§ (In the Committee.)
§ (1.) 63,300 Men and Boys.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said: Mr. Dodson, in the Speech from the Throne, which was communicated to this House, Her Majesty stated that the Estimates which would be submitted for our consideration would provide for the efficiency of the Service, but at the same time would be reduced in amount, and it is my duty on the present occasion, in moving the first Vote of the Navy Estimates, to explain the manner in which the pledge so given has been and will be fulfilled, and to ask the Committee to pass Estimates for the Naval Service, which I hope to be able to show will fully maintain its efficiency, and at the same time be considerably less in amount than those which were laid before Parliament during the last two years. Sir, I appear, of course, at a disadvantage in having to give full details as to these Estimates—first, because I had, with my Colleagues, not more than eight weeks to prepare them; and, secondly, because I have the honour to follow in office my right hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry), who, probably more than any civilian in this, or I might almost say in any, country, is well versed in all the details of naval affairs, and whose explanations on former occasions have always been marked with so much ability, and received with so much satisfaction by both sides of the House. But although many hon. Members may find 864 in points of detail that I shall not be able to give them such clear and exact information as greater experience would enable me to do, the Estimates themselves and the statements with which I propose to support them will indicate a clear policy on the part of her Majesty's Government in dealing with these great Services, a policy which I trust the House, and I feel confident the country, anxious as it is for economy, will be prepared to endorse. In the first place, I will state to the House briefly what are the facts and the figures of the present Estimates compared with those of former years. The Estimates provide for the Effective Service of the Navy, for the Non-effective Service of the Navy, and for the Transport Service which the Navy conducts for the Army. For the Effective Service we ask a sum of £8,164,768, for the Non-effective service £1,515,525—total for the Navy proper £9,680,293, and for the Army Service £316,348, or in all £9,996,641. From that we must deduct the contribution of £70,000, which will be paid by India towards the expense of her naval protection, and the net amount which the country will be called upon to pay for the Naval Service will therefore be £9,926,641. The Estimates of last year, after making allowance for a change in the manner of account, gave for the Effective Service £9,332,579, or, making the Indian deduction, a net amount of £9,146,316; for the Non-effective Service £1,474,111, or a total for these two Services of £10,620,427. The Estimate for Transport Service, in the same way, after deducting £17,029 for a change in the manner of account, provided £333,571, or a total of £10,953,998. Taking the comparison on this basis, the difference between this year's Estimates and those of last year shows a reduction in the present year of £1,027,357. But it has been customary to state the Estimates in a slightly different form, and I will follow those who have done so in previous years, although I do not think that that is the best form. I will allow as against the expenditure the income connected with the Naval Service which will be paid into the Exchequer arising from the sale of old stores, ships, and other matters. Well, making allowance for them, we propose to spend £9,996,641, and estimate to receive £396,623, so that the net charge upon the country from 865 the Chancellor of the Exchequer's point of view Would be £9,600,018. Last year my right hon. Friend (Mr. Corry) proposed to spend £11,177,290, and estimated to receive £443,292; the net amount being£10,733,998, or £1,133,980 more than our Estimate. And going back to the year before I find that the actual charge in 1867–8 was £11,342,798, not including the expenditure on account of the Abyssinian Expedition, whereas our Estimate is £9,996,641, the difference in our favour being £1,346,157; and if the extra receipts be deducted on both sides, as we estimate for 1869–70, and as they were actually received in 1867–8, we have almost the same result—namely, a difference in our favour of £1,368,856. Sir, I think, after stating these figures, I may say to the House, in general terms, that the present Estimates show a reduction upon those of the current year, 1868–9, of about £1,100,000, and upon the expenditure of the previous year of about £1,300,000; and this reduction of expenditure is pretty fairly distributed all through the Votes. I do not think that in any of the Effective Votes is there any excess at all proposed in the Estimates of the current year, excepting only in one of the Medical Votes, where the excess is occasioned by the rather large additional charge which it is proposed should be borne by the country in connection with the Contagious Diseases Act. There is, however, a slight increase in the non-effective charge of the moderate amount of about £40,000 or £50,000. Then with respect to the construction of the Estimates I may be allowed to say that I think it is satisfactory that we have reverted this year to the form of Estimate which was in use before last year. I suspect that my right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Corry) entirely agrees with me in thinking that nothing could be more inconvenient than the arrangement of last year, which showed the Navy Estimates in a different form from the Army Estimates. I am glad to say that I have been able to induce the Treasury to revert to the former plan, which gives to Parliament a real, and not an imaginary statement of the charge for the Navy. The difference is mainly this, that instead of swelling the Estimates by including in them provision for stores supplied, and work done for other Departments or Governments, because the 866 payments pass through our books, and making all extra receipts in the shape of repayments by these Governments and Departments go into the Exchequer, we ask for the amount that will really be required for the naval service, and that alone. And that is not only convenient as a matter of account, but also advantageous in the interests of economy, because I believe that when, merely as a question of account, you have two alternative methods of estimate you ought to choose the one that gives you the smallest Vote. You may be perfectly certain that if you grant the larger sum the departmental tendency will be to spend it; but you have not the same security that the extra receipt will be obtained. Therefore I hold, and have held in previous years, and in the Committee on Public Accounts, that the better plan is to estimate for the smaller rather than for the larger amount. There is another change in the construction of the Estimates that I think will also be of public advantage. It has been customary to show in connection with the naval establishments on shore only those salaries which are directly charged on the establishments, but to omit from these Votes what may be very considerable amounts in the shape of pay and allowances, the officers being held to be borne on ship's books, and therefore paid under the Vote for the Fleet—that is Vote 1. In regard to the present Estimates, there was not time for me so to re-cast them as to make all these transfers; but I have been careful throughout the Estimates to show in connection with every establishment not only those officers who, as in previous years, were charged on the Vote, but also the number of those other officers supposed to be officers of ships, and borne on the ship's books. There are also one or two trifling changes in the construction of the Estimates which I have made in consequence of the inquiry conducted by the hon. Member for Lincoln's (Mr. Seely's) Committee of last year. It is very important in connection with the dockyards that we should, as far as possible, provide in the Dockyard Vote only for the charges which actually belong to the dockyard; and, on the other hand, that we should enter as dockyard charges those that were previously contained in other Votes, but which should really be included in the Vote for the Dockyards. As an instance 867 of the former, I may refer to the cost of the Water Police which now appears as a distinct item of Vote 14, instead of in the Dockyard Vote 6. These are the principal changes in the arrangement of the Estimates, all of which, especially those which tend to economy, I hope the House will approve. The effect of these changes upon the comparison between the Estimate of last year and the Estimate of this year is as follows:—Apparently, according to the printed Estimates, we have made a reduction in the Wages Vote of £274,000; but from that sum must be deducted £75,000 in connection with troop-ships transferred to Vote 17, so that the real difference between the Vote of last year and that of this year is only £199,000. In the same way, with respect to the second Vote—for Victuals and Clothing, apparently, on the face of the Estimate, there is a reduction of £163,000; but that reduction must be diminished by extra receipts amounting to £90,500, so that the real reduction is £73,000. So, also, in connection with the dockyards, there is apparently a reduction of £137,000, but the real reduction is £127,000. Again, in the case of Naval Stores, the reduction is apparently £91,000; but the extra receipts connected with those stores are £34,000, so that the real reduction is only £57,000. Then in the Vote for ships building by contract, there is an apparent reduction of £325,000; but to this must be added a sum of £6,000, transferred from the Dockyard Vote, for salaries and expenses of dockyard officers connected with contracts; so that the real reduction is £331,000. Again, in the Transport Vote there is an apparent saving of £34,000; but the actual reduction, after allowing for transfers is only £21,000. These corrections being made give the result, which I have stated before—namely, an actual diminution of charge of £957,000, as shown on the face of the Estimates, or—allowing for the Indian contribution—of £1,027,000.
And now I pass from the very dry region of figures to the main questions affecting these Estimates—the three great subjects with which the Admiralty have been engaged, the results of which are shown on the face of the Estimates, and which I shall do my best to explain fully to the House. The first of those subjects is the reform in the organization of the Board and the subordinate 868 departments of the Admiralty affecting all the Votes for Naval Establishments. The second is, the policy of the Government in relation to our fleets and our men; and the third is our policy in relation to the dockyards and to ship-building. These are the three great questions of interest with which the Navy and the Admiralty are concerned; and, as to each of them, I will, as briefly as possible, state to the House what our views are and what is the policy that we are anxious to pursue. The first point—namely, with respect to the organization of the Admiralty and its establishments—naturally divides itself into two; one, the question concerning the governing body of the Admiralty—as to which it has been my duty to give some information to the House in reply to a Question from the hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone)—the other the general reduction in the naval establishments both in London and in the country, which we have attempted to make by concentrating offices and diminishing routine. With regard to the first of those two questions, that relating to the governing body of the Admiralty, the House, or those hon. Members who have attended the debates on the subject of late years—who, I regret to say, are not so numerous as they were formerly—must be aware that a controversy of very great importance has been going on, and had not, until a short time since, received a solution. That controversy, I think, maybe said to have begun with the Report of the Commission which, in the year 1860, was appointed to inquire into the management of the dockyards. When I say it begun then, I do not mean to deny that the organization of the Admiralty had been called in question much further back than that; but the first time at which that subject was fairly grappled with since 1832, at the hands of a public body, was in the years 1860–1, when the Commission, on which the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Dalglish) sat, made a most able and exhaustive Report on the whole question of dockyard management. It was referred to that Commission to consider the control and management of the dockyards, the purchase of materials and stores, and the cost of building, repairing, altering, fitting, and re-fitting ships; and they reported that the control and management 869 of the dockyards were inefficient. They gave as causes of this—first, the constitution of the Board of Admiralty; second, the defective organization of the subordinate departments; and third, the want of clear and well-defined responsibility; and they proposed to cure those evils—by making the Minister entirely responsible for the control and management of the dockyards; by authorizing him to appoint a Controller General subordinate to him; by making the superintendents of the dockyards instruments for carrying out the Controller General's instructions; by putting under the Controller General the Storekeeper General and the Director of Works and by requiring the Accountant General, although not his subordinate to prepare such accounts as he wanted, The Commission, having made these recommendations, reported on the 11th of March, 1861, and on the 12th of March, 1861, the following day, by a curious coincidence, a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed which went into the whole constitution of the Board of Admiralty and of naval control, not only with respect to the organization of the dockyards and their superintendence, but also as to all other matters, such as the control of the fleets and the government of the Navy, with which, as well as the management of the dockyards, the Admiralty are concerned. And before that Committee also the controversy raged as to what ought to be the constitution of the governing body, whether, preserving their general character, in any minor respects the present arrangements might be reformed, and generally how the defects in the Admiralty superintendence might be most conveniently remedied. Unfortunately the Committee which had to deal with so important a question made no Report of its own, but merely reported to the House the evidence it had taken, the result being that those who wished to ascertain the opinions of the Members of that Committee must wade through a large mass of testimony, and endeavour to gather those opinions from the questions put to the witnesses. I think there can be no doubt that the tendency of the Committee and the weight of the evidence adduced was adverse to the first proposal of the Commission—namely, for the abolition of the Board of Admiralty and the appointment of a distinct Minister. I find that the Duke of Somerset, Sir James 870 Graham, Sir Charles Wood, Sir Francis Baring, who had all been First Lords of the Admiralty, and Sir George Seymour, Admiral Bowles, and Sir Maurice Berkeley, who had been First Sea Lords, united in giving a very strong opinion in favour of the existence of a Board; while, on the other hand, my right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), who had been a First Lord, and Sir Thomas Cochrane, Admiral Elliott, and, I think, Admiral Denman, were the only witnesses who objected in general to the constitution of the Board of Admiralty and would substitute a Minister. I have said that as the Committee made no Report, one can only gather the views entertained by the Members from the questions they put to the witnesses, and that I need hardly add is not a very satisfactory way of eliciting an opinion on so important a question. I think, however, that, upon the whole, the questions and answers tended to three conclusions, although I would not state them very positively. The first was that, so far as the management and discipline of the fleet were concerned, the arrangements of the Board were not unsatisfactory. Secondly, as far as the dockyards were concerned, I do not think the Committee would have differed from the Commission. On a third point, it struck me that the evidence was all one way—that the functions of the First Sea Lord were excessive, too much work being thrown upon him. The result of the debates in this House appears to me to have been the same. My hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) has raised on more than one occasion a debate as to the administration of the Board of Admiralty, and I think he hit some blots as regards the management of the dockyards, but he brought no evidence to prove the Board of Admiralty to be an inefficient body as far as other functions are concerned. But this question of Admiralty administration was most fully inquired into last Session. My hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln moved for the appointment of a Committee, of which I had the honour of being a Member, and that Committee went into two most important questions. The first was that of the Admiralty Accounts, and on this head the Committee was practically unanimous. The other was the question of the application by the Admiralty of its funds, and the Committee sat until so 871 late a period of the Session that, after the reception of two Reports—one from its Chairman and one from my hon. Friends who then represented the Admiralty—the Committee despaired of going further, and simply reported the evidence to the House. But no impartial person—and I hope I was such—attending the Committee could but feel that great faults in the system of management at the Admiralty had been exposed. Under these circumstances, was it not the duty of Her Majesty's Government on its formation to take up this question of Admiralty re-organization? We have arrived, then, at the conclusion that, if we had on the evidence before us clear views on this question, Parliament would expect us to act on them, and establish a better system of administration; and it is that system which I am now going to explain to the House. The arrangements under which the Admiralty business has hitherto been conducted may be stated, in brief, to be these. The Board consisted of a First Lord, a Member of the Cabinet, who might or might not be a naval man. To him there were attached four naval officers, as naval members of the Board, and one civilian; and the Board so constituted had, of course, permanent officers directed by a Secretary, who might or might not be a naval man, and also a Parliamentary Secretary, who, if the Minister were a Member of the House of Lords, represented the Department in this House. That Parliamentary Secretary was sometimes a naval man and sometimes not, and there has been a marvellous amount of controversy as to his exact position—whether he was really the second officer of the Department or merely a subordinate, who registered the decisions of the Members of the Board. However that may be, there can be no doubt that the administration of the Board of Admiralty was practically in the hands of four or five distinguished naval officers, presided over by the Minister; those naval officers dividing the departmental business among them, and approaching to the action of a Committee, advising and carrying out the administration of the Admiralty under the First Lord. Now, I do not think that the administration was satisfactory so far as regards those great public establishments—the dockyards. The practical superintendence of them was divided 872 between three Lords of the Admiralty—the First Naval Lord, the Store Lord, and the Civil Lord, and under such arrangement it is hopeless to expect distinct sufficient responsibility. But I see no reason to doubt that the administration of the Board of Admiralty was in other respects satisfactory, and I believe that there is no occasion to alter it so far as the superintendence of the fleet and all questions connected with men and patronage are concerned. For this part of the administration there is no occasion to substitute for the action of the Board the action of a Lord High Admiral or of a Secretary of State; and I would venture to add that, even if it were convenient, for other reasons, to create a naval Secretary of State, there is one objection to it which in my mind would be overwhelming. I am not going into the delicate question of the relations between the War Office and the Horse Guards; but no one who has watched the former or recent interpellations and debates in this House on this subject would wish to add this difficulty to other naval problems. Under all the circumstances, it has appeared to me desirable to carry out the recommendation of the Commission of 1860–1 with regard to the dockyards, without disturbing in other respects the constitution of the Board of Admiralty. The evidence taken before the Commission and the Committees pointed to one great change. The Controller of the Navy, who was popularly looked upon as the manager of the dockyards, was not a Member of the Board, and, moreover, he was subject to a subordinate Member of the Board, the First Sea Lord. There was thus a confusion of responsibility, and at the same time it was clear that the First Sea Lord was over-worked. We have therefore determined to relieve the First Sea Lord of all business in connection with the dockyards, to abolish the office of Store Lord, and to bring the Controller of the Navy to the Board, putting him in charge of all the matériel departments connected with the building, repairing, and fitting-out of our ships. No change has been made as to the fleet and men, who will be, as heretofore, under the superintendence of the First Sea Lord, nor will any change be made as respects the patronage or the discipline of the Navy, the division of which will be preserved. And on this point I may 873 add that it is my intention to act as fully as any of my predecessors in consultation and harmony with my naval advisers. In a word, the new division of business is that, under my superintendence, the First Sea Lord will take charge of all the business connected with the personnel of the Navy, while the Controller will take charge of all the business connected with thematérielof the Navy, the dockyards, and the purchase of stores. These great officers will be directly responsible to myself without the intervention of any Board or Committee. There is, however, one other point in connection with Admiralty management in regard to which I thought a great improvement could be effected. A great defect of the former system was the absence of sufficient financial control over the expenditure. For a short time, indeed, when I had the honour of being a Lord of the Admiralty in 1865, this deficiency was so much felt that for some months I was called by the title of Financial Lord, and was placed in a position to do some good in respect of dockyard and other expenditure. But that system was only a partial and temporary system, and I did not find it in force when I returned to the Admiralty two months ago. The arrangement I have made in this respect is that my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose is called Financial Secretary, and all matters connected with expenditure, whether in the fleet or in the dockyards, whether relating to men or ships or stores, come under his review in conjunction with the administrative officer who takes charge of the business. The greatest possible practical benefit has resulted, and I expect will result, from that division of labour, not only as regards the efficiency, but also the economy of the service. I may, perhaps, be allowed, in passing, to allude to a Question which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone), said he would ask a few nights ago, but which, however, he did not put. The question is whether the arrangements which I have made, and to which I have just called attention, are in accordance with the words of the Admiralty Patent. I have heard whispers of such a doubt being entertained, but I thought them entirely dissipated by the evidence taken before the Select Committee of 1861. I have looked, however, at the Patent itself, 874 and I am bound to say that it is a very antiquated and venerable instrument, using terms in vogue many years ago, as to naval matters, enumerating a good many colonies and omitting a good many others, in language to which we are not accustomed in the present day; but the only enacting part of it is this, that everything may be done by the Board of Admiralty, and that two Lords must sign certain orders. The arrangement of business in the Department itself is a matter for those who form the Board. I have to assure my hon. and gallant Friend that I have done nothing which I do not believe to be entirely consistent with the words of the Patent; but I may add that when the Admiralty was formed every member of it accepted Office on the condition of carrying out the plan which I have described to the House, and that these arrangements were embodied formally in a communication to the Treasury, which formed the basis of an Order in Council. If it should be necessary to issue a new Patent, and I have anything to do with the construction of that new Patent, I think it will be well to word it in modern language, and that, in terms as well as in effect, there may be no doubt about its being consistent with the arrangements which we have made. In the meantime I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that we have been acting—and we shall act—in strict accordance with the law. I will now, with the permission of the House, refer to one or two other reforms in immediate connection with the superintending department. I may say, in the first place, that we are carrying out, and that we hope to carry out fully, an arrangement which has been anxiously looked forward to by all those who take an interest in Admiralty administration. That arrangement consists in getting rid of the division between Whitehall and Somerset House. Everyone must be aware of the inconvenience which results from having one set of offices out of the Strand—a thoroughfare constantly blocked up—and another set a mile off—in Whitehall and Spring Gardens. By amalgamating departments, by reductions in the number of clerks and by giving up three official houses, we shall, I think, be able to bring all those divisions of the Admiralty whose functions are administrative, to Whitehall. It will not be necessary to transfer some parts of the Accountant General's 875 office, the gentlemen in which, are employed in the examination of ship's accounts, but we hope to bring to Whitehall all that portion of the Admiralty establishment to which constant reference has to be made. Great advantage will, in my opinion, result from that change. Not only will the control be better when the various offices are brought more together, but we shall be able to dispense with a mass of double work of which the Committee have, in all probability, no conception. I have been very inquisitive on this question of double work with some curious results. For instance, I found that two departments were preparing precisely the same books from precisely the same documents, in precisely the same form, and that neither department knew that the other was so employed. I will not mention the names of the departments, as this is now at an end, but the fact was so. That was the result of the division which existed between Whitehall and Somerset House, and the amount of letter writing and references which will be avoided by bringing them together will be very great; nor will the advantage consist merely in effecting a small economy in expenditure, but in increasing the efficiency of the service. The result of the arrangements which we have already made in this respect has been, as I stated the other day, to accomplish a saving of something more than £5,000 a year in the cost of superintendence, and £14,000 a year in clerical work in London. I gave the figures then, and will not weary the House by repeating them. The Committee will not expect that an operation of this kind can be other than tedious and gradual. It is still going on; but I think I am in a position to say that the whole economy we shall be able to effect in the official establishments in London, including Whitehall and Somerset House, will be not less than £20,000 a year; and as I have been accused, on the one hand, of cheeseparing, and on the other of effecting over-great reductions, I should like, with the permission of the Committee, to state a few facts which may serve as a guide to them in arriving at a decision as to whether I was right or not in taking up this question of economy in these great establishments. I find that in 1849, that is, in the year after the last extensive revision of the Public Departments, there were 260 clerks, including assist- 876 ant clerks and writers in the Admiralty offices in London, whose salaries were £68,320. In 1859 the number of clerks had increased to 315, and their salaries to £84,209. The number of clerks stood in the beginning of the present year, shortly after I took Office, at 445, and their salaries amounted to £123,196 a year; that is to say, the number of clerks increased between 1849 and 1869 by 185, and their salaries by £55,000; so that the reduction I have proposed of £20,000 only diminishes that increase by about one-third. I hope the Committee will believe me when I say that with me that nothing could go more against the grain than being concerned in operations of this kind. Few things can be more personally disagreeable than cutting down the numbers of public officers, many of whom are in the same station of life as oneself, exposing oneself by so doing to all those imputations of cruelty, and of making wilful and perverse changes, which must be most painful to any man of feeling. But I can say that, since I took this task in hand, I have endeavoured to perform it, as far as I could do so consistently with my public duty, with as little hardship to individuals as possible; nor do I believe that, up to the present moment, injustice has been done to any one in effecting these reductions. The course which we pursued was this. When we found what a particular department consisted of, and what it ought to consist of, we considered how the reductions could be made in the personnel of that department. We then gave all the gentlemen interested notice that they were liable to be removed. In the case of two departments notice was given in January that a reduction would take place on the 1st of April. I then appointed a Committee consisting of persons who were not permanent officers of the department, two of whom were outside the department altogether, and certainly who could not be accused of any personal feeling or bias, and who were to go very narrowly into those proposed reductions, and to endeavour to carry them out with the least possible injury to individuals—laying down the rule, which was authorized by the Treasury, that for the purpose of these reductions the whole of the Admiralty services should be treated as one, so that officers might be retired from any part of the departments, instead 877 of necessarily from the particular office which, was being subjected to a large reduction. That Committee was appointed at the beginning of last month. My hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) is one of its Members, as well as Lord Camperdown and Mr. Anderson, the Assistant Controller and Auditor who, as the Committee well know, is one of the most efficient of all our public servants. The inquiry under these auspices has been, and will be, conducted most fairly, and my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose authorizes me to say that they already see their way to carrying out the proposed reductions, with the smallest possible amount of injury to those employed in the public service who do not wish to leave it. As I have stated before, I have given up in these matters my own patronage altogether. All those gentlemen who will be reduced will be placed on the redundant list, and if there is any efficient person on that list who is fit for an appointment in the Admiralty henceforward he will be appointed to it if it becomes vacant during my tenure of Office. I do not believe I can do more than that. Such is the painful task I have undertaken, and which I intend to persevere in. And I will only appeal to the House, while believing that we will do what is fair to individuals, to give us time to carry out the plan in the most efficient way. I have stated in general terms the alterations we propose to make with respect to the officers of the Admiralty; and there is one of those departments as to which I may appeal to the House not to press us too rapidly—I mean that connected with the purchase of naval stores. I have already stated that our desire is to carry out the recommendation of the Commission of 1861 with regard to the Storekeeper General's Department, and to place the whole arrangement of our naval stores and contracts on a thoroughly efficient and business footing. On this subject I never shall forget what the late Mr. Cobden said in I think his last speech; when speaking from the seat now occupied by the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith) he appealed to the Admiralty to improve the arrangements for the purchase of stores. He said what was wanted was not so much a contracting, as a buying department, and he asked us to make our purchases in the same way as any private firm or individual. My hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) has that sub- 878 ject in hand, and he is perfectly capable of dealing with it. I have no doubt we shall be able to carry out greatly improved arrangements; and I would again only appeal to the House—knowing what they do of the burdens of the Admiralty—to give us a little time, in order that we may thoroughly mature our plans.
I now come to the other establishments of the Admiralty—I mean those not in London—as to which we wish, as far as possible, to obtain more efficient management. The most important of these are the dockyards. We have not yet had time to look through the administration of the dockyards in detail, but we have been able to effect some minor reforms, which any one who looks into the Estimates will notice. One is, greater unity of management. We propose to make some such arragement at each dockyard as has been carried out in the office of the Controller of the Navy. As, instead of making the Constructor of the Navy, and the head of the Steam Department two co-ordinate authorities, we have amalgamated them with assistants for the different branches of their business; so we propose at the dockyards to combine the office of Master Shipwright with that of Chief Engineer, creating thus a civil manager for the whole business. That has already been done both at Portsmouth and Chatham, and I have not the least doubt the arrangement will be attended with success. Again, with respect to a subject brought forward on more than one occasion by my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely), and upon which I believe he once divided the House—namely, as to the permanence or non-permanence of the dockyard superintendents, we propose to appoint our superintendents with a view to keeping them at the dockyard as long as we think fit; so that when we have got a good man of business we shall be able to retain him whether his term of office has expired, or he has risen to higher naval rank, Hon. Members will also, I think, observe with satisfaction that we have decidedly improved the proportion between the salaried establishments and the labour in the dockyards. I omit all reference to Deptford and Woolwich, which we do not propose to continue—[Mr. CORRY: We discontinued Deptford]—but we have been able to make reductions in the cost of superintendence at Chatham, Portsmouth, Devonport, and Pembroke, from £95,121 to £86,197, although the 879 wages in 1868–9 were £643,240, while in 1869–70 they will be £677,622. We have therefore succeeded in reducing the cost of superintendence by £9,000 a year, while we have increased the wages by £34,000 a year. The percentage of salaries to wages in 1868–9 was 14.79, and in 1869–70 it is 12.72. I now come to the question of the concentration of the dockyards. My right hon. Friend has said that the Government determined last year to close Deptford as a dockyard, and we have carried out his intention. After some consideration we have thought it desirable—as there must be a storeyard on the Thames—that Deptford should be retained for that purpose, and in our Estimates provision is made accordingly. With respect also to Woolwich we came to the conclusion—in the case of that large establishment, it was a very painful conclusion—that Woolwich ought to have notice that it would be closed, and we have determined to close it on the 1st of October next. It was very painful to have to deal with the interests of so large a number of men, and also with the interests of so large a town more or less affected by the withdrawal of that establishment. But there the question we had to ask ourselves, was—and I apprehend the Committee will agree with me, that there is only one reason that would justify us in maintaining any particular establishment—Is Woolwich Dockyard required or not? And the only answer I could give, after very careful inquiry, was that it was not required, looking to the programme of work to be undertaken. I wish to be very precise on one matter connected with this decision. I know there is an idea afloat—and a very natural one—that we have not given to those interested fair and reasonable notice. Now the notice itself was given in the early part of January, and therefore extended to nine months; but in reality all parties concerned have known well what was coming so far back as 1864, for we are only carrying out the policy at that time unanimously adopted by the Committee to whom the great works of dockyard extension were referred, and on whose Report the House acted. That was no mere casual Report. The policy which that Committee recommended is that under which we have embarked on very great works at Portsmouth and Chatham, and the expenditure on those great works is regulated; and the adoption of the recommendations of that Re- 880 port constitutes undoubted notice to all concerned. The proposal as to Woolwich Dockyard was made in these terms—In recommending projects which will, if carried out, involve a large additional expenditure, your Committee do not think it beyond their duty to suggest that it is worthy of consideration whether Deptford, Woolwich, and Pembroke Dockyards might not be suppressed altogether and disposed of, and the business now carried on in them transferred to the yards to which such important and costly additions are in progress or in prospect.It has been stated that this recommendation was not unanimous; but as to Woolwich this is an error. There was a division on the question whether the names of the dockyards should be recited, or whether the terms should be "some of the minor dockyards;" but it was decided by a majority of 8 to 5 that the particular dockyards should be named. Thereafter came distinct Motions as to these particular yards. Deptford was inserted unanimously; and Woolwich was inserted unanimously. The only question raised was as to Pembroke, the hon. and gallant Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay) and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone) voting that Pembroke should be inserted, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry) and the hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) voting that Pembroke should not be inserted. I find also that in moving the Estimates for 1866–7, on the 26th of February, 1866, Lord Clarence Paget said distinctly that no further expenditure would be incurred at Woolwich, with a view to its being closed in accordance with the recommendation of the Report. I do not think, under these circumstances, there could be any doubt that Woolwich Dockyard should be closed as soon as the business to be done in the yards admitted of the reduction; and when, on reviewing the programme of work, I was satisfied that the time had come, we decided to take the step; and notice was given that it would be closed on the 1st of October. With respect to the persons employed there, I am most anxious that they should be treated with the greatest consideration, and I hope our policy will minimize the distress and loss to which they will be exposed. The established men will be transferred to other yards; we propose also to transfer as many of the non-establishment men as we can, and with regard also to mechanics in the factory 881 who, although liable to be discharged at any moment, are of value to the Government, we hope, as vacancies occur in other yards, to re-enter as many as possible after the 1st of October. So far as regards the interests of the officers and men. Then, as regards the interests of the town of Woolwich, the yard will be let for the purpose of a private establishment if any parties are prepared to take it. It has been proposed to sell it; but looking to the possibilities of a naval war, I should hesitate to do so until the works at Chatham are finished. Meanwhile, we shall try to carry out arrangements by which the ground, buildings, and valuable machinery will be utilized. That is all it is possible to do in the interests of the locality, and that we shall do to the best of our power.
With respect to the expenditure in the great dockyards, I will just allude to our proposals under Vote 11, that for Works and Machinery. That part of the Vote which concerns buildings is less by £38,000 than last year. But the cause of the reduced expenditure is no falling off in the great works which are necessary for the docking of our fleets. On the contrary, we increase that expenditure. For instance, at Portsmouth and Chatham, where extension works of great importance are being carried on, we propose to spend£470,000, against £420,000, which was the amount of the Vote last year. We also propose to take £ 30,000 to complete the dock at Malta, and £15,000 for a berth for the floating dock at Bermuda. Where we economize is in the petty expenses upon the small works which fritter away so much money; although so far as ordinary repairs are concerned we have provided above £60,000. There is one dockyard which I cannot help alluding to, and with which the name of my right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Corry) will always be connected. Keyham is the child of my right hon. Friend, and I must say that it does credit to its parent. Among the many things which the House and the service owe to him, the construction of that great establishment at Keyham is one of the greatest, and most thoroughly has it answered the expectations that were formed of it. The Committee of 1864 proposed to carry out still larger works at Keyham in respect of basin and dock accommodation, but just now I do not think these are required. Remembering what we are doing at Portsmouth and Chatham, we should be, in my judgment, wrong in 882 embarking on an expenditure of several thousand pounds at Keyham, and my right hon. Friend must therefore forgive me if we do not propose to do more there than ordinary maintenance. I may now remind the Committee that the dockyards are not the only great establishments under the Admiralty. We have in the victualling-yards large and expensive establishments where the food of our men is prepared and shipped, and we also have very important naval hospitals at our principal dockyards and naval ports. We have been making inquiries as to each of these great establishments, and those hon. Members who have looked at the Estimates will see that, sooner than rashly effect detailed reductions as to which we have not yet had time to complete our inquiry, we have taken gross sums, knowing that we shall be able in the course of the spring to mature more economical arrangements. There is no doubt that in the victualling-yards there is a very excessive charge for superintendence, and the division of duty between the superior officers, however well considered in times past, is now not altogether satisfactory, and in some respects altogether anomalous. The time has come for re-considering these arrangements; but the course I took is one which, after the debate this evening and the Notice of the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone), will, I fear, expose me to some criticism. When the Government was formed it was thought a judicious arrangement that one of its junior members should be ready in the House of Lords to answer any questions which might be asked there respecting the Navy. We heard this evening of the old generals in the House of Lords, but there are old admirals as well as old generals. Lord Camperdown has undertaken this duty; and in order that he may do so more effectually (and I cannot speak too highly of his ability), I have thought it advantageous to give him an opportunity of personally looking into some of the Admiralty business. Lord Camperdown has visited the victualling-yards, spent some time with the principal officers there, and made a valuable Report to the Admiralty. Upon that Report we hope by-and-by to found many judicious and economical arrangements. The subject has not yet been fully considered, but I anticipate considerable benefit from the minute and careful examinations which he has made into those great es- 883 tablishments. In the same way, one of the things which cannot but strike any man who goes into the details of the Admiralty Estimates is the gradual increase which during the last ten years has arisen in the establishment charges at our naval hospitals, while the number of patients and the expenses of maintaining them, the other expenses, have not increased at all. When this came under my notice, it occurred to me that the present was a very favourable opportunity for obtaining some advice and assistance outside the Department, because Dr. Bryson, who has been Medical Director General for some years, was ending his term of service (it has since expired), and his successor has not been appointed. We therefore appointed a Committee of three medical men, known, I dare say, to many Members of this House—Dr. Murchison, Mr. Holmes, who has rendered similar assistance to the Government on previous occasions, and Mr. Ellis—and they furnished to us a Report of great interest, going minutely into the details of the establishment of those hospitals, comparing them with the civil hospitals, proposing certain reforms, and giving very valuable information upon the whole subject. That Report has only been received within the last few days. It will be referred to the different officers concerned by whom it will be narrowly examined, and I have every reason to believe that in consequence very valuable improvements will be made in the administration of our naval hospitals.
I have now, I fear, at too great length gone through the principal amendments and reforms which up to this moment we are in a position to propose with respect to departmental organization at the Admiralty; and I repeat that, as to the dockyards, our reforms are as yet imperfect, and that further inquiry will be necessary. But I am now going into the second great subject which I shall have to lay before the Committee—I mean our policy respecting our fleets and men. In 1867, speaking from the opposite Bench, I was the organ of those who, having had some Admiralty experience, took an interest in these matters, and I developed to the House the change of policy which we believed was called for with respect to our fleets. I explained—I hope modestly, because I did not pretend to speak with the authority of a Minister having access to official information—the sort of reduction which I thought might 884 be made, with due regard to the security of our national interests, in our squadrons abroad. I elicited from the Government their views upon a question which, until then, had not for many years past been discussed in either House of Parliament. My right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Corry) very fully entered into the debate, though he had been but a short time in Office, and, except that he rather snubbed persons who had been Civil Lords for daring to enter into the high region of Admiralty administration, I think his remarks were exceedingly fair. The result proved that; because—though for the moment, with due official caution, he objected to my scheme which was to reduce 7,000 in our foreign squadrons—he himself afterwards effected a reduction of 3,208. I cannot but rejoice, therefore, that we took occasion then to re-open a subject admitted now by both sides of the House to be one which should be taken up by the Government. My right hon. Friend laid down at the time a very sound doctrine, which he put in clear words. He said that this question of the strength of the foreign squadrons was not so much for the consideration of the Admiralty as for that of the Colonial and Foreign Offices—it was not so much for the consideration of Parliament as for that of the responsible Advisers of the Crown; and in passing I may say that from the latter point of view I was a little surprised at the notice he has given this Session for a Select Committee to consider these questions. This, however, was the doctrine which he laid down, and I have now to inform the Committee that in what I have done and propose to do I shall most carefully follow his advice—that is to say, whatever we do in connection with our foreign squadrons will only be done after most careful consideration, with the Foreign and Colonial Secretaries, upon whose action, of course, the arrangement of our fleets abroad very much depends. During the short time I have been in Office I cannot pretend to have had time to go through the whole details of our foreign stations, particularly those which, as lying nearer home may be dealt with later, our Mediterranean and North American stations. We have, however, carefully considered with the Foreign and Colonial Offices the whole details of our fleets on the China and other distant stations, and I am in a position to say what we propose to do. At the present time our fleets on the south-east coast of 885 America, in the Pacific, on the Australian station, on the China station, on the East India station, at the Cape of Good Hope, and on the west coast of Africa—taking the figures from my right hon. Friend's speech last year as indicating his intention in the late Board of Admiralty—constitute altogether a force of eighty ships, with 11,767 men. We have already arranged, in accord with the Foreign and Colonial Offices, that those eighty ships shall be reduced to sixty-four, and the 11,767 men to about 8,500—altogether, a reduction of sixteen ships and 3,267 men. That is what we have been able to do on these stations during our two months of Office. This, added to the reduction of last year, gives altogether a reduction of 6,600 men; and as the reduction I ventured to suggest in 1867 was only one of 7,000, I think we have gone a long way towards carrying out that suggestion. The force on foreign stations as proposed by the late Admiralty and by the present, is shown in the following comparison:—Strength of force, according to the late Admiralty in 1868—South-east coast of America, 6 ships, 969 men; Pacific, 12 ships, 2,755 men; Australia, 4 ships, 776 men; China, 34 ships, 4,008 men; East Indies (after deducting ships detained on account of the Abyssinian war), 7 ships, 1,275 men; Cape of Good Hope, 3 ships, 509men; West coast of Africa, 14 ships, 1,475 men; total, 80 ships, 11,767 men.Strength of force as now arranged with Secretary of State—South-east coast of America, 5 ships, 500 to 600 men; Pacific, 10 ships; 2,000 men; Australia, 4 ships, 700 to 800 men; China, 25 ships, 2,700 to 2,800 men; East Indies (not including gunboats in the Persian Gulf), 6 ships, 1,000 men; Cape of Good Hope, 3 ships, 400 to 500 men; West coast of Africa, 11 ships, 1,000 men; total, 64 ships; 8,300 to 8,700 men (say, 8,500 men).Reduction—16 ships, 3,267 men.With regard to the East Indian station, we have effected an arrangement which appears on the face of the Estimates, and which, I hope, the House will approve. We have called on the Indian Government to bear their share of the cost of the Navy in Indian seas. Hitherto, although India has borne her share of her military expenses, she has not borne any share of her naval expenses. My noble Friend (the Duke of Argyll) and his Council have agreed to an arrangement upon a basis which I will now explain. Proposals have been made from time to time to restore the old Bombay "Marine" for the purpose of having a small fleet in the Persian Gulf. That, I am happy to say, was not the view of the late Ad- 886 miralty or of the late Government. The late Government came to the decision that that arrangement was not a wise one. I entirely agree with them in that view, and we have arranged with India that we shall furnish her with a sufficient force to keep three gunboats in the Persian Gulf, she paying the expense of the fleet in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Gulf, that is everything north of a line drawn from Cape Guardafui to Ceylon and the Straits Settlements. She will pay a capitation rate of £70 on the average number of men within these limits, and we, on the other hand, will pay as now for any fleet kept on the east coast of Africa. I think that is a fair bargain. India then, in respect of the fleet now on her coast, will pay into our Exchequer £70,000 a year. With respect to the Mediterranean and North American stations, as I have said, we have not had time to come to any definite arrangements; but their state will be well considered by the Admiralty, in conjunction with the Colonial and Foreign Secretaries of State. At the same time that we propose to make this reduction in our foreign stations we shall carry out the policy of sending a flying squadron to visit all our foreign stations, and for this purpose we hope soon to fit out six or seven very fine ships. Under this arrangement we shall keep our men more at sea than they are at present. In the course of the present spring, about Whitsuntide, we also propose to send out on a cruize several of our coastguard ships, and flagships, forming what I may call our First Reserve Squadron; and we intend to offer to any of the Naval Reserve men who might like to take their drill at that particular time the option of going out on the cruize. I wish it to be understood that it is not by this measure intended to call out the Reserve, which indeed can only be done in time of war, or to consider this a test of their efficiency, but we think it would be useful to the public service for the Reserve men to have the opportunity of going to sea. I may say that the ships which we expect to have prepared for the purpose at Whitsuntide are the Black Prince, the Agincourt, the Valiant, and the Hector, iron-clads; the Donegal, the Duncan, the Trafalgar, and the Royal George, line-of-battle ships, and the Mersey, frigate; that is to say seven coastguard ships and the flag-ships at the Nore and at Cork. With regard to the Naval Re- 887 serve, we propose no considerable change in the Estimates, but I think the time will come in the course of the year when it may be convenient that the Admiralty and the Board of Trade should make some minute departmental inquiry into the whole arrangements connected with that force.
I have now stated our general policy with regard to our fleets. We propose gradually to reduce the foreign squadrons to the minimum amount necessary for the maintenance of the honour of the country, the protection of our commerce, and for effecting those other objects for which the squadrons are maintained. We propose to keep our ships and men as much at sea as possible; and I need not say in connection with that that we also propose to be as economical as we can in the consumption of stores, and especially of coal. I now come to the actual effect which our proposal will have on the Vote for the men. In the last year, 66,770 men were voted. In the present Estimates, we propose to take only 63,000, thus effecting a reduction of 3,770. I must not, however, omit to state that a very considerable part of this reduction is due to my right hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry). The reduction which I propose is in the non-seamen class. We do not propose to reduce a single blue-jacket, and there has been no reduction of the blue-jackets afloat since I came into Office. I shall give the House the details of our reduction. The number of officers and men of the non-seamen class voted last year was 18,455, this year it is proposed to be 16,677. Last year the number of blue-jackets was 20,085; the number now proposed is 19,400. The number of boys in the coastguard ships is reduced from 360 to 328. The coastguard on shore is reduced from 4,500 to 4,325; the boys for service from 4,300 to 4,000; the boys in training from 3,100 to 3,000. The number of marines last year was 14,700; it is now to be 14,000. The total number under these several heads were, last year, 65,500; this year the number is to be 61,730. The numbers were as follows when my right hon. Friend retired from Office:—Officers and non-seamen class, 18,112; blue-jackets, 19,280; boys in coastguard ships, 312; coastguardmen on shore, 4,513; boys for service, 4,517; boys in training, 2,702; marines, 14,231; being a total of 63,667 as against 61,730, 888 which we now propose. The reduction effected therefore by my right hon. Friend was 1,833, and I propose a further reduction of 1,937. I may now enumerate some of these reductions. My right hon. Friend substituted for an establishment of engineer's stokers, and shipkeepers and servants in charge of the ships in reserve, a small establishment of officers and men on board divisional ships—the ships being what is called "locked up." He greatly reduced the yard craft, abolished the Reserve at Chatham and one stationary ship at Sheerness. We also have abolished one at Portsmouth, and we shall also abolish one at Devonport. [Mr. CORRY: What is the name of the new flag-ship?] The Duke of Wellington. The Victory, I may add, is not laid up in ordinary as has been imagined. We have ceased to train second-class cadets in the St. George, all the boys being transferred to the Britannia. We have abolished the coastguard ship at Milford, reduced the establishment at Ascension, abolished the Commodore's flags at the Cape and on the South Sea station, reduced the Commodore on the Indian station to the second class, substituted marines for a large number of servants. We have also reduced the number of non-continuous service stokers—the number of stokers in the Reserve being admitted to be excessive—and we have made an arrangement under which a number of blue-jackets will be employed as stokers at an increase of pay, the plan being similar to one which has been adopted with success in the French Navy. The total result of our change is not to diminish by one single man the really effective power of the British Navy. We propose also to reduce the boys by 400. This reduction is a pure matter of arithmetic. My right hon. Friend opposite knows very well how past Lords of the Admiralty have strained to make up the number of boys to a sufficient number to supply the waste of the fleet. Even in 1867 I urged the necessity of more being done in this direction, but I am happy to say that we have now reached that point, and gone beyond it, while the waste is diminishing every year. With regard to the reduction of the non-seamen class, there are some facts which I think will prove of interest to the Committee. Since 1858–9, this class has been steadily increasing, while 889 the seamen class has been falling off in numbers. In 1862–3, the seamen numbered 27,130, as against 10,518 of the non-seamen class; in 1863–4, the former class had fallen to 24,593, while the latter had been increased to 11,160; in 1864–5, the numbers were 23,039 and 11,950; and in 1867–8, the seamen class had been reduced to 20,615, while the non-seamen class, exclusive of officers, had been increased to 12,718. These figures, I think, go far to justify the course we propose in stopping the reduction of blue-jackets. Let me, at the same time, show how the moderate reduction which we propose to make in the coastguard can be made without injury to that force when regarded in the light of a reserve of additional seamen for the fleet. In 1865–6, when the present establishment of the coastguard may be said to have been settled, there were in it 4,000 of the seamen class, and 1,200 of the civilian class. The blue-jackets, of which the coastguard forms a reserve, stood at 21,567. The former under our plan will be 4,450, compared with only 19,401 blue-jackets afloat. The result of this will be that the strength of the coastguard, compared with the blue-jackets of the fleet, will be very much greater than it was in 1865–6.
I now come to one part of our Navy in which our Estimates show a reduction which requires a little explanation, although the present Board of Admiralty did not settle the figures—and that is the strength of our Marines. When I took Office I found that my right hon. Friend had approved a proposal to reduce that force from 14,700 to 14,000, and had also approved of the reduction of the Woolwich division. It has been our duty to carry out what my right hon. Friend proposed to do. There can be no doubt that his proposal was a sound one, and for this reason—If you have an excessive number of Marines on shore as compared with those afloat, the body, which is a costly one, does not get sufficient training. The number of Marines afloat was, in 1859, 10,200; in 1862, 8,700; in 1865, 7,900; and in 1868, 7,600. It is therefore quite clear that a gradual reduction in the Marines on shore has been imperative; and my right hon. Friend's second thoughts were best, though he resisted my proposed reductions both in 1867 and last year. But, though the task of reducing the men was not entirely left to 890 us, I found, on acceding to Office, that I had a damnosa hereditas in the reduction to be made in respect of the officers. I had hoped that this exceedingly disagreeable task would not have fallen to my lot. [Mr. CORRY was understood to deny the correctness of the right hon. Gentleman's statement.] I am not attempting to throw any blame upon my right hon. Friend, but am endeavouring to make some excuse for what I myself have been compelled to do. I had not been in Office a week before I was inundated with complaints about my harshness and injustice with regard to the officers of the Marines, and I wish, therefore, to offer a few remarks in my own justification. In April, 1867, there were 509 officers of Marines and 15,887 men. In August, 1867, there were 532 and 15,678 men, my right hon. Friend, for a reason which he explained as having for its object the improvement of promotion, having increased the number of officers by twenty-three, at the same time that he reduced the number of men by over 200. In March, 1868, my right hon. Friend reduced the men by above 1,500 to 14,165, but for some unaccountable reason he left the officers at 533, and in December, 1868, when I came into Office, I found that, with the same number of officers, the men had been still further reduced to 13,436. The complement of officers to that body of men—and we have arranged it on the most liberal scale—was only 438, and it was consequently my disagreeable task to make a reduction of no less than ninety-five officers. In addition to that, too, a few days before I took Office, a number of gentlemen had been sent up for examination for commissions, and of these sixteen had passed, two out of that number having actually been appointed. I therefore had to deal not only with ninety-five officers, many of whom ought to have been reduced the year before, but with those who had just passed for their commissions. I mention this extraordinary state of things for my own justification, because I have been bombarded by the fathers and mothers of these Marine officers, complaining of my cruelty in putting some on retired or half-pay, and not appointing others.
And now this brings me to the most important part of my statement with regard to the officers and men—namely the enormous excess of officers on the active list. This has been the subject of 891 remark for a long time past, and no doubt several important amendments have been made. I see sitting by my right hon. Friend his Colleague the hon. Member for Stamford, and I know that they both think that some remedy must be found for this evil. Indeed, I have read carefully the interesting controversy between them in 1862, and I might appeal to my right hon. Friend's famous letter from Rome. But at the present time the facts as to the state of the lists are these. I leave out the admirals of the fleet and admirals—very few of whom now-a-days are employed or supposed to be fit for really active service. There are seventy-nine vice admirals, of whom twenty-three are on the active list, and of these four only are employed at sea and four in harbour and elsewhere. Of rear admirals we have 127, of whom forty-eight are on the active list, and of these three are employed at sea and six in harbour and elsewhere. Out of 725 captains, 295 are on the active list, and of these sixty-one are employed at sea, and thirty-nine in harbour or elsewhere. Of 1,161 commanders 405 are on the active list, and only eighty-six are employed at sea, and ninety-nine in harbour or elsewhere. The result of these figures is that we have employed at sea only one in ten of vice and rear admirals on the active list, one in five of captains, and one in four and a half of commanders. As to the junior part of the captains' list, matters are lamentable in the extreme. Out of 111 captains with service of five years and less, there are only ten employed, the proportion being one in eleven; and out of eighty-nine commanders of two years' and less service, fourteen only are employed, the proportion being one in six and a-third. Dividing the captains into three batches, I find that the first 100, who have been on the list an average of thirteen years, have been employed for six years and 322 days each. The second 100, with an average of six and a half years on the list have have been employed one year and 277 days; while the third 100, who have been on the list an average of two years each, have been employed for seventy-one days each. Again, as to se service. I find that the first class of captains, out of their average of thirteen years on the list, have had only between four and five in sea service; the second class, out of their six years 892 and a half, have had only between one and two years; and the third class, out of their two years, have had only sixty-one days or two months. Now I think that is a state of things which imperatively demands relief, and yet when we look at it from another point of view it seems difficult to say in what way the relief is to be brought about. One might hope that by reductions in the numbers of the lower ranks of late years gradually the excess above might be cased off. But I fear that the late Board of Admiralty took too much credit for this. The number of entries of naval and navigating cadets in 1865 was 186, in 1866 was 160, in 1867 was 175, and in 1868 was only brought down to 140. During that time the number of sub-lieutenants and navigating sub-lieutenants which in former times had been thought sufficient at 150, or 200, had risen from 298 in 1865 to 362 in 1866, 347 in 1867, 364 in 1868, and 446 this year; of whom there were in the first four years made lieutenants and navigating lieutenants 88, 141, 122, and 76. At the beginning of this year, as I have said, there were no less than 446 sub-lieutenants on the list. Looking then at the state of things now existing in respect of officers, I think it will be admitted that it is most unsatisfactory. Let us see what is the result. Of course, it is very uneconomical. Of that there can be no doubt whatever. You are paying more officers than you can employ; but not only is it directly uneconomical, but indirectly it has two bad effects. One is that when officers are employed for so short a time the pay they receive is insufficient. Though the rate of full pay may be very good if an officer received it for his full time, it is by no means satisfactory when an officer is paid for only one-third of his time; you thus have constant agitation for higher pay. But more than that, when you have too large a number of officers for the service to be performed, do what you will, it makes the Government look tenderly on the creation of unnecessary employment. I do not wish to go into detail on this point. I have already mentioned establishments in which to my mind too many officers are employed. It may be right to employ them in those establishments or it may not be; but so long as you have so large a number of idle officers it is impossible to resist the pressure to create employment for them. But I 893 wish to point out a still more injurious result arising from our having too large a number of officers, and I make this statement with a full sense of its importance, and on my responsibility. I feel no hesitation in saying that it is injurious to the efficiency of the Navy. Communications which I have received within the last two months from admirals and other officers in command in all parts of the world, convince me that though our naval officers are as gallant men as are to be found in the world and as willing to do their duty, yet there is a want of efficiency among them, arising from a want of employment. You cannot expect adequate experience from captains and commanders who are for two-thirds of their time on shore. I appeal then to the House to support us in reducing these lists in some practical and regular way. It cannot be done by the slow process of knocking off two or three a year under Orders in Council like those of 1866. The proposal we intend to make will be embodied in a Bill, which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will introduce if I do not. It will provide that officers on half-pay willing to retire, and who may be spared from the service, shall be able to compound their half-pay for its equivalent present value, the State having then no more claim on them. This would be effected through the agency of the National Debt Office, who would advance the composition, the amounts of half-pay being annually voted, and paid over to them. At first this would save nothing pecuniarily; but the practical gain would be that our active lists might be reduced to the numbers really required, and we shall then be able to substitute for the artificial, and in many respects unintelligible, rules of retirement a simple system with rates of pay based on service and sea service. We should also have an opportunity of fixing the numbers of each rank on an actuarial calculation, which, allowing for deaths and a due proportion of retirements, would secure, as far as possible, that officers would roach the various classes at suitable ages. This system should apply to all the lists. I do not mean that we should have only a sufficient number of officers for ships in commission in peace time. We must provide a reserve for war; but at present our reserve is too great. I may add that we have already checked the supply from below by reducing the entries of cadets from 140 to 114.
894 I now come to the third part of my subject—that which relates to our policy in building and repairing ships. Our intention is to minimize the repairs and alterations, especially of old-type ships. It will be seen by the programme that we propose an increase in the number of men employed in building ships, and a considerable diminution in the number employed at repairs. In connection with the expenditure on repairs we have arrived at a resolution decidedly tending to economy. We have resolved that the length of time for which a ship will be commissioned shall be increased from three or four years to five years, proper provision being made for intermediate changes of officers or crews. The effect of that will be to very much reduce the amount of expenditure which is almost always incurred when ships are put out of commission. We intend to thoroughly overhaul our stock of stores in all parts of the world, and to re-cast, to some extent, our establishments. We propose to keep the dockyards at the point really required for economic efficiency, making the necessary reductions only gradually. We propose also to build in them vessels chiefly of the latest type; to employ the private trade as our adjunct—and that for the fabric of ships rather than for fittings, and not so much for ships of novel type as for those which can be specified clearly in contracts. We intend besides to propose to the House the repeal of the Naval Stores Act, by which, it is said, we now lose more than we gain, in order that we may be able to dispose of ships which cannot now be brought into the market except to be broken up. But before stating to the House our proposals for building, I will describe the work on hand, stating first the ships in the dockyards. First as to ironclads not yet completed—At Woolwich we have the Repulse, launched, but which will not be ready for sea till July; at Chatham, the Monarch, which will be ready for sea in May, and the Sultan and the Glatton, which will be three-fourths complete at the end of the financial year and ready for sea about July, 1870; at Pembroke, the Iron Duke, which will be launched in winter and will be completed in May, 1870. The iron-clad ships building by contract are—in the yard of Messrs. Laird Brothers, the Captain (turret), which ought to be ready in April, but will not, I fear, be before July; in Messrs. Napier's yard, the Audacious, which 895 ought to be ready in July, and the Invincible, which ought to be ready in October; again in the yard of Messrs. Laird Brothers, the Vanguard, which ought to be ready in October; in Messrs. Palmer's yard, the Swiftsure and the Triumph, both of which will be half finished this financial year; and in Messrs. Napier's yard, the Hotspur, which will be all but finished this year. The unarmoured ships are these—at Woolwich, the Thalia, corvette troop-ship, which will leave Woolwich in September to be fitted at Sheerness; the Druid, corvette, which will be ready in July, and the Spartan, corvette, which will be ready in April. At Sheerness we have the Briton, corvette; at Portsmouth, the Dido, corvette; and at Devonport, the Tenedos, corvette,—all of which will be completed in the course of the present financial year. At Pembroke we have the Inconstant, frigate, which will be completed in May next. In addition to these ships we have two small gun-vessels which will be ready in a short period. We have building by contract only two large corvettes, the Active and the Volage, in the hands of the Thames Company, which will be ready for sea in June or July. The result will be that at the end of the financial year 1869–70 the only unfinished ships will be—at Chatham, the Sultan and the Glatton, which it will require three months to complete, and at Pembroke, the Iron Duke, which it will require one month to complete. The ships building by contract—namely, the Triumph and the Swiftsure—will require nine months, and the Hotspur one month for their completion. There will be no unarmoured ships in hand at the end of the financial year, except a small gun-vessel, at Chatham, and the Osborne, which was to have been built in the course of the year 1869–70, but the building of which has been postponed in consequence of the expenditure incurred in the repair of the Victoria and Albert. Having shown to the House what our work in hand consists of, and how small a portion will remain to be performed at the end of the financial year, I will now proceed to give them the particulars of the new ships we propose to lay down in the dockyards. I must here state that I think the greatest credit is due to the Controller and to the Constructor of the Navy for the pains they have been taking for some time past in drawing up the specifications for 896 two new ships which I propose should be commenced at Chatham and at Pembroke Dockyards, at the beginning of the next financial year, and which, I do not hesitate to say, will be the most powerful vessels in the world. The two vessels of which I am speaking will be turret-ships, each of 4,400 tons and of 800 nominal horse power, working up to 5,600. They will have double screws and four engines, and their speed will be 12½ knots per hour. Their construction will enable them to carry 1,750 tons of coal, a quantity sufficient to last for ten days' consumption at a speed of 12 knots, and much more at lower speed. They will carry four 25-ton guns, two in each turret. Their freeboard will be 4 feet 6 inches, the base of the turrets being protected by a raised breastwork of oval form 7 feet high. Their armour on the sides and breastworks will be 12 inches and 10 inches thick, and 14 inches and 12 inches on the turrets; while the backing will be from 13 inches to 20 inches thick, having an inner skin of armour 1½ inch to 1¼ inch behind. Their decks will be covered by 2-inch and 2½-inch plates. They will have no masts, and therefore their turrets will be able to deliver an all-round fire. Their crews will consist of 250 men and officers, and the cost of each will be about £286,000, including their engines.
§ MR. CHILDERS
Their draught will be between 25 and 26 feet. We also propose to build, at Portsmouth, a third ship of the same kind, with some improvements, as the turret-ram Hotspur, proposed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Corry) last year. The difference between the proposed vessel and the Hotspur will be that the former will be somewhat larger, will have thicker armour, and will have a revolving instead of a fixed turret. The new vessel will be of 3,200 tons burden, of 700-horse power, working up to 4,200, with a speed of 12 knots, and will carry 350 tons of coal, sufficient for three-and-a-half days' steaming at 10 knots per hour. She will carry two 18-ton guns in one turret, her freeboard will be 1 foot 6 inches, and she will have a 7-foot high breastwork round her turret. Her armour-plates will be of the following thickness:—9 inches to 11 inches on the sides, 12 inches on the breastwork, 897 12 inches to 14 inches on the turret, and there will be a 2-inch deck-plating. She will carry fore-and-aft sails, with slight rigging without shrouds, and her crew will consist of 200 men and officers. Her cost will be £195,000, including the engines. The only other ships we propose to build in the dockyards will be one or two small vessels, like the Staunch, either at Portsmouth or at Dovonport. The right hon. Gentleman opposite deserves great credit for that vessel, which will I hope be very efficient for harbour purposes, being merely a floating gun carriage. I stated just now that the building of the Osborne yacht at Pembroke had been postponed. In consequence of the repairs required by the Victoria and Albert, Her Majesty, with her usual consideration for the public interests, has expressed her approval of the proposal to postpone the building of the new vessel until the following year. And now, if I have not already wearied the Committee, perhaps I may be allowed to state, in a few words, what will be the state of the English Navy when the proposed new ships have been built. I am not aware that any such statement has been made for years past, and, perhaps, as we have now reached a turning point in our armoured fleet, it may be for the convenience of the House that they should have before them a succinct account of the actual state of the Navy of the country. We shall have then altogether 36 broadside armoured vessels, carrying 555 guns; and these vessels I have, with the assistance of my naval Colleagues, classed in a way that I think will be intelligible to the House. The first class includes two vessels, the Hercules and the Sultan, protected by 6-inch to 9-inch armour, of a speed of 14½ knots per hour, and carrying 18-ton guns, and others of smaller calibre. Class 2 consists of six vessels—namely, the Audacious, the Invincible, the Vanguard, the Iron Duke, the Swiftsure, and the Triumph. These vessels are protected by 6 to 8-inch armour, possess a speed of 13½ knots per hour, and carry 12-ton guns and others. Class 3 consists of nine vessels—namely, the Bellerophon, the Lord Warden, the Lord Clyde, the Minotaur, the Agincourt, the Northumberland, the Royal Alfred, the Repulse, and the Penelope. These vessels are protected by 5½-inch to 6-inch armour, possess a speed of 13 to 14 knots per hour, and carry 12-ton guns and under. 898 Class 4 contains eight vessels—namely, the Achilles, the Royal Oak, the Prince Consort, the Caledonia, the Ocean, the Valiant, the Hector (the two last badly protected), and the Zealous. These vessels are protected by 4½-inch armour, have a speed of 12½ knots per hour, carry 9-ton guns and under. Class 5 consists of four vessels—namely, the Warrior, the Black Prince, the Defence, and the Resistance, all, I regret to say, being badly protected. These vessels are protected by 4½-inch armour, have a speed of 12 to 14 knots per hour, and carry 9-ton guns and under. Class 6 consists of two smaller vessels—namely, the Pallas and the Favourite, protected by 4½—inch armour, having a speed of 12 to 13 knots per hour, and carrying 9-ton guns and under. Class 7 consists of two sloops—namely, the Enterprise and the Research, protected by 4½-inch armour, having a speed of 9½ knots per hour, and carrying 6½-ton guns, and three gunboats—namely, the Viper, the Vixen, and the Waterwitch, protected by 4½-inch armour, having a speed of 9½ knots per hour, and carrying 6½-ton guns. We shall also possess eleven turret and special vessels, carrying 43 guns, which are classed as follows:—Class 1 will include the two, of a new design, which I have just described to the House, protected by 10 to 14-inch armour, having a speed of 12½ knots per hour, and carrying 25-ton 12-inch 600-pounders; Class 2 will consist of the Monarch and the Captain, protected by 7 to 8-inch armour, having a speed of 14 knots per hour, and also carrying 25-ton guns. Class 3 will consist of the Glatton, protected by 10 to 12-inch armour, having a speed of 9¼knots per hour, and carrying 25-ton guns. Class 4 will consist of the Hotspur, protected by 8 to 12-inch armour, and the second Hotspur, protected by 10 to 14-inch armour, both possessing a speed of 12 knots per hour, and carrying 18 or 25-ton guns. Class 5 will consist of the Royal Sovereign and the Prince Albert, protected by 4½ to 5½-inch armour, having a speed of 12 knots, and carrying 12-ton guns. Class 6 will consist of the Scorpion and the Wivern, protected by 4½-inch armour, possessing a speed of 10 knots per hour, and carrying 12-ton guns. The grand total of these figures will give us forty-seven armoured ships, carrying 598 guns, of which eighteen are 25-ton, nineteen are 18-ton. and 111 are 12-ton. Our 899 unarmoured fleet may be described in general terms thus—We have at the present time, thoroughly fit for service, about twelve old line-of-battle ships and heavy frigates of the old type, including the Galatea and the Ariadne. (I omit a considerable number of less efficient old type wooden ships.) In addition to these vessels we have the Inconstant, heavy frigate, having a speed of 15 knots per hour, and carrying 12½-ton guns; the Active and the Volage, large corvettes, having a speed of 15 knots per hour, and carrying 6½-ton guns; 12 Blanche class corvettes, having a speed of 13 knots per hour, and carrying 6½-ton guns; two of the Druid class, having the same speed and armament; twelve gun-vessels of the new type, having a speed of 11 knots per hour, and carrying 6½-ton guns; and seventeen new composite gunboats, having a speed of 10 knots per hour, and carrying 6½-ton guns; besides others of the old type, including eight heavy corvettes. The total of our unarmoured fleet, therefore, will be about sixty-six efficient vessels, besides a number of old sloops and gunboats. It must also not be forgotten that the maritime defensive and offensive power of England will consist in the future not only of ships and guns, but also of torpedoes, to the importance of which the naval authorities of this country are fully alive. It is not an easy thing to make an accurate comparison between the strength of the Navy of this country as it will be at the end of the next financial year, and that of any other maritime Power. But I may say that in comparison with our forty-seven armoured ships France will have thirty-seven, besides eleven floating batteries for harbour use. She, however, has no vessels that can compare with our first or second-class broadside or turret-ships, although she is strong in the third class. Her old unarmoured class is in better condition than ours, but she has only two or three of new type to compare with ours. The United States possess no sea-going armoured ships, but they have an immense fleet of this character available for home defence. The value of their recent unarmoured fleet is very doubtful; some persons regarding it as utterly worthless, while others think that it is of the utmost value. For my part, I suspect the truth lies between these extremes; and I should doubt whether she has any unarmoured cruizer equal to our Inconstant. 900 So far as I can judge, only two of her ships of the Wampanoag class have succeeded; and the Piscataqua class are almost admitted to be failures. These are the facts in which I think the House may be interested with regard to the present state of the fleet, including those which are now being built, and those which we propose to build in the limits of the present year.
Let me say, in conclusion, that I confidently leave to the judgment of the Committee our acts and policy, which I have endeavoured to describe. As to the departmental arrrangements, we have at least sheeted home responsibility for each division of business, and I have every confidence that under the able direction of Sir Sydney Dacres and Sir Spencer Robinson both the personnel and the matériel of the Navy will be well looked after. The Department is working thoroughly well; at least we are all perfectly satisfied with our relations to one another, and the progress of our business. With respect to the second subject which I have brought before the House, speaking on my responsibility, and with the entire concurrence of my naval advisers, I believe that what we have done, and what we propose to do in reference to the men and the fleet will not diminish, but will decidedly add to, the efficiency of the Navy. And with regard to the third subject, our shipbuilding, having laid before the country a distinct and positive policy, we propose to adhere to it. We believe not only that our proposals will be economical at the present moment, but that they will end in still greater economy, and on that ground we present them to Parliament. I move, Sir, that 63,000 Men and Boys be employed for the Sea and Coastguard service for the year ending the 31st of March, 1870, including 14,000 Royal Marines.
Sir, as I am suffering from a severe cold I must be as brief as possible in my observations. In the first place, I must congratulate my right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) upon the very clear and able, and, I will add, very agreeable manner in which he has introduced the Navy Estimates to the notice of the Committee; and I can assure him that it is very gratifying to me, personally, that he should have been selected to occupy the office of First Lord of the Admiralty, not only from what I hope I may call our mutual friendship, 901 but also because the attention he has paid for many years to naval subjects is a guarantee for the interest which he feels in the naval service. I must also thank my right hon. Friend for the honourable mention he has made of some portions of my naval administration—a compliment I appreciate the more, proceeding as it does from a political opponent. My right hon. Friend has adverted to the very considerable reforms which my Board had made in various branches of the service, and I will tell the Committee the amount of reduction which would have been effected if the Estimates for 1869–70 had been prepared by me. When I resigned Office I left in the hands of my right hon. Friend a Memorandum, describing the character of those reforms, and the reduction of expenditure of which they would have admitted. It amounted to £401,000, as compared with the Estimates of the current financial year. That was the saving resulting from measures which had been decided upon by my Board; but the Estimates for the ensuing year had not been considered in detail at Somerset House, where, as my right hon. Friend is aware, they always undergo considerable modifications, which would have made the total reductions considerably greater than the amount I have stated. I was unfortunately obliged to be absent on the Continent on account of ill-health till the middle of October. Upon my return, having been unable to join in the usual visitation with my Colleagues, I made a private visit to the yards which led to some material economies; almost immediately afterwards I was obliged to go to Ireland for my re-election, and on the day after my return I attended a Cabinet Council, at which the Government determined to resign. The Committee will thus see that I could not possibly have given a careful consideration to the Estimates. I cannot, therefore, say what would have been the precise amount of the reductions we should have effected over and above the amount set down in the Memorandum which I left at the Admiralty, except in respect of Vote 10, section 1, for the purchase of Naval Stores. I calculated the reduction of £401,000 on the basis of the rough Estimate placed in my hands by the Storekeeper General, which amounted to £31,000 more than what was granted for the current year. But I am au- 902 thorized to say that, after having consulted with the Controller, he found that he could reduce his Estimate to £15,000 below the Vote for the current year. That would be a difference of £46,000, which, added to the £401,000, would make the total reduction £447,000, exclusive of such further reductions as would have been certain to follow a careful revision of the Estimates at Somerset House. But for the purpose of comparing my reductions—if I had proposed the Estimates instead of my right hon. Friend opposite—with those which he has been able to effect, I must make a considerable addition to the £447,000. In estimating the amount I should require for the service of the year, I calculated on the necessity of providing £337,000 for engines, and £515,000 for contract ships—total, £852,000—which the Controller had reported would be necessary, in order to meet existing engagements; and it was not my intention to lay down any new ships, armoured or unarmoured, during the year. In my opinion, sufficient had been done to put the unarmoured navy in a satisfactory state; and I did not think it would have been advisable to build more iron-clads until the applicability of the turret principle to sea-going ships of war had been fairly tested by the approaching trials of the Captain and the Monarch. But I was surprised to find that the Estimate of my right hon. Friend was only £295,000 for the purchase of engines, and £420,000 for contract ships, making together £715,000, as against my Estimate of £852,000. My right hon. Friend therefore asks for £137,000 less than what I should have required to meet existing engagements only if I had had to frame the Estimates. The explanation of the difference, however, is very simple. During the course of the autumn the revenue returns were so unsatisfactory that the late Chancellor of the Exchequer called a Cabinet Council, at which it was decided that, in order to avoid the risk of a deficiency, the heads of the great spending Departments should endeavour to make the largest possible saving upon their respective Votes. I thereupon consulted the Chief Constructor in the Navy—in the absence of the Controller who was then abroad—and the result was that I was able to undertake that, by withholding the payment of part instalments at the end of the financial year, which it was 903 customary to make but to which the contractors had no legal claim, £190,000 of the Contract Vote should remain unexpended. But I understand my right hon. Friend intends to pay the part instalments as usual, during the present financial year, and is thus able to reduce the Vote for next year by the £137,000. If my Estimate for contract work had been prepared on the same principle, it would have shown the same reduction. It is a mere question of adjustment—that is, whether payments should be made on or before the 31st of March, or not till on or after the 1st of April; and, therefore, for the purpose of comparison with my right hon. Friend's Estimates, I have a right to add the further saving of £137,000 to that of £447,000 which I have specified, making a total saving of £584,000 as compared with the Votes for the present year. But this is not all. The Memorandum I left at the Admiralty did not notice Vote 17—the Vote for the Conveyance of Troops, as the War Office was not prepared to furnish us with the necessary data for an Estimate. The Admiralty has no control over that Vote. It has merely to provide for the demands made on it by the War Office. Last year the wages for the seamen and marines serving in troop-ships was provided for under the naval Vote, No. 1, and I had calculated my reduction on the supposition that they would continue to be so. But my right hon. Friend has transferred this item to the Army Vote, No. 17, and has thus reduced his naval Votes by the sum of £74,000. If my naval Votes had been relieved in the same way, they would have shown a further decrease to the amount of the £74,000, which, added to the savings already specified—£447,000 and £137,000—would have made a total of £658,000, as my decrease in respect of naval Votes, as compared with the decrease effected by my right hon. Friend. The total voted for naval services in 1868–9, exclusive of Vote 17, was £10,806,690. Deducting the supplies to other Departments,—£112,082—the net amount was £10,694,608. The total naval Votes for 1869–70, exclusive of Vote 17, are £9,680,293. The difference between the two years is £1,014,315, and if from this sum be abated my savings—£658,000—there remains £356,315, which is the amount of the decrease due in these Estimates to the right hon. Gentleman. His achievement, therefore, is not the re- 904 duction of £1,000,000 in the Navy Estimate, but only of £356,000. In one of the journals of this morning it is stated that the Government have saved on the Estimates for the Army and Navy £2,000,000 during the two months they have been in Office, being, it is added, at the rate of £1,000,000 per month. If they go on at this rate, the result by the end of the year will be remarkable. But it may be said that this large reduction of £658,000 was forced on us by public opinion—that we were compelled to be economical on account of the feeling of the country in favour of retrenchment. It has been asserted that the late Government had permanently increased the Estimates half-a-million a year. That is the greatest possible mistake. We never intended to increase the Estimates permanently. We increased them for special purposes. In 1867–8 my right hon. Friend near me (Sir John Pakington) increased them partly for the purpose of making provision for unarmoured ships, which had become indispensable to the maintenance of our foreign squadrons, and partly to increase the work on iron-clad ships, and last year I maintained the increase for the purpose of placing the armoured navy on, at least, as good a footing as that of any other nation. Those objects having been accomplished, the temporary necessity for increased expenditure ceased to operate, and we should have returned to Estimates very much of the same amount as those which were proposed by the Liberal Government before we came into Office. I should now like to show in what mariner I proposed to effect the reductions in the Estimates as specified in the Memorandum I had placed in the right hon. Gentleman's hands. In the first place, I proposed to reduce the Marines by 700 men, for the reason I stated—that, the complements for iron-clads being considerably smaller than for line-of-battle ships, their number ought to be limited to that which would admit of their employment afloat with sufficient frequency to qualify them for the double purpose for which the force is intended. I find my right hon. Friend has given effect to my intentions in this respect, for which a memorial to the Queen in Council was prepared before I left the Admiralty. I had also carried out measures which enabled me to reduce by upwards of 1,000 the number of seamen-pensioners, and others, having charge of the ships in the reserves. These reduc- 905 tions effected a saving of £131,000 in the Votes for Wages and Victuals. Last year I abolished altogether the Steam Reserve at Chatham, which led to a considerable saving. This year I effected a further economy in the Medway by substituting one ship—the Agincourt—a first-class iron-clad, for the two line-of-battle-ships which had previously served as flag-ship and as guard-ship of the Reserve at Sheerness. I also placed the seamen's barracks under the charge of the captain of the Reserve which enabled me to dispense with the services of a captain, his staff and 200 men. But the greatest reform I have been able to effect has resulted from abandoning the old system of keeping up an establishment of ship-keepers—engineers, stokers, and servants on board each of the steam ships composing the Reserves. The greater number of these ships are now "locked up," as it is termed—having no one living on board them—and are placed under the charge of small establishments of officers and men on board "divisional ships." This reform is estimated by Captain Willes—the late captain of the Reserve at Devonport—to have reduced the annual charge on each of the larger ships from £1,000 to £200. I also proposed to effect a large decrease in the Votes for the Controller of the Navy. It was not my intention to lay down any new ship this year, and, in consequence of that, we should have been able to reduce Votes Nos. 6 and 10 by £195,000 below the Votes of last year, and the amount would have been still further reduced by £137,000, as I have already stated, if, like my right hon. Friend, instead of requiring the money to be re-voted, I could have paid part instalments, in accordance with the usual practice, out of the sums provided for the service of the present year. This would have made a total decrease on the Controller's Votes of £332,000. I also proposed to reduce Vote 11 by £44,000. The balance of increase and decrease would, as shown in the Memorandum, have been a decrease of £401,000, exclusive of any further reductions on a revision of the Estimates at Somerset House. But, as I have already observed, my naval Votes would, if prepared on the same principle with that of my right hon. Friend, have shown a decrease of £658,000. Looking at the Estimates before us, 906 my right hon. Friend will forgive me for thinking that some of his reductions appear to have been made under some pressure—at all events, the first figures given in the general abstract would lead to that inference. The amount taken is £9,996,000, and if the figure six had been turned the other way it would have read £9,999,000. I cannot help thinking that my right hon. Friend was told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "You may have as many nines as you like in your Estimates, but on no account must the total begin with the figure ten." My right hon. Friend effects a decrease, over and above what I should have effected, of £356,000, the difference occurring chiefly under Votes 1 and 2, for Wages and Victuals; Vote 3, for the Admiralty Establishment; Vote 6, for Wages to Artificers; Vote 10, for the Purchase of Stores; and Vote 11, for New Works, and, in my opinion, the greater part of these reductions are ill-advised. Vote 1 shows an apparent decrease of £274,000, as compared with the Vote of last year; but £74,000 has been transferred from it to the Army Vote 17, so that the real decrease is only £200,000; and of that £98,000 is due to the measures which I carried out, so that the amount of reduction due to the present Government is £102,000. My right hon. Friend opposite and his Friends, in the course of the speeches which they addressed to their constituents in the autumn, expressed their satisfaction that I, in some instances, should have followed their advice in the administration of the Navy. But I may now return the compliment, and I congratulate my right hon. Friend on having followed my example, and refrained from reducing the Marines by more than 700 men, although last year he proposed, and went to a division, to enforce the reduction of 4,000. However, we will let bygones be bygones, and I am glad to find that my right hon. Friend, under the responsibilities of Office, has not thought fit to reduce that branch of the service to a greater extent. The Marines are an invaluable body of men, and I hope the reduction now made will be final. I do not think the force ought at any time to be less than the 14,000 at which it now stands. Sir James Graham expressed the opinion before the Manning Commission that they ought never to be 907 reduced below 16,000, and now they are 2,000 below that number. I was surprised to hear my right hon. Friend say that I had left him the legacy of having to reduce the number of officers. He says that I increased the number of officers while I reduced the number of men.
§ MR. CHILDERS
My right hon. Friend is under a slight misapprehension. What I said was that, during the year he reduced the number of men by 1,700, but he made no reduction in the number of officers.
It is true that last year, when a reduction was made in the number of men, there was no corresponding reduction in the number of officers; but this year, when I decided on a further reduction of 700 men, I called for a statement from the Deputy Adjutant General of the proper proportion of officers in reference to the reductions both of this year and of last year, and I directed the draft for a memorial to the Queen in Council to be prepared accordingly, which placed the Marines on the same footing as the other seniority corps in respect of promotion. With respect to the redundancy of officers on the Navy List, I was myself desirous of carrying out a scheme for relieving it by inducing officers to give up their pecuniary claims on the service on payment of a fixed sum; but the plan which I contemplated, although economical in the end, would have necessitated an increase of expenditure in the first instance, and therefore, in the existing state of the revenue, it could not be entertained. The subject is one in which I have always taken great interest; and, indeed, the Retirement of 1847, which reduced the standing of captains before they could obtain flag rank from thirty-eight to eighteen years—a difference of twenty years in the ages of officers on reaching flag rank—was prepared by me, and carried against much opposition within the walls of the Admiralty. My unfortunate illness last year prevented me from paying as much attention to this and other subjects as I should have wished. The scheme my right hon. Friend has indicated would be open to this objection—that officers in want of ready money would sell out, and having lost their capital by unfortunate investments, or otherwise, might appeal to the Admiralty for assistance, which, in many instances, it would be 908 difficult to refuse. Such a scheme might produce great distress. At the same time, I quite admit that anything tending to diminish the number of officers would deserve the consideration of the Admiralty and of Parliament. The better plan, perhaps, is to limit the entries of naval cadets, and my gallant Friend (Sir Sydney Dacres) and myself worked with this view. My right hon. Friend proposes to save £102,000 on Vote 1, by a reduction in the number of stokers, in the number of boys, of the coastguard, and of servants. With regard to the stokers, I am afraid my right hon. Friend has made a mistake. I think I gave sufficient indication last year of my great anxiety to effect every proper economy in the management of the reserves; but I cannot approve of this item of reduction. On making inquiries I found that, although stokers in abundance could be obtained at anytime, skilled stokers were very scarce. By skilled stokers I mean men who can keep up the steam at a proper pressure, and preserve a uniform speed; and the difficulty of securing the services of such men will be gathered from the fact that it is necessary to supply stokers from the steam factory at Portsmouth, when ships are to be tried over the measured mile, or the result could not be trusted. If we discharge our skilled stokers, what shall we do in the event of a war? We shall have to go into the market and take stokers where we can find them, skilled or unskilled, and the result, I fear, will be disastrous. With respect to the reduction in the number of boys, it should be remembered that their numbers should always be sufficient to supply the waste of men in the service. Before I left Office I called for a Return showing how we stood in that respect, and I ascertained, from a statement given me by Sir Alexander Milne, that the number of boys was about sufficient to meet the waste of men, but not more. I am rather surprised at the course my right hon. Friend has taken in this matter; because, in the able speech which he made in 1867, he said he was glad that the Admiralty had increased the number of boys by 418, and his only doubt was whether we had gone far enough. He even went further, and said that keeping up a large supply of boys could be justified on the grounds of economy no less than of efficiency. With refer- 909 ence to the coastguard, I must strongly object to any reduction in that service, because it is the only reliable reserve we possess. I have great confidence in the Royal Naval Reserve, and I know it to be an effective body of men; but the coastguard is a reserve composed of the best seamen in the world—almost every man in it is fit to be a petty officer—and they are bound to come forward in case of emergency, for they are all under martial law. It is not proper to regulate the strength of the coastguard by the number of blue-jackets as my right hon. Friend has done; they were never intended to take the place of the blue-jackets, but to provide petty officers for the merchant seamen, whose services would be required on an emergency. My opinion is that any reduction of that force will be attended with danger. The next saving is effected by means of diminishing the number of officers' servants, and supplying their places with 500 Marines. That was one of the questions which I had under consideration during the time I held Office; but objections were urged against it, in the strongest possible manner, by my two senior naval Colleagues, and the Deputy Adjutant General. I confess, therefore, I am surprised to hear the proposal made by my right hon. Friend, for I can scarcely believe that Sir Sydney Dacres now consents to it. It was represented to me that the proposed change, though it might be palatable to the men, was considered objectionable by the officers, who thought that it would derogate from the high position of the corps. On a question concerning the economy of ships-of-war, I thought I ought to pay great deference to the opinions of my principal naval advisers, and I therefore altered my intentions accordingly. At the same time, it is a subject on which much difference of opinion exists in the service. Some officers—and among others my gallant Friend and late Colleague, the Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay)—think the change will be an improvement. I shall only add that I hope it has been well considered, and has not been proposed for mere economy's sake. It would be a grievous error if, for the sake of a paltry saving, the efficiency of that magnificent corps should be endangered. A very serious question, on which my right hon. Friend has given us a clear statement, is as to the reforms in the departments at Whitehall and Somerset House, and elsewhere. That is a question into which I 910 am not at present prepared to enter. It deserves very careful consideration. I confess my own impression is that a great many of the changes introduced by my right hon. Friend will not be found to operate for the advantage of the service. Perhaps, so long as there is no particular pressure upon the Department, no great inconvenience may be felt; but I do not think the large reduction in the number of clerks, and the throwing of an enormous amount of work on individual members of the Board, will be found to answer in times of emergency. I greatly fear that the Admiralty would be found, for the first time, notwithstanding all that has been said against it, unequal to the occasion, and that the navy would be exposed to the risk of misfortunes such as those which befel the sister service in the Crimean War. I think some of these reforms have been made rather hastily; but I should prefer to consider carefully what my right hon. Friend has told us as to his intentions and objects, and to discuss the subject on another occasion. I see in the Vote for Somerset House that many of the establishments are still under revision; and I hope before we are called upon to pronounce an opinion upon the proposed change the whole of the scheme will be before us. The reduction in the amount of wages to artificers in the dockyards is owing principally to the closing of Woolwich Dockyard, in respect of which I will only say, at present, that I think it has been premature. No doubt the Dockyard Committee, in the Report quoted by my right hon. Friend, unanimously recommended the closing of Woolwich Dockyard; but I think my right hon. Friend will find that that resolution was qualified by myself and others, who thought it would be time enough to close Woolwich when the extensions at Chatham were completed. That has not been accomplished yet; and it would be very unfortunate if, on the breaking out of a war, we found ourselves without an establishment on the Thames, or in its neighbourhood, where the engines of ships-of-war could be repaired. The mere power of re-taking the yard which my right hon. Friend intends to reserve would avail very little in a sudden emergency; because, as the docks and workshops would probably be occupied by ships and engines under construction and repair, a considerable time must elapse before it could be handed back 911 to the Admiralty, and it could not be re-established for months, and probably not under a year. The reduction in Vote 10 section 1, I presume arises from the discontinuance of Woolwich Dockyard, and the consequent distribution of its stores amongst the other yards. I am not prepared to say whether the reduction of Vote 11 is a wise measure or not. The principal expenditure under that head, exclusive of the expenditure on the great extensions of the dockyards, is on account of repairs. There is an old saying, "A stitch in time saves nine;" and I hope my right hon. Friend's economy in this respect may not lead to a much larger expenditure by-and-by. I will not, on this occasion, enter into a further consideration of the Estimates, but will wait until the Votes are put from the Chair, when I shall be prepared to state my views and opinions upon them. There is one point, however, upon which I must not only express my decided opinion, but also give notice of an Amendment—I allude to the proposal to build the two larger turret-ships which my right hon. Friend has described. I have already stated that it was not my intention, if I had remained in Office, to lay down any armour-clad ships during the present year, because the Captain and Monarch are so near completion that I thought it better to wait until they had been tried, and the merits of the turret principle tested at sea. I have been very soundly abused about turret-ships; but I can assure the Committee that no one is more anxious for their success than I am. In 1865 I brought the subject specially before the House. I blamed the Admiralty for what I called its supineness in ascertaining by experiment the fitness of turret-ships for service as cruizers, and after that the two turret-ships, now nearly completed, were laid down. But whether I was right or not a year or two years ago, the matter is in a very different position now, when we are within two or three months of the time when the Captain and the Monarch will be tried. I do not care whether those ships fail or succeed—that makes no difference so far as this question is concerned. If they fail, there is an end of the matter for the present; if they succeed, a great number of alterations of different kinds will necessarily suggest themselves for adoption. And not only do I object to laying down these ships at present, but I am also very 912 strongly opposed to the particular description of ships proposed to be built. They are to be deep vessels, drawing twenty-six feet water, with twin screws, and without masts. If I were at the Board of Admiralty nothing would induce me to build such vessels. Nothing would induce me to send a vessel to sea as a cruizer without masts. These ships, according to my view of the case, are therefore unfit for sea-going purposes, and it is thoroughly recognized by every authority, and it was specified in the Report of a Committee which sat on the subject, that no vessel for coast defence ought to draw more than sixteen feet water. These vessels, then, will, according to my view, be unfit for coast defence and for sea-going purposes. They are, indeed, to carry an enormous quantity of coals. But suppose anything were to happen to their shafts, or other parts of their machinery, they would lie on the water like half-tide rocks. I also think it very undesirable to build a deep vessel for twin screws. The result of recent experiments in that respect has not been satisfactory; and in a scientific point of view it has been ascertained that, although the twin screw may answer to a certain extent in vessels of light draught, it is not suited to those of a deep draught of water. Under these circumstances, I think it very indiscreet to build these ships at present. There is no person in or out of this House who has been more anxious to see the turret principle fairly tested at sea than I am, but I deny that it has been so tested, and therefore I think it most desirable that the Captain and the Monarch should be tried at sea before any more sea-going turret-ships are laid down. So strongly do I object to these two vessels that, though very sorry to make any Motion of the kind, I must give notice that when we come to the Vote for the purchase of Stores I shall move that it be reduced by £40,000, for the purpose of raising the question whether they shall be built or not. If my right hon. Friend tells me that the designs for these ships shall not be approved until the Captain and the Monarch shall have been tried, or if he says that the money shall be applied in some other way, I shall be content to withdraw my Motion. But if I receive no assurance of this kind, I must divide the Committee with the view of stopping the construction of these ships. With these remarks I shall conclude, reserving the 913 further observations I have to make until the Votes are put from the Chair.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he had been looking forward with considerable curiosity to the statement of his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty to see whether the pledges which he had given to his constituents would or would not be redeemed, and he did not hesitate to say that they had been satisfactorily redeemed. His right hon. Friend deserved the greatest credit for the moral courage he had displayed in undertaking his unpleasant task, as he knew he was exposed to the odium of his own Department and to the censures or sarcastic comments of part of the Press for what he proposed to do. Such a man was worthy of the confidence of his country and of his Colleagues. He was happy to say that among the reductions proposed to be carried out his right hon. Friend had not forgotten his own Department. Last Session he (Colonel Sykes) drew the attention of the House to the annual increase of the Vote for the Admiralty, and showed that for seven out of the last ten years there had been an annual increase for the Admiralty establishment. For 1867–8 there was an increase of £2,363, and in 1866 it was £7,352, the total increase in the seven years being £40,391. But now, for the first time within his memory, there was a diminution of such an amount as £13,000 in the Vote for the establishment of the Admiralty, and he hoped that was only an instalment of the £40,391. His right hon. Friend also deserved praise for the reduction of our squadrons dispersed over all the seas of the globe. Setting aside all consideration of expense, on grounds of humanity alone the reduction of the squadron on the west coast of Africa had been frequently advocated. His right hon. Friend had reduced the ships there very considerably, but as the slave trade had ceased, nothing was now to be done but to protect our trade, and he did not hesitate to say that for that purpose five ships would be amply sufficient. Last week he received a list of the names of the ships and their disposition in the China seas, and he made them out to be forty-two, including store-ships, instead of thirty-four as mentioned by the First Lord of the Admiralty. Of these, thirty-one were in harbour, and only one cruizing, so that his right hon. Friend would see that a reduction might very 914 easily be made in that branch of the public service. There was one thing in which he could not concur, and that was with regard to the protection of the Persian Gulf. That was an inland sea, and the whole coast, on the Arabian and Persian sides, was dotted with little independent Arab chiefs, all of whom were usually at loggerheads with each other. Formerly, when the local marine of India had charge of the Persian Gulf, the whole of the officers were acclimatized and were also qualified as linguists to communicate with the Arab chiefs and settle their differences for them. English post-captains certainly could not do that, and he was sorry that the Government had discarded the idea of having a local Marine force stationed in the Persian Gulf—a measure which would be better for the health of our officers and men, for our diplomatic relations with the petty chiefs, and also for the public Exchequer. In conclusion, he congratulated his right hon. Friend upon his statement, and trusted that he would go on treading the same path in which he had taken so great a stride on the present occasion.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, it appeared to him that in framing these Estimates his right hon. Friend at the head of the Admiralty had been guided by this consideration—In all probability the new Government when it came into Office found it absolutely necessary to do something, and consequently they "took a pen and wrote down quickly" the sum they wanted to cut down. It seemed as if the Estimates were to be kept below £10,000,000; and so, by cutting down here and cutting down there, they had been reduced to £9,996,000. The late First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Corry) had pretty conclusively shown that every reduction had previously been made which was conducive to the public service. With respect to the changes in the Board of Admiralty, he had himself brought before the House, in February, 1861, a series of Resolutions on the conduct of the Admiralty, and he would refer to those Resolutions to show that the present First Lord of the Admiralty, in his recent alterations, had merely taken a corner of the plan which was before the Committee in 1861, and which was well thought of by the House and the country at the time. He claimed no sort of merit whatever for those Resolutions, which had been drawn up by five or six 915 men of the highest position in the Navy, and which, he believed, if fairly carried out, contained the solution of the question. The Resolutions declared, among other things, that, in order to obtain direct personal responsibility, it was essential to abolish the Board of Admiralty, and to substitute for it a Minister of Marine, with a Secretary in that House; that the Minister of Marine should be directly responsible to that House for the conduct and management of naval administration; that he should be assisted by a council of not fewer than four naval officers, whose opinion he might consult, but to whom he was not bound to defer; that the members of the council should be appointed for five years; that each department of the Navy should have a known or acknowledged head, appointed also for five years; that all promotions and appointments should be the act of the Minister of Marine in council, submitted to him through the proper heads of departments, but for which he was personally responsible, and that the following departments were of sufficient importance to require the special superintendence of separate heads—namely, the discipline and training of the navy and general superintendence of the fleet in commission, and the submission of the appointment and promotion of officers, the manning of the fleet, the construction of the navy, the victualling of the navy, the paying of the navy, the controller of the coastguard, the Royal Marines, the medical department, pensions and rewards, the store department, the department of works, the hydrographer, and the transport service. Now, the objection he took to his right hon. Friend's arrangement was that it must break down. The whole construction of the navy lay between the Controller and the First Lord. With all deference to his right hon. Friend, he was not a shipbuilder, and, with all deference to the Controller, he had built some very bad ships. If the whole construction of the navy was to rest between those two authorities the country would be in a dangerous position. At this moment he believed the pressure on the Admiralty was greater than it was during the Crimean War. Reductions had been made in the personnel, more especially in the Storekeeper's department, which had been presided over by a man of the greatest ability, but which was now left without a head, and how it was to be 916 carried on he did not know. The whole superintendence of the Machinery department, on which the locomotion of the fleet depended, had been thrown on the shoulders of Mr. Andrew Murray—a man of great ability, but who also had the superintendence of the dockyards, on a miserable pittance that would not be accorded to the foreman of a shipbuilding yard on the river side. He looked forward to a break-down, and was convinced that the alterations at the Admiralty could not stand. In the Committee of 1861 the alteration of the Patent of the Admiralty was discussed at very considerable length, and the reason why the Committee did not report was because there were five Members who had been First Lords upon it. The right hon. Member for Droitwich was the most advanced of the five, and would have consented to some alteration, but the other four—and especially the late Sir James Graham—were opposed to any change in the wording of the Patent. That Patent on the face of it directed that no change should be made in the Board of Admiralty without the sanction of the Crown. What had drawn his attention to that matter was the issue of the most extrordinary circular which ever came out of a public office. There was in that circular an assumption of authority on the part of the first Lord which was entirely irregular; and he thought it was a great pity at such a time, when a new Parliament had met under such novel circumstances, that they should at once rush into that change. If the Admiralty had taken six months to reflect on the matter, and had come down with a well-considered plan, embodying such a scheme as was generally approved seven or eight years ago, he would have been prepared to support it. As to the general reductions in the service, he thought that in many cases they had been most precipitately and harshly carried out. The number of measures before the House, education and such like, requiring a large staff to work each of them, might have held the hand of Government until offices had arisen in which they could have placed those young men. He had seen more than one case in which young men with relatives dependent on them had been reduced to absolute destitution in consequence of being turned adrift on a very short notice. Then, it was an extraordinary thing that his right hon. Friend should have appointed a new man to an 917 important office. No doubt the gentleman in question possessed great abilities, but his evidence before the Committee had been impugned in almost every important particular. He had carefully read the evidence with regard to Mr. Fellowes, and he found that when the Controller was examined there was hardly a point on which he did not contradict him in a most contemptuous manner, and yet this was the person who was to be appointed to an office the duties of which many young men were perfectly competent to perform. Again, the proposal with regard to Lord Camperdown was, in his opinion, most unconstitutional. Why should a Lord in Waiting be sent down to investigate the condition of our victualling yards? Lord Camperdown was, he believed, a very clever and promising young man, but what on earth could he know about pork or beef, or peas or suet, and the way in which those articles were stowed away in casks and packages, preserved, stored and issued? With regard to the proposal for closing Woolwich Dockyard, he might mention that he was a Member of the Committee which investigated the condition of the dockyards. The whole subject was then very carefully considered, and the Committee arrived at the conclusion that it was absolutely necessary to spend an enormous sum of money in making basins for the ships which, up to that period, used to be fitted out in the stream. The Committee recommended that large basins should be opened as speedily as possible to receive ships at Portsmouth, Chatham, Devonport, and Pembroke. That led to the prospective closing of Woolwich and Sheerness, but Deptford was to be retained as a victualling yard for the purpose of killing and curing beef for the navy, a process which, he was glad to say, had now been brought to considerable perfection. It never entered, however, into the heads of the Members of the Committee that the Government would discharge the men employed in those establishments without providing them with work elsewhere. As the Government paid little or nothing towards the poor rates in the towns where they dismissed large bodies of workmen periodically, they were bound to send those men to some of our colonies, or otherwise provide for them. The Government paid but the merest trifle to the poor rates of the va- 918 rious towns, they did not contribute to the schools, and in a word they did nothing more than an autocratic Government would do. In fact, he believed that, in a matter of this kind, the Government of Russia would act more like Christians than ours proposed to do. About twenty years ago widespread destitution prevailed in the Hebrides, and a society was formed to take measures to alleviate that distress, of which Sir John M'Neil was chairman; they raised subscriptions for the purpose of getting the suffering people out of the country. The Government of the day placed the Hercules, 74, at their disposal; she went to Campbelton Loch, in Argyllshire, shipped the emigrants there, and the people were conveyed in that vessel to New South Wales. The present Government ought to act as a paternal Government, and to adopt a similar course with regard to their discharged labourers. The increase of expenditure in the item of wages was owing to the increase which had occurred of late years in the price of provisions and lodging. People were called upon to pay more for their food, clothing and lodging than they were formerly, and the natural consequence had been an increased rate of wages. With regard to the proposed reduction in the number of our cruizers, he would point out the absurdity of attempting to survey the coast of China if the reductions he suggested were made. He know the coast of China well, and that it was impossible for our wretched gunboats to make way against the monsoon. His hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes) had asserted that the extent of the coast of China was 2,000 miles, but he was inclined to think that when the indentations were taken into account it was more than 3,000 miles. Then, it was a very rocky coast, fringed with ranges of islands which were complete warrens of pirates. The protection of a coast of that description would require a much larger number of small vessels than his right hon. Friend had any idea of. If the proposed reductions were made two or three British vessels would probably be cut off by the pirates, whereupon there would be a great outcry in this country, and in the end it it would be necessary to send out a large number of additional cruizers. He confessed he hardly understood what the right hon. Gentleman meant by flying 919 squadrons. If there were to be a flying squadron to cruize round the world no doubt that would be a good thing, as a number of officers would be kept in constant employment, and would find out what vessels were good for anything In his judgment, it would be a very impolitic thing to discharge any of our stokers, who, he was convinced, ought to be classed as skilled artizans, and he fully endorsed the opinion of the late First Lord of the Admiralty respecting the measured mile. He would answer for it that the Controller of the Navy would not allow one of his ships to be stoked by a stoker from the shore. He agreed in all his hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen had said about the Persian Gulf. The officers of the Indian Navy were good surveyors and linguists, and they and the men under them, being thoroughly acclimatized, could carry on operations at any season of the year. He could not see why the Chinese and Indian Governments should not supplement the pay of the Navy. He wished before he sat down to say a word with regard to turret-ships. He was strongly opposed to a low freeboard out at sea. At the back of the Isle of Wight no vessel with that defect could be relied on. Vessels so constructed might get across the Atlantic; but for purposes of warfare they would be found perfectly useless in a seaway, and not one of them when she came into action would be able to keep the water out of her turrets. He also concurred with his right hon. Friend the late First Lord of the Admiralty in the opinion that we ought to have two strings to our bow in the building of our ships. If their engines were disabled—and the finest engines were liable to become disabled—then they might, if they had sails to set, get out of the difficulty.
§ MR. SAMUDA
said, he had never listened to a speech from a member of the Board of Admiralty which presented such various and important matters for discussion as did the statement which his right hon. Friend at the head of the Department had made that evening. It was impossible to deal with those numerous and important topics on the present occasion. He must, however, express his satisfaction with the general plan which his right hon. Friend had sketched in respect to the economies which he had effected or proposed to effect. There could be no doubt that a vast amount of economy in manufacture must result 920 from condensing the work in the dockyards. But then the dockyards which, in his opinion, we should maintain were those which were least likely to be disturbed in the event of an attack being made upon our shores. Now, Portsmouth did not come under that category, while Woolwich did, for the defence of the capital must certainly include Woolwich; and such a dockyard, as it were, in the very heart of the metropolis, in connection with the great engineering establishments of the country, was of the greatest importance. His impression, then, was that Woolwich, Pembroke, and Chatham were the three dockyards which we should find it most useful to maintain, and it certainly was, he thought, very undesirable to shut up places of which, under certain circumstances, we should have to avail ourselves again. Passing from the dockyards to the building of ships, he was glad to learn that a saving of a million was about to be effected, but at the same time he observed this was mainly attributable to undertaking much less; only three ironclad ships were proposed, instead of the ten which were contemplated last year; and with respect to those three there were some matters to which he wished to call the attention of the Committee. Last year there was a general proposal to divide the building between private and Government yards, which, without having the slightest interested motive in the matter, he looked upon as a wise course to adopt. He was, he might add, extremely glad to find that his right hon. Friend proposed to turn his attention to the construction of turret-ships. But his right hon. Friend's mode of producing these turret-ships was wrong. Last year, after the Admiralty had for a number of years determinedly opposed the turret in favour of the broadside system, a submission was made to the principal shipbuilders of the country, who were asked to furnish their ideas of the description of vessel which they thought best adapted for the service of the country, and it was promised that, whichever proposal was approved of, the proposer should have the opportunity of building the ship at a fair and remunerative price. The builders responded, and the Controller of the Navy then issued a Report, the effect of which was to condemn all the turret-ships proposed, and thereby to set aside the majority of the proposals that were made 921 by the builders. It finished, as almost every submission so made had finished, in the discomfiture of the persons applied to, the Admiralty building something of their own design instead. He had pointed out last year how impolitic was this rejection in favour of broadside vessels of a new type, not one of which was afloat. He had even gone as far as to propose in Committee the substitution of two turret-ships for the vessels proposed, and he believed that the present First Lord supported his proposal. Not six months had elapsed, and now the Admiralty, which prevented turret-ships from being built, when proposed by persons outside that Department, proposed to build three turret-ships themselves. It was not fair that plans, which had emanated from some of the most experienced builders in the country, should be rejected in this way, and the Admiralty were clearly open to the criticism of the hon. Baronet (Sir John Elphinstone), for building a turret-ship of 4,600 tons with 4 feet 6 inches of freeboard, when they had refused last year to build a vessel of 3,739 tons with 10 feet of freeboard, the proposed Admiralty ship being without any masts, while those planned by the private builders had masts which would have brought the vessel into port if the engines were disabled. The experiment which the Admiralty were now about to carry out was much greater than that which they had last year refused to try; and, therefore, believing this—though he approved the principle and had for years advocated the building of turret-ships, and wished particularly to guard himself against expressing any opinion on this new proposal at present—he called on his right hon. Friend not to build them of this exceptional class, and, as a matter of fair play towards those who had been called on by the late Board, to revise the schemes of the builders and adopt them if they were found useful and practicable, as no doubt they would be. It should be remembered that, whatever might be the talent at the Admiralty, the amount of talent outside could never be compared with, but must greatly exceed, that of a single individual there. Passing from this topic, he noticed with satisfaction the determination of his right hon. Friend, in building vessels by contract, to contract only for the fabric, leaving the fittings to be supplied by the Ad- 922 miralty. This was the best division of labour; and, in a long correspondence with Sir Baldwin Walker in 1861, he had urged this very course as the only mode of obtaining vessels at a reasonable price, but his advice was ignored. In conclusion he could not omit to draw attention to the fact that not a single penny was to be voted for the construction of vessels in private yards, though those yards were in want of work. He did not regard that as wise, for on these private establishments the Government had always had to rely, and would again have to rely in times of difficulty, and no more erroneous policy could be acted on than the withdrawal of all patronage from those whose assistance in times of war the country could not dispense with, and he advised that the Estimates should be revised in that particular.
said, he hoped that the First Lord of the Admiralty, who had explained the Navy Estimates with so much ability, would take measures to do away with the restrictions as to period of office and as to rank now existing in respect to the appointment of the superintendents of dockyards.
§ MR. GOURLEY
said, he was, in some degree, satisfied with the reductions proposed to be made, but he trusted that the House would see that the country got full value for the money that was to be expended. To ascertain this, he said, it was necessary to ascertain of what the navy was composed. There are 432 ships of all rates nominally, and 293 in commission, exclusive of those in the colonies; but of the 293, forty-one were steam-tugs, barges, and tenders, and a large number of wooden ships of but little use for actual warfare. The modern vessels were comprised in forty-seven armour-clad ships, twenty-four of which were broadsides; but it appeared from recent experiments at Shoeburyness that those broadsides would be of very little use. Not only were they incapable of being placed alongside a fort armed with modern artillery, but they could not carry more than ten days' fuel. With such a small quantity of fuel it would be impossible in case of war with a maritime State to send them with safety to any distant country. Such were the capabilities of ships for which large sums of money were voted. There was in the Estimates an item of £170,000 for fuel for the Navy, and he suggested that the steam 923 vessels, not being required for hostile purposes in time of peace, should then be only used as sailing vessels. Thus, not only would fuel be saved, but the men on board would be made better seamen. With regard to the transports, he remarked that more men per ton were employed in those vessels than merchant vessels; these when employed by the Emigration Commissioners and the Admiralty were required to be manned with four men for every 100 tons burthen, whereas the Government transports are manned with eight to ten men for every 100 tons burthen, a larger number than what is actually required, costing for the four ships in India and the Mediterranean £200,000 for men, fuel, and provisions. The cost of the coastguard was £700,000, and as smuggling was detected, not by the coastguard, but by the officers of the Inland Revenue and policemen, he thought that a greater reduction of that force might be proposed. It did not appear to him that the reduction on the whole of the Estimates was so large as might have been effected.
§ MR. GRAVES
said, he thought there was no point of more importance in the statement they had heard than that which related to the constitution of the Board itself. He had heard with a pleasure, which he believed would be shared by those who for years had considered a serious change was required in the constitution of the Board, that the right hon. Gentleman was moving in the direction of personal responsibility, and that there was to be much more direct responsibility than there had been under the old state of things. The responsibility which had been assumed by the right hon. Gentleman the Committee would claim from him as the representative of the Board in that House, and, if it appeared that the Department was not undermanned, they would have to thank him for a valuable change. It was one worthy of a fair trial; and he (Mr. Graves) would always support movements in this direction. He regretted, however, some withdrawal from the position the First Lord took some years ago with reference to boys. On that occasion the First Lord said he looked upon an increase in the number of boys for recruiting the Navy as one of the most valuable propositions before the House, because it would promote not only economy but efficiency. It 924 was, therefore, with regret he (Mr. Graves) heard of the proposed reduction of 400 or 500 in the number of trained boys; and he was afraid that in making his calculation the right hon. Gentleman had omitted the drain that was going on among the boys, as well as the drain on the seamen. He understood that the drain of men was between 4,000 and 4,200, and that there were only about 4,000 to meet the drain. This was the more to be regretted, because high naval authorities held that the best mode of recruiting the Navy was by taking boys from the training-ships, and that a blue-jacket from a training-ship was better than any man that could be brought in through any other channel. Last year he had ventured to suggest that the Woolwich and Deptford Dockyards should be closed, and that Sheerness as well as Pembroke should be included in the reduction; but he did not meet with encouragement, and he was therefore the more pleased to find that to the extent of two yards a reduction had been finally decided upon. Giving full credit for what had been done in this respect, he regarded it only as a first step towards further reduction, which he advocated as an ultimate, but not as an immediate measure, because it was imprudent to make too large a reduction at one time. He was satisfied it could be shown that the expense of managing the yards was out of all proportion to the amount of work done in them. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Samuda) had pleaded for Woolwich with some force; but out of forty-seven armour-clad vessels we had only ten that could enter Woolwich for repairs, owing to the limited depth of the water and the size of the gates; and in case of an engagement in the North Sea, or accident there to even one of the smaller class of vessels, it was not to Woolwich, but to the nearest port on the east coast of England or of Scotland, that such a vessel would go for repairs. The proximity of the Woolwich Dockyard to London must make labour more expensive there than elsewhere. Whether the factories should be allowed to remain was a serious question for the consideration of the Government. He hoped, that in the course of next year, a proposition would be submitted for the closing of Sheerness, if not Pembroke. It was gratifying to hear the intention of the Admiralty with regard to shipbuilding this year. Although from 925 time to time endeavours had been made to force the Admiralty to build turret-ships, somehow every conceivable class of ship had been tried in preference, more than one of which had been sent to the West Indies to get them out of sight. It was, therefore, with great pleasure he heard it announced that in the future construction of vessels there was to be a large adoption of the turret system. He presumed this was an indication of the fact that the First Lord was exercising a will of his own, and would continue to exercise a judgment upon all the questions which came before him. But if we were to have vessels drawing 26 feet of water, built on the twin-screw principle and without masts, we were again going on an experimental tack, for we had no instance of the twin-screw being tried in a vessel drawing more than 22 feet of water; and the single vessel of that draught was a failure, according to the testimony of the highest officers of the country to which she belonged. The French had tried the twin-screw principle in one or two vessels of 20 feet draught going to New York, and he believed in these instances it had been successful; but there had been very few instances of its adoption in our mercantile marine, and our shipbuilders were generally pretty wide awake in adopting practical improvements. He would strongly urge that no vessel on the twin-screw principle should be laid down until it had been tried with a greater draught. We have six now building on this principle; in a very short time it will be tested, and surely it would be most prudent to wait a little before rushing further into an untried experiment. We were told we had again come into the front rank of nations in the matter of naval strength; there was, therefore, no great reason for undue haste, and on that account he would urge the building of no more vessels on the twin-screw principle until we had satisfied ourselves that it was likely to be a successful one. He was glad to hear it was proposed that the new vessels should carry coal for ten days' steaming, for the want of carrying power had been one of the great blots on our system. The Hercules could carry coal for no more than fifty to sixty hours of full steaming, and she would be overmatched by a vessel of inferior strength and power which could carry double the quantity of fuel. At the proper time he should be 926 prepared to enter more fully into this question.
§ SIR CHARLES WINGFIELD
said, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone) had complained that India was not charged for the cost of a squadron stationed in the Indian seas. In the interests of the tax-payers of India he (Sir Charles Wingfield) wished to express his belief in the fairness and justice of the arrangement expounded that evening by the First Lord of the Admiralty—an arrangement by which an annual contribution of £70,000 would be levied from India.
§ MR. BROGDEN
said, he had listened with very great pleasure to the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty. The right hon. Gentleman had displayed a wise discretion in his endeavour to effect an economy in the service over which he presided—an endeavour which he (Mr. Brogden) regarded as an earnest of future results. The country would call for considerably larger reductions than the right hon. Gentleman proposed. In these times of commercial depression and heavy taxation, economy in all Departments of the State was an absolute necessity. In our dockyards especially reform was needed, and whenever the salaried establishment was out of proportion to the labour establishment such a state of things would be open to the suspicion that certain appointments were retained and filled more for the benefit of individuals than for the public interest.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, at this late hour I will not detain the Committee more than a few minutes, but there are one or two points on which I wish to make some observations. We have had a very clear, able, and interesting statement this evening from the First Lord of the Admiralty, and I most willingly join in the tribute which has been paid to him from all parts of the House. In the early part of my right hon. Friend's speech he adverted to the evidence given by me before the Committee on the Admiralty, in the year 1861. That evidence was given under circumstances of some difficulty, but I am bound to say that I have in no degree changed the opinions I then expressed; and my experience as First Lord of the Admiralty since that time has only confirmed me in the conviction that a Board is a bad system of machinery for managing so great and so important a Department of the public service. 927 My opinion, is, that a Minister never acts under that degree of direct personal responsibility which is so necessary for the protection of the public interests when he forms only a member of a Board. I have no hesitation in expressing my approval of the changes which my right hon. Friend proposes to make in the organization of the Board of Admiralty, though of course at this early period it is impossible for me to pledge myself to the details, or to say that the changes which he proposes are those which in every respect I regard as the most desirable. With my right hon. Friend I regret that the Committee of 1861 made no Report, but it must be remembered that, at the end of 1861, the Committee closed its proceedings in the full belief that it would be re-appointed in the following Session, but its re-appointment, unfortunately, was not moved either by the Member at whose instance it was originally agreed to, or by the Member who had presided over its proceedings. But while I give my right hon. Friend full credit in the desire he has shown to introduce economy in the administration, I cannot help thinking that he has been somewhat too precipitate in some of these reductions. For instance, he has altogether failed to explain the desirability of the changes with respect to the clerks at the Admiralty. I myself am afraid that these changes have been made with something like harshness. I speak under correction, for all my information is derived from rumour and statements which have appeared in the newspapers. But if what I hear be true, some thirty or forty gentlemen who have obtained their positions under the competitive system, and who from long established custom have with some reason regarded their positions as affording them a provision for life, have been suddenly informed that their services will be dispensed with after the 31st of the present month. My right hon. Friend, indeed, appeared to think that he has treated these gentlemen with great consideration and kindness, because they were not told that they would not be wanted the next morning. My right hon. Friend, it is true, has told us that they will be re-appointed as vacancies occur, but will this remove the hardship? They will be in the meanwhile deprived of the incomes upon which they have been led to depend, they may have long to wait, and when they return I should 928 like to know if they will receive the increased salaries to which they would have been entitled if their service had been unbroken. I admit that my right hon. Friend is perfectly justified in reducing the public staff if he finds that the work to be done does not require so many clerks, but such reduction ought to be made with a due consideration for the fair claims of those concerned. Such a change should, I think, be introduced more gradually, and be carried out with less harshness to individuals. About the prudence and propriety, moreover, of abolishing the office of Storekeeper General—an office of great importance and which has existed for a long period—I have considerable doubt. With regard to the flying squadron, I did not understand what the ships are of which it was to be composed, or where the squadron was to fly to. My right hon. Friend also stated that certain reserve ships were to cruize at Whitsuntide. I believe they are to go without coal; but I should wish for some further explanation with respect to them. I should like to know in what relation the flying squadron and what I may call the Whitsuntide squadron are to stand in as regards the Channel squadron, which I believe is now at Lisbon? My right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty did not advert this evening to the changes made at the Admiralty; but I understand that the abolition of the Coastguard Office, or the absence of the officer who was at the head of it, has led to much inconvenience. I want to know, therefore, whether the officer to be appointed to command the Whitsuntide squadron will assume the functions formerly exercised by the officer at the head of the Coastguard Office. There is one other subject to which I wish to advert. After what has passed to-night, I cannot help hoping that my right hon. Friend will further consider the question of the turret-ships. During the course of a long discussion I do not think any hon. Member has expressed approbation of that part of the plan of the Admiralty which has reference to those ships, though very strong opinions have been expressed the other way. I think the observations made on the subject by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry) are unanswerable. In the various discussions on the merits of the turret principle I have always advocated as warmly as any one in this House the 929 propriety of making a proper trial of that great invention. Now, I think my right hon. Friend at the head of the Admiralty will admit that the turret-ship, as a sea-going ship, has never been tried. No experiment has as yet been made of a powerful man-of-war on the turret principle as a sea-going ship. In 1865, when I was at the head of the Admiralty, I, in concert with my gallant Friend (Sir John Hay), resolved that Captain Cowper Coles, the inventor of the turret principle, should have an opportunity of building a turret-ship in accordance with his own opinions. He was allowed to select his own builder, and to have the ship constructed as he liked. He selected the well-known Birkenhead firm of Laird, and the Captain, which the Messrs. Laird had built for him, was nearly ready to go to sea. [Mr. CORRY: She is commissioned.] The Monarch also is nearly ready to go to sea. Would it not, then, be better to wait the result of experiments with the Captain and the Monarch, in order to see whether the turret principle was really suited to a sea-going ship, before going to enormous expense in building other ships of the same class? The value of the turret-ship as a coast defence has been established; but great doubt still exists as to whether the principle is adapted to a sea-going ship.
§ MR. CHILDERS
, in reply, said, it was of great importance that the first two Votes should be agreed to that night. If the Committee passed them he would then move to report Progress. He thanked the Members who had taken part in the debate for the kind manner in which they had spoken of himself personally. As regarded the observations of his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) in respect of changes at the Admiralty, he had in the first place to repeat what he said the other day, that he thought there could be no greater danger in dealing with the case of civil servants than to talk of their having any rights except those which they had clearly by law. [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON: I did not use the word "rights."] He had certainly thought that his right hon. Friend had used the word "rights." He repeated that civil servants had no rights as against the Government but those which the law gave them. One of those rights was, when a reduction was made in a 930 Department and officers were affected by it, to receive the compensation provided for them by Parliament, and beyond that they had in this respect no right. But he quite admitted that, in carrying out a reduction which was for the public interest, the Government should act with every possible consideration towards the civil servants of the Crown, and every endeavour should be made to avoid as far as possible, dispensing with the services of any efficient gentleman who wished to stay in the service. As he had before stated, an inquiry was going on as to the manner in which the details of the reduction in the Admiralty Department should be carried out, and he believed that the result would be a very different one from that which was apprehended out-of-doors. He believed that the great majority of the gentlemen who wished to remain would be afforded an opportunity of doing so. The exceptions would be placed on the redundant list, and when vacancies occurred they would be re-appointed to offices of employment. As regarded the Storekeeper General, the head of the Store department would be subordinate to the Controller of the Navy, and not as now on an equality with him; but as the details of this change were being anxiously considered by him and his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), he hoped the Committee would excuse him if he did not on the present occasion go into particulars as to the exact relations which would exist between the departments. With respect to some remarks made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry) as to the reductions he had contemplated making, he (Mr. Childers) had purposely abstained from discussing intentions, which had never received the confirmation of the late Cabinet, or had been put into shape until the very last moment after the elections. For this reason he must decline to discuss the financial effect of postponing the contractors' instalments, though he was not much in favour of this kind of economy. His right hon. Friend had challenged him upon the reduction in the number of boys in the Navy, and he admitted that a few years ago he had argued that an increase rather than a decrease was required, but as he had shewn the proportion of boys to blue-jackets was now 931 different. The fact was that, whereas in former years the number of boys rated to seamen was less than the annual waste in the Navy, the number of boys rated at the present time was greater than that waste. His right hon. Friend had during the year reduced the boys by 200, and he (Mr. Childers) only reduced them 200 more; so that the difference was hardly worth discussing. It was unnecessary for him to enter more fully into the question respecting the Marines after the observations with which he had interrupted his right hon. Friend. It was also unnecessary for him to advert further on that occasion to the turret-ships, seeing that the right hon. Gentleman had given notice of a Motion on Vote 6, which would raise the question respecting these vessels most distinctly. In answer to the hon. Member behind him (Mr. Gourley), he had to state that the whole cost of the Indian transport ships which this country had to bear was £10,000. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Samuda) had imported into the discussion the question whether Portsmouth and Sheerness Dockyards should not have been given up in place of Deptford and Woolwich, but he must leave the respective representatives of those places to defend them. For his own part, he had thought it safest to adopt the recommendations of 1864 upon that subject. In defence of the appointment of Mr. Fellowes, which had been attacked by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, he had to state that that gentleman had before the Committee of last Session shown such an extraordinary knowledge and acuteness in dealing with the dockyard accounts that he was well worth the salary he received; certainly no one of the reduced junior clerks could be compared with him. Having answered to the best of his ability the principal questions that had been put to him, he would now ask the Committee to pass the Vote for Men, Wages, and Victuals, and he would then move that Progress be reported.
said, that he did not in the least blame the right hon. Gentleman for paying the instalments on the contract ships and engines as far as he could during the present year; but he himself had been placed almost under an injunction by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer not to pay them during the 932 present year. Therefore, while the expenditure would have been less during the present financial year by these sums, the Estimates would have been larger by them next year.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (2.) £2,762,353, Wages to Seamen and Marines.
§ (3.) £1,172,268, Victuals and Clothing.
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman could inform him whether he intended to take any more Votes before Easter?
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he was scarcely competent to answer that question, but he might say that no more Votes on these Estimates would be taken before that day fortnight.
§ Votes agreed to.
§ (4.) £366,545 5s. 6d., Excess of Naval Expenditure, 1867–68.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;
§ Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.