. 41 Lawrence so long as there was any apprehension of Fenian raids. I do not know whether the disestablishment of the Irish Church will relieve us from that necessity. Then, the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty with America made it necessary to employ an additional force for the protection of the fisheries at Newfoundland. Labrador, and elsewhere, and the occasional presence of ships of war is required at Prince Edward's Island, Halifax, and Bermuda. Then there are the Jamaica division and the Barbadoes division; and it is important also that a force should be maintained in the Gulf of Mexico. We have important relations with those parts of the world; aM considering the unsettled condition ofndexico and other States, bordering on the Gulf, and the frequent requisitions from Consuls and Governors, we arrived at the conclusion that, though some reduction might be effected, it should be carried out with great caution. When Gentlemen say, "Of what use are these squadrons?" I will adduce, in reply, two instances which occurred on this station within a recent period. When the rebellion broke out in Jamaica, I should like to know what would have been the probable fate of the white inhabitants if the handful of European troops in the island had not had the support of the navy? Or what would have been the fate of the unfortunate inhabitants of Tortola, and other islands, if after the recent hurricane in the West Indies naval officers had not been on the spot—to provide them as they did, on their own responsibility, and out of their own pockets, with food and clothing, and the means of re-building their houses? Other instances are constantly occurring to show that our squadrons abroad are of material use. The result of our deliberation has been that, while on the North American and West Indian station, the squadron on the 1st of March last year consisted of twenty-six ships and 5,358 men, it is now to be reduced to twenty ships and 3,776 men, being a reduction of six ships and 1,582 men. These twenty ships include the two stationary ships—the Aboukir and Terror—at Jamaica and Bermuda; and the ships reduced are one frigate, two corvettes, and three smaller vessels. Coming to the south-east coast of America, we all know that the situation of affairs in that part of the world is not of a very settled or pacific character. A war is raging, revolutions are going on, and we have important com- 42 mercial interests to protect. Notwithstanding this, we have reduced the squadron from nine ships and 1,115 men to six ships and 969 men, including the Egmont stationary ship at Rio. In respect of the Pacific, I had an opportunity of consulting the late Commander-in-Chief on that station, which may be said to extend through the whole length of the habitable globe. It comprises an immensely long line of coast, as well as important groups of islands, and the colonies of Vancouver and British Columbia; and I do not think that the force which we maintain there is extravagant for such a station. We propose no reduction in the number of ships—there being still twelve, including the stationary ship—the Nereus—at Valparaiso; and the number of men on the ships' books, which was 2,676 last year, is now 2,755. This small increase is owing to additional marines having been sent out on the requisition of the Foreign Office to complete the establishment at San Juan—these marines are borne on the books of the flag-ship. Last year my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) said that the squadron on the Australian station ought not to consist of more than 750 men. The squadron we intend to maintain will have 776 men, so that there will not be much difference between our proposal and the suggestion of my hon. Friend. One corvette—the Charybdis—has been withdrawn, and there has been a reduction of 336 men; and, instead of five ships and 1,112 men, we shall now have on the Australian station only four ships and 776 men. However, I must add that recently we have had urgent applications for additional ships from the colonial authorities. I now come to the most important of all our distant stations—that of China. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract said last year that—We appear to have taken on ourselves the ' Quixotic duty of being sole protectors of the commerce of every civilized nation,and of carrying out the police of the seas for the rest of the world. But my hon. Friend was probably not aware at the time that, while we had thirty-six ships in the China seas, the French had at least twenty-two and the Americans fourteen; and, if our force were reduced as he suggested—from thirty-six ships and 4,082 men, to twenty-one ships and 1,900 men, there would be the greatest danger to the safety of our commerce in those seas—now 43 amounting to the annual value of more than £40,000,000—as well as to the lives of those engaged in it. Considering that we have nineteen treaty ports in China and Japan, our force was not more than enough. This year there has been an addition of four ships at Japan. Of course, we took the opinion of the Foreign Office on this subject, and drew its attention to letters which we had received from Admiral Keppel, whose opinion we asked as to the strength at which the squadron should be kept. In his reply, Sir Henry Keppel says, "We have either too few ships or too many open ports where our Consuls require protection." Admiral King and Sir James Hope also concur with Sir Henry Keppel that the China seas require the protection of a large number of ships. It may serve as an illustration of the importance of having a strong force on that station to state that it so happened that, during last year, a revolution broke out in Japan which ended in a civil war, from which the greatest danger to our commercial interests was apprehended. In consequence of the unsettled state of Japan and the danger to our treaty rights, Sir Harry Parkes wrote to Sir Henry Keppel in November last requesting him "to concentrate at Hiogo as many of Her Majesty's ships as could be spared from other points;" and added that—A similar course had been recommended by the representatives of those other Powers who had naval forces in Japanese waters.Very possibly it was in consequence of that demonstration that we have been able to protect our commercial interests, and that there has been no violation of treaty engagements. This is another proof of the valuable service which is rendered by our ships on foreign stations. It was only the other day that we received intelligence that all the foreign Ministers had left Osaka, and repaired to Hiogo, in order to seek the protection of the ships of war, and disastrous consequences might have ensued if we had not had a powerful squadron on that station. Last year the squadron consisted of thirty-six ships and 4,082 men; this year it has been reduced to thirty-four ships; but the reduction in the number of men is very small—namely, from 4,082 to 4,008. The reason is that it was thought advisable last year to send out, on a special occasion, a large iron-clad—the Ocean—and we have now in the China seas the Rodney flagship as well as the iron-clad; but that is an 44 arrangement which will not be permanently required. I now come to the East India station, which is the only one on which we have an increase, but that is owing to a cause which will be readily understood—the Abyssinian War. When the expedition was determined on, we had no reserve of ships at home ready for sea, and two ships of war from the Brazils, and two also from the China squadron were placed at the disposal of the East India commodore. Here, again, we had another instance of the advantage of having ships available on foreign stations, and Captain Edye, of the Satellite—one of the ships from China—rendered such valuable services in Annesley Bay, in the landing of animals and stores, and, above all, in the distillation of water, that, but for him, it is doubtful whether the war could have been brought to a close in one campaign. In consequence of the demands made on account of the Abyssinian Expedition, the East India squadron was increased from seven ships and 1,275 men to ten ships and 1,815 men, being three ships and 540 men more than last year. Of course, now that the Abyssinian War is over, we shall be able to effect a reduction, and return to the former state of things. The Cape of Good Hope is a small station with a squadron of only three vessels—the same as last year—of which one is stationary, the Seringapatam. There is, however, a small increase in the number of men—from 446 to 506—in consequence of a larger vessel, the Racoon, having succeeded the Valorous. We now come to the West Coast of Africa. And here I will confess that it has always been a very great source of regret to me that we should be under the necessity of maintaining a large force on that unhealthy station, and one of the first things I did on my appointment to my present Office was to recall the Bristol, a frigate of the first-class, and to replace her with the Rattlesnake, a corvette of about half her tonnage, and with little more than half her complement. But here again we must act under the direction of the Foreign Office. I had an opportunity of consulting Commodore Hornby, Commodore Edmonstone, now at Woolwich, Captain Wilmot, and also a gallant friend of mine, Colonel Blackall, who had held the office of Governor of Sierra Leone, and it was their opinion that, if the coast blockade was to be maintained, it was impossible that there should be a reduction in the number of 45 vessels on the station, for it would be absolutely necessary that there should be some spare ships to relieve those carrying on the blockade, from time to time, in order that the ships' companies might have the requisite recreation and change of air, find of scene at St. Helena and Ascension. No doubt, in consequence of the vigorous exertions of the vessels on the station, a very heavy blow has been struck at the slave trade, though I will not say it has been entirely put down, for only very recently it was reported that an attempt; had been made to run a cargo from the neighbourhood of the Congo, but if was defeated. Moreover, the Spanish authorities in Cuba have acted with such good faith that if the slavers were to escape the squadron it is hard to know where a market for the slaves could be found. Under these circumstances, it is the opinion of the Foreign Office and of the Admiralty that a small reduction of our force on the West Coast will be possible, but if the slave trade should revive we must revert to the former state of things. At present we have decided on reducing the squadron from eighteen ships to fourteen, of which nine are cruizers (including the Commodore's ship), and the remaining five are two small gunboats, one store ship and two stationary ships. These arrangements will reduce the men from 1,829 to 1,475, being 354 less than last year. And here I must advert to a new regulation, from which I expect the most beneficial consequences. It has heretofore been the practice for a ship to go out to the West Coast of Africa and remain there during the whole period of her commission—that is to say from three to four years, or even longer. But it appears from the reports that the constitution of Europeans can resist the influences of the climate for a limited period, and it is not until eighteen months or two years have expired that its fatal effects begin to be the most sensibly felt. We therefore intend that for the future no ship shall be kept on the West Coast of Africa for a longer period than eighteen months. We shall carry out that arrangement by sending the vessels on to the Brazils or other stations after eighteen months' service, and by ordering vessels from other stations to complete their period of service on the Coast. In the Mediterranean we have made a reduction of two ships and 955 men; but this will not interfere with the real strength of the squadron, as the number of armour-clads 46 will remain the same. Last year we had on the station nineteen ships and 5,207 men; this year we have seventeen ships and 4,252 men. Balancing the increase find decrease, the foreign squadrons, which last year consisted of 135 ships and 23,100 men, will be reduced to 120 ships and 20,332 men; that is to say, there will be a reduction of 15 ships and 2,768 men. If it had not been for the increase on account of the Abyssinian war the diminution would have been 18 ships and 3,208 men. Excluding the Mediterranean, there is a reduction of 13 ships and 1,813 men; but the total reduction is, as I have said, 15 ships and 2,768 men. Having made this reduction in our foreign squadrons, it remained to be considered to what extent the Vote for seamen could be reduced; and I think the Committee will be surprised to learn how circumscribed was our field of operation in dealing with this question. The total number voted last year, excluding boys and marines, was 45,494 for all services. Of these, there were for service in the fleet only 36,050, the remaining 9,444 being for Coastguard and troop ships. Of bonâ fide seamen, or blue jackets, there were, on the 1st of March, only 18,963; and of these 16,754 were continuous-service men, leaving only 2,209 non-continuous-service men; while of these last 1,209 were long-service pensioners. Now, nothing could be more disastrous than the slightest appearance of breach of faith with the men engaged on the condition of continuous service. Its terms are equally binding on the Admiralty as on the men. Any breach of faith might be fatal to the system which has been built up with so much pains and success—a system which has removed the difficulty of manning the navy in time of peace, and has had such an influence on the character and conduct of the seamen by introducing habits of discipline and an esprit de corps, which are of the greatest advantage to the service. It would be both unjust and impolitic to jeopardize that system, and to reduce the number of men to any considerable extent. It would be especially unwise at the present moment, when Europe is bristling with, bayonets. If we interfered with the continuous-service men we should have to interfere with the training ships; and I believe the value of the boys entered for continuous service on board those ships can hardly be over-estimated. I do not know, indeed, where we should get able seamen if the system of training boys were inter- 47 fered with. For these reasons we could not entertain the question of a large diminution in the number of men; but, after due consideration, we have thought it right to reduce them to a certain extent. The number of seamen voted for the fleet for 1867–8 was 37,015; and we propose for 1868–9 35,700, being a reduction of 1,315. There is also a casual reduction of 18 boys, making a total reduction of 1,333. This includes men for Imperial troop ships for general service, but not for Indian troop ships, in which there are 1,270 men. We have not been able, however, to effect this reduction in its integrity; for, per contra, there is an increase of 250 men in the Coastguard afloat, and of 200 in the Coastguard ashore—making, together, 450. There is, likewise, an increase of forty-one men in the Indian troop ships on the requisition of the India Office, thus giving a total increase of 491; which, deducted from the decrease of 1,333, leaves a net reduction of 842 men. I may explain that the Coastguard men afloat have been increased by 250 in consequence of the establishment of an additional district ship on the coast of Ireland. The Controller General represented to me soon after my appointment to the Admiralty that that coast was too extensive to be properly superintended by two district captains; but an increase involved additional expenditure, and I was not at first prepared to entertain it. In consequence, however, of the trouble given by the Fenians last year, it became in our opinion a matter of necessity to have a man-of-war stationed on the North coast of Ireland; and therefore, after due consideration, we decided on adopting the Controller General's recommendation, and established a third station at Lough Swilly. I was in hopes this addition to the Coastguard in Ireland might be effected without any additional expense, for it was represented to me that the Coastguard ship in the Clyde might be dispensed with if a training ship for the Royal Naval Reserve were substituted for her; but there was such an outcry from my Scotch friends against this proposal, that I was almost apprehensive of a renewal of the scenes of 1745, and we were obliged to continue the ship in the Clyde, and provide an additional ship, the Trafalgar, for the coast of Ireland. With regard to the increase of 200 men in the Coastguard ashore, 100 of them replace civilians, ninety - one were accidentally omitted from the Estimates last year, and nine have, on the urgent representations 48 of the Duke of Buckingham, been stationed at Heligoland. Exclusive, therefore, of marines, the Estimates show a decrease of 842 men. These are not all seamen, but are of all ratings, exclusive of marines. But we propose, also, to reduce the number of marines. Last August, in consequence of a re-organization sanctioned by Order in Council, there was a reduction of 200, the object of the Order being to place the marines on the same footing with regard to promotion as other seniority corps. The staff was augmented by 120, and the commissioned officers by 16; but, as a set-off to this increase of 136, 336 men were reduced, leaving the net reduction of 200. We now propose a further reduction—in the light infantry, not in the artillery—of 1,500, making a total of 1,700. I am aware that I lay myself open to the charge of inconsistency in proposing this, for some years ago I opposed a similar proposition made by Lord Clarence Paget. But while confessing to some reluctance in reducing so valuable a force, I believe there are reasons why, on the whole, it is expedient at the present moment. The reduction of the squadrons reduces the numbers to be employed afloat, and already the turn for service afloat is not sufficient to give the men the necessary experience at sea. The barracks, moreover, are already overcrowded. I think, therefore, that on the whole the numbers may safely be reduced within the limits I propose. The diminution of 842 in the number of seamen, and that of 1,700 in the marines, gives a total reduction of 2,542 men.
I now come to the effect of this reduction on the Vote, and it is a striking illustration of the tendency of the Estimates to increase from causes over which the Admiralty may almost be said to have no control. Every improvement for promoting the health and efficiency of the men, and adding to their comfort, must end in increased expense, and, paradoxical as it may seem, with the diminished number of men, there is this year a positive increase in the sum required for their wages. The net saving on the reduction of 2,542 men is £56,152; but, from the causes to which I have adverted, and which I will presently explain, there is an increase of £61,592, and there is, moreover, the wages to Imperial troopships transferred from Vote 17, and the proportion of wages, payable out of the Imperial Exchequer, to the two Indian troopships on this side of the Isthmus 49 of Suez, amounting together to £80,242, making a total increase of £141,834, less the saving of £56,152, leaving the net increase of £85,682, as shown in the abstract. The charge for wages to Imperial troop ships is, however, only transferred from another Vote, and, deducting the £80,242, the increase for like services is £5,440. Thus, notwithstanding the reduction in the number of men, their wages exceed the amount required last year by £5,440. The increase of £85,682, however, includes £15,582, which will be re-paid by the Indian Government on account of wages to the two Indian troop ships; so that the actual excess in cash out of the Imperial Revenue on the sum voted last year is £70,100. The Committee will naturally ask how it is there has been so large an increase in the wages to seamen as to account for the addition to the Vote which I have indicated. The following are the causes of the increase on wages, which, as I have stated, amounts to £61,592. Great dissatisfaction had prevailed at the status of staff commanders and navigating lieutenants, and other officers in that line of the service, and an increase of their pay became necessary. This amounts to £4,000, In consequence of the difficulty in obtaining competent naval instructors, an increase of pay to that class was sanctioned by Order in Council of the 17th of May, 1867, and that increase amounts to £3,700. Last year the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) adverted to the importance of obtaining a sufficient number of artificers, and, on the 26th of June, 1867, an Order in Council was passed, by which the wages to artificers has been increased by £7,500, and I am happy to say the result has been most satisfactory. There is an increase of pay to engineers, more particularly in the higher classes, of £6,000, and to commissioned officers of £3,000, in consequence of a greater number being employed in proportion to the number of men. There is an increase of pay for warrant officers, more being on sea pay, and fewer on harbour pay, of £1,500. There is likewise an increase of £7,536 for petty officers and stokers, in consequence of a greater number being employed in proportion to the number of seamen. All these augmentations were inevitable. I now come to an increase of £9,500, for which, if any blame be due, I must bear it. It always appeared to me a hard case that naval officers—I am not talking of grains and commanders, but of lieutenants and sub-lieutenants, and officers of those classes 50 which are so constantly employed that they may be said to be on continuous service—were put on half-pay if, on their return from foreign service, perhaps with shattered constitutions, from some sickly station—the West Coast of Africa, for instance—they went to spend a few weeks with their friends, although officers on the home station were allowed one month's leave of absence every year on full pay. I accordingly made a representation to the Treasury on the subject, and the Treasury consented to place them on the same footing as continuous service seamen, who, on their ship being paid off, are allowed full pay for a month or six weeks, according to the length of their absence from England. This arrangement causes the increase of £9,500. The sums I have just specified account for £42,736. There are other causes of increase which I think will not be found fault with. The increase on account of good conduct pay and badges amounts to £1,300, and there is an increase of £1,100 for raising boys by recruiting in the agricultural districts, from whence the best description of boys is obtained. The cost of the re-organization of the Marines, to which I have referred, added to the additional 1d. a day to Marines on re-engaging after eight years' service, and the placing the Marines on the same footing as the army in respect to free kit and bounty, in accordance with the recommendation of the Recruiting Commission, cause an increase of £16,456, and these sums raise the total increase, as I have said, to £61,592. The remainder consists of the proportion of East India troop ship wages, paid by the Imperial Government, and the transfer of the Estimate for wages to Imperial troop ships from Army Vote, amounting together, as I have already said, to £80,242. The total increase is thus £141,834—less £56,152 saved by the reduction in the number of men—leaving the net increase of £85,682.
Vote 2, for Victuals and Clothing for Seamen and Marines, also shows an increase as compared with the Vote for last year. Last year the sum voted was £1,241,614, and this year the Estimate is £1,335,842, showing an increase of £94,228. But £90,500 of this is for supplies to other Departments, for which no provision was necessary last year, and therefore the net increase is £3,728. The causes of increase notwithstanding the reduction of men, are—rise in the price of wheat, 51 issue of soft bread in lieu of biscuits, chiefly on foreign stations, increased money allowances in lieu of provisions to men on ships' books but absent ashore and afloat, and the gratuitous issue of greatcoats to marines. These causes more than counterbalance the saving which would otherwise have resulted from the reduction of men to the amount of about £24,000.
Having now explained the two first Votes which provide for wages and victuals to seamen and marines, I think it will be more convenient if I confine my remarks at present to questions of great policy, and postpone the explanation of the minor Votes to a future occasion. It would be tedious to the Committee to hear reasons why one Vote is increased and another decreased by a few thousands. I shall be ready to give a full explanation of these details when the Resolutions are put from the Chair. With regard to one Vote of large amount—Vote 11, for New Works in the Dockyards—I will merely say that there is a decrease of £74,351, notwithstanding that ample provision is made for the great works at Portsmouth, Chatham, Malta, and Bermuda. The Malta dock, though it will not be completely finished, will be in readiness to receive ships in the autumn of the present year. In Vote 17, for the Army Department, there is a decrease of £55,376, which would have amounted to £146,586, but for the necessity of making provision for the first time in this, as in other Votes, for the issue of stores to other Departments. I now come to the great Votes 6 and 10, which provide for the building, repair, and outfit of the fleet, and I think it will be more convenient to consider the two together. In Vote 6 there is a decrease of £151,806; the Vote last year having been £1,375,368, and that which I now propose, £1,223,562. On the other hand, there is a large increase on Vote 10. Last year the sum taken under Sections 1 and 2 of that Vote was £1,716,070, and this year the sum asked is £1,985,408, showing an increase of £269,338, of which sum £231,941 is for Section 2, for building ships by contract and purchasing machinery. Therefore, the balance of increase and decrease on these two Votes, Nos. 6 and 10, is an excess of £117,532 above the Votes for last year, The decrease on Vote 6, for wages to shipwrights and other artificers, was the inevitable result of the policy on which, as I have explained, these Estimates were framed. But knowing the pressure at present exist- 52 ing in the shipbuilding trade, I reduced the number of men in the dockyards with great reluctance. They were all hired, in contradistinction to established, men, and were engaged on the condition that they should leave when their services might no longer be required; but still I could not help feeling regret at the necessity of depriving so many industrious men of the means of livelihood. We made the reduction in a way to cause the least inconvenience, by directing the men to be discharged gradually, and not in one batch; but to retain them would have been impossible, without an entire subversion of our policy—namely, to devote as large a sum as possible to the building of armourclads. There are only two of the dockyards in which iron ships are built—Pembroke and Chatham. The reduction in the number of workmen in those two dockyards is very trifling—only, 150; but the total number discharged in all the yards is no less than 3,049, all of them being hired and not established men. The total number of workmen employed in 1867–8 was 18,321, while the number this year will be 15,272. If, therefore, we had retained the number of workmen at or nearly at the standard of 1867–8, the only mode in which we could give them employment would be in the building of additional wooden ships, for which the provision made in these Estimates is comparatively small. Therefore, however much we may regret the necessity of depriving the men discharged of their employment in the dockyards, we have felt that we should not have been justified in employing them in building ships which we did not require. I will now very briefly advert to the 1st section of Vote 10, which provides for the purchase of stores in the Department of the Storekeeper General. There is an increase of £7,160 for timber, and of £21,931 for hemp, the quantity of that article in the yards being very much below the establishment. There is also an increase of £17,823 for the purchase of coals, in consequence of the necessity of providing for a larger consumption on the home station, and especially for the Channel squadron. The total balance of increase and decrease in the Storekeeper General's Department is an excess of £37,397 over the Vote taken last year. I must here advert for a moment to a statement made by the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves), in a debate which took place before Easter. My hon. Friend seemed to be under the impression that the stores in the dockyards 53 were greatly in excess of what they ought to be in relation to the issues. I knew, on the other hand, that the stock was generally lower than it ought to be; and the explanation is that the Return to which he referred was a Return of the stores issued out of the dockyards, but not of the stores issued for conversion and manufacture to the various Departments in the dockyards, which constitute a large proportion of the total issues. The value of the articles in store was £4,391,000, and my hon. Friend showed that stores to the value of £1,100,000 were issued according to the Return. But the value of the stores actually issued was £3,067,848. I hope this explanation will be satisfactory to my hon. Friend.
I now come to the most important branch of our naval expenditure—namely, the expenditure upon the building of ships of war; and to make our ship-building policy more clear to the Committee it is requisite that I should describe the state of the work in progress before my appointment to the Admiralty in March last year, and our outstanding liabilities when these Estimates were prepared. And, first, I will take the ships ordered under the original programme; of last year for works in the dockyards. The Committee may remember that I made some alterations in the scheme of work for last year; but they did not touch the work in the dockyards, but, only the work to be done by contract. The original programme of last year, previous to my appointment, provided for the building of four iron-clad ships—namely, the Monarch, the Hercules, the Penelope, and the Repulse, a converted ship. It also provided for thirty-seven unarmoured ships, consisting of one frigate, the Inconstant; two corvettes, the Juno and the Thalia; seven sloops (of the Blanche and Danäe class); twenty-four first and second class gun vessels, those of the first class being of 160-horse power, and about 670 tons, and those of the second of 120-horse power, and about 460 tons; two gunboats of 60-horse power, and one tug. There was thus a total of thirty-seven unarmoured and four armoured ships building in the dockyards, amounting in all to forty-one ships. Of these, seventeen unarmoured ships were ordered by the programme of 1867–8, and the remainder were previously in hand. That, then, was the state of the work, or in other words, the number of the ships 54 building in the dockyards for which provision was made by the programme of last year. The ships which I found building or ordered to be built by contract when I came into Office were three armour-clads—nameiy, the Captain, the Audacious and the Invincible—and fourteen unarmoured ships, consisting of one frigate, a sister ship to the Inconstant, ten second class gun vessels, two tugs, and one tank vessel, making a total of three armoured and fourteen unarmoured ships, or seventeen altogether. My alteration in the scheme of contract work (sanctioned by the House last June) substituted for the unarmoured frigate—the sister ship to the Inconstant—and for two of the ten projected gunboats, one additional armour-clad (the Vanguard), and one corvette (the Volage), of about half the tonnage of the proposed frigate; and subsequently the Staunch, a small gunboat for experimental purposes, was added. By the scheme of contract work, thus altered, there were four armour-clads to be built by contract, instead of three, and thirteen unarmoured ships to be built by contract, instead of fourteen. The estimated cost of completing the four armoured and the thirteen unarmoured ships—not the estimated expense for the year, but the total cost of building them—was for the four armoured ships, £915,500; and for the thirteen unarmoured ships, £210,800, making together a total sum of £1,126,300 for the entire seventeen ships. Of that amount it was intended to spend, during the financial year, £269,350 on the armoured ships, and £165,800 on the unarmoured, making together a total of £435,150. But by a Report which I called for in the course of the autumn, I ascertained that, from various reasons only £264,000, in round numbers, could be spent during the financial year upon the armour-clad ships, or £5,000 less than had been intended, and only £103,500 on the unarmoured ships: total, £367,500. That left a surplus of about £67,650 likely to remain unexpended upon contract work in the course of the year. I was very unwilling that this amount should revert to the Treasury, more especially as the state of the reserve of ships in the ports was, in my mind, most unsatisfactory. I mentioned the other night, in answer to some observations made by the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone), that whereas in former years—not under one Government, but under various Governments—we main- 55 tained a large reserve of line-of-battle ships in the ports as a matter of normal policy, when I came into Office I found, in fact, no reserve in existence at all; and the same state of things existed when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War became First Lord of the Admiralty the year before. I therefore wrote to the Treasury to obtain their sanction to appropriate the greater portion of this surplus to hiring artificers towards completing the iron-clads which were being brought forward for the reserves, and to appropriate the remainder, which could not be so applied, towards the building of a second fast corvette, the Active, on the lines of the Volage, a class of ship which I considered was much wanted in the Navy. It is to be observed that these two corvettes were substituted for a frigate of nearly double their size, and two gunboats, and, therefore, added nothing to the unarmoured work provided for by the Estimates as I found them. The Treasury consented to this proposition, and between £40,000 and £50,000 was appropriated towards the completion of the armour-clads fitting for sea, and the remainder towards the second corvette, the Active, which is to be built by the same firm whose contract was accepted for the Volage. At the period of the year when this arrangement was sanctioned it would have defeated our object if time had been lost in calling for fresh tenders for this ship. The sum spent on the Active during the financial year 1867–8 is about £16,000, so that the expenditure on contract work, notwithstanding the alterations I have described, will be below that which was estimated for the financial year, and in consequence there will be a small balance paid into the Exchequer out of the savings on this part of Vote 10. The same observation applies to the total cost of these ships. I have stated the total estimated cost of completing the contract armoured and unarmoured ships at £1,126,300. The contract prices, however, were very much below the Estimate. The estimate for the armour-clads was £915,500; the contract price only £820,300. The estimate for unarmoured ships was £210,800, the contract price £174,400; including, in both cases, the changes resulting from the alteration, in the scheme of contract work made by me in the month of June. Thus the total saving on the amount sanctioned by Parliament was £131,600—that is to say, the ships were contracted to be built for 56 that amount less than the Estimates of the Controller of the Navy. The contract price for building the second corvette, the Active, is £79,000, which, being deducted from £131,600, leaves a surplus of £52,600. Thus it will be seen that, notwithstanding an additional corvette and other alterations made in the autumn, the total expenditure on the new armoured and unarmoured ships was still less by £52,600 than the amount specified in the Estimates.
I now come to the performance of the new work last year, and will tell the Committee the number of tons ordered to be built in dockyards by the programme of 1867–8, and the number of tons actually built. Last year my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract complained that the quantity of work done was much less than Parliament had sanctioned; but this year he will admit the work has been very faithfully performed. The amount of tonnage of the armour-clads ordered to be built in the dockyards was 6,845; the quantity actually built was 6,829, or only sixteen tons less than the programme. The tonnage of the unarmoured ships ordered to be built was 23,544 tons the quantity actually built was 23,256, or 288 tons less. So that the total amount of tonnage built was only 294 tons less than that ordered to be built. It must be borne in mind that there were several disturbing causes in operation during the year. There was the Portsmouth Review, which took off a great number of hands from intended work, and numerous ships were fitted for their improved armament; so that this must be considered a very satisfactory performance, and very creditable to the Department. So much for the tonnage built during the year. I now come to the ships launched, and I still speak of dockyard work only. The armour-clads ordered to be launched were three—the Penelope, the Hercules, and the Repulse. Strictly speaking, the number launched was only two. But the Repulse, which has since been launched, was completed ready for launching, and was kept on the stocks only for some reason of official convenience. The deficiency, therefore, was only apparent. The unarmoured ships ordered to be launched were twenty-five, and the number actually launched was twenty-five. The work of the dockyards could, therefore, hardly be more faithfully performed, and these figures will show that the Board of Admiralty, as well as the Department of the 57 Controller, have kept a watchful eye on its progress. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves), who complained some time ago of the smallness of the quantity of work turned out of hand by the dockyards, will find very few instances of equal punctuality in private yards, or an equally good performance. I have hitherto been speaking of dockyard-built ships only. I now come to the contract work, over which the Admiralty have not the same control as over that in the Royal yards. I cannot give the actual tonnage built by contract, because we test the progress made by the payments to which the contractors become entitled. The money intended to be spent during the year on armour-clads was £269,350; the money actually spent was £264,000, making a difference of £5,350. The money intended to be spent on unarmoured ships. including the Active—the second corvette ordered in the autumn—was £165,800; the money actually spent was £119,500, being a deficiency of £46,300. The total sum intended to be spent on nrmour-clads and unarmoured ships was £435,150; the sum actually spent was £383,500; the total difference being £51,650. The Committee will see that nearly the whole deficiency is under the head of unarmoured ships. The fact of only about £5,000 less than the Estimate having been spent on armoured ships was owing to the satisfactory progress made by the Messrs. Laird with the Captain. A call was made upon them to which they responded, and the work turned out was far in excess of that which could have been demanded of them. Otherwise there would have been a considerable deficiency of expenditure under this head also; but it is fair to Bay that the total deficiency of £51,650 was very much owing to the lateness of the period at which some of the contracts were entered into. Taking this into account, I think the Committee will be of opinion that the agreement for the contract work has been very well kept. The return of contract ships intended to be launched, and actually launched, is not so satisfactory. The number of second class gun vessels intended to be launched was eight; the number launched was nil. The number of gunboats intended to be launched was one; the number launched one; the number of tanks and tugboats intended to be launched was three; the number launched two. Of armour-clads none were launched, and none were ex- 58 pected. The total intended to be launched was twelve, and the number actually launched three. The eight gunboats, however, will be delivered in a very short time; so that the greater part of the deficiency is more apparent than real. The number of ships—exclusive of those provided for the first time in this year's Estimates—already building and ordered to be built by contract, remaining at the end of last financial year to be delivered or advanced during the present financial year is four armour-clads—namely—Captain, Audacious, Invincible, and Vanguard; eight second-class gun vessels, one tug, and two corvettes—the Active and Volage. The number in the dockyards is, as I have already said, two armour-clads, namely—Repulse (already launched) and Monarch, one frigate the Inconstant, two corvettes, five sloops, two gun vessels, and one tug. This makes a total of ships already ordered and provided for in former Estimates, and remaining to complete, of six armour-clads, one unarmoured frigate, four unarmoured corvettes, five sloops of war, ten gun vessels, and two tugs, making a total of twenty-eight. The amounts taken towards completing or advancing these vessels in the Estimates for the present financial year—that is, the charges on these Estimates on account of previous liabilities, are £759,981 for armoured, and £356,913 for unarmoured ships; total, £1,116,894, exclusive of the amount taken for new ships, for which provision is made in these Estimates for the first time. This is for hulls only. In respect of liabilities for unarmoured ships, no addition was made by the changes which I introduced; because these, while adding one armoured ship, only substituted two corvettes and one gunboat for one frigate of double the tonnage of the corvettes, and two gun vessels. By the present programme provision is made for only two additional unarmoured ships, and with this exception the whole of the expenditure provided for in the Estimates upon that account arises from liabilities which I inherit from my predecessor. I do not state this for the purposes of instituting an invidious comparison between my Estimates and those of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, for if it had not been for the provision which he made last year for the building of unarmoured ships, I should have thought it necessary to make some such provision myself this year for the purpose 59 of keeping up the strength of the squadrons abroad, to which I have already referred.
I now proceed to state the work which it is proposed to accomplish in the course of the present financial year. In the first place there will be the two corvettes to which I have just alluded, the Druid and the Briton. Both these vessels are to be built in the dockyards. One of them is building at Deptford; but she will be so far advanced as to be ready for launching at the end of the financial year. By that time also we hope that all the other vessels now building at Deptford will be launched, and it is not intended after that to commence any new ships in that yard. The second corvette will be built at Sheerness, and the description of both is as follows:—They will have a tonnage of 1,322, with. 350-horse power, and they will carry twelve guns, of which two will be 6½-ton guns, and ten 64-pounders. Their estimated speed will be 13 knots, and they will be single screw ships. These vessels are to be advanced, the Druid to 6½ eighths, so as to be launched next March, and the Briton to 1½ eighths; the estimated expenditure during the financial year being, in the case of the Druid, £35,995, and of the Briton, £8,306; making a total of £44,301. That is the only provision for additional unarmoured ships made by these Estimates. Of armour-plated vessels, we propose to build six—three in the dockyards and three by contract. The first of the dockyard ships, to be called the Iron Duke, will be built at Pembroke; she is to be of the second class, and will be immediately taken in hand, and advanced 2⅞ eighths during the year. The estimated expenditure on this ship during the year is £70,422. She will have a tonnage of 3,774; and she will be an iron-clad iron ship with a double screw. Her armour plating will be six and eight inches, with ten inches of teak, and an inner skin of one-inch backing. She will be built upon the same principle as the Audacious, the Invincible, and the Vanguard; and her armament will consist of ten 12½-ton guns, six of which will be on the main deck and four upon the upper deck, together with four 64-pounders also upon the upper deck. An addition to the upper deck armament of iron-clad ships was adopted by me with the entire approval of my naval Colleagues, and will, I think, be a great improvement in the armament of these ships, which often, in heavy wea- 60 ther, cannot keep their main deck ports open. The horse-power of the ship will be 800, and her estimated speed is 13½ knots. All the vessels of this class will have an armour-plated battery on the upper deck armed with four 12½-ton guns, so placed as to command the whole horizon. The next vessel I have named the Sultan, in honour of the visit paid by His Imperial Majesty to the fleet at Spithead; and His Majesty has been pleased to express the gratification which he derived from the compliment thus paid to him. This is to be a first-class ship, very much resembling the Hercules, which she will follow in the Chatham dockyard. She is to be advanced 2¼ eighths during the year, and the estimated expenditure upon her for 1868.9 is £91,113. Her tonnage will be 5,226; she will have a single screw, with a power of 1,200 horses, and an estimated speed of nearly 14 knots. Her armour plating will be 9, 8, and 6 inches thick, with a backing of 10 inches of teak, and 1½-inch of inner iron skin. Her armament will consist of eight 18-ton guns on the main deck, one 12½-ton gun forward, two 12½-ton guns on the upper deck battery, and two 6½-ton guns under the forecastle; total, 13 guns. There will be a central armour-plated battery on the upper deck, enclosed completely, where the steering-wheel will be, and where two 12½-ton guns will fire round a very large area of the compass, including a fore and aft line astern. The third dockyard armour-clad will be built at Chatham; but very little advance will be made with her this year, as she cannot be commenced till the Monarch is launched. [Lord HENRY LENNOX made an observation to the right hon. Gentleman.] My noble Friend tells me that the Monarch is more advanced than I believed her to be. The estimated expenditure upon this new armour-clad will be £18,815. [An hon. MEMBER: Her name?] She will be called the Triumph, the name of the flagship of Admiral Blake. She will be an iron-clad broadside ship, of the second class, similar to the Audacious, but with a single screw, lifting, of which the experimental trials have shown the advantage. Her armour plating will be 8 and 6 inches, and her backing 10 inches of teak, with a 1½-inch inner iron skin. Her tonnage will be about 3,800, and her armament will consist often 12½-ton guns—six on the main and four on the upper deck—and two 64-pounders on the upper deck, making a total of twelve guns. Her 61 horse-power will be 800, and her estimated speed 13½ knots. Her bottom is to be sheathed with two thicknesses of wood, and to be coppered. This is the first instance in which this has been attempted in the dockyards. If it succeeds, it will obviate the evils resulting from the fouling of iron ships. Then come the three iron-clad ships to be built by contract during the present financial year. The Swiftsure will be exactly the same as the Triumph, and will be commenced as soon as the contract can be made. The estimated expenditure upon her during the year 1868–9 will be £80,000, Next comes a ship of an entirely novel class in the British navy. I stated, in answer to my hon. Friend, at the commencement of the evening, that we did not wish to embark largely in the experiment of sea-going turret ships till we saw how the Monarch and Captain succeeded. But nobody can doubt the superiority of the turret principle for purposes of harbour and coast defence. We therefore propose to build a turret ship for coast defence. She will not be what is called a cruizing ship, though I believe it would be quite possible to send her to the Mediterranean, or even to almost any part of the world where her services might be required; but she is to be of the Monitor type. Her name will be the Glatton; £40,000 is to be expended upon her during the year, and she will be commenced as soon as the contract can be made. Her tonnage will be 2,709; length 245 feet; breadth, 49 feet; and draught of water, 19 feet. I myself considered this too great for coast defence, but the Department could not effect the objects desired with a less draught of water. Her armour-plating will be 12 inches thick, and 14 inches on the turret, with a 10-inch teak backing and a 1-inch inner skin. She will have only one turret, which will be so arranged as to fire in all directions. The Turret Committee, it may be remembered, objected to a turret ship with only one turret; but, as this vessel is intended for coast defence, I do not think it desirable to expend a very large sum of money upon the experiment, and we cannot obtain a vessel with two turrets, having this thickness of plating, without very greatly increasing the cost. My hon. and gallant Friend (Sir John Hay), who is the highest authority upon points of this description, is of opinion that, for this special purpose, a single turret snip would have an advantage over one with double 62 turrets. She will have two guns in this turret, each of twenty-five tons, if they can be made. She will be of 500 horse power, and her estimated speed will be 9 knots. That would be a low rate of speed for a sea-going vessel, but for a harbour defence vessel it was as high as perhaps it was desirable to aim at. [Mr. CHILDERS: What will be the cost?] I cannot give the total cost of a contract ship. If we did so there would be very little chance of our contracting on such advantageous terms as we might otherwise do. We propose to build another ship of a description which in this country will be entirely new, though there are several built and building in the French Navy. She will be a ram, to be called the Hotspur, and she will be commenced as soon as the designs are completed and a contract can be entered into. We propose to expend £30,000 upon: her this year. Her length will be 235 feet, and her breadth 50 feet. She will have armour-plating of 11 inches, with a backing of 10 inches of teak, and an inner iron skin. She is expected to have a speed of 12 knots, and will carry one 18-ton gun, to be mounted in a fixed tower with four portholes, the gun to work on a turn-table, from port to port. It is believed that she will be capable of accompanying a fleet, of defending a port or roadstead, and of attacking a hostile port. After giving the matter I much consideration, we thought it desirable to try one of these rams, instead of building another sea-going vessel. The tonnage of the Hotspur will be 2,637 tons, and her: engines will be of 600-horse power.
I now come to the tonnage to be built in the dockyards during the year 1868–9. We propose to build of iron-clad broadside fri-gates—namely the Hercules, the Triumph, the Sultan, and the Iron Duke—4,476 tons; of the iron-clad turretship, the Monarch, 2,072 tons; and of the iron-clad converted frigate—the Repulse, 930 tons; giving a total of 7,478 tons of armoured shipping proposed to be built in the dockyards during the year. Of unarmoured ships—iron, 1,680 tons; wood corvettes, 1,607; iron corvette, 120; sloops, 1,623; twin-screw gun vessels, 1,241; of the second class, (dwarf class), 240; tug steamers, 20; mooring lighters, 400—giving a total of 6,931 tons of unarmoured shipping, and of 14,409 tons of armoured and unarmoured. I cannot state the tonnage to be built by contract for the reason I have already mentioned; but the expenditure during the financial year, exclusive of that for en- 63 gines provided for ships building by contract amounts to £680,000. The total provision for hulls, engines, and equipments for new ships, including both the dockyard and contract built, is £1,996,914. That is in round numbers, £2,000,000, exclusive of £50,000 for the Cerberus armour-clad Monitor building for the Colony of Victoria, for which provision is made under Vote 14. Including the latter vessel, the total taken in these Estimates for building new ships is £2,046,914. There are in the dockyards, to be launched this year, two armoured frigates, the Monarch, and the Repulse, or rather the Monarch only, as the Repulse has been launched since the beginning of the financial year, and one unarmoured, the Inconstant; two sloops, the Spartan and the Sirius; and two gun-vessels, the Curlew and the Swallow—giving a total of seven. Of contract vessels there are to be launched one armoured, the Captain; two unarmoured corvettes, the Volage and the Active; and eight gun vessels due last year, which will shortly be delivered, giving a total of eleven contract and of eighteen dockyard and contract vessels to be launched, exclusive of the Cerberus, which will also be launched during the year.
I will now state to the Committee the sums spent on the hulls, engines, and first equipment of new ships in the last three years, and compare the expenditure in each of these years with that which is proposed for the year 1868–9. For armoured ships the expenditure stands thus:—In 1865–6, £792,090; in 1866–7,£591,686; in 1867–8, £824,526; while we propose for the year 1868–9 an expenditure of £1,359,169. For unarmoured ships, the expenditure was—in 1865–6, £360,619; in 1866–7, £429,819; in 1867–8, £929,344; for 1868–9, we provide £637,745. The total expenditure for armoured and unarmoured ships stands thus—In 1865–6, £1,152,709; in 1866–7, £1,021,505; in 1867–8, £1,753,870; in 1868–9, we intend to spend £1,996,914. The amount provided for armour-clads in the Estimates for 1868–9, including hulls, engines, and equipment, is £1,359,169, in addition to which £82,000 will be spent on the re-equipment of armoured ships, making a grand total for armour-clads of £ 1,441,169, and, with the £50,000 for the Cerberus, of £1,491,169. Complaints were made in former years that out of the very large sums voted a comparatively small 64 portion of the total amount was spent in building ships; but I do not think that complaint is applicable to these Estimates, which, as I have stated, provide no less a sum than £2,046,914 for the building of ships of war. I will now state to the Committee the rate per cent of expenditure on armoured and unarmoured vessels, including hulls, engines, and equipments, for the years 1865–6, 1866–7, and the estimated expenditure for 1868–9, as contrasted with the sums included in the Estimates for effective services in these several years. In 1865–6, the expenditure on armoured ships was 9.14 per cent, and on armoured and unarmoured 1331 per cent on the amount voted for Effective Services. In 1866–7, it was 6.89 per cent for armoured, and 11.89 per cent for armoured and unarmoured, whereas this year we propose an expenditure of 14.53 per cent for armoured, and 21.35 per cent on the whole of the effective Votes on armoured and unarmoured ships. So that considerably more than one fifth of the whole money voted for Effective Services will be spent on building ships of war. I find that the Vote for Effective Services in 1865–6 was £8,658,205, while that proposed for this year is £9,352,579, showing an increase of £694,374. The sum expended on new ships in 1865–6 was £1,152,709, while that provided for new ships in this year is £1,996,914, showing an increase of £844,205. That is to say that while the amount now asked for naval effective services is £694,374 more than in 1865–6, the amount to be expended on shipbuilding is £844,205 more. In like manner, comparing 1866–7 with 1868–9, I find the expenditure on building ships in 1868–9 will be £210,328 more than the difference between the Effective Votes for the two years.
The Committee may now like to know the actual strength of our armour-clad navy. We have, including the ships proposed to be built under these Estimates, 33 armoured ships of the first and second classes. Of that number 16 are in commission, 8 fitting for reserve, building, 5; and 4 ordered. Of smaller armoured ships, and vessels intended for coast defence, there are in commission 5; fitting for reserve, 4; and ordered 2. Thus the grand total of our armour-clad vessels of war, including those building and ordered, is 44, exclusive of the Cerberus. In the present Estimates a large provision is made, not only for the building of ships, but also for creating 65 what we so much need—namely, a reserve of sea-going ships in the ports, so that we may be in a state of preparation to meet any emergency which may arise, I have stated that in the course of last autumn I applied from £40,000 to £50,000 of the anticipated surplus on the con tract Vote to the equipment of armoured ships. Some progress consequently has been already made, and by October next, under the present year's Estimates, we hope to have, in addition to the 10 armoured ships of the first and second classes in commission, a reserve of 7 complete for sea—namely, the Black Prince, the Agincourt, the Valiant, the Northumberland, the Hector, the Resistance, and the Hercules. There are now in reserve in our ports the Royal Sovereign, the Prince Albert, the Scorpion, and the Vixen, and two frigates, the Ariadne and the Liverpool. One of the objections urged against the maintenance of a large reserve of ships is the great expense it occasions. Undoubtedly, the expense is considerable, especially if the vessels are to be maintained in immediate readiness for service; but we have made an arrangement which, if it does not altogether obviate additional expenditure, will, at all events, very much reduce its amount. We propose to substitute iron-clads for the line-of-battle ships which now do duty as Coastguard ships. Indeed we have already substituted one of the armour-clads in place of the Irresistible in Southampton Water. Under this new arrangement a considerable addition will be made to our naval power, without any considerable additional burden being imposed upon the finances of the country. These ships will always be kept ready for sea with their armament and stores on board, and nothing will be required but to complete their complements when required for active service. The effective Coastguard line-of-battle ships, which will thus become available, will replace old sailing ships now doing duty in the ports, and it is proposed that these last shall be broken up or sold out of the service.
I may state that we have been most anxious to promote economy in other matters connected with the dockyards. A Committee was appointed in the autumn—the Yard Craft Committee—of which Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Symonds was Chairman, to inquire whether economy might not be effected in that branch of the service. The result was, a very able Report, which, if carried out in extenso, 66 would lead to an annual saving of about £30,000. Many of its recommendations have already been adopted; but, before arriving at a final decision respecting it, it has been necessary to refer it to the principal officers of the Department concerned, whose Reports have not yet been received. Our attention has also been directed to the state of the reserves not only of ships, but of men in the ports. A short time ago Captain Stewart, the Superintendent of Chatham Dockyard, and a very able officer, informed me that in his opinion the reserve at Chatham might be dispensed with altogether. That opinion was endorsed by Sir Baldwin Walker, and the result is that it has been completely done away with. The Wellesley, the late reserve guard ship, has been substituted in the Thames for the Cornwall Reformatory ship, which has been sent as a school ship to a port in the North of England, while other ships at Chatham have been incorporated with the reserve at Sheerness, or otherwise disposed of. In accordance with the recommendation of Sir Baldwin Walker, instead of having each ship in ordinary moored by herself, we have arranged that three ships should be moored together, so that the ship-keepers OTI board the centre ship will be able to take care of the other two. This plan has as yet been carried out at Sheerness only, but we are considering whether it may not be extended to the other ports. Of course fewer officers and men are required to take care of the ships, and the result at Sheerness will be an annual saving of about £11,600.
And now, having disposed of the Estimates, I must say a few words on some subjects connected with the general efficiency of the Navy. First of all I must state that the Bristol, which returned home from the West Coast of Africa early in the year, has been appropriated with a view to supplementing the instruction of naval cadets alter their leaving the Britannia. These young gentlemen, instead of being at once draughted to ships, will henceforth be sent for a certain period to cruise on board the Bristol, and I have always thought that it would be of advantage to them to give them an opportunity for practical application of the theoretical I instruction received by them on board the Britannia before undertaking their ordinary duties on board ships of war. The Bristol is at present gone to the Azores, and we intend her to be a cruizing ship. We have ' fifty-four cadets now borne on her books, 67 and excellent results are anticipated under the supervision of Captain Wilson. I am happy to say that the Returns give continued proof of the good conduct of the petty officers and seamen serving in the fleet. I hold in my hand a comparative statement of the good conduct of the petty officers and seamen, and likewise of the number of desertions in various years. In 1860–1, when the average number of men borne on the ships' books was 42,728, the number wearing badges was 9,278, or over one-fifth; in 1866–7, the average borne was 33,000, and the number wearing badges 12,037, or over one-third; in 1865–6 the average borne was 33,650, and the number wearing badges 11,346, or nearly one-third, so that with 650 men less in 1866–7 than in 1865–6, there were 691 more badges worn. The desertions among seamen have decreased. In the last seven years they have numbered, in 1860–1, 3,296; in 1861–2, 2,472; in 1862–3, 1,935; in 1863–4, 1,449; in 1864–5, 1,325; in 1865–6, 1,101; and in 1866–7, 1,059. This Return shows a gradual reduction every year. There has been a steady and progressive increase in the numbers of seamen gunners and trained men. In 1860 there were 1,176 seamen gunners, and 1,462 trained men, making a total of 2,638. In 1867 there were 3,337 seamen gunners, and 5,817 trained men, making a total of 9,154. In 1868 there were 3,346 seamen gunners, and 6,056 trained men, making a total of 9,402. These figures furnish a striking proof of improved efficiency, and they are confirmed by the following extract from a letter of Sir Henry Keppel to Sir Alexander Milne:—Since I was last employed the greatest change I see in the service is the great improvement in the appearance and conduct of the men in the ships.The sanitary state of the navy is most satisfactory. The Medical Director General reports—During the twelve months terminating June, 1867, the health of the navy may be said to have been in a most satisfactory condition. Although diseases of more or less fatal character were epidemic on many stations, the ratio of cases entered on the sick-list of invaliding and of death were the lowest that had occurred during a period of eleven years.The number of cases returned on the sick-list was 1,264, being 73 per 1,000 below the ratio of the preceding year. The number of persons invalided from the fleet was 68 1,447, or 28 per 1,000; and the average rate in eleven years has been 34 per 1,000. The-deaths numbered 524–10 per 1,000, or 1 per cent, the lowest proportion for many years. The average total mortality taken for eleven years is over 15 per 1,000, and the death-rate from disease in the year ending June last was 8 per 1,000, so that the mortality is reduced nearly one-half. The Medical Director General reports—The iron-clad vessels continue to hold a favourable position in a sanitary point of view. The entry of cases on their sick lists were among the lowest of sea-going vessels.This information must be considered most satisfactory in reference to the progressive increase which must go on in the number of armoured ships. The result of the operation of the Contagious Diseases Act is equally satisfactory. The ratio of cases of the most destructive form is reduced from 12 to 7 per cent, and the type is materially modified. When I visited the Naval Hospital at Plymouth last year I was informed that, whereas before the introduction of the Act 70 per cent of the cases were contagious diseases, since it has been in operation the proportion has been reduced to 30 per cent. In short, the proportions have been exactly reversed. The failure of the Act, where it has failed, has been solely attributable to the narrow limits to which its operation has been confined. It is in operation, for instance, at Chatham and Rochester, but not at Gravesend. Consequently Gravesend has become a hotbed for infection, and defeats, to a great extent, the salutary results from its operation in the neighbouring towns. At Sheerness the disease had totally disappeared, but it was introduced by a detachment of troops from a place where the Act was not in operation. These facts seem to furnish strong arguments for the extension of the Act to places not now subject to it. The successful working of the Act in the ports is to be attributable, in a great measure, to to the tact and judgment of officers of the metropolitan police., who have the charge of carrying it into execution. The exercise of coercive powers has been rarely required in consequence of the kind treatment the patients receive in the hospital, where they have the care of a chaplain, and are also visited by charitable ladies. Many instances of reclamation have been the result. Great advantage in this respect is also derived from the Samaritan Fund to 69 which an annual payment is made by the Admiralty. There has been a considerable increase in the accommodation of the lock hospitals and other places provided during the year. There is one other point to which I wish to refer—namely, the Marine Savings Banks, a subject which occasioned considerable interest last year. The establishments of these banks has been followed by satisfactory results. The savings' bank system originally introduced by Lord Clarence Paget on board the Victoria flagship, and gradually extended to the Mediterranean squadron, is now in operation on all the stations. I have not, as yet, received Reports from the more distant stations, but on the Mediterranean station the total deposits from 1st January, 1867, amounted to £9,761 11s.; the withdrawals, £4,688 7s., leaving a balance of £5,073 4s. These withdrawals were generally occasioned by the circumstance of ships having returned from the station and been paid off. The deposits of the marines amounted to £667 9s., making a total of £5,740 13s.. The number of depositors was 1,207, which being lessened by 488 withdrawals left 719.
In conclusion, I beg to assure the Committee that I entered upon the consideration of the Estimates which I have attempted to explain—I fear at too great length—with a deep sense of the responsibility which attaches to the head of a Department charged with the appropriation of such large sums of public money as those intrusted to the Admiralty. I cannot hope that they will have given universal satisfaction. No doubt many would have preferred that a larger sum should have been devoted to the building of iron-clads, even if it had been obtained by a still greater reduction than we have made in the strength of the foreign squadrons, while others would have preferred a considerable reduction in the amount of the Estimates themselves; but if I had adopted either of these courses I should have done that which, in my opinion, would not have been consistent with the efficiency of the navy, and I will never do that so long as I have the honour to hold my present Office. My opinion is that the Estimates I propose have been framed with a due regard to economy and to the advantage of the service, and with these remarks, and thanking the Committee for the indulgence with which it has heard me, I venture, Sir, to put the first Resolution in your hands.
(1) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,036,634, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of Wages to Seamen and Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1869."—(Mr. Corry.)
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he felt sure the apology with which his right hon. Friend had prefaced his statement was quite superfluous; for, however much his hearers must sympathize with him, all must agree that a clearer or more satisfactory statement than his could not have been made. His right hon. Friend had shown he was complete master of a subject in which, either privately or officially, he had interested himself during the last quarter of a century. The announcements of his right hon. Friend were particularly pleasing to Members who sat on that (the Opposition) side, especially those relating to the health and general condition of the seamen, because they justified the legislation on the subject initiated by the late Government, and warmly advocated by Lord Clarence Paget. The comparison drawn by his right hon. Friend between the Estimates of this and last year gave the Opposition cause for satisfaction. Last year he had called attention to the possible reductions of our squadrons; a question which, though perhaps not wholly novel to the House, had never been thoroughly discussed. He stated last year that our foreign squadrons might be considerably reduced, the difference being partly made up by means of a flying squadron. This proposal contemplated an immediate reduction of 2,000 men and an ultimate reduction of 4,000. But the right hon. Gentleman now said he was in a position to make an immediate reduction of 2,768 men and fifteen ships, with a prospective reduction at the close of the Abyssinian War of eighteen ships and 3,208 men, so that a greater reduction of men was now proposed than he (Mr. Childers) had suggested last year. On the general question he had pointed out the principle on which the Government might economize in naval expenditure—namely, by a reduction in the number of men, by a general watchful economy throughout the Estimates, and by ceasing to build wooden ships; but he recommended a greater increase in the expenditure on armoured ships. These views had been carried out by his right hon. Friend. Unfortunately, he was committed by his predecessor to the construction of a number of small wooden ships; but he 71 had now given up that policy, and proposed to go back to the armour-clad expenditure of 1865–6, which was in excess of that of subsequent years, and even to a still larger expenditure. To that part of his proposal he (Mr. Childers) would give his warmest support. Last year the right hon. Gentleman protested against any decrease in the number of men, and especially of marines, but his prudence and judgment had been stronger than his first impressions, and he had been able to make a reduction of 2,700 men, a large number of whom were marines. In these points, with regard to foreign squadrons, armour-clad ships, and marines, he was glad that the right hon. Gentleman admitted the justice of the policy recommended from the Opposition Benches last year. At the time he (Mr. Childers) stated that, though differing from them on questions of general policy, he was a general supporter of the present Board of Admiralty, and he should be still more so when he found his views so far carried out by the Board. Going now to the question of finance, the original Estimates of last year proposed an expenditure of £40,233,000 for the two great services, and the Estimates of this year proposed an expenditure of £41,050,000, or an increase of £817,000; and if the difference in the receipts in connection with those services last year and this were added, amounting to £217,000, the increase would be no less than £1,034,000. In the naval expenditure, he thought the right hon. Gentleman was not quite right, for the purpose of comparison, in including in the Estimates of last year the Supplementary Estimates. That course was hardly a safe one. It was tolerably certain from past experience that we should have Supplementary Estimates this year, and the proper plan was to compare the original Estimates. So corrected, the figures would show an increase, not of £9,000, but of £59,490, and in addition to that there was a very serious difference to be taken into account in comparing the actual naval expenditure of this year with that of last year. Vote 17, for freight, had always been treated as a Vote apart from these Estimates, as relating to the army and not to the navy. There was a decrease of £55,376 in the Transport Vote No. 17, but the extra receipts in connection with it were £91,210 more than last year, making a difference of £146,000 under Vote 17. From that would have to be subtracted £55,000 which was last year charged on 72 Vote 17, but which was this year charged on Vote 1. This left an increase of £91,000, and the result was that the actual Naval Votes this year were £151,000 in excess I when strictly compared with the Naval Votes of last year. Then came the question of extra receipts. The Admiralty last year boldly estimated that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would obtain no less a sum than £475,000 from the sales of iron and other old stores; but the right hon. Gentleman did not get as much as he expected from that source, and the sum was this year set down at £240,000, which made a difference of £235,000. That sum which the Exchequer would not receive, added to the £151,000 extra which it would have to pay, made a difference of £386,000 between the Navy Estimates of last year and this. This might not be a large sum when you were dealing with millions; but it was a large sum when the Committee remembered that they had now to face a deficit. It was desirable to reduce this sum of £386,000, and there was one point of dangerous tendency to which he entreated attention—the constant increase of establishments. He did not mean by this the number of men employed, for the number was to be reduced; but, whether you increased or reduced the number of men, the rule appeared to be to increase the number of persons receiving salaries. The right hon. Gentleman proposed altogether a reduction of 5,591 in the number of seamen, marines, and dockyard men, or persons receiving wages. In the Civil establishments there were the following amounts of increase on last year. The Admiralty Office from £176,000 to £182,000; Establishments at the Dockyards from £167,000 to £169,000; in the Victualling Yards there was increase of £200,Medical Vote £1,000, and Marine Divisions £3,000. The total result was that, while between last year and this there was on the different establishments an increase of £13,000, there was a reduction in the number of hands of nearly 5,600. That sort of increase to which he had called attention was one against which the House ought to set its face, and which economists ought to try to put a stop to. He did not think they ought to cut down salaries, but they ought to try to keep down numbers. Unless they did that the pressure put upon Departments would become so great that it would be found impossible to resist it. There was one point which really was so ludicrous that he must call attention to it in order that his 73 right hon. Friend might have an early opportunity of giving an explanation. A short time before the late Government went out of Office a question arose between the Treasury and the Admiralty as to the number of Generals of Marines upon the Retired List, and a proposal was under consideration to add to the number by in ducing three Generals to retire on an: allowance of £900 a year. It was decided, however, that that addition to the Retired List was not necessary. A short time after their successors in Office increased the number of Generals of Marines on the Retired List from ten to thirteen. It must have struck his right hon. Friend that it would not be easy to justify this proceeding, and accordingly a very ingenious plan of doing so was discovered. He (Mr. Childers) had noticed a great increase in the pay of marine officers, which he could not understand, considering the diminution in the number of marines. But he found; that these most worthy officers on the Retired List who had no military duty to perform beyond that of putting on their uniform at a leveé, had been bodily taken off that list and transferred to the first Vote for pay and wages to officers and men of the navy and marines. It seemed to have been thought that they would there escape; notice. His right hon. Friend might be; able to give some reason to justify this course; but still it was an instance of how increase of the Votes arose. There was this year an increase over last year in the sums for pay and provisions for officers and men in the navy to the extent of £70,000; and he did not find any fault so far as the; increase of pay and allowances was concerned. There was an increase on several other items of the effective Vote—coals, £18,000; other stores £13,000, &c.; There was the £13,000 to which he had; before alluded, and altogether with the increase in the Vote for contract works of £222,000, the total increase was £362,000.; On the other hand there was a decrease on dockyard establishments of £150,000, and for works £74,000, making altogether £224,000. The difference between the; £362,000 and £224,000 was just the net increase on the strictly Naval Votes. Coming now to some details of his right hon. Friend's proposal, he was glad to hear that the Dockyard Craft Committee, which he fancied had been appointed at his suggestion, was likely to do good. He supposed they should have the Report in due time. There was one point which he 74 had urged very strongly, and his suggestion, though it had been in one respect attended to, in another had not. He had urged very strongly that when there was a prospective decrease in the establishments of the dockyards it was very impolitic to; carry out a plan of increasing them by substituting establishment men for what were called first-class labourers. Now, the remarkable fact appeared in the present Estimates that, whereas in Chatham, Devonport, and Portsmouth no reduction had been made in first-class labourers, in the three other dockyards, which before long must be abolished as building yards, there had been an increase in the number of the establishment men, so that: when the ultimate reduction was made it; would press with especial severity on those yards where it was most desirable that some relaxation should be felt. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would attend to this when the time came for reducing still further the number of labourers. He wished to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention again to what if deliberately done appeared to be an injudicious act on the part of the Admiralty, by which they had been enabled to show apparently a greater saving than the arrangements would justify—he alluded to the schemes for the extension of the dockyards at Chatham and Portsmouth. These schemes were before Parliament in 1864, and they had been extended and amended by Acts passed in subsequent years. It was essential that the provisions of the Acts should not be departed from. Since those schemes were formed the state of crime in; this country had become so satisfactory that the Admiralty were not able to obtain a sufficient number of convicts to carry on, the works. The consequence was that the total expense must increase, because a: greater amount of free labour would have to be employed and paid for. Under these; circumstances the expenditure in each year should not fall short of that stated in the Act; but last year, whilst the sum authorized to be spent was £517,000, there was; only £378,000 voted; and this year the sum was to be £420,000 instead of £505,000. If the works were allowed to be carried on; in this manner they would not only be much more expensive than had been contemplated, and being carried out much more; slowly they would take about twice the time that Parliament had intended. This was not true economy, and he trusted that next year there would be no departure from 75 the original programme. He would now refer to one or two of the larger questions which had been touched upon; and first, as to the proposed reduction in the foreign squadrons. His right hon. Friend said, very rightly, that upon this depended a great deal of our expenditure upon dockyards and for other matters. His right hon. Friend had dealt at some length with the proposed reduction, but appeared to be angry because some one had said that many of the vessels employed in the service were useless, inasmuch as they would be compelled to "cut and run" if any large ships belonging to an enemy happened to attack them. He believed, however, that it was the Secretary for the Admiralty who was the culprit, for in his speech last year he used that expression. His right hon. Friend went on to speak very strongly against those who proposed to abolish the foreign squadrons; but he seemed in so doing to be fighting the air, for no one in the House proposed to do so. [Mr. CORRY said, the plan was advocated almost daily in leading articles.] He believed that the Committee was went to discuss rather what emanated from Members of the House than to what appeared in the newspapers, which could be only cursorily referred to in debate. His noble Friend, when he employed that phrase, distinctly said that the question was whether our expenditure in this direction was not excessive, and that really was the question they had to consider. His right hon. Friend had appealed to the example shown by foreign nations, and had stated that the vessels belonging to France were mainly unarmoured. [Mr. CORRY: I said the ships in commission.] His right hon. Friend had said that out of 167 ships in commission, including transports, France had only ten armoured ships. He found that we had 320 ships in commission, and out of these 300 were non-armoured. These non-armoured ships were sent to all parts of the world, and the comparison employed by his right hon. Friend was rather in favour of a reduction than of an in crease of that part of our naval force. But to his surprise his right hon. Friend had stated that the Duke of Somerset, in a pamphlet which he had published, had denounced any reduction in the numbers of the men. What, however, was stated in the pamphlet which his hon. Friend had referred to was that a reduction of 12,000 or 15,000 men would seriously disorganize the navy. What he himself proposed was 76 a reduction not of 15,000 but of 7,000 men, and there was, he believed, ample argument in favour of that proposal. His right hon. Friend said that that was a question for the Foreign and for the Colonial Office more than for the Admiralty. Now that was exactly the view which he (Mr. Childers) entertained on the subject. He believed that expenditure originated in the action of the heads of the Foreign Office and Colonial Office; and until his right hon. Friend impressed upon he Colleagues the necessity of their remembering their responsibility and relieving the Estimates from the serious charges which unnecessarily large foreign squadrons entailed, there was, he feared, but little chance of the policy which had been so well initiated being properly carried out. His right hon. Friend said that the number of men in our foreign squadrons last year was 23,100. The number of men he proposed for this year was 20,300, or a reduction of 2,800 men, and his right hon. Friend proposed to increase that reduction to 3,300, and to lessen the number of ships in the foreign squadrons by eighteen as soon as the Abyssinian War was over. That fact alone showed that they might congratulate themselves on the efforts they had made. Before going further he desired to touch upon a question which bore strongly upon dockyard economy, and upon which he thought the Committee was entitled to a full and clear explanation. It had been stated last year from the Treasury Bench that the sale of pig iron in the dockyards would during the pastyearrealize£100,000, whereas the amount actually realized was, he believed, only £40. [Sir JOHN HAY: £63 only.] After having heard such confident statements last year he had felt disappointed when his right hon. Friend that evening passed the subject over in complete silence. This silence was the more extraordinary, inasmuch as the loss of the money must have been a source of grief to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who could not afford to lose £100,000, and who must have frequently complained of the non-receipt of this sum. He trusted that the matter would be satisfactorily settled, and that they would receive an assurance that the £100,000, which ought to have been received in the last year, would during the current twelvemonths be increased to £150,000, or perhaps to £200,000. He would now turn to the programme of work, and, as far as he could understand the numerous figures re- 77 ferred to by his right hon. Friend, it appeared that as to unarmoured vessels, exclusive of a tank vessel and other small matters, there were altogether forty-eight vessels during these two years in course of construction. Of these twenty-four were launched last year, seventeen either were or were to be launched this year, and seven would be launched next year. While approving the construction of certain of these vessels he could not help expressing his regret that when we were about to reduce the number of our foreign stations we had expended or were about to expend a sum of between £1,000,000 and £1,200,000 upon unarmoured ships during last year, this year, and next year. Last year we expended £600,000 or £700,000, involving an expenditure this year of £400,000 or £500,000. He believed that by that policy there had been added to the Estimates in each of those years a sum of £250,000. We were, therefore, in the first place, spending £500,000 more than was necessary, and in the second place we were Buffering all the inconvenience which a sudden change involved. The Admiralty had paid last year in wages more than the total amount of the Vote, the Treasury having allowed them to take £45,000 more, although they did not build quite as much tonnage as they should have done; and now they proposed to make a considerable reduction even on the number of men then voted. The consequence of that policy must be that a larger number of men would be thrown out of employment than would appear from the Estimates, and great distress was inevitable. That result might have been avoided if they had not built this large number of wooden ships and had spread the reduction over the two years. On going carefully through the figures that morning he had discovered that although there had been a consider able saving on the sums voted under the heads of "wages" and "ships built by contract," at the commencement of the year the money so saved must have been expended rapidly at the end of the year. The result of this policy was that at the commencement of the new year the number of men employed in the dockyards was suddenly and largely diminished, and thereby great distress was brought on between 3,000 and 4,000 men, who were thrown out of work. Another bad effect of the policy that had been pursued—he did not mean to throw the blame entirely on the right hon. Gentleman—was that while the 78 number of men employed in building in the dockyards had been reduced from 2,688 to 1,800, the number of men employed in repairs had been increased from 2,221 to 2,621. As to the proposed armoured ships, he must express his entire approval of the policy which the right hon. Gentleman had so clearly shadowed forth, of applying the saving which he had been able to effect in other branches of the service to the increase of our armour-clad fleet, and he also approved the way in which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to spread the expenditure over the next three years. He also hoped the Committee would entirely approve the course proposed to be taken with respect to the Glatton and the Hotspur; he thought the experiment a very wise one of building a turret ship which might be fitted for home and harbour service, and a new ram. This was a much better policy than re-duplicating a number of armour-clad ships, which in two or three years would be out of date. He thought, however, considering the heavy expenses that were incurred in building experimental vessels by contract, in consequence of the numerous alterations that would have to be made in them from time to time, it would be better and cheaper that both, or at all events one, of these new ships should be built in the Government dockyards. He regretted the right hon. Gentleman had not referred to any proposal for reducing the enormous expenditure on the, "inactive list.'' Last year that subject was brought prominently before the House, and means were pointed out by which the expenditure might be reduced. The right hon. Gentleman then said that he had himself proposed something of the sort in 1845, and he would take the matter into consideration; but so far from any prospect being held out on the present occasion of a reduction, the topic had been entirely omitted from the right hon. Gentleman's statement. With regard to the reduction in the Marines, the right hon. Gentleman had gone very fully into a justification of the number of men proposed fur the year, but he (Mr. Childers) thought it might be possible to carry the reduction a little further. Ever since 1864 it bad been the steady policy of the Government to reduce considerably the marine force, especially as regarded the Light Infantry Marines; that policy had been interrupted in 1867, but this year it was to be resumed, and, whereas in 1864–5 the number of men voted was 17,469, in the present Estimates it was 79 14,700. It seemed, however, to him, that the reduction for the present year had been made without much forethought. He could not understand how it was that while the number of non-commissioned officers and privates had been reduced by 1,688, the number of commissioned officers had been increased by 12.
explained, that the re-organization of the force involving this addition, had for its object, the placing of the Marines on the same footing with respect to promotion as other seniority corps. It was not just that the officers of the Marines should be put in a worse position than those in the Artillery and Engineers.
§ MR. CHILDERS
had no objection to advancing promotion in the Marines by a sound scheme of retirement, but certainly not by increasing the establishment. A smaller number of men, involving a reduction from £362,000 to £344,000, could not require a larger number of officers, involving an increase from £63,000 to £67,000. The Estimates lay on the table three weeks before they were printed; and he could not help thinking that during that interval, a reduction having been insisted on, the Admiralty had made it at the last moment in the number of men in the Marines, the officers being inadvertently left untouched. He saw no reason why the reduction should not be carried to 12,000. Even now it was proposed to employ 8,000 marines afloat and 6,700 on shore. The latter were engaged in doing purely soldiers' duty, and were an unnecessarily large reserve. Whatever the value of Marine artillery, the Light Infantry Marine could not be very highly estimated in these days of steam, and the reduction might properly commence with them. He thought a saving would be effected by remedying the oversight with regard to the officers, and he would move that the Vote of £525,725 for the wages of Marines be reduced by £60,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Item of £525,725, for Wages, &c, to Marines, be reduced by the sum of £00,000."—(Mr. Childers.)
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, that before replying to the questions of his hon. Friend, he wished to bear testimony to the great success which had attended nearly all the remedial measures introduced by Lord Clarence Paget. His hon. Friend had expressed gratification at the efforts of those now in Office, whom he had been 80 pleased to call his pupils; but in one or two important particulars it was himself, Sand not his hon. Friend, who first announced the policy in question. He last year announced the assent of his Colleagues to the appointment of a Committee on the Dockyards, from which he anticipated very beneficial results, and as soon as the Reports of the yard officers had been received and considered by the Admiralty they would be laid before Parliament. He hoped that in another year more tangible benefits would result from that inquiry than the reduction of £3,000 which had been effected this year. Approaching first what might be deemed the most disagreeable portion of his subject, he would refer to the celebrated iron "pigs." His right hon. Friend (Mr. Corry) was in no way responsible for the amount expected to be derived from the sale of them, it having been his opinion all along that they were used for valuable purposes in the dockyard, and that it would take a great deal of money to replace them. How far had his right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington), his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir John Hay), and himself, been to blame in this matter? Statements were made by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely), and obtained credence in consequence of the avidity with which the public always accepted anything tending to show that the Admiralty authorities were blockheads or worse—that this iron was most valuable, that the dockyards were paved with gold, and that all the benefits conferred by these '' pigs" might be obtained at half the cost. Other persons, however, and among them the ablest professional advisers of the Admiralty, believed the hon. Member to be mistaken. In this conflict of opinion, an eminent firm at Birmingham (Messrs. Ryland) asked the Admiralty for permission to test the value of the iron, and the result was that they reported it to be worth a certain sum per ton. The Admiralty thereupon offered to sell it, with the proviso that they would not take less than the sum required to replace the use of it in the dockyards; but up to this time no purchasers had been found. He believed that, owing to the state of trade, the price of iron had been very low; but he had not very sanguine hopes of anything like the sum expected by the Admiralty last year being realized. As to the increase in Vote 3 for the Admiralty, it chiefly arose from the re-organization of the Department of Dockyard Accounts, a proposal which was made two years consecutively, and 81 met with unanimous approval. The next point objected to by his hon. Friend was the transferrence of the Generals of Marines from one Vote to another. Now, that question was discussed by the late Board, and was settled before the present First Lord came into Office. Great difficulties and heart-burnings in regard to promotion were caused by their being no generals in the artillery branch of the Marine service, and after considerable discussion, on the recommendation of those whose opinion was entitled to weight, the change was made. As to Vote 11, his hon. Friend appeared to think the Admiralty were spending a smaller sum of money than they were bound to do under the Act of Parliament, Technically he was right, but, owing to the stagnation of trade, scarcely anything was done one year, so that this, though nominally the third, was virtually the second year, and the precise sum laid down in the Act was asked for.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, the sum which should have been taken last year was £517,000, whereas the Estimate this year was £420,000.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, he would inquire as to the discrepancy, but he bad spoken under the authority of the director of works. The next point to which his hon. Friend referred was the Vote connected with the dockyards. His hon. Friend referred to the question discussed last year of filling up the place of established artificers as they died off by hired labourers. He himself last year had expressed a doubt whether that policy could be carried out, and it had been abandoned. His hon. Friend had been rather severe on the Admiralty. He criticized the increase in the three dockyards, but did not state that that increase consisted of one single man in the three yards. In 1864, when his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract was in Office, he fixed as the lowest rate the dockyard artificers at 9,575; and under the present Board of Admiralty they were at 9,140, or 400 less than his hon. Friend had laid down as necessary. His hon. Friend next alluded to our foreign squadrons, and he took credit there for having enforced the policy of reduction; but he must take exception to his hon. Friend's remarks on this point also. He should say it was he who was the first that was guilty of what might perhaps be called the official indiscretion of throwing out a hint as to whether there might not be some reduction in their foreign squadrons. When he spoke last year about these foreign squadrons, 82 his hon. Friend drew a very alarming picture of the great increase which had accrued between 1846 and 1867. He said, that in 1846 we had 12,068 men employed in our foreign squadrons, and in 1867 we had 17,400 employed. But his hon. Friend omitted altogether to include in these figures the complements of ships ordered home, and he also made this little mistake, that he took the Cape of Good Hope and the African squadrons as one, and altogether omitted the ships in the West African squadron and on the lakes of Canada; therefore, instead of the numbers employed in the foreign squadrons being 12,058 in 1846, they should have been stated at 15,588; while, in 1867, instead of 17,400, they were 17,893, being only a difference of 2,305 instead of 5,332. He knew that everything which fell from his hon. Friend met with sympathy from the House, and as the Admiralty were more or less on their trial it was his duty in the position he filled to give every reasonable answer he could to his hon. Friend's objections. The next point to which he adverted was the building of gunboats. It was not the first time his hon. Friend had referred to the subject. He might mention generally that he had the authority not only of the present and the late First Lord of the Admiralty, but of the senior Sea Lord, Sir Alexander Milne, that when the present Board came into Office there were not ships enough to keep up the necessary reserves, and when his hon. Friend spoke of the large building of-gunboats, which he said was excessive, he must be allowed to say that on the 1st of April, 1867, this was our position—We had thirty-three gunboats in good condition; there were twelve that would last a couple of years with extensive repairs; and there were thirty-two bad, rotten, and indifferent. There were, besides, six or seven in various stages of building at home. Now, last year, on a question of Naval Estimates, his hon. Friend had made a speech and published a pamphlet, in which he was good enough to state what was the amount of force to be kept in our foreign squadrons, and the class of ships he thought most advisable for the service. He sketched out a policy in which he stated that thirty-three gunboats were necessary, Now it might be laid down as a very fair axiom that, whatever number of gunboats was required on foreign stations, as many again were required to be kept up as a reserve; he therefore did not think that, under the circumstances, eighteen was a very large 83 number to be built by the present Board of Admiralty. He did not think there was any other point on which it was necessary for him to reply to his hon. Friend. Of course the Admiralty would feel it their duty to oppose the Motion for further reduction moved by his hon. Friend. If, after mature examination of the whole circumstances, and long and anxious consideration, they could have assented to a larger reduction they certainly would have done so, but they did not feel themselves bound to recommend more than a reduction of 1,700 men. He hoped, after the very general support his hon. Friend had given to these Estimates, and the decided advance he described the present Board of Admiralty as having made in a policy which he approved, the hon. Member would withdraw his Amendment and enable them to take the Vote for the proposed number of men.
called the attention of the Committee to a point of Order. It was understood the other night that the general discussion on the Navy Estimates usually taken on the number of men, should this year be taken in the Vote for wages, it being important that the Vote for men should be obtained without delay. Now, they had on the Vote for the amount of wages a Motion proposed for the reduction of a particular item, and the rule was that when a Motion was proposed from the Chair for the reduction or omission of a particular item the discussion should be confined to it.
§ MR. GRAVES
said, that he would strictly confine himself to the point indicated by the Chairman, and endeavour to show the Committee why there should be no further reduction in the present Vote; and one reason was that inasmuch as the reduction in the number of men had been attended with no diminution of expenditure; but, on the contrary, with an increase of something like £85,000. If they should diminish the force more than was proposed by the Government, the expense might be still further increased. That, therefore, was not the right way to reduce the Estimates. With respect to our seamen, year by year there had been a gradual dropping down in their numbers, and he thought they ought to arrest that diminution. The Returns presented this year showed that the number of our bonâ fide seamen had been reduced from something over 30,000 in 1861 to 19,000 in 1867, and, as appeared from the First 84 Lord's statement, they were to be further reduced to something over 18,000 in the course of this year. Two years ago the noble Lord the then Chief Secretary of the Admiralty, said that after a seven years' experience of a gradual retrenchment, the number of bonâ fide seamen, which then stood at 21,000, had reached a point below which it would be dangerous to go. Returns showed that the annual drain on our bonâ fide seamen amounted to 14 per cent. To fill up the number of boys rated as seamen it would be necessary to throw into our training ships from boys to seamen, 3,900 a year, whereas the numbers actually entered was only 2,200. The diminution in the number of seamen arose from natural causes, and not in any way from the diminished Votes of the House. He maintained that it was of the highest importance to assimilate the supply to the drain, and if we would keep up the number of bonâ fide blue-jackets we must enter a much greater number of boys in the training ships. Considering the small proportion of blue-jackets to the total number of men in the navy, it was only natural that they should look at what the majority was composed of, and see if they could not make a further reduction in numbers without decreasing the efficiency of the service. There were 4,000 supernumeraries in the shape of bandsmen and personal servants, and this number might be reduced with advantage. Of the fifty or sixty old wooden ships lying in Ordinary which the First Lord of the Admiralty alluded to, he (Mr. Graves) would further suggest that some fifteen or sixteen of the best should be selected for more immediate service than the others, and that these should be carefully looked after and kept ready for any sudden emergency. In this respect we should only be following the example of other nations. He thought also that, probably, an equal number might be broken up with advantage, and expense with regard to them saved for the future; and he would further recommend that the residue should be laid up in tiers, their engines taken out, and the ships placed under the charge of a few river police—just as hundreds of vessels are to be seen daily lying up in the docks of London and of Liverpool. This would have the effect of bringing about economy, without resorting to a diminution of marines or seamen.
§ GENERAL PERCY HERBERT
said, he thought that the criticisms of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) with 85 regard to the Royal Marines were not well founded. In the navy there were 3,447 officers to 49,000 sailors, boys, and warrant officers, or about 7 per cent. In the army 4 per cent was the least allowance of officers anyone had ever suggested for a regiment with a full establishment of men. The Royal Marines had 436 officers to 14,700 men, which was only 3 per cent, or less than one-half the proportion in the navy.
§ MR. MONTAGU CHAMBERS
said, he had never heard it stated that the Royal Marines were not sufficiently officered, and therefore he was inclined to agree with the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) that this Vote for the Royal Marines was not well explained. They were told that the number of men was to be reduced, but at the same time the number of officers was to be increased. Looking at this question as a civilian, he would ask why, while they reduced the number of men, they should increase the number of officers. He did not think there could be a finer body of men than the Royal Marines. It ought to be considered whether they ought to be kept up as a land force, and, if that were not done, it might be well to consider whether the force should not be reduced. He should vote for the reduction of the item in order that the Admiralty might make a consistent reduction in the Estimates.
SIR JOHN HAY
said, there was no proposition for an increase of officers in the Marines this year. There was a slight increase in the number to be employed it was true; but the Committee would understand that it was impossible to discharge officers of the Marines who had already entered. In the reorganization of the corps, recommended by the Committee last year, it was found that the companies of the Royal Marines were too numerous, and that it was necessary for the convenience of the service to add a second captain to forty-six companies, a proportion juster and more in accordance with all other seniority corps of the army. The percentage of officers in the Marines was even now much lower than that of the officers in any other branch of the service. The hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) must remember that, in the Committee over which he presided so ably last year, that point was brought forward, together with the slowness of promotion in the Marines. For the efficiency of the corps, and also to make the rate of promotion in it correspond with that of the other seniority branches of the service, it 86 was deemed requisite to diminish the number of the companies and increase the number of officers in some of the companies at home.
Mr. Chairman—Sir, I must confess I am quite at a loss, from the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down, to understand how it is that a reduction in the number of men should have lead to an increase in the number of officers. [Sir JOHN HAY: There has been an increase in the number of companies.] But then it is a very doubtful matter whether the number of companies ought to be increased. Why should we not let the number of men decrease without increasing the numbers of the companies. I do not understand the meaning of the hon. and gallant Member (General Percy Herbert), who compares the number of officers in the Marines with the number of officers in other branches of the service. It appears to me better to compare the number of officers in the Marines now with the number of officers in the same force at former periods. What proof is there that the number of officers is insufficient? Has there been any complaint that they were too few? The first business of those who wish to justify an increase in the number of officers is to show that the Marines have suffered in action from want of more officers. [General PERCY HERBERT: The complaint may not have been made in this House.] Why should it not have been made in this House through the hon. and gallant Gentleman with his knowledge, his eagerness, and his zeal in those matters? This is only an illustration of the fact that it is impossible for Members acting independently, without the organization of the Government, to force the adoption of economy in such cases. But something may be done by drawing the attention of the public to the matter. We have distinct indication of the intent on the part of the Government to continue the progressive increase in the reserve force of marines kept on shore. We have the Return of the numbers since the 1st March, 1849, arranged in periods of five years. In the first period the highest number was 6,354, in the second period 6,277, in the third 8,086, and in the fourth 10,032. In point of fact, there is a regular increase in the reserve force on shore, and also an increase in the proportion of officers to men. I do not think any justification has been made out for one or the other, I am glad to find that my 87 right hon. Friend is inclined to reduce the foreign squadrons. That is a reduction which, I believe, ought to be made with a very strong hand; the old notion of arming all over the world being, as I believe, totally unsuited to the present state of things, and nothing more or less than a gross superstition. There is not a shadow of justification for the system, in matters as they now stand. The consequence of passing the Vote will be that my right hon. Friend will have a larger number of marines on shore—and whom he will be obliged to keep on shore—than at any period during the past five years, although in that period the force appears to have been about 2,000 greater than it was in any previous five years since 1847. And further than this, I think that if we went back to a period before 1847 we should probably find that the marines on shore were then still less. The question is, will you consent, having raised your reserve force of marines on shore so considerably, to its being raised still higher? That is a very fair question to be put to this Committee, and if my; hon. Friend chooses to divide on his Motion—partly on the ground that this increase in the force of marines on shore is totally unnecessary, and partly on the ground that no reason has been shown for increasing the relative number of officers in proportion to the men—I, for one, shall vote with him.
said, he did not know upon what ground the right hon. Gentleman stated that the reserve force of Royal Marines on shore was now increasing. The right hon. Gentleman had gone back to 1847; but since then a large augmentation had been made to the force by the recommendation of a Royal Commission on the manning of the Navy, who looked on the Marines as a very effective addition to our naval strength, and one giving us a valuable power for meeting a time of emergency. When, however, the right hon. Gentleman said the force was still going on increasing, he could hardly have read the present Estimates, because they proposed a positive reduction of 1,700 men; and he believed the reserve on shore would this year be at least 1,200, and possibly 1,300 or 1,400 less than it was last year. Therefore, so far from increasing the reserve of marines on shore, these Estimates would affect a considerable reduction. He confessed he was surprised that a Gentleman so well versed in naval affairs, and possessing so sound a judgment 88 as the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) should come down to the House and propose without Notice a reduction of 4,000 marines in one year. That hon. Gentleman, earlier in the evening, had spoken against a sudden reduction in the number of artificers, as causing great public inconvenience as well as hardship to individuals; and yet he himself now proposes a sudden and abrupt reduction of 4,000 marines in one year.
§ GENERAL PERCY HERBERT
said, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) knew everything, and therefore he despaired of teaching him anything. But if he got two officers of Volunteers as clever as himself, he would find 80 to 100 men in a company quite enough for three officers to look after.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 73; Noes 127: Majority 54.
§ Original Question again proposed.
then rose to move to reduce the whole Vote by the sum of £20,000. He said his object was less to reduce the annually increasing expenditure of the Navy, than to diminish the annual sacrifice of valuable lives on the West Coast of Africa. The First Lord of the Admiralty spoke of having reduced the number of vessels at the out stations abroad by 18. That surely implied a reduction in the item of wages, victuals, &c. Yet, there was a net increase of £85,000 for wages, and of £91,000 for victuals, in the Navy Estimates for the present year. On the 23rd of Match last he (Colonel Sykes) obtained a Return showing the number of vessels on the West Coast of Africa for the years from 1858 to 1868, and within two days of the date of that Return, the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw-Lefevre) had moved for another Return embracing the distribution of the Naval Forces for each year from 1847 to 1867. Between these Returns there was a very great discrepancy. According to the Return granted on his (Colonel Sykes's) Motion there were, in 1858, 25 vessels with 2,038 officers and men on the West Coast of Africa, while, according to the Return moved for by the hon. Member for Reading there were in the six years 24 vessels with 2,324 men. For the year 1867 the Return of the hon. Member for Reading gave 19 vessels with 1,894 men, while his Return again showed 25 vessels, with 2,134 men. Discrepancies ran 89 through every year, but the most remarkable were for the years 1860 and 1861, in which years, by the hon. Member for Reading's Return, there were only 15 ships on the coast with the respective complements of 1,924 and 1,868 officers and men, while by his (Colonel Sykes's) Return, there were 20 and 18 ships, with their respective crews of 1,850 and 1,680 officers and men for 1860 and 1861. It was for the Admiralty to explain this discrepancy. Last year there were, according to his Return, 325 officers and 2,134 men. 11 officers and 37 men died, and 26 officers and 76 men were invalided, which on that pestiferous coast meant, in nine cases out of ten, that their constitutions were thoroughly broken down, and they were made invalids for life. The total cost of the squadron for the year was £77,183. It appeared that the total loss to the country during the last ten years consisted of 88 officers and 360 men who died, and 170 officers and 695 men who were invalided. Let the House and the country reflect upon the desolation carried into families by those dreadful losses. The pecuniary outlay amounted to £740,875, and the total number of slaves captured was 8,330. If the slave trade had continued in its former intensity, he should be the last to propose a reduction of the British force upon the coast. But, taking the last four years, he found that in 1864 only six slaves were captured, in 1865 none, in 1866 three, and in 1867 none. The slave trade therefore was virtually at an end. America had liberated all her slaves; in Brazil the trade had ceased, and slaves were no longer introduced into Cuba. Spain, as they had been told that evening by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, was acting with good faith in this matter. On what grounds, then, was this waste of life and enormous expenditure justifiable? The average cost of the slaves captured up to 1863 from 1858 was £89 per head; since then exactly nine slaves appeared to have been captured, at a cost of £38,418 per head; the cost of the squadron for those four years being £295,255. The most extraordinary feature, however, was that, though the trade had died away, the system of bounties was still maintained. Thus for the year 1867–8 no less than £20,000 were allocated by way of bounties for slaves caught, and a further sum of £12,000 for support of the negroes. But no slaves whatever were caught in 1867. 90 Who, then, received this money? Why, in short, he must again repeat, were vessels kept in such numbers, and so much desolation caused in families by the mortality among our officers and men upon a pestilential coast? Surely not with any idea of protecting trade, he thought that five or six ships would be quite enough for that purpose, though he did not, propose that the squadron should be suddenly reduced to that number. His right hon. Friend had instituted a comparison between the English and French navies, for the purpose of showing a superiority on our side. But, at all events, the French managed their affairs much more economically than we managed ours. Our Naval Estimates amounted to £11,000,000, and our colonies cost us £4,000,000 more, making a total of £15,000,000 for our Navy; while the expenditure of the French Marine, including the colonies, amounted this year to only £6,529,510. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by a sum of £20,000, in order that the expenditure on our African squadron might be reduced. Enough would still be left for the legitimate purposes of the squadron.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,016,634, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of Wages to Seamen and Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1869."—(Colonel Sykes.)
SIR JOHN HAY
said, he was rather afraid that his hon. and gallant Friend had been misled by the extreme accuracy of the Return to which he had referred. By that Return it appeared the number of vessels on the African coast was 25, those vessels carrying 143 guns; but on reference to the page of the Return before the one on which those figures were given, his hon. and gallant Friend would find it so happened that, at the very time he moved for the Return, six of the vessels had been ordered home, and one was about to be paid off. Those six vessels were on the station at the moment, and so were their reliefs. The Bristol and Rattlesnake, the two flagships of the Commander-in Chief, who were then relieving the one the otherwere also both there to swell the number of ships and men. So that the total number was made much greater than it would have been if the Return had been made at any other time. In fact, it was a mere accident that the Return should have shown 25 vessels on the station. In pursuance 91 of the pledge given by his noble Friend (Lord Henry Lennox) last year when he moved the Estimates, the number of vessels on the station had been reduced. At this moment there were 14 there, carrying 74 guns. The number of officers and men was only 1,576, showing a very large reduction. Of the 14 ships only nine were cruizing ships, the other five being stationary. He thought his hon. and gallant Friend would admit that it would be impossible to reduce the number of cruizers by six, which would only leave three cruizers—vessels were required on the station for the protection of our own trade. Besides it was only a few months ago that information was received of an intention to run a cargo of slaves down the river Congo. That attempt had been checked, and it was to be hoped that, with the loyal assistance of Spain, the slave trade on the African coast would gradually be suppressed. Under all the circumstances, he thought his hon. and gallant Friend would see the propriety of not pressing his Amendment.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, it was a lamentable thing that so many of our officers and men lost their lives or their health in our attempt to suppress the slave trade by cruizing on the African coast. If that trade was to be suppressed, it must be by suppressing the market for slaves. He feared that the measures we took only increased the sufferings of the unfortunate persons who were stowed away in the slavers. If his hon. and gallant Friend moved to put an end to this cruizing altogether, except so far as the interests of our trade required it, he should give him his support.
§ SIR T. F. BUXTON
admitted it to be a melancholy fact that a great number of lives had been sacrificed in the attempts to suppress the slave trade; but he thought it would not be fair to measure the good we did by the number of slavers captured, any more than it would be to estimate the advantage of our Coastguard by the number of smugglers apprehended. He believed that in both cases much good was done in the way of prevention. The Commissary Judge at Havannah stated that the return of the trade between Africa and Cuba for the past year was unaccompanied by any statement of the landing of slaves. That functionary believed, however, it would be unsafe to assume that the slave trade had ceased because it had become almost invisible. The condition of the West Coast 92 slave trade was this, that it was no longer visible; the plant was cut down, but that we could not assume that the roots were dead; they might spring into life again if our fleet were wholly withdrawn at once. If we were anxious to maintain the footing on which we had acted for many years, we must keep a squadron on the coast of Africa; but he was glad the Admiralty had been able to reduce the number of the vessels, and he hoped they would be able to reduce them more and more each year. If the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes) went to a division, he should feel bound to vote against him.
§ MR. CHILDERS
hoped that, as his right hon. Friend had reduced the squadron by 460 men and further reductions were contemplated, the hon. and gallant Member would not press his Amendment to a division. If the number were to be reduced by 500 or 600 men beyond the reduction proposed by the Government the squadron would be considerably crippled.
said, as it appeared from the statement of the hon. Baronet (Sir John Hay) that a reduction had been made in the number of vessels, he would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £1,335,842, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of Victuals and Clothing for Seamen and Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1869.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
remarked, that the Admiralty had wasted a great deal of money in victualling the men.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Lusk.)
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;
§ Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.