said, that the subject of the Notice which stood in his name divided itself into two branches, the first relating to the policy of the Government with respect to the dockyards, and the second to the building and repairing of ships of war. One of the evil consequences of postponing the discussion of the Estimates to the end of the Session was that it was necessary to bring them on at hours which left but little time for their consideration, and as it was now 9 o'clock, these two questions could not be adequately discussed before the usual hour of adjournment. The more convenient course for him to take would, therefore, be to deal with but one branch of his Notice to-night, and he would at present treat only of the policy of the Government in building our ships of war. In moving the Navy Estimates, the First Lord of the Admiralty said that we required practically three classes of ships. That we required large fighting ships to maintain our supremacy at sea—that in large fighting ships we were very strong, and that we ought therefore to concentrate our efforts on building rapid corvettes for the protection of our trade, and gunboats to protect our shores. There was no doubt that the first object of the Admiralty ought to be to secure our supremacy at sea, but if it had been secured, it had been entirely owing to the policy of the late Government. When Lord Derby came into office in 1866, England, according to Sir Spencer Robinson's Report, had 22 and France 20 first-class armoured ships built and building, but the Report added that the actual force of the French first-class vessels was greater than ours because four English were inferior in strength to any four French ships that could be selected. Of second and third-class vessels England had only 12, while France had 23, giving a total to England of 34, and to France of 43. But that state of things, as regarded what the First Lord called "large 1148 fighting ships," was reversed by the policy of the late Government. In our two Estimates we provided for seven powerful broadsided and three turret-ships, which gave us a superiority over the French Navy — not so much numerical as of actual power. When the late First Lord of the Admiralty came into office he adopted a new classification of iron-clad ships according to their offensive and defensive power, and we had now nine armour-clad ships of war of the first and second-class; but of these no less than seven were added by the late Government. But although these vessels had secured our positive superiority over any other Navy, he utterly denied that we were entitled to consider that at the present moment we were, relatively, exceedingly strong in ships of that description. The theory had been brought forward by the First Lord of the Admiralty, and by the Prime Minister, that the strength of the Navy was to be measured by its capacity to defend our shores. In the course of the last Session the Prime Minister, alluding to the reductions effected by the Government in the squadrons on foreign stations, asked of what use for naval defence was the system of dotting our vessels over the whole globe. But it was an erroneous notion to suppose that an Empire on which, as we were told, the sun never set, could be defended by ships stationed between the Foreland and and Cape Clear. It showed an ignorance of naval history to speak as the right hon. Gentleman had done. Other nations, with colonies and trade comparatively insignificant, might concentrate, but we must distribute not only our frigates and corvettes, but our ships of the most powerful classes. What had been the distribution of our line-of-battle ships in the last four great naval wars? In 1760, during the Seven Years' War, we had, as he had ascertained from official documents, 101 line-of-battle ships in sea-service commission, of which only 34 were at home, while 67 were on foreign service, or, as the First Lord of the Treasury would say, "dotted over the whole globe." In the American War, in 1783, we had 112 in commission, of which only 32 were at home and 73 were on foreign service. In 1799, during the Great War, we had 120 in commission, of which only 35 were at home and 85 were 1149 on foreign service; and in 1809 we had 113 in commission, of which only 39 were at home, while 74 were on foreign service. In short, during the last 100 years it was found necessary to detach two-thirds of our largest, and a far greater proportion of our smaller, ships for service abroad. The present number of our sea-going iron-clads, large and small, including the Monarch, but excluding the Devastation and the Thunderer, for he hoped that no First Lord of the Admiralty would ever venture to employ such ships at sea, was 34, and if we were involved to-morrow in a war, especially against a combination of naval Powers, the First Lord of the Admiralty might find it rather a difficult matter to say how he would distribute them so as to protect essential interests. Could the right hon. Gentleman say how many of the 34 he would keep in the Channel, how many he would send to the North Sea, the Mediterranean, the Coast of America, India, Australia, China? It should be borne in mind that our Colonial Empire as well as our commerce, had been enormously increased during the present century. A new Empire almost had sprung into existence at the antipodes, and the opening of the Suez Canal made it more important than ever that we should retain the command of the Mediterranean. There was a fallacy in the argument that our Navy was never so strong as now. He admitted that the Monarch and Sultan might destroy all the line-of-battle ships that fought at Trafalgar. But it should be remembered that other nations had built the same class of iron-clads that we had, and, compared with other Navies, our Navy was weaker than before the introduction of iron-clads. While positively we were stronger, we were relatively weaker than before. Formerly it was an axiom—and even Mr. Cobden had expressed the opinion—that our Navy should be nearly twice as strong as that of any other nation; but that was far from being the case now. It was a great mistake to suppose that we had nothing to fear from a combination of Powers. He could not say what the naval force of other nations was at this moment; but when he left the Admiralty in 1868, it appeared from official Reports, that France, Italy, Austria, Spain, Denmark, Russia, and Prussia had 52 iron-clads 1150 of the first and second-class built and building. That was exclusive of the United States, which had not done much in that direction. Still the force of our Navy was clearly superior to that of any other Power. But for this the country was indebted to the late Government, and if it had not been for our policy, the armoured Navy of France would have been stronger than ours last August on the breaking out of the war. We had been told that our naval power had increased concurrently with reduction of expenditure. The First Lord of the Admiralty had said—"We shall at the end of the year—that is, at the end of last March—be infinitely more powerful than at the beginning;" and he enumerated the ships added during the last financial year — Vanguard, Iron Duke, Sultan, Glatton, Swiftsure, Triumph, Hotspur, armour-clads; Druid, Tenedos, Woodlark, and five gunboats. But he did not add that nearly the whole of these ships were due not to the present Government, but to their predecessors in office. He had taken out the tonnage and the horsepower of each of the above vessels added to the Navy in 1870–71. The aggregate was 30,244 tons and 6,425 horse-power. Of the total tonnage of 30,244 tons, 29,184 tons were due to the late Government, and 1,060 to the present Government. Of the total horse-power of 6,425, 6,300 horse-power was due to the Conservative, and 125 to the present Government. It was quite true that the Navy was far more powerful than at the beginning of the last financial year. But he knew the reason why; and it certainly was not due to the policy of the present Government. His noble Friend the Foreign Secretary had mentioned in "another place" that the American Admiral Rogers had told him that there was no Navy equal to that of England. He hoped the noble Earl had the candour to inform Admiral Rogers that the present Government did not claim any credit for that, but that it was entirely due to their predecessors in office. It was needless to say, notwithstanding, that the naval policy of the late Government had been attacked by "the croakers," and he was accused for not paying more attention to coast defence. He had, however, a limit to his means of expenditure, and he thought that to restore England to the command of the seas was 1151 his first duty, and that he endeavoured to do by building the powerful sea-going ships he had mentioned. But he was blamed for not having built cruising ships like the Captain. He was always in favour of trying the experiment of low freeboard turret-ships, but he did not wish to rush into the building of such ships before the experiment had been fairly tried at sea. He did not wish to "take a leap in the dark," and to spend millions of money and endanger thousands of valuable lives before he knew what he was about. The croakers would not have been more satisfied if he had built turret ships like the Monarch, which they designated a burlesque of the turret principle. Nothing would have satisfied them but Captains. He thought he had reason to congratulate the country and himself that he had not yielded to pressure, and that he had refused to build a class of ships respecting which he had the gravest doubts as to their safety as cruisers. The vocabulary of vituperation, and even insult, had been ransacked against him; but he was determined not to surrender his better judgment to clamour, and it was a gratifying retrospect to him that he had declined to adopt a policy which would have left England inferior to her old rival in a Fleet fit to be trusted at sea. The present First Lord of the Admiralty was now able to devote his attention to coast defence, and to the building of swift cruisers, entirely owing to the policy of the late Government. Their ships, however, did not escape the common lot. They were no sooner in the water than the harpies defiled them in every way, and when one ship was named the Audacious it was sarcastically remarked—"You do well to call her the Audacious, because of the audacity of building such a ship," and the vivacious critic added that the whole class were the derision of naval men. But it would be interesting to the public to know that these ships were not deserving of the character which "the croakers" gave them. He had a letter from an officer of great experience, one of the best seamen in the Navy, who was on board the Vanguard, one of the Audacious class, during severe trials in the Atlantic in November and December, and he had borne the very strongest testimony to her success, especially as regarded her stability, which had been questioned. 1152 He would read a short extract from this letter—You will be glad to hear that the Vanguard in all essential features turned out a most powerful and effective ship of war, and especially as to her stability and rolling easily, was entirely satisfactory, and I am able to remove the impression that the Vanguard class are unsafe, because the Iuvincible heeled 17 degrees to starboard, with none of her lower weights in, though all the top weights were, even to her sails, being bent. The morning after we left Devonport there was a high sea on the starboard quarter, the sea was washing over the main-deck battery ports, but the upper deck battery 12-ton guns were cast loose and worked, and certainly under circumstances that I have never seen heavy guns worked before—in fact, I do not know of any other ship that could have worked her guns in such weather. We put into Vigo to let our friends know there was no cause for alarm on account of any deficiency in stability, after which we cruised for ten days before reaching Lisbon, during which we had some of the worst weather I ever witnessed. She was very easy in all her motions; but I think she is overmasted, from the relief experienced when the upper masts were sent down.He quite concurred in that opinion, and was glad to hear that that defect was to be remedied. The letter then adverted to her "splendid steaming powers," and added—The main-deck battery guns—in fact, every gun in the ship—was worked, and target practice took place when a line-of-battle ship would not have been able to open her lower-deck ports. The upper-deck guns, 300 pounders (which are as heavy as the main-deck) can be fired at 90½ degrees ahead and astern, the shot crossing about 600 yards from the ship. No other ships in the world possess these powers.Subsequently the Iron Duke, another of the same class, was tried, and a Rear Admiral who visited her after her return, writes that the captain and other officers reported of her in the most favourable manner. He says—It is only bare justice to the abused Audacious class to bear the foregoing testimony to facts, resulting from experience, in opposition to views based upon groundless speculation and false hypothesis.So much for the derision of all naval men which these vessels were asserted to be. As to the Vanguard the following report appeared in The Times—The Vanguard has proved a remarkably stiff ship. In a breeze of 24 hours' duration—force of wind from 5 to 8—she carried royals the whole time and tacked in 4½ minutes in a seaway which few wooden frigates would have gone round in. She wears easily in six minutes. The greatest roll never exceeded 17 degrees, nor the steady heel of the ship 11 degrees. The officers speak in the highest terms of the comfort and stability of these ships, and express the most perfect confidence in their sea-going qualities.1153 The late Government had given the country six of these ships, besides the Sultan, of a still more powerful class, and two turret-ships—the Hotspur and Glatton. The third—the Captain—had unhappily been lost. We had been anathematized for refusing to multiply Captains before the principle on which she was built had been tested at sea; but he would leave the House and the country to decide which was the wisest policy. Whatever else it may have done or left undone, England was still mistress of the seas. The Prime Minister was in the habit of taunting us with our profligate Estimates. He (Mr. Corry) pointed to the result, and that was the answer he gave him. Having placed our sea-going Navy in a satisfactory position it was his intention to pause until the Admiralty had had a trial of the Captain and the Monarch, and had ascertained whether the turret principle could be safely applied to sea-going ships; and, if so, whether the freeboard should be high or low, and this policy had been endorsed by some of the first and most able officers of the Navy, whose opinions he laid before Parliament in 1868. Unfortunately the late First Lord adopted a different course, and the first thing he did on coming into office was to call upon Sir Spencer Robinson and Mr. Reed to build impossible ships. Sir Spencer Robinson said—We were asked to consent to a novel and impracticable design. We remonstrated. We pointed out the impossibility that that design could give any satisfaction to the Navy or to the country, and it was abandoned.Then followed the design for the Thunderer and the Devastation. He (Mr. Corry) thought those ships were of so dangerous a character that he divided the House against them. Of course, he knew he could have no chance of success against the majority at the command of the Government; but he could say — Liberavi animam meam, and, if they should come to sorrow, no share of the responsibility could rest with him. The late First Lord met his objections in a somewhat disingenuous manner. They were as follows:—First, the extreme lowness of the freeboard; second, the absence of masts and sails, making them, as he considered, dangerous as sea-going vessels; third, the great draught of water, which made them unfit for coast defence. Well, on meeting 1154 my objections, the right hon. Gentleman quoted high authority. He said he had referred the question to the Committee presided over by Lord Lauderdale, and of which Sir William Fairbairn was a member; that Lord Lauderdale, as a Member of a former turret-ship Committee, had expressed great doubts as to the possibility of constructing any sea-going turret ship; that, knowing Lord Lauderdale entertained this opinion, he would not quote him, although he had concurred in the Memorandum signed by the other gentlemen. The natural inference was that Lord Lauderdale had, at least, no special objection to these ships. But to his surprise, on reading The Times of the 31st of last March, he found a report of a speech by Lord Lauderdale in "another place," in which he said—When these plans were drawn out the then First Lord asked me with seven or eight brother officers to give an opinion upon them. On being told the vessels were to be regular sea-going ships, I objected that, if forced against a heavy sea, they would founder, and I objected not only to the low freeboard, but to the absence of masts, and to the draught of water, which was 26 feet.These were precisely the objections he (Mr. Corry) urged. Lord Lauderdale added—My views were endorsed by Sir William Fairbairn, who said he was not a sailor, but that such vessels if forced against a sea would go under as they could not go over it. It would, he said, be a sort of submarine navigation.In the Minute of the late First Lord of the Admiralty on the loss of the Captain, he stated that the Reports of the Chief Constructor and Controller on the design for these ships were submitted to a Committee consisting of Admiral Lord Lauderdale, Sir William Fairbairn, and others, and the design was approved by them. And yet here we had the declaration of Lord Lauderdale and Sir William Fairbairn that they entertained the strongest objection to them. The late Controller of the Navy, in a Paper adverting to these ships, seemed to think that his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay) and himself were the only persons who entertained a doubt of the admirable qualities of this class of vessels. He had already quoted the high opinion of Lord Lauderdale, and he had the opinion of several of the most distinguished men in the Navy in support of his views. One Admiral, speaking of ships of the 1155 Devastation class, told him that, in his opinion, they would prove worse coffins than the Captain, and that on account of the lowness of the freeboard the water must smother them, and being so low forward they could not be forced against a heavy sea, which would expose them to great risk in a heavy gale on a lee shore. Another Admiral who had seen a great deal of service, and who was one of the best sailors in the Navy, had written to him—I cannot bring myself to believe in the safety of the new low freeboard ships. All very well in a moderate gale; but get them into a heavy or a cross sea, and I fear they may fail. An iron-clad, with its heavy armour, does not rise to the sea either so quickly or with the buoyancy of the old ships. When going down from a sea they settle in the hollow, and the seas rise up on each side to the tops of the gangways, but are kept out by the ship's high sides. But then seas would break on board these low freeboard ships, and the weight of water thus thrown on the deck might smother them unless they have spare displacement. Again, these ships, so low forward, could not be forced against a sea if it became necessary to do so.He had also obtained the opinion of another flag officer, a first-rate seaman. Writing on the Devastation and her class, he says—It appears that, as originally designed, neither of these vessels can be considered safe as sea-boats or as fighting vessels. The Devastation as a ram is dangerously weak in structure of fore body, and her low freeboard is a feature incompatible with sea-going qualities. Their stability is compromised—that is to say, in heavy seas there is reason to fear they might turn over, especially if the bilge pieces were gone, which might happen from the ship passing over a wreck or taking the ground. The question of no mast at all is, in my opinion, an element of danger without sufficient remuneration.In 1869 the argument he had used was that the Admiralty should have a little patience, until the result of the experiment of the Captain and Monarch was known; but he had been told that ships of the Devastation class were so unlike the Captain that there was no similarity between the two, and that no light could be thrown on them by any results of the trial of the Captain. But what happened? These ships were commenced early in 1869, and the work went on swimmingly till 1870. But what happened in 1870? In that year the Captain unfortunately went down, and all of a sudden the Admiralty became inspired with new-born zeal for accommodation for the officers, and some modifications were required in these ships for the purpose of improving 1156 it. It was singular that this should have been coincident with the loss of the Captain. But that was not the real reason. The loss of the Captain suggested doubts as to the safety of low freeboard ships at sea. That was the real reason, as was, indeed, admitted by Sir Spencer Robinson himself, who says, in a Paper laid before the Duke of Somerset's Committee—The improvement we thought of rather took away from the characteristics of the ship as a low freeboard ship. It added, however, very much to her security in a seaway, and, although deprived of Mr. Reed's valuable assistance, we came to the conclusion to recommend it.He (Mr. Corry) looked upon this as an illustration of the wisdom of the waiting policy on which he had determined. These modifications were being carried out in the Devastation, and raised the vanishing stability of that vessel from 43 degrees of inclination to 55 degrees. Now, this he maintained was entirely suggested by the loss of the Captain. But the wisdom of his waiting policy was proved more conclusively from the case of the Fury, which the late First Lord had described last year as an improved Devastation. The Devastation and Thunderer were too far advanced to be stopped; but, fortunately, the Fury had made little progress, and she was actually suspended. That one word was a complete justification of his waiting policy, and it was clear these vessels would never have been ordered if his more prudent intentions had been adopted by his successor. The present First Lord of the Admiralty had quoted extracts from the Report of the Committee of Designs, now sitting at the Admiralty, favourable to the safety of these vessels; but that Report completely damned them with faint praise. It stated that—The fact had necessarily been present to their minds that the Devastation, as well as her sister ship, was already in a very advanced state.But they studiously abstained from committing themselves to the opinion that their design wasa type for future vessels, or fully satisfied the principles which should regulate the form and type of war ships to be built for the service of the country.This was not very encouraging. Only three so-called sea-going armoured ships had been provided for in the Estimates of the present Government. Of these, one, after the fate of the Captain, had been greatly altered, with a view to give 1157 her greater safety; the second was left to take her chance, and the third had been altogether suspended. He confessed he would not be willing to take his chance on board such vessels, and he might safely predict that no more of them would be added to the Navy. Besides these ships the Government had laid down four armoured vessels with low freeboard for coast defence. They were called the Cyclops class, and were ordered under pressure of war. In his opinion they were of a most unsatisfactory character. The great argument in favour of a low freeboard always was that the greater smallness of the space to be protected admitted of the armour-plating being thicker in proportion. But these ships were of a retrograde character, because though they had a low freeboard they only received the same thickness of armour as the high freeboard ships of the latest construction. When the Glatton was ordered by the late Board, it was known that the French Navy had guns which penetrated armour-plates of 10 inches at reasonable distances, and therefore it was not considered safe to give her armour-plates of less than 12 inches in thickness. Two turrets would have involved a reduction of the armour plates, or an increase of size and expense, which was not considered advisable for coast defence, and so it was resolved to give her one turret with two 25-ton guns, so that she was to carry the thickest plating, and the heaviest guns then contemplated. But the ships of the Cyclops class carried only 8 inches of armour and guns of 18 tons, which was exactly the same as he (Mr. Corry), had given to the Sultan, which was a high freeboard ship. This was a sacrifice to obtain a second turret, an advantage, as he thought, purchased at too great a cost of defensive as well as offensive power. He admitted the desirability of having two turrets, two strings as it were to the bow; but he thought that was not so necessary in the case of a coast defence ship as in the case of a cruising ship. He would have preferred a single turret and thicker plating and heavier guns to two turrets and lighter armour and lighter guns. Even if necessary he should have increased the dimensions of the ships by giving them more beam and supplying them with heavier armour and heavier guns. Besides, these vessels were defective in 1158 sea-going qualities; the vanishing stability of the Cyclops being much less than the Glatton. In the case of the Cyclops it was 39 degrees, and in the case of the Glatton it was 47 degrees. The Cyclops was almost identical with the Cerberus, but the Cerberus had this advantage, that before she left Chatham, where she was fitted, she was raised and had a higher freeboard given her for the passage out. But the lieutenant who took charge of her on her voyage to Australia wrote to the effect that she had experienced bad weather in the Bay of Biscay, and that she rolled 40 degrees each way, and pitched tremendously. The sailors deserted wholesale at Malta in consequence of her bad seagoing qualities, and three of them were imprisoned for so doing. In introducing the Navy Estimates the First Lord quoted from the Report of the Committee on Designs, who stated that "the Cyclops class might be regarded as safe and stable ships," but he omitted the statement which followed, to the effect that they might be so regardedunder any condition of wind and sea, as intended for coast defence, and only to make passages from one port to another in favourable weather.Even for coast defence, therefore, those ships were mere fine weather ships, and he maintained that the country had a right to expect something more from vessels of 2,000 tons. He now desired to say a few words upon the Committee of Designs that had been appointed, which was a somewhat delicate subject. He had the greatest respect individually for all the members of it, but it ought to be free from all suspicion of influence, and it was very significant that in the correspondence relative to the dismissal of Sir Spencer Robinson, the latter stated—On the 2nd of November Mr. Childers asked my advice as to the appointment of a Royal Commission, or some Committee not described, to inquire into the want of special ships for the iron-clad Navy. I suggested a Royal Commission. He objected to a Royal Commission on the ground that it would be undoubtedly hostile to the Admiralty, and said 'a Royal Commission is not considered advisable by the Government.'But in the name of common sense why should a Commission, appointed by the Government, be hostile to the Admiralty? If for "hostile" we read "impartial" he thought they would have the true meaning of the objection. 1159 It must be remembered that this Committee was to inquire not only into the safety of the ships, but that the Government itself was on trial as well. Yet how was that Committee constituted? The Chairman held high office in the Government, another member held office in the Board of Admiralty, another also had an Admiralty appointment, and the former secretary of the Committee—who had since become a member of it, and he was informed took the chair in the Chairman's absence, was also in the employment of the Admiralty. And where did they meet? There was something in the locus in quo, and it was rather surprising to learn that they met in the Board room of the Admiralty, to which their Lordships had constant access at all hours. [Mr. GOSCHEN: We were very anxious that they should not meet there.] He was glad to hear it. He contended that that inquiry ought to have had the dignity and independence of a Royal Commission. At the present moment the strides of invention in shipbuilding were enormous; the difficulties of the subject were great; and nothing but an exhaustive investigation would satisfy the public mind. But the Committee was not unfettered as to its powers of inquiry and suggestion. It was only competent to it to report upon the designs submitted to it, and it had no power of initiating suggestions, although one of the most important question of the day was one on which great difference of opinion existed—namely, what types of vessels should be adopted for coast and harbour defence—on which they had been told the efforts of the Admiralty were to be concentrated? The importance to the First Lord of having the best advice upon this matter was much increased by the fact of the Admiralty having lost the services of Sir Spencer Robinson and Mr. Reed. He respected the ability of the Controller and of the gentlemen who formed the Council of Construction, but he thought they hardly held such a position that the country would be satisfied to leave to them the whole question of our coast defence, on which millions were going to be spent, and he therefore hoped that the First Lord would consider this matter, and obtain the best scientific and practical advice that was at his command. Before he sat down, there was one other point he must refer to—namely, the armament of our ships of war—in respect 1160 of which the Admiralty had been very remiss. The late Government had paid great attention to this subject by the adoption of heavy guns andiron gun-carriages, and by increasing the power of the armament on the upper-deck of armoured ships. The Hector, the Valiant, and the Resistance had been thus armed. He had doubled the power of the Northumberland by the substitution of 9-ton guns for 6½-ton, and the Lord Warden and the Lord Clyde were also provided with two 12-ton and 14 9-ton guns instead of 6½ ton. But he regretted to learn that since that period the improvements of the armaments had not been progressing satisfactorily, that neither the Achilles, nor the Minotaur, nor the Agincourt, the two last sister ships to the Northumberland, had been re-armed, and that no steps had been taken to arm the bows of the Pallas or the Bellerophon with 12-ton guns, although a perfect system of working the heaviest guns had been introduced by Captain Scott, to whom the country owed a great debt of obligation. He desired especially to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to this point, for the power of a Navy was dependent on the armament of the ships which composed it, of which we had examples in some of the engagements during our last war with the United States of North America. He would not now press for the production of any Correspondence, but would be content with having called attention to the important subjects to which he had referred in the course of his observations.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he had listened with considerable satisfaction to that portion of the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Corry's) speech in which he had described the ships built by his own Board of Admiralty; and although he had heard a great many criticisms upon those ships he did not intend to follow the example set by the right hon. Gentleman, and praise all the ships built by his political friends and condemn all the ships built by his political opponents. The only result of such an example, if generally followed, would be to create wide-spread dissatisfaction with the entire Navy. It was, however, a fact that those who condemned the ships of the present Administration condemned also the ships built by the right hon. Gentleman: when they did the latter they were regarded by the right hon. Gentleman 1161 as "croakers," when the former he looked upon them as wise and independent critics. If any set of vessels had been subjected to a good deal of adverse criticism it was those of the Audacious type, of which there were six; but, for his own part, he (Mr. Goschen) considered them to be a very valuable class, and a great addition to our Navy. Nor did he share the opinion that they were dangerous, though if he had desired to retaliate on the right hon. Gentleman there would have been no difficulty in finding ample authorities for the purpose. It was too generally forgotten, in the criticisms passed as to particular vessels, that you could not construct vessels equally good for all services—that if you wanted a fast cruiser she must necessarily be defective in heavy armament. The right hon. Gentleman compared the Cerberus with the Cyclops, and had argued from the passage of the Cerberus to Malta that danger would attend the employment of the Cyclops as a sea-going vessel. The Cyclops, however, was constructed for coast defence. As far as the right hon. Gentleman had been able, he had tried to make British seamen discontented, and to induce them to refuse to serve on board vessels like the Cyclops. [Sir JOHN HAY: And a good thing too.] He was astonished to hear any Admiral endorse such a doctrine, and a British Admiral suggest that a British seaman should refuse, if ordered, to serve in a ship even if he believed it to be dangerous. It would be an evil day for us when the British sailor should refuse to go into any ship into which he was ordered on such grounds as the hon. and gallant Baronet seemed to approve. He was glad to know that there were officers of equal reputation and ability with the hon. and gallant Baronet, and men of great scientific acquirements, who did not take the same view as the hon. and gallant Baronet. The right hon. Gentleman's opinions with regard to the excellence of all the ships constructed under his administration—with regard to the Audacious class, for instance—were not shared by every scientific authority.
said, if the right hon. Gentleman had listened to his (Mr. 1162 Corry's) observations he would not have been in any difficulty.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he had listened most carefully, because it was a subject that he had made it his business very particularly to study. He believed he was right in saying that these ships heeled over to a degree hitherto unknown in such a kind of ship.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, that that was so, and he was now obliged to say what he should not otherwise have said. The fact was, an error was made in the construction of these ships, and it was found necessary that they should carry 300 tons of ballast, for without it they had heeled over to such a degree that no doubt the hon. and gallant Baronet opposite would, under other circumstances, have argued that it would be dangerous for British seamen to go to sea in them.
SIR JOHN HAY
begged to say that the right hon. Gentleman was putting into his mouth words that he never used, and never intended to use.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, that they had no right in criticising ships that were built for a particular purpose, to compare them with others that were built for another purpose. The Cyclops was not built for sea service, but for coast defence. The Government had been anxious to obtain the well-weighed opinions of men of high scientific and professional acquirements upon the subject of this class of ships, and he hoped that their opinions might be favourable with respect to the fitness of the ships for the particular purpose for which they were designed. The right hon. Gentleman pointed to the state of the British Navy, as compared with that of foreign Powers, and claimed great credit for his Administration on account of the valuable ships he had added to the Navy. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman had made great additions, but how had he made them? By commencing in one year an enormous amount of work and spreading it over two, three, and even four years, leaving the completion to his successors and claiming the credit of the whole. [Mr. CORRY: It was the present Admiralty that spread them over such a length of time.] The right hon. Gentleman, at all events, expended on these vessels all the money he took on their account, and more, too, and yet the 1163 present Admiralty were even now completing ships which were laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, among others the Glatton and the Hotspur. Thus the right hon. Gentleman could not complain that they had not initiated a policy of their own. The fact was, that the right hon. Gentleman had to a great extent tied down the hands of the present Administration, and claimed the credit of all he approved in these ships, assigning the portion which he disapproved to his successors. The Government were carrying out the views of the right hon. Gentleman. [Mr. CORRY: Very slowly.] The right hon. Gentleman had never complained that there was not enough money spent. He (Mr. Goschen) did not think that his right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) had ever offered any factious opposition during the time that the right hon. Gentleman was in office; but rather that the right hon. Gentleman met with candid and constant support at the hands of his right hon. Friend. There were many occasions when his right hon. Friend rendered valuable assistance to the right hon. Gentleman; but he doubted whether the right hon. Gentleman had rendered any assistance to his right hon. Friend in return. The programme of ships laid down by the right hon. Gentleman opposite was a large one, and many of them had since been improved. In spite, however, of the condemnation which the vessels had received, he believed that the ships of the Audacious class would prove valuable additions to our Navy when they were properly ballasted and masted. [Mr. CORRY: I never masted them.] But they were masted by the gentleman who designed them, and whose designs the right hon. Gentleman approved. The right hon. Gentleman must not first claim the credit of laying down ships and then impugn their fitness when completed. He wished to hear what were the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman as to the Glatton and the Hotspur. Were they more sea-going ships than the Cyclops? [Mr. CORRY said, they had more stability.] He had seen criticisms of the Glatton and Hotspur as damaging as any which could be produced with reference to the Cyclops, though in neither case were these vessels designed for anything but coast defence. He believed those vessels also would be valuable additions 1164 to the Navy of the country. He was not going to quote opinions against those ships, and he hoped that the fear which had been expressed concerning them would not be realized. The misapprehension which existed arose from the misconception to which he had already alluded as to the difference between sea-going ships and those which were intended for home service. It was important that the public should know this. They should know that vessels designed for one service were not specially fitted for another. The right hon. Gentleman had compared the Cyclops class with several vessels that he (Mr. Corry) built, and especially with the Sultan. But there was really no comparison between the two vessels. The Cyclops was not intended for a fast sea-going ship. She drew less water than the Sultan, and was altogether a lighter vessel. The Sultan drew 27 feet of water, and the Cyclops only 15 feet. Why did the right hon. Gentleman compare things so dissimilar? Why could not the Cyclops carry heavier armour? Because she wanted a lighter draught of water. The Cyclops was intended for a totally different purpose from that to which the Sultan would be put. In considering the qualities of ships too much stress could not be laid on the importance of remembering that speed, fighting power, light draught, and heavy armour could not be combined in one ship. Ships of light draught and high speed were needed for obvious purposes; ships of heavy armour, low freeboard, and low draught were also useful for a definite purpose; their qualities could not be combined, and to compare such ships as the right hon. Gentleman had compared the Cyclops and the Sultan was misleading the public. And if criticism of that character was to go on—if one were to criticise the Glatton, another the Hotspur, and another the Cyclops, not on the basis of the purpose for which they were designed, and for which each would be found admirably adapted, but because they did not possess qualities which would altogether unfit them for the purposes for which they were designed—not only would the country be misled, but the confidence of seamen would be shaken. The Sultan was intended for service on the ocean, and though her armour might be penetrated by some of our extraordinary ordnance she would 1165 be a formidable vessel for ordinary purposes. The Devastation, on the other hand, was rather fit for Channel service. She was heavily armoured, and though capable of going to sea he would prefer to keep her at home. The right hon. Gentleman, in criticising the laying down of the Devastation by the right hon. Member for Pontefract, had said the fate of the Captain should have taught a lesson with respect to the Devastation; but did the right hon. Gentleman believe that if the Captain had been an unmasted ship she would have gone down? If the Captain was lost by carrying too much sail, the lesson of her fate would not apply to the Devastation, because the Devastation carried no sail; she was an unmasted ship. It was not to be supposed that she was a vessel which would, in the ordinary course, be sent to America or the Cape. His idea respecting that vessel was that she was the most powerful ship in the world, upon which this country might confidently depend to cope with almost any squadron that could be brought against her. The right hon. Gentleman had said she could not bear up against heavy seas; but it was not on occasions of heavy seas that an invading fleet would approach our shores, and certainly the Devastation would be able to stand any sea that could be withstood by an invading fleet.
SIR JOHN HAY
The great object of building the Devastation was that she should be able to go to all parts of the world, carrying a great amount of coal.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he believed the hon. and gallant Member would find she could do so. If he (Mr. Goschen) was the First Lord of the Admiralty in time of war he should keep the Devastation in the Channel—[Sir JOHN HAY: And a very good thing too]—because he believed that would be her proper place, as there was no ship and no fleet could meet her. With the Devastation, the Thunderer, and the Fury in the Channel, there would be no ground to fear any fleet whatever. They alone would be a match for anything that could be brought against them, while our broadside ships would be able to go into any seas, and be a match for anything they would find there. Even supposing that such ships as the Devastation could not cross the Atlantic, was it not a great advantage to have them in 1166 our own waters? The Devastation was, in fact, a splendid offensive ship for defensive purposes. Critics expected that all our ships should be qualified to sail in any gale and fight in any seas; but what of our opponents? What seagoing ships had other nations got to require these qualities in our heavy armour-plated vessels? The Americans had not a single sea-going broadside iron-clad; all their armour-clads were monitors, which could not leave the coast. Russia was similarly situated; but we had a whole fleet of broadsides and strong iron-clads. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman was as glad as he (Mr. Goschen) was that those two great countries, with whose combined force they were constantly menaced, had not ironclads to reach these shores. Power was relative. And not only had we 34 iron-clads, but we might rely alike on their individual character and aggregate force. There were no ships like the Sultan, the Hercules, and the Monarch amongst foreign fleets. There was, perhaps, one ship, which he would not name, quite as good as the Hercules, but standing alone in the country to which it belonged. [Sir JOHN HAY: And one in Turkey.] True; but he thought those isolated vessels were not calculated to cause us any alarm. It was not only in the fact that we had 34 iron-clads that our security lay, but because our ships were diverse in character. Some were capable of sailing in any seas; others, more powerful vessels, would form an outer line of coast defence; and our most powerful vessels, of which the Devastation was chief, would form the inner line of coast defence. It was in this that our strength lay, and not only in the fact that we had more ships than our neighbours. It was unwise and dangerous to attempt to force the Admiralty or any Administration into attempting to combine incompatible qualities in the same ship. He gave the right hon. Gentleman every credit for what he did when in office. The right hon. Gentleman made a valuable addition to the gunboats of the Navy, and also laid down some valuable ships for cruising purposes, though he fully mortgaged succeeding years. He did not wish to attack the right hon. Gentleman; but he regretted that when the right hon. Gentleman came to criticise his predecessor (Mr. Childers), he abandoned the temperate spirit in which he had previously spoken. 1167 His first reference was to the Devastation, which he (Mr. Goschen) had answered to the best of his ability. And he (Mr. Goschen) believed that in the Cyclops class of ships valuable additions had been made to the Navy. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to one other point—namely, the appointment of the Committee on Designs. He (Mr. Goschen) had been very anxious that the Committee should come to the end of its labours so that the Admiralty might have the advantage of its investigations in respect to ships not yet completed and to the work on which the Admiralty was engaged. But if the advice of the right hon. Gentleman had been followed, and every possible kind of ship had been referred to that Committee in detail, its inquiries would never have closed and they would not have got its Report by the end of the Session, as there was now a prospect of their doing. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had rather unjustly depreciated that Committee, for a more independent Committee had never sat. He had a very different opinion of them from that of the right hon. Gentleman, who thought that they would be influenced by the fact that they were appointed by the Government. The official Members of it were in a very small minority, and the object of the Government had been to secure as impartial a Report as possible. He was sorry the right hon. Gentleman had somewhat disparaged the Committee, otherwise he should have told the House that while criticising the ships on some accounts, the Committee congratulated the Admiralty on the great ability of Mr. Barnaby's department, and thought the country fortunate in having such officers. It was of the utmost importance to get as independent an opinion as possible; and he would entreat the right hon. Gentleman opposite not to make a party question of the question of shipbuilding. [Mr. CORRY made a sign of dissent.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head; but he (Mr. Goschen) thought that praising every ship built during one's own Administration and condemning every ship built during that of another Government was apt to give that impression. They should look not only for the faults but for the virtues of a ship, and one Administration should not make it a point to blame what had been done by 1168 its predecessors or successors. Advice from the right hon. Gentleman opposite or from any competent source as to shipbuilding would always be received with the greatest readiness by the present Government. They would act on the best advice they could get. The matter at stake was so great that every sacrifice would be made to secure the assistance of the greatest talent and scientific acquirements which could possibly be obtained. At the same time, among their professional advisers the Board of Admiralty had men of great ability and trustworthiness, and he believed that, as they had followed the advice of many of the same persons as had advised the right hon. Gentleman, the criticisms which the right hon. Gentleman had brought forward against the ships now being constructed were scarcely fair, and ought not to be accepted by the country.
SIR JOHN HAY
said, that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Corry) and others who thought it necessary in the interest of the country to criticise the ships lately laid down threw no blame on the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen), the criticism of his right hon. Friend being entirely applied to ships laid down, and to the mode of investigating these ships undertaken, before the right hon. Gentleman acceded to office. His right hon. Friend's statement with regard to sea-going ships was directed to the unseaworthiness of low freeboard ships—he made no charge with regard to high sea-going ships, and the question at issue was wholly as to the new type of ship, which had sprung up within a very recent period, and which, as sea-going ships, had been rashly adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) without sufficient experience or trial. Now, he (Sir John Hay) had some right to speak on this subject, having had a great deal to do with the first example of a low freeboard ship built—the Affondatore—which was built several years ago for the Italian Navy, and was sent, under the command of Admiral Persana, into the Adriatic, where she was used, in the Battle of Lissa. It was thought she would work great wonders. But he had the advantage of speaking to a most distinguished naval officer, Admiral Tegetthoff, Admiral of the Austrian Fleet, who told him after the battle that at no time during that action had he feared that vessel 1169 after he had seen her, as there was no time in which he could not have run her down. The Affondatore went down at her anchorage in the harbour of Ancona. She was a first experiment and a terrible failure, and from that time he (Sir John Hay) felt that it would be unjust for him to advocate the building of low freeboard ships — although he had always advocated the class of turretships — for sea-going purposes. They must make their ships safe at sea at the sacrifice of low freeboard. He had frequently urged at the Admiralty that if the turret system were adopted, as he thought it should be, it must be not in low but in high freeboard ships in which the safety of the vessel herself, of her crew, and of the gun for which she was created should be assured. He had never allowed any party prejudices to interfere with the advice which he had felt it his duty to tender to the House. With regard to the Devastation class, the hon. Member for East Derbyshire (Captain F. Egerton) justified the building of these ships. The right hon. Member for Pontefract had told the House they were to carry some 1,200 tons of coal, to cross the Atlantic, go through all kinds of perilous seas, fight an action, and then come back again; and there was a communiqué in an influential journal that the Fury was the joint creation of the First Lord of the Admiralty and the right hon. Member for Pontefract. Six months afterwards, to their astonishment, and very much to the advantage of the country, it was found that this ship, which had some eminent parentage, had come to the birth, and had not strength to bring forth. The Devastation and the Thunderer were in the process of building, and one was to be completed according to the original design, while the other was to be altered very considerably. The alterations from the original design which were being made in the case of the Devastation, though stated to be for the purpose of fitting her for a warm climate, were really, he believed, for the purpose of safety; but he wished to point out that the building of the deck cabins destroyed the great advantages of impregnability, and the power of depressing the guns. He was glad to hear that ships of 27 feet draught were to be used in the Channel, and he quite agreed that they would be very formidable there against a hostile fleet; 1170 but the House must remember that though the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty was about to apply them to a purpose for which they would be valuable and useful, though expensive, that was not the purpose for which they were designed by the right hon. Member for Pontefract. These ships could be used for the defence of the Channel, and he thought they might be safely navigated to the Mediterranean, and that they would be valuable adjuncts of sea-going ships. They might be useful for the defence of Gibraltar and Malta, and on parts of the European coast where the water was sufficiently deep. Ships of the Glatton class would, however, be cheaper, and were better adapted for coast and home defence, because they drew only 19 feet of water, whereas the Devastation and the Thunderer drew 27 or 28 feet. The Glatton and the Hotspur could not be navigated with safety in a heavy sea, but they would be most useful in shallow waters against any fleet that might attack us; and, moreover, seven ships of their class might be built for the cost of three of the Devastation class, while their plates would be much thicker, and they would draw less water than the latter. It had been stated that the object of giving the Devastation such a great draught of water was to enable her to carry 1,100 or 1,200 tons of coal; but what was the use of such a large coal-carrying power to a vessel that was never intended to be employed for purposes other than mere coast defence? [Mr. GOSCHEN said, the vessel might be sent to the Baltic.] No seaman would like to take a ship drawing 27 feet of water into the Baltic. He agreed with what had fallen from the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves), that the £290,000 spent on the Devastation would have been better employed had it been expended in providing gun boats at £8,000 each. It would be very desirable to have a number of these gunboats carrying a single gun, for the defence of our harbours. The Devastation could not navigate the Channel into the harbour at Liverpool for the purpose of defence at all times of tide. Such a class of gunboats might be attached to the different ports, so that they could not be sent away, and could be manned by the Naval Reserve, and then they would always be at hand in case of emergency. If such a course had been adopted, much 1171 would have been done to prevent a recurrence of the panics which were so frequent in this country. With regard to the Cyclops class, of which we had four building, some members of the Committee which sat upon those vessels differed as to their fitness; and Sir William Thompson, the distinguished President of the British Association, in one of the Reports expressed the opinion that there would be danger that when exposed to the action of certain synchronous waves, under certain conditions, they would commence swinging like a pendulum, and would eventually roll over. It was for this reason that he (Sir John Hay) had ventured to urge that until this fault were corrected it would not be right to place our officers and men in such ships, because the circumstances were not unusual in which they would become very dangerous vessels. The opinion of those members of the Committee who were so far favourable to these ships was to this effect—"They are good ships, but do not build any more of them." He had called attention to these matters without any animus whatever against the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goschen), who seemed to be doing his best; but, on the whole, knowing something about these matters, he must say that the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor (Mr. Childers) had done much to ruin the Navy in very many particulars. It could not have been right to spend £900,000 on building three ships of the Devastation type. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had now, with frankness and candour, admitted that these ships were not fit to go to sea, and that he considered those ships fit only for the defence of the Channel or to perform some duties abroad, having been first sent carefully out. [Mr. GOSCHEN: The Glatton.] The Glatton was not built for the same purpose as the Devastation and other ships of her class, because it was never intended that she should proceed to sea, or to be used for anything but the protection of harbours, such as Malta and Gibraltar. The Hotspur also was to be used in a somewhat similar way by being attached to a fleet in the narrow seas, and used as a ram. These ships were not so liable to roll over so easily as those of the Cyclops class—they would face waves of a more unusual character before they would incur the same danger. He agreed with Mr. Reed that the four 1172 vessels to which he had referred should be tried only in the neighbourhood of our own coast in waters for which they were intended. If sent to the open sea, they would be liable to become coffins for our brave seamen. In making this statement he had merely referred to facts that were contained in Papers laid upon the Table of the House, and he trusted that he had in no way overstated the case. It had been said that the Cyclops class were similar to those of the Cerberus, which had gone to Melbourne; but it must be remembered that she also had top-sides deck and bulwarks placed upon her, and in that way she was navigated in a condition in which she could not have been fought. Even with this assistance the Cerberus had an alarming voyage, and the men, alarmed at the fate of the Captain, deserted in great numbers at Malta. The ship, however, was, in fact, so protected by the alterations that had been made that their alarm was unnecessary, and all they would have had to incur was discomfort, and not peril. The Abyssinia and the Magdala, which had been built for the defence of Bombay harbour, had been fitted up before they were sent to sea with high bulwarks and decks, so as to render them seaworthy. No doubt ships of the Cyclops class would be very useful for harbour duty; but the right hon. Gentleman should think twice before he sent them into the open sea.
§ MR. GOURLEY
said, that the country would wish to know what return they had for the £10,000,000 of money which was spent annually upon the Navy, and his own impression was that no adequate return was obtained for that expenditure. As to the manning of the Fleet, he did not know where the men voted for were or what they were doing. The total number was 61,000, but that was only on paper. It seemed to him that many of them would, to use an aphorism, be found playing at hide-and-seek, and he doubted whether, in the event of war, they would be forthcoming. It was supposed that in case of emergency we should have 390 war vessels; but a good many of them were mere steam-tugs, and in the gross number were included the Queen's yachts, the training ships, and hulks in our various harbours. Many of them were vessels which in time of war would themselves require protection instead of giving it. He believed 1173 there were only 35 or 40 actual fighting ships in the Navy altogether.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, there were 34 iron-clads; but those were in addition to the gunboats, corvettes, and vessels of other classes.
§ MR. GOURLEY
said, the others were not vessels which we could use if engaged in actual warfare with maritime countries. What we wanted were ships capable of being used in this manner, and capable, at the same time, of defending our colonies, our trade, and of being used generally for every maritime purpose. The right hon. Gentleman must have gained some experience from the Franco-German War of the uselessness of great iron-clad vessels. They were drawn up in line fronting particular parts of the coast which they threatened, but they were unable to accomplish anything whatever. The same thing happened to our own vessels in the Baltic and the Black Sea, and would happen again if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen at opposite sides of the House confined themselves to criticising vessels of each other's build in place of procuring for the nation vessels of the class required for home and commercial purposes of defence. We required a smaller class of swift iron-clad, ships, which would be capable of acting efficiently in shallow waters, and which could be used, not only for defensive, but for offensive purposes. What we had a right to expect in case of emergency was that we should possess a naval force able to cope with that of any other naval Power in the world.
§ CAPTAIN F. EGERTON
said, he believed that the Devastation and Thunderer class of ships were fit for any emergency of war. The iron-clad ships were valuable for the various purposes for which they were intended. The hon. Member who had last spoken treated all unarmoured ships with contempt; but they were precisely the class of light active vessels which were found so generally useful for defending our colonies and our commerce in distant oceans; and, for his own part, he believed their number ought to be increased. Unarmoured vessels could carry more guns and make longer voyages, and also afford greater facilities for training and exercising men at sea, than the very best class of iron-clads hitherto constructed. As to vessels with a low freeboard, it was fair 1174 to remember that at least two of the American monitors had crossed the Atlantic, and though the Monadnock and the Miantonomah might not be comfortable vessels at sea in a head wind, they could not be spoken of as absolutely unsafe. He should like to see the hydraulic-power vessels tried more by the Admiralty.
§ MR. F. STANLEY
said, in reference to the American monitors, to which the hon. and gallant Member (Captain F. Egerton) referred as being fit to cross the sea, it should be recollected that they were nursed across the Atlantic by other vessels of a more seaworthy character. He wished to ask the Government for some information as to the results of the experiment, first tried, he believed, in the Northumberland, of reducing the weight of the iron plates at the bow and stern of the ship, thereby reducing the strain. Questions, he believed, had been started in scientific circles as to whether accidents to the Minotaur and the Agincourt might not have arisen from the circumstance that this proceeding had been lost sight of. The late First Lord of the Admiralty, he knew, had at one time his attention very much directed to the concentration of vessels of the same type and class for the purpose of manœuvring together, according to the practice of foreign nations. He should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman opposite could also give the House some information on this point.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
said, that he agreed in the policy laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry). He thought it of importance to know whether the Devastation and Thunderer class had fulfilled the expectations with regard to speed. He wished also to support the suggestions of his hon. Friend the Member for East Derbyshire (Captain F. Egerton), as to experiments with hydraulic vessels.
§ MR. GRAVES
said, he could not help remembering the distinct assurance given last year by the First Lord of the Admiralty that vessels of the Thunderer and Devastation class had been built for sea-going purposes and distant stations, having the capacity of carrying some 1,500 or 1,600 tons of coal. But now the whole scene appeared to be shifted, and those vessels were represented as intended merely for harbour or coast 1175 defensive purposes. He wished to know the reason of this change. He believed they were designed and laid down to be cruising vessels to any part of the world, so they had been represented by the First Lord of the Admiralty last year, and he wanted to know the cause of the discrepancy between the statement of last year and this. After the immense expenditure on these vessels, and as there were only three home ports where they could be utilized, he thought the House and the country were entitled to some explanation on this subject.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, in answer to the question of the hon. Member for North Lancashire (Mr. F. Stanley), he had to observe that the Agincourt and Minotaur had been proved to be very strong vessels; and Reports which had recently been made upon them stated that even if the strain had been four times greater than it was no damage would have resulted. The accident to the Agincourt had shown the great strength of the vessel. With regard to manœuvring the Fleets together, arrangements had been made under which the Mediterranean, the Channel, the Flying Squadron, and the Reserve Squadron would meet and manœuvre together. As to the Devastation and Thunderer, it was intended that they should reach a speed of 12 knots an hour. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) stated last year that these vessels were built to go long voyages at sea, and no doubt they would be fit for or capable of that service, and going into action in distant seas, carrying as they did a large amount of coal. But they were never intended as sea-going or cruising vessels in the old sense of the term. They were reserved for Channel purposes, where they could compete with any other vessels that could be brought to bear against them. That was not inconsistent with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract, that they would be able to sail to any part of the world, and after taking part in any battle return to this country.