§ (In the Committee.)
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £168,704, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Salaries of the Officers and the Contingent Expenses of the Admiralty Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1870.
said, in the early part of the present Session, the First Lord of the Admiralty, in answer to a Question, stated that the changes made in the Department over which he presided would result in the business of the Admiralty being conducted in the same manner as that of the other public Departments. When he read that answer—for he was not in the House aj the time—he said to 53 himself that if such was to be the result of the recent reforms in that Department, he could not look upon them with approbation. He had always been of opinion that, in consequence of special circumstances connected with naval administration, it was impossible to conduct the business of the Admiralty in the same manner as that which was applicable in the other Departments of the Government. He remembered that when the Admiralty Committee was sitting, in 1860, a question was raised as to why the practice of the Treasury and the Admiralty, two Boards constituted under nearly similar patents, should be so different; and he remarked on that occasion to a Gentleman sitting beside him that the reason was quite obvious. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was thoroughly acquainted with all the details of the questions on which the Treasury had to decide, and it would be absurd if the opinion of any Junior Lord had a voice in his decisions; but the First Lord of the Admiralty had to depend in a great measure on the advice and information of the Junior Lords on most of the details of Ms Department. It was not going too far to say that the First Lord could hardly be acquainted with one-tenth of the details which had to be dealt with in the Admiralty; and hitherto the difficulty arising from that circumstance had been overcome by the practice of allowing the Junior Lords to take a direct part in the conduct of the business of the Department. The first observation he had to make, with reference to his right hon. Friend's changes, was that they were entirely at variance with the principle of the reforms introduced by Sir James Graham in 1832, when he abolished the Navy Board and the Victualling Board. In answer to the objection which had been urged that the business would be so multifarious that it could not be brought within the compass of a single officer, Sir James Graham said—The difficulty would be obviated by a judicious distribution of labour. I propose to divide the whole of the Naval Service into five great Departments, with an officer at the head of each, which officer should not be a Commissioner holding his situation by patent, and possessing coordinate authority, even with the Commissioners of the Admiralty itself, as in the case at present, but be appointed by warrants from the Board of Admiralty, and retain his situation so long as he discharges his duties properly.54 Now, of all the executive officers in the Admiralty, the Controller was the most important; but, under the plan of his right hon. Friend, he was no longer to be subordinate to the Admiralty. He was to be one of its members. That was quite at variance with the views of Sir James Graham. As a rule, the Controller of the Navy was thoroughly conversant with the details of the business in which he was engaged; and when, as a Lord of the Admiralty, he made a proposal to the civilian First Lord, who would probably have a very superficial knowledge of the subject, the latter would be completely in his hands. His subordination would be merely nominal, for the First Lord would have to deal with him without the assistance of anything like a Board, or a Committee, as his right hon. Friend had called it. He himself once knew a First Lord of the Admiralty who was a very able man, but who used to say that nothing could over make him understand anything about a ship. He did not refer to his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), but generally the First Lord knew very little about ships. If the Controller came to his right hon. Friend the present First Lord, and told him there was a question as to whether one of the long ironclads should have five masts or three, was that a matter which his right hon. Friend would feel himself competent to settle? Under the system which had hitherto prevailed, that question, if it had arisen would have been discussed by competent naval officers, sitting at a Board, and who could guide the First Lord to a sound decision; but, under the new arrangement, the Board would have no right to interfere. It was quite true that the First Lord might ask the opinion of any of the Naval Lords; but so he might ask the opinion of the first naval officer he met in the street. That was a very different thing from obtaining opinions at a Board principally composed of experienced naval officers, theoretically equal with the First Lord himself, and having a right to express their views in the most unreserved manner. No one had a greater respect for the Controller of the Navy than he had; but he thought it very objectionable that the whole shipbuilding of the navy should be in the hands of the Controller, who- 55 ever he might be. A Controller of the Navy, being a permanent officer, and, consequently, without recent naval experience, was apt to get into grooves, and those grooves might not happen to be in a direction leading to the best results. He did not well know what was the present title of the Controller. He believed that in one part of the Estimates he was styled "the Second Naval Lord." [Mr. CHILDERS: He is Third Lord and Controller.] Then he (Mr. Corry) should like to know what his position really was? The Controller was a servant of the Board. A Lord of the Admiralty was one of a Commission appointed to execute the office of Lord High Admiral. He wanted to know whether the Controller was to be his own master or his own servant. It appeared to him that the Controller's position would be an extremely anomalous one, and he could not approve of the change in this respect. It was not one which had originated with his right hon. Friend, for it had been strongly urged on him (Mr. Corry) by the Controller a year ago, but he had not thought it proper to agree to it. He had also reason to believe that it had been proposed to the Duke of Somerset, and that he had declined to entertain it. With respect to other changes, the new system introduced a confusion of responsibility altogether at variance with Sir James Graham's design. That right hon. Baronet increased the number of Junior Lords from four to five, for the express purpose of placing one at the head of each of the five great departments of the Admiralty. But now the number of Lords was reduced, and the business of three or four departments thrown on the First Naval Lord. In explaining this plan, he said—This system gives the regular cognizance of each department to its own proper head, while the whole would be brought under the consideration of the general Board. There would thus be a just division of labour, an undivided control, and due responsibility on the one hand, and, on the other, that unity and simplicity which I hold to be the very essence and life of public business.Under the new system there would be no such "unity and simplicity." The action of the several branches would be disjointed. Each Junior Lord would come separately to the First Lord and take his directions. If it were not for a préces of each day's proceedings, which 56 he understood was now printed for circulation, each Junior Lord would be ignorant of what was being done by his Colleagues, or of the general policy which prevailed outside his own particular branch of the Department. He thought, also, that a system, which placed the First Lord in communication on departmental questions merely with the superintending Lord, was very objectionable. It was often of great advantage that the First Lord should have the opinion of a Junior Lord, not only in reference to the business specially confided to him, but also in reference to other questions of which he might have special professional or other knowledge. It might happen that a Naval Lord who had particular charge of one branch possessed more knowledge of a subject not in his own department than perhaps any other member of the Admiralty. When he himself was First Lord, his hon. and gallant Friend near him (Sir John Hay) superintended the Victualling and Store Departments; but as his hon. and gallant Friend, who had served on both the Gunnery and the Armour-plate Commissions, was an authority on questions relating to armour-plating and the arming of ships, he had constantly referred to him, and had always attached the greatest value to his opinions on these subjects. He had been enabled to obtain the benefit of his assistance in that way, because under the old system every question was discussed at the Board, where, as a matter of course, his gallant Friend took part in its deliberations. But now, unless the First Lord went out of his way, he would be deprived of such assistance from a Colleague filling a post similar to that which had been held by his hon. and gallant Friend. He confessed that he thought one result of the changes would be to give the First Lord too great control over the Department generally. The last Lord High Admiral, himself a naval officer, had been required to resign from having acted in too much independence of his council, but under the new régime the First Lord—a civilian—was wholly independent of his council, the members of which were merely to submit questions for his consideration, and act under his instructions. It was quite true that a Board was a cumbrous engine. It certainly was an impediment to the action of the First Lord. He had expe- 57 rienced it himself; but it was possible that a First Lord might, if left to himself, be inclined to go a little too fast, and a drag chain was sometimes a useful piece of machinery. He thought, therefore, that, in a Department like the Admiralty, a substitution of personal communication between the First Lord, who would be supreme, and the Junior Lords, for the old system of a Board where all were theoretically equal was not a wise measure. Hitherto the Controller had been under the First Naval Lord, who had a general super intendance of all matters in his department, and he could not understand how the business of the Department could be carried on under any other system. One of the principal functions of the First Naval Lord was—subject, of course, to the authority of the First Lord—to direct the movements of Her Majesty's ships. That involved the selection of particular ships for particular services, on which would depend what ships would be required to be repaired or fitted for commission. Hitherto this was arranged between the Controller and the First Naval Lord—the superintending Lord of the Department. But at present, if he were to interfere, he might be told by the Controller to mind his own business, and that no instructions on the subject would be received except from the First Lord. Another grave objection he had to the alterations made was the enormous amount of business which was thrown upon the shoulders of the First Naval Lord of the Admiralty. The First Naval Lord of the Admiralty had always been looked upon as what was called the first Naval Adviser of the Crown, and it was most important that he should have sufficient time to spare from mere details of Office, to advise the First Lord on all questions of naval policy. His superintendence of the Controller's department was only of a general character, and did not occupy very much of his time. It appeared from a Return which showed the distribution of work among the Lords of the Admiralty, that under the old system the First Sea Lord had functions to discharge which were divided into fifteen heads. These were—dockyards, as far as relates to Controller's department, distribution of the fleet, ships in commission with their fitting out, paying off, armaments, complements, and inspection, steam re- 58 serve, protection of trade and fisheries, appointment of commanders of ships-of-the-line and frigates, discipline, courts-martial and courts of inquiry, punishments and returns, and signals. Under the new arrangement, however, the First Naval Lord had fifty-four matters, instead of fifteen, to look after. He had, indeed, with the single exception of being relieved from the superintendence of the Controller's department, the functions hitherto discharged by the whole of the four Naval Lords thrown upon him. Among other matters that he had to attend to were coastguard, which alone required the supervision of a single head, naval coast volunteers, Royal Naval Reserve, appointments of commanders of ships-of-the-line and frigates, appointments of lieutenants (exclusive of lieutenants in command), staff commanders, navigating lieutenants, &c, sub-lieutenants, midshipmen and naval cadets, paymasters, clerks, medical officers, and so on, and the superintendence of the Victualling department and Medical department was added to his other labours. He could not see how it was possible for any one man to get through the work, except in the most perfunctory manner. It was quite true that his right hon. Friend had associated with the First Naval Lord a Junior Naval Lord to assist him. But he could not understand why his right hon. Friend should not have divided the departments between those two officers instead of throwing the whole responsibility on the First Naval Lord. The result was that there would be a sort of divisum imperium, in which they would in vain look for that ''just division of labour—the undivided control—the due responsibility" to which Sir James Graham attached so much importance. He could not, moreover, see the necessity for throwing all this work on the First Naval Lord. It was true that his right hon. Friend had reduced the number of Naval Lords by one, but he had called in Captain Willes as an assistant. He believed that it would not have been possible to make a better selection. But it was hard to say what duties would fall to the lot of Captain Willes, who was to assist the First Naval Lord in the coastguard and "other matters." He appeared to be a sort of "odd man" about the Admiralty. He had not even a salary attached to his appointment, but was borne as a super- 59 numerary captain on the books of the Fisgard. He could not understand why his right hon. Friend had not appointed this excellent officer a Lord of the Admiralty, and assigned him proper functions. But his right hon. Friend had made another appointment, that of Lord Camperdown. He had been surprised during the Recess at hearing that Lord Camperdown had been sent to report upon the state of the hospital at Haslar, because all the necessary information could have been obtained from Sir Sydney Dacres, who had for many years held the appointment of Superintendent of the Hospital. He could not at first understand why Lord Camperdown had been selected for the service, but, on inquiry, he had been informed that he was a Lord in Waiting attached to the Admiralty as supernumerary Civil Lord without pay, for he was not even borne on the books of the Fisgard. Although, therefore, the number of the Junior Lords had ostensibly been reduced, it had been increased for all practical purposes, so that there was no necessity whatever for imposing such heavy burdens on the First Naval Lord. He could assure his right hon. Friend that it was the general opinion of persons who were capable of forming a judgment on the subject, that it was impossible for any human being to perform the duties which appeared to have been assigned to the First Naval Lord; and he believed that his right hon. Friend's experience before he had been long at the Admiralty would fully confirm those opinions. The arrangement might possibly be made to work in time of peace, but he was satisfied that, under the pressure of an emergency, it would break down, and that the Admiralty would—for the first time, notwithstanding all that had been said against it—prove unequal to the occasion. He would now refer to other matters, and he could not help expressing his belief that it was a great mistake to have abolished the office of Storekeeper General of the Navy—an office created by Sir James Graham, which had in times past exercised a very salutary check, and had led to the effecting of considerable saving in our expenditure. He could adduce instances in which, in consequence of representations made to the Board by the Storekeeper General, the necessity of incurring a large outlay in the pur- 60 chase of timber which had been proposed by the Controller had been avoided; and he feared that the merging of the two departments into one would be attended with anything but good results. Another change which he greatly deplored was the abolition of the office of Engineer-in-Chief of the Navy—an office which had been held for many years, and the duties of which had been so ably performed by Mr. Lloyd. The vast sums which were expended from year to year in the purchase of steam engines rendered it most important that it should be filled by a gentleman of first-rate abilities and unimpeachable honour, whose duty it was to advise the Admiralty in respect of designs and tenders sent in by the first engineering firms in the kingdom. It had always been a matter of surprise to him that gentlemen of sufficient scientific attainments should be induced to enter into the service of the Admiralty at the small salaries assigned to those respective offices, which were so far less than they could obtain in the private trade. But what had his right hon. Friend done? He had abolished the office of Engineer-in-Chief, and had appointed Mr. Murray, who had for years entertained a reasonable expectation of receiving this appointment as the reward of his long and able service, to a minor post, accompanied by less salary, and had assigned him Mr. Lloyd's work, in addition to that of the appointment he previously held, at a smaller remuneration. He thought the policy adopted was at once paltry and deplorable, for we could not hope to obtain the services of the best men at inferior salaries. Indeed he had been informed that, for some years, first class men had not been coming forward to enter the service in the engineering line. He understood that Mr. Reed, the Chief Constructor of the Navy, was the present adviser-in-chief on marine engines. He knew Mr. Reed was a man of great ability, and if he had devoted himself to engineering he would, doubtless, have been one of the most able engineers in the country—but Mr. Reed had turned his attention hitherto more to the construction of ships than of engines. If Mr. Reed were to give a lecture on the subject he would no doubt have a numerous audience; but they would be attracted chiefly by the desire to see how so eminent a man would acquit himself in 61 dealing with a branch of science different from that in which he had earned and gained his reputation. But this course had been pursued, not only at the Admiralty, but at the dockyards, for his right hon. Friend had said—Instead of two co-ordinate authorities, instead of a Master Shipwright and Master Engineer, we shall throw them into one manager for all operations.He thought this a very bad arrangement, for it by no means followed that an officer who was a good shipbuilder should be also a good engineer. He trusted that his right hon. Friend would re-consider his decisions on these points, and give Mr. Murray the office and the remuneration to which his abilities fairly entitled him. He would not detain the Committee by entering further into the matter, and, in conclusion, he need not assure his right hon. Friend that he made these remarks in no spirit of personal hostility, but because experience had led him to the conclusion that these innovations at the Admiralty did not tend to the advantage of the public service.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
said, he would remind the Committee that the Vote was challenged last year, when it had been raised from £167,000 to £182,000. The Vote had, up to that time, been increasing from year to year, but cogent reasons for the increase were then demanded, and the right hon. Gentleman, now the First Lord of the Admiralty, said that the Office needed a revision. It was matter for congratulation that he had had the courage to make a revision of the whole Department on entering Office. It was all very well for the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Corry) to talk about arrangements made by Sir James Graham. He was, no doubt, a very clever man in his day, but he did not know then what we do now about these matters. The right hon. Gentleman, when he was in Office, used to say that he could not dispense with a single official, but the present First Lord had knocked off above £13,000 of salaries at a blow, and he (Mr. Alderman Lusk) believed the work would be more advantageously performed in consequence of the reduction. It was right that the First Lord should be at the head of the Office with undivided responsibility and command, without which the Admiralty could no more be expected to be well managed than a ship 62 could be well managed with several captains, and it was to be hoped he would go on with the reforms he had begun, and would next year be able to reduce the Vote by a considerable sum further.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, it was not his intention to make any lengthened observations, even if he were physically able to do so; but he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty a question with regard to the recent changes in the Controller's Department, not only because they affected those who had lost their position as civil servants, but because they affected the civil servants of the Crown employed in every public office. He entirely agreed with the remarks made by his right hon. Friend the late First Lord (Mr. Corry) with regard to the nature of the changes which had been made in the constitution and administration of the affairs of the Admiralty. Far be it from him to say that the new system should not have a fair trial in order that it might be seen how it would work; but during his tenure of Office he found out how much the public service had suffered from the constant interference of well-intentioned reformers introducing fresh systems. Changes had been made, and before there had been time to see whether they would conduce to economy or not, other changes had followed. He would be the last to say that this new scheme of piling the whole work on the heads of a few should not have a fair trial, and he trusted that the few would be able to bear the work put upon them. The principle of the changes which had been made appeared to be to consult the convenience of the Controller's department. Seven or eight clerks had been abolished, and those who remained had been placed in an exceptionally good position. No one had a higher opinion than himself of the merits and labours of the Chief Constructor, but it was a matter of fact that he benefited to the extent of £200 a year by the abolition of the clerkships. Then a professional secretary was appointed at £500 a year, and two of those employed in the Constructive Department were to receive £100 a year extra for assisting him, while the Controller of the Navy had a private secretary and writers for his private and daily correspondence. He congratulated the First Lord upon finding himself in a position to reduce the 63 number of clerkships in the Controller's department, and gave him full credit for the skill displayed in doing it, because when he (Lord Henry Lennox) held the Office of Secretary to the Admiralty this department signalized itself by its frequent, persevering, and earnest demands for increase of clerical labour. Indeed, although he besought the Controller, on the ground of economy, to do with a smaller staff, he was repeatedly assured that if the applications for increase were not granted the public service must suffer. When he heard that so many established clerkships had been reduced he could scarcely believe his ears; and if the reductions had been wisely made, the fact showed how much more difficult it was for a Tory Secretary to bring about these changes than for a Liberal First Lord. He did not object to the changes in themselves, if the First Lord could make them conscientiously, but he objected to the manner in which they had been made. When it was found necessary to reduce the number of the public servants of the Crown in the Government offices, the fair, honest, reasonable way was to give notice of the fact, so as to afford an opportunity to any who, from length of service or ill-health, might feel disposed to retire, to do so voluntarily; and retain in the service young men who had received an expensive education and passed an arduous examination in preparing themselves for their adopted career. In this case nothing of the kind was done; but one fine morning seven or eight young men, not selected from the junior list, were informed, as he was told, by a memorandum on a sheet of paper passed round the office, that their services were no longer required. Feeling that they had entered the service under a guarantee that they should remain in it until by misconduct or ill-health they forfeited their positions, they sent a memorial to the First Lord, asking what they had done to be dismissed without notice or reason, and asking for a re-consideration of their case; and the First Lord courteously replied that their case had been carefully considered, and that the staff was being reduced with a due regard to public interests. He had watched the career of one of these young gentlemen, he knew him to be an energetic and painstaking young man, and was the means of introducing him 64 into the office of Sir Spencer Robinson. That young gentleman, finding that his career had been cut short as far as the public service was concerned, sought an appointment in a private company, and obtained testimonials from those under whom he had served to aid him. Among those testimonials was one from Sir Spencer Robinson, who said he had found him, during the two years he had acted as his private secretary, active, intelligent, and strictly trustworthy, and believed him to be a good public servant. Mr. Reed said of him that he had filled positions of great trust; the Chief Clerk in the Controller's office spoke of him as a talented young man, and the late First Lord of the Admiralty added his testimonial which was even stronger in its terms than those he had quoted. Nevertheless, that gentleman—Mr. Yorke—had been deprived of his appointment, not because he was a junior, certainly not because of want of ability. The First Lord of the Admiralty had stated there was no actual agreement between the Crown and the civil servants, except that embodied in the provisions of the Civil Service Superannuation Act. Now, although this was literally true, it would be an evil day for the Civil Service if it were strictly acted on. Mr. Yorke, after spending five years in the public service, had now to leave his post, having the liberal pension of £10 a year allotted to him; while other gentlemen similarly deprived of employment were entitled to nothing. This was not a matter which merely affected the Admiralty clerks; there was a strong feeling about it in every Department under Government. The right hon. Gentleman the present First Lord of the Admiralty had stated some time ago that the clerks who were dismissed would be placed in a redundant list, and that he had appointed a Committee to see that no injustice was done; but in reality that Committee was not nominated until long after the injustice he referred to had been done, and when these young men were in search of situations in private firms. Although the Committee had been sitting for two months past, it had made no Report, and had given [no note of warning to those interested. Every month in which these young gentlemen were in doubt was a loss to them. The right hon. Gentleman had said the Committee were in- 65 structed to take into consideration personal applications, but no notice had been taken of those which had been sent in. Considering how important the subject was, he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he would place upon the table any correspondence which had passed with reference to the dismissal of these young men? and, whether he would grant a Return stating the age of the clerks dismissed and the amount of pension they were entitled to on dismissal?
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, the question just raised was one of dangerous importance; but surely the noble Lord could not seriously entertain the idea that a servant in a public office possessed a vested interest in his situation. With reference to the Estimates there was this year a phenomenon. The cost of the Admiralty Office last year was £182,000, and this year showed a reduction in that cost of £13,660, and this was the first instance he had ever met with of a lump reduction to a similar amount. The reason was plain: there was now, for the first time, a concentration of power and responsibility in one pair of hands. But he accepted this reduction only as an instalment. The central administration of the French Navy last year cost only £84,656, including the service for the colonies, and that small amount arose from the simple fact that the Minister of Marine was supreme, and had no deputy supremes at all. The total Estimate for the French Navy for 1870 is only £6,513,801!
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, his right hon Friend (Mr. Corry), in criticizing the alteration of the constitution of the Board of Admiralty, seemed to think that the outside public had always been satisfied with the way in which the business of the Admiralty was conducted. But the fact was that the public had not been satisfied. They had felt that they did not get their money's worth for their money. There had been a want of concentration and of control in the Admiralty, and the result was a want of economy in the great manufacturing departments, and a bad system of accounts. Valuable reforms had now been introduced, and among them he was glad to see the elevation of the Controller of the Navy to a seat at the Board. Hitherto some amount of confusion had appeared to exist in the minds of the highest Admi- 66 ralty authorities as to the position which the Controller held. In 1860 the Duke of Somerset, then First Lord of the Admiralty, said before a Committee that the Controller was responsible for everything connected with the building and repairing of ships, and that nothing could be done to increase his power and responsibility. But in 1868 the Controller himself was asked before Mr. Seely's Committee—"Has such a case ever happened that the Board recommends a ship should be repaired, when you have recommended that it should not be repaired?" And his answer was—"Yes, every day." He was further asked—''And that relieves you from all responsibility?" His answer was—''Entirely." It was a great advantage that now, for the first time, the Controller was made really responsible and had a seat at the Board, and he believed that in the present Controller the country had a most admirable servant, who would prove himself worthy of the confidence reposed in him.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, before he replied to the remarks of his right hon. Friend the late First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Corry) he would answer specifically the questions put to him by his noble Friend the Member for Chichester (Lord Henry Lennox). He was glad to see his noble Friend again in that House able to take part in the debates; and with respect to the remarks of his right hon. Friend that there was one Member of the Board who would be very much overworked, it would at all events be admitted that there was one Member of the former Board who had been very much overworked, and who had thoroughly earned his holiday. His noble Friend had asked some questions about the reduction of clerks which had been made in the Controller's office in the early part of this year, and prefaced those questions by some remarks in which he could not quite follow him. His noble Friend had referred in the first place to the professional Secretary to the Constructor of the Navy. But on that point all he had to say was that he had put honestly in these Estimates what used to exist in the Estimates under another form. Formerly one of the Assistant Master Shipwrights had been employed at the Admiralty, although charged in the Dockyard Vote. He had simply been placed in Vote 3 instead of in Vote 6, and that made it appear that there 67 was an additional officer. His noble Friend had also alluded to the employment of writers in the Controller's department. All he could say, in reply, was that the number of persons employed in that way was much less than it had been last year. On the question of the reduction of clerks he must remind his noble Friend that he had been away in the early part of the Session when the most accurate explanations had been given at two different times as to what had happened. He gave the information, in the first place, in a very long answer in reply to a Question put by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone), and he repeated that information almost word for word with some additional matter when he moved the Estimates; but as his noble Friend had now put the Question he was quite ready to repeat it again. His noble Friend had said that a certain number of clerks had been reduced in the Controller's office in the early part of the year, and expressed his surprise that any reduction could have been made, because when in Office he had been always receiving applications for an increase in the number of clerks. But the answer was perfectly simple. Under the former system there was a mass of correspondence between the Controller's and the Secretary's offices, but the union of these departments had altered all this. Much of that work had now been dispensed with, and the reduction had been further aided by the substitution of copying machines for clerks in such work as could be so performed. He was quite satisfied that his noble Friend had done his best to promote economy in the position in which he was placed; but he must say at the same time that, by means of a better system, they were now able to do with less hands. His noble Friend had also complained of the manner in which the reduction had been effected, and his remarks would apply not to one office but to all offices. The Controller's office happened to be the first which had to be dealt with, because the change in his position was one of the cardinal features of the new arrangements. Careful inquiry, however, was made both as to the amount of reduction which could be effected, and also as to those gentlemen who, considering the work they had being doing, could be best 68 spared if the proposed reduction was carried out. When that inquiry was completed the result was submitted to him and he approved the reduction proposed. And what did he then do? In the first place, he gave notice to all the gentlemen affected that a reduction was impending, and that after a certain time they would have to leave their offices. That notice was, in the first place, not one of an official character, but was a prior intimation personally conveyed to them that an official notice of the reduction was about to go forth. The next step he took was to provide that those gentlemen should be allowed to retain their offices to the end of the quarter, or, in other words, from the beginning of January to the end of last month. And the third step was to appoint a Committee who were instructed to do precisely the thing which his noble Friend thought proper to be done in such circumstances—namely, to ascertain what officers would be willing to retire; so that, as far as possible, the junior officers in particular departments, who, in consequence of the large reduction, might otherwise be obliged to retire, might not have to do so, but that the senior officers in different departments might so retire. In the particular department to which his noble Friend had referred it would be impossible to carry out that plan because many of the seniors were quite as unwilling to leave as their juniors; but, by dealing with the Admiralty as a whole it might be quite possible to retain the juniors in other branches of the service. That, however, was not a simple operation; it would take time; it would require to be dealt with very carefully, and had been so dealt with in the last few months. He was now in a position to say that throughout the different offices applications had been received and were still being received from many senior officers who were prepared to retire. Some delay had occurred in consequence of its being necessary to be very precise as to the terms of superannuation on which the gentlemen in question would retire, but none he believed that would not enable the authorities to complete the reduction before the end of the present month instead of the last month. He must say, however, that the kindest and best thing that could be done was to give the young men some previous notice 69 of what was intended, and not to leave them in doubt; to let them know that a reduction would be made, that their services might have to be dispensed with, and then to give them an opportunity, which had been given, of being retained in the public service if their seniors were found willing to retire in other departments. As to the particular clerk (Mr. Yorke) to whom his noble Friend had referred, he was an officer against whom he had nothing whatever to say; but so far from any injustice having been done him, every assistance was given him to obtain fresh employment, and his noble Friend had read the testimonials which he had received. He was sorry that his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) was not present; but he had been told that the inquiries which had been made in the different offices had been entirely successful, and that very few, if any, of the junior clerks would be removed altogether from the public service. His noble Friend had asked a distinct question, whether he was prepared to lay on the table the correspondence which had taken place on the subject? In the present incomplete state of the business nothing could be more unwise than to lay the Papers on the table; but as soon as the reductions were actually effected he would not have the least objection to produce the correspondence. So much for the special case of reduction. He came now to the remarks of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Corry) with respect to the changes which had been made in the transaction of business by substituting for the ordinary action of the Board what had been described as action similar to that in other Departments. Now, the words he was using on the occasion to which his right hon. Friend had referred were used especially with reference to the responsibilities of those who were the principal members of the Departments, and not with respect to what his right hon. Friend had very properly said was the efficient transaction of the executive business of the Admiralty. He should be the last to interfere with that, because it was perfectly well known that the transaction of that business was very efficient, and he had made no alteration in this respect. That part of the Admiralty business was most promptly transacted under a system which had been matured for many years past, 70 and which everybody admitted to be be perfectly sound. What he was speaking of was, not the transaction of the executive business of the Admiralty, but the adoption of responsibility among its principal officers; and he would say most distinctly that, so far as his judgment and experience went, the adoption of responsibility among the distinct heads of the great departments, instead of that responsibility being frittered away by the action of the Board, was a decided improvement. His right hon. Friend had said that the change which had been made was opposed to the evidence of Sir James Graham. He could only say he had read the evidence of Sir James Graham before the Committee over winch his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Henley) had presided, and the view he took of the responsibility of the First Lord was very different from that of his right hon. Friend opposite. His right hon. Friend asked why the Controller should be a member of the Board instead of a subordinate, but he thought he had previously given a good reason for that—namely, that it secured unity of action, and brought business into one hand which was formerly distributed among three or four persons. Formerly, the First Sea Lord, the Store Lord, and the Civil Lord had each a share of the business of the dockyards, and the Controller was their subordinate, but now the Controller was responsible for the entire administration of the dockyards, and that was not only a decided improvement in itself, but he was able to say was in accordance with the opinion of high authority. The business of each department of the Admiralty had been put into a plain shape, and it was admitted on all hands that it was transacted much more satisfactorily. The case had been put of two of his advisers giving contrary opinions; but what was the object of having a responsible head of a Department unless, when two of his advisers took different views, he heard the views of both and then decided what was right? It was surely much better that that should be decided by the responsible head of the Department than by an irresponsible Board. Then his right hon. Friend took up a Paper that was laid on the table the other day, and said that the First Naval Lord had too much work; that he had fifteen subjects to 71 deal with before, whereas now he had fifty-four. That was an example of how, by setting out figures in a particular way, almost any conclusion might seem to be justified. For instance, in that Paper, the appointments to ships of different classes of officers were placed in a separate line for each class, whereas they had been in one line, the effect of which was, in appearance, to swell out the business. Again, formerly the First Sea Lord had the entire responsibility for everything to be done in the dockyards; but now that responsibility was placed upon the Controller, and taken away from the First Sea Lord, and it was equal to twenty of the other subjects which he had to deal with. But in reading from the Paper his right hon. Friend had not observed that these fifty-four subjects were dealt with by two, not by one person. His noble Friend the Member for Ripon (Lord John Hay) acted as junior Sea Lord, and took a large amount of the business, which did not require the decision of his superior, and by this arrangement, by bringing an officer to the Admiralty in Captain Willes's position, and by relieving the First Sea Lord of the dockyard business, he had not added to the former work of that officer. His right hon. Friend asked why Captain Willes was not made a Lord of the Admiralty? Now he did not think it necessary to make everybody a Lord—he thought it was better to keep those who were at the head of the Admiralty few in number, taking care that they should have a sufficient staff of capable subordinates. Formerly, there were a Deputy Controller of the Dockyards and a Deputy Controller of the Coastguard, with an office at some distance, and they wrote letters to the Admiralty and received answers from it in regard to the business of their departments. Thus there was with respect to the Coastguard the same duplication of work as had existed in respect to the supervision of the dockyards. But now, under the new arrangements, Captain Willes received direct orders and communicated directly with the Coastguard, by which means a great saving of expense and an increase of efficiency were obtained; and they had been enabled the other day to substitute for fifteen clerks either two or three. Whether Captain Willes was called a Lord or not, he did his work at 72 Whitehall, instead of in a separate street where he would have to receive orders by letter. As to his right hon. Friend's remarks with regard to the Storekeeper General, the Admiralty were only carrying out what everyone who sat upon the Committee of last year saw to be necessary to correct a great anomaly. His right hon. Friend also complained of what they had done in reference to the Engineer-in-Chief. Now that was a most excellent arrangement. Formerly they had two co-ordinate authorities—first, the Chief Constructor, who was responsible for the construction of the hull of the ship; secondly, the Engineer-in-Chief, who was responsible for her engines. The consequence of this division of work had been unfortunate and had led to frequent mistakes. At present the Constructor of the Navy was responsible for the whole of the ship; and he had four assistants allowed him instead of three. Besides that, they had Mr. Murray, who had held the post of engineer at Portsmouth, and who had now the supervision of the factories, and in that capacity would advise the Admiralty in matters connected with steam. His right hon. Friend complained that whereas, previously, they had a Master Shipwright and a Chief Engineer, now the whole shipbuilding work in the dockyard was brought under one man; but that he maintained was a great improvement. He had now gone through all his right hon. Friend's criticisms. The result of the changes was simply this—that the Government had been enabled to effect a considerable economy in that Vote, and when their plans were got into thorough working order they would be also found to effect a very great improvement in the administration of the Admiralty.
SIR JOHN HAY
Sir, I wish first of all to allude to the proposed economy which the right hon. Gentleman thinks he has effected by discharging clerks and adopting a system of copying by the use of copying machines. I am the more anxious to allude to this, because my right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) will remember that, when we first took Office together, I called his attention to the saving that might possibly be effected by adopting this method of recording the Admiralty correspondence. Many hon. Members, no doubt, use this method 73 themselves for copying their correspondence, and in their case it is both economical and sufficient. But it is very different in the official correspondence for a public office. The references to it are so frequent, and the time for which it is required to last is so considerable, that the flimsy character of the paper used for it and the perishable nature of the copying ink are almost certain to cause the destruction of the public records which it is so essential to preserve at the Admiralty. Members of this House will find it extremely inconvenient when they ask for copies of political correspondence to be told that it has been recorded on copying paper, and is now totally illegible. [Mr. CHILDERS: The political correspondence is copied by hand, and not on copying paper.] Well, that rather proves my case, as the object of all copying is to obtain a record. With respect to the abolition of the office of Storekeeper General, I desire to say that I believe great public inconvenience will result from its abolition. The subject has been well considered, and I heard all the difficulties suggested by the Controller of the Navy and others before the Committee last year, of which I was a member, as to the inconvenience of having the Storekeeper General not as a subordinate, but as co-equal with the Controller of the Navy. It seems to me that, in making this change, the right hon. Gentleman has only considered the duties of the Storekeeper General in reference to the custody and supply of stores for the dockyards at home and abroad, and has omitted to consider his far more important duty of supplying our foreign squadrons, which is that which—as far as naval efficiency is concerned—makes his office so essential to the interests of the country. The value of the stores under the Storekeeper General's charge is, in this country, over £8,000,000, and the receipt and issue, in last year, is over £1,000,000. Well, the Controller may contrive to be responsible for the receipt and issue of these stores, but it is quite impossible for the Controller—in addition to his already sufficiently onerous duties—to be personally responsible for the supply of our foreign squadrons. Every increase or decrease of force, every addition to or subtraction from our squadrons, requires a corresponding arrangement in 74 the Store office; and it is proposed—as I understand the present arrangement—that this duty is to be confided to a clerk with £800 a year. I understand the chief clerk in the Storekeeper General's office is the person who is to be responsible to the Controller of the Navy for the issue of £1,000,000 worth of stores in this country, and. for the due supply of our foreign squadrons in all parts of the world with materials of war. with coal, and with all the necessary stores which alone can enable these squadrons to carry on the public service. It may be necessary under the new arrangements—with regard to the Store department in the dockyards—that the Controller should have control there; but I fear that great irregularities may arise from the supply of our foreign squadrons being intrusted to a minor official subordinate to a great department. I can conscientiously say that no one is more capable or more trustworthy than the present chief clerk (Mr. Girdlestone), but it is wrong to intrust so responsible an office to an official so extremely underpaid as is proposed. I am glad to find that the merits of the Registrar of Contracts have not been overlooked, and that his salary has been raised to an amount more in correspondence with the responsibility of his office; but, for similar reasons, it seems to me the equal responsible office which has to keep up the supply of our fleets should receive at least equal consideration. I must say that the Storekeeper General has, on many occasions, saved the country very considerable sums of money in consequence of his antagonism to and collision with the Controller. I can give the Committee an instance—A short time before the abolition of the office of Storekeeper General, the Controller of the Navy received orders to build certain ships, and of course it was his duty to endeavour to build them as cheaply as possible. The Controller made a demand on the Storekeeper General to purchase teak to build those ships. The Storekeeper General declined, and reported to the Board of Admiralty that there was plenty of excellent oak timber in the yards which was excellent for shipbuilding purposes. The oak timber, however, had been bought and paid for and taken in charge by the Storekeeper General at a higher price than the present price of teak. The oak tim- 75 ber would therefore have to be issued to the Controller of the Navy at a higher price apparently than the teak. But the oak timber could not be sold in the market for the price to be paid for the teak, and if not used in this way would have become waste; and this waste would have been occasioned only to effect a book saving, by making the ships so built appear a little cheaper, whereas they would actually have cost more. The Storekeeper General accordingly brought this to the notice of the Board, and my right hon. Friend compelled the Controller to construct the vessels in question of oak, and who thus, while apparently—as far as a book charge goes—was putting the country to some expense, was in reality effecting a considerable saving, by using good stores in our possession, instead of leaving them to waste, and buying that which only seemed a little cheaper, but was not more effective for the purpose. Now, it is obvious that it would have been a great disadvantage to the public service if the right hon. Gentleman had not compelled the Controller to use this timber, which could not have been sold advantageously. The Storekeeper General being an independent officer, and co-equal with the Controller of the Navy, at once brought this subject under the notice of the Board; but will a clerk in the Storekeeper's office, and under the superintendence of the Controller, possess such power? It is clear that such a person will have to report not to the Board, but to the Controller—the very person whom it was the duty of the Storekeeper General to check. Sir James Graham pointed out that one of the great advantages of giving the principal officers co-ordinate jurisdiction and permanent office was preventing them from being influenced by political feeling; and one benefit arising from their being independent of each other was that they might offer to the Board of Admiralty suggestions which—as in the instance I have just referred to—might effect great economy in the public service. I therefore feel that after the abolition of the office of Storekeeper General we shall not have the same security as before that our ships on distant stations will be efficiently supplied with stores. As to the immense amount of work now thrown on the First Naval Lord (Sir Sidney 76 Dacres), I do not know whether my noble Friend (Lord John Hay)—who is, I understand, to assist him—is able to take it as easy there as he is now doing, or whether he is now reposing after the arduous labours of the day. There seems to be no special business for which my noble Friend is specially responsible, whilst my gallant Friend Sir Sidney Dacres seems to me to have more work imposed on him than he can possibly get through. Indeed, I have heard with great regret that Sir Sidney Dacres is even now unable to work from illness brought on, no doubt, by the multifarious duties and excessive labour now imposed upon him. Is my noble Friend now responsible during Sir Sidney Dacres' illness for all these duties assigned to the First Naval Lord; and would it not be wiser to divide the duties more equally, as well as the responsibilities that are involved?
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he wished to say a word or two about copying letters. His own experience showed him that copying-machines could not be trusted. Some sixteen or seventeen years ago, when he was Secretary of State for the Colonies, his private secretary thought that great economy might be effected by the use of these machines. A few years ago he had occasion to refer to the copies so made, and had the greatest possible difficulty in reading them. Indeed, he believed that they would now be found to be blank sheets of paper. He thought the right hon. Gentleman could not entirely approve the system of machine-copying, as it was not to be applied to all kinds of correspondence.
explained that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) was in error in supposing that he did not share the opinion expressed by Sir James Graham as to the supremacy of the First Lord, but it was one thing to exercise supremacy as the head of a consulting Board, and another to exercise it in the manner which had been substituted for it by the recent changes in the administration of the Admiralty.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he was glad to find that his right hon. Friend agreed with Sir James Graham. With regard to copying, he thought the right hon. Member for Droitwich would admit that out of every 1,000 letters answered by the Admiralty, only one or two required to be confidentially copied. The very 77 important letters were still transcribed in the political department, while the others were copied by means of machines. As to the Storekeeper General, he wished to explain that formerly that officer not only received the accounts of stores in all parts of the world, and advised as to the quantity and quality of the stocks to be maintained, but also superintended the purchasing and contract department. Under the new arrangement the financial part of the business devolved on an officer under the Financial Secretary, while the Store account business was placed in the hands of the Superintendent of Stores, under the Controller of the Navy.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, he thought it impossible for any two men to discharge the duties laid upon the First Naval Lord and the noble Lord the Member for Ripon (Lord John Hay). There were no fewer than forty - five separate subjects which they had to attend to, among which were, looking after ships in commission, the manning of the fleet, the distribution of the fleet, marines, and marine artillery, the Coastguard, the naval coast volunteers, the Royal Naval Reserve, pensioners, when called out, appointments to ships of the line, the discipline of the navy, protection of trade and fisheries, commissions at sea, the Hydrographic department, the transport service, the convict service, coaling, the medical service, appointment of medical officers, the Victualling department, half-pay of officers, Greenwich Hospital, the Admiralty Court, and the general salvage question. Any one of these must be continually giving rise to discussions. When it was remembered that the sun never set upon our flag, that we had colonies in every part of the world, that our squadrons were to be found in every sea, and that questions connected with these subjects were continually cropping up, he believed the work to be utterly impracticable. With regard to another matter—the control of the Controller was now utterly removed. The Controller went to a Board, where his designs might be picked to pieces by the majority—a contingency which he believed was not unlikely to happen—and to him was also confided the whole of the stores of the Navy, a policy which he believed to be a most mischievous one. He had to look after the steam reserve, dockyards, dockyard craft, ship- 78 building, Constructor's department, inventions and experiments in steam and ships, gunnery and returns, Store department, and appointments of engineers. That amount of business he believed it to be impossible for any man to carry out efficiently. He would again refer to the plan laid down in 1864. That plan, he believed, formed the basis of the management of the present United States Navy, and had been found to work satisfactorily. He was perfectly satisfied that they never could manage the Navy with any degree of satisfaction unless the heads of the Departments were made responsible for the duties they had to perform, and were not allowed to screen themselves under the signatures of the Lords of the Admiralty. With regard to copying-machines, his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers), who had been in the colonies, must know that from the character of the paper employed, and from other circumstances, foreign correspondence soon became almost entirely illegible. He was convinced, also, that the same result would follow after a certain period in this country, in the case of copies of letters made by copying presses. He could not understand why the Controller of the Coastguard should be reduced, nor could he understand why Captain Willes, who was one of the best officers in the service, should be deprived of the office which his predecessors had held, and should be placed in a subordinate position. He believed the object to be simply to throw dust in the eyes of the public, to induce them to believe that great reductions had been effected, where in reality no reduction at all had been made. At the same time he believed that there was not one of the officers who had received an increase of salary who even now was not extremely underpaid for the work he had to perform. Officers were brought to London, and were expected to mix in the society of the metropolis, and to receive officers of the service, and this they had to do on a smaller income than that which an ordinary private gentleman received. The consequence was that it was impossible that naval officers could make proper provision for their families. The case of Mr. Murray was one deserving of remark. That gentleman, although he had never complained of his salary, had certainly grave reason to complain of the position in which the Government had 79 placed him—a position far below his deserts, and which was greatly inferior to that which he would have occupied had he expended his abilities in private enterprise instead of in the public service. As Superintendent of Machinery, Mr. Murray had the most onerous and responsible duties to perform, and he thought that gentleman had a very great grievance. If he were to reduce any officer at the Admiralty he would reduce the Civil Lord, because Civil Lords were, in his opinion, of no earthly use whatever. A young gentleman, generally an aspirant for Parliamentary honours, was called in and made a Civil Lord, and to his care were confided the enormous works which were always being carried on—works about which he could not have the slightest knowledge. If such a Civil Lord were examined as to the mechanism of a dry dock, a caisson, or any other of the appliances in daily use, he could give no answer, but by occupying the position of Civil Lord he was enabled to learn by rote a certain official jargon, and, after a time, to come down and puzzle every old sailor in the House. He now wished to refer to another point, and that was the appointment of Mr. Fellowes as assistant to the Inspector of Yard Accounts. With Mr. Fellowes's origin they were, probably, all acquainted; but Mr. Fellowes was chiefly famous for having, before the Commission of which he (Sir James Elphinstone) was a member, told more cock-and-bull stories and discovered more mares' nests than any other man, and if he had been appointed assistant inspector of mares' nests the post might have been a suitable one. Indeed, there was no one single statement which Mr. Fellowes made which was not as emphatically denied by the Controller in his evidence. Only that morning he had taken up his pencil to underline the contradictions made by the Controller, but they soon became so numerous that he got tired, and threw the book down in disgust. And yet they were going to give Mr. Fellowes this post, with a salary of £500 a year, when they had been compelled, as his right hon. Friend said, with regret, to discharge a number of young gentlemen whose abilities and talents rendered their services exceedingly valuable. In an earlier part of the evening an hon. Gentleman (Mr. Buxton) had called attention to the Treasury Minute of the 30th of November, 1868, stating that— 80Promotion by merit is the established rule. in the Civil Service, and to every young man who becomes the servant of the Crown in the Civil Service a way is opened to independence and even eminence.And the hon. Member was supported by the First Minister of the Crown, who stated that the subject was a very proper one to bring forward. His noble Friend the Member for Chichester (Lord Henry Lennox) was, in his opinion, entitled to the same merit when he brought forward the case of the clerks who had been discharged, and who, if they had not a vested right, certainly had a moral right to consideration, their parents having expended their capital in their education, and they themselves having undergone the examination necessary to qualify themselves for the offices which they had filled. After all this he believed they were entitled to retain their situations, and yet they had been treated in a manner in which, he ventured to say, no gentleman would treat his footman, his groom, or his cook under the same circumstances. He certainly felt it his duty to move the reduction of the Vote by £500, the salary payable to the Assistant to the Inspector of Yard Accounts, and he should press his Motion to a division.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £168,204, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Salaries of the Officers and the Contingent Expenses of the Admiralty Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1870."—(Sir James Elphinstone.)
said, that it was rather remarkable that the Committee had been detained for two or three hours listening to complaints from the other side respecting the economies which had been effected by his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, and that now they were suddenly met by a Motion for further economy made by the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir James Elphinstone). At first sight the spectacle was highly satisfactory, because it appeared to indicate that both sides of the House were about to run a race in order to see which could bring about the greatest economy—a race in which the public would gain the whole benefit. But he was sorry to say that when they looked under the surface the aspect of the case somewhat changed. He gathered from the Motion of the hon. and gal- 81 lant Baronet that though his proposal took the form of economy, it was in reality simply the vehicle he adopted for expressing disapproval of the reductions which had been already effected by the Board of Admiralty. The Committee was therefore called upon, not so much to disapprove of the appointment of an Assistant Inspector of Yard Accounts, as to express dissatisfaction because a number of gentlemen had been unfortunately relieved from their public duties, and the hon. and gallant Baronet thought they ought not to have been so relieved. ["Hear, hear'"] He (Mr. Gladstone) did not think that that view of the Motion—and the hon. and gallant Baronet admitted it to be correct—would much commend it to the Committee. In the course of the debate there had fallen from the other side of the House more than he could subscribe to. When the unfortunate contingency arose—for he admitted it was unfortunate—in which the Government had to choose between interfering with the prospects and careers of blameless individuals on the one hand, and maintaining burdens on the community by keeping in the public service and paying out of the taxes of the country officers whose services were not wanted, on the other, there had been too much disposition to assume that the right, or an allowable, course was to continue to maintain the useless officers for their individual benefit rather than to dismiss them for the interests of the public. Now, he contended that that was a complete inversion of the principle on which the public service ought to be conducted. The duty of the Government certainly was to keep the strictest good faith with these persons, and to mitigate in every possible way any inconvenience which they might suffer from dismissal. But it was equally their duty to plant the foot firmly, and decline to admit that useless offices were to be retained merely because their abolition might injuriously affect individuals. He could not compliment the hon. and gallant Baronet upon the form which his proposal had taken, because, if carried, it would be a Vote of Want of Confidence in the First Lord of the Admiralty. The hon. and gallant Baronet had not attempted to say that this office of Assistant Inspector of Yard Accounts was unnecessary; but he had rather complained that the First Lord had made a wrong selection. The 82 hon. and gallant Baronet, in fact, invited the Committee to defer to his judgment in preference to that of the First Lord in reference to the simple appointment of an officer. Now, if his right hon. Friend had arrived at the dismal position in which he was not fit to be trusted with the selection of an individual to fill such an office as this, it was high time that his right hon. Friend should quit his post altogther.
SIR JOHN HAY
said, he hoped his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir James Elphinstone) would not press his Motion to a division, although he had done quite right in demanding from the First Lord his reasons for appointing Mr. Fellowes to so important a post. Considering the deep interest which the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) had ever taken in all matters relating to the Admiralty, it was somewhat strange that he was not now in his place when this appointment was being discussed; but that hon. Member would probably forgive him for referring to the very peculiar relations which seemed to exist between him and Mr. Fellowes during the inquiry of last year. All the questions of detail put by the Chairman of the Committee seemed to be framed by Mr. Fellowes, who sat inside the Bar of the House and at the elbow of the Chairman, occupying a position which, as some persons thought, was not quite according to the ordinary usages of the House. Mr. Fellowes seemed, in fact, to be the naval conscience of the Chairman, who was indebted to him, not, perhaps, for broad views of policy, but for those minor questions which he thought necessary to lay before the Committee. It was said by profane persons out-of-doors that the First Lord of the Admiralty had been "muzzling Seely." What this meant he did not profess to know; he was quite sure the absence of the hon. Member for Lincoln was not owing to that operation. But at all events, Mr. Fellowes was the person selected to fill this office in the department which the hon. Member had so severely criticized; and he thought his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir James Elphinstone) had reason for asking why Mr. Yorke, who bore the highest character for financial skill, as shown in the First Lord's certificate just quoted, and had seen five years' service in the department, had been displaced to make room 83 for this gentleman. With these observations upon the appointment, he would now appeal to Ms hon. and gallant Friend to withdraw this Motion.
§ MR. CANDLISH
said, the Amendment really asked that Mr. Fellowes should be dismissed, and to do this would be to take the executive out of the hands of the Government. As a member of the Committee of last year, he thought that the First Lord of the Admiralty had exercised a sound discretion in appointing so well-informed, able, and industrious a person as Mr. Fellowes to this office, instead of a person who was supposed to have a vested interest in it,
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he had appointed Mr. Fellowes because he thought that the department of Inspector of Dockyard Accounts wanted additional assistance, and because, after the inquiry of last year, he felt satisfied that Mr. Fellowes would render valuable aid. He had no personal acquaintance with Mr. Fellowes. The knowledge which he acquired of that gentleman was a knowledge common to all the Members of the Committee; but he thought that, whether they had taken part with or against the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely), all would admit that Mr. Fellowes was a person of experience and knowledge who would be most useful in the department.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, that the reason given by the First Lord of the Admiralty would be valid if there was in the service no man equally able with Mr. Fellowes; but the fact was, that there were men in the service quite as good as that gentleman, or better. His object had been that this appointment should be thoroughly discussed, and that object having been achieved, he would withdraw his Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2.) £224,073, Coast Guard Service, Royal Naval Coast Volunteers, and Royal Naval Reserve.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, he hoped some explanation would be given of the changes which were proposed with respect to the Coastguard.
§ ADMIRAL ERSKINE
said, the reduction in one item of the Vote led him to hope not only for a further reduction, 84 but that before long that item would not be presented to the House at all in its present form. The reduction he alluded to was that in the retainer and drill money for a number of men of the Royal Naval Reserve. The reduction showed that so far from the country having been able to enrol 30,000 men as a naval reserve, it was not possible to obtain even the 16,000 men for whom Votes had been taken for several years past. The First Lord of the Admiralty, in introducing the Estimates, was right in cautioning the Committee against supposing that the measure he proposed of inviting the men of this force to take their annual drill afloat this year could be considered a test of the efficiency of the reserve in ease of their being called out for real service in war. Apart from the difference between a pleasant summer cruize of a few weeks on good pay, with a liberal allowance for clothes, and an enforced service of three or even five years, on a much lower rate of wages than the men could obtain elsewhere, he warned the Committee against supposing that three or four months after the breaking out of a war any great number of those men would be found either in British ports or sailing under the British flag. Within a very short time after being engaged in war the carrying trade of the country would be taken up by non-belligerents, and the seamen would naturally follow the course of trade. If any hon. Gentleman doubted this he would refer him to the tables, in the Trade and Navigation Returns, showing the extraordinary fluctuations that had taken place since 1861, in the amount of tonnage and number of seamen. The last Returns of the Board of Trade showed that the total tonnage of British ships was 5,754,000 tons; that the number of ships was 29,000; and that the crews out of which the naval reserve was recruited mustered 255,000 men. In 1861–2 the increase of tonnage was 127,500, and of seamen 3,315, being about the average for many years past; whereas in 1862–3 the tonnage had increased by 393,000 tons, and the seamen by 15,515 over the previous year; in 1863–4 the increase was considerable, though not so large; but in 1867, for the first time for forty years, there had been a decrease in tonnage of 6,336 tons, and in men of 615. 85 These fluctuations admitted of an easy explanation. In 1861–2 they were acquiring a large part of the carrying trade of the United States, then engaged in war; but of late years the trade had been resuming its old and legitimate channel. We had only to apply the argument to our own case to be convinced that should we become belligerents our merchant seamen would have every inducement to follow the course of the trade which non-belligerents will carry on for us. He gave English seamen credit for as much patriotism as any other class, but it was impossible to believe that any men who lived by their labour would not carry that labour to the market where the best remuneration might be offered for it. He therefore came to the conclusion that to create a naval reserve it was not sufficient to impose on the men obligations which it was impossible to exact from them; but the public service should be rendered as inviting as possible, so as to make it the interest of the men to engage in it. in the event of a war, rather than in the private service of foreign countries. Such an arrangement was perfectly possible, and at a much less expense than had been incurred during many years for the naval reserve. After the experimental squadron returned from sea, he hoped that the First Lord of the Admiralty would have no objection to the appointment of the Committee suggested by the hon. Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hanbury Tracy), to inquire whether it would not be possible to get a reserve which would enable the country to maintain a peace establishment at as little cost as possible.
§ MR. GRAVES
said, he regretted that year after year doubts should be expressed with reference to the value of the naval reserve corps, because the effect of such remarks was to unsettle the minds of seamen with regard to that force, and to deter them from joining it. The men in the reserve were led by those expressions to suspect that some breach of faith towards them was contemplated. The hon. and gallant Admiral had spoken of an overflow from the merchant service into the naval reserve. The fact was that the merchant service felt it difficult to scrape together enough men to do its work. His own faith in the value of the reserve remained unaltered, and he should be glad if the 86 Committee which the hon. and gallant Admiral (Admiral Erskine), desired to be appointed, should, at the proper time, inquire into the best moans, not of doing away with the reserve, but of improving it. The First Lord of the Admiralty, who proposed to go afloat with the reserve and attend their drill, would have an opportunity of ascertaining their value, and when this question came on again next Session, he could suggest what improvements he thought should be made in that force. He (Mr. Graves) believed that, by the offer of the small sum of £1 a year, almost all the fishermen round the coast might be induced to enter the reserve, and the boys might be obtained by the offer of 10s.
§ ADMIRAL ERSKINE
said, that when he spoke of an overflow, he meant one into the merchant service from the Royal Navy, from which between 1,500 and 2,000 men were annually discharged. As to a breach of faith towards the naval reserve, the Act of Parliament enabled the Government to discharge those men whenever they liked.
said, he had often expressed the high opinion he entertained of the Royal Naval Reserve, but it might be agreeable to the Committee if he were to refer to the last Report of the Commodore Controller General of the Coastguard in proof of the efficiency, good character, and discipline of that force. That officer had reported that 9,000 men were drilled on board the eight drill ships, and that of that number 1,250 were fit for petty officers, 1,800 for able seamen, 4,800 for good able seamen, and 1,150 for fair able seamen. There were 5,000 men available for battery service. Only one man out of the 9,000 had been dismissed for bad conduct. He regretted to hear that it was contemplated to abolish the office of Controller General of the Coastguard, for he feared that its abolition would have a damaging effect on that branch of the service. There were some 8,000 men in the Coastguard who were serving under circumstances in which it was very difficult to preserve good discipline. It was difficult to enforce discipline on board the coastguard ships, on account of the ships themselves being manned with only about a quarter of their proper complements—which made it impossible to carry on the duty as in regular ships of war—and on account, also, of the 87 connections on shore which were sure to be contracted by officers and men serving so long in the same locality. Neither was it easy to preserve discipline among the fleet-men on shore who were living with their families scattered in small bodies along the coast. But a very perfect organization was made for the control of the force when it was transferred from the Customs to the Admiralty. That was done in 1854 or 1855 by Sir Charles Wood. A Controller General and a Deputy Controller General were appointed, who had most important functions to discharge. The Controller General had to go round and inspect in their turn, which occupied a period of three years, all the stations in the United Kingdom, and reports were sent up to him by the district officers of the conduct, character, age, and other particulars of every man in the force. Every man had, therefore, confidence in the Controller General's knowledge and recommendations for promotion, and this operated as an incitement to zeal and efficiency which could only be expected under the control of an officer thoroughly acquainted with the force. The Coastguard, consisting of 8,000 men, was larger than the force on the Mediterranean, China, or North American station, and he had considered it so important that he had placed it under the command of a Rear Admiral instead of a captain as had previously been the case. But his right hon. Friend the present First Lord had substituted for the Rear Admiral Controller General and Deputy Controller, a captain who was borne on the books of the Fisgard to assist the First Naval Lord in coastguard and other matters. He (Mr. Corry) would as soon have thought of placing the Mediterranean squadron under the command of a captain borne on the books of the Hibernia at Malta. His intention, if he had remained in Office—and it was carried into effect to a considerable extent before he resigned—was to have substituted for the old line-of-battle ships some of the most effective armour-clads we had as coastguard ships. This would have been a reserve of ships such as we never had before—ten armour-clads, fully rigged, with all their guns and ammunition on board, so that in forty-eight hours they could be sent to sea manned partly from their own crews of 250 men and partly from the 88 coastguard on shore. That would have been a fleet, on any emergency, adequate to the protection of the country, and it was a most mistaken policy to endanger its efficiency for the sake of the paltry saving to be effected by the incorporation of the Coastguard Office with the Admiralty, and the suppression of the offices of Controller and Deputy Controller, who carried on the duties of the department during the absence of his chief on his tours of inspection, which occupied a considerable portion of his time. He should like to know if these inspections were now to be discontinued, and whether the district captains were to carry on the duties without supervision, and without any uniform and organized system of management. A friend of his had called the other day at the Admiralty, wishing to get some Returns relative to the force; but, after asking this clerk and that, he could obtain no information respecting it. A few months ago, the most minute particulars about every man in it might have been had. He could not express too strongly the great objection he had to the change which had been made. It was most important to the efficiency of the force that it should be conducted under one head, who could devote the whole of his attention to it. He could not understand how it was possible to expect efficiency under what he must call the most unfortunate arrangement which had lately been made. Then there was to be a reduction in the number of the men, though, as it was small, he should not care so much about that. It had been foreshadowed by Lord Clarence Paget; the suggestion as to reduction four years ago and the actual reduction now having both originated with his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers). He must protest against this force being looked upon by the Admiralty as a mere preventive force; it was a great naval reserve, which ought to be maintained as the only means we had of manning the Navy on an emergency. During the Crimean war they actually could not have sent the fleet to the Baltic but for the Coastguard, and if they were at war to-morrow the same thing would happen again. He had great confidence in the Royal Naval Reserve, but it remained to be proved to what extent its services might be depended on in ease of emergency. But every man in the Coastguard was under the obligation to serve afloat 89 when required, and therefore he thought it most inexpedient to reduce even in a small degree the number of that invaluable force. He hoped that his right hon. Friend was not going to reduce that force below its present number, which could not be done without grievously impairing its efficiency.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he was sorry to find that his efforts to promote the economy and efficiency of the service did not satisfy his right hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry). Whether he hit high or low his right hon. Friend was equally dissatisfied. In fact, anything that was, was good, and everything that was to be, was bad. He altogether despaired of satisfying him. He (Mr. Childers) entirely recognized the Coastguard as a great naval reserve, but he disputed altogether that they were only to be regarded as a reserve. One of their duties was to protect the revenue. His right hon. Friend said that as to the protection of the revenue. he did not care a straw, but that was a doctrine to which the House undoubtedly would not listen. It was perfectly true that in 1865 he (Mr. Childers) had suggested that, considering the great reduction in the preventive work of the Coastguard, some regard should be had to this circumstance in settling its strength. But he must point out that, as a naval reserve, the Coastguard was now very much more numerous than it was in 1865. In 1865 it contained a large number of civilians, and proportionately fewer sailors. Now it consisted almost exclusively of sailors; and these numbered more than were ever thought necessary in 1865. With reference to the arrangements for its superintendence, a separate department was certainly not necessary. It was in a condition to be administered perfectly well from the Admiralty itself. A change could not be made without some friction, but his perfect conviction was that the force would be more efficiently governed directly than through the separate intervention of the Controller's office. The force also was over - officered; and it would be much better if the districts were rearranged with a smaller number of officers. That might be carried out to a considerable extent; but they would proceed with great caution and care. As to the Royal Naval Reserve, he did not feel that he knew sufficient about it 90 to justify any change in the Estimates. It was a subject of very great difficulty. On the whole, he thought the reserve very effective; but he had heard a good many suggestions and improvements that might be made in minor matters, though he did not propose that these should be adopted this year. The Admiralty and the Board of Trade would look very narrowly into the matter; a departmental inquiry would be made, and next Session he hoped to be in a position, if he held his present Office, to state distinctly the views of the Government on the subject of this and of other reserves. There was an impression that the naval reserve had fallen off, but after very careful inquiry he had ascertained that it had not. The number was the same within twenty or thirty as that given in the Return of last year.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that he had not the Return with him, but it was within a very few of that for last year. Before sitting down he wished to say one word respecting the squadron which the naval reserve men were to be invited to accompany. It had been said that this squadron would test their efficiency, but it was impossible to test the efficiency of the naval reserve fully until they were called out in time of war. There were no means of calling them out at present, but it would be much better if, instead of being called up for drill on ships in port, they went on a cruize. It would test the excellence of their gunnery drill at all events. He hoped to be at Portland when the squadron met there. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) had spoken as if he (Mr. Childers) was going to command the fleet. He must say that, though he had no intention of doing anything so preposterous, he looked forward to that occasion with considerable interest.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
said, he believed that the Government were pursuing the right path in reducing this Vote, which was £276,600 in 1867 and £263,000 in 1868. He hoped that the First Lord of the Admiralty would turn his attention to the Coastguard, a branch of the service in which he was informed there was a considerable waste of money. Duties now were nothing' like so 91 high as they were some years ago, and the temptations to smuggling consequently were much diminished. Upon the greater part of the Scotch coast, and many parts of the English, there was actually no such thing as a man walking about in a broad-brimmed hat with a spy-glass under his arm, and he thought there were places where their services might be dispensed with. As to what was said about stores and ships, he ventured to believe that if, for example, the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) with his experience and practical knowledge of what was required, would fit out and send ships to sea with much less outlay in stores and a considerably smaller number of men than Her Majesty's ships require. The naval reserve, again, had cost the country £133,000year after year, till it was discovered that the force had dwindled down from 18,000 to 14,000 men, upon which the right hon. Gentlemen opposite last year consented to strike off £20,000 in one sum. He was told by persons well acquainted with the naval reserve that the country might not in case of need get in that force what it was paying for. The men received a yearly retainer of £6 each, and a further payment of £4 for the period occupied in training. He was assured that the retainer was the great inducement, and that if this were withdrawn—as it might advantageously be, for six months, at any rate, to test the value of the force—there would be no naval reserve at all. The Volunteers gave their services gratuitously—why should the naval volunteers require a retainer? They should, however, be paid handsomely for their services when called out.
SIR JOHN HAY
said, he entirely differed from the hon. Member who had last spoken, and from the hon. and gallant Member for Stirlingshire (Admiral Erskine) in the estimate which they had formed of the naval reserve, and he was surprised that hon. Members should be so anxious to do away with what was justly regarded as the naval backbone of the country. He was glad to find his right hon. Friend was going to give the naval reserve a little sea practice, which would show what naval capacity the men had, and what knowledge of gunnery they had picked up. A large iron-clad fleet had been built, and a considerable number of small cruizing vessels; there was also a fleet of contract steam vessels, which 92 in case of need could be used as cruizers. But what good would all these be without sailors to man them, and where were they to turn for men except to the Coastguard and Royal Naval Reserve? The House would remember the anxiety which pervaded the public mind some years ago upon this subject, when a Committee was appointed, presided over by the present Secretary of State for War; the system now existing grew out of the recommendations of that Committee—[Mr. CARD-WELL: Hear, hear];—and he was persuaded that the retaining fee given to the Royal Naval Reserve was money well spent in saving the country from from those periodical panics. The hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Lusk) seemed to think that the most effectual way of promoting the efficiency of the force was by doing away with the retaining fee, and so abolishing the only claim which the country possessed upon the services of these men. In the case of the Trent affair it was shown that a sufficient number of the naval reserve men were willing to come forward. Of the 16,000 men upon the books 6,000 or 7,000 could be relied upon to come forward in the first two months, and if hostilities lasted for twelve months there would be 12,000 of the total number actually serving on board our ships. Surely that was a reserve worth paying for? Then as to the Coastguard. His right hon. Friend opposite seemed to think that adverse criticism was levelled at all the changes he desired to introduce. On the contrary, there were many of his changes which were admittedly improvements. Some of them had been suggested and actually commenced by his predecessors, while others he had the credit of originating as well as of carrying out. It would undoubtedly be a great improvement to have the management of the Coastguard under one roof. And if Whitehall were larger, it would be for the benefit of the public service that the various heads of naval departments should all be within easy reach of the First Lord, instead of being scattered and separated in various buildings. But it was quite a different thing to deprive the Coastguard afloat of a suitable head. The proposal to concentrate the Coastguard, and ascertain what they had learnt in their different drills, was one which he highly approved. But nobody would think of assembling ten ships of the first class for purposes 93 of exercise without placing them under suitable command, and hence he thought a mistake had been committed, when the Coastguard were about to be assembled, in depriving them of a flag officer to command. There was no more gallant or able officer than Captain Willes, who had been been brought to the Admiralty in reference to this matter; but he was junior to two or three of the captains who would be in command of the ships, and therefore navally he could not assume the command of the force. An officer who was to have charge of this great fleet ought to be competent, not only by skill and experience, but also by position in his profession, to command the whole, and, as this would not be the case, he felt that a great mistake had been made. He always thought that the arrangements for the services rendered by the Coastguard to the revenue were subordinate to those they rendered in defence of the country. At the time of the debate in 1865, the number of seamen in the force was 4,000, while the number of civilians was 1,200, and it had been promised that seamen should be substituted for these civilians; whereas the number of seamen in that service at the present time was only 4,500. How had that increase been effected? It was understood in 1865 that as the civilians were taken off the books their places were to be supplied by seamen, and it was therefore at that time contemplated that eventually the number of the seamen would be increased to 5,200. Lord Halifax, who had great experience on the question, stated it to be his view that the number of the seamen in the force should be increased to 10,000. Therefore the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty was mistaken when he took credit for having increased the number of seamen in the Coastguard. Of course the 500 seamen who had been added to the force were more serviceable than the 1,200 civilians who had been got rid of; but still the force fell considerably short of the 5,200 to which it was contemplated in 1865 that the number of sea- men should be raised. To the subject of feeding the Royal Naval Reserve he had given some attention. He did not think that it could be expected that the Navy Estimates should bear the cost of education of any other boys than those who were being trained for the express purpose of filling up the waste in the 94 number of seamen in the Navy. The waste in the naval reserve might, however, be supplied by boys who lived in the neighbourhood of the seaports who wished to become seamen, and who might be taught sailoring on board training ships in the various ports, the cost of their instruction being borne either by the local rates or by some arrangement between the Vice President of the Council of Education, the Board of Trade, and the Admiralty. The names of such boys would be entered upon a register, and while they were made useful citizens they might be relied upon to join the Royal Navy in times of emergency. He had endeavoured to indicate in a few words what would take a long time to make thoroughly clear, but he trusted that he had made himself generally intelligible.
§ MR. HANBURY TRACY
said, the intention of the hon. and gallant Member for Stirlingshire (Admiral Erskine) and of others who were interested in this subject was not that the naval reserve should be swept away, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir John Hay) appeared to assume, but that the whole of the existing system of naval reserves should be inquired into. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty in alluding to the Coastguard service, had accidentally let out that it was impossible to say how far our naval reserve could be relied upon, and that, in truth, was the real question under consideration. What was complained of was that the Admiralty allowed years to elapse without doing anything in the matter at all. Last year an hon. Member had moved that the Vote for the naval reserve should be reduced by £25,000, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite had assented to the Estimate for that purpose being reduced by that sum, and the result was that the number of men had continued the same, notwithstanding the fact that such a reduction had been made in the cost of maintaining that force.
SIR JOHN HAY
explained that the Estimates were framed in accordance with the ordinary practice, which always took credit for the whole established force, and contemplated increasing the number of men in that force up to its normal number of 16,000, and therefore, the additional sum proposed to be taken, and struck off on the Motion of the hon. Gentleman opposite—he believed the 95 hon. Member for Stirlingshire—not being voted, the force had not been filled up in accordance with the original intention of the then Government, but left at the number now borne.
§ MR. HANBURY TRACY
said, that notwithstanding the reduction in the Estimates to which he had referred the number of men in the force had remained the same. From inquiries he had made among the seamen in the force he found that a large number who had attended the review last summer had said that they had quite enough of belonging to the naval reserve, and that they should leave it. He was sorry that the captains of the ships upon that occasion had not sent up a report of the behaviour of the naval reserve, as he had heard that it was shameful.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, this was a very important question, because, if after an experience of ten years, the reserve could not be depended upon for the Navy, where the difficulties of finding a reserve were certainly not greater than those of finding a reserve for the army, it was a very serious matter for the country. He rejoiced to know that it was the intention of the First Lord of the Admiralty to institute a full and careful inquiry into the subject. His hon. and gallant Friend who spoke last was mistaken in saying that he (Mr. Cardwell) was Chairman of the Commission which recommended the establishment of the naval reserve; but he had had the honour of proposing the plan which the Commission adopted. The hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone) who was an active Member of the Commission, would recollect the difficulties they had to contend with at that time. There was a feeling of almost universal distrust as to such a scheme proving effectual for its purpose; and some high authorities had even expressed the opinion that naval impressment must be still resorted to in times of emergency. By the institution of a naval reserve it was, however, believed by those who were in favour of it that the difficulty had been solved. It had been said that the men in the naval reserve could not be trusted to come forward in an emergency, and to his great surprise he heard an hon. Friend of his (Mr. Alderman Lusk) propose that, by way of testing this reserve, their retainer should be discontinued— 96 the result of which would be the same as would follow such a course in the Militia—namely, that the men would consider their obligation to serve in the event of any difficulty at an end. Experience had shown not only that the men in this reserve force might be relied upon in an emergency, but that they might be relied upon when no emergency existed, and when, therefore, the terms of their engagement did not call upon them to serve. They had not had the opportunity of coming forward in time of war, and he hoped it would be long before that opportunity arose; but they had had the opportunity of volunteering in the Trent case when there had been no war, and they had come forward in large numbers—far beyond what the occasion required. Therefore, he maintained, they had every reason to trust them. What he wanted for them was fair play and nothing more. Let the inquiry be perfectly fair and just as between the reserve on the one side and the public on the other. The question was an important one. He knew of no question so important as regarded our army and navy as the question of how far we could substitute for the regular forces engaged in the military service of the country a great popular body, who, while engaged for the greater part of their time, as the naval reserve was, in the ordinary occupation of earning their bread among their fellow-citizens, should, nevertheless, give a portion of their time to such training as would make them useful as a reserve which could be depended upon in case of an emergency. He believed that the class whose ease was now under discussion were men of that character, and he should remain of that opinion unless the result of a fair inquiry should show him that he had been mistaken. He hoped that those men would prove to be the vanguard of a reserve body which might be established not only for naval, but for military service; and, therefore, he should be sorry to see any discredit thrown upon them by the country till experience proved that they were unworthy of its confidence.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he was glad to hear the just and generous sentiments to which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) had given utterance, and which would tend to remove what he (Mr. Liddell) could not but regard as the false 97 and mischievous impressions likely to be created in the country by the remarks they had heard with respect to this re- serve force. Speaking on behalf of a seafaring population in the North, who contributed largely to that reserve, he could not but express the regret with which he had heard some of the observations made that night, not only by civilians, but by naval officers. On the; other hand, he courted inquiry. He believed that the men of the reserve would be the last to shirk inquiry. They would be glad of it, because it would show what their services were, and what they were prepared to do if called upon; but he trusted that, whatever else might be done, the advice of the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Alderman Lusk) would not be taken, and the retaining fee with- drawn. That fee was the real hold we had on them. For a comparatively small sum we had the power of laying our hand on the élite of our mercantile marine. Whether they were in this or in foreign countries, the "shipping masters" of the various ports had their names, and a record of the places in which they were to be found. Again. he knew from his own experience, that the system of enrolling these men had united the seamen of the "merchant" and the naval services by that highest, feeling, a desire to unite as one force in defence of their country. The training they received as a reserve was extremely useful to the discipline and tone of our mercantile navy. He hoped, therefore, that the House would cling tenaciously to a system attended with such beneficial results.
§ ADMIRAL ERSKINE
said, he had, in three successive years, moved for a Return of the number of those men, and the places in which they had been enrolled; but each time he had done so, he had been met with remonstrances on the ground of the difficulty there would be in furnishing such a Return. He had been informed that it would take six weeks to make it out. He had moved for it more than a month ago; but at this moment he was in communication with the Board of Trade, which Department assured him that the Return could not be furnished without a great amount of clerical labour. If those men could not be got on paper, how were they to be got in the flesh? [Sir JAMES ELPHINSTONE: Apply to the Registrar 98 of Seamen.] He had applied to the Registrar of Seamen, who had given him a paper printed in blue ink, which was distributed monthly at different ports, but the numbers given in it were those of all the men who had enlisted since the establishment of the force, with incorrect deductions for each year subsequently. His right hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry) had referred to the Coastguard. The number of these men was about 8,000, and the Vote to be taken for them was £739,521. The number of seamen and marines was 28,000, and the Vote to be taken for them was £948,292; so that, in point of fact, we were paying for 8,000 coastguardsmen two-thirds of the amount for which we got 28,000 seamen and marines of the regular Navy. During the Crimean War he had what he was going to call the misfortune of having 400 of these coastguardsmen under his command. Younger men had given him much less trouble, but they were not even the best guardians of the revenue. During the time they were withdrawn from their ordinary duties to serve in the Navy, their place on the coast was taken by old pensioners. In reply to a Question from Sir Stirling Maxwell, on the 9th of May, 1856, Mr. Wilson stated that there was no reason to think smuggling had increased, while the pensioners were doing coastguard duty, but, on the contrary, while in 1853 the duty received on tobacco was £4,750,000, in 1854 it was £4,871,000, while there was a diminution of expenditure on watching smugglers to the amount of £21,000, making a saving in one year, by employing pensioners, of £142,000. Adding that to the £179,500 voted for the Coastguard, the amount would exceed £800,000, a sum sufficient, one would suppose, to supply a force to protect the revenue, and leave a large surplus for maintaining a body of real seamen.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, he could corroborate the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, as to the distrust which had existed in respect to the reserve. But he thought the difficulty of the matter was solved by the statements laid before the Commission by the right hon. Gentleman and Captain Browne. He was anxious that his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty should recollect that 99 the season during which he proposed to call out the reserve was just the one when merchant ships would be going out on different foreign voyages. The numbers who would come forward might, therefore, not be so large as we might otherwise have reason to expect. He was happy to see the turn the discussion had taken. Living on the East Coast of Scotland there were a number of men belonging to the naval reserve, and he observed that the training to which they were subjected had an excellent influence, not only on themselves, but on the whole of the seafaring population. It was a matter of serious consideration, now that the state of our mercantile marine was almost degraded by the introduction of foreign seamen, whether it was politic to withdraw that ex ample.
§ MR. T. E. SMITH
said, he wished as a shipowner and representative of a borough. (Tynemouth) which had largely contributed to the naval reserve, to say, that he believed there was included in the force the best section of the mercantile marine. He thought it would be exceedingly discouraging to these men, who had given and were willing to give good service in return for the remuneration they received, if it was to go forth to the world that the House doubted whether they would fulfil their engagements to their country as loyally as their country fulfilled these engagements with them.
said, he desired to remind the hon. and gallant Member for Stirlingshire (Admiral Erskine), who had referred to the troublesome conduct of the Coastguard men on board the Baltic fleet, that the occurrences he had alluded to took place not under the present system, but when that body was under the control of the Customs, instead of, as now, under naval command and naval discipline.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £62,820, Scientific Branch.
(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £1,086,004, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Salaries of the Officers and the Contingent Expenses of Her Majesty's Dockyards and Naval Yards at Home and Abroad, which will come in course of pay-
ment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1870.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he desired to remind the House that when the general subject of the Estimates were first brought forward this Vote formed the subject of a Notice given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry). His right hon. Friend objected to the building of three ships of the new construction in our yards. [Mr. CORRY: Two.] He feared that he must correct his right hon. Friend, because his right hon. Friend objected to building any new ships whatever this year, and his amendment was to reduce the Amount taken for all the new ships under Vote 10.
said, that his objections had been made against the building of any more sea-going turret ships until the Captain and the Monarch had been tried. The smallest of the three vessels, he believed, was intended for coast defence, and to the application of the turret principle to the defence of our coasts he had made no objection.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that his right hon. Friend had at first given notice of his Motion on this Vote, but had subsequently altered it to Vote 10. As it, however, related to this Vote he trusted that the discussion would be at once taken and the question decided without any unnecessary delay. Provision had been made in the present Estimates for the building of two new turret-ships at a cost in the present year, exclusive of engines, of about £60,000, or, inclusive of engines, of about £80,000. Of that amount they proposed to take in the present Vote £40,000, and his right hon. Friend proposed to reduce No. 10 Vote by that sum, though it included there the third ship. But as that was the sum for labour on the present Vote the Amendment would fairly raise the question now. It was true that his right hon. Friend offered them the alternative of not objecting to the granting of this money if they would undertake to expend it in the building of some other class of ship; but, as he would presently show, that alternative they were not in a position to accept, and he felt it his duty distinctly to ask the Committee to affirm the policy on which this Vote was based, namely, that of carrying out, during the present year, the construction of two new turret-ships. With respect to the policy of 101 further reducing this Vote he could not help feeling that it would be a course to be deplored. Last year there was a great reduction made by the late Government in the number of men employed in the dockyards—5,000 men being discharged between March and July—and a further reduction of 1,000 men would take place in October by the closing of the Woolwich Yard. If they went still further and reduced the number of men in the dockyards by 600. which would be the result of the course proposed by his right hon. Friend, it would be going even further than he, who had been so frequently accused that evening of undue economy, was prepared to advocate. He believed it would be impolitic for this country immediately and suddenly to stop the building of a moderate number every year of efficient sea-going iron-clad ships. The year before last the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) proposed to build four iron-clad ships in addition to a very large number of wooden ships. Last year it was proposed to build five additional iron-clad ships. [Mr. COREY: Six.] Yes, six; and this year he (Mr. Childers proposed to build only three. His right hon. Friend suggested that the money should be expended on some other class of ship, but he was not prepared to advise the adoption of any other class, and especially of wooden vessels. Of that class too many, in the opinion of some had been built lately, and after the debate of last year he did not think it advisable to recommend the building at present of any more broadside iron ships. Practically, therefore, they had only the choice between building these turret-ships and not building any at all. He had described on a former occasion the character of the turret-ships it was proposed to build, and he presumed it would not be necessary to repeat that statement; but he would again mention one or two points in connection with them. It was proposed to build—leaving out of the question the second improved Hotspur, to which it now appeared that no objection was raised—two ships of the most powerful type ever constructed. These two ships would be of 4,400 tons, 285 feet in length, with a draught of water of from 25 feet 9 inches to 26 feet 6 inches, and with engines of 800 nominal horse 102 power, working up to seven times that power, able to propel the ship 12½ knots an hour. They, moreover, would have the remarkable power of carrying 1,750 tons of coal, which would be sufficient for ten days' consumption at 12 knots, eighteen days' consumption at 10 knots, and from twenty-five to thirty-five days at a low rate of speed. They would carry 250 officers and men. They would have two 25-ton guns in each turret. The freeboard would be 4 feet 6 inches, the base of the turrets being protected by a breastwork of oval form, 7 feet high, making together a height above the water-line of 11 feet 6 inches. There would be 12-inch and 10-inch armour on the sides and the breastwork, and 14-inch and 12-inch on the turrets, with 13-inch to 20-inch backing, and 2-inch and 2½-inch plating on the deck. There would be this peculiarity about these ships, that they would be thorough sea-going vessels without masts, so as to enable them to give an all-round fire. The proposal to build these ships had been subjected to much criticism. It was said by his right hon. Friend opposite and others that it was a very rash experiment to build sea-going ships without masts, and that, in fact, they would be different from anything that had been built, or had been proposed to be built. He confessed that he heard the statement with surprise, from his right hon. Friend. The ships he proposed to build were only an improved—a considerably improved version of the Glatton, which his right hon. Friend opposite had himself taken a Vote to build this year. The Glatton,—which his right hon. Friend described very carefully last year,—was not nearly so efficient as these new ships would be; she had only two guns as against four; she could go only 9½-knots as against 12½, and could carry only 500 tons of coal instead of 1,750 tons. Yet, the Glatton was distinctly designed as a sea-going ship. [Mr. CORRY: No.] He must differ from his right hon. Friend. He had carefully read the Minutes on record upon this subject, especially that of the hon. and gallant Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay), and he challenged contradiction that the Glatton's draught of water for instance, and other properties, were distinctly not those of a harbour and coast defence ship. In fact, his right hon. Friend had described 103 her as a ship that would be able to go to the Mediterranean or other distant parts, and to take part in any general action. The difference between the proposed ships and the Glatton was that the proposed ships would be 285 feet in length instead of 245; would be able to run for twenty or even thirty days with their 1,750 tons of coal; they would go faster, and, considering the top breastwork was 11 feet 6 inches and the distance between the water-line and the guns was 13 feet 2 inches, they would be more seaworthy vessels than the Glatton, with its 8 feet 6 inches of breastwork and 11 feet 2 inches between the water-line and the guns. The charge, therefore, that something new was being proposed was substantially disposed of when the novelty was found to be simply an improvement on the model of last year's Admiralty. The criticisms on the adoption of the twin screw were opposed to theory and example. The greater the draught the more efficient the twin screw. They had been told there was no evidence in favour of a twin screw for ships drawing but 13 feet, but the Glatton drew 20 feet, and it had a twin screw, and the French. Government was building a ship of the same draught with twin screws. It had been objected also that a turret-ship should not be built with so great a draught as 26 feet, because she would not be available for coast and harbour defence—that the draught ought not, at the outside, to exceed 17, and should more properly be under 14 feet. These new ships, however, he repeated, were not designed to serve as coast defenders, but thorough sea-going vessels, capable of traversing the Atlantic or taking part in an action as efficient fighting ships. The safety of the ship was increased by the twin screw; to disable her it would be necessary to damage three of her four distinct engines and one of her screws. The resolution to build these ships had not been come to hurriedly. Sir Sydney Dacres, Sir Spencer Robinson, Admiral Key, Captain Willes, Captain Seymour, with his noble Friend (Lord John Hay), who were all at the Admiralty, were all consulted, and, thinking it wise to take further counsel, they had obtained the opinion of Admiral the Earl of Lauderdale, Admiral Yelverton, Captain Coles, Mr. Whitworth, Dr. Woolley, and Mr. Fairbairn. He did not think it 104 necessary to appoint a regular Committee, but he had asked these distinguished officers and men of science to meet his Colleagues and himself at the Admiralty in order to apply to the proposals of the Controller and the Constructor the most severe criticism. With respect to one of these officers, the Earl of Lauderdale, he had, as a member of the former Turret-ship Committee, expressed great doubt as to the possibility of constructing any sea-going turret-ship, and it was therefore to be expected that any view he would take would be qualified in accordance with the opinion he had given before the Committee. Indeed that Committee had embodied in their Report, as their opinion, that there would be great difficulty in constructing a sea- going turret-ship, more especially one to force its way against heavy trade winds, monsoons, and strong periodical winds that were met with in all parts of the world. Knowing, therefore, that Lord Lauderdale retained this opinion, he would not quote him on the present occasion, although he concurred in the Memorandum signed by the other gentlemen. They said—On the first point, 'the lowness of freeboard,' there appeared to be a unanimous opinion that the thickness of armour required to meet such naval artillery as is even now found at sea could only be carried by a ship of low freeboard, and a general concurrence of opinion that the height given in the design was sufficient for the services on which it was intended to employ these ships. On the second point, the employment of two screws double engined in connection with the draught of water proposed, there was an entire unanimity of opinion that the great draught of water was favourable to the action of twin screws, and that great security from accidents totally disabling the steam power was to be found in their adoption. It was considered that some trifling loss of speed might possibly follow from the use of two screws instead of one, but the necessity of the arrangement entirely overcame this disadvantage. On the third point, the absence of masts, there was a strong concurrence of opinion that, for this particular design and for the services such a ship was capable of rendering, the absence of masts was indispensable, and that their presence with any advantage that could be derived from it was far more than counterbalanced by the disadvantages attending their use, the security derived from double engines and the large supplies of coal carried by the ship being more than equivalent to any useful effect obtainable by masts and sails in ships of this construction intended to be sea-going ships.Finally, it was agreed that while no existing monitor ship afforded any conclusive comparison with the present design, every kind of experiment with monitor ships should be made, the 105 present design being pushed forward as rapidly as possible.These were the opinions and criticisms of the distinguished officers and other persons whose names were given, and they enabled the Admiralty to see that they were supported, not merely by the opinions of professional members of the Board, but by those of the most distinguished gentlemen they could ask to assist them. Irrespective, however, of objections to the design, his right hon. Friend had asked them why they did not wait for the trials of the Captain and the Monarch; but in the opinion of those whose advice he had just read the vessels afforded no grounds of comparison on which they would be justified in building or not building ships of this design. Both in respect of freeboard, of the central breastwork, of carrying power, of all-round fire, and in other matters, they were quite a different class of vessel, and their success or failure would tell us little. Besides, now we had experience with reference to ships more similar to those proposed than the Captain and the Monarch; and that experience enabled us to see what their faults were and how they could be avoided. Two well-known American Monitors, the Monadnock and the Miantonomah, were not entirely satisfactory, but we had been able to see in what respect they were not, and to avoid their defects. The Monadnock, 3,300 tons, with a freeboard somewhat lower than that proposed, went to the Pacific, and the other vessel had twice crossed the Atlantic, had fallen in with heavy weather, and had behaved perfectly well. Their faults were manifest, and these had been avoided. One immense disadvantage was their not carrying much coal; but the proposed vessel would carry a considerable quantity. Another disadvantage of these ships was that they had no breastwork over which the guns could be worked safely during heavy weather. A British officer, who came over in the Miantonomah, reported that while the other ships were rolling 20 degrees she rolled barely 4 degrees. Therefore there was a considerable amount of actual experience in favour of the opinion on which the Government based their proposals. He should strongly deprecate any further delay in the matter, because the Captain and the Monarch could not 106 be completed to be tried this summer; and it would not be prudent in Parliament to delay the building of the ships proposed, for we had only two ships whose armour was sufficient, and that barely, to withstand the gun with which ships were, or were to be. armed in other navies. On these grounds they ought to go forward and build the proposed iron-clad ships; and he therefore asked the Committee to pass the sum asked for in this Vote.
said, he quite agreed it would be unadvisable further to reduce the number of artizans in the dockyards, and it was on that account that he had proposed to take the division on Vote 10 instead of Vote 6, his object being that, if his Amendment were carried, the artizans might be employed on other work. He was sorry, therefore, that the course taken by his right hon. Friend (the First Lord of the Admiralty) left him no alternative but to take the division on Vote No. 6. It was quite contrary to his intention that his Amendment should lead to the discharge of workmen from the dockyards, and he did not understand why it should do so. It is true that he had stated in a Memorandum he had left at the Admiralty that it was not his intention this year to lay down any new ships—armour-clads or unarmoured; but he saw no reason why two or three turret coast defence ships should not be built, instead of the two sea-going turret-ships to which he objected. Therefore, if any workmen were discharged, the fault would not be his. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the Glatton as being in most respects like the turret-ships he proposed to build; but the Glatton was never intended to be a sea-going ship. It was quite true he had said she might be sent to the Mediterranean or anywhere else; but he never intended that she should make the passage by herself. He intended that she should do so exactly in the same way as the Miantonomah made her passage across the Atlantic, under convoy, and in tow if anything went wrong. The quantity of coal which she could stow—only 500 tons, would have been wholly inadequate for a vessel without masts, if she had been intended to depend on her own resources as a seagoing ship, and is a proof she was never designed for such service. Then the draught of water of the Glatton was 107 only 19 feet. That was the draught given him by the Controller, but his right hon. Friend seemed to think that it made very little difference whether a vessel drew 7 feet more or less. He (Mr. Corry) thought that 19 feet was too great a draught for a vessel intended for coast defence, but the Controller said that the other objects which must be kept in view could not be attained if the draught were reduced to 16 feet. It was not his (Mr. Corry's) fault if she drew more than that. The right hon. Gentleman said that, if even we waited for the trial of the Captain and the Monarch, no criterion would be furnished as to the advisability of building the proposed ships. It might, however, be found that the freeboard of the Captain, which was higher than that of the Monarch, was too low, and then à fortiori the freeboard of the intended turret-ships would be too low also. He wished the Committee to understand that he did not appear there as an enemy of the turret principle as applicable to seagoing ships. On the contrary, he had been one of the strongest advocates for trying the experiment, and in 1865 he made a speech complaining of the supineness of the Board of Admiralty in not having tried the experiment sooner. All he said now was—Let us be cautious and do not let us—when the principle will be tested in the course of a few months by the Captain and the Monarch—go hand over head, committing the country to an expenditure of £600,000 on two sea-going turret-ships before one has been tried, for he maintained that no turret-ship, having any claim to be considered a sea-going ship in the proper acceptation of the term, had ever yet been tried at sea. He also hoped that the Committee would not be prejudiced by anything said or written out-of-doors on this subject. The late Board of Admiralty had been held up as the most weak, helpless, and ignorant Board that ever sat at Whitehall, for denying that the applicability of the low free board turret principle to sea-going ships had been fully established. Some of the Admiralty critics had directed the most insulting language against the late and previous Boards. Sir Frederick Grey, who was First Naval Lord under the late Liberal Government, asserted in a pamphlet that America had no available sea-going 108 turret-ships; and in the latter part of last year a gallant captain who had taken a leading part in censuring the Admiralty, wrote in The Times as follows:—You have seen them (low freeboard turret-ships) cross the Atlantic, go to St. Petersburg, pass Cape Horn, reach California, yet the gallant old Admiral says America does not possess one sea-going iron-clad.The letter then referred to Admiral Boutakoff's squadron (in the Baltic) of seventeen monitors and turret-ships, and that under Admiral Porter in the United States, and went on to express the hope that if they should appear off Halifax or Aberdeen the good folks may be able to sleep soundly on Sir Frederick's assurance. It was some consolation to find that the Liberal Board of Admiralty had been blamed as much as his had been, but he would show that, after all, the "gallant old Admiral" was right, and that these Russian and American vessels had no pretension whatever to be considered effective sea-going ships. The letter to which he referred was made the text of an article in a leading journal, in which very strong language was used, and in which the ignorance, stupidity, and weakness of the Board were commented upon. The writer said—A Board of Admiralty with better intentions, but at the same time weaker than the present, has probably never been known. Their want of information is surprising to all who draw their knowledge from other sources than those of the Department itself. It bodes ill for the nation when its responsible Ministers declare that no sea-going turret-ship has yet been seen. Admiral Boutakoff is cruizing in the Baltic at the present time with twenty-two pendants, of which no less than fifteen are turret-vessels, and more are to be added.Now it so happened that at the time that article was written an English man-of-war, the Liffey, was at Cronstadt on a special mission, and Captain Johnson, on reading these assertions, considered it his duty to write a letter to the Admiralty on the subject. He had seen the turret-ships composing the Baltic squadron, and knowing that they had no pretensions to be sea-going vessels, he wrote to the Admiralty to describe them. Captain Johnson said the Russians sent over an Admiral to America during the civil war to obtain information respecting Monitors, and then continued— 109His report of them was so favourable as a means of coast defence that the Russian Government at once constructed ten of the exact American type. These vessels are only a few inches above the water amidships, and the commander of one of them told me that at sea—that is, in the Gulf of Finland—the turret was covered by a painted canvass cover battened down to the deck, but that even then a good deal of water got below, but which the pumps got rid of. Questioning Admiral Lezoffsky (the same as sent to America to inquire), who was Governor of Cronstadt when I was there, he said they were never even thought of as ocean-going vessels, but were admirably adapted for their purpose—that of coast defenee; and I agree with him there, for in the shallow and intricate navigation of the Gulf of Finland, where shelter can be obtained easily by a vessel of light draught, I can imagine no better vessel. The question of the monitor class of vessel being fit for ocean cruizers will not, I think, with sailors, be any question at all. Landsmen merely judge from the fact of these vessels having crossed the ocean, but I believe they were convoyed; and for a few vessels to make a passage in safety is no criterion of their usefulness for war purposes at sea. The steady platform obtained by the deep immersion is cancelled by the inability to open the port to fight the gun. A vessel must either rise over the sea, or the sea will go over her, as is evidenced by the covering of the turret, &c. Since the building of these monitors the Russians are constructing other turret-vessels; but they all admit they have not solved the problem of the steady platform, to be obtained by what is called low freeboard, in combination with sea-going qualities. They must be either high out of the water to give them sea-worthiness, with all the impediments of masts and rigging to interfere with all-round fire, or they must confine themselves to coast defence where shelter can be obtained and coal replenished.These were the types of the vessels which, as they were told, proved that the turret principle could be safely applied to sea-going ships of war, and justified public writers in branding the Admiralty with ignorance and other opprobrious epithets with respect to the American turret-ships. He had another letter, which threw some light upon their claims to be considered as sea-going ships, and it was written, not by an effete admiral, but by one of the ablest captains in the Navy, an officer in the prime of life, quite up to all the modern improvements, and knowing as much about the Navy as any man in the service. This officer said—I went on board the Miantonomah shortly after her arrival at Spithead from America. I never saw such a wretched, pale, listless set of officers and men. They seemed to have no 'go' left in them, and crawled about the decks in a state of debility, one and all. I was shocked and immensely struck by their inactive appearance, which remained vividly impressed on my mind's 110 eye. More than one officer declared he would not for any consideration, of his own free will, go through the same experience gained by his voyage across the Atlantic. The vessel was compared to a dungeon under water filled with a stifling atmosphere by a steam-engine, the crew had no place to go to in bad weather, all the openings battened down in a very light breeze, and the foremost cowls, which were very high, and through which the engines and fans on the lower deck drew the fresh air, were turned aft to keep the water out, so that for days and nights the crew were kept below living upon and breathing over and over again their own breath. After a resuscitation on English beef fêtes and dinners, theMiantonomah had her character and capability changed in a, wonderful way with the returning health and spirits of those on board. She was called a good sea-boat, could fight her guns during heavy weather (they never having been cast loose at sea). She was a model of comfort and security, as the turrets afforded fresh air and a promenade. I sincerely trust we shall not waste money on any costly turret-vessel until the capabilities of the Monarch and the Captain have been shown.This was a good illustration of the value to be attached to the assertion that it had already been proved that low freeboard turret-ships were fit to be employed as cruizing vessels at sea, on the strength of the fact that the Miantonomah had crossed the Atlantic and the Monadnock rounded Cape Horn. Again, what happened in the case of the Wyvern? She was built for the express purpose of crossing the Atlantic, and reinforcing the Confederate squadron at Charleston, and, no doubt, if she had succeeded in escaping from Liverpool she would have done so, and we should have had flaming accounts of her performance. But what was said of her by the Admiral in command of the Channel Squadron with which she was tried in the year 1866? Alluding to a particular occasion on which the broadside-ships were ordered to fire at a target in a heavy seaway, Admiral Yelverton wrote—The turret system of arming a ship would have had a great triumph on this occasion, for there is no doubt a sea-going turret-ship—say 12 feet or 14 feet out of the water—would have fought her guns without the slightest difficulty. I do not allude to the Wyvern, for the sea would have washed into the ports of her turrets and swamped everything inside…. This ship could never have been intended as a cruizing or sea-going ship. At sea she is almost always battened down, to the exclusion of air in the stoke-hole and engine-room. If she were to cross the Atlantic I should advise that, like the Miantonomah, she be escorted by a powerful steamer. I was informed by Captain Burgoyne that, on the occasion of steaming down Channel, this vessel had two of the fires partly extinguished, and she is totally unfit for the duties of a sea-going vessel.111 Admiral Yelverton approves of the turret principle, with a comparatively high freeboard; but we have had no proof—no reliable opinion—that vessels with a low freeboard, such as those now proposed, will be fit for service at sea. His right hon. Friend had given the Committee a list of officers and others whose high authority he stated was in favour of the building of those two turret-ships. Now, he confessed he was much surprised at some of the names which his right hon. Friend mentioned, as he had good reason for believing that their opinions were the other way. All he could say as to that, however, was, that he had made it his business, since these vessels were first proposed, whenever he met a naval officer or a person connected with shipbuilding, to ask him what he thought of them, and one and all of those gentlemen, without a single exception, were decidedly against building them. He had met in coming down to the House this evening a distinguished admiral, who told him the excitement on the subject in the United Service Club was greater than could be imagined, and he added that, if the Committee could not be prevailed on to interfere, the aid of the Royal Humane Society should be called in to stop the building of vessels, to be sent to sea without masts and sails. First, then, he desired to raise the question whether it was expedient to build any more of that class of ships until the Captain and the Monarch had been tried; and, next, if that question were answered affirmatively, whether the proposed turret-ships were ships of the description which they ought to build? He maintained that it was highly inexpedient to build any more sea-going turret-ships until the Captain and the Monarch had been tried. He had obtained answers from naval officers to letters written by his private secretary last year as to the substitution of the turret-ships for two of the broadside-ships then proposed to be built. Those answers all came from most intelligent officers on active service, and whose opinions were mostreliable, and they were almost unanimously opposed to the building of any more of those seagoing turret-ships until after the Captain and the Monarch had been tested. Captain Chamberlain and Captain Vansittart alone among them were of a contrary opinion, and even their opinion was expressed in a very qualified man- 112 ner. Captain Chamberlain, although favourable to turret-ships, said—"Many years and much money may be spent in conquering difficulties and rendering them habitable or healthy;" and Captain Vansittart thought that—"How-ever rigid a deck may be made over the turrets for the purpose of affording standing or working room, it will be found to fail"—from the effects of explosion, and without such a deck no turret-ship could be worked at sea. Captain Hood, of the Excellent—one of the first officers in the Navy—thought that for many reasons, which he specified, broadside sea-going ships were most decidedly to be preferred to turret-ships. Captain Foley, of the gunnery ship at Devonport, said—"It would be extreme folly to build more sea-going turret-ships until the Captain and the Monarch had been tried at sea." These, be it observed, are the opinions of the two officers in command of the gunnery ships, and whose views on the subject are therefore deserving of especial attention. Captain "Willes was of the same opinion, and held it to be necessary that sea-going turret-ships should have poop, forecastle, and tripod masts, and he objected to the twin screw. He could, therefore, hardly understand how Captain Willes could be favourable to the right hon. Gentleman's proposal. Captain (now Admiral) Hall hoped that no pressure of irresponsible opinion would induce the Admiralty to order other sea-going turret-ships to be built till the Captain and the Monarch have been fairly and honestly tried; and he added that he was on board the famous Atlantic-crossing Miantonomah in steaming in a moderate breeze from Sheerness to the Nore, and even then she was obliged to be battened down. In the name of common sense of what use would be the steady platform, if the ports of the turret could not be opened in bad weather? Admiral Yelverton thought "the Captain and the Monarch ought to be fairly tested as sea-going ships before we venture on building other vessels of the sort." Admiral Warden was strongly in favour of the turret principle, but admitted that "no sea-going turrets had ever yet been built which would be suitable as cruizers, or perhaps be pronounced habitable." He thought these difficulties might be overcome; but he 113 added—"It is quite open to doubt whether, at the present moment, it is wise to commence building more turret-ships when there are two so near completion." The view taken by some hon. Gentlemen engaged in shipbuilding might be different; but that was not a shipbuilder's but a sailor's question—namely, whether low freeboard turret-ships could fight the guns in a heavy sea and accommodate their crews as sea-going ships; and the great preponderance of opinion among naval men was that no turret-ship yet built was fit to be employed as a seagoing man-of-war. He was quite content to rest his case on the general objection to building any more sea-going turret-ships at present—that is to say, until the Captain and the Monarch had been tried. He now came to the objection to those particular ships, although it was hardly necessary to repeat them, as they had been so frequently stated. He held that it was unsafe to send a ship to sea without masts and sails as a ship which was to make long voyages. Most sailors would admit that; and he had not met one who did not urge the strongest objections to it. Those vessels were ill-adapted for coast defence from their great draught, and, on the other hand, they were wholly unfit for cruizers as depending solely on steam for their power of locomotion. If any accident were to happen to their machinery, and such accidents were of frequent occurrence, the consequences might be disastrous. He would refer on this subject to the Report of Admiral Warden on the last trial of the Channel Squadron. That gallant officer was strongly in favour of sea-going turret-ships, but in advocating them he laid down the conditions which they ought to fulfil, observing that—These conditions carried out, it remains of course that the turret-ship should be so constructed that she should be a habitable and comfortable ship for officers and men, with a sufficiency of sail power to enable her to meet the various requirements which are usually made on British men-of-war.He quite agreed with the gallant Admiral in thinking that sufficiency of sail power was indispensable. But, notwithstanding all the objections which he thought existed to the building of those ships if his right hon. Friend came down and said that there were special reasons of State which made it of the utmost 114 importance that not a moment should be lost in building them, he should have no alternative in that case but to agree to what was proposed. But the figures before them showed no such ground for haste existed. The two larger ships to which he objected would cost nearly £600,000; and it was proposed to expend during the year only £62,000 of that amount, or little more than 10 per cent of the total cost. He ventured to say that if the commencement of those ships were postponed till that time next year and if the whole strength of the dockyard and all the money which the House would vote for them were then applied to their construction, they might be got ready for sea every whit as soon as if the small sum now asked for were spent on them in the course of the present year, and he thought that was an unanswerable reason for waiting till the Captain and the Monarch had been tried at sea. He sincerely hoped they would prove successful; and if so, nobody would be more happy than he would be to give every support to the construction of sea-going turret-ships. But until they had been tried, he thought the Committee would pursue a very unwise course in sanctioning the building of any more of that description of vessels. On those grounds he should beg to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £30,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £1,056,004, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Salaries of the Officers and the Contingent Expenses of Her Majesty's Dockyards and Naval Yards at Home and Abroad, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1870."—(Mr. Corry.)
§ ADMIRAL ERSKINE
said, that having listened, as a seaman, with great interest to the discussion between the late and the present First Lords of the Admiralty as to turret-ships, he was sorry he could not agree with his right hon. Friend on that side (Mr. Childers) that it was advisable for the Government of this country to continue experimental shipbuilding in our dockyards, at a time, too, when foreign nations were actually employed in trying those experiments at their own cost in the private building establishments of the country. He thought he was justified in speaking of it as a system of experimental ship- 115 building, for the very fact of that discussion showed that many practical naval men, at all events, regarded it as experimental. He held in his hand the Reports of the officers to whom the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Corry) had alluded, and he would remark, as the right hon. Gentleman had done, that while there was a very singular diversity of opinion among them with respect to turret and broadside-ships, yet, with one or two exceptions, they were all exceedingly anxious that no more of those ships should be built until the Captain and the Monarch had been tried at sea. When he first had the honour of a seat in the House hon. Gentlemen opposite strongly urged the building of turret-ships instead of broadside - vessels, and it was fortunate the Admiralty of the day did not follow their advice, for the turret-ships then spoken of were of small size, and intended to carry 95-cwt guns, which would now be entirely useless. When, however, the hon. Gentlemen opposite came into Office they wisely determined not to follow the advice they had formerly given. After inviting tenders for competitive shipbuilding, they resolved on constructing broadside-vessels of the Audacious class; and with what, in his opinion, was a fatal mania with all Admiralty Boards they tried a number of experiments at the same time, and, in addition to building broadside-ships, introduced the principle of twin screws. It was quite certain that on some point there must be a failure, because, if the mode of mounting the ordnance in the Monarch and Captain were correct, that in the Audacious was wrong. Again, if the mode of propelling the Monarch and Captain were the right one, that of propelling the Audacious was the wrong one. The Monarch and the Captain might be right in one particular, and wrong in another; but they or the Audacious might be wrong in both particulars. Captain Willes, who had been referred to by the First Lord of the Admiralty, and who was one of the most intelligent officers in the Navy, had expressed his opinion that the turret system and the twin screw system were still merely experimental. In the Penelope, according to Captain Willes's statement, the twin screws would not turn the ship at all. He would not trouble the Committee with his own opinion as to single or twin 116 screws, guns in turrets or on the broadside, or—to use a landsman's phrase—high or low freeboards; what he desired to point out was that the ships which were being built might be right in one particular; they would, in all probability, be wrong in another. With regard to the ships about to be laid down, they were to fulfil two new conditions. They were to have no masts nor yards, and were to be able to carry 25-ton guns, which, he believed, were not yet in readiness to be placed on board. Indeed, he had heard that the present 25-ton gun was insufficient to carry the charge which it was intended it should carry, and that changes in its construction were proposed. It had been said, by way of inducing the House to consent to the building of these vessels, that their construction would be spread over a period of two or three years, and that, consequently, a large sum for the construction of new ships would not appear annually in the Estimates. But this appeared to him to be a most objectionable part of the scheme, because in two years' time either the ships or the ordnance to be placed on board of them might be entirely obsolete. With regard to the guns, for example, he might mention that attempts were even now being made to adapt the Moncrieff carriage to marine guns, and if the attempt succeeded it was quite certain that the turret or cupola system would be wholly superseded. Then, as to the ships themselves, he might remark that a few months ago he saw, in the establishment of Messrs. Randolph and Elder, the eminent shipbuilders on the Clyde, the model of a vessel which it was confidently stated would shortly supersede all ships of the Monitor type. It was perfectly circular, was calculated to steam fifteen knots an hour, and could move about in all directions. She was to have an immense stowage for both coals and provisions, and she could carry a large crew, which might be increased at pleasure by the increase of a few feet in the diameter. Moreover, she was to be armed in the centre with a kind of fortress, which might be rendered nearly, if not entirely, impregnable. Mr. Elder's experience convinced him that the notion of such a vessel was no phantom of the imagination. We might derive great advantages from studying the experi- 117 ments made by foreigners who were building vessels of different kinds in our private dockyards. The Government had hitherto not supplied sufficient details respecting such vessels, the Board of Trade having been content to give the aggregate number, their tonnage, and the ports at which they were building. But there was another consideration worthy of notice—whether such ships would ever reach their present destinations. Because if the nation for which they were destined were in the position of belligerents these vessels could not be allowed to leave our ports, and if we were at war with any nation we should not allow them to leave England. He had spoken of the probability of the failure of the ships which were proposed to be laid down, and if he were disposed to believe in the possibility of their success it would be from the high opinion he entertained of the abilities of the Controller of the Navy, who, he supposed, was mainly responsible for them. But there was one other contingency which he should dread even more than the failure of these experiments, and that was their success. It had been said that forty-six iron-clad ships would be necessary to enable us to keep our place, as a maritime power, with regard to other nations; but if we turned out the two most powerful ships in the world there would be no difficulty in the smallest country in the world copying their type and increasing its navy to the same extent, and then we should be under the necessity of entirely re-constructing our Navy for the third time in fifteen years; a re-construction, be it remembered, that would not be effected for a few hundred thousand pounds; but taking the cost of iron ships at the moderate rate of £300,000 a-piece, at an expense to the country of £12,000,000 or £13,000,000. He was one of those who had been returned to Parliament, pledged to give his support to a Government whose conduct was to be guided by principles of retrenchment and efficient economy, and he had consequently viewed with great satisfaction many of the reductions proposed by his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, believing that they will not impair in any degree the efficiency of the Navy, but that they will give increased energy to some of the departments affected by them. He believed, however, that the reduction of a 118 ship here and the recall of a ship from another quarter, and the discharge of a number of Admiralty clerks whose services were no longer required, would be but as a drop to the ocean in proportion to the lavish expenditure in which the country would be plunged if we were to indulge in a system of experimental shipbuilding. We were the last nation in the world to indulge in experiments of this nature, and he trusted that his right hon. Friend would not drive him and those who thought with him on political subjects into the opposite Lobby, but would take such a course as to enable them to reconcile their duty and their inclinations by giving him that cordial support which they were anxious to afford to his administration.
§ MR. LAIRD
said, that, as they knew, he had always advocated the adoption of turret-ships, and the discontinuance of broadside-ships, which had been proved to be comparatively inefficient. Great objection had been made at first to introducing turret-ships at all until the action between the Monitor and the Merrimac altered public opinion. The Royal Sovereign was cut down, and the country was led to believe that the Admiralty were going to introduce turret-ships. But when that vessel was completed, notwithstanding that the reports of her officers were most satisfactory, she was laid up in ordinary and not further used. Experiments of a costly character were afterwards made with the Royal Sovereign's turrets, and though the turrets got partially damaged, still the machinery and gear for working the turrets were not damaged at all. That got rid of one great objection. His right hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry) had referred to the trial to which the Wyvern and her sister vessel the Scorpion were subjected in 1865 in company with the Channel Fleet. But the trial was not a fair one. The requirements and recommendations made by the excellent officers in command of those two vessels were not attended to, and the Wyvern especially was, as the Admiralty ought to have known, not in a fit state to be subjected to such a trial, and in such heavy weather. The next step taken in reference to turret-ships was taken by his right hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone. His right hon. Friend selected six or seven firms to send in designs for turret 119 and for broadside-ships, on the distinct understanding that the plan approved should be constructed by the party sending in the plan if the estimate was a reasonable one. One of the plans was approved, but it was decided that a broadside-ship should be build. From time to time, therefore, the question of turret-ships had been postponed, and on that account he was glad to hear the other evening that the First Lord of the Admiralty proposed the construction of turret-ships, and those, too, of a good character. From the description that he had received of these vessels, in a letter from Admiral Robinson, he believed that they would rank among the most powerful vessels afloat, and that they would be more heavily armoured than the vessels of any country, with the exception of Russia, while they would at the same time be thoroughly seaworthy. They were capable of carrying so much coal that they could be sent into the Channel or the Atlantic for a month together without taking any fresh supply on board, and if any vessel got alongside them in time of war, she could not escape without serious damage. The Russian vessels would have 2 feet 3 inches of freeboard, instead of 4 feet 6 inches, as in the proposed ships, while the turrets of the Russian vessels would not be nearly so high out of the water as those of the vessels it was now proposed to build. The Captain and the Monarch were vessels of a totally different character, for they were intended for sailing as well as steaming, and could not carry much above one-third of the quantity of coal. Supposing the Captain orMonarch were despatched to any place on an emergency, they would be obliged, before going half the distance the proposed ships can steam, to have a fresh supply of coal. The twin screw, such as that with which the Russian vessels were supplied, formed in his opinion an important element in ships of war. It had been said that the Dutch turret-ship could not pivot; but the captain of that vessel had written to him stating that, with the twin screws, the vessel, 73 metres in length, had been turned round repeatedly in a harbour only 90 metres broad. An experiment with a ship furnished with twin screws had been made in the Mersey. The helm was lashed amidships, and the vessel was brought up that crowded 120 estuary by the double screw, without using the helm at all. Another vessel had, in the Paraguayan war, got her rudder damaged, but yet was able to go into action with the aid of her double screw. A vessel furnished with double screws could work with only one, which was an important matter supposing one screw should get disabled. An objection which had been urged was that a vessel would not steer if one screw were disabled; but there was a ship which went from Liverpool to the Red Sea with twin screws, and in her trials in the Mersey it was found that with the starboard screw not disconnected she made 7½ knots, and in a second experiment with one screw disconnected she made 9, which was only 2½ knots under her full speed, with both engines and screws at work. In his opinion the Admiralty was perfectly justified in adopting the twin screw for their large vessels, and he was sure the country would be glad to hear that they were going to build these powerful ships. He thought that Captain Coles was quite right in advising their being built without masts. In order to show the safety of vessels constructed upon the turret principle, he might state that he had known ships with a freeboard of only from 4 to 5 feet make voyages of 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
§ ADMIRAL SEYMOUR
said, he felt it his duty as a naval officer to express his entire disapproval of the design of these turret-vessels. He did not believe that they would be sea-going. He did not believe in a sea-going turret-ship with a freeboard of only 4½ feet. He had seen many seas running in which vessels heavily armoured and heavily laden as these would be could not live. He did not believe in sea-going turret-ships without masts, as it was by no means difficult to conceive both engines being disabled at the same time. A hot bearing in one engine and any trifling accident in the other would leave the ship like a half-tide rock and endanger the lives of those on board. He did not like the twin screws. They were very much higher in the water than the single screw, and the consequence was that when the vessel was pitching they would be repeatedly out of the water and not doing their work. As the Monarch and the Captain were now so near being finished, if we were to wait awhile we should be able to judge whether a free- 121 board of 14 feet or of 8 feet was the better, and if we found that the one of 8 feet was superior, then we might go down a little lower; but it was not safe to do so at present. He hoped the Committee would not allow the proposed vessels to be built. With respect to what had been said by his hon. Friend the Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) that Sir Spencer Robinson was daily over-ruled about the repair of ships, and thus all responsibility was taken off his shoulders, he could state that so far as he recollected, during the two years he was at the Board they almost always gave way to that gallant officer, and even in some instances thought him rather a hard master.
§ MR. SAMUDA
said, he believed that if every Member of the Committee was polled separately, it would be found that they were all of opinion that at present we could not stand still and refrain from proceeding in any shape or way to recruit our Navy. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stirlingshire (Admiral Erskine) urged them to avoid what he called "experimental ship-building;" but he would like to ask what had they taken in hand for the last eight years in the way of building ships of war that had not been experimental? In the discussions that had been carried on last Session he had pointed out that from the time we had commenced the re-construction of our fleet, we had tried no less than eight different classes of iron-clads in as many years. Therefore all we had to inquire just now was whether we were producing the best result with our present experience. He had been a staunch advocate of the turret system since its introduction, and since he had a seat in the House, he had endeavoured to convince others that the advantages of the turret system were so many that sooner or later we must adopt that system and give up building broadsides. In that view he had been opposed by many who held leading posts in the Admiralty, but he was happy to see that the Admiralty were now prepared to go a considerable way with him, and that the debates of last Session had convinced them that they would be wrong if they were to continue to build broadsides. He observed, too, that in classifying the fleet, which we had now and were about to build, the Admiralty confined the first 122 class solely to those turret-ships which they were about to construct. It was much less satisfactory, however, to see that the very last type of production, against which he strove unsuccessfully last year, and pointed to as being both experimental and bad—namely, those of the Audacious class, carrying guns in overhanging sponsons—were placed as low down as the third grade, and yet the Admiralty would not be dissuaded from laying down six of these ships last year involving £1,500,000, and are now compelled, before one of them is afloat, to assign them the inferior position of a third class ship. He was quite prepared to give his adhesion to the proposal to build the turret-ships in question, because he be-believed that, even if any deficiencies should be discovered, those vessels possessed within themselves the means of correction. The great dread of naval men appeared to be with regard to the freeboard, but if the quantity of breastwork which formed an additional freeboard in parts was found insufficient, nothing would be easier than to add a poop and forecastle so arranged as to allow 150 out of 180 degrees are of fire for the guns to work. With regard to the question of the screws, his experience was that the two screws were superior to the single screw when they required to depend upon the engines only. Two or three years ago he ventured to say that, considering the reliance this country was obliged to place on its Navy, it would not be secure until it possessed a fleet superior to the naval force of any two leading nations, if not to that possessed by the whole of Europe. At that time the number of guns in the English fleet was 522, while the French fleet had 770 guns. The case was now materially altered, for the English fleet had at the present moment a total of 582 guns, while the French fleet had only 311 guns. If the guns were of the same character as before, it might be said that the country could afford to rest contented for some time without building at all; but the fact was, that large guns were now substituted in the French Navy for the smaller guns which were formerly in use; and though this change in the French armament could not be ignored, yet the balance of strength was now with us. He thought that a great advantage had been gained in having obtained from the Admiralty an admission that their at- 123 tention ought to be turned to the construction of turret-ships. Under all the circumstances he should support the Vote.
said, that in coming down to the House he went into the Admiralty, and looked at the drawings of the ships proposed to be built. He had supposed that they were to judge from their experience of the trials of the Monarch and Captain, but he had come to the conclusion that the comparison was totally useless. We might gain some sort of experience from the promised trials, but the question now was not between broadside and turret-ships, but between turret-ships with masts and turret-ships without masts; and, so far as the drawings of these vessels enabled to judge, he would say that no full-masted and full-rigged turret-ship could be so effective as a turret-ship without masts. He thought these ships had a good many faults—with regard to ventilation in particular—but he thought also they would be the most powerful naval machines ever sent afloat. He hoped their defects might be remedied, but if he had had any doubts as to the course proposed to be taken by the Admiralty, such doubts must have been almost entirely dissipated by the admirable speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Admiralty.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 46; Noes 122: Majority 76.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next.
§ Committee to sit again upon Monday next.