HC Deb 18 July 1870 vol 203 cc413-5

, after congratulating the House on the return of the First Lord of the Admiralty to his place, said, he would beg to ask, Whether he will explain the circumstances connected with the resignation of the Chief Constructor of the Navy?


Sir, I have no objection to give the fullest explanation on the subject, and to avoid mistake I will read the correspondence which has been held. On the 7th instant I received in the country from my Colleague, Sir Spencer Robinson, a letter from Mr. Reed, dated the 1st of July, which had been retained by Sir Spencer, with Mr. Reed's assent, for two or three days. It was in these words— I beg leave to place the resignation of my office in your hands for transmission to the First Lord, having accepted a valuable offer which has been made to me by Sir Joseph Whitworth in connection with his large engineering works at Manchester. In taking this deliberate step, which in some respects I take with extreme reluctance, I have no desire to discuss, or even to mention, those circumstances which make the office I have held less desirable than it might otherwise be, especially as they have but little to do with recent incidents, have no special connection with the present Government in particular, and result almost entirely from the very low estimate which all Governments put upon mechanical and scientific skill in this country, as compared with its value in private life. I desire, on the other hand, to say that I have felt, and still feel, the utmost sympathy with those truly great and valuable reforms in Admiralty administration which the present Government has introduced, and with which I have co-operated to the utmost of my ability, and I deeply regret the necessity of separating myself from them. My regret is the less, however, as you have most generously consented to assist the Government in completing them. In resigning, I beg leave to place myself entirely in the hands of your Lordships as to the time of my ceasing from duty; and I shall afterwards, at all times, be most happy to afford any assistance in my power in order to prevent the public service from suffering disadvantage in consequence of my withdrawal. I am most grateful for the very great personal kindness which has at all times been shown me by their Lordships, and I shall never forget the unwearying support which you have for eight years given to my humble efforts to promote efficiency and economy in the construction of Her Majesty's ships. I am particularly obliged to Mr. Childers, the First Lord, for having taken pains to explain to Parliament that the sum of money which has been granted me this year is a tardy payment for designs (involving much expense) prepared several years ago, and I trust it will be understood that I now leave H.M. Service without pension or emolument of any kind, but not without the consciousness that I have most entirely devoted to that service for the last eight years whatever faculty, strength, and energy I may have possessed. That resignation was accepted on the following day, the 8th instant, in the following words:— Sir,—I have received and laid before the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty your letter, addressed to the Controller of the Navy, resigning the office of Chief Constructor. In reply, I am commanded to inform you that my Lords have been pleased to accept your resignation. On Saturday evening, the 9th, Sir Spencer Robinson received the following telegram from Mr. Reed:— If the state of affairs abroad should materially alter my case, I shall feel bound to do my utmost to meet the wishes of the Government. I leave for Blackheath at 3 to-day. In reply, Sir Spencer asked Mr. Reed if this telegram was to be considered an official communication, and on the 14th received the following lotter:— I beg leave to state that my telegram to you of Saturday last was official; that I made it under a sense of public duty; and that I am prepared to abide by it. This letter was answered on Saturday, on my return to town, in these words— Having laid before my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty your letter of the 12th instant, referring to your telegram of the 9th instant, both addressed to the Controller of the Navy, and offering your services in consequence of the state of affairs abroad, I am commanded to convey to you the thanks of their Lordships, but to inform you that my Lords do not see occasion to avail themselves of your offer.


said, he wished to know, Whether the £5,000 which had been awarded to Mr. Reed had been partly for old and partly for new services?


said, the whole correspondence on that subject was in print, and on the Table. He had explained it very fully on a former occasion.